Wedding albums are something I believe really strongly about. If you doubt me at all, take a look at this entire blog post I dedicated to wedding albums. I think they are absolutely worth the investment to have your wedding day told in a professionally laid out storyboard of images–your images. It is one of the greatest tangible articles you can pass down through your generations. Think for just one moment how much you would treasure your great-grandparent’s wedding album. This is why I place so much value in them.

While I’ve talked about wedding albums a lot, what I’ve written very little about are engagement albums and I think it’s time to shed some light on these beauties as well.

Do I think it’s necessary to have an engagement signing album? Not as much so as a wedding album. However, I do think an engagement album is a stunning way to display your photos (these last professional ones before you are married) and the best kind of signing album you could have at your wedding. The end result is two beautiful albums: one of your engagement photos with well-wishes from your guests and one of your wedding day from start to finish. Together, they are the complete treasure book series of this particular time in your life.

The Engagement Album by Emily Crall_0014

If you are using your engagement album as your signing album at your wedding, I’ll be sure to design the album with lots of white space for people to sign.

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0006The Engagement Album by Emily Crall_0013

The Engagement Album by Emily Crall_0016

These are the beautiful linen colors that you get to choose from your the cover. The album shown above is in “midnight” and I think it complements Liz’s beautiful eyes perfectly!

The Engagement Album by Emily Crall_0015

The Engagement Signing Album is an 8×8 album filled with 20 pages of your session images, designed in a way to leave room for signatures and comments. This album comes wrapped in a beautiful linen cover with the option to have one of your favorite photos inset in the cover.

Everyone tells you to enjoy your wedding day. Soak it in. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy.

And you should!

But then the wedding day is over. You wake up the next morning married to your best friend. Maybe you’re jetting off for your vacation honeymoon right away or maybe you’re putting it off until winter. You’re lying there with thousands of sweet memories floating around in your head as you reminisce about the day before with a smile on your lips.

Now my true job as a storyteller comes into effect. I get the honor of taking the images from your perfect wedding day and putting them into a visual storybook for you. There’s something indescribable about holding a fine art album in your hands and opening the pages to see that fine art album is YOUR wedding day told only in photos.

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0004

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0005

Strictly from a design standpoint, I start the process with what I think are the best images of the day spread out in cohesive and clean layouts. I love white space. I love clean lines. I love that the photos get to do all the talking.

It’s not until I’m done with the initial design that I bring you in on it for review. There are hundreds of images from your wedding day and it would be so overwhelming (and what a disservice that would be!) if I said, “Pick 50 favorites.” No way.

The thing is, all of the photos are going to be your favorites because all of the photos are a part of your favorite day.

Most couples end up with anywhere from 12-40 spreads. It’s quite a range, I know. My average initial design has about 20-30 spreads and you can choose to add more, take some out, or leave it as it is. That’s the beauty of collaboration! You get the final product exactly as you want it.

Here are some examples of real wedding album layouts:

The only other thing left to do after the design is finalized is to pick a cover image and a leather color. My lab creates some of the most beautiful, stunning albums I’ve ever held and I’m so glad that my clients get to have that same experience as they cherish their album and pass it down to the generations that follow them.

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0011

There are two sizes shown: 10×10 and 8×8. (The 8×8 shown is the linen engagement signing album.)

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0007

Now it’s just up to you to look through it and enjoy the memories! And someday, in a very long time, your grandchildren will be looking through this same album as you tell them the story of how you met.

The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0009The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0008The Legacy Wedding Album by Emily Crall_0006

Best Reference Guides for Essential Oils

It’s so important to be informed and safe when it comes to using essential oils. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information available, but using common sense and starting gradually will help ease any sort of intimidation you might feel as you begin using essential oils in your everyday life, on yourself, and your family. I use Young Living essential oils (see why here). Due to the fact that Young Living’s purity and grade of oils are so high, they should be used with knowledge and respect. (Here are YL’s safety tips for usage.)

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Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0004.jpg

He was DJing; she requested a song. “I got pretty busy and hadn’t gotten to her song yet (something by Bloodhound Gang). I had a pretty packed dance floor and didn’t want to kill the mood that her career-ending request,” he said.

She continued, “After what I thought was more than enough time to hear it and hadn’t, I walked right back up there to request it again. He told me I was beautiful and that he wanted to take me out to dinner sometime…and that my song request was queued to play shortly. I wasn’t going to text him at all after our encounter because I was of the mindset if he wanted to talk to or see me again, he would get ahold of me. [My friend] thought that was stupid and took me phone from me and texted him. We agreed to meet for dinner. So I went to his house where he made me dinner and watched movies. This was on April 10th, 2012. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole time. He was so very sweet and I know it is cliche to say, but I knew that night I was going to marry him.”

It was a rough 11 degrees outside + freezing winds when we met up for their Kent Park engagement session. But despite the cold (and it was cold), they brought their smiles, laughter, and love. Given that they are planning a winter wedding, I am glad we got the cold out of the way now. We’re all hoping for 40 degrees and sunny this coming December.
Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0005.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0006.jpgEmily described Derek as a “snow bunny” at our first meeting. After joking with both of them about their choice of such a cold day for their session, I learned that Derek likes snow sports where he’s properly dressed to be in the snow. I guess jeans and a jacket don’t count as snow gear.:)
Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0007.jpgI love how she laughs when she’s with him.
Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0008.jpgFor the proposal, Derek said that after he purchased the ring, he wanted to get it on her finger as soon as possible. He thought that having “family photos” done somewhere nice with the kids would be a good cover up. Emily says there were so many hints along the way–him getting a call from their photographer for a change of location on their way there, him not complaining about said change of location and extra drive time, and the photographer asking him to go grab something in the car that she had forgotten. After some family photos, the photographer took some photos of just her and Derek. “She made Derek move away from me and was taking what I thought were pictures of me by myself when in actuality, it was a picture of me with him in the background on one knee. … Finally she said, ‘Okay, Emily, go walk towards the water.’ So I did and when I turned around I saw Derek. On one knee. Ring box in hand. I was shocked. I bawled like a baby. It was perfect.”
Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0009.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0010.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0011.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0012.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0013.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0014.jpgKent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0015.jpg

I’m so excited for this wedding! These two have such a special love and it’s an honor to be able to witness it.

Kent Park Winter Engagement by Emily Crall_0016.jpg

Mompreneurship Finding the Right Childcare_0153

Previously on mompreneurship:

As far as the mompreneurship series goes, this is the last scheduled post. It’s been so fun thinking through and documenting all that I have done and continue to do to smooth the way for me to be a good business owner and a good mama. I hope this series has been helpful to you if you’re also trying to figure out that balance.

Okay, so last official topic: childcare!

There are several different options (daycare center, in home daycare, nanny, the nap time working mama, etc.) and the cost will vary based on full time or part time need as well as your location. In our area, day care is exponentially more expensive than it is in smaller towns even just 20 minutes away.

I can’t tell you what will work best for you, obviously, so I’ll simply tell you how we approached it and made it work for us.

I should first mention that our son is an excellent napper on a great routine so I can schedule out exactly what my work times will be when I don’t have childcare (currently, 9:30-11:30AM and 2-4PM every day). I don’t say that to sound like I’ve got my act together, but just that I understand not everyone has that kind of structure in place and every child is different when it comes to their love of sleeping.

We decided early on that we would hire an in-house nanny part time. Here is why:

  • We only need someone seasonally. I work from home as a wedding photographer, which has a huge off-season in the Midwest during the winter. Given my son’s napping routine (see above), I knew during the winter I’d be fine watching him during the day and working during his nap times since it’s the slow season.
  • We only need part time help. I put a lot of systems into place prior to having a child and that included outsourcing everything I possibly could (see this post about outsourcing) to ensure that I have time to focus on what I’m good at (photographing & client service). Because of my decision to outsource, I am able to do full time work in half the amount of time. (If you’re not outsourcing your editing yet, talk to me!!!)
  • Part time daycare was not more cost effective than full time daycare. As a result, if we needed 15 hours of daycare per week, we’d be paying 90% of what full time care (40 hours) was. It didn’t make sense financially when we could pay an in-home nanny for the exact amount of time we needed while also being able to fully control our son’s routine.

So after determining that I needed about 15-20 hours a week for focused work, I figured in that Henry’s afternoon naps would equal a total of 10 hours (2 hours per afternoon x5 weekdays) so we only needed a sitter for an extra 10 hours. I work best in the mornings so we ended up hiring someone to come in Mondays & Wednesdays from 8AM to 1PM.

She played with Henry in the main level and I worked in the basement in my office. Some people asked if it was hard for me to hear him upstairs and not go to him and honestly, no, it wasn’t. I knew I was paying per hour for a very capable and qualified person to watch him. This time became incredibly precious to me and I had near tunnel vision with my task list.

What I discovered was that I became hyper productive during those hours. No more lagging around or getting sidetracked on social media. I had things to do and a set amount of time to get them done in, therefore, check, check, check, check. I got more accomplished last wedding season in 15 hours a week than I had before working full time. This is what happens when you outsource and stay focused.

My son is now a year old and I’m getting prepped for my second wedding season as a mama. It’s winter right now so we don’t have a nanny; I’m home with him as a full-time mama/working-during-naps business woman. Once we hit April (when wedding season starts back up around here), we’ll have a nanny again until November. (See now why it doesn’t make sense for us to put him in daycare from April-November?) As he gets older, his napping will decrease (Can all the mamas just be sad about that for a minute? Nap time is so precious!) and we may need to increase our nanny’s house slightly to compensate for that.

As for the actual wedding day (most which fall on the weekend anyway so daycare wouldn’t be option then), both grandmothers take a few days and we hire a sitter (often the weekday nanny) for the rest. By bringing someone in for wedding days, Henry can go to bed per usual at night and we don’t have to wake him to transport him late at night when we’re done.

To summarize:

  • If you haven’t already, determine what you can outsource. This will free up your time. Your time is super valuable (even if you’re not a parent yet!) so treat is as such. This post will help you determine what can or should be outsourced.
  • Once you’ve outsourced everything that you can, determine how many hours a week you need to complete the tasks on your list. (Don’t have a task list? Here’s my monthly task list and my office management system.)
  • Once you’ve determined your weekly hours, you’ll know whether you need full or part time child care.
  • Based on that, you can get quotes in your area for daycare vs. nanny. (For a nanny: if you live in a university town like we do, there are lots of students looking for part time work. Try calling sorority houses, post your need on FB (everyone knows someone!), or use an online site like
  • After getting quotes, you’ll be able to pretty easily see what the most affordable option will be. That being said, keep in mind it’s not always the most affordable that wins. For example, with a nanny, I don’t have to pack anything, drive anywhere, or do any extra work. I get Henry up in the morning, get him started on breakfast, then the nanny arrives and she takes over from there while I go to my office. From a time and ease standpoint, it couldn’t be more ideal. We live near a park and lots of walking paths. It’s easy for our nanny to get out without needing to drive anywhere. But alternately, one of the benefits to daycare would be that your child would get to play with other children his/her age and learn to be in a new environment. Social skills, right?
  • Either way, you’ll need time to focus on your job so childcare is necessary. You have to weigh what will be the most beneficial for your situation and for your child.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions about any of the posts in this series!

Power on, mamas! Power on.

Frantsuzkiy Salad Recipe_0002

Aside from osh and non (and sugared peanuts and that flaky pastry from the underground shop across the street), this was my favorite Uzbek food when I lived in Samarqand. It’s so delicious (!!) and you don’t mix it until you’re at the table and ready to pass the dish, so it’s fresh and super crunchy.

I took a few shortcuts because I didn’t have time to julienne all those veggies; I made notes though so you can also shortcut if you’d like. 😉


  • 1/4 lb beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup carrots, julienned (I bought a bag of shredded carrots instead)
  • 1 1/4 cup cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 1/4 cup cabbage, finely sliced (also a bag of shredded cabbage)
  • 1 1/4 cup potato sticks, thinly julienned and fried in oil until golden (No way; I hate frying things, the oil splatters on me and burns my arms. I bought Pik-Nik Shoestring Potatoes instead.)
  • 1 1/4 cup red beets, julienned and cooked (I bought a can of julienned beets instead of cutting and cooking them myself.)
  • 1/4- 1/3 c. mayonnaise

Saute the beef in a bit of oil until done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let cool. On a large dinner plate, arrange five equally sized mounds of the carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, and beets in a circular arrangement around the outer edge. In the center of the circle, make a mound of beef. Over the beef, dollop the mayonnaise. Place the plate, unmixed, on the table. When the meal is served, use two forks to thoroughly mix the salad. (don’t mix ahead). Salt to taste. Serves 6.

Note: because this needs to be served fresh, I made individual sized portions for myself. So I just took a handful of each ingredient, added some mayo, and tossed and ate. It doesn’t refrigerate well mixed so keep the ingredients separate for the fridge if you won’t eat them all in one meal.

Frantsuzkiy Salad Recipe_0003