Spotlight Feature: Basic Invite - from forest weddings to church weddings. They've got you covered.

As a wedding photographer I am constantly working to get my brides the best, most helpful information to assist them as they plan the best day of their life as well as develop partnerships to save them some money! Because let’s face it… you shouldn’t have to take out a loan on a wedding. Haha! :)

One of my amazing partnerships is with Basic Invite. Basic invite is a invitation company that creates everything from Save-The-Dates to Bridal Shower Invitations, to Wedding Invitations and Thank you cards and even 100% *FREE* wedding websites. Their invitations are beautiful and timeless. There are unlimited color combinations and everything is totally customizable. Once you are done customizing your project, you can view it instantly online. Their wedding websites are mobile friendly (because who has time for computers) and super easy to use. You can instantly upload all of your wedding day details, along with pictures, maps, and directions. Everything your guests need to know, right in one place.

But to me, whats unique about Basic Invite, and why I partner with them, is their designs. They aren’t the typical designs you see on other sites. Their designs are special. They make you feel something. No bride & groom are the same. Why should your wedding invitations be created from some boring, one-size-fits-all template?

Basic invite has over 900 different wedding invitation sets alone. Want pictures? No problem. Prefer to keep it simple? They do that to. The best part is that each invitation is a part of a set. So once you find the invitation you like, the have save-the-dates, enclosure cards, wedding menus, programs and even matching thank you cards! FINALLY, something made easy! I have a ton of outdoor weddings coming up in 2019 and Basic Invite even has adorable outdoor themed save the dates.

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The wedding invitation someone receives is the first picture they have of your wedding day. And Basic invite here to make sure that first impression is a good one by making sure even the tiniest detail is customizable to make it exactly the way you want it. Once you select a design, you can change the color options for each individual element on your invitation to one of over 180 different color options. That way you can make sure your wedding invitation reflects who you are as a couple in every way imaginable.

On top of that, they have over 40 different colors of envelopes. I absolutely love this because nothing makes you more excited to open a piece of mail than when it is in a fun envelope! Plus, all of their envelopes are peel and seal so that way you don’t have to waste your time licking those disgusting glue strips. No, thank you!

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One of their newest sets is the Seal & Send Wedding Invitations. These are an all-in-one wedding invitation with a tear-off RSVP postcard included! Making it nice and easy for your guests to get you those RSVP cards back in a timely manner (wink, wink)! #noexcuses, am I right?

Currently, they offer them in over 30 designs in this lineup including foil-options and they are also completely customizable like their other products. BUT WAIT… I know you’re thinking it can’t get any better than this but it totally does. Whats extra special about these is that the guest’s address are ALREADY PRINTED on the front of each invitation which means no envelope necessary (Insert mind-blowing emoji here). :) All you have to do is share a link, collect guest addresses (which, side-note they make this nice and easy with their Free Address Collection Service & Envelope Printing) , and upload them to your design instantly. Easy as pie, my friend! Then, once you receive your order, all you have to do is add postage, fold them up and seal them with an sticker! Simple, Easy, and Trendy!

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Basic Invite is truly her to give you that custom, beautiful, wedding that tells your story. They even offer custom wedding coasters. These coasters are completely made specifically to match your day. These unique coasters can be used at the reception and be included as a take home gift to all of your guests. Win-Win for everyone!

Still not sure, go ahead and hop on over to order your CUSTOM SAMPLE today (thats right, even their samples can be customized)! Just to be extra sure! :) I promise you won’t regret it!

BONUS: For all you Photos by Ariel brides out there… you get to enjoy 20% off your order! -XO

Chris & Kaycee's Rustic Wedding in Beason, Il.

I knew Chris & Kaycee’s wedding would be nothing less than perfection. With her mom, Kathie Richert, being a former photographer and wedding planner I knew the day would be a dream come true for her daughter. And that it was.

It was intimate and personal held at the Bride’s childhood home and it was BEAUTIFUL! Everything from the brides dress, from this little bridal boutique in Bartonville (From Our Heart To Yours), to the receptions s’mores bar was absolutely exquisite. The ceremony and reception were held outside. The guests were brought in to the event in one of the most fun ways I’ve ever seen… on a hay bale ride. Once they arrived, the guests sat on hay bales while snuggling underneath flannel and knit blankets provided for them at the entrance draped across an adorable wooden ladder and in a rustic red wagon. Mums, pumpkins, sunflowers, and all things fall decorated the alter where the bride & groom said their I do’s under a perfect arbor made out of rustic buckets and tree branches inside of a gazebo that was made from the top of a grain bin that they transported 8 miles… built specifically for this event. The reception was held in a white tent, from Tri-County Rentals, and had heat lamps inside to keep us all nice and toasty. The reception tables were dressed with various centerpieces including rustic farmhouse lanterns, candles, and pumpkins made of burlap, from Rustic Love Rentals. The three-tier sunflower cake, made by Diana Hamblen, was so delicious I couldn’t resist having my own slice. The s’mores bar, icee machine, and the open bar were the perfect additions to the fun atmosphere created by the DJ from Woodworth Entertainment. This day was absolute perfection. One thing particularly unique about this reception was the mother-daughter dance. I have never seen this done before and it is something that I will be stealing for my own three daughters weddings. The Bride’s mom had cried off and on all day as she was giving the first of her four daughters away but it was during this first dance that she lost it. The tears of joy, the laughter, the desperate hugging. Ugh… it made my mom heart ache knowing that even though my girls are only 5, 3 and 1… time is deceiving and the years of motherhood are short.

All and all, this day was a dream. And despite the 40 mile per hour winds and BLISTERING cold weather. People were literally moving their trucks on top of the tent’s stakes that were in the ground to keep it from blowing over. The Bride & Groom couldn’t help but smile out of sheer joy. (Also, shout out to the ladies at Hair Plus and makeup artist, Katie Charron, for creating beautiful hairstyles and makeup that withstood this CRAZY weather.) The love between them couldn’t be hidden and was evident to each and every person there. Enjoy some of my favorite moment’s from Chris & Kaycee’s wedding!

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Spotlight Feature: Simply Elegant by Cheri in Lincoln, Illinois

Business feature for the Photos by Ariel Brides out there! Today I went to visit Cheri who owns Simply Elegant by Cheri, a beautiful bridal boutique located at the heart of central Illinois. Cheri’s shop is beautiful and Cheri herself is sweet as pie. Though she was previously a mortgage broker at State Farm for years, her heart was with weddings.

She decided in July of 2018 to open Simply Elegant by Cheri. A bridal boutique that offers one-of-a-kind bridal gowns, mother of the bride dresses, bridesmaids dresses, tuxedos, and even ceremony and reception décor and silk florals. Through this shop, Cheri loves ensuring that the Bride has the full wedding dress shopping experience that she deserves. That starts with your appointment booking. The appointments can be booked on their website or via phone or email! When you show up for your appointment you can come alone or you can bring as many people as you want. The shop is large enough to accommodate yet small enough to still feel intimate. You walk in and are instantly greeted by Cheri, the owner herself, with fresh treats, coffee, mimosas, wine, water, and many other delicious options.

At your appointment, you are the sole focus. This shop has been designed to allow one bride at a time. No more waiting on another Bride to finish trying on the dress you wanted to try on or feeling as though any unnecessary attention is on you from other shoppers. It is only you and the people you love dearly that you bring with you in the entire store. Also, take note that the shop is kid friendly, so if you have a little one or someone accompanying you does. Don’t feel stressed about entertaining them or worry about them touching everything. Cheri is an expert with littles and has a few little toys/coloring books/ and even a tv with Netflix to help entertain any kids that might come along.

There is a beautiful bridal suite to get dressed in complete with a monogrammed robe for in between bridal gowns. There are over 85 dresses in this shop and styles that include everything from trendy to classic. Each gown is hand selected by Cheri. She has many different designer representatives who help her in the selecting the best gowns for her store.

If you want your gown shopping to be a fun and memorable experience you must check this place out! You will not be disappointment with the service or the selection!

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Cell Phone Series: How to take the BEST ring selfie!!!!

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Ekkk!!!!! You’re engaged! You have the PERFECT ring and now with a few tips from me you will get that PERFECT Instagram-worthy photo!

1.) LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT! Lighting is everything! If you aren’t outside, stand next to a window for some natural light. If you taken an iPhone in a darker room it will almost always be blurry. And take it from me, fluorescent lights and yellow lights are not any better. Natural sunlight for the win! But no matter where you are, watch for shadows.

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2.) Know your ring. Every single ring is different. Test out different angles so you can capture the most amazing qualities about your ring. For example, if the way your ring is set is super unique try shooting on a angle so you can highlight that. Have a really unique (or gigantic) stone? Try an overhead shot.

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3.) Skip the flash. Trust me.

4.) Nails. Pay attention to those nails. Everyone wants to see the ring but no one wants to see dirty, hangnails. Haha! If your proposal was a surprise and you’re nails are due for a manicure, just put on some location and get creative with your posing. For example, hold hands with your fiancé or frame your nails out of the shot!

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5.) Backgrounds. Unleash your inner photographer. Find an Instagram-worthy skyline, latte, fuzzy rug, or patterned pillow and allow it to serve as the background for this beautiful ring selfie.

6.) Back it up. While self-phone photos are not going to be as quality as professional photos, there are a few tricks you can use to make the pictures look more sharp. Avoid zoom on your camera, instead, physically move the camera yourself and it will make a much less pixelated photo. If you are using an iPhone, set up your shot and then tap the screen where your ring is to focus the lens. If you have an iPhone that has “Portrait Mode”, click that mode, and follow the steps above.

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7.) Avoid Creepy Hands. Ummm…. say goodbye to those creepy hands where you can see every pore, line or teeny tiny hair by relaxing your fingers, adding a prop, or resting you hands on your fiancé's arm. You can also avoid scary hands by doing a slight tilt of your camera- or your hand- instead of shooting straight on.

8.) Pick One. You want your ring to stand out and look awesome. Skip the collages and instead pick one great shot to feature.

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9.) There’s an app for that. Use an awesome editing app like Photoshop Express, VSCO Cam, Afterlight, or my personal favorite PicTapGo.

10.) SHARE! If there was ever a time to be sentimental now is it!!!! You are GETTING MARRIED to your best friend! So write the caption, get creative with those emojis and share away my friend!

How to remove objects from cell phone photos

It’s no secret that I love sharing photos of my life on Facebook and Instagram. Connecting with friends and family from all over the country and the world is so much fun! I share a ton of my professional work but I also enjoy sharing photos from my personal life as well. However, sometimes I snap a photo that has something distracting our eyes that takes away from this awesome memory. So here is my quick fix, no computer or photoshop required!

Invest in the TouchRetouch app! It’s on of my favorites and is only $1.99 in the App Store!

Step 1: Open the app and click “Albums” Select the photo you want to use.

Step 2: Once the photo has been loaded, select the “Object Removal” in the bottom left corner.

Step 3: Select “lasso tool” and zoom in on the part of the image that has the eyesore. Use your finger to draw a circle all the way around the object until the circle is closed.

Step 4: Once the circle is connected, it will automatically fill it in and turn it green. That’s when you select the “Go” button and let the program work its magic! Boom! Goodbye, eyesore!

Step: Repeat this process as necessary.

No obviously, as with ANY photo editing software, it’s not going to be perfect. You’ll get the best results when trying to remove an object that has clean, unaffected pixels around it.

You can also use the “brush tool” or if you really feel like being fancy, you can use the clone stamping tool (which is in between the play button and the save button) if the lasso tool isn’t cutting it, but lets be real, when you’re trying to post a photo on the go, you want it to be quick.

Hopefully this tip will make posting your cell phone photos on the go a little more fun!

Tune in for my next tip: how to handle lighting in cell phone photos! Until then, join hundreds of people in my exclusive email community and get free tips, giveaways, and be the first to find out about mini sessions and all other Photos by Ariel News!