Kristen Lee Photography » New England Wedding Photographer

“Do we want a Kid-Friendly or Kid-Free Wedding?” While it seems like a simple question, this can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll make during your wedding planning. Your wedding day is the most important day of your life thus far, and you want everything to be perfect. As you stand hand in hand with your soulmate vowing to spend the rest of your life together, you’ll be surrounded by all your loved ones, and there’s a good chance among your family and friends that there are some littles involved.

Most couples find themselves with the question of, Kids or No Kids. These four little words can seem like four very big words very quickly. So, that’s where I come in! Here are four fabulous ways to keep wiggly littles occupied and feeling like a part of what is the Best.Day.Ever!

1. Have A “Kids Only” Table

Having a designated “Kid’s Only” table is one of the best ways to keep little bodies and minds occupied. You can stock the table with lots of fun activities such as games, crayons, puzzles, crafts, legos, coloring and activity books. They can choose an activity that appeals to them while making them feel special and as important as all of your other guests. Adding some snacks to their “No Adults Allowed” table will also give them a chance to keep the hunger at bay while they wait on dinner.

2. Set Up An Outdoor Space

If you’re getting married at a venue with an outdoor area, setting up an outdoor space is a great way to let kids run off some of their energy. If the weather is going to be warm, you can set up outdoor games such as oversized Connect Four or Jenga. Activities like hoola-hoops, hopscotch, bubbles, and outdoor crafts are great for children young and older. If you’re getting married during the winter months, a snowman making station is always a fun activity for any age.

3. Include Them In The Festivities

Kids like to feel important. So giving them a special job will make them feel just as important and included as the adults. Having them hand out programs before the ceremony will make them feel special and an integral part of the day. You can also add some disposable cameras to their Kid’s Table with important instructions to take as many photos as they can. When you get those images developed and see your special day from the perspective of a child, it brings a whole new dimension to the events as well as a whole new way to view your memories.

4. Have a Kid’s Room

If you want to have children a little further away from the main festivies, a designated Kid’s Room is the way to go. Depending on the ages of your young guests, you can create an EPIC kids room themed directly to them. Think beanbag chairs, blankets, and pillows for fort building in one corner. Another corner includes a music station and dancing area for their own dance party to match the adults. Another corner set up for their own movie night with popcorn and other treats or crafts. Finally a corner for when they are ready for bed. Hire babysitters to match the number of children you’ll have in attendance to watch over them and all the activities. This will also give their parents a way to enjoy your wedding, while knowing their little ones are having a blast, are close enough to look in on if need be, and are able to enjoy themselves without feeling the need to leave the festivities early to put the kids to bed.

There it is! Four awesome, easy ways to have the most epic wedding of the century that will be the talk of everyone and their children for years to come!

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So, the question has been asked, excitedly answered, and now your stomach is filled with all the giddy butterflies it can fit! The planning and Pinterest pinning has begun and the time for your engagement session has come. This is when some nerves may start to creep in. So, what can you do to counteract those pesky nerves?

I know getting in front of the camera can be stressful, especially if you aren’t the most eager person to jump in front of one. Well, I’m about to share the four best ways to having the most awesome, stress-free engagement photo session ever!

  1. Smile! Let all of your happy in-loveness show!

2. Dress Comfortably. Make sure to wear something you will feel comfortable in, and that you’ll feel like YOURSELF in. Bring a change of clothes or shoes for different looks, though always stay true to yourself.

3. Forget the camera is there. Yes, this is totally possible, and I promise you once you do MAGIC legit happens!!! So get lost in each other. Reminisce about your first date, whisper inside jokes in each others ears, close your eyes and breathe each other in as you feel the same butterflies you felt the day you knew you had completely fallen in love.

4. Don’t be afraid to get a little (or a lot!) silly. Showcase your personality and have FUN!

So, there you have it. Four sure fire ways to rock your engagement session! Be goofy, be gushy, dance, lose yourself while being 100% you, and simply have fun.

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About 24 years ago now, we sat down as a family and my Dad told us he got laid off from his job. Then he said, “I’m going to start my own company. Things will be tight for a while, but it’s going to be great.”
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I used to sit up with him past bedtime in the once garage, turned office, watching him put together motherboards, reconnect wires, building computers as he quoted his father saying, “if you take the time to do it right the first time, you won’t have to do it a second time.”
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It was those nights, watching him work and listening to him explain computer engineering as he answered my questions of what he was doing exactly even though I didn’t understand any of it, where I learned what hard work and chasing dreams really was.
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Those lessons didn’t really click until I followed that same path. There are many who would describe me as a slight workaholic. I was always someone who had more than one job at a time, worked overtime, and honestly didn’t know what to do with myself when I didn’t have a job.
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Eight years ago, I took a leap of faith to pursue a passion for photography I’ve had since the age of 12. Six years ago, I started my own company.
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My girls see me glued to my computer as I edit images, respond to emails, manage my website and social media among other daily tasks. There are days I wonder if having a regular 9-5 job would be easier on them than seeing me buried in my computer. And then they climb into my lap and ask me to explain what I’m doing, and I show them how an image changes by moving the sliders in Lightroom. As their eyes light up, I am right back in my childhood home with my Dad.
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It’s then I smile and say, “It doesn’t look like I’m doing much some days, and some days I work long hours. But you know what? It’s going to be great!”
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Thank you Dad. Thank you for those lessons I didn’t know I was getting. Thank you for sharing your work ethic, your wisdom, for explaining computers when I’m sure you knew I wouldn’t remember a single thing about them. Thank you for showing me it’s ok to chase a dream and build something from nothing. Happy Father’s Day

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Stop. Quit. Don’t give up. Don’t spend too much time on it. You need to spend more time on it. You’ll never succeed. Don’t give up your dreams. Do it. Don’t do it. Don’t quit but don’t do it 100%. Don’t do it 50%. Don’t do it. Don’t quit. You can’t run a successful business while being a successful mother, wife, friend. You need a job but you won’t be happy doing anything else. You’ll never be able to support anyone doing what you love. You are dreaming too big. This industry is impossible to make money in. Don’t quit, but get another job as well. You won’t be happy working a regular 9 to 5 job so don’t, yet you’ll never pay the bills with the career you’ve chosen. Don’t get another job because then there isn’t enough time for you to pay attention to everyone else. You’re amazing, talented, awesome. You’re not good enough.

So many words, thoughts swirl around in my head. Some come from those skeptical about what I see myself creating and all come from myself as I tell myself those skeptics are right. How does one create a successful photography business in this day and age of cell phones with the ability to create studio lighting using an app? Everyone has someone with an incredible camera. In the wedding world some call these hobbyists “Uncle Bob”. Everyone has an Uncle Bob with just as good of a camera as you, who can take just as good of pictures as you can, and they will do it for free. So why try?

I try because it’s true, I won’t be happy working a steady 9 to 5 job every single day. Will I work one? Yes, I will. I have. They pay the bills right. I will work one again if necessary. Yet, where does one draw the line? I am a mom to two amazing little girls. We have school schedules, play dates, Karate, Girl Scouts, soon to be dance classes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath, story time, bed times, the list goes on. Where does it all fit in? Where do you fit in a career when you are a mom? A wife? A woman? Is there time for it all? You can ask lots of people and you will get a lot of answers. One answer you can stick with is your own. When it all comes down to it are you willing to put in the work? When the school day is done, lunches packed, dinner eaten and cleaned up, the dishwasher and laundry running for the tenth time, the dogs fed and walked, giggles and tantrums, hugs and kisses end for the night, time for yourself or you and your husband allotted for, do you have anything left? Are you willing to stay up an hour later to edit or return emails? Are you able to set aside time for that while the kids are in school to make sure they have well deserved Mommy time all day long. Will you be able to find child care to have more time during the day for work and less time having to work after everyone goes to bed. Is it fair to have to work after everyone goes to bed or should work only be for during the day? Am I putting my career above everything else if I work on it when everyone else is asleep? Is there a split between me, a mom and wife, and me a photographer and entrepreneur?

I keep telling myself that yes there is a split. I put aside my work even as I write this to play games, make lunches and snacks. Is it enough? My girls still see me sitting at the computer. My husband still sees me working. Something that should take me very little time turns into hours and hours of time I wasn’t planning on taking as I head to switch over the laundry and stare into the fridge to figure out what I am going to cook for dinner. Am I using my time as well as it can be used?

The answer is I don’t know. I’m sure I could use my time more efficiently if I just sat and worked and got things done as soon as I thought of them; made a schedule to work for a said number of hours and then be able to turn it off completely for the night. Would thinking about something I forgot to do be considered still working even if I did not actually do what it was I had thought of? Would my girls be worse off because of that thought? Would my husband even know I had made the fleeting thought if I did not mentioned it? Should I write it down so I don’t forget it or is that considered breaking into my personal time? Is it such a bad thing to show my girls that I can be a rocking business woman who is building something she is proud of while doing something she loves? Will they believe me more when I say that they can do anything they put their minds to by watching me build my own business? Is there enough of me to go around? I can go work a 9 to 5. Maybe I should. Will I be in love with what I am doing as a career? I probably won’t. At the same time, it would be a steady, stable job with a nice steady income.

“There is no Job Fairy.” This phrase keeps running through my head amongst the doubt of should I keep going or am I just fooling myself. It was a phrase repeated over and over in my childhood as a reminder that you need to go out and get a job, a career, to pay the bills and be responsible. Make sure you always have a job, or 2, to be stable, steady and pay your bills. You have responsibilities that need to be taken care of. It’s a never-ending cycle. You get the car to get to the job and you get the job to pay for the car. Wisdoms I have ingrained into my brain from my Dad. I learned many things from him. Hard work and a great work ethic are just two of those things. As I hear his voice telling me about the circle of responsibility, I look at my two daughters and the words of self-doubt, the words from others saying you are dreaming too big, you are being unreasonable, you can’t do it all and give everyone what they need from you creep back in and overtake all of my thoughts. I hear him again from the back of my mind.

“Find something you love, and figure out a way to get paid for it.”

There is no Job Fairy and find something you love and figure out a way to get paid for it. The two thoughts seem so contradictory to me as I battle through everything and everyone telling me to quit. Quit but don’t quit Kristen. You can’t give up your dreams yet you can’t achieve them either. Which sentence do you follow? Which wisdom is more important than the other? As I now have a 4-year-old on my lap to finish this post I can only think that they’re equal. Do what needs to be done. There is time for it all. There is enough of me. Kick out all the negativity and disbelief because I am enough. I am amazing, talented, a mom, a wife, a woman, a sister, daughter, aunt, friend, photographer and heading towards an entrepreneur. My girls do know how much I love them and that I will show them the world and prop them up when they have dreams so big they may think those dreams are too heavy. I am a Rockstar. I am their Rockstar. I am my own Rockstar.

Surround yourself with those who prop you up no matter what might seem impossible. I promise the work will pay off. One day I know I will look back and say to myself I believed in you Kristen and I never let you give up when you thought it was too much. Those hard, sleepless nights are worth it. There is enough of you. You are not defined by one thing or one part of yourself. You’re made up of lots of different parts.

Don’t Quit. I am amazing. I’m not either a business or a mom or a wife. I am ALL of those things and so so so much more. It will be hard. It won’t be perfect. You say I can’t. I say watch me.

 

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As a wedding photographer 11.11 is a busy day. It’s actually one of the most popular wedding days of the year. It’s also one that I personally will never work. I LOVE what I do and I love my clients and hate to turn anyone away if I have the availability. To me November 11th is a day to reflect and give thanks to all of the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom and our rights. I have many friends and family who are Veterans and Active Military. Two years ago it also became a day of tragedy and hope for me personally, so therefore became a day not for work; even for the happiest of days for the many many amazing couples getting married right now whom I congratulate and wish you all the best! Today I will snuggle with my girls, tell my husband thank you even when he says not to, and call my Dad to give him an extra I love you as well. Of the many amazing Veterans and Military members I know, none will ask for a thank you. They will go about their days as usual. From me to all of you, Thank You. Thank you for everything. You are amazing. You are brave. You are even more than I can find words for. Thank you for volunteering to protect me and my girls. Thank you for not expecting anything in return. Thank you for being the heroes you claim not to be. Thank you.
And an extra special shout out to my amazing clients who also happen to be Veterans!!!

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