Boudoir Means Beautiful

By Julie Roberts at Julie Roberts Photography

Whenever I bring up the idea of boudoir photography I get bombarded with comments from women who love the idea of a session but aren’t happy enough with their bodies to brave being in front of a camera with practically nothing on. As if “happy enough with our bodies” is something we will ever achieve. As if we need any more reminders of the body image issues that plague our culture.

I once photographed a tribe of amazing people in a primitive township in south Africa. They lived in huts with no floors, no running water … and no mirrors. Which meant they had never really seen themselves and they also had no ridiculous self hatred based on what they did/didn’t/should/shouldn’t look like. One lady had only a few teeth and wild, frizzy gray hair. She was so exciting to look at and so fun to photograph.  When I showed her the picture I had taken of her on the back on my camera she went wild with laughter. I didn’t speak Zulu and they didn’t speak English, but I still understood their incredible joy at seeing themselves for the first time.


It changed me forever.  These women certainly wouldn’t meet our ridiculous standards of beauty … but they were some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. And they taught me a lesson in self worth that I will never forget.  Since that experience, the importance of photographing people has held a different place in my heart. A place where I realize that ALL people are beautiful. Cultural standards are meaningless here. When I have the opportunity to photograph someone, I have a chance to change how they view themselves. I’m not talking about photoshop. I am talking about seeing people as they are and finding their encompassing true, beautiful self. I have learned to find the beauty in people and show them what they look like through my eyes.

I could talk about flattering poses, angles, and light…but the most flattering thing I could ever do for someone in front of my camera is to let them see their own beauty and believe in it.  WE have to learn to believe in our beauty. We are so busy comparing ourselves to others, dwelling on the flaws, and obsessing over what we wish we looked like.  Instead of comparing ourselves and judging others, we need to offer up a little acceptance and a lot of love – for others and ourselves. We need to learn how to see our unique beauty and find joy in who we ARE. God made us…these perfectly imperfect people with silly smiles, belly rolls, crazy hair, big teeth, short legs…it’s all beautiful!

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I feel like it’s important for me to share this and hope that I can influence at least one woman to look at herself in the mirror today and smile back. See a freckle and say “cute!” or spend a moment admiring your shape or skip the admiration and go on to sheer awe at what your amazing body has accomplished. Maybe you have climbed a mountain, run a marathon, or survived an illness. My body has grown and birthed two beautiful babies, and I am so proud of that.

I think maybe believing in our own beauty begins with simply seeing it. We see ourselves and then instead of judgment and criticism, we learn to say “okay” and maybe even “pretty”. And then we begin to feel a little more comfortable in our own skin.

When I began doing boudoir photography I never realized what a platform it would be for making this kind of change in the lives of women. The reactions surprised me as much as it did the ladies I photographed. Mostly I get comments like “I had no idea I could look like that!” And it’s not a lie! It’s just a matter of getting out from behind your own veil of self doubt and seeing some truth from someone else’s perspective.  Who knew boudoir photography could be a ministry in self worth?  It surprisingly has such a positive, powerful, and encouraging effect on everyone I’ve worked with.  Don’t we all deserve a boost in the self worth department?

And yeah … there will be gorgeous photos in the end that you might want to share with someone special.  Nothing is more exciting than delivering your “sexy book” to your husband-to-be as a major surprise wedding day gift. But what’s even better is that before you surprise him with the photos, you’ll be noticeably more confident and self assured.  And he won’t be able to figure it out what is so different but he will definitely like it!

Essentially the boudoir session itself is really all about being honest, being silly, and having a whole lot of fun in a situation that might seem intimidating at first.  It’s about going beyond your fears and insecurities and grasping onto a new way of thinking about yourself.  Give yourself permission to feel beautiful and sexy…you absolutely deserve it!  Whether you decide to do a boudoir session or not, I hope reading this has been inspiring.  And if you are interested in doing a boudoir session…I would love to have the honor!



6 Creative Ways to Announce Your Engagement on Social Media

Mayfair, Valencia, or X Pro ll?! We have all been through the emotional rollercoaster of choosing the perfect Instagram filter, right? Well, it doesn’t get any easier post-engagement when you not only have to find a filter that perfectly complements your new shiny rock, but also the most flattering pose for you and your man! So, let us give you a few creative tips on posting your big news for the world to see!

But first, coffee. Ladies, Etsy has got you covered for this one! Just hop online and order those cute, little coffee mugs we’ve all seen quoted, “Does this ring make me look engaged?” You can now get them personalized! *praise*

Focal points for the win. If you’re really lucky, hiring a photographer was covered, and you will have the best picture of your sweetie down on one knee!

Play it up with props. A cute celebratory glass of champagne or some seasonally colored flowers that really make your new ring pop is always a fan favorite!

Intensify the mood with a little PDA. You can go so many ways with this one–the simple “look, everyone, we are ENGAGED!!!” pose with your shiny ring pointing toward the camera and a little kissy action in the background, or something even more unique! Being creative is bound to draw our eyes towards your new sparkler!

Let’s take a selfie. Finally–an acceptable excuse to post a selfie! Avoid the criticism by uploading a simple picture of you and your man’s smiling faces. There’s no way your friends won’t show their support and double tap for the newly engaged couple!

Your hands tell a story. Not every social media post has to be bright and perfectly filtered. Bring back the chic black and white filter for a timeless look. Place your left hand in his, tell him to give it a little smooch, and voilà!

Let’s face it, the more emotion shown in the picture, the more reaction you’re going to get out of people. But no matter how you decide to announce your engagement to the world–and no matter how many likes, comments and reactions you get out of it–remember, you’re actually ENGAGED…like to be married! Let that soak in! Don’t stress out if he didn’t hire a professional photographer or if your hair won’t cooperate for the perfect ring selfie. Bottom line: marriage is so much more than the picture you post.

…which leads us to our next point – Coming soon on the blog: Rules and Advice for Announcing Your Engagement on Social Media

Wedding Planning 101: Dos and Don’ts of Your Engagement Shoot

Engagement pictures

Yes! I personally believe everyone should take engagement pictures, and I personally believe they should be taken, at the most, 2 months after the proposal OR during an opposite season from your wedding (to have more picture options, of course!). Why so soon? This is the fun part! The giddiness that resulted from the proposal hasn’t worn off yet, and your pictures are going to reflect those feelings and emotions. Engagement shoots are also the best way to get to know your photographer, and vice versa, before the wedding. Not to mention, you’re going to want a professional picture with your new show-stopping sparkler for your send-the-dates, am I right?

*Pro tip: when choosing your photographer, make sure you find someone you can completely be yourself around. The more comfortable you are around your photographer, the more relaxed you’ll be. The more relaxed you are, the better you look on camera! Corey can be shy and hates having his picture taken, but of course I wanted the dreamy engagement pictures every girl longs for – where the fiancé is grinning from ear-to-ear and just looks “soOoOo in love” – so I definitely felt the pressure of choosing a photographer who could break him out of his shell. I chose someone with a similar personality so that Corey wouldn’t be too overwhelmed, and after our engagement shoot (a.k.a. an entire day of having his picture taken – nothing Corey hates more), all he could talk about was how much he loved our photographer. So ladies, find someone who your man will love too! This is another secret to better, “Pinterest worthy” pictures.


Summer engagement picture in a boat


1. Do your homework! Knowing your photographer’s previous work is an absolute must so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised when the pictures come back. Check out their website portfolio and Instagram. Each photographer has their own style, so it’s important to find a style that matches yours.




2. Create a meaningful backdrop. When picking your location, incorporate a place that is significant to both of you. You want your photos to reflect your personalities and represent you as a couple. Corey and I both enjoy traveling, so our photographer came up with the creative idea of doing a road trip engagement shoot. We drove all around Athens, Tennessee, making various stops and taking pictures. Corey is a big hiker and basically lives in the mountains on the weekends, so we ended the day on the top of a mountain for sunset pictures. We also asked our photographer to snap a few shots of us in the third grade classroom where we met. Those ended up being my favorites because of the memories associated with the setting!




3. Complement, don’t coordinate. Once you’ve chosen the location of the shoot, it’s time to ask what to wear. You aren’t your significant other’s twin, so don’t dress like it. However, you don’t want to completely clash, so if he’s dead-set on wearing a bright yellow striped shirt, you probably don’t want to wear neon purple polka dots. Try sticking with neutral colors and simple patterns. Avoid super trendy outfits. The last thing you want is to look back 5 years later and say, “What was I thinking?!” about your tie-dye popcorn shirt. Find an outfit you’re confident in, even if that means hopping on over to the mall and splurging on a new dress.




4. Avoid the clutter. Props are adorable but can also be distracting. Don’t drown yourself in paper photo booth props, picnic props, and picture frames. Keep it simple, and keep most of the props at home. You want to be the focus, not your things.




5. Act natural. Don’t overdo it, wondering if you look awkward or forcing your fiancé to kiss you a certain way. Fake laughing can be cute sometimes, but if the perfect laughing pictures you see on Pinterest are all you dream of, choose a photographer who is light-hearted and can make you genuinely laugh – even if you are a bit uncomfortable! Hug, kiss, flirt, and smile – you’re getting married after all!!! It’s okay to love on each other. The more relaxed you are and the more you interact with each other, the better your pictures are going to turn out.




6. Quality, not quantity. Pinterest has created monsters out of us women. When I was planning, I ended each day by searching Pinterest, re-pinning and saving images for my vendors. Of course I had a board for engagement pictures and expected every picture to turn out exactly like the ones I re-pinned. A photographer described this pressure as being “in a race to give [couples] 40,50,100 engagement photos all with different ideas and concepts at a million locations with 3 or 4 outfits.” Sounds AWESOME…if that was realistic. You do not need 200 flawless images. I promise there are not enough walls in your house to hang every single one of those (in addition to your wedding photos), and none of your Facebook friends are going to sift through that entire album. It’s okay to think you look silly in a few of the pictures you get back! Laugh about it and be happy with the beautiful images you DID get!

Most of all, enjoy it. How often is someone going to take (professional) pictures to show you how adorable and in love you are?!

| all photos by Ben Finch |

Check out my previous posts from the Wedding Planning 101 series:

Bridesmaids Proposals

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Saying Yes to the Dress

Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Choosing Your Date

How He Asks: All About the Proposal

An Introduction

Stars & Stripes & Everything Nice: An Americana Styled Shoot

Hey friends, we’re finally getting around to sharing some inspiration from our Americana styled shoot – because it’s never too late to throw a little allegiance into a wedding, right?! After getting rained out (more like flooded out!) the first day, we had an absolute blast designing + styling and hanging out with our oh-so-talented vendors. A huge thank you to Ben at Finch Photo for braving the heat, bringing your ADORABLE kids, and giving us some of the best shots we’ve seen!

The inspiration shoot was also featured on The Bride Link and The Lovely Find. Check them out for the full galleries!

Kid Photography - Boy SalutingBohemian wedding paperHandmade wooden altar - Wedding in the woodsArbor details - Wedding in the Woodsbride in white smiling. white LaceGroom. Blue shirt, bowtie and suspenders.Food area. Styled bohemian wedding receptionBohemian wedding reception. Hot Dogs and lemonadeBerries and flowers in vintage glass bottles.Americana styled shoot - kid photographyAmericana styled shoot - Drinks4th of July drink. red white and blue cocktail, FirecrackerHomemade Lemonade at wedding receptionBohemian bride in white sitting in red chair. Red leafy bouquetVintage styled kid modelsAmericana styled shoot. Outdoor wedding receptionAmericana styled shoot - head tableStyled shoot wedding table settingAmericana styled shoot. Rustic hallwayAmericana styled shoot at a rustic barnAmericana styled shoot. Red, white and blue.Americana styled shoot naked cakeAmericana styled shoot wedding cakeWedding reception lounge areaGlass bottles with flowers and booksAmericana styled shoot lounge area with pillowsAmericana styled shoot. Bride and groom kissing in canoeAmericana styled shoot - bohemian bride and groomAmericana styled shoot. Wedding favorsBohemian bride and groom. Wedding in the woods

Stylists: Rebecca Ridner + CF staff | Florals: The Atelier | Design & Decor: BlissColdstream Market, and All Occasions Party Rentals | Bridal Hair & Makeup: Bangs and Blush | Cake: Cakery Bakery | Photography: Finch Photo | Paper Products: Liddabits

The Thankful Heart of a Wedding Photographer

By a favorite wedding photographer of ours, Katherine Birkbeck

This morning I got an email from one of my sweet brides (who is getting married on Saturday) telling me that her grandmother just broke a few ribs and might have pneumonia. But she’s still coming. That sat with me for a few minutes and it even put a few tears in my eyes when I thought about how important it must be to this grandma to be at her granddaughter’s wedding. It also made me incredibly thankful that I get to photograph that relationship and all the love that comes with it.

Every year at Thanksgiving I give thanks for my family and friends, the health I take for granted, the roof over my head and yes, that I am a wedding photographer. It is not at all lost on me that at every perfect day, there is this incredible burst of love in hugs and stolen glances, toasts and father daughter dances, and laughter among your best of friends. And I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness that I get to hand over these memories in the form of photos.


Mother and bride hugging and smilingGroom sees bride for first time during wedding ceremonyBride hugging bridesmaids after ceremonyBride and groom crying during wedding toasts Father daughter wedding dance


This year at Castleton Farms I saw a bride get into her wedding dress with her best friend and her sister, and I photographed the three of them laugh uncontrollably as they tried to stretch her very tight dress out enough for her to be able to sit down. I also watched the rain come pouring down right at ceremony time but then the most gorgeous double rainbow appeared. And I even snapped away as a stink bug flew into a gorgeous bride’s hair in the middle of the wedding ceremony, because she laughed effortlessly as soon as it was gone. It was all magic!


Bride and bridesmaids getting readyDouble rainbow over rustic barn wedding venueGroom helping bride with her hair


At the end of the day, your photographs are the only thing you will have left of your wedding. So I’m thankful I get to capture your parents who will hold hands and cry as they give their little girl away. I’m thankful I get to capture your sister who is dancing with the man she will marry in a few years. I’m thankful I get to capture your first kiss as a married couple and your friends who will tackle you with hugs right after the ceremony. I’m thankful I get to capture the hugs your grandparents will give you so you can look back and remember them when they are no longer with us to do so. And I’m so thankful I get to capture the love that started your new family.


Bride and groom first wedding dance


Sometimes, in the middle of a perfect day, life happens. Grandmas get broken ribs and stink bugs fly in your hair.  And that’s beautiful too. They are the moments worth remembering. They are the moments to be thankful for.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all the newlyweds and all the brides and grooms to come. May you spend this holiday surrounded by people you love!

“There is nothing frivolous about celebrating weddings and focusing on marriage.  Inherent in that passion for weddings comes a concern for our families, the world around us, and the sustainability of our habits.”  – Southern Weddings

| Photos by Katherine Birkbeck Photography |

Candice + Jim: A Romantic, Military Wedding

The rain couldn’t stop us from celebrating this wonderful couple a few weeks ago! While some brides would be a mess on their wedding day worrying about the rain, Candice saw it as an adventure. These two are beautiful inside and out, humbling themselves to fight for our country and finding the time to grow in love each day, despite their long distance relationship. Thank you for the joy you all have brought us here at Castleton and for reminding us what it’s all about–enjoying every little moment (from torrential downpours to double rainbows) and spending time with those you cherish most.

Rainy wedding dayPink and cream bridal bouquet

Rustic barn weddingMilitary wedding photography

their story

Jim and I met when we started ground school for T-45C advanced flight training in Kingsville, TX. We were in the same class and Jim immediately started asking to come over to study with my roommate and me. I’m still not sure he did anything more than distract us from studying but we had a great time. A few weeks later we were dating and the rest is history.

Jim is a Marine and I am Navy so that makes it interesting sometimes. Marine and Navy pilots train together until they earn their wings so that’s how we met in flight school. We began dating on January 28, 2011 and were both stationed in Kingsville until January of 2012. Jim received orders to fly the F/A-18 out of Miramar, CA (San Diego) and I received orders to fly the EA-6B Prowler out of Whidbey Island, WA (2 hours north of Seattle). Long distance isn’t easy, but we were very grateful to be in the same time zone. Since San Diego is a common base of operations for events, I had several opportunities to fly my jet down to visit Jim while he was there. Jim always said he would never get engaged before going through a deployment…he just never dreamed it would be the other person’s deployment. I returned from a nine month deployment onboard USS Nimitz (CVN68) just before Christmas last year and Jim caught an early flight to Tennessee on Christmas Eve to be with me.  We exchanged presents that night and Jim surprised me with beautiful diamond earrings (which he later referred to as his “decoy present”). I was blown away and so glad that we were together. He suggested we go to the airport on Christmas morning which was nothing unusual since my family and I lived there for many years. Growing up there was a dream and it is still one of my favorite places. After walking through the old museum, we went out to where my sandbox had been – just a grassy pile of sand now. He asked “You’ve got a lot of special memories here don’t you?” I said yes and turned around to see him kneeling down as he said “Why don’t we make one more.” I managed to say something resembling a “yes” and that was it. I was so surprised and happy. Jim recently moved to MCAS Beaufort, SC and we closed on our first house this month. We’re still trying to get used to the three hour time difference, but we couldn’t be more excited about the life we’re building for ourselves there. I will be in WA until 2016 but it’s worth the wait. Jim will be leaving for his first deployment just a few days after the wedding and I will begin transition to fly the E/A-18 Growler. Our lives are certainly never boring! Through it all we’re just thankful to have each other and always look forward to the times when we can be together.


Southern military wedding

Military wedding in the woodsBride and groom in a canoe




Choosing Castleton Farms: Our Exclusive Wedding Vendors

Wedding vendors portfolio and work

As we continue our countdown, we must ask, have you ever fallen in love?  If you are still crushing on our venue, but not actually made the commitment yet, maybe #7 will change your mind – our amazingly talented wedding vendors! At Castleton Farms, we have worked with many professionals and have found that our vendors are the best-of-the-best in the industry!  They have each won various awards in their chosen fields and are completely competent to exceed your expectations. Could you imagine your wedding without food, pictures, makeup, linens, tables and chairs or wedding décor?  What about a cake, drinks, music, videos, lights or flowers? Without those items, it doesn’t sound like a dream wedding, does it? Your vendors are such an intricate part of this day. They are like the branches on the tree that you have planted. They take your inspiration and put it into action by using your thoughts, your ideas and your dreams. No one should share their dream wedding with just anyone–you must use vendors that are foolproof. That’s why Castleton has completed all the research for you and chosen some of the best-of-the-best in the industry.  Allow us to introduce you to our Castleton vendors. I promise you can’t help but fall in love with these professionals!

Tilley_Jones_WatsonStudios_kendracodyw0390b copy


Bangs and Blush

All Occasions Party Rentals

All Occasion Catering

Corks Wine & Spirits

Samuel Franklin Flowers

Unique Settings and Mismatched China Rentals

Ben Finch Photography

Bill Waldorf Photography

Cody Myers Photography

Katherine Birkbeck Photography

Bryan Allen Photography

Jennie Andrews Photography

Tracie Ancelet Photography

Julie Roberts Photography

Milestone Pictures

Casey & Kristin

Alex Widmer Video

Special Notes

Ogle Entertainment

The Happy Envelope

Avoid Photographic Mistakes

Nothing can devastate a bride more than if your superbly-planned wedding is not captured by great wedding photographs. All wedding albums are investments that are memorialized for future generations to enjoy . . . not to be embarrassed about.

You’re not just renting wedding cameras and equipment! A photographer is being hired as a talented artist who can capture moments that will be treasured forever. When it comes to photography, don’t leave anything to chance.

1. Start With Style

It is essential that your photographer knows what kind of style you want for your wedding photos. Some brides prefer black and white, in addition to color, some want all photo-journalistic pictures and some want purely traditional. This is your wedding. Your photographs should be done your way. It helps to bring photos from bridal magazines or to do a Pinterest board. This helps your photographer to see the particular style you’re wanting to achieve for your wedding images.

2. Communicate Your Desires

The best way to avoid problems before they ever surface is to have an open and honest discussion about your expectations with your wedding photographer . . . and listen to their expectations of you. The only way to do this is through establishing an open relationship from the beginning. Photographers are trained professionals, not psychics. They are not aware of what you are wanting unless you tell them. That includes things such as your pose ideas or background suggestions. Spend time with your photographer before your wedding day. Discuss your desires during your engagement session.


3. Schedule Your Engagement Session

Your engagement session is the perfect occasion to get to know your photographer. It also presents the perfect time for your photographer to become familiar with your style, your personality, expressions and reactions. Many couples feel nervous about being photographed under professional eyes. Working with your photographer allows you to become comfortable in front of the camera and with each other. Your engagement session offers the ideal opportunity to discover the best ways to be photographed.


Choose the Best Photographer for You

A bride can have a premiere venue like Castleton Farms, but if the wedding album is cheesy and sub-standard, there are no opportunities for a re-run. A wedding album should compliment your wedding day with amazing images that capture the true emotion and beauty of those special moments.

For this reason, Castleton Farms is pleased to announce it has expanded its choice of photographers for all of our brides and their different preferences of style. We are confident our photographers, each with his/her own particular style, will produce wedding images that will allow your albums to endure for generations.

We have chosen four photographers from across the state of Tennessee, and one from Kentucky, who are capable of producig wedding images of authenticity. They are some of the best. They are uniquely qualified to capture your wedding moments that will endure for generations. Each photographer is superb in unveiling the true emotion of any bride and groom in photographic images intended to last forever.