I am 27, I turn 28 in April and I have been diabetic for 20 years. I know that there are far worse things or diseases to face in life than just being diabetic, but it still isn’t a pleasant or cheap thing to face. At least with diabetes you have a fighting chance at an ‘average’ lifespan. But what if you  can’t afford the supplies you need to take care of yourself?

In the U.S alone {as of January 26, 2011}, according to the American Diabetes Association, 8.3% of the population {children and adults} are diabetic. The total cost of diabetes in 2007 was $174 BILLION, $ 116 billion was for direct medical expenses, and $58 billion was for work loss, disablility, premature mortality or other indirect expenses. That is a lot of money! Those numbers do not include the expense of gestational diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, or prediabetes.

Diabetes also leads to other illnesses such as heart disease, nervous system disease, amputation, and high blood pressure. It also is the LEADING cause of blindness and kidney disease or kidney failure {2008}. These complications can be lessened by having really good control of your blood sugar, exercising, eating right, and having your A1C level check often. The very frustrating part, at least for me, is that I didn’t do anything to get this disease. I’m sure this frustration is common for people dealing with cancer, diabetes, leukemia, etc. The diseases where it is completely out of your control, nothing you could do to prevent it or change the course you were on.

The VERY frustrating part, at least for me, is that even though I do everything I can to manage and control my diabetes as close as possible, is that the insurance companies will always look at you as too expensive. And that sucks, it’s not a very nice word to use, but that’s how I feel. I do not get a break after a certain number of years to consider myself in remission {my dad had cancer when I was little, I kind of remember the insurance issues from then}. I will always be diabetic, there isn’t a cure. When my husband changed jobs in July, we had to wait 3 months to be eligible for the benefits there. So we looked into insurance through other places. I asked {knowing they would never cover me} about me being on the policy with my husband and kids even though I had been diabetic for so long. The person actually started to laugh before catching themselves. A private insurance will not cover someone who is diabetic. The costs are too great, especially with the other issues and complications that arise from being diabetic. But, if insurance companies allowed people the chance to take care of their diabetes on a daily basis maybe the costs would decrease instead of increasing. We had to COBRA my coverage, which again we were fortunate to be able to do because if I ever lose health coverage, I will either have a very hard time getting it back or just won’t get it back. COBRA was expensive. We were easily paying a mortgage payment with the money we spent for health coverage each month between mine and my husbands and children’s coverage. Obviously, I do not have all the answers for healthcare, insurance, or any kind of reform. I am simply a frustrated individual who is trying to take care of myself as much as possible, but even with insurance, which we are VERY fortunate to have, things can get expensive. For example, I am on an insulin pump and have had the same one for almost exactly 5 years. It lasted me through 2 pregnancies and allowed me to have a healthy children, something I was told would never happen when I was younger. But now, 5 years later, technology has changed and my pump is not doing as well as it once was. So I have been working with my doctors office to get a new pump and yesterday I found out the cost: $4277. And my insurance company will not pay any more than $2500. So the rest is up to me. And that doesn’t include supplies for the pump to actually function or the insulin to actually go in the pump, or the test strips to check my blood sugar {sometimes as many as 10 times a day}, or the lancets to prick my finger with, or the needles to have just in case my pump isn’t working correctly and I need an injection……..It goes on and on.

I guess my frustration just comes from feeling like I’m being punished for something I cannot control. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have been very fortunate in my life, but even when you know you’re lucky sometimes it’s just hard to look past an obstacle that is in your path.

There you go, that’s what’s been on my mind for the last few days. I may be doing a fundraiser type thing for the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation because the best thing would be a cure!

A Fantasy in Flowers {St Augustine & Jacksonville Wedding Photographer}

Last summer I did a bridal workshop in St Augustine at the St George Inn and the flowers were provided by A Fantasy in Flowers. Lucky for me, I was able to meet with Susan last week and spend some time at A Fantasy in Flowers. They have a really nice area for consultations with so many albums, magazines, and ideas to help you get ideas if you need some guidance and see some of the work they have done in the past. Their work is beautiful! And they are so lovely to work with!

Here are some pictures from the workshop over the summer!




If you book your wedding with Mady Joe Photography and choose a package with 6 hours of coverage or more, you get a $200 gift certificate to use towards your flowers at A Fantasy in Flowers! Booking must take place before March 1, 2011.

Featured Vendor :3 Sisters Chocolate {St Augustine and Jacksonville Wedding Photographer}

I remember visiting my grandparents and getting to go to the local candy store {Tilkey’s, they are no longer there. And they could have had more than candy, but that’s all I remember.} I always picked out gummy worms. Odd that I remember that considering I was less than 6, but I think I remember it because it was special! It was a big deal to go and pick out my special treat. Going there with my parents or grandparents or maybe both, are very strong memories from my childhood. My visit with 3 Sisters Chocolate today brought back those memories a little. 3 Sisters Chocolate opened almost 10 years ago and found inspiration for the name 3 Sisters Chocolate in honor of three daughters. They combine traits of the three daughters: one a perfectionist, one sweet, and one creative, and use those traits to provide the best creations imaginable!

The things they make are incredible! I had a few minutes to look through their album of cakes, some wedding, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday, etc…. I think every page had something on it that made me stop and look again, study the detail a little closer. And actually say ‘oh, wow’ out loud when I flipped the page and saw a cake they made that had to be a replica of a wedding dress. Standing up. FULL of details! And it tastes even better than it looks! Trust me, I brought 2 cup cakes home for my little ones! They also have gourmet coffee, chocolate pizza, so many Valentine’s Day gift ideas. If you’re getting married, having a bridal or baby shower, a birthday party, or just in the mood for a little something special, or to pick up something for someone {they’ll love it!}, you must stop by their store at

9965 San Jose Blvd #39

Jacksonville, Florida 32257

They also have a store in the Avenues Mall close to Forever 21!

The best part of this family business is that you feel like you’re part of their family. They take care of you, help you, and appreciate you choosing them! They also are helping the community around them. On Thursday, February 3, 2011 3 Sisters Chocolate will be taking part in the 8th Annual Taste of Chocolate that benefits theFamily Nurturing Center of Florida. Family is important to everyone at 3 Sisters Chocolate and you can tell by how they give back and do business. If you can go to the event, go! See the amazing creations for yourself and help out the community.

Here are a few pictures I took during my visit. Enjoy!

{this is a 3 pound brownie covered in chocolate!}

Wedding Cake…..YUM! Kakes by Katie {St Augustine & Jacksonville Wedding Photographer}

Who loves wedding cake? ME! I do, I lllloooovvvveeee wedding cake! It’s one of the focal points during your reception and one of the most fun things to pick out during the wedding. At least according to most of the grooms! {They truly do not appreciate how fun it can be picking out flowers, dresses, or napkins.}

In all seriousness, it can be a daunting task picking out a cake for your wedding that pleases you {the couple} and all of your guests. If you’re in the Northeast Florida area, you must, must meet with Kakes by Katie. Not only are the cakes she create beautiful to look at, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, but they taste amazing! I know because she let me try some. It’s almost impossible to pick my favorite out of the ones I tried {white chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, devil’s food, and french vanilla pound cake}, so I’m not even going to try.

Kakes by Katie provides custom cakes for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, bridal and baby showers, and more. She will be at the Queen’s Harbour Bridal Extravaganza on February 24 if you’re in the area!

What I wish I knew when I got married! {Saint Augustine | Jacksonville Wedding Photographer}

Now, I’m going to have to choose my wording on this carefully because tone is hard to figure out through email, blogs, facebook, texts, etc. I know that I can read an email one day and think one thing and the next realize maybe I was wrong. It’s easy to do, it happens. Especially in a world where social media, email, texts messages, and blogs have taken over our ways of communicating. So please, know that this post is nothing more than thoughts that have gone through my head the last week or so and trying to find the best way to price my wedding and portrait sessions for everyone involved.


Hire a wedding planner! I didn’t, I wanted one but thought this was the spot to ‘save some money’. It wasn’t. I bet I wouldn’t have cried at my rehersal when the priest changed how we thought our ceremony would go {it’s an emotional and stressful time, we’re all allowed a few tears!}. My wedding planner would have known way in advance the way we wanted our ceremony to proceed. I bet the morning of our ceremony, the church would have been opened up for us to get ready at the correct time instead of an hour late even though we confirmed our arrival time the night before.

 One of my least favorite things from our ceremony was that the musician playing while the guests were seated and the ceremony, he would not play until he was paid. Everyone was trying to find a checkbook to pay him because he never mentioned that he had to be paid prior and he didn’t want to come to our rehersal, even though my husbands parents invited him to the rehersal dinner. Also, I didn’t know the check was all ready for him sitting in an envelope on one of the seats and have you ever seen a bride in her undergarments trying to find a checkbook of some kind? Not easy. I know a wedding planner would have been on top of that and my stress level would have been diminished.

 Most importantly, the wedding planner would have guided us to the vendors they trusted through years of experience and the about to burst onto the scene vendors we maybe would not have been able to afford in a few years. Example for you, our dj. We paid him an arm and a leg, well not really. But we paid him A LOT! We wanted music playing during the cocktail hour, it didn’t happen. We wanted a total of four hours of music, I think we had between 2.5 and 3 hours. The ‘big’ things during the reception {toasts, cake cutting, garter, etc} were done very quickly and granted, we had a morning wedding, so people weren’t going to dance the day away. But, if I had a wedding planner, she/he would have been confirming with all the vendors the timeline we would have created making sure everyone knew where to be at what time. He/she would have been working to slow down or speed up the reception so that everything ran smoothly. Seriously, a wedding planner is your best friend when you need someone to count on! They get your ideas, thoughts, and visions past every pushy mother-in-law/best friend/aunt/uncle/cousin. And that is someone you want helping plan a wedding when it is an overwhelming experience!

If you’re in the Jacksonville area, you must check out Southern Charm Events, Made of Honor Weddings, and The Wedding Assistant. They are all fantastic to work with!


Every vendor you use will have expenses you do not think about and you don’t even want to know how much time and money they put into equipement, editing, creating, etc. Obviously, I’m a photographer. I’m new to the business and to the wedding world, so obviously I do not think that just because someone is new means they must not be worthy of someone’s time or business. New vendors can be a great way to save a little bit of money and still get amazing results. Example, our wedding photographer was Nate Root. He was just venturing into doing weddings as the main photographer after second shooting for another local photographer. And you know what, he is and was amazing. He now shoots with his wife and their pictures are remarkable. They now travel the world photographing weddings as well as weddings local to them. Pretty amazing the difference five years can make. If we were to get married today, I probably would not have been able to afford him. But we have his amazingness framed on our walls because we knew Nate and we completely trusted in his ability. But Nate wasn’t new. He was like I am now, or I think anyway. He had, as do I, professional equipement, back-up cameras and lenses, extra batteries and memory cards, knowledge of how a wedding runs and how to deal with things as they come up during the wedding day. He was, even then, nowhere near amateur or a hobbyist. But just to give you an idea of what a professional photographer may have to help them succeed:

Professional quality camera and lenses {and backups! Just in case}

Plenty of memory cards and batteries to last during a six to eight hour event {about average wedding coverage}

lighting equipement

second shooter or assistant

Editing software {I’m a Lightroom and CS5 kind of girl!}

Renewing the companies LLC or Scorp, etc every year

Insurance, license……

And don’t forget, vendors pay taxes too! Income taxes and sales taxes and probably a CPA or lawyer to help them along the way as they venture through the business world.

I know if sounds like a photographer makes a ton of money. I don’t, the super famous ones do, but for the most part everyone does it for the passion of the perfect picture, the perfect moment captured that makes a couple laugh, or cry, or that they finally find a picture they didn’t realize existed five years later while unpacking boxes after a move. That’s why people become photographers and wedding photographers. You should read this blog from Heather Lilly Photography. It’s very informative and she explains it very well!


Almost nothing else matters except that at the end of the day you’re married and if something does happen that makes you cry, or stresses you out, the most important thing is that you will be married to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and one day, you might even look back and laugh. And another thing, while the budget is always important because debt is never fun, if it’s important enought to you to fight for, get it for your wedding. Don’t look back and cringe because you couldn’t ‘afford’ something or thought you could live without it. If it’s a vendor you must have, they might have some wiggle room to help aid in the bottom line or maybe you do not need their biggest and most expensive package. It’s worth a shot!

Have a good weekend everyone!


January Wedding Special! {St Augustine| Jacksonville Wedding Photographer}

Almost five years ago, my husband and I were married in Orlando and we promised {vowed?} to go to Hawaii for our fifth wedding anniversary. Well, since I am writing a blog and NOT packing my bags for the trip, I’m guessing we are really not going. Two kids, two moves, job changes,and starting a business later…. Life, kind of got in the way of even thinking about planning for a trip like that. So, we’ll save the trip for another time. instead of celebrating by going far away, we’re going to visit friends in Tampa for Gasparilla {which we have never been to!}. But I wanted to do a giveaway also for couples who are planning there weddings. A free engagement session or day after the wedding session if you book your wedding with me before January 28, 2011. The session includes a CD of all the finished images with a print release {$400 value}.

The Y Family {Ponte Vedra Photographer}

If you haven’t checked out Operation Love Reunited yet, you should! This organization and the photographers involved, give military families like this one the opportunity for pictures before and during a deployment as well as capturing the deployment or homecoming. Some of my favorite sessions and people I have met {photographers and clients!} through this organization, so these sessions mean as much to me as the family I am photographing. I was lucky to do two Operation Love Reunited sessions last week with two families who are friends and their husbands will be deployed together. Kind of a neat connection.

You should also check out Mrs Y’s blog. She’s a concept designer for Paper Crafting Companies and I am really cannot tell you enough about her work. You must check them out!

Cyber Monday!

Check out these Cyber Monday Deals!


Deal #1 Current and Past Clients

I’m making space for 2011! Purchase all the images from your session for only $300! You will have full copyrights to print and share as you like. Great chance for holiday gifts for parents and grandparents! This deal ends December 4, 2010!


Deal #2 New Clients!

Book a session for January, February, or March 2011 for only $250 and get a FREE 10×10 custom designed metal storyboard {$100 value}. Session must be booked with a $50 deposit by December 4, 2010.


Deal #3

Book a wedding before December 12, 2010 and receive a FREE engagement session or one extra hour of wedding coverage {$400 value}! Deposit and contract required. Wedding must be booked by December 12, 2010.

Deal #4

Book an 8 hour wedding package and receive The Wedding Assistant‘s Day of Package to make your day stress free! {$600 value!} Contract and Deposit required. Wedding must be booked by December 12, 2010.

Sounds like a challenge….

But it really wasn’t! Getting three dogs to sit still and take pictures, sounds hard, huh? Lucky for me, these three were fantastic! Treats, lots of places for them to explore, and some playtime made this so much easier than any of us expected!

Beautiful family session! {Central Florida Family Photographer}

The stars aligned over the weekend and we were able to go to Orlando to relax and not rush around doing a million things! On top of being able to go to a birthday party, I had two great family sessions. The first was at Casa Feliz in Winter Park with this lovely family.


Enjoy your sneak peak!