Preferred Photographer: Ken Gehring Photography

We're right in the middle of engagement season, so we know a bunch of your guys have recently put a ring on it! That means that you're probably starting to plan your wedding, and you're needing some vendor recommendations, right?! At The Barn, we've got a highly edited list of the best vendors in the state, and you can read about a few of them here. Last week I told you all about one of our favorite photographers, Shingleur Photography, and this week, I have another fabulous photographer to share with y'all! 

Do y'all remember our incredible Native American Heritage Styled Shoot from this past fall? Ken Gehring took the stunning photos from the shoot, and if you've seen them, you know why he's one of our favorite photographers. His work is consistently phenomenal and inspiring and breathtakingly gorgeous... just take a look through his Facebook albums, and you'll see what I mean. If you follow him on Facebook, you'll soon see that his photos are always being published everywhere. He's the real deal, y'all!

Ken has been a professional photographer for four years. He has been shooting weddings for two years, and in 2014, he shot 13 weddings. He prefers to shoot only one wedding per month, so he can send out edited photos in a timely manner. 

Although photography has been his career for only a few years, Ken said he has always had "an interest in photography and photographic memories since I can remember." 

"One of my favorite things to do as a child was to get out the old family photo albums and look through them," he said. 

I asked Ken to define his photography style, and he called himself a "hopeless romantic" when it comes to his wedding photography. "I am looking to capture those 'special moments' that often get overlooked by photographers," he said. "A touch, a kiss, those moments are the great ones!" 

I've had the pleasure of working with Ken myself, and I cannot say enough good things about him. He pays great attention to detail. He knows how he wants each photo to look, and he's great at making every detail just right. He knows how to pose his models, and he knows how to tweak even the tiniest details to make them look perfect. Plus, it is obvious that this man loves what he does... it shows in every shot he takes! His photos are always creative and stunning. If you're looking for a photographer whose photos are glamorous and look like they're straight out of a magazine, Ken is your guy! 

Ken said hiring a professional, rather than asking a family member to take photos at your wedding, is an absolute must. "For me, the photographic memories taken at a wedding are priceless, and entrusting a professional vs. Uncle Bob ensures that you will have great lasting memories of your special day," he said. "From lighting to posing, the professional photographer is well-trained and educated and will help you achieve great images that you will be proud to share with friends and hang in your home."

Ken's advice for couples searching for their ideal wedding photographer is to do your research. "Please meet with a couple of photographers, know pricing and offerings, and then make an informed decision that you will be comfortable with," he said. 

Each of Ken's wedding packages come with an engagement session. "I like to work with the couple prior to the wedding so that we can get a feel for each other before the big day," he said. He also offers bridals, boudoir sessions, styled day-after sessions (in which the couple can dress up in their wedding day attire and have a more relaxed themed photo shoot), albums and prints. Each couple gets a custom flash drive with their wedding photos and print rights. Wedding investments start at $1,600. 

Finally, I always ask the lovely folks I interview to give us a little feedback about The Barn. We love feedback, as it lets us know what we're doing right and also fills us in on what we can do better. Ken had some really sweet things to say about us!

"The Barn and the team led by Lesleigh are top notch in my opinion," he said. "The wedding day goes perfectly for the bride and the wedding party. And who, can I ask, does not want to get married in an upscale barn!!!" 

Ken Gehring Photography , from  Lisa + Michael 's wedding at The Barn.

Ken Gehring Photography, from Lisa + Michael's wedding at The Barn.

See why we love Ken Gehring?! He's one of the best! See y'all tomorrow!


Preferred Photographer: Shingleur Photography

Happy 2015, y'all! It's no secret that at The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch, we work with some of the very best vendors in the state. I've already told you about two of our most delicious vendors, theCakePlace and Blue Willow Catering, and today I want to share with you one of our favorite photographers. Lance and Kathryn Shingleur from Shingleur Photography have been friends of ours since way back in The Barn's early days. They've taken like a gazillion photos out here, at many of our weddings, our Winter Fantasy styled shoot from last year and several engagement and family sessions. Lesleigh, the owner and creative director at The Barn, trusted Lance and Kathryn to take her family's photos this year, so you know they're good! 

From  Lesleigh and her family 's AMAZING portrait session!

From Lesleigh and her family's AMAZING portrait session!

Lance said taking photos began as a hobby for him. "Kathryn would be my model on any given afternoon, and we would head out on random gallivants and take pictures," he said. It wasn't until after Lance and Kathryn took Lance's cousin's engagement and wedding pictures that they considered doing photography professionally. 

"We said yes with a 'you get what you get' disclaimer, and they were still on board!" Lance said. "So, we did it! We edited the images with Photoshop, put the images on Facebook and began getting messages and emails from people inquiring about our services!"

From  Misti + Robert 's precious engagement session. 

From Misti + Robert's precious engagement session. 

Lance then took "a leap of faith and started booking clients, charging them and producing quality work." They have worked in photography for three years now, and Lance said he just started considering himself a full-time photographer within the last seven months. Their first wedding was in 2012, and they have shot more than 50 weddings since then. Their goal for 2015 is to shoot at least 30 weddings! 

From   Gail + Brian  's bohemian wedding.

From Gail + Brian's bohemian wedding.

I asked Lance to define his photography style, and he described it as natural light photography. "We have the equipment to shoot in any location (including indoors), but you just have to love some gorgeous Arkansas scenery!" Lance said. "There's nothing better than a soft, buttery image to take your breath away! We can do anything with a sunny day, and we love shooting when it's overcast as well. Our specific style tends to want to capture what's naturally there. We take total control of our shoots, including posing, to make everyone feel comfortable and to ensure we are getting what we see in our mind's eye! We are always on top of the new styles and love to challenge ourselves with new technology and new trends with weddings." 

From   Brittany + Jacob  's gorgeous wedding.

From Brittany + Jacob's gorgeous wedding.

One thing I love about Shingleur Photography is that they always take many detail photos! Of course you want gorgeous portraits and candid shots from your wedding day, but having great detail shots is SO important, too! Here are just a few of my favorite detail shots taken by Lance and Kathryn:

From  Gail + Brian 's bohemian wedding.

From Gail + Brian's bohemian wedding.

From   Brittany + Jacob  's gorgeous wedding.

From Brittany + Jacob's gorgeous wedding.

We have grown to love what we do, and take much pride in producing quality images that our clients will cherish forever! It’s our main focus to capture “Life as a Photograph!”
— Lance
From  Brittany + Jacob 's gorgeous wedding.

From Brittany + Jacob's gorgeous wedding.

Shingleur Photography offers several packages for wedding photography, including engagement photography, a bridal portrait session, and wedding day photography (or any combination of the three). Their largest package includes more hours of photography on your wedding day, as well as additional add-ons. "However, we are extremely flexible and love to please any kind of bride!" Lance said. For pricing and additional information, you can email Lance and Kathryn at 

From  Tang + DJ 's sweet red, white and blue wedding, which I wrote about  here . 

From Tang + DJ's sweet red, white and blue wedding, which I wrote about here

To Lance and Kathryn, hiring a professional photographer for your wedding day is a necessity.

"Getting a professional photographer, in our opinion, is just as important as getting a cake for the reception, actually more important. Your cake will be gone in a few minutes, your decorations will be put away, your flowers will fade, your dress (sometimes) won't fit anymore, but your wedding photos will always be there. Sure, you can ask Aunt Paula or Uncle Roy to take your wedding photos, but their point-and-shoot or even their DSLR camera cannot capture what a professional can. A professional has an eye for making you look your best. They also have an eye for making your venue (ANY venue) look the best. What do you want your grandkids seeing some day? Something that is the best, or something that you settled for?" - Lance Shingleur

Lance also added that a quick turn-around time is highly important. He likes to have wedding photos finished within two weeks, and he said he hardly ever exceeds that limit "because we know just how excited our brides are to see their images... and we are just as excited to get their wedding day footage into their hands! Let's see Aunt Paula and Uncle Roy do that good!"

From   Misti + Robert  's precious engagement session.

From Misti + Robert's precious engagement session.

Lance's advice to brides who are searching for a photographer is to "choose someone with experience. Choose someone who is going to show up on your wedding day who is happy to be there instead of dreading it. Choose someone who presents themselves professionally vs. someone who might show up at your wedding in a t-shirt and sweats or jeans."

"There are many photographers who do weddings just for the money, and that's not what you want," Lance said. "We like to walk away from weddings having made new lifetime friends and confident that we have done our job efficiently, professionally and courteously." 

From  Lyndsey + Brad 's sweet family photos. (P.S. They  got married  at The Barn last year!)

From Lyndsey + Brad's sweet family photos. (P.S. They got married at The Barn last year!)

Finally, I asked Lance to give us some feedback about The Barn, and he had some really sweet, heartwarming things to say about us!: 

"Oh, where to start! The Barn is uniquely fresh and always, ALWAYS classy! We never worry about shooting weddings at The Barn because we know they settle for nothing less than perfection! We LOVE not having to show up and be the wedding planner! Sometimes it's nice to just take the role of the photographer only! The Barn Staff is exceptionally nice and take just as good of care of us as they do their bride and groom. We also love the endless background potential for any kind of shoot. We have loved shooting engagements, bridals, families, mini sessions and of course many weddings there! It’s totally #sassfab!" - Lance Shingleur

From  Stacy + Jason 's lovely wedding.

From Stacy + Jason's lovely wedding.

Aren't these two great?! Not only are they fantastic at what they do, but they're genuinely sweet and fun to work with! If you're engaged and on the hunt for the perfect photographer, definitely hit these two up. You'll be happy you did!

Have a great weekend!


Preferred Vendor: Blue Willow Catering

At The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch, we have a hand-selected list of preferred vendors that we absolutely love. Each month, I get the privilege of sharing with you one or two of our fabulous vendors, who we enjoy working with so much! These folks are the most talented around, and they're part of what makes each of our weddings so wonderful. Last month, I told you all about theCakePlace, who creates each of our gorgeous cakes and delicious desserts. Today, let's talk about Blue Willow Catering and Event Planning! (These photos are going to make you hungry... sorry about that in advance.)

Ray Black is the owner of Blue Willow Catering. He also owns a delicious barbecue joint in our area, Old Post Barbecue. Ray said he's been working in retail for 25 years; he spent 10 of those years working part-time with a chef in Atlanta, and that's when he knew he wanted to be in the food industry. Two years ago, he purchased Old Post Barbecue and started up Blue Willow Catering. His current team consists of a full-time chef and up to 15 staff members (depending on the size of the event and the venue). 

Like The Barn, Ray's mission is to make each of his events go as smoothly as possible for the hosts. "Our goal is that we do a worry-free event for whoever we're doing it for," Ray said. He said they achieve this by taking a lot  of time to plan with the event hosts. He sits down with every customer and discusses the event from beginning to end "so that they don't have to worry about the food, service or clean-up," he said. 

Everything Blue Willow Catering makes is delicious. Some of their most popular dishes are fried catfish, meatloaf and Cajun-style dishes, and they also cook a lot of Asian, Italian and Southern cuisine. "There isn't a menu out there that we are scared to do," Ray said. 

For our Open Barn this past summer, Ray and his team cooked a Caribbean meal that we're still talking about! It included jerk pork, Hawaiian style pork and several Caribbean-style dips. You can view their menu here, but know that this team is willing to cook anything your heart desires! Ray said they also do whole hog roasts, and they've even done a Moroccan-style meal. Remember Kelsey and Gueorgui's Bulgarian wedding that we talked about last week? Obviously a Bulgarian wedding has to include a few traditional Bulgarian dishes, and we know Blue Willow Catering is going to do an excellent job on those!

By the way, do y'all remember when we built our outdoor kitchen at The Barn? Well, the Blue Willow Catering team is always busy cooking away out there on wedding days! Not only is their food super tasty, but it is always fresh and hot as well!

While each of their menu items are exceptional, Ray said his favorite is the smoked ribeye, which he smokes for three hours before cutting and putting it on the grill. He also said their spicy French green beans are the best side dish around, even though he hates green beans!

While Blue Willow Catering is located in the River Valley, Ray and his team are also looking to expand into Northwest Arkansas and the Little Rock area. So if you're in those areas and you're looking for an exceptional caterer for your wedding or event, call him up!

Pruitt Photography

Pruitt Photography

You can view Blue Willow Catering's website (which includes several menus) here. Their Facebook page is here, and Old Post Barbecue's Facebook page is here. They are located at 407 S. Arkansas Ave. in Russellville. 

We really can't say enough good things about this business! Their customer service is fantastic, and their food is exceptional! They're the real deal, y'all. 


Preferred Vendor: theCakePlace

If you live anywhere near Russellville, Arkansas, you’ve without a doubt heard of theCakePlace. It’s kind of a big deal in the River Valley and beyond. And for good reason! They’re serving up the most delicious (and beautiful) desserts around, including cupcakes, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, pies, cookies and cheesecakes. And they just so happen to be one of our very favorite vendors here at The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch!

Elmer Escobar , from  Amanda + Brad 's sweet, intimate pink wedding

Elmer Escobar, from Amanda + Brad's sweet, intimate pink wedding

Twin Town Studios , from  Nikki + Scott 's glittery pink and gold wedding;  Erika Dotson Photography  from  Anita + Wesley 's pretty peach and white wedding (you've gotta see Wesley's groom's cake, too)

Twin Town Studios, from Nikki + Scott's glittery pink and gold wedding; Erika Dotson Photography from Anita + Wesley's pretty peach and white wedding (you've gotta see Wesley's groom's cake, too)

Lauren Stinson, the owner of theCakePlace, didn’t go to culinary school or major in culinary arts, but she has always loved to bake. “There are pictures of me on my grandma’s counter at two years old rolling out cookies,” she said.

She got a job at PattiCakes Bakery as a part-time baker and eventually worked herself up to a full-time wedding cake decorator. When the owner of PattiCakes decided to sell the business, she offered it to Lauren. Lauren and her mother, Cindy Jones, bought the bakery, and theCakePlace opened its doors in June of 2011.

Since then, Lauren’s team has grown to include three bakers and two cake decorators. Lauren said that even though she was once a cake decorator, she rarely decorates wedding cakes these days. “That is not where my strength is; that’s where my decorator’s strength is,” she said. And just look at these cakes! Lauren and her team are some of the most talented people around.

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Samantha + Danny 's magical boho-chic wedding

Stephanie Parsley Photography, from Samantha + Danny's magical boho-chic wedding

Kati Mallory Photo & Design  from  Cedrah + Lee 's colorful spring wedding;  EmeryAnn + Andrew 's boho-shabby-chic wedding

Kati Mallory Photo & Design from Cedrah + Lee's colorful spring wedding; EmeryAnn + Andrew's boho-shabby-chic wedding

TheCakePlace makes every single gorgeous cake for our weddings, as well as all those cute shortcake bars, dessert shooters, fried pies and grooms’ cakes you’ve seen on our Facebook page and on this blog. And believe it or not, everything they make is just as tasty as it is pretty!

Lauren said many of the recipes she uses have been passed down from family members, including her grandma. Others, she finds in cookbooks and online and alters them to be “what I want, to be a little better,” she said. Lauren said her favorite dessert at theCakePlace is the double chocolate bread pudding, which is made with cocoa, Kahlua, chocolate chips, cinnamon, almonds and topped with a chocolate ganache. My goodness! Feel free to bring us a whole bunch of that any time, Lauren. ;)

Danielle Davis Art/Photography , from Emily + Blake's recent wedding;  Russell Photography , from  Emily + Mark 's blue and coral spring wedding

Danielle Davis Art/Photography, from Emily + Blake's recent wedding; Russell Photography, from Emily + Mark's blue and coral spring wedding

Cottonwood Studios Worldwide , from  Ally + Tyler 's romantic summer wedding

Cottonwood Studios Worldwide, from Ally + Tyler's romantic summer wedding

Photo Love Photography , from  Ashley + Derrick 's gorgeous summer wedding

Photo Love Photography, from Ashley + Derrick's gorgeous summer wedding

As our former brides know, theCakePlace makes choosing the design and flavors of your wedding cake one of the most fun aspects of the wedding planning process. Every Barn bride gets to meet with Lauren for a cake consultation, in which she brings out a gazillion cupcakes, fillings and frosting for you to mix and match. It is pretty much a dream come true. The flavor combinations are endless!

Tryston Hines Photography , from  Kortney + Dakota 's pretty pastel wedding

Tryston Hines Photography, from Kortney + Dakota's pretty pastel wedding

Tryston Hines Photography , from  Megan + Jonathan 's pink summer wedding

Tryston Hines Photography, from Megan + Jonathan's pink summer wedding

Lauren said the design planning process is totally different with each bride. She said some brides come in with absolutely no idea about the flavors or design they want, while others are 100% sure about the look, colors and flavors they want for their cake.

Since theCakePlace has made so many beautiful cakes, Lauren had a hard time narrowing down her favorites. Her top three are Ashley and Justin’s quirky four-tiered cake, Bayley and Lucas’s simple, flower-covered, pink lace cake, and this fun black and white striped cake with red flowers. I sure love those too, but really, I think they are all beautiful!

Kerrie + Stefan , from  Ashley + Justin 's sweet pink wedding;  Melissa McCrotty Photography , from  Bayley + Lucas 's Southern pink wedding

Kerrie + Stefan, from Ashley + Justin's sweet pink wedding; Melissa McCrotty Photography, from Bayley + Lucas's Southern pink wedding

If you live in the area or you’re just passing through, you must pay Lauren and theCakePlace team a visit. They’ve got lots of cupcake flavors available every day, as well as a variety of other desserts. Try the chess cake. You can thank me later.

The delicious  dessert table  at our  Open Barn 2014

The delicious dessert table at our Open Barn 2014