Industry Tips for the Rookie MC

By Robyn Pattison  (Cover Image: Captured Frames)

There are so many reasons why a professional MC is a great idea. You’ll have someone who knows what they’re doing, knows what to say (and what not to say), takes care of everything  - and leaves you – and all of your guests – to enjoy the party.

Of course, a professional MC is not an option for everyone. It might be too much of stretch on a tight budget. You might have a friend who is quite the talker – and you think they’d be perfect. You might just want the personal touch of a family member.

If you pick the personality wisely, you are halfway there – but still, there are things that only a professional knows. These are the little tips that we use, over and over again, to help you have a great time – and to help your whole team do their jobs, too. 

So, from a few of us in the wedding industry – to you - we all hope this will help…

20630028 10159116461615402 272228072 o(Kate Tomlinson from White Clover Music - Image by Holly Prins)

To the MC, we say – be yourself

The bride and groom didn’t choose you to be perfect – they chose you because you are you. But…..

  • If you get an attack of the nerves, use the lectern if there is one. It will give you something to hide behind, while you build your confidence.
  • Don’t forget to let the guests know you are here to help them. Tell them what they need to know, where the amenities are – and that we are all here to help the Bride and Groom have the best night ever. 
  • You don’t need to be a comedian. Great, happy energy is definitely better than a bad joke. If you aren’t a natural comedian, don’t try to fake it. Just be your best happy self. 
  • Please don’t drink -  ( well - the absolute bare minimum, at most). You are the face of the event. You will need to be on your feet, thinking  - and speaking – clearly – for the whole night. This is not a night to hit the shots. 
  • Please do join the party. Maybe you can’t drink much – but you can hit the floor and dance, if that’s your thing. That’s your downtime – and joining the party will lift the vibe - and keep the dance floor going, for longer. 

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    Take a cue from Robyn and join the dance floor (Image by Daniel Cheung @ Angus Porter Photography)
  • Do watch your run sheet, really, reallly carefully. It is your job to keep the entire event running as close to schedule as possible. If the kitchen is running late – and you lose time – you’ll need to make it up elsewhere. 
  • Do make sure that the venue co-ordinator has a copy of your run sheet  before the event. You need to be working to the same time frame.
  • Always warn the speechmakers that their speech is coming up. Give them time to collect themselves. Make sure they have a glass of champagne if they are toasting. Show them how to use the microphone – and if they are nervous, direct them to the lectern. 

  • Always, always make sure the photographer and videographer are ready to shoot all the events of the evening. Don’t announce the first dance – or a speech – or cake cutting – without first checking in with them. Nobody will thank you for calling the Father of The Bride for his speech, while the photographer is in the toilet!
  • Make sure that you know what time the photographer and videographer are leaving. Schedule all your major events before that time. Adjust your timing if something runs late to ensure that this happens.
  • Check in with the DJ, regularly. A great DJ will play to the crowd – and work with you to help you announce and punctuate all the great moments of the evening. Make sure you check in and make sure they have plenty of notice  - for everything. You might find you have a house DJ – or one that perhaps isn’t as enthusiastic as you would like. This is where you might need to get in there and motivate them. Make suggestions – try to keep them playing great dance tracks - but be nice! 
  • Check that the cake table has a knife – and two champagne flutes on it – before the cake cutting. Get the crowd to count them down, with you. Show the Bride and Groom how to cut the cake using their inner arms.
  • Prepare for the first dance. Let the DJ know if the first dance will be choreographed – or made up as they go along. Have the bridal party on hand to jump in, when they’re needed. Watch the bridal waltz really carefully. If your couple have had enough dancing alone, watch for their signal – and tell the DJ to change the song NOW!

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    (Image by Francois Photography)
  • Make sure the tossing bouquet is on hand, before announcing the bouquet toss ( most brides have a smaller, lighter bouquet to throw away). Motivate the crowd. Call all the unmarried girls in – and remind them that it’s only fun if everyone plays along. Remind girls in strapless dresses NOT to put their arms above their heads – they’ll have to use elbow tactics. Do a countdown, get the guests to help. Raise a round of applause for the winner!
  • At the end of the night – you have to get everyone out. Give the Bride and Groom plenty of notice that the time is coming to an end. Organise your exit - and then tell the guests what an amazing night it has been – and thank them for their participation. Be aware of flowers/ decorations they can take – and those that need to stay ie : guests may be able to take the flowers, but not the vases – because they belong to the florist.
  • Remind the bride and groom that nobody will leave unless they think they have. If they are coming back in to collect things or tidy up – tell them to wait until the guests are gone
  • Check in with the venue co-ordinator – when you arrive, before all major events – basically all day – or night – long. You need to know when the plates will be cleared – or courses will be served.
To the Bride and Groom – and your Bridal Party, we say

Have a ball! Stop worrying - you are going to have an amazing time.  But these tips might help;

  • Entering the room - If you are heading straight to a bridal table, line up in pairs – on the side of the table you will sit on, before you enter. Listen for the MC to announce you.  When you enter the room – dance your way in – or walk in with plenty of bounce! Look excited! The room wants to celebrate your happiness – so start helping them! Come across the room and split in front of the table and go around.
  • Cutting the cake - If you have a multi-tier cake – cut from the bottom tier. If you try to cut into the top it can look like you are stabbing it! Cut across – not up and down. If your cake is not so conventional – maybe cupcakes, macaron tower, doughnuts etc – it is easier to pluck from the tower, not cut. Feed each other – or not – it’s up to you. Just make sure your MC knows what you will do.  
    - Stand side by side and put your closest hands together over the knife. If you use your outer arms, you will block everyone’s view – including the photographer.  
    - Decide in advance if you are going to do the swanning of arms to drink your toast. It’s ok to just take a sip from your own cup, if it’s too complicated. That’s always better than spilling champagne down your front.
  • If the Bride is changing her dress - Make sure you budget enough time for this. Think about at what stage you want to be seen in your new dress. Mark it in your run sheet. Allow extra time for hair and makeup change if you are doing this too. 
  • For the first dance - If you are going the whole way, with a choreographed first dance, make sure you have supplied the DJ with the correct version of your song. Don’t assume they already have it – or that there is only one version. 
    - If you are dancing the whole song, make sure the MC knows that. Choose a song for after this one and have people on hand to jump in and dance. 
    - If you are winging it – or only doing a short portion on your own – have a signal to the MC to call others onto the floor. 

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(Image by Vincent Lai Photography)

  • For speeches - Don’t overload with too many speeches. Tell speechmakers that shorter is better. 3-5 minutes is more than enough for most people. Break the speeches up between courses.
    - When you - and bridal party - do your speeches, stand behind the bridal table. The photos will be prettier than if you stand behind a lectern. 
  • For the bouquet toss - This is more fun if you fake it a little. Move the bouquet on each count. Bounce around a bit. Maybe fake it the first time. Throw it on the second go.
  • Some people will leave early - The elderly, the distant relatives, anybody with small children – or a babysitter at home, will often disappear after the cake cutting or first dance. Don’t take it personally. Your friends are happy to have you to themselves – so hit the dancefloor!
  • Be flexible about the final exit.  You can make all the plans in the world for a fancy exit, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Your amazing sparkler exit will only work if the weather is good – and you are outside. It’s not going to happen if it’s raining. Orif you are inside. Maybe your exit arch isn’t as long as you expected – because some people have left early. Maybe you are just so tired from this big, incredible day that you just want to sleep. It’s all ok – you’ve had an incredible day. 

About the Author: Robyn Pattison is a Sydney based Wedding Celebrant, MC and presiding administrator of We Work Together (A Facebook Group for Wedding Vendors in Sydney to network and share ideas for working effectively together at weddings).  Thanks also to Kate Tomlinson of White Clover Music & Wedding Supplier Toolkit (a great resource for wedding vendors) for contributions to this article.  
Join us on Facebook for more insights and tips from professionals of the Australian wedding industry.


65 Wedding Groups on Facebook

There are thousands of wedding related groups on Facebook that are a valuable resource for many purposes.  Whether you’re planning a wedding or building a wedding business, Facebook Groups can help you achieve your goals.  In this article, we share the 65 groups we've found most useful during the research & development phase of Wedlockers.  This case study includes the best groups for planning a wedding in Australia & how we engaged with them as a business.

Initially, we decided to join a few industry specific groups to get insight into wedding markets that we knew the least about.  Our background is in photography & video so while we understood the issues in those markets really well, both on the customer’s side as well as the vendor’s, we didn't know much about fashion design or product sales.  

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To ensure that the design of our new search model would be effective in all sectors of the wedding market, it was critical that we considered the experiences of a wider range of people across the industry.  We’re based in Sydney, so we started by joining Facebook Groups for weddings in NSW.  It felt a little like we were trespassing in the beginning, because we weren't getting married and we’re not a wedding vendor either.   

After a while we became more brazen and approached wedding groups in every state of Australia.  The discussions within these groups were a really valuable source of insight for us so we wanted to widen the audience we were listening to.   We did get rejected by some groups we requested to join, but as of today, around 650 Facebook Groups have welcomed us into their community.  

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When people tell you their problems it gives you an opportunity to provide them with a solution.  And that’s exactly what we wanted to do.  The people in these groups have issues and questions, dilemmas and a need for help.  The contributions we’ve been able to make in these communities have been rewarding.  We’ve made friends, widened our network and rustled together our first 1,500 Facebook followers in the process.

Here are some of the ways we use Facebook groups at Wedlockers: 

  • Share expertise
  • listen to people’s problems & issues (so we can figure out how to solve them)
  • Seek advice & support
  • Access emerging ideas & services
  • Access business resources (everything from Instagram to After-pay to Web Design & SEO) 

The 65 Facebook Groups we’ve found most useful 

Business Groups

1) Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine - For entrepreneurial minded business savvy women who like their sauvignon blanc.  Started by Jane Lu (Showpo) & Gen George (Skilld), these 42,000 international members collaborate and support one another to success.   Use this group to post questions about business operations and learn about social media marketing.Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 12.53.31 pm

2) I am a Business Owner in Australia - Find locals who design logos, build websites, create social media campaigns etc.  Use the ‘search this group’ function to enter your keywords and find people from the 7,600 members who are seeking the expertise you offer.  

3) Freelance Jungle - If you like the occasional giggle worthy meme thrown in between high value-add posts, this is your new online hangout.   Great DIY advice for freelancers including wordpress wrangling, dealing with clients & help with government grants.  A national group of 2,200 members with local meetings in capital cities. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 12.54.11 pm

4) Growth Hackers Australia - Join 1,500 productive Australians getting stuff done the easiest way possible.  You'll find free templates and tools for growth, tips for email campaigns & growing mailing lists, social media and content marketing hacks and lots of SEO goodness.  

5) We Are Podcast Community - The Wedding industry could use more Podcasters!  The 1,500 contributors in this Australian group will show you how to create a podcast, host your podcast, research topics, choose mics, headphones & monitoring gear and find solutions to technical issues.  Discover new podcasts in this emerging industry group.  We love the grass roots vibe here!

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6) Sydney Startups - There is a startups group in most capital cities.  The Sydney one is administrated by founders at Oneflare, Atlassian, Cogmotive, Incubate & Caitre’d.  With 8,500 members, you'll find excellent advice, tools and resources for sourcing capital and pitching investors.  A must-visit for businesses with a scalable model.

7) The Rising Tide Society - An international hangout for 70,000+ creative entrepreneurs.  The wall is a feast of creative discussion between all types of professionals but particularly photographers & videographers.  A few wedding planners hang out here too.  Anything goes from showcasing work to talking packages to managing customers to Brides & Grooms seeking wedding hashtag suggestions.  The international language of creativity reigns here.

8) Wedding Photography Advice and Help (3,500 members)  Ask any question about the art and business of wedding photography + useful links and value add articles.Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 12.55.06 pm

9) WPPA (Wedding and Portrait Photographers Asia) Scroll through Wedding & portrait images with exposure info included.  Some eye opening compositions from 7,000+ photogs.

10) Wedding Videographers (13,000 members)  First port of call for videographers in need of business and technical advice.

11) New Zealand Wedding Photographers and Videographers  With just 412 wedding professionals, it's easy to access business advice and share experiences.  Find help for everything from social media advertising to service and client management.

12) Independent Bridal Shop Owners (550 International members)  Lots of candid and insightful discussion about customer management and working with suppliers & designers. Screen Shot 2017 07 10 at 6.09.28 pm

13) Official FEARLESS PHOTOGRAPHERS Group (9,800 members) Brilliant place for networking with wedding photographers around the world and finding contacts for shooting weddings while abroad.  You can join even if you’re not a Fearless Photographer member.

14)  Wedding Expos Australia (400 members)  The inside scoop on exhibiting at expos!

Edit - #66) The Wedding Experts Community  2,100 very engaged wedding professionals asking advice and supporting one another.  Great place to bounce ideas around with like minded folk who get what you do.

National & International Wedding Groups

15) Australian Plus Size Bridal and Formal Wear (4,300 members) Great variety of plus size wedding gowns for sale.

16) Weddings Abroad Guide Community Loads of advice for planning weddings all around the world.  A truly international community with 1,900 members. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 12.55.49 pm

17) Conscious Brides Australia (34 members) A new group for the “eco bride, vegan bride, ethical bride, minimalist bride, no waste bride and all other things conscious…”  Conscious Grooms will fit right in.

Wedding Groups in NSW

18) We Work Together - 100+ members of the Sydney wedding scene chatting about 

how best to work together.  A fabulous place to network, share ideas and gain an understanding of the issues that affect the wedding vendors you work with.  Vendors only.

19) Albury Wadonga Wedding Services (450 members)  Great place to plan a border wedding with a good variety of vendors and plenty of recommendations available on request. 

20) All Things Wedding Pre Loved NSW (1,380 members) Lots of second hand goods wanted to buy & for sale.  As yet there are not many vendors here, (part of this group's charm) but a great opportunity for businesses to add value & respond to recommendations.

21) Sydney 2nd Hand Wedding & Formal Dresses  With 7,800 members, this is one of the largest groups for selling or buying 2nd hand wedding gowns in Sydney.  Sift through posts to discover new & local designers or bag a bargain.  Something for everyone.

22) 2nd Hand Wedding Dresses Sydney (4,495) A multilingual, multicultural group of 4,500 members, buying & selling 2nd hand wedding gowns.Screen Shot 2017 07 10 at 6.05.47 pm

23) DIY Weddings Central Coast (2,837) A brilliant DIY page with 2,800 active members  asking questions, seeking support and providing recommendations.  This is a sacred group  where Brides & Grooms can have open discussion because they're not accosted by sales pitches here.  Its a no marketing zone.  We conducted a poll in this group and received a great response.  Brilliantly moderated.

24) Weddings Australia - For brides in Newcastle & Lake Macq (2,500 members)  Local couples will find an assortment of 2nd hand wedding goods mixed in with a variety of great vendors that offer unique products & services.

25) Coffs Harbour Wedding Buy swap sell  2,800 members buying, selling and seeking recommendations.  Interactive participants who will respond to questions.

26) Second Hand Wedding and Bridal - Mid North Coast  One of the most responsive groups in Australia with 6,800 members.  Lots of discussion, recommendations, styling props and furniture & furnishings.  A high proportion of Brides to vendors. 

Wedding Groups in VIC

27) Bendigo Weddings - Buy, Swap and Sell Lots of buy, sell and wanted to buy activity with 2,560 active members. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.00.24 pm

28) Pre Loved Wedding Items Melbourne  4,000 very active members buying, selling and wanting to buy.   Find gowns & accessories, decor & decorations, glasses, tableware, rustic signs etc

29) DIY Brides Melbourne forum (Australia) - One of Melbourne’s best groups with 4,300 members discussing & receiving planning advice.  Moderators do a great job keeping business posts off the wall.  As a result, there are a significant number of recommendation requests that receive a relevant and forthcoming response.  Vendors will get best value from this group by providing recommendations and value-add comments.

30) Ballarat Pre-Loved Wedding Items  Keep up to date with local sales, find pre-loved items and seek recommendations in this responsive group of 400 members.Screen Shot 2017 07 10 at 6.06.58 pm

31) The Melbourne Wedding Collection  A networking group for Melbourne based wedding vendors.  No Brides hang out here.  Use this group to find opportunities to collaborate with the 400 members.  Stay tuned for catch up evenings.

32) Geelong Wedding's all about weddings! (3,500 members) Lots of buying & selling and a very high response to requests for recommendations.

33) The Wedding Hub - Victoria, Australia (5,265) Lots of wedding planning advice available from other Brides and a great mix of vendors with many unique offerings.  Well worth a scroll!

Wedding Groups in QLD 

34) Cairns Wedding Buy swap sell and giveaway (5,300 members) Lots of Bridal interaction with recommendations & responses, things for sale and wanted to purchase.  No vendor posts on the wall. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.03.13 pm

35) Everything Wedding Toowoomba! (1,240) Great mix of vendors & members in this group of 1,240.  Get recommendations and scroll the sale items and vendor promotions on the wall for local wedding ideas.

36)  Gold Coast Wedding Chat Group (2,400 members)  Great mix of vendors & Brides.  Sale items and vendor promotions on the wall.  Recommendations are forthcoming.

37) Second Hand Wedding and Bridal - Gladstone QLD Vendors, Brides, things for sale, advice and more from 1,000+ Gladstone locals. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.04.12 pm

38) Townsville and Surrounds Wedding Page 3,000 interactive members who will help you find products & services from local vendors.

39) Wedding & Formal Stuff For Sale And Hire Rockhampton Yeppoon Gracemere  A great source of inspiration & info from 3,450 generously obliging locals.

40) Gold Coast Wedding Buy Swap Sell and Giveaway (2,700 members) Fossick for treasure & seek referrals.  This is one of the best Gold Coast buy & sell groups.

41) Mackay Weddings - Ask, Buy & Sell (1,530 members) Useful advice and info from Mackay locals who are either planning their wedding or provide wedding services. 

42) Hervey bay Wedding Guide (520 members) The best local Hervey Bay group with great advice available from the participating wedding suppliers and Brides. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.05.40 pm

43) Brisbane Brides To Be There are lots of small Brisbane based wedding groups on Facebook.  With 2,800 active members, this one is the most responsive and informative.

Wedding Groups in WA

44) Perth Wedding - Buy Sell & Chat With 7,850 members, this group has a plethora of wedding bits and pieces for sale.  There's also lots of general discussion, advice and recommendations.  Search here first.

45) Perth DIY & Budget Weddings (3,330 members) Interactive group focused on DIY ideas.  Find budget products & services and second hand goods.Screen Shot 2017 07 10 at 6.07.41 pm

46) Pay It Forward Perth Weddings (2,680 members)  Chock full of Brides discussing wedding plans, sharing ideas and seeking advice.  No advertising!  And hence the level of candid discussion between Brides is very high.

47) Geraldton Weddings There are many Brides discussing their wedding and providing recommendations within this 400 strong group.  No business advertising but vendors can provide better value by responding to recommendations and offering professional advice. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.06.32 pm

48) BYO wedding venues WA - 1,050 very active members discussing and requesting ideas specifically about wedding venues and marquees.

49) Southwest Weddings WA | Buy | Sell | Chat (562) A Buy, sell & chat group with a mix of vendor advertising and local recommendations.

50) Past & Future BRIDES Swap Ideas, Buy & Sell all things Wedding & Formal (5,800 members) A West Australian group with lots of items for sale including gowns, vintage furniture, rustic decor, jewellery etc…

51) Buy and Sell Albany W.A (Wedding Supplies) (1,440 members) We've included this group for couples planning a wedding in the Albany region.  It's hard to find info about providers in this region which makes this group really valuable. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.07.10 pm

52) Irish Brides in Perth & Australia - 270 super supportive Lasses helping each other plan weddings with a touch of the Irish charm.  A delightful community!

53) Perth Wedding Suppliers Only Network (120 members)  Very supportive and active group of Wedding Vendors networking and sharing referrals.  No Brides.

Wedding Groups in SA

54) Mount Gambier Wedding Chit Chat (150 members) Your local go to place for wedding venue & vendor recommendations.  There’s very little vendor advertising here.

55) Adelaide Vegan Weddings, Parties & Functions (250 members) Everything vegan for your wedding from venues to caterers to makeup.Screen Shot 2017 07 10 at 6.08.48 pm

56) Boutique Weddings Adelaide (350 members) A brilliant group that takes you behind the scenes to access first hand knowledge, insights & info about the wedding industry in an interactive and collaborative environment.  Well administrated by the Love Cherish Adore magazine & wedding fairs crew.  Highly recommended.

57) Wedding Dress Seconds South Australia (1,400 members) Lots and lots of gowns for sale and plenty of buyer enquiries.

58) Adelaide Buy,Sell,Hire Wedding Items Made it to our list because there’s a huge range of things for sale and hire in this group and with 3,400 members, its one of the largest groups in the area.  

59) Adelaide Weddings Creative Brides and Wives This one’s for DIY enthusiasts.  Lots of how-to videos and creative ideas from the 520 members.

60) Adelaide Wedding Connections (1,300 members) Find ideas for first dance songs, pro tips, venue recommendations and more.  Also check out the amazing rainbow gown.

Wedding Groups in ACT

61) ACT Wedding Industry Businesses One for the local professionals to network, converse and collaborate.  270 wedding vendors with organised catchups. Screen Shot 2017 07 11 at 1.07.54 pm

62) Canberra Wedding Buy and Sell A buy and sell page but you can ask for recommendations from the 2,630 members too.

Wedding Groups in NT

63) Darwin Brides (1851) Wanted to buy and wedding things for sale

Wedding Groups in TAS

64)Tasmania Wedding Suppliers (627)  If you can't find something, try posting here or flicking through the wedding vendor posts.

65) Tassie weddings buy & sell With 12,370 members, this is the best place in Tasmania to buy and sell wedding things.  You can post questions too.

If you’ve found this list of Facebook Groups useful, please share it with others.  For other great wedding resources follow us on Facebook


Wedding Albums - Stand Apart through Print

Finding the right wedding photographer is a difficult business.  Each studio offers a unique mix of packages, quality & service and with a choice of up to 600 wedding photographers in Australia’s major cities, differentiation is a challenge.  But for couples wanting to single out high quality photographers, that choice may be getting easier.

Milton Gan is a Sydney based wedding photographer who believes the digital revolution is now swinging full circle. “Wedding photography has been going down the digital route and moving away from print.  But low cost packages have been on the market for long enough that couples have heard the horror stories and there’s a renewed appreciation for the art of wedding photography and the value of printed images.”

Untitled design 3Photo: Renee Blake

With this resurgence in print comes an acknowledgement that albums are a really important aspect of choosing a wedding photographer.  “Couples are drawing a link between quality products and quality service and are considering the products sold by photographers in their decisions about wedding photography.”

Milton feels so strongly about the value of printed images and it being the duty of photographers to offer albums to their clients, that he’s created a workshop to help wedding photographers do just that.  “There are lots of solutions to time and space constraints when designing albums” he told us.  “Its about what works for you, with your business model and lifestyle”.  

22Its about what works for you your business lifestyle22

Most workshops for wedding photographers happen in the US and Europe so this is a rare opportunity for the local industry, particularly photographers looking to introduce a new revenue stream and/or reclaim weekend time by shooting less weddings.  But perhaps most excitingly, the forward focus on albums & print represents an opportunity for customers to differentiate between vendors in an industry desperately in need of segregators & transparency.

The Album Atelier - a workshop for wedding photographers
Venue - Golden Age Cinema in Surry Hills 
Dates - June 24th & 25th, 2017
Speakers - Dan O’day, Lara Hotz, Milton Gan, Haley Richardson, Darren Van De Wint, Renee Blake, Libby Jeffery & Geoff Hunt from Momento Pro
Topics - Album Sales & Marketing, Design & Production, Online Solutions etc

Members of the Wedlockers community have been given a special discount of 30% off tickets from The Album Atelier while they last.  Use promo code: WEDLOCK30 
(Thank you The Album Atelier)

Main Image: Lara Hotz Photography

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