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Want to write the perfect wedding vows? Here are some amazing tips for writing your wedding vows or letter to your love on your wedding day.


Okay, so you are sitting down and getting ready to write your wedding vows… now… where to start? Writing your wedding vows or even just the letter to your love on your wedding day for them to read before you walk down the aisle can be overwhelming. I wanted to come up with some tips that weren’t classic tips you can find anywhere on the internet. I talked to several married couples to get their thoughts on this topic. I wanted to give real world advice so you can enjoy your wedding ceremony and feel like you said what you really feel in your vows!

cuff links on wedding letter

1. Determine your definition of love and marriage
This is the first step, the foundation for your vows, and the foundation for your relationship. How do you want your relationship to look? What do you value most in your relationship? How would you describe love? These are some great questions to ask yourself to help you get started. I would also suggest figuring out your “love language”, you can take the quiz here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/. This has made a big difference in my relationship and if you know this when writing your vows you can make promises based off of that.

couple sitting on couch bride and groom reading vowsbride and groom together before wedding ceremony

“I officiate weddings. I’ve had couples vow to stay together through Eagles wins & losses & another vowed to watch Judge Judy & Judy Garland movies for the rest of their lives. Whatever you write, make it about the two of you”- Valerie, Wedding Officiant

bride and groom reading letters to each other bride and groom together before ceremony

2. Decide, with your fiancé, on the theme you want
This can be helpful if you want to be on the same page with your vows. You don’t want one of your vows to be really long and the other super short. Imagine if your husband cracks a bunch of jokes but you keep it very sentimental. You don’t want your vows to feel like a competition so having a simple discussion of the general theme can help. You don’t have to pin point an exact word count or anything, but just a general feel for how you want it to flow.

bride and groom reading letters to each other before their ceremony

“I officiate weddings. I’ve had couples vow to stay together through Eagles wins & losses & another vowed to watch Judge Judy & Judy Garland movies for the rest of their lives. Whatever you write, make it about the two of you”- Valerie, Wedding Officiant

couple at the alter saying their vows

“That they were serious but little hints of us which are funny and that no one else could hear them”- Cassie, Cassie kept her vows quiet during their ceremony so that it was more just between her and her wife!

3. Think about the story of your relationship
Think back to the beginning of your relationship, how did you meet, what was your first date like, how did the proposal go? I am sure a lot of people have asked you about your story along the way through your relationship, so you should have this story nailed down! Then, think about the future of your relationship. Where do you see your future with your loved one? What do you promise to do in the future to make that happen? Really think hard and go with your first thoughts and follow your heart!

emotional bride reading the letter from the groom on her wedding day

“I think it’s always nice to have a past, present, future. One of your favorite memories from the past in your relationship, your feelings/thoughts on your wedding day in the moment, and one hope for the future as a couple”- Amanda Perras

groom reading a letter from his bride card to husband on wedding day with wedding rings and gift

4. Keep it simple and speak from the heart
Keep it simple! If you get a spark of inspiration, write it down! Sometimes I will watch a tv show and get emotional at a romantic moment, I try to write down a quote from that or even just why it touched me so much. Think back to those moments in tv shows, and moment in your relationship and pull little snippets from them. Along with keeping it simple, don’t make your vows too long. Save the details for your letter to your love and then have your vows be the promises and summary of your relationship. Don’t be afraid to get emotional on the wedding day! If your heart tells you to say something in your wedding vows, go for it! I have read in different articles to rehearse with your fiancé before the wedding day if you think you will be too emotional, but I don’t agree with that! I say save it for the wedding day, let the tears fall, laughter ensue, and embrace that moment!

“Just speak from the heart. Don’t overthink them and rehearse to make sure they’re not too long or short when you say them out loud. Tell him why you love him, what you promise for your future, and I threw a few jokes in there”- Noel

“I also officiate weddings. I often have couples where 1 will REALLY want to write the vows, and another will be like “What??? I can’t do this!” What I often tell them is to just say what they love most about their partner, and what they want for them in the future. Always works!”- Becky, wedding officiant

bride holding card with a heart on it

“I love that both of us unintentionally wrote ours the morning of the wedding! Don’t overthink it and don’t over rehearse.”- Jennifer
“My vows were way too long. So I say keep it short and sweet with a few points!”- Amanda

5. Find some fancy stationary for your vows or letter
Your vows or letter to your love will be in a lot of photos, so you want them to look their best! You can put it in a card, write it on fancy paper, or print it on pretty printer paper. When you are getting ready you letter or vows will be a great detail to be photographed. I always love to incorporate the letter or vows along with jewelry, cuff links, or even other stationary from the wedding day.

I hope these tips help you to navigate your way through writing your vows! It was great to hear from lots of couples and get their advice on writing vows. Everyone does something different, so as long as it feels right to you thats all that matters! The most important thing is that you are committing to your lifelong marriage with the love of your life, what ever you decide to promise is up to you. If you feel like you forget something, don’t worry, you can add on promises every day of your marriage!









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Tips on picking the perfect outfit to style your engagement session.

In a previous post we talked about why having an engagement session is so important. Your engagement session should be a less formal introduction to who you are as a couple. You can use these photos in so many ways, so of course you want them to look stylish and fun. If you are like most couples, the most stressful part about your engagement session is probably figuring out what to wear. Don’t worry! We have you covered. Below are the tips we tell all our couples who ask the question, “what should we wear?” It will help you pick the perfect outfit to style your engagement session. 

{Tip 1} Mood Board

I learned this from the amazing folks at Lin and Jirsa, and it makes a huge impact when getting on the same page with your photographer. Before we even get to the session, we always have our couples pin about 20 images to a “mood board”. These images are meant to be photo inspiration that they just LOVE. Then we have them comment with a few words or sentences on why they love that particular photo. Is it the light, the pose, the overall mood of the photo? This will ultimately help more than just saying, “here I want my session to look like this”.

engagement session styling pinterest board Douglas James Studios engagements mood board

{Tip 2} Be Prepared

Having your photo taken is stressful enough, so pick your outfit(s) the night before. This way you aren’t scrambling the day of to find something you like.

engagement session styling

{Tip 3} Be Yourself!

Its so cliché, but who else knows your style better than you? I know that when couples ask “what should we wear?”, they aren’t asking it literally, they are just looking for some guidance and inspiration. So when picking out your outfits, make sure its something you are comfortable and confident in.

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos philadelphia PA Old City

{Tip 4} Props

Adding props into you photos can be a fun way to provide some personal insight into a relationship. When used simply, and in moderation, props can add an engaging, storytelling element to your session. Think of props as an element of design used to bring the shoot together, by tying together a theme and/or complimenting the story of who you are as a couple. There are different types of props that can be used during an engagement photography shoot. Personal props generally have special significance (like a family heirloom) or reflect the couple’s lives together, like a vintage car or Vespa scooter. Creative or cute props are used with the intention of adding whimsy and flair to the shoot. For instance, a large colorful balloon or handmade banner adds a pop of color and a graphic element. Finally, location-based props, like a rowboat on a lake, come with your chosen location.

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos props Bethlehem PA Moravian College

{Tip 5} Be Practical 

Make sure to consider the locations you will be going when making outfit choices. I know, those stilettos look incredible! But if you are doing a session in Old City Philadelphia where cobblestone is everywhere, you aren’t going to have a lot of fun. So if you really want them for the session, make sure to bring a backup pair of walking around shoes (They will be in shots too).

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos beach Sea Isle City NJ

{Tip 6} Don’t be afraid of prints, patterns, or bold colors. 

Black might be slimming, but I generally advise couples not to wear it since it leads to every speck of dust and hair being easily caught on camera. Wearing white should be saved for your wedding day, so go with bright hues that will pop from the background. To make bright colors work, pick ones that play off each other without being too matchy-matchy, like yellow and blue. If you’re planning on wearing prints or patterns (polka dots, argyle, ombre), make sure they’re big enough to show up on camera, because things like tiny lines or dots do not photograph well, but also not too big, because you don’t want to get lost in an oversize print.

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos woods bright colors trail Jim Thorpe PA

{Tip 7} Play off the location.

Think of your surroundings when picking out colors for your outfit. If your photos are in a park, a green dress might camouflage you with the grass and trees. A complimentary color, like a red dress, would pop against the green if you want to stand out. For a more subdued look, try a cool color like a blue, to differentiate from your surroundings. If you’ll be in more of an urban setting — let’s say in front of an abandoned brick building — try bold hues to contrast with the gritty background.

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos Historic Bethlehem PA

{Tip 8} Dress for the season.

Remember, this session is all about being comfortable and relaxed, so make sure your outfit matches the weather. For spring, consider pastels, and sweaters. In summer, consider sun dresses, shorts, and polos. For fall, muted colors, layers (scarves, sweaters, etc…), jeans and slacks. In winter, consider pants with a stylish jacket, or a suit for the guys. This is a perfect time of year to get festive with prints or glittery accents. Just because it’s chilly isn’t a reason to not look good.

engagement session styling bride and groom engagement photos bridge in Fairmount Park Philadelphia PA

{Tip 9} Switch things up.

If you can’t decide between casual and formal, go for both. Bringing 2 outfits never hurts, as long as you don’t have to haul a bag of clothes around everywhere you go. Wardrobe changes are always welcome and help as transition pieces when changing locations.

engagement session styling bride and groom smiling engagement photos grass cherry blossom

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Want a fun, laid back wedding day? | Here are {9 Tips} to help ensure everyone involved has fun.

When it comes logistics, timing, and execution, we know exactly how hectic your wedding day can be. So, here are some tips to help you on the day from all of us who have been there. Our goal is to help your wedding day go as smooth as possible. We thought the best way to do this would be to break the day into 3 main sections and talk about nine ways to ensure you and everyone involved have a fun, laid back wedding day!

Getting Ready

bride getting makeup on bride and bridesmaids saying cheers at the westin Jersey City NJ

  1.  Plan Extra time

    Sometimes makeup artist and hair stylists run late, things need to be sewn, or it just takes longer to get ready than you thought… leave extra time for these possible moments so you can be a bit more laid back.

  2. Relax, laugh a little, have fun

    Our main goal is to help you have fun and enjoy your day! You will be nervous, but take your nerves out by dancing around with your squad, watching a funny movie, or just talking about funny moments from the past. Have a few drinks to loosen up… and we mean only a FEW

  3. Have the details together

    Having all of the details together even before you start to get ready will relieve a ton of stress. Everything will be ready to go when your photographer comes to photograph all of the details. Great things to have together are your jewelry, shoes, and invitation. Anything that you will be using or wearing is important!

Groups and Intimates

bride and groom kissing with umbrella bridesmaids laughing with bride at the knowlton mansion philadelphia pa

  1. Have drinks ready

    Even if not alcoholic, it’s always good to have drinks for all of your wedding party, they will be parched from all of the celebrating. Some alcohol never hurts though, you don’t get photographed every day so just a little bit will help you to relax.

  2. Have fun!

    Don’t be afraid to make silly faces, dance around, or throw some of your own poses into the mix! Have fun with it, the excitement and happiness will help everyone else feel a lot more laid back and it will come across in the photos!

  3. Trust your photographer

    Trust that your photographer knows where the best spot is for photographs, knows lighting, and knows how to pose. Your photographer might have you do some poses that feel uncomfortable, but usually, those are the ones that look the best. Also, trust that they will capture your best angle and that too close feeling… it’s just close enough.

wedding flower bouquet with signature drink at the knowlton mansion philadelphia pa


cocktail hour food at the knowlton mansion philadelphia pa bride and groom dancing with guests

  1. Dance!

    It may seem a little obvious… but some couples get so wrapped up in talking to people that they forget to relax and have fun! So, go, get out there on the dance floor and shake your booty!

  2. Eat!

    This is another obvious one but again often forgotten. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with the busy schedule of your wedding day. So be sure to eat and refuel.

  3. Let your DJ/ MC run the show.

    You went over the schedule, you checked it twice, you made sure everything was accounted for, now let the DJ/MC handle it. This is another time where trust comes into place, trust that your vendors are professionals and know how to manage the schedule. Once the reception starts the timeline is out of your control, so let it go.







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