Win a Seat to Joy Thigpen’s Photography Styling Workshop

2013 workshops

Photographers, I was talking with Joy Thigpen this week and discovered that she still has a few seats available for her upcoming workshop: A Crash Course in Styling for Wedding Photographers.  In case you don’t know her or about her workshops, I have to tell you, for some of you, I think attending this workshop is the best thing you can do for your work. It’s not about how to run your business or how your camera or exposure works….it’s a very focused workshop on how to create and compose better images. Because Joy was a photographer for 7 years before transitioning into full time creative direction and styling, she understands what it takes to create a beautiful image in front of and behind the camera.  If you feel like you’re already a good photographer but want to refine your work even further, this workshop could be for you.

Photographers often ask me why their submission didn’t get chosen for a feature on Once Wed or how they can improve their imagery, and I always wish I could have them sit down with Joy. Not only have I seen her teach people what publishers are looking for, but she can put her finger on what makes a picture excellent as well as what could be done to improve it even further. I think this workshop is so incredibly helpful for any photographer looking to refine their craft that I am excited to announce Once Wed is sponsoring one photographer’s tuition to attend. If you can take care of all your travel to and from Serenbe, I will cover the rest. The workshop is from July 29-August 1 at Serenbe (South of Atlanta, Georgia).  To enter, tweet, facebook, or instagram me: “hey @oncewed! send me to @joythigpen‘s #stylingworkshopforphotographers!”  We will announce the winner Tuesday. Best of luck!

This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Meghan Kay Sadler!

07.12.13 / Featured, News Blog

Elegant Sunstone Villa Wedding

There is so much to love about this gorgeous wedding recently sent in by Sloan Photographers. Not only is the location absolutely breathtaking, but the bride’s backless dress is one of the more unique ones I’ve seen recently.

Photography: Sloan Photographers | Venue: Sunstone Villa 

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07.10.13 / Featured, Real Weddings, Real Weddings Blog

Travel to Magical Aruba


I was so thrilled when the Aruba Tourism Authority invited me, on behalf of Once Wed, to explore the white sand beaches of Aruba on the #ArubaIdo tour! I spent four beautiful days learning about what Aruba has to offer couples looking for a gorgeous honeymoon, destination wedding, or vow renewal. I can’t wait to share my experience with you!


After arriving at our absolutely stunning accommodations at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, we were given lavender scented towels and champagne to welcome us. That afternoon, we watched a lovely vow renewal ceremony on the beach. A lot of couples who are married in Aruba return to celebrate their anniversaries, so most hotels offer special packages for return visits to couples who marry in Aruba. How great is that?!  On our first night on the island, we were invited to dinner at Papiamento, one of the longest standing and most beloved restaurants in Aruba. And we were welcomed back to our room at the Bucuti with a delicious cheese and fruit plate!


After we woke up for our first full day on the island, we met for an ABC Tours Jeep safari through the Arikok National Park, taking a ride in a 4×4 through the rugged Aruban landscape over desert – like terrain, jagged rocks, and in between cacti up and down the northern shore. We loved the adrenaline-packed ride through the Arikok National Park, and it may be the perfect honeymoon activity for thrill-seekers coming to Aruba. Make sure to stop for lunch at Boca Prins, the park’s only full-service restaurant, offering stunning views of the rugged coastline. After our Safari, we wound down with massages at the Zoia Spa at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, which was absolute perfection. We concluded our second fun-filled day in Aruba with a delicious sunset dinner at Pinchos Bar & Grill.

Aruba_RenaissanceThe next morning was like a dream; we were swept away to breakfast on Renaissance Island where flamingos literally walked down the beach right in front of us. I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were so docile and beautiful. I even had the chance to feed them by hand. Renaissance Island is a private beach (for Renaissance Resort guests only) and a fantastic place for you to escape during your honeymoon, and its seclusion makes it the perfect location for a wedding ceremony. The island can do pretty much anything for your wedding including a fireworks show as a farewell to your wedding guests.

Next, we were taken to snorkel with Tranquilo Sail on the Island. Tranquilo Sailing Charters take visitors into the water to experience exclusive snorkeling locations around the island’s brilliant coral reef formations. After sharing this day with the wildlife of the Renaissance Island, we returned to the main island for another magnificent sunset dinner at one of the local dining destinations, La Trattoria El Faro Blanco. La Trattoria has become the most famous Italian restaurant on the island because of its delightfully rich Italian food and 360 degree view of the island. The views from the lighthouse were incredible!

After breakfast on Saturday, we were taken for beach tennis lessons, which is similar to traditional tennis but combined with a little bit of beach volleyball and badminton. Our next activity was even more fun…stand up paddleboard (SUP) and windsurfing lessons with Aruba Active Vacations! Aruba is full of land and water sports, and SUP, along with windsurfing, is one of the most popular activities. Because the island enjoys such favorable wind and weather all year long, Aruba has become the windsurfing capital of the world. Just another activity that you can enjoy pre or post wedding!

During our final evening on this beautiful trip, we ate at White Modern Cusine, which is a farm-to-table restaurant on the island that sources almost all of their organic ingredients locally in Aruba.  We fell in love with the modern cooking techniques Chef Urvin Croes uses in this innovative restaurant. The “Aruban Summer Salad” alone consisted of 30 plants and flowers grown on Aruba! Everything about our last evening was absolutely perfect.

I was so sad to leave this magical island, but I learned that it is much more than a honeymoon destination. The Aruba Tourism Authority showed me that in Aruba, you can make your wedding an entire experience rather than just a simple ceremony …

Imagine gathering your friends and family for a few days prior to your nuptials to enjoy some snorkeling, horseback riding, or laying on one of the many beaches up and down the island. You can prep for the wedding by visiting the spa, and with professional hair stylists and makeup artists close by to help, you’ll still be able to have the wedding you’ve always thought you would. The hotels on the island have their own wedding planners for you to call upon to plan the details, from the photographer to the flowers, in advance. Having everything ready for you when you arrive allows you to enjoy every second of your wedding. Think about waking up the day after your wedding and immediately starting your honeymoon. The Aruba Tourism Authority has actually started an online registry for your guests to help purchase parts of your honeymoon- like island activities, dinners, and car rentals. Just another way they make it easier for you to have your destination wedding in Aruba!

We just loved everything we saw on our #ArubaIdo tour, and we hope you’ll consider this magnificent Caribbean gem for your wedding day!  Look for pictures of our tour by searching the instagram hashtag #ArubaIdo and follow the Aruba Tourism Authority at @arubatourism. Visit to start planning your escape. 

07.10.13 / Featured, New Sponsor Blog

Flawless Skin Beauty Tutorial


Bryce Covey and Amy Clarke recently collaborated together on two stunning beauty stories for Once Wed readers. Today I am excited to share the first tutorial in our series for creating flawless skin with a bit of foundation, liquid blush, and the infamous beauty blender. Enjoy, ladies!

flawless-foundation-curly-wedding-hairstyles flawless-foundation

Products Used:

Kinar Weightless Moisturizer
Jane Iredale Balance Spray
Beauty Blender
Nars Illuminator in Copacabana
Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation
MAC Sculpting Cream in “Coffee Walnut”
Nars Creamy Concealer in “Custard”
Becca Cream Blush in “Hyacinth


1. Moisturize skin.
2. Wet the Beauty Blender with a Rose Water or Hydration Spray, until it becomes softer and a bit larger. Squeeze the Beauty Blender until the water is fully absorbed throughout.
3. Apply a liquid or cream highlighter to the top of the cheekbones, bridge of nose, inner corners of the eyes, upper lip and chin. Then, blend in the highlighter into the skin, in a bouncing motion.
4. + 5. Apply liquid foundation all over the face and down onto the neck, using the same bouncing motion with the beauty blender.
6. + 7. Apply a liquid concealer to the under eye area, and blend well using your ring finger.
8. + 9. vAdd cream or liquid foundation, two shades darker than the skin tone, to the forehead near the hairline, just under the cheekbones and jawline.  Blend in well with the Beauty Blender.
10. Using fingers, apply a cream blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend toward the hairline using the Beauty Blender.
11. Spray rosewater or hydration spray to the face, giving the skin one last hit of moisture.

Photography: Bryce Covey | Makeup: Amy Clarke  | Hair: Lady Dianna

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07.08.13 / DIY Wedding Blog, DIY Weddings, Featured