Buffalo and WNY Birth Photography at Sister's Hospital | The Hornbuckle's Birth Story

One of the things I love most about birth photography is how unique every birthing experience is. Whether you're a first time parent or it's your third time around, every labor and delivery is different, and the stories – and little humans – that come of it are truly priceless.

Back in February, the Hornbuckles welcomed their very first child into this world! As sometimes happens, their birth story went differently than they had hoped, but through it all they had the most amazing support system with the staff at Sister's Hospital and most of all, from their dearest family members. Both the sets of grandparents-to-be, and mom's supportive aunt, cousin (and also best friend), and Nani waited with them at the hospital throughout the bulk of the labor, taking turns checking in and offering encouragement along the way. But I have to say, dad – as you'll see in the photos to come – was such a pillar of strength and support for mom throughout the entire lengthy labor she had. He deserves a medal for dad of the year, 1,000%.

I had the fortunate experience of being with the Hornbuckles to document their labor and delivery over the span of 2 days – plus a bonus extra day – and loved reliving this time with them as I was selecting favorites for this post. I make no apologies for how long this post is, and hope you stick with me through to the end. It's so worth it.

With one of my birth story offerings, I also offer next day coverage. So if you're looking for photos with loved ones meeting baby, or posed photos of your little one, this is something that can absolutely be added to your birth story coverage. Here are a few from my next day with the Hornbuckles!

First-hand feedback from the Hornbuckles about their birth photography experience:

Did you have any hesitations having your labor & delivery photographed, and if so, what were those hesitations? Brian and I had a few hesitations at first about being photographed during birth, because never having been through it before as first time parents, its hard to know what we'd be comfortable with in the delivery room, and sharing photos via your blog is a little scary, as well! But our desire for photos far outweighed the fear of sharing something so personal, and we KNEW you'd be very discreet and easy to work with!

Why was having your baby's birth photographed important to you? Having our baby's birth photographed was important to us because it is one of the most special days of our lives. Bringing a child into the world for the first time is special and I personally knew I'd want to relive the experience, whether good or bad, afterward. I had a feeling I'd be a little distracted (just giving birth, no big deal!) during the whole process and might miss certain things, like the weighing of the baby, etc. After carrying a baby for almost 10 months and going through labor, I knew I'd be sad if I missed seeing my baby's first few minutes of life!

How would you describe your thoughts/reactions to your photos? When I saw the photos, I cried! Because of the medication I had to be on during the labor, I was groggy and didn't remember a LOT of the labor and delivery. I was not expecting to be so out of it the whole time, so I am especially grateful for the photos! Not only of Levi, but the photos of my husband with me and taking care of me are precious. 

If you have another baby, would you want birth photography services again or would you recommend me to others? If we have another baby, I would love to have you there to capture the process. I would definitely recommend you to others. You have such a passion and talent for photography, and you are amazing to work with. I'll never forget when the nurse asked you to hold my leg while I was pushing so she could step away, and you immediately put your camera down and held my leg during a contraction! You are both brave and kind!

What does having the photos of your labor & delivery mean to you? The photos mean the world to me! Seeing the whole labor process from an outside perspective was really cool and helped me remember parts that were hazy from medication. I did not expect to be on such serious medication and never imagined my labor and delivery going the way it did. The photos of my son being born are so special, because I could not see straight from the medication. I love looking at them now and they will always be special to me!

Bonus answer: Thank you for taking the time to take photos the next day with our family and friends! It was great to get photos of the grandparents with their first grandchild, and the photos of our son wrapped in his blanket are priceless to us. I was personally grateful to have you back the following day, as I was able to get freshened up and was more alert and myself.  Thank you for each and every photo!


A First Glimpse at Steve + Mike's Timberlodge Wedding | Buffalo and WNY Wedding Photographer


Last Saturday I kicked off the 2017 wedding season with Steve + Mike at Timberlodge and I'm incredibly excited to share a tiny peak into their wedding day with you today while the full set of images is still in editing progress. It was a special day full of surprises and laughter, from the very start. Steve and Mike had a relaxed morning, getting ready together and then venturing out for photos before their family and guests started to arrive. Rather than spending a lot of the day tucked away or out taking photos, they were able to spend nearly every minute of their wedding day mingling with family and friends.

Even more than the relaxed feeling their day had, there was a TON of excitement. Their ceremony was so personalized and heartfelt, with laughter and tears flowing. Their formal introduction to the reception was quite simply epic, and they had they surprised guests with a dessert bar lineup to drool over and that everyone anxious to snag some! And best of all: their dance floor was a non-stop party.

I am so honored to share their a little preview into their wedding day, but first, a few thoughts from the grooms:

How would you describe your wedding vision/theme? We wanted our wedding to be breezy and casual and leave as much possible time for dancing. We also wanted things to be memorable and different, which is why we tried to be unique with our ceremony, our vows, our dessert, our first song, etc. But we wanted to make sure that people realized how in love we were and how happy we were to have everyone there! We are so grateful that so many friends and family could make it!

Favorite moments/memories from the wedding? Is "everything" an appropriate answer? We loved having our nieces and nephews walk down the aisle, we thought Cindy's first time as an officiant was remarkable, we had so much fun dancing, thought the food was amazing, the music was incredible, the venue looked gorgeous. It honestly was perfect. We loved it all! It is too hard to narrow down a "moment" or a "memory." Although...the laser picture of the cats warmed our hearts since they could not attend :)

Do you have any recommendations for future couples planning a wedding? Don't stress out! Focus on having fun. Take the recommendations of the staff at your venue and if other people you know have had their wedding at the venue, ask what they think. We trusted others' opinions and they were 100% accurate. Sometimes it's hard to alter your plans, but we just winged a bunch of stuff and didn't get upset when things didn't work out. Also, we included many people in our wedding that we have known for years (for dessert, our officiant, etc.) and that made things feel so much more significant and genuine. If that opportunity arises, we highly recommend it!

Special shout out to all the vendors!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Timberlodge at Arrowhead Golf Course
Wedding Coordinator: Anna Frey (of Timberlodge)
Officiant: Cindy Hickey
Photographer: Dawn M Gibson Photography
Desserts: Dairy Queen on Brighton Road (& Girl Scout cookies)
DJ/Band/Entertainment: Toy Bros.
Invitations: Vista Print (lol)
Wedding Attire for the Grooms: Banana Republic pants, Express suit coat, Calvin Klein belt, Kenneth Cole shirt and shoes, bow ties and boutonnieres from Etsy
Instead of Favors: Donations were made to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and The Human Rights Campaign
Late night food/snacks provided by: Timberlodge


** Note to website visitors and vendors, please do not take images off website for use without photographer consent.
If you are interested in sharing photos, please email info@dawnmgibsonphotography.com. Thank you! **

Embracing the rain on wedding days | Advice from a Buffalo, WNY, and Finger Lakes Wedding Photographer

Every bride or groom probably hopes not to have rain on their wedding day. Rain can throw a wrench into plans for outdoor ceremonies and receptions as well as disrupt outside wedding portrait plans, not to mention it can also cause worry and stress about hair and makeup or shoes and dresses getting wet. It's not desirable, and everyone knows it. But the weather is also the biggest thing on one's wedding day that cannot be controlled. Much like today (or this week for that matter!), Mother Nature is going to do it's thing regardless of anyone's hopes and wishes. And the best advice I have for my clients (regarding weather or anything else for that matter) is to simply embrace whatever happens, and let it be a part of your story. Because it's not worth it to stress over something as uncontrollable as the weather, especially when in the bigger picture of things, your wedding day is going to be one of the best and happiest days of your lives. My second piece of advice: plan ahead/prepare for the weather, juuust in case. Having umbrellas and rainboots on hand is a great idea. As well as securing back up plans for any portion of the day that you're planning to be outside. The more planning you do in advance will help ease some stress if there are last minute changes in weather on your special day!

Today I'm sharing a few snippets from a few past weddings where rain was a part of the couple's wedding day, in hopes to inspire and ease some worry for future brides and grooms that may have rain on their day, too!

Scenario: Surprise rain showers following the ceremony – just in time for wedding party portraits. YAY!

The morning of Ashley and Rob's June 2015 wedding was beautiful and looked like rain wouldn't be in the forecast. But when their indoor ceremony ended, we discovered the rain had in fact decided to join us that day. We carried on with photo plans as originally discussed, and because the rain was spotty – we were able to get a great mixture of outdoor photos, not only with the various locations we had planned, but with and without needing umbrellas. Usually I tell clients we really don't need several hours of time for wedding party portraits between ceremony and reception, but on Ashley and Rob's day, having the extra time definitely helped us out. We were able to wait out heavier rain fall and had plenty of time to accomplish all their photo desires, while having FUN doing it, too. I'll be sharing their full wedding story in the coming weeks... ice cream break and all. :-)

Scenario: Downpouring rain all day long with only the ceremony and reception venues as portrait location options.

Erin + Aaron also had a beautiful June wedding in 2015. Their plans were to get ready at the church and do a first look there before the ceremony to keep it simple. We had plans to do photos outside around the property since it was beautiful, but with rain in the forecast and nowhere else around their church to go for portraits, we improvised and did their first look and portraits inside the church. Luckily, their church had a lot of great options for us photography backdrop wise so this slight change in plans worked out just as well! We were able to create some really simple, clean, yet fun portraits. And everyone in the wedding party stayed dry before the ceremony.

After the ceremony, we were hoping maybe the rain would clear juuuust a little so we could get a few photos outside their reception venue (the Buffalo Historical Society) but alas...the rain was non-stop. So we did some portrait-type photos inside that venue just as their guests started to arrive. Before long.. everyone was out on the dance floor not even thinking about the rain happening outside anyway. It was the best, and having two great indoor location options worked out really well for us!

Scenario: outside ceremony and reception plans altered due to constant, heavy rainfall

Jenna and Daniel had a kick ass wedding at Sonnenberg Gardens in September 2015. The original plan for the ceremony was to be out in the open, overlooking the beautiful gardens at Sonnenberg, with cocktail hour on the main house patio and celebration under a tent close by. Unfortunately with the weather that day, the ceremony had to be moved under a tent and reception tent had to have all the sides pulled down to keep wedding guests warm and dry. Despite the rain, we were still able to incorporate the outside elements... with umbrellas in tow and with a little improvising using elements of the main house (like the ivy arch entrance) to keep family/wedding parties dry during portraits. As you can see, the rain did not stop anyone from smiling on this day.

Even so... during the reception, I was peeping at the weather forecast and saw it was looking to be nice the Monday after their wedding. I just knew Jenna was hoping for her beautiful GOLD dress to be sparkling in the sun for their wedding portraits, and before leaving their wedding that night, I asked them if they'd be interested in doing a day after session before they headed back to NYC. They excitedly agreed to do this, and that Monday following their wedding, we made it happen. I'm so thrilled they now have a mixture of portraits from their actual wedding day – and from a beautiful sunny day like they had hoped to have – to cherish from their wedding celebrations! If any of my couples find themselves in the same situation, I'd be happy to try and make this happen for you, too, if we can!

Scenario: forecast unexpectedly calling for rain last minute, so indoor locations were secured just in case. 

Remember Erin + Aaron's wedding above? Yea.. Lina and Eugene's wedding was the very next day and the forecast was looking to be just as promising. So the day before their wedding, Lina and Eugene's wedding party pulled out all the stops and reached out to several people for last minute indoor location spots. We were able to get into a local museum as well as do portraits inside someone's home (that just so happens to be one of the old mansions on Delaware). But the best part of their day, was that we were able to get in their first look as originally planned, outside on the steps of near Hoyt Lake. Because the rain was literally minutes away, NO ONE else was at Hoyt Lake (which as anyone in Buffalo knows is a rare situation on a weekend), so we had the entire area and steps to ourselves! Lina and Eugene shared an epic First Look, we did some photos there, and then headed off to their secured indoor locations just as the rain rolled in.

Scenario: Overcast wedding day with on and off sprinkling rain throughout the entire day. Given their fall wedding date, pre-planned indoor and outdoor portrait locations were already set, so the weather didn't even get in the way of our plans. Wahoo!

Anne and Matt were married in October 2015 and the day started out a beautiful, perfectly overcast fall day. But in WNY, fall days often mean the chance of rain so I always encourage back-up rain locations juuust in case. Despite the weather looking promising that morning, by the time ceremony started, so did the rain. Luckily, it wasn't a heavy rain so we decided to follow the plan for portraits as planned originally, which had a mixture of indoor and outdoor locations anyhow. I'm obsessed with this day even still, and am so thankful for all the variety we had on their wedding day... rain and all!

In closing, embrace the weather as it happens!! Amazing images can still come from a unique weather day, but more than that, it just makes your story even more special and unique. :-)


PS. For any of my upcoming or future wedding clients: The clear umbrellas you see in the photos above are always in my car on wedding days and I have 7 of them! :-) So fret not about going out to get umbrellas just in case of rain on your wedding day.... I've got you covered!

Additionally, if you wish to photograph at an indoor location, as a reminder, this is something you will need to set up, as many of the inside venues require deposits from brides/grooms to reserve photography time. I'm more than happy to make suggestions though, so don't hesitate to ask if you're looking for ideas that will best suit your needs! Also, in my experience, June and September have been the rainiest, but as you know... rain can happen any time of year! So be sure to secure an indoor location JUST in case and well in advance of your wedding date... especially if you're planning a wedding during those months!