7 Easy Ways to Add Years to Your Life (a few minutes at a time)

Eat those fruits and veggies.  Eating two or more servings of fruits and vegetables can add up to two hours to your life, PER DAY.

Picture Work from home – Studies show people who commute more than 31 miles per day, regularly die sooner than those who don’t.  All that stress and time spent sitting inactive really adds up.





Floss – Yep, flossing can add up to 6.4 years to your life.  Good breath and you stick around longer, who knew?  I was eating lunch while reading how many, and what type of germs and bacteria we have in our mouths.  Yummy.



Coffee – While we’re on the subject of teeth…and breath.  It seems coffee in moderation may have gotten a bad rap as of late.  One study of coffee drinkers showed male participants had a 10% less chance of dying and female participants had a 14% less chance of dying as compared to their non-coffee drinking buddies. With the hours I spend driving to photo shoots, checking gear and editing images, caffeine is my friend.  At this rate I’m going to live to be 170 years old!


Exercise – Okay, this one is pretty freaking amazing.  Every minute of exercise can up to seven minutes to your life.  I know right?  How incredible is that!?  How many investments in life deliver 1:1 or 1:7 return?  Brides and Grooms, I’m pointing at you for this one.  Aside from helping you look as hot as possible on your big day, it also reduces stress, helping you actually make it through the big day with all your hair in place.  More about that here.  So get out there and shake what your Momma’ gave you while preparing for your wedding.


PictureSmile and laugh! –    Really, as a Wedding Photographer, how can I not love this one?  The first draft of this blog even had it twice.  I’ve talked about What’s In A Smile before here on the blog but recent studies have once again shown laughter really may be the best medicine.






Tie the knot – That’s right, getting married is good for your health.  Single males aged between 30 and 59 have a two and a half times greater chance of kicking the bucket compared with their married counterparts.  Women have a 23% greater risk.  The study however, did not take into account the number of men who died trying impress a woman.  Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it.


PictureHey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit me on Facebook or Twitter and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the light side, lets share our odd little worlds on “Instagram” at Sean_spphotography.   See you next time everybody 🙂  Sean


A Little Help for the Guys

Hey guys, it’s not always about the bride…but let’s just keep that between us, okay?  Trust me, it’ll be better for both of us.  Today we have something for you guys.  It’s Saturday, the official BBQ and Buddies day.  So we’re showing a little love to the soon-to-be grooms on this fine man-holiday.
PicturePhoto Credit: Elder Jewelry
   Let’s face it, as guys we aren’t the best at subtle hints.  Those wedding planning magazines in the car, Bridal Gown Monthly on her coffee table, her friend’s wedding photography album on her bed…those really weren’t coincidence.  Nothing wrong with it, it’s just who we are.  Not to fear, the folks over at Groomsadvice.com have our back fellas with some tips on when it’s time to start looking at an engagement ring.  Now when you recognize a few, or all, of these traits, I want you to just sit back and relax.  You really like her.  Besides, she likes BBQ and buddies Saturdays too <fist bump>
Check it out here


Hey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit me on Facebook or Twitter and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the light side, lets share our odd little worlds on “Instagram” at Sean_spphotography.   See you next time everybody 🙂  Sean

Four Easy Steps to a Smooth Floral Consultation

Since my last post on how to pick a wedding dress was such a hit, Sean suggested maybe doing a similar post this week, focusing on another element of wedding planning.  I took his idea and ran with it, and am turning it into a multi-part wedding planning guide.

A few days ago, Veronica talked about the benefits of hiring a wedding planner. There are so many ways that a wedding planner will make your life easier, but for some, it’s simply not the right choice. If you fall into that group, but still aren’t sure where to start, I’ve got just what you need.  As I mentioned, we’ve already talked about the dress. This week, we’ll tackle another big element of your wedding…

The flowers.

The level of importance of the flowers varies with each bride. Some don’t even notice that they have a bouquet in their hand, while others actually pick their wedding date based around when certain flowers will be in bloom (yes, I know someone who has done this).
Regardless of how important the flowers are to you, meeting with the florist can be a daunting task. I’d like to speak from my experience as a designer, and give you some advice on how to make your first meeting go as smoothly as possible. The biggest thing to remember is, even if you think you don’t have a clue as to what you want, deep down, you really do. Any wedding consultant worth their salt will be able to coach you through the process and help you narrow down what you’re looking for, but just in case, follow these simple steps:

1. Bring photos. Wedding designers really DO want to see what you’ve been looking at online. You are the client, and we want to please you. Maybe narrow it down, and don’t bring  all 500 photos of the same bouquet, but do bring enough to give us a sense of your style. Even if you haven’t seen “the one” yet, if you’ve seen something you positively HATE, bring that, too. And we will make sure to flip right past any pages that contain that type of arrangement. The last thing either of us want is to keep showing you things that you hate.

2. Know your numbers. Chances are, your first meeting is mostly about outlining your budget, and making sure that your bank account is in agreement with what you’ve picked out. Know how many will be in the bridal party and approximately how many tables you’ll have at the reception hall. We know that you can’t give us an exact number, but chances are, you’ve discussed with the hall whether or not you’re using tables that seat 8 versus 10, and you probably know roughly how many people you’re inviting. Trust me, you’ll be a lot less frustrated if you can throw out “We’re having 10-15 tables” instead of shrugging and being completely unsure.

3. Challenge your designer. And no, I don’t mean to a duel. Ask your designer what they’ve done in the past with a certain theme/color scheme. Get their creative juices flowing, and you never know where you’ll end up. Do you have your heart set on pool blue dresses from the bridal salon, but have no idea how to best compliment them? Your designer will. I promise you, if you’ve chosen a florist that’s been around for a substantial amount of time, there’s not much that they haven’t seen or done. Use that experience to your advantage. We are more than happy to show you the work we’ve done in the past.

  4. Trust us. This is huge. Flowers can be a very volatile market, and no one knows better than the designer.  Google and Martha Stewart will tell you that any flower is available at any time, and to a degree, they’re right. Most flowers ARE available year-round, with a few slight exceptions. But just because they’re available doesn’t mean that they’re in their prime season, or that they’re affordable. If you have your heart set on peonies, I’d suggest planning your wedding date around your local bloom time. If you just want a beautiful assortment of  flowers that coordinate with your colors, maybe consider asking your designer what’s available AND pretty that time of year. It’s very common to want to pick out every single flower, to have a hand in the selection of every minute detail of your bouquet, but if you give your designer some leeway, your bouquet will be far more stunning.

I could go on and on for days about flower selection and complimentary colors, but we’ll save that for a future post. 😉

The most important part to remember when meeting with ANY vendor? This is YOUR day. Have some fun with it.


Hey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit us on Facebook and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the lighter side, hit me up on Instagram, you can find me under AmandaBellaire.

The Merits of Hiring a Wedding Planner

Back when I was planning my wedding, I waffled back and forth between wishing I could afford a wedding planner and thinking I would never want a wedding planner. I know, makes no sense, right? Well hear me out.

I wanted a wedding planner because I wanted our day to be perfect, wonderful, fabulous, and knew having a professional help out is one way to do that.

I didn’t want a wedding planner because I am … how shall we say? … anal. I am picky and precise. I … drive people crazy. I figured if I hired a wedding planner I would lose all say in my wedding and it wouldn’t represent me and my fiancé anymore.

However, in just taking a casual glance at Mrs. Hancock’s Wedding and Event Services, a Phoenix-based wedding planning service that Sean Purcell Photography adores, I was reminded of all the reasons I thought it would be great to have one in the first place.

So, while having a wedding planner isn’t in the cards for everyone, there are many merits to considering one.

First of all, they can do as much or as little as you like. Maybe you start out wanting to do everything yourself and then get overwhelmed and wish someone would just choose the napkins and matchbooks from the 100,000 choices online so you can get on with your life already and stop having nightmares about scrolling through choices on theknot.com. They can do that.

A quick glance at Mrs. Hancock’s page highlights one of the main reasons you might want a wedding planner. IDEAS. Oh, the ideas. You might know that you definitely don’t want floral centerpieces, but have no idea where to go from there. She’s got you covered. If she’s got ideas she’s willing to share on facebook about non-floral centerpieces, trust me when I say she must have a LOT more than that.

You don’t have to deal with people you don’t want to deal with. Now, this alone would have made my wedding day so much more pleasant and calm. On the morning of my wedding, while I was watching my bridesmaids get their hair done, my caterer called me and accused me of trying to stiff them. They said they were in the hall, had counted all the chairs (!!!!) and knew I was trying to have fifteen more guests than I had paid them to serve, and they weren’t serving food until I wrote them another check. I was terrified, then angry, then scared again. We finally straightened it all out (I was right, they were wrong, of course), but I spent an hour on the phone crying on the morning of my wedding. In the meantime, the photographer and DJ had called my husband because they were standing at the hotel we told them we had booked rooms for them and there were no reservations in their names. He had sent them to the wrong hotel! Of course to book them in that hotel, he had to show up with his credit card or fax a copy over. All this interfered with his fun groomsmen lunch and put him an hour behind schedule, too. We’re lucky we got caught up and the wedding started on time, but we were still frazzled on our big day. I do not recommend it. I truly wish I had hired someone, if not JUST to have them be the one to call my caterers and put them in their place for accusing me of something so terrible and trying to ruin my wedding day. That, my friends, would have been PRICELESS.

I can assure you there are millions more reasons that hiring a wedding planner would make your day more enjoyable and save your butt, but these are my favorite.

Wouldn’t you rather look like this (calm and happy)? …

Than like THIS after your caterer calls you a thief?
Do you have any experience with a wedding or event planner? What are some of the reasons you are glad you employed him or her? Go ahead and leave a comment below.
You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on Twitter, and InstagramFeel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Can’t please em all

So you’re planning your wedding and have figured out that there are nearly as many opinions out there as there are people on your invitation list.  Here’s a simple little formula to remember…(time known+who they’re related to) / gift they’re likely to bring = happiness.  Just kidding, it’s really quite simple, it’s your day.  Yep, that’s it.  No secret formula, or calculator, required.  But you can be sure there’s going to be some ruffled feathers somewhere on your list.  Here are a few tips to prevent some of the biggies.
Sure, you want everybody to have a fantastic time.  You want everybody to remember your wedding and talk about it like one of these over the top, epic events.  But in the end, the wedding is the celebration of the love you share with your partner.

  • Financial – Unless you’re the one holding the purse strings, try to avoid placing yourself as the point of contact when it comes to making payments.  You have plenty of things on your plate without trying to remember if you’ve made the initial deposit on your cake or paid the retaining fee for your wedding photographer.
  • Expectations – Setting clear expectations with everybody involved lays out the ground rules but also gives them some insight into what your dream wedding is…and what it isn’t.  Say you’ve had enough of the Harlem shake, you may want to let everybody know there will be no spontaneous donning of elephant costumes at your reception.  (please do this)  If your future Mother in-law has offered to “take care” of the hotel reservations, you may want to make sure she knows that the no-tel motel on the edge of the highway is not your idea of a great location.  That way she’ll at least have a starting point and you won’t have to delouse your suitcase after the big day.   On the topic of expectations, any vendor you deal with SHOULD have a written contract that both you and they sign.  Your big day is not the place for any big surprises.  The day you sign with Sean Purcell Photography, your big day is blocked off and that day belongs to you no matter who approaches us after.  Many vendors have this same sort of first come-first served practice.
  • Physical fitness – There is a mountain of evidence that regular exercise releases chemicals into the body that promote good, healthy thought patterns.  But don’t take our word for it, check out this article on Managing Stress with Regular Exercise.  Besides a healthy outlook, who doesn’t want to look HOTTTT on their big day?
  • And closely related to fitness…relax.  That’s right.  Nothing magical or mysterious here.  Sit back and take a deep breath.  It will all work out and when you’re flipping through your wedding album (trust us, you’re going to show it to everybody and anybody who crosses paths with you) do you really want to think about the endless ours of blood, sweat and tears you put yourself through trying to make everybody happy with every detail?  I’m guessing the answer is a resounding no.  It’s the smile and look in your new spouse’s eyes, the first dance, your father’s embrace when he gave you away that you want to remember.  So just sit back, let others help you and enjoy the ride.  🙂
  Now, what other tips do you have for keeping things calm during the wedding planning phase?  We LOVE comments, so don’t just sit there in the corner, leave your best tips for keeping it chilled in the comment section below.


Hey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit me on Facebook or Twitter and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the light side, lets share our odd little worlds on “Instagram” at Sean_spphotography.

Capturing Moments in Time

A few months ago, Sean wrote about how photographs capture a moment in time and how fun it is to walk down memory lane.That really resonated with me, and I must say, this is one of my major goals in life: to capture as many moments as possible, whether it be through writing or photography, and I do it every day.

The two projects I am most proud of are my “Josie Journal” and “Genevieve Grace, week by week” (Yes, I give everything titles. Don’t you?).

The “Josie Journal” is a journal I use to record something about my oldest daughter every single day. It grew out of the calendar my mom gave me to record little snippets when she was a baby (which I am also doing for my youngest). Once she got older, I couldn’t fit everything from the day in a tiny square, and needed more space.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I take dozens of pictures of my two daughters DAILY, but I decided to get a little more structured with my second daughter, and thus the weekly photo was born.I knew I wanted to do a monthly photo in the same chair with the same teddy bear sitting next to her, but after I realized I had taken pictures of Genevieve in the same rocker from roughly the same angle when she was exactly one week old and two weeks old, I realized I had to keep it up. Now I have a folder on my desktop (and facebook — who am I kidding? I’m the classic over-sharer on facebook) and I am so very proud of them.

Sure, they’re not perfect. It took me a while to get the right angle and decide how big to make the font, and the coloring is different in every one because they are taken at different times of the day and in different locations in my house. And sure, she spends most of the time these days trying to buck herself out of the rocker instead of sleeping or playing along, but … you guys, come on. They’re awesome.Watching that little face fatten up, her little body lengthen, her smile get bigger, and her eyes get brighter? I just love them. I’ll always have these to look back on and see her first year pass by like a flip book (which will certainly make me cry in years to come), but I HAVE them. They’re mine to keep.

For this project, it made sense to do it on my own, but some need a professional to capture (don’t remind me about the horrible outcomes of NOT having a professional on hand for your biggest moments!). If you do need a great photographer, I have one in mind who can do great work for you. *wink wink*

So what about you? What is the project you’re most proud of? How do you capture your most cherished memories? Have a photo series you’re especially proud of? A clever idea for your wedding day photo shoot? A unique way of displaying pictures in your home? Share your brilliance here so you can inspire others!

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on Twitter, and InstagramFeel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Picking the dress…when perfect just isn’t good enough

Well, it’s official. He’s popped the question, you’ve said yes, and now the real fun begins! Your head is swirling with all of the planning that lies ahead of you. Where? When? What theme do you want? Do you even WANT a theme? Simple, or elaborate? Small intimate gathering of family and close friends, or something that the entire tri-county area is invited to? And that’s not even touching on your colors, flowers, cake, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. But you know where you’re going to start.

The dress.

It is the centerpiece of the day, and it needs to be just perfect. You want to take everyone’s breath away and knock the socks off your fiance all in one fell swoop. So many factors go in to selecting your dress, that it can seem almost mind boggling. Today, I’m going to offer a little bit of guidance for you. Partially from my own experience, and also with some wonderful resources to help you on your way.

My first bit of advice to you, as you’re combing the internet and bridal catalogs –  don’t get tunnel vision. When I was planning my wedding, I had this problem in a big way. I fell in love with a dress that I thought was absolutely stunning, and I could envision myself walking down the aisle in it. It had slightly off the shoulder sleeves, it was fitted at the waist, and every photo I saw of it made the bride look super slim. I cut out photos, showed it to friends and family, and said this is the ONE. I ran to the dress shop to try it on, and I was horrified. It was the single worst dress that I could have ever put on my body. I was fairly heavy at the time, and it made me look ten times bigger than I really was. The slightly sloped sleeves didn’t elongate my collarbone as I’d hoped they would, instead, they made my shoulders look like they were about ten feet across. And don’t even get me started on the armpit flab. I was devastated.  Here’s a quick guide to help you start looking in the right direction.

My second bit of advice to you is, go to a real dress shop. Even if you end up purchasing your dress online, at least be fitted by a proper bridal consultant. These men and women are trained to assess your body type, and help steer you toward the gown that is going to make you look amazing. Trust in them. My second mistake, beyond the bridal gown tunnel vision, was hitting up a fly-by-night shop at our local mall. The woman there was no help to me, she never measured me, and even though she kept bringing dresses for me to try on, TRYING to stop the constant flow of tears, she made things worse. She brought things that were three and four sizes too small, so I felt even worse about myself. It is definitely not a confidence builder when your dress consultant is grunting and groaning trying to zip you into a dress. Bad news, folks. After a few weeks, I decided to try dress shopping again. This time, I went to a well known dress shop in my area, and I was treated the way every bride should be … with courtesy, respect, and KNOWLEDGE. I told her my tales from the last shop, and the first thing she did was measure me, so that as I was combing through the racks, I was at least searching in the right size. She also informed me of something that I’d had NO idea about, and I’m sure you don’t, either. Bridal gowns do not run in the same size family as your normal clothes. I was a solid size XL/16, but when I finally found my gown, it was, get this…a size 22. Don’t let this discourage you. Just assume that the people who size bridal gowns are insane. It helps.
My last bit of advice is this – Let your personality shine through. This is your day, don’t let other people make you think that you have to follow “tradition”. If you want to
wear bright orange, you go for it. The possibilities for bridal gowns are nearly endless these days, so go right ahead … make this YOUR day.
Wondering how my dress fiasco ended up? Toward the end of my appointment at the real bridal shop, the consultant asked me if I’d like to try on a gown that she’d just received in. She knew it wasn’t quite the style I was going for, but that it was an amazing dress, and she’d like to see it on me. Even though I didn’t want to, I agreed. Something magical happened as soon as she zipped me up, and I knew THIS was the one. It fit perfectly right off the rack and I felt like a complete princess. Needless to say, I dropped my credit card on the counter that afternoon. Now THAT’S what you call a saleswoman.

This photo leaves a lot to be desired as far as wedding pictures go (click here to read Veronica’s guide on how to avoid this happening to you), but doesn’t the dress look amazing?


Hey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit us on Facebook and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the lighter side, hit me up on Instagram, you can find me under AmandaBellaire.