staying present

I've learned a lot through years of practicing yoga. One lesson in particular has been awareness: feeling the ground beneath my feet.  So much of human life is spent running through autopilot -- going through the motions, "getting through" life.  Bearing it.  Enduring it. 

It's so easy to always be focusing on one step ahead. You're in a relationship? Dream of getting engaged. You're engaged? Dream of finally being married. You're married? Kids, dogs, house, career... everything has to be checked off a list ASAP and done in haste. Hurry up and die. 

I know I'm being dramatic, but really... think about it. Personally, I'm totally guilty of numbing myself to reality. I live in my head. Especially as a designer/creative/right-brained person, it makes sense to live the confines of my own imagination. But it comes at a cost -- you live in your head, you miss what's in front of your eyes. 

Sometimes having too many choices can feel absolutely paralyzing. (This is definitely true for couples planning a wedding. Can I get a hear, hear brides?)  Figuring out what to do with our lives, how to spend our time, how to spend our money (if we have money), how to plan-plan-plan our futures. It can get to be so much that we just shut down. We turn to drinking, to overeating, to shopping, to telling ourselves lies and trying to beat them (just to pass the time), whatever can fill that sinking feeling of sheer overwhelmingness. We turn off our brains and go through the motions, endure life without living it, and half-heartedly wish for the best. 

And then we're in old age, having wasted our whole lives hoping to just get through it. 

I don't want to live that way. 

I want to feel the ground beneath my feet (or the chair, in my case, since I sit all funny when I type). I want to smell fragrant flowers and notice when leaves are blooming. I want to feel my emotions and accept them, move through them. I want to be alive and not just pretend like I'm living.

Sometimes it's hard. Really hard. Sometimes the things we have to accept in our daily walks aren't fun, aren't easy, aren't quick to get over. We get hurt. We see sadness. But part of the beauty of life is its complexity. Negative feelings color the way we feel positive ones. 

God calls us to do more than to "get through life." Yes, it may be the easy way out. But as Bikram Choudhury says (paraphrased): There is no choice; you must do everything the right way. And the right way is the hard way.

Playing during a photo session with  Alyssa Joy . (In Lilly, no less.) Because, why take life so seriously? 

Playing during a photo session with Alyssa Joy. (In Lilly, no less.) Because, why take life so seriously? 

Why don't we apply that to all aspects of life? Business, planning major life events (ahem, weddings), relationships, keeping our homes?  CHALLENGE ALERT!

My challenge for you and me:  Stay present today. Or tomorrow. One day this week. Or an hour out of every day. Look around and see what's before you. Have you ever noticed the ceilings in your grocery store or coffee shop? Who's around you? What do you feel, smell, hear, taste? What are you eating? Do you even enjoy it? If not, why are you eating it?  LIVE LIFE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't just scrape by.


Love and light, as my favorite Fahrenheit ladies say!

behind the scenes:: KDE styled shoot

As you may have seen last week, Alyssa Joy Photography and I had a marvelous time, styling up a gorgeous farm just south of Nashville. I got to actualize one of my childhood wedding dreams (swoon!) and style a pink-and-red garden rose fantasy in a grove of cedars.

We envisioned a romantic elopement in the woods, complete with a table for two, scrumptious buttercream-frosted wedding cake, and a celebration not devoid of any traditional wedding "ritual." Who says elopers don't get to share a first dance or cut their cake?!

Beautiful model-friend of mine, Paige, starred as the bride. She wore a Monique Lhuillier gown (borrowed by the fabulous The Bride Room) and a little fuchsia capelet I made the weekend prior. Her groom, Thomas, rocked a burgundy bowtie and a traditional black tuxedo.

All behind-the-scenes photos by Southern Girl Photography. (Thanks, Shayna!)

Kelly Dellinger behind the scenes photo shoot

Alyssa Joy Photography behind the scenes
KDE photo shoot
Kelly Dellinger behind-the-scenes

behind the scenes kelly dellinger dulce desserts

vendor spotlight:: alyssa joy photography

I've had the privilege of working recently with wedding photographer Alyssa Valletta on some personal and professional projects. She photographed by best friend's wedding last summer and shot the Bloomsbury Farm Elopement styled shoot I blogged about earlier this week! To me, her work is organically pretty, very natural, and just simply lovely. I love getting to know other young creative-industry professionals, since I feel like we have so much to learn from each other and there's nothing quite like that kind of camaraderie. Here's a little Q&A for your reading delight! :)

alyssa joy photography

 How would you describe your photography style? What media do you like to work with, how would you classify your work?

My work is artistic, but simple, and utilizes mostly natural light. I shoot mainly weddings and portraits, and I’m working on narrowing down my business to just those two categories of photography. I only want to shoot what I am best at and love the most. I shoot mostly digital, but I have fallen in love with film in the last year and am gradually incorporating that into my work now.  I keep my photo processing very minimal--I try to let my images speak for themselves, and not let the editing style overpower them.

alyssa joy photography

What is your ideal client like, and what is your ideal BRIDE like (if your ideal client is not a bride, per se)?

I just wrote out an “ideal client” list the other day actually! My ideal client, whether she is a bride or not, is someone who is creative, appreciates art, appreciates film, is laid-back and relaxed, loves to travel, and enjoys the little (or maybe big) joys in life like Nutella, real parmesan cheese, rain boots and cozy days spent with warm sweaters, a huge cup of tea, and a good book.

My ideal bride would be a someone who loves pretty things that are not overdone, loves beautiful floral arrangements of any sort, and loves lace, chiffon, and other flowy fabrics. She loves the word lovely. She chooses wedding music and other details of the day based on what is really meaningful to her and her fiancé. (The music part is especially important because...well...there are few things worse than a wedding reception with music that no one wants to dance to!) She plans her day so that she won’t hurry through it, but will soak in every moment of this extremely special day and just enjoy every second of it. She is also not afraid to look completely ridiculous on the dance floor!

My ideal client in any situation trusts me as a photographer--my creative ability, my experience, my technique--this client trusts that I know when to click the shutter and when not to, when to direct and pose, and when to just let the moment unfold naturally.

I hope to gain your trust right away with our first phone call, email, or meeting. My goal is to create images that reflect who you are just as much as who I am as an artist, and your trust and faith in me as a photographer helps me get there.

alyssa joy photography

Where are your favorite locations to shoot?

Basically, anywhere with great lighting, and generally simple backgrounds. I want the subject to be the focal point of the image, not a busy background or unflattering lighting. There is nothing wrong with your backyard or dining room if those areas offer wonderful lighting and work well with the feel of the session.

For weddings venues, so far I have really enjoyed shooting at Hachland Hill Farm, Traveller’s Rest, and the Scarritt-Bennett Center.  Every location I’ve been to has been beautiful, but those are just some of my favorites.  There are also so many beautiful churches here in the Nashville area--it’s always a plus if they have some great window light. 

alyssa joy photography

Is there anything clients can intentionally do or prepare to enhance their experience working with you?

As far as weddings go, I like to be very involved in the scheduling process of the day. I want to have plenty of time planned for all the important parts of the day, making sure they flow well together.  I think it is vital to make photography part of your planning--I’m not just there to document your day, merely capturing what’s happening. I’m there to be a part of your day, involved with your story, and making pieces of art out of one of the most important and memorable days of your life. (That might sound super cliché, but it’s so true!) 

alyssa joy photography

Are there any locations you're dying to shoot at? Or wedding looks, etc?

I would honestly love to shoot a sunrise wedding. I saw one on Green Wedding Shoes once and just loved it! I would like to shoot an intimate, smaller wedding or an elopement--I think smaller events are so personal and definitely out of the ordinary.  

I would love to shoot a wedding overseas--especially in France, Belgium, or somewhere in the UK. I’d also love to shoot a wedding on the west coast here in the states--it seems like every wedding out there is just amazingly unique and gorgeous!

alyssa joy photography

Something your potential clients probably don't know about you?

I have not been interested in photography my whole life.  I really started to enjoy it my senior year in high school, then my freshman year of college I didn’t focus on it much. I still enjoyed photography, but I was just pursuing other things more. Then suddenly God put the idea in my very stressed-out-about-school brain to transfer to a different school and pursue it. I did, and everything fell into place REALLY fast, and now here I am! I can’t explain how or why it happened this way, except that it was His plan for me the whole time. A couple of years ago if you had told me I’d be running this business now, I would’ve laughed out loud!

Photography has brought me so much joy and so many opportunities in the past few years, and the fact that I get to make art in this way for a living just amazes me. It’s especially a blessing to me that I get to photograph couples on their first day as a married couple--it’s so beautiful and truly means a lot to me.  

Any dates you're hoping to fill this year?

I’d love to start booking some late summer and fall weddings! My schedule is getting pretty full through early summer, but I’d love to start booking some weddings later in 2013. Nashville is especially gorgeous in the fall and is one of my favorite times of year to shoot--so don’t hesitate to contact me about your wedding if you feel like I would be a good fit.  

romantic bloomsbury farm elopement shoot

This pink-and-red winter elopement shoot was loosely inspired by a childhood novel retelling the story of Beauty & the Beast.  Instead of the traditional concept of a courthouse elopement, we strove to evoke a romantic outdoor setting for a wedding for two -- complete with marriage vows spoken over a glorious overlook, a first dance as husband and wife beneath strung lights in a grove of cedars, as well as a dinner of cake and champagne. A Belle-inspired fuchsia bridal capelet also provides a pop of color against the natural woods and a beautiful alternative to the winter wedding fur stole or shawl. Bloomsbury Farm, located just South of Nashville, Tennessee, provided the perfect locale for an intimately sweet affair.

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adieu, twenty-twelve!

As the year comes to a close, I have so much to be thankful for! This has been the most exciting, beautiful year, full of promise and opportunity and the best kind of change. 

Hillary 's florals are the prettiest!

Hillary's florals are the prettiest!

I actually rang in the New Year assisting with a wedding after-party -- such "the year of the wedding." :) And so began the (mild) winter, with me running full-force ahead working while planning our summer wedding. I forged ahead, occupying my time with handfuls of odds-and-end wedding jobs (florals and film and photo booths and magazine writing and getting my feet wet in as many places as possible) to pay off our own wedding deposits. I spent a chaotic and lovely Valentine's Day in my pink coat at Brocade, answering phones in awe of the beautiful florals.

With the spring came Brittany's and Doug's wedding (the first of 2012's Brittanys) -- a stunning April wedding with gorgeous weather and pretty pink & gray decor.  Brittany and I got along famously -- she was actually my assistant for K&R's September nuptials! She said "I do" in an all-lace Jim Hjelm gown while trumpets blared beautifully.

The reception was held in Franklin and featured a cobbler a la mode bar (my favorite wedding dessert EVER!). Their wedding also marked the first opportunity for me to work with the ever-talented Nancy Ray Photography... major highlight of 2012!

Summer was split between assisting and planning weddings in the days leading up to Drew's and my big day. I worked as a floral assistant for the most epic destination wedding in Louisiana, directed a wedding that was featured on Munaluchi Bride, wrapped up plans for my best friend's wedding (and played Maid of Honor on the day-of), and then became Mrs. Andrew Dellinger

Then, following a (not so far) move and transition to married life, August began a fall wedding season marathon. Brittany and Jeff were up first, with their modern-rustic affair in downtown Nashville.

Glessner Photography

Glessner Photography

Then came Kristin & Read, a long-awaited elegant event at the Cathedral of Incarnation and Hermitage Hotel. They looked just like royalty, y'all!

Enter in a couple of "corporate" wedding coordination clients (featuring a Plexiglass-covered swimming pool dance floor and a Gangnam Style first dance, mind you!), a few more assisting jobs here and there, and the time came for me to take the biggest leap of faith to pursue change.

On a sunny Wednesday in October, I attended Making Things Happen in Atlanta.  It was a hard but soul-reaching day filled with the most important questions in life, a good bit of distance from cell phone service and social media, a lot of encouragement and scary decision-making, and resulted in me driving out of the city that night telling my husband on the phone, "I'm going to start my own event-planning business. Like, for real." That was the catalyst for change. Lara Casey told me I needed to do it, Emily Ley told me I legitimately could (and successfully so!l), and Gina Zeidler told me to open up and take it. WHOA. I can tell you that having the Editor-in-Chief and CREATOR of Southern Weddings tell you that you know perfectly well that it's your time to start your own official business (and you're much too smart to be the only thing standing in your way)... is awful good incentive for doing just that.

That's me in the front wearing red! :) And spot the yellow-scarfed blonde on the far right? That would be Brittany, my April bride!

That's me in the front wearing red! :) And spot the yellow-scarfed blonde on the far right? That would be Brittany, my April bride!

And so, plans began to take way! Kelly Dellinger Events was born. I attended the all-day Making Brands Happen webinar in November, began working with some of my all-time favorite wedding vendors from all over the South to create my brand and company identity, and after a dedicated December of nonstop thought and effort, this is it! Always a work in progress, but there a few things that will never change:) 

2012 has been so, SO good to me. I married the love of my life and started wholeheartedly pursuing the passion of my dreams. Thank you to all the sweet couples I've had the privilege of working with this year, and thank you to all of the amazing vendors who make my job so much easier and more enjoyable. Thank you to Mary Alice, who first gave me a foot in the door in this wonderful industry, and to everyone at StudioWed for being so accepting and supportive for the past three years (I'll miss you dearly). Thank you to Making Things Happen -- both creators and community. Without you, Lord only knows how long it'd take me to start doing instead of dreaming. Thank you to Drew for marrying me and being my number-one cheerleader and constant support system. Thank you to my dear parents, seester, and family for not even blinking an eye when I come up with the craziest of ambitions. Thank you dear friends near and far for challenging me, keeping my calendar filled, and celebrating all of the little things. And all of the thanks that could be mustered to my Lord from whom ALL blessings flow. I have far to go, much to learn, and many a pretty party to throw. :)

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Happy New Year, dear readers! 2013 will be the best year yet!