St. Louis Christmas To Do List {Personal}

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Christmas is probably one of the most magical times of the year. I am mesmerized by the lights around the neighborhood. The kindness that is offered by complete strangers. And thankfulness of the hope and faith of the season.

I know that the season can also get busy, but if you are new to the area, or just want to get reacquainted to all the fun the city of St. Louis holds, here is a list of my favorite St. Louis Christmas activities!

  • Garden Glow – Missouri Botanical Gardens
    While it might be a little costly for a family, the views are stunning. It is truly magical. I would suggest it might be best for a date night- and if so make sure you pick up a hot beverage before you enjoy the lights!
  • Santa Parade – Main Street St. Charles
    This event that happens every weekend during the holidays is basically a kiddo’s dream. I appreciate the historical nature of the Santa’s in their costumes and the street is decorated beautifully. This is a free event but give yourself time to travel as parking can be difficult.
  • Christmas Tea Party – London Tea Room or La Patisserie Chouquette
    Both locations have a fabulous formal tea that you need to register ahead for, but if you just want to enjoy a pot of tea (or their scrumptious desserts) with a friend that is encouraged as well!
  • Brewery Lights – Anhueser Busch Brewery
    AB does a great job incorporating adult beverages in all of their events and tours and the Brewery Lights aren’t any different. While there are children activities, I would recommend for a date night as well. The walking tour with a few samples is free – so double win! 
  • Ice Skating in Forest Park – Steinberg Skating Rink
    While I do not ice skate- seriously I am miserable on the ice and miserable to watch- others thoroughly enjoy this winter activity. It is a great way to burn some calories- or energy from your kiddos who are couped inside. They are cash only- so that is nice to remember.
  • Winter Wonderland Lights – Tilles Park
    This is a tradition for many families in St. Louis. I know as a kid I was packed in a vehicle and oooo’d and ahhhh’d as we went through the park. If you want to up your game you can also schedule a horse drawn carriage ride through the park. 
  • The Polar Express – Union Station
    Make the magic of the book come to life through this actual train ride. While this is an expensive trip for your littles it is full of fun for all!
  • Wild Lights – St. Louis Zoo
    The St. Louis Zoo + the magic of Christmas lights = instant fun! If you are looking for a fun event for your kids that burns off some energy and isn’t too expensive this might be the perfect option.

 

 

Do you have any other fun suggestions? If so leave them in the comments below!

The Winners!!! {Birthday Giveaway}

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Birthday gifts make me want to twirl with excitement… so without further adieu…the winners!

Day 1 – $30 Starbucks Gift Card – Megan Ronecker
Day 2 – Sharpie Pens and Notepad from Red Lettered Goods – Chelsie Bartley
Day 3 – $30 Print Credit to Diversified Labs – Elizabeth Ashcraft
Day 4 – $30 Always in Bloom Gift Card – Cory Baker
Day 5 – One Hour Spring Session – Kinsey McKibbin

Winners, please send me an email sweetsarahmariephotography@gmail.com on the best way to give you your gifts!

Thank you again for all of your Birthday wishes… 30 will be the best year yet! Be looking for my 30th year checklist and if you haven’t seen my 30th Cake Smash, check it out!

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie

 

30 & Fabulous . Cake Smash Session {Personal}

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Today I am 30.

I’ve been sitting on this incredible session for over 5 months! This year has been full of GIANT changes and I knew that I had to do a cake smash session. I’ve always admired the women who decided to celebrate getting older so stunningly, and I’m very proud of who I am at this fun place in my life. So let the celebrating commence!

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Maria, owner of Sketchbook Photography, was so kind in photographing this fun time. There was a moment during the session, I looked at her and said, “This is the first time almost a year that I actually feel happy.” And while joy is always an option, I felt so loved being surrounded by friends and hey- how can you not feel happy in a tutu?

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Now that cake was so incredibly delicious! It was made by Confections by Libby and I love how she is always giving back through her business.

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Every girl should feel like a princess once in a while. Twirling in a park with people staring at me would typically make me feel foolish, but that day, I just felt beautiful. This could have been due to an incredible photographer- but also because I chose to get my hair and make up done. It was probably the best splurge I could have done. Every woman has insecurities but Alissa, Owner of Makeup by Liss Marie, was so complimentary as we did make up. She rocked my hair and make up. Also shout out to Lauren who helped me set up all of the fun!

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If I could encourage you to do a cake smash session – do it. I’ve never felt so exhilarated, beautiful, and proud of exactly who I am.

Let me know what you think I should make sure I get done this year. I want my 30th year to be incredible!

This session we also did a few ‘normal’ headshots so be looking for those coming up later this month!

Thank you to all who entered the week long Birthday Giveaway. You can still keep commenting and on Monday I will pick the winners!


Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie
Cake: Confections by Libby

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Day 5 {Birthday Giveaway} . One hour Spring Session

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I feel like my love for photography goes without saying, but what you may not know about me is how much I love a spring session. Yes, I do about 60% of my family sessions in the Fall. And I understand people love the gorgeous cozy weather, I get so much more excited about Spring. The popping up red tulips, the blossoming magnolia trees, the wooded locations coming back to life. It is almost magical how nature renews itself each year. Sadly, though not very many people choose Spring for their session. Well, I want to help change that by offering an incredible (and expensive – $200) giveaway. Join me in loving the beautiful season of Spring!

That is why I want to celebrate my favorites with giving away a stunning 1 Hour Spring Session!
To enter comment below with what made your favorite photography session so amazing!

This is the last day of the Birthday giveaways! I will posting the random winners on Monday! I appreciate the overwhelming response and I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day!

Be looking out tommorrow for my full 30th Cake Smash Session! I would HIGHLY encourage anyone to do this… Do you know anyone about to turn 90? Grandma loves cake too!

It is not too late to win this week’s other giveaways:
Day 1    Day 2     Day 3     Day 4

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie
Cake: Confections by Libby

Day 4 {Birthday Giveaway} . $30 Florist Gift Card

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I am a true believer in little luxuries. That regular iced coffee at work. Listening to my favorite podcast during my commute. A good smelling candle when I get home. And my favorite… fresh flowers every week.

And while I might just pick up a bundle of flowers from Aldis, they are still there sitting sweetly on my front table. When I walk into my home I always smile because I have decided to value myself and my home and not just expect someone else to bring me flowers. And if you have someone in your life that brings you flowers regularly – hug them tight because you are worth it with or without that special someone. It is ok- in fact encouraged- to enjoy a little luxury occasionally – or even daily!

That is why I want to celebrate my favorites with giving away a $30 gift card to Always in Bloom.
To enter comment below with your favorite flower!

Check in every day this week as I have a giveaway each day to celebrate my 30th birthday! Each giveaway will represent one of my favorite things and ultimately I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you also tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day!

Enjoy this old but stunning post filled with stunning flowers!

It is not too late to win this week’s other giveaways:
Day 1   Day 2   Day 3

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie

Day 3 {Birthday Giveaway} . $30 Print Credit

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I believe it is a statistic somewhere that this generation is the most photographed generation but the least likely to print their photos. And while that it great that photography is precious to them, however, those photos don’t necessarily last or mean what they have in the past.

Think about a time when you were little and sat in a relatives lap ( I always think about a grandparent) and looked through old albums. The memories that are shared in those moments are priceless and they were brought together via printed photography. I want to help you create those memories or in the very least decorate your walls a bit more.

That is why I want to celebrate my favorites with giving away a $30 print credit to Diversified Lab (this is specifically for a past or present client!)
To enter comment below with your who is in your favorite old printed photo.

Check in every day this week as I have a giveaway each day to celebrate my 30th birthday! Each giveaway will represent one of my favorite things and ultimately I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you also tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day (please make sure you include your email address in your comment)!

And I am still offering a great #ShopSmall discount for gift cards that include printed photos!

It is not too late to win this week’s other giveaways:
Day 1    Day 2

 

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie

Day 2 {Birthday Giveaway} . Sharpie Pens and Beautiful Stationary

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Typography – defined as the style and appearance of printed matter. If you know me well, I am so picky about fonts and design. So I wanted to spoil you with some pretty items that I love.

First of all- Sharpie Pens. I almost exclusively use sharpie pens. I have them at work, at home, and in my camera bag. They are always with me. I often cringe when one of my student workers borrow one of my pens… and I’m temped to mark them with glitter or something so I know they are mine. I will now stop this confession as your probably question my sanity.

Secondly, supporting local businesses is super important to me. I have seen Megan’s shop Red Lettered Goods many times on Instagram and then when I saw her at Tower Grove Farmers Market this summer I might have fan girled a bit and introduced myself- I’m not sure if that was me networking well or just creepy. If it was creepy then I apologize Megan. Her work is simply stunning. I have few pieces in my home and loved her collaboration with a local apparel company. So I wanted to share my love and send a piece of her work your way!

That is why I want to celebrate my favorites with giving away a Sharpie Pen and pretty paper goods!
To enter comment below with your favorite local small business!

Check in every day this week as I have a giveaway each day to celebrate my 30th birthday! Each giveaway will represent one of my favorite things and ultimately I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day!

Be looking out soon for my post – 2017’s Photographers Wishlist. Just in time for that shutterbug in your life.

It is not too late to win this week’s other giveaways:
Day 1

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie

Day 1 {Birthday Giveaway} . $30 Starbucks Giftcard

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What goes well with cake? Champagne… and if you don’t have that than coffee will always work.

That is why I want to celebrate Monday with giving away a $30 Starbucks gift card!
To enter comment below with your favorite coffee order!

Check in every day this week as I have a giveaway each day to celebrate my 30th birthday! Each giveaway will represent one of my favorite things and ultimately I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you also tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day!

Be looking out soon for one of my favorite sessions that incorporated coffee!

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie
Cake: Confections by Libby

Shop Small Saturday . Gift Cards {Business}

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As your tummy is completely full of incredible Thanksgiving leftovers and you have had your fill of Black Friday- or avoided it like me (Thank you power of Amazon), I want to share a different gift.

A gift that will be looked at for generations to come – Photographs.

I can vividly remember sitting in my Great Grandmothers chair look over old photos. Pointing at each person as my dad explained exactly who each person was. I can remember the smell of perfume on my Great Grandmothers chair and exactly how the room looks.

Memories are a funny thing like that.

That memory would not have been exactly like that without looking over those photos, and learning about my family who is no longer with us.

It makes me so happy when I have families come together and gift photography to each other.

A recent family that did this was the Allen Family. Now Grandma and Grandpa Allen have a photo of their whole family.

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Be looking for a post about this family soon, but until then you can give your family a similar gift.

Gift cards are offered all year-long, but around Christmas I like to throw in a few extras.

2017 Christmas Gift Card

One Hour Session
Downloadable Online Gallery with 60 edited photos
One 8×10 and three 5×7 photos of your choosing

all for $200

The gift card will be sent digitally so that you can wrap it up however you would like!

Interested? Email sweetsarahmariephotography@gmail.com

 

Birth, Bravery, and Giveaways {Personal}

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So I have a little secret… okay it is not a secret. In fact anytime you look at my drivers license, you can see it. And that is my birthday, in a few days I will turn the big 30. The Dirty Thirty. Or what I like to call it… Thirty and Fabulous.

What you don’t know is that I wanted to do something crazy. This year has been one of the craziest years in my life and I wanted to document how I feel about myself. So I did a 30th Cake Smash. Yes, with hair, make up, a cake, and WINE- because you are only 30 once. I did this session in the summer – because no one wants to freeze for a December outdoor cake smash session. So I have been sitting on this secret for almost 5 months and I have been dying to tell you all!

One of the reasons I did this was to document how I feel about myself, but the other reason was to be brave. I ask my clients all of the time to celebrate and smile in front of my camera. How can I not also ask myself to do that as well? I know that it can be scary to be in front of a camera- but you deserve to be celebrated and to document exactly how you are right at this moment. Maria, the owner of Sketchbook Photography, did an amazing job photographing how I feel about turning 30.

Here is a sneak peek:

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Lastly, with my birthday coming up… I want to celebrate! So over the next week or so, I will be giving away daily surprises that are my favorite things!

Tell me about your favorite birthday in the comments!