Wedding Tips—Choosing the Right Photographer

Gloom & groommen's victory huddle

Wedding Tips—Choosing the Right Photographer…Let’s face it selecting the right photographer for your wedding is important. The photos will preserve precious memories for a lifetime, and something you want to show your grandchildren. Here is some advice to consider when you pick the photographer for your wedding (even if you get a friend to do it):

  1. Do your research. View the photo galleries of your top choices of photographers to determine if they take interesting, personable photos. I was amazed at the differences I found between the top four photographers I considered for my daughter’s wedding. I was shocked to find boring photos with poor lighting in some incidents. One photographer had an amazing photo to lead his gallery, but the rest were unexciting and lacked imagination.
  2. Consider the cost of your photographer. If the price is not within your budget, remove them from your list immediately so you are not tempted to keep them under consideration.
  3. Evaluate what included in the price of the photo shoot. Does part of the price of hiring the photographer include providing an online download or a DVD of all the photos when the job is done? Just six years ago I remember photographers in our area didn’t offer you the digital copies of the photos as part of the package—all prints had to be ordered through them and scans were breaking your contract with them. So make sure all photos will be given to you in HD digital format before you sign a contract and pay your deposit. If photographers aren’t providing digital photos as part of the deal, in my opinion they need to learn a new way of doing business.
  4. Select a photographer who will make the bride and groom comfortable. This may not be an issue for some, but it can be important. If the bride and groom don’t feel at home with the photographer, they will not look at ease in the pictures. They need to be themselves in front of the camera for the best results.
  5. If you ask a friend to take your photos to save money, don’t automatically assume they know what photos to take and exactly what to do. Remember, not everyone has been closely involved in a wedding and may not know. We hired a professional photographer, and she gave us a list of typical photos taken for the wedding: pre-ceremony, the ceremony, and the reception. If your photographer doesn’t provide a list, work together with him/her to make detailed list before the big day.
  6. For the photo session for your formal and candid photos, make a timeline with estimated timing so that everyone is on the same page.
  7. To help facilitate the process, I also added individual names of each person after each photo group (i.e. bride with bridesmaids—names here…entire wedding party—names here…parents with bride and groom—names here). This really helped the photographer and kept everything running smoothly. It wasn’t all that much more work, and it was efficient. The photographer complimented me more than once regarding how helpful the list was to her. As part of the planning, we had a family member assigned to help facilitate the process and make sure everyone was there. But with an email to everyone, the announcement at the reception, and the individual names after each person on the list, we barely needed any other directing.
  8. The bride and groomdecided to take most formal photos before the ceremony. The photographer had a special presentation of the bride. This made it unique time for them. Taking the photos before the ceremony saved time. We had heard horror stories about the bride and groom being so late for their reception that guests began to leave.

I hope my post helped you with your planning, and that your photos turn out wonderful!

Leave a comment on information you’d like to pass on regarding a wedding photographer.


If you missed, Keeping costs low for your wedding—Part 1, I invite you to visit:

If you missed, Keeping costs low for your wedding—Part 2, visit

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Dieting after Age 50

Dieting after Age 50 …

Plan your menus.

Plan your menus.

Overweight at age 50—wasn’t that normal? The thing that baffled me was no matter what I did, I just kept gaining weight. I had my usual excuses for not dieting or exercising. I’m too old. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s raining. I’m too tired. I was always too something. It was easy to look around and see someone heavier than myself. It made me feel better, but it didn’t make me skinnier or healthier. If my vanity didn’t kick in soon and cause me to diet, maybe realizing I needed to lose for my health’s sake would work.

Then one day I decided, I don’t want to be 27 pounds overweight. Becoming the right weight had to be possible, and in spite of the discouraging feelings, I could lose weight. However, I wasn’t sure I had what it took. I suspected it would be like being on a diet for the rest of my life. I would have to go slow with my diet because my body seemed to demand food…crave large quantities of it. I ate too much fat, too much sugar, and too much bread. When I ate like I did when I was young, I put on fat.

Here are some things I did that helped me be successful when dieting:

  1. Be consistent. I know a lot of diets that say you can break your diet now and then. That may be true, but I can’t do that or I’m breaking my diet all the time. However, if I do break my diet, it has to be rarely, and the next day I have to get right back on the diet.
  2. Weigh often, at least once a week.
  3. Cut sugar as much as possible. Don’t worry about cutting out anything else yet.
  4. Have less fat calories. After my body adjusted to no sweets/sugar, I put the level of fat calories down to about 135 per day. This meant I can butter my toast in the morning and a tablespoon of dressing on my salad or raw vegetables one other time in the day. That’s about it. If I have nuts, I allow myself about six.
  5. Over age 50, I found bread is a real problem for me. I can only have two or three slices a day. My sister who is five years older than me says she can’t eat bread or she puts on weight. I can’t imagine!
  6. Find the right diet for you. After each of the above steps are taken, I try to eat the amount of healthy food I need…i.e., the right amount of meat, starches, vegetables, fruit, and fat. Some diets that work well are: Weightwatchers, Michael Thurmond, or Ask your doctor for a diet, or find something you respond to. BUT don’t go on a starvation diet.
  7. Every time I stand on the scale, whether I gain or lose. I tell myself, “be consistent. This will pay off even it is slow. I will wake up one day and this will mean something.” Sure enough, all the consistent work has made a difference.

At the writing of this article, I have lost 14 pounds the last month and a half. Each pound gets harder to lose. But I keep telling myself, “be consistent. Remember this will pay off and will work if I keep at it.”

I have several more pounds to lose, and then after that my next goal is to maintain the weight loss. I hope to have a blog on maintaining weight as soon as I accomplish it. (o:

Good luck on dieting. I hope this helps you.

Leave helpful comment on your diet successes.

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Christmas Thoughts—2013

Cover of "Peace on Earth (Holiday Greetin...

Cover of Peace on Earth (Holiday Greeting Cards)

Christmas Thoughts —Each year I seem to develop a newer, deeper appreciation for that first Christmas. The faith Mary and Joseph had to believe and obey God is inspiring. I imagine some people of that day didn’t believe Mary’s story and their opinion of Joseph wasn’t any better than their thoughts of Mary. What suffering that must have been for the young couple who didn’t deserve it! But in spite of the disbelief of others, they put their faith in God. Joseph believed God, took Mary and the babe into his care. He obeyed God and escaped with them to Egypt when Herod wanted to kill Jesus.

God entrusted Jesus to humans. That’s scary! But God knew the hearts of Mary and Joseph and found them trustworthy. Wow. I want to be that dependable!

Besides faith and trust, peace is one of the great messages of Christmas. God sent the best of Himself, His much-loved son. The Bible said, “Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men.” In this day and age when the buzz around us can become so negative about God, I think about that first Christmas, and the fact that God sent the message of peace toward mankind! He sent Jesus as His answer to the ills of society. When God is blamed for death, war, and suffering, I remember that He sent the dearest, most precious part of Himself, Jesus the Prince of Peace.

God’s message to mankind that first Christmas is still as powerful and true as if it happened yesterday—He gave His best gift, an all-encompassing, loving outpouring. He opened His heart to us, and I, for one, don’t want to reject such an amazing gift. I embrace and hold His Gift to my heart.

Leave a comment on your thoughts this Christmas season.

Love and Merry Christmas!

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Keeping costs low for your wedding—Part 2

blog wedding imageKeeping costs low for your wedding—part 2… Here is more on cutting costs for your wedding without ignoring what’s important …

  1. 4.     Decorations: We bought tulle online by the bolt and used it for pew bows and draping. For vases, I searched e-bay and found some attractive ones for very reasonably priced.

Have you ever tried to buy the vase marbles/pearls? This can be expensive, but I discovered water pearls. It comes in packages of a powdery-looking substance. One teaspoon expands in water to 400 times its size and fills a 12”x4” vase. I spent about $15 for enough to fill 10 large vases. It looked very attractive and colorful. You only have to put them in water a few days before the wedding, and they stay expanded for several days.

5.     More on decorations: The Christmas before my daughter’s May wedding, I searched for and bought strings of clear lights with the white cord. This was less expensive and much easier to obtain than buying another time of the year. We used the lights wrapped in tulle and draped between columns, in the entryway, behind the bride/groom’s table, and more. Usually Wal-mart and Hobby Lobby sells large numbers of these lights, but they were sold out in our area stores. I found them well-stocked at Lowes. The best prices were the Project Source Mini-lights.

I also purchased white battery-operated candles during the Christmas season. Again this was because the availability and price is much better at Christmas.

Another cost-saving tip is to use decorations purchased and rented for the ceremony and move it to the reception location so that you get twice the good from the item. We did this with the flowers, columns, and candelabras. This takes some planning and some giving family members to pull this off, but it might be worth it for you. It was for us.Blog_wedding

6.     Dress: The wedding dress can be one of the more costly items. To me that was one of the things I put priority on. If I had to cut almost the whole wedding budget, I wanted to put the rest of the money on the dress, and we did end up spending a lot for the dress. But during the search for my daughter’s perfect dress, we found out that we had other options… J.C. Penney has a lovely wedding dress for under $150. Also, David’s Bridal has a few dresses for under $500. We didn’t buy the Penney’s or David’s Bridal dresses, but it was under consideration and is a great option for someone with a small budget.

We had a lot of fun planning and decorating for my daughter’s wedding. Hope you have the same experience. (o:
~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Keeping costs low for your wedding—Part 1

blog_wedding photoKeeping costs low for your wedding—Part 1…When my only daughter became engaged, I wanted to help her have a beautiful, memorable wedding. The Internet provided excellent resources for timelines and to-do lists (suggested links below). But coming up with a great plan was just the beginning. I had to keep costs down as well…so doing much of the work and planning ourselves was a given. Here are some of the specifics we did to help keep the cost down:

  1. 1. Stores who help: Hobby Lobby has a bridal section in their store and are excellent for some items that look as good as everyone else’s but are significantly less money. Some of these things include topping for the cake, boutonnieres, veil, serving knifes for the cake, bridal bouquet,  unity candles, garter, gift sacks, bubbles for the going-away send-off, decorative gems and more. Hobby Lobby has their His/Her wedding items on half off on a regular basis. (Note: if you do not have a Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart has wedding products in their craft section that has many of these items.)
  2. Blog_sillk wedding flowersFlowers: Consider using silk flowers for some or all of your flowers. We have a florist in town who will work with people. We waited for the flowers at Hobby Lobby to go on half-price and bought the highest-quality and most realistic flowers available. Then we took the flowers to the florist, and they would arrange them for us for the cost of their labor. Also, my sister is talented in arranging flowers, so she did some of the arrangements. This was less expensive than using real flowers. Be sure to price and shop around for real and silk before you commit. (Warning: some florists are unwilling to work with silk flowers. We were fortunate to find a talented florist who would do this.) Be sure to keep your receipts in case you don’t use them all.
  3. Cake: Wedding cakes can be expensive. Some families know someone who will make a beautiful cake as a gift or at a discount to the bride and groom. We had no such friend. I priced cakes and the one I wanted was about $850 at the local bakery. This was just too much money. I had other things I wanted to put the money toward. Then I found someone who did some gorgeous cakes for around $250-$300, but the person was booked the weekend of the wedding. This is what I did. I researched and found that our grocery store chain did wedding cakes. All I had to do was go online to look for the design and the serving size. Then I talked to the appropriate grocery store employee in person. They did lovely cakes for between $100-250. I only had to finalize and pay in full two weeks before the wedding. For the presentation of the cake, my sister made a satin-covered pedestal, and I purchased a nice topping at Hobby Lobby. (I only made one mistake. I thought I would have too much cake, and I didn’t have enough. If I had known, I would have purchased more cake. Our guests were so polite that no one told me. My husband was the one to tell me.)

Part 2 for Keeping Costs Low for Your Wedding will be posted on Thursday.

Links for some good wedding timelines: and

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

The Missing 250 Dollars


Dollars (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

The Missing 250 Dollars … The lady was holding up the line. At first I felt only irritation. Then the word spread, “She lost $250 in cash.” Not only had she lost her money, but she had no other way to pay. I felt terrible for her. She stuck her hands in all her pockets and came up empty. Her food had been scanned and bagged but nothing. The manager came and offered to put her cart into a walk-in refrigerator until she could come up with the money. The cashier called the service center and asked if someone had turned it in—no, they said.

The lady hurried off to look, but it seemed pretty hopeless.

I began a silent appeal to God. Lord, you see where the money is. Help her to find it, or have an honest person discover it and turn it in.

Seconds later another grocery store employee walked up smiling. “We found it,” she said.

“I’m so glad,” I said, “I was even praying.”

The customer in front of me turned my way. “Me, too.”

“I know. It was just too hard,” I said.

She nodded in agreement.

The lady returned to a smiling group of customers and employees.

“Wow. My faith in humanity is renewed,” said the cashier.

On the way home I felt lighter. The lady received her money back—I bonded with a stranger who also prayed—an honest soul returned $250.

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

One of the worst school disasters in American history…

wife of JW Gore

My aunt, a teacher at the New London Texas  school

For the people of New London, Texas, March 18, 1937 began like any other ordinary day—quiet and peaceful. The morning sun cut through the chill of the previous evening, and children ate their breakfast and dressed for school. My aunt did the same—not realizing it would be her last. She kissed her husband goodbye and left to teach at the local school. Emma Graham Gore was the oldest of nine children—known to my family simply as Sister.At 3:17pm, only minutes before school would be dismissed—the shop teacher started a saw igniting an electrical spark. Unknown to him, due to a leak, a natural odorless gas had collected in the basement where he was, and the flicker detonated and collapsed the whole building. In an instant, an explosion that could be heard for twelve miles took the lives of nearly 300 children plus their teachers. To give you an idea how powerful the blast, a one-ton piece of debris flung across the road and crushed a car.

Parents and the community began to dig through rubble, desperate to find their children. Tears ran trails down their faces and soon their hands were bloody from using their bare hands to dig out survivors. Felton Waggoner, the principal of the school, arrived and began screaming, “Where are my babies? Where are my babies?” clawing at the bricks as he cried out. Mr. Waggoner had been in a meeting in a nearby building at the time of the explosion.

The agony on that day was excruciating, the cries and screams could be heard for hours. There wasn’t a family in the community not affected by the disaster. Most families lost at least one child, sometimes more. The pain lingered for decades, and weeping comes at the retelling of the tragedy even 75 years later.

A town lost a generation that day, and my family lost Sister. My uncle went and identified her by the dress she wore that day and a piece of jewelry.

New London school before explosion Blog image_new london school after

Photos: Before and after explosion

After the New London explosion, laws were passed to add a pungent odor in natural gas to prevent a similar catastrophe.

For more information, photos, and stories behind the New London Explosion, go to

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Flash Fiction…inspired by Actual Events …A Soldier’s Reunion

USARAF Soldiers return from Odyssey Dawn, Marc...

Flash Fiction…inspired by actual events…A Soldier’s Reunion

“Bill arrives soon, and I want everything to be perfect.” Lynn released an excited squeal. “Listen to what I’ve done. I’ve mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, and cooked Bill’s favorite meal. Now all I have to do is make myself beautiful.”

“Sounds like you have it under control,” Jan said, a smile in her voice.

“I’m lighting candles as we speak.” Lynn sighed. “I have to finish getting ready. Talk to you soon.”

They said their goodbyes, and Lynn walked to her closet and pulled out her new dress. She was certain this would wow her husband.

One hour later

Bill dragged his luggage in with one hand and a bouquet of flowers with the other hand. He scanned the room. The lights were dim with soft candlelight illuminating every corner of the living space. Music flowed to his ears, reminding him of the day he proposed. A quick glance revealed the table set for two. “Lynn?”

He walked to the bedroom. His wife lay as if posed for a magazine cover. She looked beautiful in a clinging blue dress that flowed gracefully to her knees. Her glossy brown hair and her clear, soft skin glowed to perfection. He gently tapped her shoulder. “Honey, I’m home.”

She slept.

NOTE: Something like this actually happened to my mother. My dad came home on leave during WWII. My mom had worked so hard to make things perfect she was sick the first part of the visit. (o:

Karen Gaus

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Three reasons I love Christmas Eve…

christmas paint

christmas paint (Photo credit: cassie_bedfordgolf)

Three reasons I love Christmas Eve—

Christmas Eve is special to me for a number of reasons—the first one, of course, is because of the celebration of the birth of Jesus who came to save the world. This year one of my thoughts regarding Christmas is the scripture in Luke 2 that says, “Peace on earth—good will toward men.” I think it is so wonderful that one of the first messages surrounding Jesus coming to the world is that God wanted peace and goodness for mankind. By giving His Son, God the Father was achieving this goal.

Another reason Christmas Eve is so special is—it’s my birthday! I used to love hearing my family tell small details about the Christmas that I came unexpectedly one month before I was due. My grandmother told me I was born ten minutes before midnight, barely missing Christmas day. My oldest sister said the doctor had to leave a Christmas Eve party and delivered me while he was still in his tuxedo. She asked, “Why do you have to do everything first class?” (o: My daddy and four older sisters went to my mother’s family to open gifts while Mother and I were in the hospital.

That brings me to another reason Christmas Eve is so extraordinary—the Christmas Eve I turned thirty-four years old, I left the hospital carrying my two-day-old infant daughter in my arms, thinking, “This is amazing. What a special gift for my birthday!” The whole world was doing Christmas that year, but my husband and I were enjoying a new baby.

Yes. Christmas Eve is a very special day for me, and Jesus makes it all deeper, richer, and more amazing than words can convey.

I hope this Christmas, that the Christ of that first Christmas lives in your heart and brings you joy, peace, and goodness.

Merry Christmas!


Road Rage—Up Close & Personal

TrafficRoad Rage—Up Close & Personal … It was a mistake—I knew it when it happened. But it would save time. I had to change lanes or miss my turn. So I pulled in front of a fast-moving truck and turned the wheel to enter a parking lot, barely missing a collision.

The person blasted his horn, and a quick glance in my rearview mirror told me what I didn’t want to know—he had followed me into the parking lot. When I parked, the driver stopped directly behind my car, blocking the way out.

I stepped out of my vehicle to face a scowling young man in the driver’s seat with a couple of his buddies, all directing fury my way. He shouted, “What do you think you’re doing pulling in front of me like that?”  If rage could be charted, it would be in the red danger zone. My heart pounded in fear, and I was afraid it could turn violent.

Then I remember two lessons I had learned—one was from the Bible. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) The other teaching—“people like to hear a sincere apology.”

So I answered as sweetly and gently as I could, “I apologize. Will you forgive me?”

The response was gruff but positive, “I guess so.” And then he drove off.

Relief coursed through me—my heart slowly resumed its normal pace.

God’s Word and his lessons proved to be the answer against road rage, and wow, am I thankful. (o:

~ Karen Gaus ~

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker