5 Tips for the Best Family Photo Shoot Ever

The hubby and I are taking our annual family photos as part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations this year and we’re taking our 18 month old and our 5 year old along. YIKES!

It’s not our first time taking family photos, but it is our first time taking a toddler and a first-grader to an out-of-town location to shoot photos for more than just a few minutes. I’m falling back on my previous experiences to plan for said photo shoot and I’ll be keeping the following in mind:

1. Choose the right location

Location, location, location… Pinterest is full of family photos taken at the beach, in a field of wild flowers, even along the side of an old barn. They look great, but before trying to recreate these images, ask yourself “Will my kids do well there?”

We’ve taken beautiful photos on the river in the past and I didn’t follow this tip. I was about 8 months pregnant and I had a 4 year old with me. We had to walk about a half a mile to get to the “perfect” photo spot that our photographer had found. We were mid-way through the walk and my husband was already carrying my 4 year old when it started to rain. Ugh. We should’ve chosen a more convenient location. Lesson learned.

This year we are going to a park. We will park in the parking lot and walk about 6 yards to the location. Perfect.

2. Time it right

Hungry, tired or rushed people tend to look hungry, tired or frazzled in pictures. Timing is everything. Everyone should have time to get ready and eat a meal and small children shouldn’t have to stay up late or skip a nap.

We like about 10 am. The morning light is still pretty, we’ve all had time to get ready and eat some food, and the baby can take her nap right as we finish up. Plus, we still have the whole rest of the day to look fancy!

3. Pack distractions

With small kids, I always plan for the “Mom, I’m bored!” moments. I try to keep family photos fun and upbeat so that the smiles aren’t forced. As a bonus, we always end up with great shots of our family playing and laughing together!

My Favorite Distractions for Little One:

  1. Bubbles: This year we are bringing bubble guns. I think they’ll look great in the photos and the kids can have fun playing with them together.
  2. A Ball: Again, great for photos, but also helpful to distract father and son while I take pictures with the baby.
  3. A Favorite Toy: It’s so nice that every year when we do these, we’re also documenting our children’s favorite toys! I love looking back and seeing what my son chose to bring in years past.
  4. Clean Snacks: My kids will always sit still for snacks! The trick is choosing clean snacks since they’ll be all dressed up. Some of my favorite clean snacks are: raisins, cereal, squeeze yogurts or applesauce and gum (for the older kids.)

4. Plan for accidents

Accidents happen, but if you plan for them, there’s no stress when they do!

I always have a backup outfit for the kids because, well, they’re kids. I also bring extra make-up and a hairbrush for touch-ups.

After a few photo shoots with small kids I have learned that I also need band-aids, stickers, and even a lollipop or two. If someone falls, I try the band-aid first, then the sticker, then the lollipop.

Other accidents to plan for: Bad weather, Someone running late or a last-minute location change (have a back-up in mind!) 

5. Keep it real

At the end of the day, you’re going to get pictures of your family. If you end up with pictures of a wet, tired, pregnant mom (Been there!) you still end up with pictures of your family. Try not to stress about it being perfect and plan on it looking like your real life. It takes a huge amount of pressure off and it helps make the whole experience more enjoyable!

Do you have tips to share? Comment below!

Take a Break From Your Wedding Diet… It’s National Ice Cream Day!!

National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 16, 2017

One of my all-time favorite holidays (and diet cheat days) is back. As a former BR31 scooper (My first High school job) I like to think of myself as an aficionado of ice cream. I’ll be getting my scoop on tomorrow and I’m excited to take advantage of all the sweet deals!

Here’s our running list of free ice cream deals and other promotions from several popular chains:

Free Ice Cream Deals


Get a free vanilla soft-serve all day long on Sunday, anywhere in the country (mcdonalds.com). This year, all you have to do is download the McDonald’s app to redeem your freebie. Plus, one lucky person will win FREE ICE CREAM FOR LIFE! 
PetSmart will be handing out free sundaes to pups and their owners at participating PetSmart PetsHotel locations.
Just like last year, you can upgrade to a free waffle cone when you buy a double scoop of your flavor of choice. If you download the Baskin-Robbins mobile app,  you’ll receive additional special offers for National Ice Cream Day and other days.


Buy any size cup or cone on Sunday, and you’ll get a second one for free.

Dippin’ Dots

Free mini cups of ice cream will be given out in a two-hour window on Sunday. Check with your local Dippin’ Dots store to find out when.KrystalFrom July 16 to July 23, the Krystal fast food chain is offering sundaes for only 99 cents .
Monkey Joe’s
All guests at Monkey Joe’s indoor play centers get free ice cream cups on Sunday.

Slimmed Down for the Gown: A Bikini Series Review


If you’ve been following our Bridal Boot Camp series, you know that I tried the Tone It Up Bikini Series in order to lose weight and fit into my wedding dress again after 10 years. (More about that HERE.)

Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my fitness along my journey.


Losing weight starts in the kitchen. Seriously. It’s all what you eat. I know that it sucks to hear that, because I love food, but I can honestly say that I lost over 30 pounds by just eating healthier. (I wasn’t great about following the workouts, but more on that later.) When you sign up for the bikini series, you get an email with a few healthy recipes, but I found most of my recipes on Pinterest. 🙂


Foods that you should expect to eat during the Bikini Series are all supposed to be lean, clean and green. No additives, no junk food and very little fat. Some of my favorite recipes are:
COCONUT KALE BEAUTY SMOOTHIE for a quick and easy breakfast!

TURKEY MEATBALLS with ZUCCHINI NOODLES is an awesome and easy dinner that can double as lunch the next day!!!

CHICKPEA SALAD SANDWICH is a delicious salad that I make at the beginning of every week and eat for lunch when I don’t have leftovers from dinner. (I mush the chickpeas a little more so that it’s more the texture of tuna salad.)

My favorite snacks are hard boiled eggs, protein bars, almonds with Craisins and even apples with natural peanut butter.

Tone It Up has a nutrition plan you can buy, but I didn’t use it. I found that I could find plenty of healthy recipes on my own. My recommendation is to skip the meal plan. It’s pricey and although I’m sure it’s helpful, I did just fine without it.


The workouts were AMAZING. Everyday there is a 10 to 15 minute workout to do. It’s quick and targeted so that each day you workout one muscle group. I looked forward to the daily workouts and enjoyed several of them.

Some of my favorite workouts were:





Overall, I enjoyed the Bikini Series. I love the online community on Instagram and felt both encouraged and inspired by the entire Tone It Up team. Checking in on Instagram helped hold me accountable and I think that I’ll continue to use my Instagram account for that purpose.

The food I ate, while not technically part of the “Tone It Up Nutrition Plan,” followed the same guidelines as the plan (lean, clean, green) and I never felt hungry or deprived. I drank alcohol, ate chocolate and pizza, and even had a piece of birthday cake. After eating clean for so long, I didn’t crave those bad foods and actually felt a little sick when I did indulge. I will definitely continue to eat this way, although I will probably start to eat larger portions when I reach my goal weight. (Still have 3 more pounds to go!) I don’t feel that buying the nutrition plan was necessary.

I plan on using the workouts in the future. Probably not everyday, but I like that I can find a quick workout when I need one. I learned that I REALLY enjoy Pilates and so I plan to continue Pilates classes while working in some chosen Tone It Up workouts here and there.


At the start of this journey, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to get started. As the program went on and the stress of life began to creep in, I would skip workouts and found it was hard to get started again. I hit plateaus, I gained a little and then would lose it again, I felt sore from the workouts and tired from all of the running I was doing. (I learned that I am NOT a runner.) But I kept going. If I messed up, I started again. I just picked up wherever I left off.

If you’re thinking about starting a new workout plan, I would HIGHLY recommend at least googling Tone It Up and trying some of their workouts. (There are a TON of free ones on YouTube.) I wouldn’t purchase the nutrition plan. I found a lot of information about the plan for free on the internet and I just ate mostly organic, clean foods.

After doing the Bikini Series (even with all of the cheat days and skipped workouts) I feel stronger, healthier and more confident. I’m ready for our ten year anniversary pictures, and I’m proud to say… THE DRESS FITS!!!