South Congress Hotel Wedding: Sara and Ryan

Located in the center of Austin, Texas, this South Congress Hotel wedding was anything but traditional … it was perfect! Although I was not the primary photographer for this wedding, I had the pleasure of being Photos by MKay‘s second shooter. I met Amanda, owner of Photos by Mkay, at an open house and we instantly clicked. When she inquired about me possibly helping out on some weddings, I was excited and eager to do it!

I know a lot of primary photographers don’t second shoot; however, I thoroughly enjoying helping my fellow photographers out from time to time. Especially when I’m new to an area and not booked on the date. It not gives me the opportunity to meet photographers/friends. Plus, it allows me to see venues on an actual wedding day. In addition, being a second photographer gives me the flexibility to provide a different, more artistic perspective.

The Lovely Couple

Sara and Ryan originally met while in college. While their lives caused them to have a long-distance relationship for a while, they made it back to each other. They have been inseparable ever since, moving from state-to-state before settling down in Austin.

When planning their wedding, they knew Austin was it for them! Austin is near and dear to their hearts. Because of this, the couple chose to have a South Congress hotel wedding, being a venue directly in the center of Austin, and a place where their guests can stay.

**All photos seen below and on this blog post are my own, photographed for Photos by MKay and her bride and groom, with permission to edit and use for my own**

Sara getting ready for the walk down the aisle at the South Congress hotel.
This bride has the most beautiful eyes!
When in Austin, why not include the a cactus?!
I loved Sara's shoes. White Keds to go with her untraditional, modern wedding!
Flat lays are a new trend that every couple wants to include on their wedding day. This is a great way to show off your jewelry, stationery, flowers, and anything that's important to you.
Sara's dress was very bohemian.
Cheers to the bride to be!!
About to put on her wedding dress.
A moment between the bride and her mom.
I love moments like these. They're intimate and sweet!
Sara's mom helping her into her wedding dress.
The bride herself.
I love getting close ups like this one.
Although there was no bridal party, it was still such a sweet and fun time with Sara and her mother.
The bride and her mother having a moment.
The bride's details like her floral bouquet and tying her sneakers.
I loved the bride's tattoo so I had to zone in on it!
Bridal portraits of Sara.
Ryan's turn to get ready!
The groom looks dapper in his wedding attire.
First looks are always so sweet and intimate.
Sara tapping Ryan on his shoulder to reveal her bridal look.
Being a second shooter, I get to photograph side angles and get a different perspective, especially during formal photos.
I love getting the chance to photograph the couple by themselves, when no one else is around.
Amanda posed the bride and the groom and I got to sneak in some shots!
Aren't they the sweetest couple?
Behind the South Congress hotel is this cool staircase that we got to use!
Walking to the ceremony.
And off they go to say "I do"
The outdoor wedding ceremony was quick and to the point.
Another different perspective ... and I love me a good fountain!
Saying their vows before the I do.
Proud mom watching her daughter get married.
Time for the exchanging of rings!
I love how casual and sweet these two were with one another.
The love just radiates off of them!
The bride and groom are officially married!!!
Mr. and Mrs. Ball!
How cool and industrial is this spot that we used for Sara and Ryan?!
We went to Congress street for some urban shots, using wall murals and a cool shot of the capitol!
Love her personalized jacket!
The epic shot in the middle of street, when we stopped traffic! What we won't do to get that shot!
I love this wall mural found near the South Congress hotel!
Some quick detail shots of the reception prior to me leaving the wedding!

Bride’s Hair and Makeup: Blush N Bangs ♥ Bridal Boutique: Amour Bridal ♥ Wedding Dress: Lillian West ♥ Florals: Bloom Bar ♥ Wedding Venue: South Congress Hotel ♥ Primary Photographer: Photos by MKay ♥ Second Photographer (all photos in blog taken by): Sweet Memories Photography ♥ Videographer: Ivory Hour Productions

Austin Wedding Planner: Kelsie of the Groovy Wedding Co.

Meet the sweet and talented Austin wedding planner, Kelsie, owner of the Groovy Wedding Co. Anyone who has the pleasure of knowing or working with her instantly feels like they’ve met a longtime friend.

Originally from Kansas, she moved to Austin in June 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. “I visited Austin for the first time about five years ago and I immediately knew I had to live here one day. I just love the drive this city has. The weather/nature was also a huge part of moving here. When I’m not working, you can find me outdoors!” 

With both of us being relatively new to the Austin area, we quickly connected. It’s been so nice being able to relate to someone who isn’t an Austin native, and who is trying to become familiar with the wedding industry! Not to mention, we both know the struggles of starting a business amidst a pandemic!

We started off chatting about business, but quickly got to seeing wedding venues together and planning a styled shoot. Because we are very similar in personalities, it has been such a fun partnership!

Kelsie and Her Journey

What made this Austin wedding planner take the big step in starting her own business? That credit goes to Jack, Kelsie’s boyfriend. “He has worked for himself since he graduated college. He was the one who really pushed me to go out on a limb and start this beautiful journey of becoming a business owner. I’ve had a long streak of horrible bosses that have made me never want to have another boss again. I also absolutely love the wedding industry and it was either get a job at a venue that was about an hour away or start The Groovy Wedding Co.

And with her experience, she’s seen it all and still loves event planning. “I’ve been in the event industry for about five years now and have never looked back! My first job was as a wedding and event planner’s assistant. Second gig was an event planner at a small outdoor venue. And my last job before launching my business was working at a nationally recognized venue in Kansas City. This job gave me so much experience. It taught me skills and forced me to face the challenges that I needed in order to blossom in the wedding industry. Our venue was not like any other wedding or event venue. We had five different spaces within the building itself. This meant sometimes managing three weddings at once or having a wedding while Lana Del Ray was down in the Main Theater with over 1,400 attendees. Talk about multi-tasking!!”

All About the Groovy Wedding Co.

What is Kelsie’s favorite part of being a planner? “There are a lot lol! If I had to narrow it down, it would be helping my clients. I LOVE taking stress off of their plates and making the wedding planning process as smoothly as possible for them.

What makes her stand out from other planners is that she’s laid-back. “I don’t think I am like a lot of other planners in the sense of the fun, laid-back approach I take. My company is built upon the foundation of accepting everyone is what I take most pride in. Love is such a beautiful bond to experience, we should not discriminate against those that are lucky enough to find it.”

And you already know my stance on hiring a wedding planner but why does Kelsie think a wedding planner is so important (aside from the fact that she is one, of course)? Because they’ll make a friend during the process! Yes, wedding planning can be stressful but it should be fun. After all, it is about celebrating the love two people share!!”

Branding Session

What do business cards, websites, and social media have in common? They’re all a representation of who you and your business are. You want to be seen as you are. Branding sessions are a great way to attract your ideal clients by making them fall in love with your authentic self and brand. Not to mention, your photos can impact your clients’ entire experience when they land on your site!

Because of the reasons above, branding is such a crucial part of any small business. So of course, we got to work on planning her branding session!

As part of this session, we wanted to show her close relationship with her boyfriend of two years and fur-babies, while also focusing on allowing her personality to shine! I might be a bit biased but I believe we succeeded! As you’ll see below, this Austin wedding planner is not only laidback, but she’s easy-going, fun, and always has a smile on her face (whether she’s hanging with her loves or drinking a cold cider and answering emails on her phone).

Kelsie and her cute little family: boyfriend of 2 years and her furbaby, Molly.
This wedding planner's relationship with Molly, her dog, is a special one!
A little play time with Kelsie, her boyfriend, and their puppy.
Molly loves her frisbee time!
Kelsie isn't just a wedding planner. She's also a cat whisperer and has a strong bond with her cat.
Kelsie's office with all the things she loves: cats, coffee, laptop, and planner.
Kelsie, owner of the Groovy Wedding Co, and Austin wedding planner.
How contagious is Kelsie's smile and laughter?
During her down time, she spends it either finding inspiration for her couples or hanging out outside.
This Austin wedding planner is a huge fan of pink and love!
She is also a huge fan of boho-chic and hats!
After our session at her apartment complex, we headed over to a local cidery and enjoyed some drinks and work!
Kelsie is laidback, outgoing, and full of fun and laughter!
Isn't Kelsie the cutest?!
She's such a multi-tasker ... drinking a cold drink and answering emails from her couples!
Celebrating a successful branding session with a pop of champagne!!!

Austin Family Session: Gillis Family

Like any move, our move to Texas was chaotic. However, our realtor helped us make the transition more smooth, thank goodness! That’s when our friendship with Brandi, our realtor and lifesaver, blossomed. During the search for homes, she found out that I was a photographer. She mentioned that she was in need of an Austin family session since they have never had their family photos taken! So our planning began …

Location

It’s all about location, location, location. This is important because I want to make sure we bring your vision to life. If you want urban, rustic/country, or traditional … we have to find the perfect spot to give you that look. What do you want to see displayed in your home?

Not to mention, I always recommend choosing a location that is a good representation of your personalities, and where you feel most comfortable. It could be a spot where you and your family often go, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore.

For Brandi and her family, they love to hike. River Place Nature Trail is one of the locations they love to walk as a family. And there we have it: Our location!

Austin Family Session

Brandi and I went back and forth quite a bit. She has one son who lives in North Carolina, while her other two live with her in Austin. As much as we wanted to include him, there were some difficulties in getting him here in time. But no worries! We are planning a family session part II in the near future.

And although her oldest son couldn’t make it, Brandi’s husband’s parents were in town so we were able to include them in some photos. What a great opportunity to include the parents/grandparents family session!

This Austin realtor's family was the cutest ... and they're definitely mommy's boys!
I love including grandparents in my family sessions!
This Austin family is just the cutest and their love for one another shines!
You can never have enough family photos in any Austin family session.
Isn't Brandi and her husband such an attractive couple?
I love Austin, Texas. It provides so many beautiful backdrops for any Austin family session.
Just some family fun!
Family photos are so important, especially because kids grow up so fast!
This realtor has some beautiful boys!! And so well-behaved.
You know I love walking shots for any Austin family session!
The boys had so much energy so I had them run back and forth to capture some of their personalities, and to get some of that energy out!
Such a beautiful family!
Nearing the end of our Austin family session and we couldn't have asked for better weather or scenery!
Have I mentioned that Brandi is an awesome realtor and has the most beautiful family?
And that's a wrap for this Austin family!

Book a Session (don’t wait)!

I truly believe that updating your family photos is so important. Especially if you have kids because kids grow up so fast!!

In need of an Austin family session? I’d love to chat with you about details and how we can create everlasting and fun memories together!

Places to Get Married in Austin

As most of you now know, I made some changes in my life and started a new adventure in Austin, Texas. This meant a lot of changes! Change in my environment, people, climate, and most importantly, my business! So, as you can imagine, I want to get acclimated with the wedding industry and venues. Being in this new area, figuring out the best places to get married in Austin is my mission to scout them out. So that is what I am doing!

As I continue to visit venues, this will be an ongoing and everchanging blog post. Some of the photos will just be of the venue itself, or if I’m lucky enough, I’ll have the opportunity to shoot an engagement session, wedding, or some sort of session at that place.

Places to Get Married in Austin

First stop:

Canyon Woodridge

Walking onto Canyon Woodridge’s property, I am greeted with its beautiful landscaping and architecture, stunning views, and it gave me all the romantic feels! And let’s not forget to mention once inside, its breathtaking clean lines, natural light, vaulted wood ceilings, and openness just leaves me speechless. I could go on and on with my description. But plainly put, this venue was carefully planned out prior to its construction, specifically for weddings.

Canyon Woodridge is one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.

Canyonwood Ridge is a wedding and events venue in the Austin area. It is located approximately 20 minutes from downtown Austin in Dripping Springs.

Canyon Woodridge is one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.
Canyon Woodridge is one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.
Canyon Woodridge is one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.

Sitting on a ridge top wrapped in oak trees with scenic hill country views, this venue was designed specifically for weddings.  It has both an outdoor and indoor ceremony site that can hold up to 300 people. Both offer picturesque backdrops. The indoor Chapel is a perfect option to protect against unpredictable weather in Texas.

Garey House

For all you couples out there who want a Tuscan and romantic wedding without traveling outside of the U.S., look no further than the Garey House.

Here is another one of the most beautiful places to get married in Austin. This venue is Texas Hill Country meets Tuscan style. Garey House is set within a 525-acre public park nestled along a River and located 23 miles of downtown Austin. “It features unique ceremony and reception locations, a spacious patio, landscaped grounds and a lush event lawn that overlooks the pond.

Garey House is a Tuscan-style wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.
Garey House is a Tuscan-style wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.

The Great Room offers an intimate indoor option, complete with floor-to-ceiling fireplace and doors that open to the patio. The Hall opens up to the Courtyard, allowing for flexible indoor and outdoor space. The Terrace and Event Lawn offer a picturesque backdrop for a ceremony or reception.”

Garey House is a Tuscan-style wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.
Garey House is a Tuscan-style wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.

Shiraz Garden

You’re a couple who wants a unique and open outdoor wedding venue? Look no further for places to get married in Austin than the Shiraz Garden.

The owners and family purchased the venue in 2008. Named after the city of Shiraz, where their father was born, it is a well-sought after wedding venue. And I can see why with the careful preservation of “natural beauty and structures on property.” Not to mention, all the different spots to say “I do.”

Marry your soulmate at one of Shiraz Garden‘s outlook points or by the Colorado River. Or maybe the Formal Garden or the Hidden Staircase is more your style?

Hidden Staircase:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Hidden Staircase.

Mohana Overlook:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Mohana Outlook.

Sunset Vista:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Sunset Vista.

Outdoor Cathedral:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Outdoor Cathedral.

Khidr Water Garden:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Khidr Water Garden.

Formal Garden:

Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Formal Garden.
Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas. This is the Formal Garden.
Shiraz Garden is an outdoor wedding venue and one of the many places to get married in Austin, Texas.

This venue has a backdrop for any style!

Mae’s Ridge

Mae’s Ridge is another one of my favorite places to get married in Austin. This wedding venue is a modern and chic barn located in Dripping Springs. Overlooking 28 acres of hill country views, “natural light enters our climate controlled barn through six grand glass doors and skylights” and allows you to see all the views.

Not only is this wedding venue beautiful with its interior designing and 360 views, but it’s also conveniently located near lodging for all of your guests to stay and enjoy their time! It’s only a matter of time before Mae’s Ridge builds and opens up their own lodging!

Mae's Ridge is another one of my favorite places to get married in Austin.

I am in love with its crisp and sophisticated interior!

This wedding venue is a modern and chic barn located in Dripping Springs.

Have I mentioned Mae’s Ridge comes with swings?! I can just imagine a couple in their wedding attire, swinging together. It would make the cutest photos!

Have I mentioned Mae's Ridge comes with swings?! I can just imagine a couple in their wedding attire, swinging together. It would make the cutest photos!

Oak Grove is one of two special ceremony sites that this wedding venue offers:

Oak Grove is one of two special ceremony sites that this wedding venue offers. Why it's one of the best places to get married in Austin.
Mae's Ridge is a beautiful wedding venue located in Dripping Springs. It has 360 views of hill country!
This modern and sophisticated barn is a one of a kind place to get married!
This is the office where brides and grooms can come and meet with the venue owners. You can tell that they're interior designers!

“Enjoy cocktails on the covered patio or at the indoor/outdoor farmhouse bar.”

 Guests can enjoy cocktails on the covered patio or at the indoor/outdoor farmhouse bar. And only a walk away from the two ceremony sites!

Here is Mae’s Ridge‘s second special ceremony site: Sunset Ridge.

Winding trails lead to several special ceremony spots including the Oak Grove and Sunset Ridge. The perfect spot to say "I do."

The day I toured Mae’s Ridge, it was their open house for potential brides and grooms. And even though it was a cloudy day, the views were spectacular! I can see why so many couples book this wedding venue!

Open House Vendor Credit:

Planning & Design: Simply XO Events | Floral: Remi and Gold | Signage: Jen Krause Paper Co. | Rentals: Loot Rentals, Table Manners, Premier Events | Streamers: Pop and Drop | Classic Car: ATX Classic Cars

______________________________________________________________________________

Stay tuned for more featured venues in the upcoming months!

Sweet Memories Photography | 703.424.1345 | swtmemoriesphotography@gmail.com

Let’s Talk Save the Date Online!

Let’s face it, your save-the-dates are the first detail your guests see. They set the tone for your overall wedding. But most of us don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on them. Well, I recently discovered Basic Invite who has a huge variety of save the date online for you to view, sample, and order that won’t break the bank!

It’s All in the Details

I’m sure you have seen all the flat-lays on Instagram. You know, the beautiful images of wedding stationery suites, posed with wedding rings, flowers, ribbons, etc. The images draw you in. They’re beautiful! You’re thinking, “I need this on my wedding day.”

Look no further for beautiful wedding stationery than Basic Invite!! You can customize all of their products to add foil for that expensive look, incorporate your wedding colors, and add envelopes that compliment or match those colors. It’s super easy!

I’m a huge believer in trying out products before sharing them on my blog and social media. So you know that I ordered my own save the date online through this company. Not only was it super affordable, but they’re beautiful and high-quality!

Want beautiful, great quality, and affordable stationery? Check out Basic Invite's save the date online and destination themed save the date!
Want beautiful, great quality, and affordable stationery? Check out Basic Invite's save the date online and destination themed save the date!

For those of you who need a destination themed save the date, they have those as well:

Want beautiful, great quality, and affordable stationery? Check out Basic Invite's save the date online and destination themed save the date!

Some good ideas to include in your stationery suite are maps, written directions (as seen above), local hotels to stay at, and things to do in that area!

Want beautiful, great quality, and affordable stationery? Check out Basic Invite's save the date online and destination themed save the date!

More about Basic Invite

Free Wedding Websites: Their wedding websites are customizable! They’re mobile-friendly and super easy to use. Choose from 180 custom colors, and a design suite to match your wedding invitations!

Almost Unlimited Colors: They have almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can change the color of each element on a card, with over 180 different color options. The card can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail.

Custom Samples: Basic Invite allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their invitation. You can see the card’s paper quality and how it will print before you have to place your final order.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes: Customers can choose from over 40 different envelope colors. Your invitation will stand out even before it is opened.

Over 900 Wedding Invitation Sets: Each of their wedding invitations is part of a set. They have all the wedding stationery you need, like save the dates, wedding invitations, enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs, and even matching thank you cards!

Free Address Collection Service: Use their free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps.

Seal & Send Wedding Invitations: Their seal and send wedding invitations are an all-in-one wedding invitation with a tear-off RSVP postcard included! Currently, they offer them in over 30 designs including foil options, and they are customizable. What’s special about the Seal & Sends is that guest’s addresses are printed on the front of each invitation so no envelope is necessary! All you have to do is share a link, collect guest addresses, and upload them onto your design. Once you receive your order all you have to do is add postage, fold your invites, and secure them with a sticker!

Check Them Out!

You can check out Basic Invite through their website or any of their below social media handles:

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter