Monday, October 12, 2009

An evening of Wine, Women and Song

The girls on the boudoir team are excited - we've got our stuff on display!


At the Wine Bin in Historic Ellicott City, that is.


All of October, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, balance boudoir is working with the good folks at the Wine Bin to raise money for SOS ~ Survivors Offering Support.


SOS is an all volunteer organization of Breast Cancer survivors who have dedicated a portion of their time to help recently diagnosed women through the ordeal of treatment and recovery. Each volunteer/mentor must complete a four step training process that begins at the hospital where doctors brief them on treatment options and the pathology of the disease. In addition, volunteers/mentors are required to obtain two releases from doctors stating they are emotionally prepared to support a newly diagnosed patient. The local SOS organization supports Howard County General Hospital (HCGH), The Center for Breast Care and the dedicated and gifted doctors and nurses who practice there. Each year more than 125 women undergo breast cancer surgery at HCGH. This program is supported by a grant from the Susan G. Komen Maryland Affiliate.


balance is proud to be donating a boudoir shoot to this important cause. Stop by the Wine Bin and make a bid in our silent auction for the shoot - you'll get the complete treatment: hair, make-up, pampering -as well as gorgeous, sexy rock star photo

s of yourself! And the entire amount raised will go to SOS! This is a shoot normally sold for $285.00 - and SOS will do a lot of good for women in need with those funds.


The Wine Bin will host Rissa and the rest of the team, including Ashley Riddle and the girls from Up Do's for I Do's on Thursday October 29th from 6p.m. to 8p.m. at an Artist's Reception. So stop by, meet the photographer - as well as the hair and makeup artists that will make you into a supermodel at your shoot. We're rarely together outside of shoots & weddings, so this is going to be a fun night - especially with wine involved!


Oh - there's more too!


Classical guitarist Christopher Dunn will be performing live all evening. Parfections Chocolatier will be showing off their new line of sensuous truffles (run, don't walk!); and the Wine Bin will also be hosting a "Meet the Wine Maker" event that night with Spencer Graham of Elizabeth Spencer Wines, who will be tasting through his Napa Valley Wines and signing bottles.


This is one Thursday night you will not want to miss. Who can resist an evening of Wine, Women and Song?


Make the scene! The Wine Bin is housed in the historic firehouse built in 1930 at 8390 Main Street, Historic Ellicott City, Maryland 21043. Free parking is available adjacent to the building and there is plenty of on-street parking as well. Oh - and the Wine Bin itself is incredible - they have about 500 different bottles on site, including organic wines. They have 200 wines under $20 and are featuring two bottles this month that directly support breast cancer research!



Bid early and often on the shoot for SOS - and we'll see you there!

~Rissa

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We still get around...

It's been awhile since we've updated the list of wedding and event venues we have worked at in the Baltimore/DC area and I figured it was time to give it a refresher. We've added over a dozen new venues in the local vicinity, as well as several new states and countries in the destination category. But that's a story for another time.

Lots of brides ask us if we've been to their venue. Well, we've worked at about 65 locally, not including the events we've done at clients' homes or farms, or the events held in other areas. If you don't see your mansion or ballroom on this list, not to worry ~ we're always excited to explore a new place! After all, we hadn't worked at all these venues when we started, and now we've been back to some many times!!

And without further delay... the venues:

Arts Club (DC)
Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Baltimore Waterfront Marriott
Belvedere Hotel
Black Rock Center for the Arts
Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast (VA)
Carlylse Hotel (DC)
Ceresville Mansion
Centennial Park
Chanteclaire Farm
Chase Court
Chesapeake Bay Beach Club (all rooms)
Chesapeake Bay Beach Resort
Christian Clay Winery (PA)
Clearview at Horn's Point Country Club
Cloisters
Country Club of York (PA)
Elkridge Furnace Inn
Evergreen House
Engineers Club
Founders Inn (VA)
The Gathering Place
Glen Echo Park
Gramercy Mansion
Grey Rock Mansion
Harbor Court Hotel
Hay-Adams Hotel (DC)
Herrington on the Bay
Historic Oakland Mansion
Hunt Valley Golf Club
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
Inn at Roop's Mill
Josephine Butler Parks Mansion/Merdian Hill Park (DC)
Loews Annapolis Hotel
MICA/Main Building
Matthews 1600
Montpelier Mansion
Mt. Airy Mansion
Mt. De Sales Academy
Nassau Valley Winery (DE)
Naval Academy
National Press Club (DC)
Newton White Mansion
North Point Park/Trolley Station
Officer's Club/Ft. McNair (DC)
Old Stone Mill Inn (PA)
Overhills Mansion
Phoenix Park Hotel (DC)
Pier 5
Piney Run Park
Rolling Road Golf Club
Savage Mill/Mansion
Sheraton/Columbia Town Center
St. Regis Hotel (DC)
Stonewall Golf Club (VA)
Stronghold Mansion/Sugarloaf
Tabard Inn (DC)
Ten Oaks Ballroom
University of Maryland
Watermark Yachts
WISP
Windows on the Bay
World Trade Center/Inner Harbor
Yorktowne Hotel (PA)


Told ya. We get around.
~ Rissa

Friday, May 1, 2009

Midnight in the Garden of Rissa & Nathaniel

Working extremely long hours is not unusual around here. We spend hours & hours doing Photoshop work for clients, creating albums and books, answering emails and more at the office. Leaving at midnight (or later!) to go home is common.

Last night we were coming in the front door from another late night of work and noticed that several of our outdoor lights had burned out at the same time ~ leaving only one bulb lit. At first it was like "Geez, all at once?" But what magic... That single light illuminated Nathaniel's flower garden in a way I had never seen when all the lights were filling the air. It was a dreamscape.


The daffodils, tulips, bleeding hearts, azaleas and ranunculus transformed into sensual works of modern art in the dim light. Their structure, their grace was balanced beautifully with the darkness. Hints of blossoming color cloaked in the depth of midnight.


Like the eccentric I am, I sat up a camera on timer release - first propped on a trash can, then more successfully (and safely) on Nathaniel's tripod. It only occurred to me about 15 minutes into shooting that this was an unusual time for pictures. Wonder what the neighbors thought of the midnight photo shoot going on in the front yard.


In the end tho, I honestly don't care if the folks on my block think I am a little unusual. I got an incredible show ~ nature at her finest. You just never know what ethereal secrets may unfold before you, or what the darkness might reveal.

~ Rissa

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Need a Wedding Photographer?

If that's an affirmative - we're glad to help!

But you can't visit our wedding-website right now. We plan to be back online soon, so till then, feel free to browse balance's other portfolios and check out the wedding pix we have on our Flickr account!

Gracias ~
Rissa

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Notes from one of our Beauties...

And now... a blog from one of our boudoir clients!

I remember when I first came across the Balance Boudoir website and thought to myself, "This is perfect!" What better gift to give your man than a book full of beautiful photos! Once I met Rissa, I felt totally comfortable and trusted she would make the experience exactly what I wanted. Obviously I had a lot of work to do, so I planned my boudoir shoot for about 3 months after the consultation. I planned on doing 3 different looks for approximately 2-3 hours.

Besides being nervous, I was completely obsessed with how my body would look in pictures like these. I am your average girl with those "certain areas" I don't love so much. I really put myself in gear by working out 4-5 days a week, keeping up with my hair & nails and tanning. 

An extra boost was a Body Lift wrap I got the Friday before the shoot at Wraptured which helped me tighten up & tone all over. It really made a difference! Then morning of the shoot, I made sure to shave extremely well and lotion up - I was so excited, the day had arrived!

My excuse for my fiance was that I was participating in a walk-a-thon (which by the way, works like a charm!) So I planned my shoot for a Sunday morning and he didn't suspect a thing. I have to admit my stomach was in my throat. It took me pretty much the whole first look to begin feeling comfortable. But Rissa & Ashley (Up Do's for I Do's) were so down to earth and we just talked and laughed the whole time. They really helped pose me and direct me in what would look best, because I had no clue whatsoever! I did the shoot at Rissa's place & you'd never know it from the photos. She really came up with unique ideas and poses and made sure I was comfortable. It was so much fun and before I knew it, I was done!

When I saw the pictures, I couldn't believe it. Really could not believe it! I couldn't even believe that it was me. They were absolutely amazing and all my worrying & hard work had paid off.


My advice to any girl considering this is:
#1 - DO IT!! If you're nervous, self-conscious, unsure... Trust me. It's totally worth it.
#2 - Do what you can. Obviously you want to look your best for a shoot like this, but don't kill yourself. Just make sure you take care of your body inside and out. 
#3 - Try to loosen up. I wish I would have been a little less nervous, because I felt so stiff at the beginning. Just remember it's normal to feel nervous but trust Rissa & the girls to help you pose in positions that make you look GREAT!
And lastly #4 - just think of how much your fiance/husband/boyfriend will LOVE this gift! There is nothing he would like more, I am pretty sure about that. It's a special experience that he will love and it will boost your confidence in the process.

I could not be more satisfied with this experience. From the hair & makeup to the comforting support throughout the shoot up until the final product, it was so much fun and so worth the time & money. 


Believe that you are beautiful and definitely put a Balance Boudoir photo shoot at the top of your 'To Do' list!! 

Thank you so much!! 
~DP

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tasty Catonsville

So, for the past several years, I’ve been juggling around the idea of  “what do I want to do when I grow up,” meaning what category of photography am I most interested in turning into a career after college? For years, “photography” is as far as I got. I eventually had my sights set on doing  newspaper photojournalism. THEN, I met Rissa and Nathaniel, and documentary wedding photography, a type of photojournalism that was strange and new, yet  fascinating to me, came into the picture.

Now I’ve worked with balance photography for over a year, and I’ve assisted “I don’t even know how many”  weddings, but I would have never guessed my sweet tooth would guide me on my career path. Funny enough, weddings brought me to wedding cake, which brought me to food photography, the category I love best so far in the world of photography.

 The Candlelight Inn

Knowing where my enthusiasm lays, food, Rissa and Nathaniel have been amazing enough to grant me as many opportunities in photographing cakes and entrees at weddings as possible. And this past February, they gave me another chance to practice my passion.

The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce (GCCC) asked balance to do the photography for  the upcoming Taste of Catonsville event. To prepare for this event, it was necessary to get photographs of all the restaurants and an entrée they’d want to “show off” for various areas of advertising. So, one night after work, they sat down to tell me they’d like me to organize and photograph the first set of restaurants, which added up to 15 restaurants! It literally took my breath away.  They were letting me out on my own - they had faith in me - and I like to think I was the little bird being pushed out of the nest, praying I could fly.

Indian Delight

Like I said earlier, I’ve worked with Rissa and Nathaniel for a while, but I’ve never had the responsibility of organizing my own project, and this was certainly a big first project. My job was to call each restaurant, somehow reach a busy manager or owner and make an appointment to stop by and make pictures of the dish they wanted to feature. So I'd call. Call again. And eventually get someone to help me make the appointment.

The Catonsville Gourmet

Once I made an appointment, all the while making 14 other appointments at the same time, I waited in anticipation for shoots to begin, and this all occurred in just a couple of weeks. My visits were always pleasant, and a full learning experience. I was part of the food industry for a moment. I handled the business world on my own, I networked, made friends, and most of all, I got to meet people who loved what they do, whether it was working over the stove, decorating the entrée, managing the restaurant, or taking the pictures of it all.

I could not have asked for anything better. And I'm so proud of the pictures I created. They will be used in the program for the Taste of Catonsville and have been printer on flyers and currently are the main feature in the GCCC's display window at 1002 Frederick Rd in downtown Catonsville.

The Rumor Mill

All in all, there are 25 restaurants featured in the Taste of Catonsville. The list includes The Candlelight Inn, the Catonsville Gourmet, Cafe on the Grove, Dimitri's International Grill, Edible Arrangements, El Nayar, G.L. Shacks, House of Audrey, Indian Delight, Jennings Cafe, the Rumor Mill, Ships Cafe, Tiffany's, Chef Paolino's, Duesenberg's - An American Cafe, Lucy's Paradise Cafe, Spicy Garden, Sugarbakers, Moontimes Cafe, Prime Central Sandwich,Catonsville Village Bakery, Sam's Bagels, Whitehouse Catering @ Overhills Mansion, McDonald's and The Rolling Road Country Club.

El Nayar

The Taste of Catonsville will be held at the Rolling Road Country Club on Monday April 20th from 5pm to 7:30pm. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. It's the kick-off event for Restaurant Week in Catonsville and I have to say, having sampled the goods at so many Catonsville eateries - I can't wait!

See you there!
~Josie


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Romance at The Colony

When we were in Florida recently, we had the pleasure of shooting at a West Palm Beach landmark, The Colony Hotel on Hammon Avenue. It was the epitome of Palm Beach posh ~ extremely elegant, beautiful ~ obviously for those with discriminating taste. Like gorgeous couple Marissa & Rudy, whose wedding portraits were taken there.



Marissa's hair and make-up were done by Ashley, from Up Do's for I Do's. Her jewelry was created by Kim Reyes Wearable Art and her dress was by Beaches, accented with a lavender silk sash. Ashley also made her birdcage veil! Ash, you're so multi-talented! Wow!



Marissa's bouquet of roses and delphiniums was created by the inimitable Carole from A Garden of Earthly Delights.


Groom Rudy was sporting clothes by Calvin Klein. He's also a professional model for Ford Agency! Cool job you have there, Rudy...

The Colony was an incredible backdrop for romantic wedding pictures. The lobby, ballroom, gardens and Presidential Suite were all stunning ~ each area was more incredible than the last! If you are in the Palm Beach area, you must check it out! If you a bride considering a destination wedding, I would highly recommend The Colony for a top-notch experience! They just completed a huge renovation and every aspect of the facility was amazing ~ from the ambiance to the service to the fantastic, manicured gardens!

~ Rissa

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dropping Our Drawers


Okay, maybe we aren't literally dropping our drawers, but we ladies @ balance are hard at work. We've been back in the boudoir, creating seductive gorgeous images for loads of girls these past few months. 

First, you've gotta go online and check out the new additions to our boudoir portfolio. Several beauties have been added and we think they look incredibly hot. One girl even posed outdoors in her sexy lingerie and jean cut-offs. 


Next, we're introducing a new package: The Uptown Girl. This new option is a step between the Fantasy Girl and the Supermodel, and is designed for girls who want a fabulous book, but aren't as into the idea of a calendar. The Uptown Girl includes a shoot with 6 changes of wardrobe, 3 looks of hair & make-up by a stylist from Up Do's for I Do's, all images on a proofing disc and pass-word protected viewing website as well as a classic black leather-bound 6x9 flush-mount (the Black Book) album featuring 20 pages of retouched photographs of you and a stunning 16x20 canvas wrap to display in your boudoir at home. The Uptown Girl is a stylish, timeless and exceedingly elegant option for your boudoir photo session. 


More news: Because all but two of our clients have added on false lashes in the past six months, we are now including lashes with the styling for every package. We love them because they really add an extra level of glam!

What better gift for your guy ~ or yourself ~ than a collection of sultry, sexy boudoir images ~ an intimate portrait of you!

~ Rissa

Vera Beautiful

During our recent trip to Florida, we were lucky enough to do several incredible photo shoots. One of my favorites was of bride Cece in her slinky, pale pink, silk Vera Wang gown and I wanted to share some of the images.



Cece's flowers were created by Carole from a Garden of Earthly Delights.

Her hair & make-up, as well as those of bridesmaids Lauren and Katie, were done by Ashley from Up Do's for I Do's.  All the girls are wearing pearl jewelry by both Kim Reyes Wearable Art and Kourtney Pulitzer. The pix were shot in downtown Delray Beach.

Cece and her girlfriends really captured the sunny spirit of southern Florida to me. They were gorgeous, glamorous and radiant.

~ Rissa

Green-er

We attend a lot of events and one thing that is incredibly striking is the amount of waste involved. Weddings and parties create a lot of trash and are not usually very environmentally friendly. Experts say that the average wedding can create 14.5 lbs. of carbon ~ as much as the average American creates in an entire year. So that said, I'd think that anything, even one thing, you can do to be less wasteful would make a difference.

I know, I know ~ it's already overwhelming to plan a wedding, nevermind also trying to make your wedding eco-friendly.  But you don't have to be a dirty hippie to have a greener wedding. Seriously! It can still be chic, upscale and downright gorgeous ~ while having less impact on the Earth.

We've seen lots of great ideas at real weddings as well in magazines and at wedding shows. Last spring one our brides used potted magnolias as her table centerpieces, and folks were able to take them home and enjoy them. Several of our brides last year decided against favors and instead used that part of their budget to make a donation to local charities.

Here are some more great, greener ideas...

* Look for reusable items as decor. Potted plants and flowers are one idea. You could try stylish glass cylinders of  live goldfish as centerpieces, or artfully arranged fruit. All of which can be given away to guests.

* Rent as much as you can ~ things like linens, vases, chairs, tables, plates/glasses/silverware. It can be reused and you won't be stuck with 25 matching vases to store in the attic.

* Instead of traditional paraffin candles, use beeswax or soy candles. They are readily available everywhere now, even Target and Kohl's!

* Use recycled paper for all your invitations, place cards, menus, announcements and other stationary. Consider an online RSVP through your wedding website to cut back on paper. Many designers also offer stationary printed with soy and veggie based inks, which are as bright and clear as any traditional ink.

* Search for florists that source their flowers locally and organically. And if you go with more traditional centerpieces, either give them away to guests or have a friend take them as donations to local nursing homes or hospitals, so folks can continue to enjoy them.

* Make a donation to charity instead of giving favors to your guests.

* Ask your caterer if they offer any organic food, or could source your ingredients locally. Inquire if your caterer and bartender if they can recycle food/drink containers. Finally, see if the caterer will box up leftovers from the reception to give away to family & friends instead of the food ending up in the trash. Waste not, want not. 

* Go with local or organic wines, liquors and beers for your bar. Maryland has many well-known vineyards and breweries  - and even an organic winery - Black Ankle Vineyards!

* Consider a dress made from organic silk. Canadian designer Adele Weschler offers an entire eco-couture line.

* Release butterflies, throw dried herbs or use live doves instead of sparklers for your send-off.

* Instead of going with the usual registries at Macy's or Bed Bath & Beyond, try an antique shop like Retropolitan in Ellicott City, or a store with eco-chic options, like Nest in Clarksville or bluehouse with locations in Inner Harbor East and Towson.

We are also lucky enough to work with several other vendors  who are committed to making events greener.  Carole at A Garden of Earthly Delights is very serious about eco-friendly weddings.  Paul at Dionysus' Kitchen was one of the first in the catering biz to offer local and organic options in menus. Michael at ZBest Limos can tell you about their new hybrid SUV limo options. Ellen at LoCoFlo offers only Maryland-grown flowers.

Another great green vendor is event planner Lori Hill.  Lori specializes in planning greener events and has shared some of her wonderful tips for brides: 

* Invitations ~
Print on 100% post consumer recycled paper that is non-chlorine bleached. Encourage guests to recycle their invitations. Use paper with embedded seeds so that guests can plant the invites and enjoy the flowers that grow from them. Use a reply postcard (no envelope) and forego the inner envelopes. Use corks from wine bottles as escort card holders. Instead of escort cards, stamp guests' names on stones.

* Transportation & Venue ~
Transport guests with hybrids or bio-diesel vehicles. Choose a destination that requires minimal travel. Encourage guests to use mass transit & provide information, passes and maps in guest packages. Choose a venue that requires few added decor items such as a botanical garden,  a farm or a seaside resort. Hold the ceremony and reception at one place to minimize driving.

*Decor ~
Use local, seasonal and/or organically grown  flowers that minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and eliminate cross-country shipping. Choose centerpieces and decorations such as living and/or flowering plants that can be reused.

* Food & Beverage ~
Work with caters who can provide locally & organically grown food, wine & liquor. Opt for vegetarian or vegan meal options. Provide filtered water served in glasses instead of bottled water. Ask the caterer to compost unusable leftovers or ship them to a local farm. Donate leftovers to a local shelter.

*Wardrobe ~
Consider vintage dresses for the bride and bridesmaid. Purchase vintage rings, or ones made from 100% recycled, reclaimed, responsible gold.

*Gifts ~
Provide guests with handmade gifts, such as pottery. In lieu of gifts for yourself, ask for donations to a favorite charity.

See... a greener wedding doesn't mean granola. All this should get you started and headed in the right direction. Happy planning & stay green !

~ Rissa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Dreams Come True

There are people who like to vacation, and those who yearn to travel. Travelers love to delve into a new culture for the first time; to see new light at sunrise on the horizon, to taste new flavors, to exlpore the fabric of a society that makes up its individuality. To get lost in a place and a people, and embrace the unfamiliar.

I knew I was a traveler even at a young age. My parents took my brother and I on many vacations: together we explored over half of America as well as Canada, England, Scotland, France, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. At 17 I experienced my first solo adventure ~ a 60 mile canoe trip in Canada. There is nothing I love more than going to a new place for the first time. You see things differently in this first visit than you ever will again. No matter how many times you go back, it will never be like that first exploration. You truly see the place with new eyes, so to speak. And for more than a decade, it has been my dream to both travel and make pictures of the places I go.

Being a photographer marries perfectly with my dreams of travel. This year I have been lucky enough to travel or am going to travel all over the world. And I'm also lucky because now I can share some of it with you. I'm launching my first online gallery of fine art prints for sale. Hosted by two of our favorite companies, Collages.net and Facebook! The site will be available only for the next four months at which time it will be replaced with an new online gallery from another locale.



Traveling renews my spirit and gives me an appreciation for both my destination and the familiarity of home. I hope you enjoy stepping off the beaten path as you explore my pictures from Costa Rica and can experience some of the magic of the rainforest for yourself.

Thanks for sharing in my dream --
~Nathaniel

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Wedding Shows

Brides & Grooms & Moms-of-Brides ~
Wanna meet us in person and eat loads of wedding cake samples? I mean, why not, right?

Check us out at these wedding shows in the next month...

Sunday March 29th
The International Bridal Show @ Pier 5 Hotel
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 711 Eastern Ave. Baltimore, 21202
Shows is focused on international and ethnic offerings, and includes multiple lectures and a fashion show throughout the day.

Thursday April 2nd
The Bridal Happy Hour @ the American Visionary Art Museum
5:30 p.m. to 7:30p.m., 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, 21230
Free to all registered brides! A fun and funky evening ~ very hip!

Sunday April 5th
Ultimate Bridal Show by Beginning Two End @ Best Western Baltimore
2 p.m. to 5 p.m., 5625 O'Donnell St., Baltimore, 21224
Meet local vendors and get lucky with prize drawings every 30 minutes!
Admission fee applies.

Sunday April 19th
Bridal Showcase @ Historic Oakland Mansion
2 p.m. to 4 p.m., 5430 Vantage Point Rd., Columbia MD 21044 (across from the mall)
A local classic! This show fills the mansion and the outdoor patio area. Always fun!
Admission fee applies.

Sunday April 26th
Bridal Accessories Sale & Wedding Expo @ Columbia Hilton
1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., 5485 Twin Knolls Rd., Columbia MD 21045
Gowns, cake and other fabulous finds all afternoon!
Admission fee applies.

Hope to see you all out and about this month!
~ Rissa

MIA

Recently I learned that MIA has more than one meaning. In addition to being a gorgeous woman's name, Mia, it can mean "Missing In Action" -- which is the abbreviation I've always know. But is also short for Miami, as in Miami, Florida ~ the hottest city on the east coast. I'm going into all this ridiculous detail for a reason. Bear with me -- I do have a point.

In my mind I have written about a hundred blogs since the last one, but none have made into reality. We've definitely been missing in action here. And MIA is also appropriate because we spent a portion of this past month working in Miami, FL. So, yea, we've been MIA. Partially in MIA. (Though I haven't met any women named Mia in the process...)

So at the beginning of March, we had just finished our four February weddings (as some of you know, Nathaniel did one of those in Costa Rica! More on that from him, though...) and all the carry-over from the January wedding shows (consults and such). 

The beginning of March saw Baltimore under a blanket of snow. But in Miami, it was in the high seventies with clear blue skies and white crystal beaches.

We packed up our cameras -- and Brittany, Carole (from a Garden of Earthly Delights) and Ashley (from Up Do's for I Do's) and headed south. We did 14 shoots as a team in 3 days. I think it may be 3 of the longest work days I have ever been through. And one of the most incredible experiences ever! We had models and clients, a closet full of designer gowns, pearl jewelry on loan from Kim Reyes Wearable Art, more jewelry on loan from Kourtney Pulitzer (granddaughter of Lily Pulitzer!), and of course ~ the incredible floral creations of Carole and the always gorgeous hair & make-up stylings of Ashley!

After all this work was done, we hit the beach. South Beach, that is! It was my 34th birthday and we celebrated by lounging around and -- honestly -- getting sunburned. 

A few other highlites of the trip: hanging out with Leslie Gray Streeter! Leslie has been one of my dearest friends for almost two decades now. We met in York, PA when we both worked a small newspaper there. She's now a reporter in West Palm Beach and is generally a local celeb there. Always cute, funny and smart, Leslie is the best pal a girl could want! And she and Brit treated me to a wild backless dress for my birthday, as well as a fun night out in Miami Beach! Another highlite for me was  the incredible and cheap Cuban food. The flattened, grilled sandwiches were ssooooo good and if I could get away with it, I'd probably live on fried plantains. But really... the best part... being in a beautiful place with Nathaniel and everyone else. Nothing quite as cool as getting to work and play with the love of your life and some of your bestest girlfriends.

So we've been MIA. But we're back and back at it. Stay tuned... more is on the way very soon!
~ Rissa

PS We've also fallen in love with another MIA. It's MIA radio out of Miami. We play it all the time in the office!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why I love the USA


Seriously, can you imagine another country where it's legal to make your President into an emo kid? Love that Freedom of Speech amendment!!

He kind-of looks good with this hair. Wonder what other world leaders would say...? I know the girl at Office Depot would love it. She was so busy on her cell phone talking to someone about "how fine Barack is," that she could barely make my copies! With all that giggling, you'd think he was gonna pick her up after work and take her out for dinner. (I suspect this was not the case, tho...)

For all you ladies that love Barack, this one's for you!
~ Rissa

PS I did not do this Photoshop job! I wish I knew who did, but instead found this randomly online with no credit of any kind. Love it tho! Laughed for quite some time on this one!!! Did you Photoshop this picture???

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eat Out & Support a Worthy Cause

On February 10, 2009 from 6pm -11pm, The Greene Turtle in Mount Airy, MD will be hosting the "Funds For Friends" event. 10% of all the proceeds from business brought into the restaurant during those hours will be donated to local charity, Maryland For Our Military.

Nathaniel & I think the world of this group. In fact, we donated 100% of the proceeds of the 2008 Thank You Calendar to Kathy and the work she does at MFOM. Many groups support soldiers, but MFOM is unique because of the truly personal attention each soldier and his/her family gets.

According to Kathy (who heads MFOM), support for our troops has gone down in the past year. In fact, MFOM has had more requests for help than ever before locally and from Iraq and Afghanistan. These soldiers need all the support they can get. So please spread the word about this event and stop by to enjoy some Greene Turtle fare (we adore the queso pretzel appetizers and Nathaniel thinks the beer list is amazing) while putting your meal money on double duty as a fundraiser for the troops.

Several Marines and soldiers from Walter Reed will be coming to the event to enjoy the evening. So stop by, have dinner and take this time to say "Thank You" to those who would put themselves in harm's way to protect our way of life!

See you there
~ Rissa

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finding the Beginning

You never know when something or someone is going to show up and change your life forever. Obviously there are the big dramatic things ~ like getting married or having a child. But I'm talking more about the small, quiet stuff that steps in with a whisper and suddenly leads you in a new direction. Those moments are truly unpredictable and usually appear in the most unexpected ways.

Last night Nathaniel and I were driving home from Trader Joe's, happily munching on dried mango, as is the tradition for us, and we started talking about the moments in our childhood that shaped us ~ specifically tangible memories that changed our paths.

One of the first tangible things I remember is a photograph from a magazine. I had likely seen hundreds or maybe thousands of pictures up until that time, whether I was aware of them or not. There were always newspapers, magazines and books in my parents' home, and I have always been an avid reader. I had even owned a camera since age 7 and was already an active child photographer, going through more film than I care to recall. One of my favorite activities was dressing up my dolls for "photo shoots" in the yard or at the local park. (Foreshadowing, anyone?)

But this picture was special because in the moment that I looked at it, I was changed from the person I was just minutes before. What appears to me as a very simple image now had so much impact on me in that moment, that my path changed. Gone were my varied & wishy-washy little girl aspirations of being a ballerina or a jockey or a chef. My entire life's dream was suddenly laid out before me: I wanted to be a professional photographer when I grew up.

A Google search does not reveal any information about the shop the ad was originally for or the photographer who created it. It was published in Details magazine, before it was relaunched in 2000 as a men's mag. I knew Details as a funky offbeat magazine about NYC club life. Oddly, I was about 12 when I began subscribing and found this picture. I couldn't tell you how on Earth I ended up subscribing to a monthly magazine about clubbing in the late 1980s, but I had it. Especially strange since I lived in a small town in south central Pennsylvania and had never set foot in a club.

For more than 20 years I have held onto this picture. It has been thumb-tacked to walls, taped to repair tears and is yellowed and tattered with age. It has been a treasure for most of my life and each time I look at it, I am reminded of the very moment that I knew I wanted to be a photographer. It's pretty amazing really when I look back over my life and see how this one image in a magazine took me so far so fast. There were doubts along the way, moments when I tried other things. But even when I was pursuing different majors in college, my 35mm was never far. I was always taking pictures. Having a camera strap on my shoulder feels so natural to me, I occasionally look for it when it's not there.

Because hindsight is truly 20/20, you often can't know what is happening when you live it. You may be able to sense that something is different in your world though you're not sure what has changed. I can recall telling people around me I wanted to be a photographer and no one really thinking much of it initially. After all, I had also wanted to be 50 billion other things before that. It stuck though, this photography thing. I read literally every book in the school library on the subject. Started asking my parents to get me lessons. And at age 13, my parents bought me my first SLR. It was a second-hand, totally manual Pentax and I loved it. It taught me a lot until I upgraded to my new Olympus, also totally manual. That one took me through high school as well as night classes at the local college in my senior year. Before college, my grandmother got me my first Nikon. It had auto focus and a fancy Nikon camera strap and I was elated with it. My first professional camera ~ also a Nikon film camera, came 3 years later. Got that one myself. Since then... I don't even know how many cameras I have owned. A lot.

Through it all, this black and white picture from Details remains. Today I cannot explain what moved me about this image. But I still love it. It is part of me, part of my history. And is why I do the job I love today. Simply, a girl in an old-fashioned pose, a big straw hat, white sunglasses held with indifference, and one long strand of pearls.

~ Rissa

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Precious

Literally every few days someone comments to me about my bling. Not that I am dripping in diamonds and jewels. Ha, ha! Definitely not, I'm a pretty basic girl (though my dangly earring collection is slightly ridiculous ~ ). I'm talking about my wedding band.

Women and men stop me to ask about it regularly. I've been wearing it every day for over four years now and the comments and compliments have not slowed at all.



To me this could only mean one thing. The artist who designed and made it, Sarah Graham, is a genius. My one-of-a-kind artisan ring is truly a testament to the hands that created it. And you will be surprised to hear this: It was not even as expensive as rings we looked at locally from jewelers.

Sarah is based in California. The year before we got married I found Sarah's website after searching jewelry artists online until about 4 am one sleepless night. The moment I laid eyes on her work, I knew I had found the person who would make my wedding band. I felt instantly connected to her style, her vision and her philosophy.

We met up with Sarah when she came to D.C. a few months later as a vendor at an arts & crafts show. She measured my finger personally, and we chatted about a design she already made and the few custom changes I was interested in.

Sarah was beyond a pleasure to do business with. One of my custom requests was that instead of all diamonds, deep red garnets be placed in the ring. When she found what she felt where the perfect stones on a trip to Las Vegas, she actually Fed-Ex-ed them to me to approve for my ring! Well in advance of the wedding -- and well before the promised delivery date -- my ring arrived: 18 karat gold with white diamonds and dark red garnets. She presented it in a gorgeous, round red leather box that I still have.

In the past five years since I got my ring, Sarah Graham's work has truly exploded onto the couture fashion scene. Movie stars like Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie are now sporting her creations, she's been featured in Elle, InStyle, Real Simple, the Robb Report, Organic Style, Lucky and Modern Bride magazines, and models are wearing her pieces on the catwalk at designer shows. Once when we were in NY, the owner of the gallery we were browsing looked at my hand and asked if my ring was a Sarah Graham piece! I felt way cool. And even cooler that I had enough of an eye to have recognized someone's work who was going to become so popular.

So if you like truly special jewelry -- for men or women (her collection is much larger now -- back in 2003 she had 4 lines, now she has 16 and does pieces for guys, too!), check out Sarah Graham. It feels great to support an artist living her dream (she only started her business in 2000!!) and even greater to have a regular source of compliments right around your finger! : )

~ Rissa

PS If you love Sarah's work as much as I do, you can see it in person in Baltimore next month at the American Craft Council Retail Show @ the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street. February 27 - March 1, 2009. She's worth the visit!!


Interrogation

Imagine sitting down across a table from two people. They are strangers, but they are really looking you over, assessing your every movement, every word. One of them clears her throat and unfolds a piece of unlined white paper.

"I have a few questions I ask you..." she says. And you can see that the list extends down the entire front of the page and onto the back.

Welcome to the world of wedding photography meetings. Today, you will switch chairs and play the part of the photographer...

We get asked a lot of questions in the process of working with our weddings clients. Some questions we get asked more than others. Many are answered in the FAQ of our website but we certainly don't mind giving you all the information again to help you make an informed decision about who you hire for such an important event.

Whether its in a client meeting in our studio, or a quick interrogation at a wedding show, these are the questions that come up the most:

1) Why is photography so expensive?
All photographers hear this one, be it for weddings, portraits or catalog shots.
The business of photography is incredibly expensive. It is a myth perpetuated by TV shows and other fiction that photographers make tons and tons of money. A few do, but most just make a decent living. Some barely get by. And before we get into the costs I will tell you that absolutely 100% of the time, you get what you pay for when you hire a photographer.

Here is a little bit of why:
*On average, high end cameras cost between $1500-$5000. They must be replaced every 150,000-500,000 pictures, or about 1-3 years, and there must be several backups in case they go down.
*Photographers need peripheral camera gear: professional grade lenses usually cost $600-$3,000 each, of which several are needed and they must be professionally cleaned/serviced every year and replaced every 4-5 years. Flashes cost $300-$500 each and most photographers own 5-10. Extra batteries, digital cards, camera bags, etc. etc. These add-ons quickly rocket into the thousands.
*Computers that can process the necessary volume of images start at $2,000-$5,000. Multiple computers are practically a necessity for batch processing of images, and they will need to be replaced or updated about every 5 years. Don't forget printers and a scanner!
*Software for processing and production of images can add up to several thousand dollars and must be updated every year to every other year. Photoshop CS4 alone costs $699; Adobe Creative Suite4 costs $2,499. These programs are just the basics, you still need other specialty stuff too, to be effective and efficient.
*Backup DVDs and hard drives are used to store, manage and safeguard clients photographs.
An average photography studio invests at least $1000 per year in DVDs & CDs; Hard drives, at least another $1,000. Professionals must be very serious and cautious with storage in the digital age, lest they lose your pictures.
*Products such as albums, prints and studio samples really add up, too. Not only are many of these products expensive to produce, you must have multiple samples to show in your studio and update them every year. Cost this in the thousands annually as well.
*Studio rent or mortgage and all associated utilities, internet and phone needs (Whether at home or commercial)
*Studio equipment such as lights, umbrellas, backdrops, gels, cords, props, furniture.
*Professional memberships, website, marketing materials and graphic design, business cards.
*Liability insurance and insurance on all the above listed equipment and studio space.

Is this boring yet? Because this list is not comprehensive by any means.... Ask any high school guidance counselor and they will even tell you that photography is the most expensive major you can sign on for as a student. It doesn't get cheaper when you go pro. It's very expensive to be a professional photographer. Now you get it.

2) What is your style? What does photojournalism actually mean?
Our background IS photojournalism. We are actual photojournalists with real training and real experience. Being a photojournalist means that you can tell a story with a photograph. You can capture fleeting moments of time that show raw emotion and evoke feelings that are seen in the picture. A photojournalist can be thrust into any situation at any place, at any time and deliver stunning images capturing real moments.

3) Who will actually shoot my wedding?
Rissa and I are the principle photographers and nearly always photograph weddings together. We have two assistants and two second shooters who accompany us at larger weddings. We don't employ just any photographer, our team has been carefully selected over the course of many years and they uphold the very high standards that we built our business on. To be a part of our team at Balance means that you are on the cutting edge, creative, technically sound, and highly professional.

4) Will I get a CD of my pictures?
We feel that in today's highly visual multi-media world, there are incredible options for you out there to consider for your images. We always give CDs to our clients for just that reason and even share a list of fun websites to order photo gifts from with their files. Once again I want to emphasize, you get what you pay for. The products and services we offer for your photographs can't be found outside our studio and are one of a kind. We want you have the freedom to do what you want with your pictures, yet also have the opportunity to get products only offered to professionals as well.

5) Where are you located?
We are located in Catonsville, MD but also have mobile offices anywhere Starbucks is located.

6) How far will you travel?
Anywhere in the world. We all have valid passports, too.

7) Have you been to my venue?
We have worked at a pretty extensive list of venues but we always love to go someplace new. Being a photojournalist means that you can go anywhere and make great images so not having been to your venue should by no means be a deterrent to hiring us.

8) I hate being photographed! Can you make is easier in any way?
There are no bad subjects, only bad photographers. We have years of experience photographing people of all sizes, shapes, colors and tempers. Our clients always look good. We have a pretty filter, after all. : )

9) How many formals do you take? How many candids?
We take as many formals as you want, and focus on documentary images the rest of the time. Also we prefer to do something called "informals" which you can see on our website. We are truly flexible in this and really try to deliver to you exactly what you want. If you want nothing but formals for your wedding photos however, we are really not the right people for you.

10) When should I book? How far in advance?
1 year in advance is best. 6 months out is a gamble for your date especially during busy months like September/October. About once every 2 or 3 years, for various reasons, we will book a wedding 1 week before the date! Talk about procrastinating.

We are an exclusive studio. If you want us, you will get us, not "Joe the photographer." We are only two people and to offer our skills and creative ability to droves of people is not possible. We limit the number of weddings we take on each year to 35. This allows us to truly give each client all the attention and service they deserve. Currently we have 15 spots left for this year.

11) My church won't allow flash photography. What can you do?
No worries, our skills and our equipment are top of the line. We will capture your ceremony no matter what, and even have a few tricks up our sleeves -- especially when dealing with grumpy church ladies and dark chapels. Trade secrets.

12) What happens if it rains on my wedding day?
You might get wet, your plans may slightly change, but you will still get married. That is the most important part and don't you forget it! Consider having funky umbrellas and go with the flow. Try a clear tent, that's what we did. We can always find a pretty place for pictures no matter what happens.


13) You guys look young. How many weddings have you done?
Over two hundred. People have not hired us before because they "thought we were too young." Well, we've been in business about a decade and have been shootign weddings since we were teen-agers. We are both in our thirties now. Ask us our anti-aging secrets when you meet with us, we'll be glad to share.

14) Can I build a custom package?
Absolutely. One thing we are all about is getting you exactly what you want. Not everyone wants the same thing and no single package is right for everyone. Our packages are based on what most couples have wanted.

15) Can you do special effects, like black & white, fisheye or sepia?
We can do and have done just about anything you could imagine. If there is something specific you are looking for, don't be shy, tell us and we will make it happen.

16) How long does is take to get the photos back?
Two to four weeks based on when your wedding is and which package you get.

17) Do you put pictures online for my guests and family?
Always. The pictures go out to you first, followed by your friends and family. If you have a list we can contact them for you. We proudly use Collages.net to host all of our images online. You can view your wedding photos as a slide show, compare images, order prints, email photos to friends, and view them as color, B&W or sepia.

18) What kind of albums do you offer?
We use 9 different album companies and each offers multiple variations. We can offer you over 1,000 album options (literally!!) and once again try to get you exactly what you want. Leather, wood, cloth, acrylic, metal, glossy, matted, flush, mounted, press-printed/coffetable, accordians, you name it, we have access to it. All the album companies we work with create top quality, archival products that you will be proud to own and share.

19) What is your background/education?
Rissa attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for film-making & screenwriting, and also studied photojournalism & art history at Western Kentucky University. She graduated with honors. She has been a photographer for most of her life and got her first camera at age 7 for selling Girl Scout cookies. Nathaniel studied photojournalism at Western Kentucky as well, and is a 3rd generation photographer. His grandfather, Jack, is considered a legend in the photojournalism industry and trained not only Rissa & Nathaniel, but many of the important photographers alive and working today.

20) What kind of equipment do you use? Do you have back-up equipment?
We use all Nikon equipment.We have both digital and film camera, use all Nikkor lenses and Nikon flash units. we like Lexar and Sandisk digital cards. Our computers are all Macs. And yes, we do have back-up equipment. Always!

So... as we end this interrogation session, I hope you have learned a little more about us and the photography business in general. And if you have more questions ~ seriously, don't hesitate to call or email. We are happy to answer any and all!
~ Nathaniel

Destinations/Travel Weddings

Imagine yourself getting married on a white sand beach. Tropical breeze blowing your hair, the scent of exotic jasmine in the air. The palm trees sway as you say "I do" and your make your grand exit ~ barefoot, down the beach. Nearly every bride has dreamed of a destination wedding. Each dream is different ~ some are in the warm, sunny Caribbean, others are in California wine country; some imagine gondolas in Venice and still others see the picturesque mountains of Aspen.

Photographing destination weddings is like a dream come true
to me, too. It fulfills two of my loves: documenting weddings and being a travel photographer, all in one swoop.

Derrick & Heather in the rainforest of Costa Rica

But why would you pay to take a photographer across the country or even to another continent? Isn't that like paying for their va-cay? (We have heard this question before...)

Really, nothing could be further from true. Yes, you're paying to transport someone to another place geographically, but it is hardly a vacation for the photographer. Let me explain the difference and why it is incredibly smart to take a photographer with you for your destination wedding.

First and fundamental is reliability. If you hire someone local to your exotic destination, there is no guarantee that they will show up at all. There is also no guarantee that a local photographer will be professional, talented or even take decent, usable pictures. We had a college friend who got married in South America four years ago. She hired a photographer recommended by her hotel and to date, has not received any pictures from her wedding besides a dozen 4x6s printed on an ink jet. Those are the only memories she has to share with her children from that important day - because she totally relied on a local photographer who took her money and did not deliver. Being that she lives in the states, had no contract and does not speak his native language, there is absolutely nothing she has been able to do about it.

Taking us along assures that you will have professional coverage, great photographs and reliable service after your wedding. You will absolutely want to be able to chat with your photographer after the wedding about your album, retouching, prints and other post-production needs.
Post-production accounts for almost 80% of a photographer's service to a bride & groom. Another plus is that if you use a photographer from the states, you can sign a legally binding contract that will protect you and guarantee that you will get your pictures. And it can be enforced because both parties are state-side.

Stephen & Jessica in Miami

If you are traveling to an amazing locale for your wedding, you don't want to be disappointed with what the photos you end up with. Rissa & I have a depth of experience traveling the world and feel confident in our ability to capture incredible images no matter where we are.

We've noticed another trend lately, too. People around the U.S. are calling us to photograph their weddings. There is no shortage of photographers throughout the states and the world. We suspect the reason we are called beginning to be called to so many different places is because we have a unique style. Our photography is not simply a mimicking of other photographers work or a series of technical executions. Our work is a culmination of years of training, experience, artistry, passion and love all combined to create a unique vision of photography and a unique style all our own. Our clients recognize that hiring us as their photographers makes their lives part of this vision, and captures beautiful moments in their lives in our own unique way. A favorite quote we first heard from photographer Joe Buissink, "An original is hard to find, but easy to recognize."

In the past we have traveled outside the DC/Balitmore region for weddings to Nashville TN (several times), Asheville NC, Virginia Beach VA, Miami FL, Louisville KY (several times), Deep Creek MD and Rehoboth Beach DE (several times). This year so far we are scheduled to photograph weddings in Phoenix AZ, New Orleans LA, Nashville TN, Knoxville TN, Charleston SC and in L, England. The list of foreign countries we have traveled to and photographed in include Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Rissa and I got married in Nashville while we lived in Baltimore, so we have real life experience with destination wedding planning. We hired a lot of our vendors locally during visits: food, tent, flowers, musicians, DJ, hair stylist, chocolate fountain, favors, hotel & shuttle service. But we flew in two as well because they were important to us... Rissa's make-up artist, and our photographer. Paying for their hotel and airfare was no problem to work our budget around because we deeply valued their services.

While it is pretty much impossible to pack up a cake and fly it to Brazil, or to move 12 table centerpieces from Baltimore to San Francisco in your carry-on, we strongly encourage you to include your photographer when you take your wedding on the road. It will insure your memories will be there to share with your family, friends as well as children and grandchildren.

Nik & Crawford in the Black Mountains, NC

It truly goes beyond a "job" for us and is an honor to be involved in capturing our clients memories. When you bring a photographer to your wedding ~ be it from around the block or around the world, it is a huge commitment on the part of the photographer. It is not a vacation, no matter where you are making your commitment. Not all photographers will even accept destination weddings because the travel adds an extra layer of effort and responsibility for them. Last October I photographed a wedding in Costa Rica. Friends at home asked if I laid on the beach or went sightseeing ~ and really it was the exact opposite. It was one of the most intense work experiences I have ever had. Far from a vacation, I worked constantly ~ we did multiple additional portrait sessions, there was the wedding, reception and also a rehearsal.

Weddings are monumental events where you will experience feelings and moments that will never happen again for the rest of your life. Documenting those moments is an incredibly beautiful experience, a privilege, and extremely challenging work. Make sure someone you trust is behind the camera!



Safe travels and happy planning!
~Nathaniel

Radio City Baltimore

Last night I was especially grateful to be featured on a blogtalkradio show focused on wedding photography. The host was wedding coordinator Aisha Whaley from Whaley's Outstanding Weddings. The interview was really fun and featured myself and another photographer from the Baltimore area. We went through lots of questions about photography and answered specific questions from callers. In case you missed my ridiculous flurry of twitter and FB posts and missed the show, you can listen to the archived file through the show name Picture Perfect: Wedding photography and photos to remember


Friday, January 9, 2009

Feel the Burn


Freshly updated for your viewing pleasure... the balance boudoir website. I have been toiling for some time over the new slideshow and portfolio additions. Hopefully you will love them as much as I do.

Welcome also, the Exotica packages ~ what not to love about a beautiful woman covered in flowers or a body smeared in paint? We are so proud to be teaming up for these not just with our partners at Up Do's for I Do's, but also Carole Langrall @ A Garden of Earthly Delights and the talented Kim Reyes, fine artist & body painter.

So sit back, click thru and enjoy the show. Again. : )

It really gets better & better...
~ Rissa

Hit the ground running

2009 is already taking us by storm. Since we returned to Baltimore we have been working nonstop. It seems like many other people have been as well. As much as we were all sitting around waiting to see what the economy would do, now we are all rushing trying to get back on our feet. Good for us all! We plan on working hard for it and are really gratefull for everyone out there doing the same. But all work and no play makes for a trite and meaningless life! So enjoy this fascinating and somewhat scary YouTube clip sent to me by a great agent friend of mine at GreerLange and have some play in your Friday.

~Nathaniel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We're Everywhere!

And we're back ~

After traveling for the holidays and visiting family and friends, we're back in the swing of things here at balance. Not only in the swing of things, but we're going to be everywhere it seems in the next few weeks!

If you are a bride and thinking of your wedding photography ~ come check us out at one of the following wedding shows...

Sat. 1/10 & Sun. 1/11 at the Maryland Wedding Professionals Assoc. Bridal Expo at the Timonium Fairgrounds. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Expo will be in the York Rd. Exhibition Hall and the Vista Room. Entry fee is $15 and the show is huge, huge, huge! Loads of vendors, wedding gowns and of course, we'll be there too! : )

Tues. 1/13 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry Bridal Show, 1415 Key Highway in Federal Hill, 21230. From 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Entry is free and the show is intimate, low key and very sleek. After all, it's in a museum on the waterfront! 

Fri. 1/16 at the Turf Valley Bridal Extravaganza and Fashion Show, 2700 Turf Valley Rd. in Ellicott City, 21042. From 4 p.m. to 7:3o p.m., with a formal runway fashion show & seated dinner to follow the bridal show. This is a medium-size show and takes up all the various ballrooms and hallways of the huge Turf Valley facility. Entry to the show is $27 and the show and dinner are fabulous ~ worth planning to stick around for!

Sun. 1/18 at the Baltimore Bridal Showcase at the Hilton Columbia, 5485 Twin Knolls Rd., Columbia, 21045. This show is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the entry fee is only $7. This is another more intimate show with 40 vendors, models in gowns and excellent catering.

Sun. 1/25 at the Historic Savage Mill Bridal Showcase, at 8600 Foundry St., Savage, 20736. The show is from noon to 3 p.m. in the Great Room at the Mill and is always a packed crowd. We've seen brides lining up outside 30 minutes before the show! Secretly, I think it's because the show is catered by Puttin' on the Ritz and word has gotten out about their glorious garlic mashed potatoes. I'd stand in line 30 minutes for them anyhow.

Sat. 2/21 at the Wedding Innovator's Challenge at the Liason Capitol Hill,  415 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington DC. Entry is $20 and this will be no usual wedding show. "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?" featured planner Vicky Johnson will be hosting and six teams of wedding designers will create showcases of the cutting edge in special event style. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Not to be missed! 

Sun. 2/22 at the Dream Event Wedding Showcase at the Gathering Place, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville. The showcase will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is $5 in advance or $8 at the door. With door prizes, live entertainers and more wedding madness!

So stop by and say hello! We love wedding shows and love to see our brides out and about!
~ Rissa