What a beautiful summer wedding! Haley + Sam were married at Zion Lutheran Church in Bay City before excited family and friends who were over the moon happy to see them tie the knot.  That's where we first met up with them as they prepared for their big day.  Tears and smiles were abundant as they changed into their wedding finest.  Before long, Haley was walking down the aisle, arm in arm with her father.  After exchanging their vows, it was photo time before the big celebration.  We headed over to Midland for a fun photo/video shoot under the Tridge.  Then, it was on to the Horizons Center in Saginaw for a night of celebrating!  It was a pleasure working alongside Stephanie and Alta from Stephanie Lowe Photography, as well as DJ Ryan Rousseau who had the reception rockin' from start to finish.  Congrats, Haley + Sam - thanks for having us a part of your day! We wish you many, many happy years together!

video: Lee Thomas Films
photography: Stephanie Lowe Photography
mc/entertainment: DJ Ryan Rousseau
floral: G.T. Homestead
cake: Becky Fick
church: Zion Lutheran Church (Bay City)
reception: Horizons Center (Saginaw)
makeup artist: Shannon Marie Artistry
music licensing: Song Freedom

If what they say about rain on your wedding day is true (bringing good luck), then Jenna + Matt should be set for life.  Hey, what's a few raindrops anyway? It certainly didn't dampen the fun and excitement of their special day.  Jenna + Matt were married at First United Methodist Church in Birmingham and held their reception at Oakland Hills Country Club.  We first met up with Jenna and her bridesmaids as they were capping off the finishing touches of makeup and hair at her parents home.  Lots of special moments were captured as Jenna slipped into her beautiful dress moments before her dad caught his first look of her.  From there, it was on to Oakland Hills for Jenna + Matt's first look and a few photos before heading to the church.  After their beautiful ceremony - officiated by Pastor Gary Haller - it was time for their celebration at Oakland Hills.  Family and friends were treated to very special toasts from Jenna's father, her sisters Kelsey and Kristin, and Matt's brother Ben.  It wasn't long before the guests hit the dance floor as the Jerry Ross Band had the place rockin' as only they can.  Matt and the guys even hit the stage to sing a song to Jenna before the band called up the newlyweds to sing for their guests.  It was great to work with planner Carolyn Hefner and her amazing team from The China Closet, photographer Blaine Siesser and his team, Luigi Bruni, Bellisario's, the Jerry Ross Band, and the great staff at Oakland Hills.  Congrats, Jenna + Matt!  Wishing you a lifetime of happiness!

filmmakers: Lee Thomas Films
photography: Blaine Siesser
event planner: The China Closet
floral: Bellisario Florist
entertainment: Jerry Ross Band
hair stylist: Luigi Bruni
makeup artist: Deyo Studio
dress: Monique Lhuillier
shoes: Jimmy Choo
music licensing: Music Bed

First off, I have to say... I don't know that I've ever laughed so much at a wedding than I did at Courtney + Adam's wedding.  Adam has to be one of the funniest guys I think I've ever met.  He literally had me cracking up most of the day (thanks for the shout out during your speech, btw!  Classic!).  Their priest even made mention, during their ceremony, of how funny and crazy Adam is.  Courtney + Adam's day started at the Dearborn Inn where they prepared for their wonderful day ahead.  Having met and fallen in love over 8 years ago, they had waited a long time for this day.  After dressing and exchanging cards and gifts, it was time to head to the church.  Father Jim Bilot officiated a beautiful ceremony as Courtney + Adam became husband and wife.  It was then time to have some fun as we drove around capturing great footage of them just being together and enjoying their day.  Before long, we headed to Lovett Hall at Greenfield Village for their rockin' reception.  Courtney's sisters Lindsey and Kristen, best man Jeff, and Courtney's father Gary all made touching (and humorous) toasts to the happy couple.  After dinner, family and friends rocked out to the sounds of Nightline.  It was so great to work with coordinator Ann Owens from Emerald City Designs again: always a pleasure!  We also loved working with Jean Smith from Jean Smith Photography (check out her blog for more great images of the day).  Congrats, Courtney + Adam!  Thanks for having us along on your special day!

cinema: Lee Thomas Films
photography: Jean Smith Photography
coordination: Ann Owens Emerald City Designs
entertainment: Nightline
church: Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church
reception: Lovett Hall
floral: Emerald City Designs
cake: Iversen's Bakery
makeup artist: Mary Haddad-Sworski
music licensing: SongFreedom

There's nothing like getting married on a beautiful, sunny day!  And, Chelsea + John's wedding day was indeed beautiful (for more reasons than just the weather...).  It's always an honor to be there as a couple begin their new life together and it was a privilege filming Chelsea + John's wedding day.  We met up with the bride + groom at Beacon Baptist Church in Taylor as they went about their preparations for their big day.  Hair.  Makeup.  Exchanging cards and gifts.  An "almost" First Look.  Then, before we knew it, Chelsea was walking down the aisle to meet her new husband.  After a beautiful ceremony uniting them as husband and wife, we were off to Heritage Park for some photo ops.  It was great working with Robin Lieb from Once Upon A Memory Photography again.  We've had the pleasure of working alongside her several times now and it's always fun.  The reception was held at Crystal Gardens in Southgate where several members of their bridal party gave toasts of encouragement to the newlyweds.  A beautiful day all around.  Congrats, Chelsea + John!

"We received our video yesterday afternoon and love it!  You and Lisa did a fantastic job and we were blown away by the quality and creative talent that went into the video!  We appreciated not only the additional footage - which was wonderful by the way and we loved it - but the way it was packaged and shipped.  It really made the whole package complete for us and made for a nice evening of reliving our wedding day.  Overall, we couldn't be more happy and will be sure to recommend you to everyone and anyone looking for a wedding videographer.  Thank you again for being a part of our day and for doing such an incredible job of documenting it.  The video really made us feel like we were back at our wedding"

cinema: Lee Thomas Films
photography: Once Upon A Memory Photography
entertainment/mc: Metro Music Entertainment (Chris French)
florist: A One of A Kind Creation Florist
cake: Sweet Nothings
church: Beacon Baptist Church
reception: Crystal Gardens
music licensing: The Music Bed

In our final installment, here are a few odds and ends tips to help make your wedding film really rock!!!

1. DON'T CHEW GUM... we all want fresh breath but, face it, chewing gum on video is not very appealing.  You may even think you're hiding it pretty well but, trust us, our cameras will see it.  This goes for bridal party and parents, as well.  If you're worried about your breath, keep some breath mints handy.  Trust us, if you chew gum, you'll regret it later when you watch your film.

2. YOUR BRIDAL PARTY... let your bridal party know there will be filmmakers covering your day.  If you think it will help, guide them to our website/blog and let them watch a few films.  This might help them feel more at ease knowing we won't ask them to do anything cheesy, say anything cheesy, or put them in cheesy poses.  We just want them to be themselves and enjoy the day.  We'll make them look good, don't worry :)

3. WEDDING PLANNERS... in a word, we love 'em! (ok, 3 words....).  While we film many weddings that don't have one, hiring a planner can be one of the best decisions you'll make regarding your day (besides hiring a great film studio, that is...).  Whether it be a full service planner who works with you from the very beginning of your planning stages to a "day of" coordinator who makes sure your wedding day runs smoothly, you can't go wrong with a top notch planner.  Check out our "A Few Faves" page for a list of planners that we recommend and enjoy working with.  While you're there, check out the other wedding professionals we recommend.  We're always meeting and working with new people so check the list for updated recommendations.

4. UNPLUGGED WEDDING... that's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days.  But, with our ever growing "dependence" on technology, it may be a trend who's time has definitely come.  As a society, we have come to rely on and overuse our devices.  Even at weddings.  Instead of truly being "present" in the moment and enjoying the wedding, many guests are experiencing the event thru the screen on their phones and cameras.  Some times, even inadvertently getting in the professionals way in their excitement to get a photo.  So, what does an unplugged wedding do?  It lets the filmmakers and photographers capture the emotion and excitement of your wedding and lets your guests be, well, guests.  You can either announce your wedding will be an "unplugged wedding" in your invitation, wedding program, or have your celebrant announce it before the start of your ceremony.  This will make it much easier on your wedding professionals while, at the same time, letting your guests truly enjoy the moment.

And, last but certainly most importantly...

5. DON'T SKIMP ON YOUR MEMORIES... we hear it time and time again from brides... "our friends didn't hire a videographer and really regret it".  In fact, according to many top wedding magazines and blogs, not hiring a videographer is one of the top regrets of brides everywhere.  Almost as common... brides who tell us about friends who went cheap on video and regret it even more than not getting a video at all!  After all, who wants one of the most important days of their life reduced to a cheesy or poorly made video?  It may be a cliche but, when all is said and done, your film and photos will be all that's left from your day.  As memories fade, you will look toward your film and photos to remember your day.  Invest wisely and don't skimp on your memories.

We hope you've enjoyed our Wedding Tips series.  With a little planning (and keeping these tips in mind), you truly will have a Wedding Film That Rocks!!!  Congratulations!!!

Have any tips of your own? We'd love to hear what you think.  Feel free to leave a comment or write us at lee@leethomasfilms.com

Michelle + Anthony are truly some of the sweetest and warmest people you'll ever meet and spending the day with them (and their families and friends...) was a definite treat for us!  We started our day at Michelle's parents house where Michelle and her bridesmaids got ready for the big day ahead.  Michelle had a big smile on her face when we arrived and I don't think it left her face all day.  We then caught up with Anthony at his parent's house to cover his preps, as well as an impromptu toast with the groomsmen.  Before long we were on our way to the Royal Park Hotel for the day's main events: their ceremony and reception.  Michelle + Anthony held their ceremony outside under the Park Pavillion tent adjacent to the hotel.  Once they officially became husband and wife, it was indoors to the beautifully decorated Grand Ballroom where the Simone Vitale Band was waiting.  The guests were in the mood for fun and the band didn't have to do much convincing to get them onto the dance floor.  The room looked amazing, courtesy of the floral arrangements and center pieces created by the talented design team at Bellisario Florist.  The up lighting and net of lights which hung above the dance floor added to the elegance, thanks to Colonial Events.  After their introduction, Michelle + Anthony hit the dance floor for their first dance and to cut the cake (which was amazing, bravo Elegance In Sugar!).  After a couple rounds of toasts and dinner, the guests hit the dance floor and wouldn't leave as Simone and his band rocked the evening away!

It was such a pleasure to work with our friend Sam Sarkis as well as coordinator Amber Frawley and her team from Frosted Pink Events.  It was an beautiful event from start to finish!  Congrats, Michelle + Anthony!  We wish you the best!

filmmakers: Lee Thomas Films
photography: Sam Sarkis Photography
planner: Frosted Pink Events
venue: Royal Park Hotel
band: Simone Vitale Band
Florist/Linens: Bellisario Florist
Lighting: Colonial Events
Cake: Elegance In Sugar
ceremony musicians: Ivybrooke Strings
espresso bar: Java Java (Espresso Bar On Wheels)
music licensing: Music Bed and Song Freedom

In this installment of "Tips For A Wedding Film That Rocks", we will focus on your Creative Session and Reception...

1. CREATIVE SESSION... first off, what exactly is that?  We call it a Creative Session because "photo session" implies all you'll be doing is taking photos.  To produce a film that's both cinematic and creative, we need to gather footage during this time just as much as your photographer does.  For the most part, we are unobtrusive and film around what is already taking place to capture much of this footage.  However, we also may need a few moments to get shots specific for video.  IOW, shots with movement and/or interaction with the two of you.  So, at times during your creative session we may prompt you to do quick and simple things, such as look at each other, kiss, hold hands, etc.  Don't worry, we'll never ask you to do something cheesy or that would make you feel uncomfortable.  Many times, we get these shots without you even being aware.  We are constantly looking for those spontaneous and real moments between the 2 of you.  Moments that will make your film uniquely yours.

2. FIRST DANCE... your First Dance should be all about YOU, so give yourself time to enjoy it.  If you'd like your bridal party to join you on the dance floor, it works much better to have a 2nd dance where they can join in.  Let your first dance be just that, your first dance.  Not only do your guests want to see you take a spin around the dance floor, but we want to capture that moment as well.  Our advice: tune the world out and enjoy this wonderful moment.  Some couples like to learn a special dance for their first time out on the dance floor.  If that's you, great!  If not, swaying back and forth and being into each other is just perfect.

3. TOASTS... while what your best man or maid of honor say during their toast may be out of your control, you do have influence over what they say.  Let them know if they must bring up college experiences or funny but "questionable" material, that the rehearsal dinner with it's more intimate gathering of family and friends might be a more appropriate venue to do that.  This closer-knit group might appreciate those topics more than a larger gathering consisting of more casual acquaintances, family friends, co-workers (and possible bosses), and, since it is being filmed, future children!  Toasts are not meant to be roasts of the couple but rather a celebration of the day's event: their marriage.  IOW, say nice things about them as a couple, be happy for them, you can talk about them as individuals but always bring it back to them as a couple.  Having your "toasters" say something sweet and sentimental will not only warm your guest's hearts, it will make your wedding film even more amazing!

Two more things regarding toasts... reading off notes is totally acceptable: nothing is more potentially awkward or embarrassing than someone trying to "wing it" off the top of their head (believe me, we've seen it!).  And, last but certainly not least... KEEP IT SHORT 'N' SWEET!  The rehearsal dinner is better suited for those longer toasts.

4. DANCETIME... lead the way and show by example!  If your guests see you two out on the dance floor having fun, they will follow.  For most weddings, we will only be at your reception for a limited amount of dance time.  So, our best advice... get out on the dance floor early!  This will not only get your guests involved but will also allow us to gather all the dance footage we need.  Then, if you just want to chill and visit with guests, you can.  Another suggestion: have your dj/band start the evening off with at least 15 minutes of high energy, uptempo music.  Doing this accomplishes 2 things: it gets the party started and, again, allows us to capture footage of your family and friends having a great time!  Consider talking this over with your dj/band before the wedding.

We'll wrap up our Tips with some final thoughts... next time!

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