Make Your Own Wedding Bar: From Candy To Popcorn!

Everyone loves options. Especially when it comes to what they eat.


A trend at wedding receptions is to have a food or dessert buffet (or commonly called “bar,” as in “candy bar” or “baked potato bar”) as an addition to the meal being served.

The idea is to let your guests pick what they want.

Couples like to include a food bar as a way of entertaining their guests. It gets people up out of their seats and mingling at the reception and lets them make some decisions around a menu that is already set.

I’ve seen this done with everything from pasta to mashed potatoes served in martini glasses with topping to dress them up and with an array of desserts that go far beyond just wedding cake.


Candy bars are popular and can be a lot of fun for both kids and adults. It might surprise you that I often see more adults get all giddy over filling up a bag with sugary treats than the kids- and trust me, the kids love it. A candy bar seems to bring out the nostalgia in adults and grant them permission to enjoy those childhood favorites because everyone is at a party and enjoying the evening.

Sometimes the couple will match the candy to their wedding colors, but, in my opinion, the best candy bars just go for the good stuff, without regard to wrapper colors.


But what if you are looking for something beyond candy, something different? Easy: pick anything that can be customized and run with it. If you can easily change ingredients or add toppings, it will be perfect for your guests.

•Set out seasoned tomatoes, olives and cheeses for a bruschetta bar;
•Skip the formal meal and do a taco bar;
•Casual barn weddings would work well with a casual sandwich bar;
•Help guests stay up late with a caffeine fix at a coffee bar;
•For the daring, set up a mixology station and let guests create their own cocktails;
•A s’mores bar could mix traditional and sophisticated into one dessert;
•Serve ice cream and toppings for a sundae bar (I really wish brides and grooms would serve ice cream with the wedding cake-they were meant to be served together! This is a trend that needs catch on…)


Appleby Photography wedding popcorn bar

One idea I love is the popcorn bar.  I loved it so much that I want to have a party, just so I can have a popcorn bar!

You can add in flavored powder seasonings, like ranch, buffalo wing and bacon cheddar. Plus, it’s a fun way to tie in the candy buffet idea with your popcorn add-ins, like peanuts, m&ms and reese’s pieces to sprinkle in.

Recently, I interviewed the owner of Great American Popcorn Co for the Corridor Wedding Guide. Bill had some great ways that they help people do popcorn bars for weddings and graduations. The nice thing about using Great American Popcorn Co is that since they offer over a 100 different flavors, you can get fun ones, like Crunch Berry. (Yes, like the cereal!)

He also offered some smart advice, like choose white cheddar instead of the regular orange so hands are less messy on those fancy clothes. And he suggests your popcorn jars have lids to keep out humidity, especially in the summer. Check out the article for the full interview.

When you give your guests to ability to choose what they get to eat, it adds a little interactive entertainment, they mingle with other guest and they have a great time. It’s a win-win.

Real Wedding Feature Published On Corridor Wedding Guide

Our photography has been featured! Check out Shelby and Jeff’s Real Wedding on Corridor Wedding Guide! See their beautiful wedding and read about their cute proposal and Shelby’s wedding advice to couples planning their own weddings.

real wedding feature on the corridor wedding guide website

Shelby and Jeff are our wedding clients from last fall and they were so kind as to share their story with Corridor Wedding Guide. They were married at Oak Hill Weddings in Apple River, IL. It’s a fun location, complete with an old church, school and store. You can see images of Oak Hill here.

real wedding on location in galena Ill

real wedding close up of flowers

We started the day in Galena, where they had their “first look” and we photographed the wedding party. We did this because they were getting ready in Galena and they had limited time before the wedding at Oak Hill. Getting wedding party photographs done before we arrived to Oak Hill made  the schedule easier for family photographs and allowed Shelby and Jeff time to relax a little before the ceremony.


real wedding black and white of bride and groom

real wedding couple on red door

real wedding pastel bridesmaids

real wedding bridal party

Real Wedding features are fun because you not only get a glimpse into a couple’s wedding day, but they also inspire you with your own wedding planning. Looking at the details of things like flowers or favors that real brides did for their special day is great of giving you ideas that you may not have thought of otherwise.

One such idea is the map of Oak Hill that Shelby and Jeff included on the candy bags that also doubled as the ceremony programs. This was one element that did triple duty in the most perfect way! And the beer “growlers” they have collected from their favorite breweries that they used has flower vases on the reception tables. That is such a fun way to share with their wedding guests one of their favorite things to do together as a couple, plus it really personalizes the reception.

real wedding bride and groom leaving church ceremony

real wedding outside church

real wedding bride and groom

real wedding reception growler on table

real wedding reception tent

real wedding bride groom at sunset

We’re so excited that our wedding photography illustrates the details of Shelby and Jeff’s wedding, along with the story of their proposal and that they show the attention to wedding planning details throughout the wedding day.

Take a look at more images and read the details over at Corridor Wedding Guide “Real Weddings.”

Mother’s Day Humor

mothers day funny poem kid

Kids love potty humor.

My 11-year-old wrote me a poem for Mother’s Day. As she read it, she was laughing so hard, she was crying. She said I was “as funny as farts.” And because potty humor is hilarious to her, it’s the highest compliment she has to give.

I guess this would be considered a parenting win.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and those that fill a mothering role. May you make someone happy.

Legos: A Painful Story {And Why I Took These Photos}

Once upon a time, I didn’t have any children and I never stepped on Legos. Then, there were many children in my house and even more Legos. And now I find Legos in every room. Usually by accidentally stepping on them. Which really hurts. But one day, my house will stay clean and I’ll miss Legos. The End.

legos built by kids on display at window

Do you document the chaos in your house? Have you ever photographed the mess in your kitchen after you made an amazing meal? Or how about what your living room looks like on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when the kids have been playing and breakfast dishes are still on the coffee table?

I usually hate to have any photographic evidence that my house has been messy. I like to pretend that my house is always super clean and organized. (Ha! I have four kids–having an organized house is actually just a wish I have…) I’ll tidy up before I take a photograph or I’ll choose an angle that minimizes the background and all the toys, shoes or backpacks that are strewn about the floor.

So I don’t take photographs when the kids are playing. I don’t remember ever taking photographs of my living room with all the baby and toddler toys the kids had spread out everywhere. Which was my life every single day for YEARS. And I certainly don’t want you to see how my kids’ bedroom looks like it threw up on itself again ten minutes after they just finished cleaning it! (I seriously don’t even know how it happens. It truly baffles me.)

But aren’t those the photographs you love to look at? The ones that show real life? The ones that show what was really going on when you were pretending you had it all together?

My kids like to spread the Legos out, looking for the right piece in the right color. But, for some reason, it never occurs to them to pick the mess back up when they’re done playing. And after they have built their masterpieces, my kids hate to take apart any of their “creations,” wanting instead to showcase them on a shelf.

So, of course, Legos are everywhere and it drives me nuts. I find them in places you shouldn’t find Legos. Seriously, single Legos migrate to my office and my bathroom. A stack of Legos shows up on my bedside table. I even found a Lego in the bottom of the refrigerator.

Sometimes, you’re so ready to clean up the mess that you forget to enjoy it.

But it won’t be long before my kids no longer play with Legos, when they don’t have time for toys. What’s a pet-peeve today, I know I’ll cherish as a dear memory when my kids are grown.

You may not appreciate the messes at the moment. I know I don’t. But years from now, photographs of your regular, average day will be meaningful.

Today, I challenge you to stop and appreciate the chaos. Photograph the things that are part of your “every day.” Preserve these small little moments before they slip away.

I wish I had taken a photograph of my son’s walnut shell “family” that littered the sidewalk and patio for a whole summer (they looked just like little hedgehogs!). Or the play restaurant the kids made, with plastic food and tables and menus that overflowed to three rooms. Or even the huge mess in the kitchen after my daughter made her version of a gourmet breakfast for her brothers.

Take a moment today to snap a few photographs of what your life really looks like. Document the mess and the chaos. Years from now, you’ll be so glad you did.

legos close up on floor

piles of legos spread out on floor


Pain-Free Wedding Album Planning | Steph & Tim

Looking at your wedding photographs and reliving all the happy, enjoyable moments of your day is the fun part. The hard part is trying to figure out how you’ll possibly cut out any of these amazing images and still tell the whole story of the day in a wedding album.

[See Steph and Tim’s Real Wedding Feature here.]

This was Steph’s predicament. She loved her wedding photographs! She looked at them online, she paged through her proof booklet, and she loved so many of them.

From nearly 700 images, Steph narrowed her favorites to almost 200 photographs that she felt represented her wedding. And then she contacted me. She didn’t know how to cut any more from her favorites! These included many of her family and friends, as well as special moments and details that let her remember the wedding completely. So, she then gave me her list.

Certainly, I can design albums to hold every image a bride and groom pick out. However, usually the story can be enhanced by some experienced polishing.

My motto is: “It’s not what you leave in, it’s what you take out.” When I first prepare images for a wedding couple, I spend a lot of time to ensure that every image they see is album-worthy. But just as an overly wordy paragraph can lose a reader, a bloated album doesn’t highlight the very special and personal moments that are important to the bride and groom.

The next step with Steph and Tim’s wedding album was to go through this list of images. Steph was a little worried about this appointment. She thought it was going to be so difficult to make decisions about which photographs to cut.

I assured her that I was there to help and to make the whole process pain-free! She and I sat down and talked about what was important to include in the album. We then talked about easy ways to cut images.

For example, she had chosen images of the entire bridal party processing into the ceremony, recessing out of the ceremony and entering the reception. In an album, these images can become repetitive, so we picked the best of the three options. In this case, we used processional images.

We continued through the list of images in a similar way. We would group photographs together that included the same people or were taken in the same place and chose the best ones. This avoided unnecessary duplicates in the album.

Next, we looked at all the remaining images to see how they progressed through the day. We wanted to make sure we told the whole story of the wedding and that we didn’t have any holes in the photo-narrative.

Once Steph was satisfied, my design work began. I custom-designed a 10×8 album with 30 pages, along with a photo cover. Steph then reviewed the design, approved it and the album went into final production.

The result was a gorgeous album that beautifully and concisely showcased the entire day for them to be able to show off, share and enjoy for years to come.

Oak Hill Farm Wedding | Shelby & Jeff

church at oak hill with bride and groom photo

Shelby and Jeff were married last September at Oak Hill Farm in Apple River, Illinois. The location was fabulous and the day was perfect!

We started the wedding day in Galena, Illinois with their “first look” and photographs of the bridal party. Schedule-wise, this worked well because Shelby and the bridesmaids used a salon in Galena for their hair and make-up. Also, the first look allowed Shelby and Jeff a chance to talk and calm their “wedding day jitters.”

We then made the drive over to Oak Hill Farm for the wedding. Oak Hill is unique because it’s like a little town on a private estate. The owners have a love of antiques, which includes the general store, school house and even the church that were moved to the property! I was told it was quite the sight to see a church being rolled down the road to be put into position on the farm.

Shelby and Jeff were able to take full advantage of the space. We started with family photographs next to the barn that doubles as a dressing room. The ceremony was held in the old country church. While guests mingled at the cocktail hour by the old school, we had a few minutes to photograph Shelby and Jeff around the property. Guests also made sure to hop over to the general store for the candy buffet.

The bridal party then made their entrance into the tent reception, which overlooked the fields and had a beautiful view of the sunset. Later, a bonfire and s’mores were set up on the lawn, past the tent.

The service that Oak Hill Farm provided was great and the location is unique, including a variety of settings to use throughout the wedding day. This wasn’t a “rustic barn” wedding. Shelby and Jeff used Oak Hill for a more vintage and elegant version of a farm wedding. I would really recommend them as a wedding venue: Oak Fill Farm. It’s worth the drive to have a wedding here!

location wedding photos of bride and groom in galena Ill

bride and groom on location in galena Ill for wedding photos

bride and groom at oak hill for wedding

wedding couple at oak hill Ill with bridal party

outside cocktail hour for wedding

outdoor wedding location tent reception

Choosing Wedding Flowers

bride with flower bouquet on wedding day location outdoor photography session

Recently, I talked with Caroline Kelly, of Caroline’s, about wedding flowers for an interview on Corridor Wedding Guide’s website. She shared about trends and tips for choosing flowers for bouquets and the reception.

She told me about foliage making a big showing in wedding decor right now, including branches, twigs and vines. We also talked about how succulents are quite popular, not only for both bouquets and boutonnieres, but also with decorating the reception and wedding cake.

One of the things that she said that I absolutely loved was, ‘knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want-sometimes even more so.’ This seemingly odd piece of advice actually gives her a better insight into the style the bride is trying to create, she says.

Isn’t that great? You don’t have to have everything figured out before you meet with a florist. You don’t even really have to know anything about flowers or what you like. You can just go in there, being all opinionated and telling her about things you’ve seen at other weddings, in magazines or online that you think are U-G-L-Y. And she LIKES it. She appreciates it. That helps her do her job better.

So if anyone gives you grief about being negative with your wedding planning, just let them know it’s okay. You are actually being helpful when you know-and share-what does not appeal to you.

You can check out the interview here.

Happy wedding planning!

3 Reasons To Follow Wedding Traditions (And The One Reason You Shouldn’t)

bride and father walking down church wedding aisle for ceremony
As every bride knows, weddings are steeped in traditions. Even couples who don’t want a “traditional” wedding have good reason to follow age-old customs.

1. Wedding Traditions Are Helpful

Wedding traditions are a set of rituals that we’ve passed down over the years. These are ideas and practices that have worked in the past, so they have become “rules” we often copy today. Having a set of wedding traditions is helpful because when there is a plan to follow, it relieves stress. Are you worried about etiquette for inviting guests or the best order to walk into the church? No problem! Just follow the set traditions!

2. Wedding Traditions Strengthen Family History

Following traditions can strengthen your sense of history and belonging. They connect you to your families. Repeating traditions celebrates those traditions. When you do things your parents and grandparents did at their weddings, you become tied to their stories. You reinforce values and your place in the family, while creating shared memories.

3. Wedding Traditions Are Fun.

Some traditions are seen as a way to add fun into the day. Lighthearted rituals can add meaning to the day without feeling like a burden. For example, there is an old, often repeated, rhyme that many brides enjoy following, which goes like this:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

The idea is that the bride should have something old to wear or carry, connecting her with her family’s past. The ‘something new’ that she wears or carries stands for optimism for future happiness. She should borrow something from someone happily married, with hope their good fortune will rub off. Something blue stands for fidelity, love and purity. And having a silver sixpence, a British coin (because this is an old English rhyme) in her shoe symbolizes prosperity.

bride wedding heels shoes for tradition blue

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Every Tradition

Having some solid traditions to follow can create an easier path to wedding planning. However, including ones that don’t feel right or following too many can prevent a couple from customizing their ceremony and really making it their own.

Feel free to use family traditions as a starting point to create a wedding that includes what’s important to you, while showcasing your personalities. Before committing to a ritual or custom, think about how it’ll fit into your day. Incorporating traditions should be meaningful to you and your loved ones.

Does it make sense for the entire bridal party to participate in the receiving line? Would you rather skip the wedding cake and just serve ice cream? Deciding whether to follow wedding traditions is a personal choice.

Whether you follow old ideas or blaze your own path, remember that celebrating your love and commitment to each other is the main reason you’re having a wedding. Everything else is just icing on the cake.