Ashley Kidder wedding photography


This week I’m profiling a very talented wedding photographer, Ashley Kidder. If you take a look around her website, you may start to feel like you’ve seen her work before. And you probably have, on the BE website! She has been helping us out for a long time now. From Union Station to Boulder to Denver photo shoots, Ashley has been taking excellent photos in a range of conditions.

So, for those of you shopping around for a wedding photographer – or if you think you might be in a couple of months 🙂 – here’s my recent interview with Ashley.

1. How would you describe your particular approach to wedding photography? What makes you different?

I don’t want you to feel like we’re taking photos. Being in front of the camera can be intimidating and make people feel uncomfortable, so I strive to make it as fun as possible. Keep it light, organic and breezy. My number one priority is for you to enjoy yourself in front of my camera; once I can achieve that, the photos will follow. Your positive experience with me is of the utmost importance.

2. What kinds of things can a groom do to look his best in his wedding photos? Any common mistakes that grooms are making in your experience?

Hands-down, a custom suit or a tailored suit is the best thing a groom can do to immediately up his wedding fashion game. Too often I see rental tuxes that don’t quite fit right — either they’re too baggy, too short, or boxy. Opt for a custom suit and you can rock it years after the wedding.

3. When searching for a wedding photographer, what are the important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

To circle back to the first question, your experience with your wedding photographer should be overwhelmingly positive, fun, and one of the top reasons you decide to hire them. Denver is ripe with incredible photographers with styles that span from moody-and-filmy to light-and-airy to clean-and-crisp; the talent this area sees is unlimited. Out of all the vendors you hire, your photographer will be the one you’ll spend the most time with on the day of the wedding. For that reason alone, couples should prioritize how they feel about their photographer not only as a wedding vendor but as a person. Like I said before — once you have that relationship nailed down with your photographer, the beautiful photos will come easily afterwards.


Reach out to Ashley directly at or via her company website here.

Phone: 303-915-1226

What to get her this holiday season


To my female audience, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Us guys have a tough time finding gifts for you during the holiday season. We really do. Last Christmas, I remember it wasn’t until the 23rd of December that I had finally bought a gift for my girlfriend. It wasn’t that I was being lazy or procrastinating, it was just that I hadn’t found what I felt was the right pick until the last minute. Part of the problem in knowing what to get her is that when it comes to style, we know next to nothing about women’s fashion. And unlike men’s style, which creeps along every five years or so (generally speaking), women’s style seems to change as often as the weather!

Now, to all the men reading this article, I want to make your holiday shopping for the woman in your life a little easier this year. And so I reached out to the chic minds behind what I consider to be Boulder’s brainstrust when it comes to style and design – Liz Finkelstein of Mile High Style and Andrea Resnick of Willow. Liz is an admired home and personal stylist whose work has been featured in 5280 Home and Boulder Lifestyle Magazine. And Willow is Boulder’s leading women’s boutique – their Twitter bio says it all: “A contemporary women’s boutique that is going to rock your world.”

The following recommendations may be exactly what you’re looking for, or maybe not. Regardless, I hope that they help point you in the right direction this holiday season. 🙂

Recommendations by Liz Finkelstein, Mile High Style


1. Hermes Bangle

The epitome of class + cool, these bangles go with everything and are for everything.
$550, or Cherry Creek Hermes boutique

what to get her

2. Jo Malone Bath + Body

One of the premiere beauty lines, their scented body creams are a perfect daily indulgence.

what to get her

3. Chan Luu Scarf

Chan Luu scarves are like potato chips: You can’t have just one. The cashmere and silk blend combines into the perfect weight and warmth.
$195, or locally at Chelsea,

what to get her

4. Smythson Stationery

While the world becomes increasingly digital, beautiful stationary remains always in style. Receiving a card from Smythson is like a gift itself.

what to get her

5. Blackbird and the Snow Fancy Star Earrings

These beauties by local Boulder designer Marie-Juliette Bird graced the May 2015 cover of VOGUE magazine and will make for one very sparkly, very special holiday.
$3,145, available through

what to get her

Recommendations by Boulder-based boutique, Willow

6. Lera Jewels Sapphire Barrel Choker

A sapphire bead paired with leather for a very Colorado, but very sophisticated look.

$950, Here’s some more info.

what to get her

7. Hammitt ‘Ryan’ Clutch

This sleek clutch is the perfect size for a chic night out. Red suede interior, two roomy zipper compartments, an easy access cell phone pocket, and a detachable cross body leather strap.

$250, Get the details

what to get her - clutch

8. Cinq a Sept ‘Nimatt’ Top

A sexy cold-shoulder top that’s sure to turn heads. The feminine lace paneled design helps this top to stand out from the rest.

$245, How to purchase

what to get her - sexy top

About Mile High Style

Mile High Style is a boutique style consulting business offering services for personal shopping, fashion consulting, and home styling. @milehighstyle

Website: Mile High Style
Location: 2044 Walnut Street Ste. B, Boulder, CO

About Willow

Willow is a contemporary women’s boutique in Boulder featuring clothing, handbags and jewelry from well-known and emerging designers. [A special thanks to Willow for providing BE with the images for items #6 – #8.] @WillowBoulder

Website: Willow
Location: 2595 Canyon Blvd., Boulder, CO

Dionne Event Productions, featured Scottsdale event planner


So, one of my current projects is building a wedding guide for those of you that live in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. What I’m trying to do is find the absolute best wedding vendors in the area, the ones that reflect the level of quality in service and product that you’ve come to expect from BE. And so today, I interviewed Dionne Washington, senior planner and owner of Dionne Event Productions and Dionne Design.

I asked her three key questions that I think a lot of you grooms (or soon to be grooms!) have on your mind when it comes to shopping around for an event planner.

1. [Ryan] Can you tell us a little bit about Dionne Event Productions? What makes your approach to event planning different?

[Dionne] Dionne Event Productions was founded by Dionne Washington January 4, 2016. In July of the same year, Dionne Design was born. Dionne Event Planning is our wedding and event planning service. Dionne Design is our floral, linen and event décor service.

Since our doors opened, Dionne Event Planning (DEP for short) has helped plan and coordinate over 15 weddings in just one short year. Being a new company, that speaks wonders about the confidence our clients had in me and in my team.

What makes us different is that our approach to our clients is service based. We remind them that we are at their service to take care of all of the planning that a successful event requires. Planning a wedding should be fun, not stressful! So we remind clients that hiring a wedding planner is so important and so valuable because they don’t have to worry about the detailed and very meticulous tasks that we actually delight in.
We also offer in-house floral design. This is a rarity and can be challenging to master in addition to wedding planning. But I am confident in my floral design capabilities as I love to meet with my brides, find out what it is that they want to experience and make their design vision come to life.

2. You’ve clearly planned a lot of weddings to date, what was one that really stood out and why?

Thank you. Yes I have had my hand in event planning even before I founded DEP. One wedding that stood out to me was a couple that wanted a flower wall. At the time, I didn’t have any floral experience and my florist on this particular wedding quoted them an amount they just couldn’t see themselves paying. Well, it just so happened that I wanted to learn about floral design and I was going to a workshop that was teaching you how to do flower walls. So with the blessing of the florist that was assigned to that wedding we gave it a shot! With the help of volunteers and family members we were able to create an amazing flower wall. It was at that wedding I knew that I wanted to expand my capabilities as a floral designer. Since then, I have booked several weddings as a planner and floral designer.

3. When searching for an event planner, what are the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

When a couple is searching for an event planner, some of the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for are:

1. How many weddings have they planned?

2. Do they have references or reviews on websites like The Knot or Wedding Wire since those reviews can only be made by real couples who booked the planner and reviewed the planner after their event.

3. You want a planner that listens well and makes sure that their main focus is to make your planning experience a fun and stress free experience!

Contact information

Reach out to Dionne directly at or via her company website here.

Dionne Event Productions phone number: 480.269.3379

Featured business: Celebrations Event Planning

So, this past week I got in touch with Pam Donaldson of Denver-based Celebrations Wedding and Event Planning. I wanted to ask her a handful of questions that I think many grooms are pondering. After all, just like wedding photographers, there sure are a lot to choose from. And I think that it’s important that you ask the right questions to help you find the best planner for your needs.

1. [Ryan] Can you tell us a little bit about Celebrations Event Planning? What makes your approach to event planning different?

[Pam] I established Celebrations 11 years ago. For many years, I was always helping family and friends with parties and events. So I decided to go back to school and get certified as a wedding planner and start my own company. I have built my business on the belief that you can have a beautiful, elegant wedding and still maintain some amount of affordability. I think one of the key elements is really understanding the client’s “ needs” for their event and then working closely with them to make sure that all the details are met.

2. You’ve clearly planned a lot of weddings to date, what was one that really stood out and why?

Over the years, I have planned many different types of weddings, but I have to say the one that stands out the most was my latest “Indian” wedding. There were so many moving pieces to this wedding which kept the entire wedding day just amazing. We started out with décor set-up of a “mandap” along with all the other traditional elements that needed to be worked into the ceremony space. Once the wedding got started we had a band of drummers escorting the groom down the street on a horse to the venue entrance. He was followed by his family and as he approached the venue, the bride’s family met up with them and they had a large dance party in the street. The ceremony was almost 2 hours long and incorporated so many lovely cultural details. Later, the party got started with catering, photo booth and lots of dancing.

3. When searching for an event planner, what are the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

When you look for a wedding planner, not only are you trying to find someone that matches up with your personality, but there are really 2 important elements you should look for in their service as well. Organization and attention to detail are extremely important. Most couples start the planning process anywhere from 7 months to a year in advance. Your planner must have a system to keep all the details in place over the course of the coming months. You start putting a vision together so early in your meetings and as the wedding day gets closer, all those details must be recalled so they can be incorporated to create your perfect wedding day.