GSS Wedding :: Tamara & Mike’s Dallas Wedding :: Sara & Rocky Photography

You are in for a real treat today. We are bringing you some gorgeous Dallas wedding photography from Sara and Rocky Photography sent to us via Two Bright Lights. They are a husband and wife duo based out of Dallas Texas and bring a fun original approach to shooting weddings. We are happy to have these two awesome photographers! Because we know how much our readers like seeing the wedding and reading all about how the wedding was brought together, we asked Tamara a few questions….take it away, Tamara!

How did you and your husband meet?

We met at Sky Ranch Camps where we both work full-time. He had been working at our Oklahoma camp and transferred down to our Texas camp in December of 2009. It was almost immediately that we became interested in one another. could barely handle those big blue eyes.

How long have you been together?

He asked me on our first date on April 13, 2010, we got engaged on October 28, 2010 and were married on February 12, 2011. It all happened in 10 months, but we just knew it was right! And pre-dating, we eyed one another for quite a while :)

How did he propose?

The proposal was perfect – it was low key and it was the day that we could start planning for the rest of our lives together!  Mike picked me up late one night after Bible study and took me to our favorite spot – my old cul-de-sac where we spent our summer nights talking, dancing, looking at the gorgeous East Texas stars, and falling in love. I was wearing a baggy A&M sweatshirt, slippers, and my hair was in a messy pony tail – definitely not the most picturesque moment. We took a walk and ended up in the cul-de-sac that was lined in candles, the whole street was glowing. I knew what was happening, but tried to keep my cool even though my heart was about to burst! We danced for a few minutes and from there he proceeded to bath me in undeserved compliments and got down on one knee to ask me to spend the rest of my life with him! I said yes and we celebrated God for what He was doing.

What sold you on your wedding venue?

It was a combination of things that sold us. Because our engagement was short, our options immediately were limited. I loved the empty palette at Off The Grid because it already has a unique feel, but it also allowed you to run with your own style. It also worked out well for us because we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same place

We also love the vintage touches throughout the centerpieces and the curtain….tell us more!

Mike (my now husband) made fun of me throughout the whole engagement process because I threw the word ‘vintage’ out so much. I love old, unique things though – they tell a story. I knew that’s the style I wanted to go ahead with so I headed to Trade Days in Canton and bargained my way through the shops gathering random bottles and really anything that sparked my eye. The more random, the better. The backdrop at the ceremony was my favorite part of the decorations. With our venue, we had to create something to hide what was behind it. I brainstormed with my matron of honor and we came up with the idea of gathering different materials all in the white/ivory scheme and hanging them from rope. She lives in Northern California where she shopped the flea markets and found the most amazing fabrics – everything from an old wedding dress to lace curtains. We used muslin as the filler because it’s inexpensive and helped thicken it so you couldn’t see straight through it. We spent a weekend cutting the fabric, tying it to rope, and prepping it for the big day. It was the perfect backdrop – very “me” and I got to spend great time with my matron of honor creating it. We’ve been contacted multiple times about people re-creating it or borrowing it so it’s been fun to help inspire others!

We love the shoes….tell us more about those?

For some reason, I wanted my shoes to POP! I’m not a heels girls, I’m an everyday supporter of flats, so I wasn’t going to change that for my wedding day. I wanted comfort and color. Red had nothing to do with my wedding, but I’ll wear red flats with just about any outfit and people kept telling me “it’s your day, do what you want!” So I did and I wear them on a regular basis now which always makes for a fun story to tell people they were my wedding shoes.

How did you choose your wedding color palette?

Oh man, wedding blogs saved me! Purple is my favorite color so that was a no brainer. I wanted softer colors though to bring out the “spring” in the wedding. Getting married in February is hard because it’s kind of winter, but spring is right around the corner. I found a picture of a bouquet on a blog that I instantly fell in love with and used that as my inspiration.

Your dress is gorgeous, where did you get it and how did you know it was “the one”?

I got my dress in Tyler, TX at a boutique called Brides & Belles. I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted so I literally tried on every style possible the first time I went. I tried dresses on for hours and left that night in love with what I thought would soon become “the dress”. I headed to Dallas to check out options in the big city, but all I could think about that day was that dress. It was confirmed after shopping around that I knew exactly which dress I was going to walk down the aisle in…called them immediately to reserve it and didn’t look back once.

What song did you dance to for your first dance as husband and wife?

We danced to Ingrid Michaelson’s version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Romantic and was the perfect length.

What was your “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”?

I took a piece of lace from my mom’s wedding dress and wrapped it around my bridal bouquet so be my “something old”. She was excited to have a piece of her walking down the aisle with me. My mother-in-law let me borrow her mother’s pearl necklace to be my “something borrowed”. Can’t go wrong with classy pearls. I chose undergarments to be my “something blue”.

What was your favorite part of your big day?

My favorite part of my big day…oh man, that’s hard! I would say my favorite part was feeling so calm and READY to marry Mike. Things didn’t go perfectly that day – one of the groomsmen forgot his pants so he was wearing jeans in half the pre-wedding pictures, ha! – but no matter what  happened, at the end of the day I was going to become the Mrs. Michael McGuire. I kept my eyes on that and got to soak up the day and enjoy each moment, laugh at the kinks, savor all the friends and family around me. The moment I caught eyes with my man at the end of the aisle, saw his heart melting smile…I’ll never forget it!

Do you have any advice for brides that are in the planning process?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in creating the perfect day, getting wrapped up in all the details, but I think going into it with a realistic expectation that it’s more important to put effort and time into investing in your marriage than into planning your wedding day. It’s one day that is amazing and the best day of my life, but I had to often take steps back. It is so fun to make decisions and to make it a day that reflects you and your fiance well, but the day comes and goes so quickly. It becomes a memory in the matter of hours – granted it was the best day of our lives, but it helped us so much to take a step back from planning and see how we could invest in one another and our future marriage no matter what!

Thank you, Sara & Rocky, for sharing this amazing wedding with us!  Stop their site and check out more fabulous weddings! Please let them know that GSS sent you!  And Tamara & Mike, we wish you a lifetime of love, laugher, and happiness!  May every day be better than the last!

If you have an engagement, wedding, day after, or anniversary session that you would like featured- Please send it to us at  We HEART submissions!

Floral Designer: Flower Bouquet
Reception Venue: Off The Grid
Invitation Designer: Tracey Sonneborn
Cake Designer: Yum Scrum Cakes
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GSS Tips from a Wedding Planner :: Reading the Fine Print with Your Venue

One of your first choices you will make when planning your wedding will be your venue. So many of the decisions you make from that point forward may be based on the size, shape, rules, and regulations of your desired wedding site. While the areas mentioned below will be outlined in your venue’s contract, here are 10 things to consider that are not likely to be mentioned on your initial venue tour unless you ask!

image courtesy of Amy Karp

1. How Many Hours Before the Wedding Can My Vendors Arrive to Set-Up? Many venues have a tight time frame for vendor load-in. And while two hours to set up, for example, may seem like plenty of time for set up, at this point in your planning you probably have not chosen your flowers, decor, linens, lighting company, etc. Your selections here could affect how much time you need to set-up, and thus you may incur additional cost due to the additional time or labor needed. Be sure to set aside money in your budget to allow for this.

2. Pick-Up/Strike Time: Closely related to #1, be sure and ask about the regulations on when your vendors can deliver and pick-up. Some venues will allow your rental company to deliver on Friday and pick up on Monday, which will save you money. However, more often than not, your venue will require pick-up of all rented items upon conclusion of your wedding reception. You will be charged an additional “Late Night Pick-Up Fee” from your rental company in this situatin, so be sure and work this into your budget.

3. Wedding Rehearsal: Just because you are under contract with your venue, that does not mean you are entitled to a wedding rehearsal at the venue the day before. Especially in situations where your ceremony is being held outside of a church at the reception venue itself, there could be another event at your venue the day before. Weddings on Sunday frequently run into this issue, as Saturday night your venue will most likely be booked for another bride. Plan accordingly and realize that a rehearsal a few days before and even earlier in the day on the wedding day itself, may be your only option but can be easily managed.

4. Included Linens: Many venues offer linens as part of their “all-inclusive” options. Be aware that these are always white, ivory, or black cotton/poly linens. This may be exactly what you were wanting, but if you are looking for a different color or more upscale fabric, there will be additional charges for this. Your venue, however, can help you to secure the more upscale linens as well!

5. Working with Preferred Vendors: A venue’s Preferred Vendors list is a great resource for you to find the rest of your vendors. These are experienced professionals who know your venue and are trusted by the staff. However, that does not mean that other vendors in your area do not also know the venue well. Sometimes a venue will tell you that only their Preferred Vendors truly do well in the venue, while other vendors have worked their frequently. Just be sure that with your outside vendors, you can see pictures of their work in your chosen venue and perhaps be given references from other brides who worked with your vendors at your location.

6. Internal Sound Systems: Many venues have internal sound systems that you are allowed to use. This should in no way replace the sound system that your DJ or band will bring in. Most entertainers prefer to use their own equipment and should be given the chance to do so if at all possible.

7. Real Petals and Real Candles: Always dreamt of candle filled wedding? Love the look of real rose petals going down your aisle or scattered on your reception tables? Just be sure the venue allows this first. Many venues have restrictions against open flames due to the fire hazard they present and against real rose petals which can often get ground in to the venue’s carpet and cause damage or staining.

8. Required Insurance: Some venues will require your vendors to be insured and present certificates of insurance for proof. Working with insured vendors is always advised, but be sure to allow for plenty of time to obtain insurance certificates from all of your vendors, especially those who have not previously worked with your venue. And be sure your vendors carry insurance BEFORE you book them! Additionally, you, as the bride, may be required by the venue to purchse event insurance. However, if you have hired a professional wedding planner, his/her insurance should suffice in this situation.

9. A/C & Heating: Nothing can damper your wedding like a room that is too hot in summer and too cold in winter. This is a sure fire way to have grumpy guests who will leave early. Most venues have more than adequate HVAC systems, but older, historic buildings often have less insulation in their walls and windows and vents in places where they would no longer be placed today. These venues tend to be slightly warmer in summer and slightly cooler in winter, so take that into consideration when choosing your date.

10. On-Site Coordinator: Be sure and have your venue clearly define the role of the on-site coordinator on your wedding day. Is this person there just to manage the venue and possibly the catering? Is this person there to help you run your reception (working with DJ, organizing wedding party for toasts, helping you with cake cutting, etc)? Is anyone going to be there at all (this is often the case with public park venues and community centers)? Be sure and take this person’s role into consideration before choosing your off-premise wedding planner.

Significant Events of Texas Wedding Planning

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GSS Featured Day After Session :: Wendy & Billy’s F-U-N Filled Session :: Tara Swain Photography

Today’s fabulous featured Day After session comes from Tara Swain of Tara Swain Photography. We fell head over roller skates when we saw this AH-Mazing submission in our inbox!  (Roller skates, skateboards, feathers, and pillow fights- OH MY!) Tara Swain is an East Texas and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas based wedding photographer.  Tara has been so sweet and accommodating to GSS and we have truly enjoyed working with her on this feature.

Wendy and Billy were married on August 15, 2010.  This shoot is a double feature, actually… Wendy has just started her very own wedding planning business named “Birds of a Feather Events.”  (Scroll on down, you’ll see a feather theme going on- And now you know why!  So, so cool!)  Without further ado, we are proud to introduce you today to both Tara Swain AND Wendy!

Wendy was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

How did you and Billy meet? Billy and I met through mutual friends.  We had been hanging out in the same circle and frequenting the same spots, but we had never really spoken to each other.  After a string of nights where our group had hung out pretty much every night I decided should send him a friend request on Facebook.  After reading each other’s pages we realized that we had a ton of stuff in common and it might be nice to actually carry on a conversation the next time we all hung out.  He met up with me and my friends later that evening and the rest is history, we have been inseparable ever since!

How long have you been together? We started dating Memorial Day weekend of 2009, so only about a year and a half.  When you know, you know! :)

How did he propose? About a week after we started dating he picked me up from work and took me to lunch at 8.0’s in downtown Fort Worth.  As we were walking to the restaurant he stopped me on the street corner and asked me to be his girlfriend, which I thought was super cute!  So, when it came time to pop the big question he took me back to that same street corner.  He pretended like we were going to dinner downtown, but he stopped me on that same street corner and asked me to marry him.   After he proposed he took me to the restaurant where we had our first date, Piranha Killer Sushi in North Arlington.

When was your wedding date? This is a bit of a long story, but I will give you a short version.  Before he ever proposed he set the wedding date, 8.16.10.  This date was based on my birthday being on 6.16 and his being on 10.16, and 8.16 was right in the middle.  So for months we would always text each other when it was 8:16am/pm, send pictures of things with 816 in it, our address is even 3816.  Once we were officially engaged and were planning the wedding we realized that 8.16 was not going to work for everyone since it was a Monday.  We thought for a long time about it and decided to compromise, we would have the wedding and reception on 8.15, but sign the marriage license on 8.16 so that our anniversary would be 8.16.  So, I guess we really get 2 anniversaries now, right?!

Your wedding dress is GORGEOUS! Where did you get it? Thank you!  It is by Simone Carvalli and it was my dream dress!  I had originally just thought I would get a dress at David’s Bridal and not spend too much money on it, that is, until I saw my dress in a bridal magazine.  I could not stop thinking about it and I couldn’t seem to find anything comparable anywhere!  I decided to search online and try to find the price, but it was not listed anywhere.  Only one store in the entire metroplex carries Simone Carvalli, Stardust Celebrations.  I went to their website and as luck would have it they were having a Simone Carvalli trunk show the following weekend!  I set my appointment, with a woman named Wendy even, and when I showed up my dress was the only one they did not have!  I tried on other styles, but my heart was set on 7135.  Wendy sent me home dressless, but promised to track the dress down for me.  She called me about 2 weeks later telling me she had found the dress and it was being shipped so I could try it on.  Luckily the dress was within my budget and we purchased the gown on Valentine’s Day (Awe, lol)

We understand that you recently launched your own wedding planning business named “Birds of a Feather Events”- How exciting!!! Tell us about it: Wow, where to begin?!  I’ve been working in television in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for the past 9 years, editing, directing, making motion graphics etc.  I’ve always dreamt of working for myself and doing something that involves creativity and my passion for organization, haha!  With so many friends getting married this year, not to mention my own wedding, it was something that I just fell into at first, then realized that I had an overwhelming desire to make it a career.  I really get involved with all of my brides and take on their wedding days as if they were my own, pouring over decor selections, cakes, flowers, invitations, making sure everything is the perfect fit for that particular couple.  I don’t really care for the over the top, cookie cutter style weddings.  My focus is on doing something unique, something that not only fits the couple’s style and interests, but something that none of the guests will have seen before.  You can visit my website at and also “Like” our Facebook page at

Below are some of Wendy’s head shots for Birds of a Feather Events.  So adorable, fun, and creative!

Do you have any advice for brides that are in the planning process? Hire a wedding planner of course!  But seriously, if a planner is not in your budget or if you prefer to plan everything solo, at least hire a day of coordinator.  They will save your wedding, trust me!  The last thing you want to do on your big day is call vendors, do set up at your ceremony and reception, or clean up/fix any problems that arise….and trust me, something WILL go wrong, most likely the thing you least expect.  Also, try to do as many DIY projects as you feel comfortable with.  Personal touches go a long way in making your wedding personal and rememberable!

What was your favorite part of your big day? I wouldn’t say I have a favorite moment, more like highlights!  I loved doing our First Look, they are my favorite pictures from the entire day and I highly recommend doing them to anyone.  Billy and I only had one member in our wedding party, our flower girl.  I decided to ask my mother to be my matron of honor a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I waited to surprise her and ask her right before the ceremony started.  That was a very special moment for me.  Being introduced as the new Mr. and Mrs. Tylaska was pretty great, as was dancing with my father.

And lastly, what was your inspiration for your day after shoot? One of the many things Billy and I have in common is we both grew up skating, me on roller skates and him on a skate board.  Skating was a huge part of our lives growing up and Billy still skates today and I get to the rink every now and then.  I really love pictures where the couple incorporates their interests into the shots and adds some character to them, they seem so much more interesting and dynamic than just a simple shot in a field or of them sitting on a park bench.  I came to Tara with the idea of having some feathers floating in the air in front of us during the wedding gown portion of the shoot and she loved the idea.  Once I told her that the most economical way to get the feathers was from down pillows, she had a light bulb moment and decided we should do a full on pillow fight!  Billy totally cheated though, he was pulling fists full of feathers from the pillow and throwing them into my face.  I had feathers in my mouth, feathers in my throat, feathers in my eyes…you get the idea!  We were finding feathers for days afterwards.  I also bought some cupcakes so we could do a “cake smash”, like a food fight, but with cake and at a close range…but Billy wasn’t having it.  I really don’t blame him, staining our clothes probably wasn’t the best idea!  Hopefully Tara can pass my idea along and talk someone else into it, I would love to see those photos!

Thank you so much, Tara, for sharing this amazing engagement session with us!  Please stop by her website and blog and show her some love!  And thank you, Wendy, for taking your time to answer our questions!  We wish you luck with Birds of a Feather Events– We know you’ll be a HUGE success!  And we wish you and Billy a lifetime full of love, laughter, and happiness!!!  May every day be better than the last!

If you have an engagement, wedding, day after, or anniversary session that you would like featured- Please send it to us at  We HEART submissions!

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