A Photographer Becomes A Bride | A Personal Post

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On the most beautiful Saturday in April, I married my best friend. I sat down my camera & picked up a bride's bouquet. Instead of wearing black & running around behind the scenes, I wore white & the loveliest lace veil.

As someone who is in the wedding industry, I thought I knew a good bit. Wrong. I was wrong. There was so much that I didn't know. For example, how much food it takes to feed 150 people or how many options there are for table linens. And now I know why it takes a bride a few days to respond to emails, we've got a lot of things going on. Meeting with other vendors, working a full-time job, trying to sweat for the dress & make time for your fiance. I understand so much more now.

So, today, I wanted to share with you my experience as a bride & provide a few takeaways that might help a future bride in the process too. Below you will find 10 tips that will hopefully help you in planning your big day!


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TEN TIPS from a Photographer who became a Bride

1. Hire a wedding professional planner and/or coordinator. I get it, you've got Pinterest & you know what you want to do; but trust me a professional will guarantee that your vision will come true. As a photographer, it pains me to see someone asking the bride logistical questions the day of or the mom on her phone trying to find out where the flowers are when her daughter slips on her dress. She's missing that moment! Trust me hiring a professional is worth it, even if it's just for the day of.

2. Make it your own, not a Pinterest board. Goodness, I sound like I hate Pinterest. I promise I do not. I used it as a launch pad. For instance, what colors should I use? Oh this is a beautiful gown, let me save this image for inspiration. Or cute ways to ask my nephews to be 'ring bearers'. Ways we made 04/28/18 our own? We allowed everyone from our bridal party to purchase their own attire. Each tie was different & every dress flattered each girl.

Our families are both big reasons why we are here today & so we wanted to highlight them in a special way. So being the wedding photographer that I am, we took photos from their wedding days & displayed them. I also knew that I wanted to honor my dad who passed away eight years ago in happy ways not sad ones. I wrapped my bouquet with the collar of my dad's shirt so that he'd be there holding my hand every step down the aisle & at the reception shared a dance to the Temptations' "My Girl" with all the dads/daughters in attendance. Little touches that make your wedding day unique to you & no one else.

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3. An Engagement Session is key. I am a photographer for a reason, I prefer to be behind the camera. And when you do get me in front of it, it's like I forget what to do with my hands or to smile naturally. I always encourage my clients to do an engagement session because it allows them to become comfortable in front of the camera before their wedding day. Ya'll, it's so true. My husband, Richard, even said so, too. "I was actually able to enjoy the moment versus focusing on whether I was doing the pose correctly.”

4. No rules, it’s your day. If you want three cakes, have three cakes. If you don't want to toss the bouquet or garter, don't.

Confession: I always thought I wanted to elope or at least have some sort of destination wedding. But, the more I thought about our "perfect" wedding day, the more I wanted to celebrate my marriage to Richard in our city. He grew up in Mobile & I have lived here for 10 years. Mobile is home. So we decided to have a small intimate ceremony with just our immediate families & bridal party a few hours before hosting a large reception at The Pillars of Mobile, Alabama. Again, no set rules my friend.

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5. Be flexible. I am not the most adaptable person, but when things don't go as planned you just have to go with the flow & make it work a different way. Rain might change your ceremony from outside to inside. Hair & makeup may take longer than anticipated. So my best advice: remain calm, trust your photographer who added that buffer of time into your portrait timeline & be okay with taking bridal party portraits after the ceremony.

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6. Eat! I always tell my brides to eat because no one likes a hangry bride & then I turned into one! (*Let this be my formal apology to Elizabeth, Allyson, Cheree & Bryan.). Being the Chick-fil-A addict that I am, I had breakfast catered for my girls & I as we got our hair done that morning. Then for lunch ordered sandwich trays from Publix for us & the groomsmen. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to grab a sandwich before stepping into my dress...not my best moment. By the time the ceremony was over & we were taking pictures, I started to get hangry. Our original plan was to eat before being announced at our reception but we were a little late due to pictures. (Y'all, golden hour was just too pretty to miss; so happy we got those gorgeous portraits in Washington Square. They are some of my favorite from the entire day!) So as soon as we got to our reception venue we were announced, shared our first dance & then went into a private area to eat while our guests enjoyed brunch for dinner as well. Ten minutes of sitting down to eat allowed us a moment to ourselves before interacting with our guests & gave us fuel for all the dancing!

7. Make time for a Mother/Daughter Date. Girls, your sweet momma has probably dreamed of this day since she first held you in her arms. During the week of my wedding, my mom & I checked into the Battlehouse Spa for an afternoon. And it was just what the both of us needed. Time to relax & not worry about running errands. Time to chat & soak up the big life changes that were taking place soon. Because as soon as your bridesmaids roll into town, you hit the ground running. So set aside some time the week of your wedding for your mom, whether that is a spa day or a coffee date.

8. Remember your vendors. I am not saying this because I am one. But now that I've been on the other side of camera, I know how hard they work to make your day the absolute best. Sure tips are appreciated but a simple "thank you so much for everything" can make their day too. I consider myself the luckiest bride because I surrounded myself with my dream team. They truly went above & beyond & am a forever grateful.

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9. Pick your best friends to stand by your side. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard "well I was in hers, so I have to ask her to be in mine too". No, absolutely not. You should always choose those who have supported you & will continue to throughout your marriage. Sure you were best of friends 10 years ago but did you call her when you knew you went on your last first date?? You need to surround yourself with friends who make you laugh, keep you calm & hold your ballgown when you have to potty! #weddingdayreality LOL

And most importantly...

10. On the day of, your only job is to get married. That’s it. I am a planner to my core & was a little stressed the week of my wedding. I just wanted everything to come together perfectly. And the reality is that months of planning are gone in simply 24 hours. So I knew when I woke up on April 28th that no matter what happened that day my only task was to get down that aisle to Richard. It was a day to soak in every moment & enjoy celebrating our love with all of those closest to us.

I can, in fact, say that it was the best day ever.


Shout out to all the vendors who made my wedding day the best!

Planner | Heather Pfefferkorn, Classic Events – The Pillars of Mobile

Getting Ready & Reception Venue | The Pillars of Mobile

Ceremony Location | Washington Square Park

Photographer | Elizabeth Gelineau - Check out her blog about our wedding!

Second Photographer | Jacob Bennett

Photographer’s Assistant | Allyson DeMouy

Videography | Lifehouse Films - Check out our video sneak peek!

Caterer | Chef Rob Stephens

Florist | Sarah Beth’s Florist

Cakes | Cakes by Judi

Hair Stylist | Mallory Gleason, Root 43 Salon

Makeup Artist | Courtney Matthews

DJ | Jason Skelton, DJs by the Bay

Rental Company | SOHO Events & Rentals

Bride’s Gown | Bella’s Bridal & Formal, Birmingham

Groom’s Suit | Samuelsohn, Oak Hall, Memphis

Jeweler | Lou’s Jewelry

Custom Painting | Melissa Munger

New Town Newlywed | A Personal Post

Deborah Michelle Photography Auburn Alabama Alabama Wedding Photographer

Hey Auburn, Hey Auburn, there's a new girl in town...

Never in a million years would I have imagined that this Bama girl would be living in that other town. You see I grew up just south of Tuscaloosa & my t-shirts are crimson & white. But God sure does have a sense of humor because I fell in love with an Auburn boy.

Moving in general is a huge undertaking but moving a small business can be hard. For years you've worked to established yourself in an area & eventually became friends with the wedding professionals that you've worked alongside & now it's like the first day of kindergarten all over again. But if there's one thing I have learned, it's that you have to seek out community. And that's my number one goal as I move into my new town.

Meet my little family. Richard is my HUSBAND. *Goodness I like the sound of that. :) He is the kindest, gentlest soul that I've ever known & often teaches me to live in the moment. He is finishing up his PhD at Auburn University & I am so proud of him. I'll never forget the first conversation we had. I asked him where he lived & when he said Auburn I responded with "Oh I'm sorry!" Ha! Jokes on me because the loveliest village on the plains is now my new home as a newlywed. 

And our family wouldn't be complete without our four legged son, Elliot. He loves any adventure that we bring him along, especially if it ends in an ice cream cone from Sonic.

So far I am blown away by the hospitality shown by this town & have had the best time exploring new places. I have discovered all the coffee shops (of course) & love weekends spent with brunch at The Hound followed by a trip to Kiesel Park with Elliot.


Hey thanks for reading this little personal post & following me along on this exciting new season of life as a newlywed.

If you are a fellow photographer or creative in the Auburn, Opelika, Columbus areas, let's grab coffee ASAP! (And maybe do a head-shot swap so my sweet husband doesn't have to next time. Bless it, he did so well didn't he?!) Seriously, I cannot wait to get to know you & work alongside you.

xoxo,

Debby Cullum

*Mobile, I am still your girl. I will forever travel to your Gulf Coast to capture your wedding days. So don't think I have abandoned you. My car knows I65 South real well.


Our wedding was shot by the wonderful Elizabeth Gelineau - check out our blog here which was also recently featured on Southern Weddings! AHHH!

Collage pictures were shot with an iPhone X.

Mother's Day 2017 | A Personal Post

Dear Mom,

You once prayed for a little girl that'd be just like you. Well the Man upstairs certainly granted you that wish & then some. There's not a single day that goes by that I am not thankful for you.

You were there since day one. You are my biggest cheerleader (including my recent crazy tendencies - #running13.1milesforfun) & my support system when it seems like everything is falling a part. You are my secret business partner & constant sounding board. Sure we argue (hello we're too much a like). But I know I wouldn't survive a day without my best friend.

Let's be honest - I'd never find a thing in Walmart if it weren't for you or know how to make poppyseed chicken casserole. You are in fact right about everything. And thank you for spoiling your granddog, Elliot, too.

One day to celebrate you simply isn't enough.

I love you.


As a family photographer, I've been lucky to witness the interaction & love between a mother & her child. From the first cry to the first steps to the first booboo to graduation day - she's there.

One thing I treasure is the ability to watch some of my dearest friends take on the role of motherhood with such grace. You ladies inspire me daily.


As a wedding photographer, one of my favorite moments to capture is the moment when a mother helps her daughter into her wedding dress. I myself am not a mother but can only imagine this being a moment that mom has dreamed about since the moment she heard "it's a girl"!

*It is actually a rule of mine on wedding day - to not get into your dress without me present. It's that important to me!


Boy moms - I haven't forgotten about you! You've spent years washing dirt stains out of baseball pants followed by many nervous nights after he turned 16 & got that first truck. You've spent many days praying for that young man in your life. And momma, you did good. Your baby boy is now a man who will leave home to start his own home with his beautiful bride (whom you've been praying diligently for too). Be proud.


And I will not ignore the fact that this day is hard for many. You may have lost your mom this year. Or you may have had a miscarriage & struggling to hold it together today. But do know that I am praying for you. You are so loved & your worth is far more than rubies.


Happy Mother's Day to all the strong, selfless & ever inspiring mothers. Thank you to all the moms, grandmas, birth moms, adoptive moms, & fur moms. To be a mother is to be love. Thank you & forever grateful for all that you do. | Aenny Chung

My Why | A Personal Post

If your house was on fire what is the one thing you'd grab?

Photographs. 

As many as your hands could hold. 


Recently, I was asked that very question, along with the "why" question.

Why do I do what I do? Why did I start DMP in the first place? Why do I spend 20 Saturdays out of the year capturing someone else's love story?

Here's why...

Because I love capturing a moment that will last a lifetime.

Think about it. How many times do you pull out those embarrassing childhood photos for a throwback Thursday post? Or how many times do you trace the outline of your grandmother's nose in that picture of her in 20s because it's a spitting image of you?

A photograph freezes that moment of time, every wrinkle and belly laugh. Moments come and go, but a photograph says no, not this one. I want to treasure this moment. 

Last year, I sat down with a sweet young bride, over coffee of course. She had one of those questionnaires. You know the one full of questions for your potential photographer. She asked a few generic questions, but then she asked me why I love what I do and how I got started.

Well, honestly, I've always been that girl with a camera and somehow that turned into a dream career.

The question floated around in my head for a few minutes, landed, and the tears began. I saw myself twirling around the dance floor with my dad, on multiple occasions.

You see these photographs would become treasures the moment he left this earth and took his heavenly home. 

Allison Rodgers captured the last photographs of my father at my brother’s wedding in April of 2010. He danced and had the time of his life. 


It’s no surprise that some of my most favorite memories (and sometimes toughest) of a wedding day are those shared between the bride & her daddy.

From the time he first sees his little girl in her dress, to the moment he walks her down the aisle, to their dance at the end of the night...they are moments I don’t want to miss. 


To my brides and their beloved families who have trusted me to capture these moments for you - thank you. 

You opened your hearts and lives to me. My prayer is that you treasure these images for a lifetime. 


To my daddy - thank you for believing in me long before I believed in myself. Thank you for teaching me the importance of documenting moments that are often gone so quickly. It's because of you and so many others that made me the photographer I am today.  

Elliot | A Personal Post

Meet the reason why I cannot work from home. 

His name is Elliot. 


Some can work from home, no problem. I am not one of those people. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a day on the couch in my yoga pants, watching Pride & Prejudice all the while tackling edits from a wedding. But that's a rare occasion. Most days I escape for a few hours to a local coffee shop (Mars Hill Cafe, Carpe Diem, Mokas) - they are all on rotation so I won't get charged for office space. ;) 

^ Click through for more pictures of El :)

Elliot loves that my job now takes us on many adventures - he even attended a wedding with me once! (Long story short: the photographer was in the ER, so I offered to cover the wedding for her. Only problem, Elliot was with me. But the bride's grandma made friends with my pup & it turned out to be one of the best weddings.)

This pup loves the occasional puppuccino, the salty breeze in his ears at the beach & testing the lighting during photo sessions with my nephews. 

^ Click through for more pictures of Elliot & I - pictures taken by the oh so lovely Anna of Anna Filly Photography

So if your photos are delayed a day or two, please forgive me. This guy begs me to play fetch in the backyard & you cannot say no to those big brown eyes. Fact. 


Elliot is a Cavalier King Charles Cocker Spaniel. He celebrates his 5th birthday in March & was named after Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU. Love my pup. So much. <3

A Bride & her Squad walk into a Barre | A Personal Post

Pure Barre.

What is that? Glad you asked! 

Pure Barre is a 55 minute workout that uses small isometric movements to lengthen & tone the body without bulking. Sorta think of a cross between yoga & pilates then add a ballet barre for support!

Each Pure Barre class begins with a warm-up in the center of the room, on the floor, and then standing with light weights to work those arm muscles. We’ll then move to the barre to work your thighs and your seat. After the seat work, you’ll do a series of ab exercises, followed by a cool down. While the flow of class is always the same, we are always changing the music and exercises, so you never experience the same class twice! | Pure Barre

The Pure Barre technique is a unique way to build strength, endurance and tone your muscles in a safe, low impact manner through the use of small focused movements. Strong toned arms, thighs, abs and seat are just a few of the areas that clients see the biggest change from Pure Barre. Lean muscle definition coupled with improved flexibility, posture and coordination help to create a strong yet graceful barre body. | Pure Barre


I started taking Pure Barre almost two years ago, because I was training for my first half-marathon & needed to cross train. Plus my sister-in-law recently started taking too & was looking incredible after having her first baby. So ok, I'll give it a try. 

Y'all. I fell in love. 

PB helped a ton with my core strength & gave my arms a bit of a tone, which is hard for runners sometimes. 

I am the least coordinated person & thought I'd have a hard time with my lack of dance background, but that was far from the truth. Every class is different & that makes going multiple times in the week fun! I got bored with the classes at my other gym & stopped going, but with PB I'm constantly challenged & that keeps me engaged. 

*And I must add that instructors are AWESOME & encourage you throughout your fitness journey.

...now for the punchline.

A bride & her squad walk into a Barre...and receive the best workout!

On Saturday, January 28th, a private class was held for bride-to-be, Abby & a few of her bridesmaids.

"Pure Barre was an experience like no other! I enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the structure of the class. I also couldn't walk for 3 days after, which is the sign of a killer workout! So much fun with some of my amazing bridesmaids!" 

***SURPRISE***

Not only can I take your wedding photos, but I can help you get in shape for your wedding day too! That's right. I am not only a wedding photographer, but a certified Pure Barre instructor! Eeeek! 

Pure Barre has given me a sense of confidence that I never knew I had. And I actually get excited to workout! *Ha most days ;) - I cannot wait to share my love of PB with everyone who walks through our studio doors. 

Come lift-tone-burn with me at the Barre soon! More information on the Mobile studio here! *But if you don't live in the Mobile area, don't you fret! There are studios all over the country! 

Adele & Dating Your Photographer | A Personal Post

If you know me, you know that I love to belt Adele at the top of my lungs in my car. And thanks to my parents, I got to see her LIVE in Atlanta last October. One word: INCREDIBLE! Adele arose from center stage & with one word her voice filled the entire arena. I screamed like a little girl as chills went throughout my body. Simply incredible.

Now you probably clicked on this blog because of the title - stick with me as I explain.

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One of my favorite songs on Adele's latest album, 25, is 'Water Under the Bridge'. 

If you're gonna let me down, let me down gently
Don't pretend that you don't want me
Our love ain't water under the bridge
If you're gonna let me down, let me down gently

Don't pretend that you don't want me
Our love ain't water under the bridge
(Wo-ah, wo-ah)
Say that our love ain't water under the bridge

And then it hit me.

This is exactly how photographer's feel when we don't hear back from a client. 

People, just tell us that you've gone in a different direction. 

I promise it won't hurt our feelings. Everyone has a different style, budget & overall connection with the photographer. It should be a good fit, no doubt. 

But when you leave us hanging - much like dating (where my single ladies at?! Hey-o!) -  it's frustrating. We've penciled you in basically. And in some way already invested in your June wedding at the Plaza, by dreaming of your cathedral veil sweeping across the marble floor & how stunning you’ll look in your mom’s dress remade. 

So if this is you, I'll leave you with some more of my favorite Adele lyrics...

Send my love to your new 'photographer'
Treat her better. 


*No feelings were hurt in the making of this blog. 

One of my goals for this year - and the rest of my career as a photographer for that matter - is to network with my creative community. If I’m booked or don’t offer the packages you desire, then let me put you in the hands of a dear photographer friend who can.


All images from the concert were shot on my handy little iPhone. 

And thanks to my girl, Kayla, for scoring these awesome seats & singing alongside me the entire night.