Buffalo gnats attack!

Thank goodness Julie Surratt & Phil Wilkinson only were outside for a little bit yesterday, for the buffalo gnats were crazy!

What’s a buffalo gnat? They’re these little black flies with a surprisingly big bite. You end up with a welt, and if you’re allergic even worse. When we moved to Jacksonville about 12 years ago, the gnats were not much of a problem. Only in the past few years have the swarms been something to consider.

Julie, an Illinois College alumna, wanted to stop on campus after the wedding to get some photos. A couple steps from the parking lot, as the wedding party walked past Sturtevant Hall, they were swarmed by gnats. We took a couple of quick photos, but there was more evading than posing. (Even worse, poor IC had their commencement outside the next day.)

This morning I was chatting with Pat Ward, an avid birder from Murrayville, who said the larval stages of the gnats come from local waterways. In years past pollution and silt meant fewer of the larval gnats survived, but now that streams and rivers are cleaner the gnats are making a comeback. He said frontier Illinois pioneers told of clouds of buffalo gnats driving horses crazy, and chickens would get suffocated (that happened two years ago to area chicken breeder Phil Bartz).

The University of Illinois suggests using DEET, but what I’ve found to work is vanilla. A bit of vanilla-scented lotion, or spray, or even the extract keeps the little buggers away.

Last year Lisa & David Jamiolkowski had their wedding at the end of May at Pere Marquette Lodge near Grafton, Illinois. We visited the lodge a couple days before the wedding and the gnats were bad, and we suggested Lisa & David to be prepared. They had spray bottles of vanilla on hand just in case. But, thankfully, the swarms disappeared right before their wedding. (The bugs die off after the water gets up to a certain temperature.)

So if you’re planning a wedding in Central Illinois in May, and you’re planning to have events outside, make some contingency plans for those pesky gnats.

As soon as Julie and Phil's wedding party got out of the limo to take photos at Illinois College, they were swarmed by buffalo gnats.
As soon as Julie and Phil’s wedding party got out of the limo to take photos at Illinois College, they were swarmed by buffalo gnats.
Last year at Pere Marquette State Park, Lisa and David had some of their friends spray vanilla to ward off gnats.
Last year at Pere Marquette State Park, Lisa and David had some of their friends spray vanilla to ward off gnats.

Special event, special dates

Genny & Ben Six were married earlier this year in White Hall. Genny had a great idea for her reception — she put out a calendar and asked all her guests to write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates. What a great way to keep track of family!

Event details: Ceremony at Christ United Methodist Church in White Hall with a punch and cake reception in the church hall. Reception to follow later this summer at Genny’s family farm.

Guests write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates on a calendar at Genny & Ben Six's reception.
Guests write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates on a calendar at Genny & Ben Six's reception.
A favorite photo of the day, Genny Six cries as family and guests sing.
A favorite photo of the day, Genny Six cries as family and guests sing.

WarmowskiPhotography.com

Change status to married

James takes a photo of his new bride Kristin and daughter Taylor after their wedding April 25th. "Can I post this photo on Facebook?" Kristin replied, "only if you change your status to married."
James takes a photo of his new bride Kristin and daughter Taylor after their wedding April 25th. "Can I post this photo on Facebook?" Kristin replied, "only if you change your status to married."

Riding in the Town Car with Kristin & James Darr after their wedding was an interesting experience. You should have heard them talk! I haven’t seen two people so totally in tune with each other in a long time. They’re going to have a great marriage, and we wish them well. Photo taken “Hail Mary” style with a fish eye lens.

Event details: Ceremony was at Laurel United Methodist Church in Springfield, Illinois. The sanctuary looked incredible, with beautiful, flowing fabric. Reception at Northfield Inn & Suites. Flowers by Janice’s Lemon Tree 217.942.9119 of Carrollton.

Flowing fabric at Laurel United Methodist Church.
Flowing fabric at Laurel United Methodist Church.

Busted bustle

Every time we photograph a wedding, I have my little purse of indispensable emergency items no bridal party should be without. Scissors are by far the most used items in the kit, but a close second is needle and thread. Last Saturday night, when a guest accidently stepped on Logan’s dress, the needle and white thread came in very handy. “I heard it rip,” Logan said, as I kneeled in the bride room of Hamilton’s 110 North East sewing up the torn bustle. Nothing hampers dancing like a dragging dress!

Other things in the kit include safety pins, Band-aids, Shout Wipes, mints, Super Glue, double-sided tape (tape your necklace pendant to your skin to keep it from being off-center!), lint roller, hairspray, Static Guard, hair pins and boutonniere pins, just to name a few things.

Tiffany sews up Logan's bustle in Hamilton's VIP room. Copyright Warmowski Photography.
Tiffany sews up Logan's bustle in Hamilton's VIP room. Copyright Warmowski Photography.

Unique hairdos

Hair "chain." Copyright Warmowski Photography.
Hair "chain." Copyright Warmowski Photography.

I photographed a unique element in an updo I hadn’t seen before and wanted to share here. At Rita and Jim’s wedding in the Quad Cities in February, the hairdresser tried something new on the ‘do of a bridesmaid. The “chain” of hair looks to be loose knots one after another. I think there were 3 “chains” altogether.

Taking requests

I overhead an idea this past weekend at a wedding we photographed. One of the bridesmaids said she’d gotten a wedding invitation that invited the guests to include 3 songs suggestions on the RSVP card. The bride and groom then passed the requests onto the DJ before the day of the wedding.

I’m not sure how DJs feel about this idea, but I figure if you play what guests want to hear everyone will be happy! (most of the time) I also like the idea of giving guests a day or two to think of songs that are special to them and the wedding couple before they send the RSVP, and the DJ can have some time before the wedding to gather the songs.

I’ll have to ask some DJs this wedding season if they have seen this and what they think.

Place card ideas

Jenni & Michael spent a good amount of time prior to their wedding collecting and preparing corks as place card holders at their reception. They turned out very well, I think.

Wine and champagne corks make perfect place card holders. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Wine and champagne corks make perfect place card holders. Copyright Warmowski Photography

Your first dance – in front of everyone!?

It scares you half to death just thinking about all of those eyes on you as you walk down the aisle. Luckily, you may have an arm to hold on to in case those silly heels give you problems. You make it through that and get to the reception where everyone will now watch you DANCE for a few miserable minutes. You know all of those baby boomers who actually KNOW how to dance will be snickering as you sway back and forth like an 8th grader with no real rhythm. 

There is a way around this. A couple, actually. First of all, you don’t HAVE to have a first dance. It’s a tradition that’s like many other wedding traditions. We don’t know why  or how long we have been doing them. You CAN buck tradition if you really don’t want to dance in front of everyone. 

But, if tradition must stick, a few dance lessons can go a long, long way. Like getting your makeup done by a professional, it can give you confidence you never knew you had, and is a skill you can use for years after your wedding. Like at other peoples’ weddings, for example. 

Also, if you keep it a secret, it’s a great way to really impress friends and family – whether you’re the bride OR the groom. 

Go ahead – right now – do a google search for “ballroom dance” in your town. You won’t regret it and you might find a talent you never knew was there!

Jessie & Tim had an impressive finale. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Jessie & Tim had an impressive finale. Copyright Warmowski Photography

 

 

 

Jenni & Michael's friends were hooting and hollering after their first dance song. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Jenni & Michael's friends were hooting and hollering after their first dance song. Copyright Warmowski Photography

Get your makeup done by a pro

I’m a big advocate of knowing ones strengths and weaknesses. If all of your friends come to you to have their makeup done for formal events, it’s probably a safe bet that you can do your own makeup on your wedding day. If you barely wear mascara and lip gloss on a daily basis, you might want to consider a pro. There are a couple of ways to go about it. 

#1 get your makeup done at the same time you get your hair done. OK, well, not exactly at the same time. There are often makeup artists at hair salons. Use them. The morning of my wedding, I got my makeup done for free because all of my bridesmaids paid to have their makeup done. (Actually, I think that was part of my bridesmaids gift). Of course, I went to the salon 2 weeks earlier and did a hair and makeup trial. That was part of the hair/makeup package – no extra charge. If makeup and hair professionals are coming to you – even better. That was the case for Megan. She had a preconsultation with the professional who came to her home the morning of her wedding. So did Lisa.

Meghan's pro came to her house. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Meghan's pro came to her house. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Lisa's pro came to her hotel room. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Lisa's pro came to her hotel room. Copyright Warmowski Photography

#2 go to a makeup counter the morning of your wedding and get a “makeover.” It’s probably a good idea to do some research in this case and not just show up the day of your wedding with  no prior notice. If you go to a certain makeup counter at the local department store frequently, ask if they have such a service. In our town, we have a Merle Norman store that provides such a service. 

#3 have a pro teach you how to put on makeup for your wedding day, buy the necessary products, get a diagram, and practice, practice, practice.  Karen had this approach.

Karen was taught by the pros and then did it herself. Copyright Warmowski Photography
Karen was taught by the pros and then did it herself. Copyright Warmowski Photography

One of the most important reasons to have your makeup done well is that you photograph better with makeup that plays up your best features. It can also give you more confidence. And, if you take Karen’s approach and learn how to apply it on your own, it’s a skill you will continue to use long after your wedding day.

Favor ideas

Favors are a great way for couples to show some personality – and they can also be very useful for guests!

Fans on the seats at Jessica & Tim’s outdoor ceremony (21 June 2008) were particularly useful on their bright, sunny day. Those with less hair seemed to be especially thankful for the thoughtful favors. 

Copyright WarmowskiPhotography.com - copying is illegal
Copyright WarmowskiPhotography.com - copying is illegal

 

Copyright WarmowskiPhotography.com - copying is illegal
Copyright WarmowskiPhotography.com - copying is illegal