Tattoo Stories

Tattoo Stories: Tanya

Lets just say, my life hasn’t been what you’d call easy. I’m not complaining, I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m simply stating fact. I do everything backwards, and i ONLY learn lessons the hard way. Its really just who I am.

So, after a tumultuous childhood and a string of shitty relationships with boys that needed a mother and not a girlfriend, i found myself pregnant by a guy I’d been “casually dating” for 4 months. I had just gotten a new job at a prison, (yup, I said prison) and I thought that my only option was to make it work, so for the duration of my pregnancy, and the first year of my sons life, that’s what I did. I tried, and tried, and tried… while he  stole from me, lied to me, bounced from job to job, and made it his daily goal to make me feel unattractive, worthless and sad.

And then, I broke. I couldn’t pretend anymore, his lies made me a liar. I needed to do better, to BE better for my baby!! I decided that it was over.

The first time that I met my husband I was 7 months pregnant. I asked my Lt who the hot new Sgt was, and she told me to keep my crazy pregnant hormones in check. I worked for another month, and then went out on a 6 month maternity leave. I had so much drama in my life, that i just kind of forgot about that really cool tattooed Sgt with the buddy holly glasses.

The first time that I really “saw” my husband, was after I’d returned from maternity leave. I was dropping off paperwork to our headquarters when Brad came to retrieve a schedule. We exchanged some small talk and then I noticed that his eyes were two different colors. The sunlight hit his face in such a fashion that my breath stuck in my throat. i looked down to compose myself, and noticed the swallows tattooed on the backs of his hands. I grabbed one, and started very excitedly asking him about them. I told him that I’d always wanted swallows,  but never really knew how i wanted to incorporate them into a tattoo… then I realized that I was standing in the middle of the hallway, at my place of work, holding and literally stroking this guys hand that I didn’t even know! I have this extreme talent of making awkward situations even more awkward, so of course that’s what I did, and abruptly left the situation.

For whatever reason, he was cool with this. A few days later he called me in my office, offered me his phone number, and we made arrangements to go out that week. we kissed at the end of our first date. I fell in love at that very moment, in the third parking spot, at the TGI Fridays in Mount Laurel, NJ. We moved in together after our third date.

Bradley is the inspiration behind my tattoo. Those red swallows swooped into my life so completely unexpectedly, and very literally took my broken heart and sewed it back together. I am more whole now then I have ever been, and I have my husband, our two children, a pair of swallows, and that awkward moment in the middle of a prison to thank for that.

Tattoo Stories

Tattoo Stories: Lyssa

The three mast ship on my right thigh is there in honor of my dad. He died when I was fifteen, in a motorcycle accident on August 15, 2009. He was a biker who was covered in tattoos, so I knew immediately I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. It seemed like the only thing to do. After he died, I was a confused, truth-starved, story-seeking, wisdom-hunting teenager for about a year and a half. Sixteen was not so sweet for me. Almost a full year after he passed away, my aunt, my cousin, my dad’s best friend, and I went to the beach and sailed out on a ship a few miles into the ocean where we sprinkled my dad’s ashes. In that moment, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I looked down into the salty waters to see the ashes spiraling, down, down, down, becoming one with the earth and its waters. And I swore to myself that I saw his face one last time in those swirling ashes (if you’ve never seen this, its similar to how cream swirls into coffee). On the ride back to shore, my foot was burning and stinging pretty bad. I looked down to see a small cut on my foot, irritated by the salt water that was splashing onto it over and over as we sailed.

My dad loved the ocean and always had, he often went fishing with his father, and my best memories of my dad are on the beach or in the sun at least. I decided to get a ship and waves because the whole experience of losing my dad took me on a journey… a voyage. It taught me that each person has their own journey to experience, that no journey is better or more significant or superior than another, but most of all that every journey, every life, has a God-given purpose. My heavenly Father had sent me on a journey, and this was all part of it. I could not allow myself to be a ship wreck anymore, I had to pick up the pieces and sail on! Yes, my dad would always be with me, in the waters underneath me and in my past, but this could not prevent me from going places, loving people, and seizing the day. It had to be the power that pushed me on; not the thing that held me back. It had to be what kept my ship buoyant; not what I crashed into. I had to let the salt water heal my cuts, so that I could get on with my journey.

– Lyssa

Love Notes

Anna (Family Photos)

“I have been amazed by Mike Allebach’s engagment and wedding photography for so long that I’ve been just waiting to be able to use them. There aren’t a lot of family portraits on the website, but I decided to chance it and hire him to shoot 18-month “portraits” of my daughter. I couldn’t be happier. He was SO great with my daughter, he just let her run around, play with her toys, he kept smiling and making noises and getting her to laugh. I can never get great pictures of her because she is so fascinated by cameras that she ends up having this super confused look on her face in every shot. Not in Mike’s – she is smiling and laughing in every single picture. With another photographer I worked with to have Molly’s 6 months pictures taken, the photographer charged extra for each person in the photos – not Mike. He took shots of her, me, us, my boyfriend, my stepmom, and my best friend – with Molly and without. Anyway, I have to get back to fawning over my photos now, but I just have to tell anyone considering hiring Allebach – do it. You will be over the moon.”

– Anna

Love Notes

Helen & Joe

“Mike and Rachel excel in every category. We had to change our date and venue and they accommodated both! Their pricing is totally competitive-was the best I had found in the area, and their work is incredible.”

– Helen

Love Notes

Nate & Katie

“These guys are great!!! My sister used them for her wedding, I used them for mine and I’ve recommended them to dozens of my friends (many of whom have used them to much acclaim). Not just high quality, but originality of approach. Go with Allebach all the way!”


Love Notes

Jen & Mike

“Mike shot our engagement photos and also our wedding, which was at the Princeton University Chapel. I actually met Mike through a recommendation from a friend of mine, who got married in November of 2006. I then recommended him to another friend of mine who is getting married in September. Needless to say, we were thrilled with his work!

Mike was fabulous to work with. He is really personable and extremely talented. When we had our final meeting before the wedding, every one of my possible anxieties about the schedule and the photos were put to rest. We had a tight schedule due to the timing of my hair appointment and the start of the ceremony, so my schedule was going to be a bit rushed for the entire morning. Mike and his assistant were at the hotel shooting my bridesmaids before I even got there. They got great shots of the girls and I getting ready (even though it was only about a 20 minute period). We also had a short time at the chapel as there was another wedding an hour after ours ended…Mike had to work quickly but it didn’t phase him at all.

Mike had the list of must take photos that he suggested I give him and made sure not to miss any. He worked with our schedule in terms of getting the grandparent and parent photos right after the ceremony so that they could get to the cocktail hour first. He got every shot that we asked for and more. He really captured the emotion of the day and I couldn’t be happier with our photos.

The point is.. I HIGHLY recommend him.”



Love Notes


“Allebach Photography does an AMAZING job. We used them to take our engagement pictures at Eastern State Pen. We have received SO MANY compliments from all of our friends, and have recommended them to everyone. They were able to make a prison look like a beautiful place to go to! Very CREATIVE!”

– Kelli

Love Notes

Emailed & Facebook Love Notes


What’s with Tattooed Brides?

Tattooed Bride

We heart tattooed brides

Our passion has always been photographing unique and creative couples.

Rachel & I first met while I was in a punk rock band. Before photographing weddings, we photographed punk bands. Maybe that helps explain the tattooed bride thing. When we started over 5 years ago, wedding photography was well…kind of boring. We thought how can we add the same energy that went into punk rock? We starting seeking out tattooed brides and that is how the tattooed bride discount came about.

We’ve had weddings in prisons, in the snow, outside and historic churches, buildings and bars. Our engagement and post wedding sessions have included paint throwing, day of the deading, bar hopping, dress burning and earth moving machinery. Let us capture your creative wedding!

We are a cutting edge studio, ask us about unique photos mounted on eco-friendly bamboo & metal and custom
designed coffee table albums.

Wedding Planning Tips

Should I Hire a Wedding Planner?

Since there are so many different elements to wedding planning, we value input from professionals in all areas who interact with the bride-and-groom to-be. We asked Anna from Something New to provide us with the skinny on wedding planning services. You can tell this super-friendly gal and her partner know their stuff. Check out this helpful synopsis below to determine if hiring a wedding planner is the right avenue for you.

I wouldn’t feel right sitting here and telling you that your wedding won’t succeed without a professional planner. There are plenty of weddings that go on without a planner every year and they don’t all fall apart at the seams. On the other hand, the couples who choose to forgo having a wedding planner go through more hassle than those with the extra help. Here are my Top 10 reasons that you should hire a wedding planner.

A wedding planner…
1. …saves you money.
When planning a wedding on a budget, it may seem impractical to drop a good chunk of money on a planner. You may think to yourself, why don’t I take that money and spend it on more décor, etc.? Yeah, I may work harder, but I’ll get more out of it. For some couples, that may be true. Through careful research, you may be able to find the absolute cheapest vendors and décor.
However, there’s much to be said for having great vendors at a reasonable price, instead of the cheapest vendors. A wedding planner can help you negotiate contracts and get you the best vendors for you a couple.
It’s not just those vendor connections that will have your planner saving you the big bucks. You know the wedding section in book stores – the one with every book from The Groom’s Guide to a DIY Wedding to Bridal Bargains 101? Well, we have read them all… twice. Save yourself the $15 cover price and ask us how to create $15 centerpieces instead.

2. …connects you to the best vendors. We can’t knock big name wedding websites for finding the best vendors in the area. However, it’s a hassle to call all 28 DJs listed in Philadelphia to find out their prices. The “$-$$$$” mean different things to every vendor. Wedding planners pride themselves on the connections they are able to make with vendors in their areas, saving you the time and weeding out those DJs who think that the Macerena is still the best song since sliced bread. Tell your planner a price point and they’ll be able to give you a few great vendors, their prices, and be able to give you advice on which person will have the right vibe for you as a couple.

3. …helps you Do It Yourself. You want to make your own paper flowers? Great. Finding vases at thrift stores and keeping the collection in your basement? Awesome. Making old frames into blackboards and writing your buffet choices on them? Very cool. We love DIY couples and all of their incredible ideas. But what happens when you realize you have 8 boxes of stuff to bring to the venue and no one to set them up? Once again, it’s your wedding planner to the rescue.
We are not above physical labor. We don’t run around in high heels a la Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner. We are often on our hands and knees perfectly arranging a handmade aisle runner, up on ladder hanging carefully stitched swags, or arranging kitschy household items into funky centerpieces. Even if you have done all the work yourselves, you will need someone to pull it all together on the actual day.

4. …helps you avoid the tedious side of wedding planning. So, you’ve found a florist that sounds awesome. You two look at some pictures of her past events, she seems to fit your style, and you decide to hire her. Unfortunately, she’s only known you for about an hour and she probably can’t come up with your dream centerpieces and just show up with them… especially within your budget. Instead, the two of you will have to go over what flowers are in season, what flowers fit your budget, how you can make a small space look larger or a large space look smaller, why Kate Middleton’s bouquet cost so much and how you can try to get the same look for a quarter of the cost… and on and on…
Wedding planners are used to all of these questions and can usually answer them for you. If they don’t know the answers themselves, wedding planners know all the right questions to ask the caterer, photographer, florist, etc. They know the red flags, as well. Plus, a wedding planner is often your saving grace. There is a lot of up selling in the wedding industry. Vendors will often try to convince you that you need an additional charge here and there and sometimes you don’t notice until the contract comes. Instead of sitting down with a contract and a cup of coffee and re-reading over and over to figure out where something is amiss, your wedding planner can usually just scan one and find out where something went wrong.

5. …can be a therapist. Not all planners are lucky enough to have a psychology major on their staff, but all wedding planners have real life experience in being a therapist. They are able to help you through all kinds of tough situations with family and friends, they know that almost all brides have a slight mental breakdown a month before their wedding, and they are there to calm your bridezilla tendencies. If you have a good planner, they are available to you all the time – even if just through text messages. It’s always awesome to have an impartial person to let you know that what you’re doing and feeling is perfectly normal.

6. …curbs any of those nitpicky concerns your parents have. There’s always a member of the family (or two or three) who believe this is just as much their wedding as yours. We have had parents who worried about everything from older guests getting to their cars to some guests not speaking English to bartenders stealing liquor at the end of the night. If there is a concern that your parents have, a wedding planner has probably heard it and knows how to handle it. The phrase “the wedding planner will handle it” will become a very welcome and very common phrase to leave your lips.
There is nothing worse than being bogged down with questions on your big day. Even though your wedding is about you and your partner celebrating your love, it’s also about seeing all of those family members you don’t see very often. All of those family members have the best intentions, but they often come with a lot of questions and concerns… it’s because they want the best for you, but the concerns often come at the worst time… like when you’re getting your makeup done and trying to relax. With a planner, you can relax and they will take care of it.

7. …is there for you when your “friendors” aren’t. Yes, your friend Sally may have taken a flower arranging class once and has graciously offered to make your centerpieces. Your friend Lucy always has the most adorable bathroom baskets and promises to show up with her best ones ever for your wedding. Oh, and don’t forget Tom, who just bought a new chocolate fountain and would love to try it out on your big day.
So, this all sounds great… free bathroom baskets, chocolate strawberries, and centerpieces at cost. But what happens when, a week before your wedding, Sally realizes that she needed to have ordered those Birds of Paradise a week ago to avoid being charged a $125 rush delivery fee? The day before your wedding, Tom’s chocolate fountain breaks down during a test run and doesn’t think to tell you because he doesn’t realize it was going to be the highlight of your dessert table. On the day of the wedding, Lucy arrives, sans baskets, because, well, getting beautiful was more important than tediously picking out tiny toiletries. This is when you need a planner.
Sure, you could scrape together bathroom baskets at the last minute (who doesn’t love a CVS run in a wedding dress?), you could rearrange the dessert table and you could suck it up and pay the rush fee on the flowers. But… what if you didn’t have to? A wedding planner can call up flower shops and get you a great deal on the flowers you truly wanted, can find a quick rental on chocolate fountains, and can take that trip to buy bathroom baskets without you ever knowing they weren’t there to start with.

8. …makes sure you never know what actually went wrong. Do you really want to know that your cake topper has a tiny crack in it or that your linens were late or that one of the kids ran around and ate some people’s favors? No. This is where we say “ignorance is bliss.” You want to enjoy your day and not worry until those linens finally arrive. That’s what your wedding planners are there for. We’re constantly stocked with tide pens, super glue, hair pins, etc. etc. That’s one thing that we do have in common with the aforementioned movie. Unless knowing about the mishap will make / save you money (i.e. we once had to borrow linens from the hotel after the florist didn’t bring them – allowing the couple to get back the money they had paid the florist) you will never know.

9. …makes sure you are a guest at your own wedding. This is really the best thing about having a planner. All of the above mentioned reasons fall into this category as well. As I’ve said a million times here, you don’t want to worry about a thing. Your wedding planner takes care of all of the little details, keeps the rest of the vendors on track, and caters to you like no one else will.

10. …lets you leave the wedding without a care in the world. The end of a wedding night includes cleaning, paying vendors, and collecting all of your personal items. We had a bride tell us once that she had been to a wedding where she saw the bride running around in her dress gathering up centerpieces. That stuck with us and it’s something that has stuck with most planners. At the end of the night, you want to leave / go home / go to a hotel / go to an after party… and you want your family and friends to do the same. You don’t want people to be forced (much less YOU don’t want to be forced) to make sure you leave the place spotless. A wedding planner is the last one to leave and will make sure that you are able to leave your big day with a smile on your face and no worries whatsoever.

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Philadelphia Wedding Photographers

Philadelphia Wedding Photographers capture groom on the floor.

Philadelphia Wedding Photographers
Groom on the Dance floor in Philly

Maybe this Philly groom just danced too much!  He sure looks like he is having fun!

Photos by Allebach Photography, Philadelphia’s Wedding Photographers




Wedding Planning Tips

Black, White & Red Wedding Color Scheme

Kira & Glen’s Wedding.

the use of red, black, and white really tied this wedding together and made everything look uniform, clean, and classy.

Buy photos here.

Wedding Planning Tips

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Winter Wedding Choosing a Photographer

How to choose a wedding photographer

Choosing a wedding photographer can be a difficult process.  After your wedding the images captured at the wedding are the only thing remaining other than your love.  Looking for a photographer for your wedding is a very important part of planning a wedding. Many photographers book out as far as 1 – 2 years in advance (don’t assume because a photographer is popular that they don’t have your date open though.)

Finding a wedding photographer is different than buying a dress. While you can see a dress before buying it, you can’t see your wedding photos until after your wedding. You aren’t just buying photos, rather you are buying the skills, talent and creativity to capture a wedding on faith. Your photographer should be able to answer any questions you may have concerning your wedding and seem to have genuine interest in you and your future spouse.

What should I look for when choosing a photographer?

Ask yourself these questions…
Do you like the photographer’s images?
Do they tell a story of the day?
Do the poses look natural or fake?
Do they carry canvas, metal and regular prints?
Do they offer digital negatives to post online (facebook & google+)

How much does the average wedding photographer cost?
In my county…Montgomery County, Pa (suburb of Philadelphia) the average cost is $4,234 for wedding photographers per the WeddingReport.

Does the photographers personality & style work for us?
Whether you like it or not, the photographer will spend more time with you than any other vendor or guest. So, if you can’t stand their personality or mannerisms, this photographer is not for you. Some people love laid back photographers (I would describe myself as a calming force at a wedding).  Other people want photographers who are bossy and demanding (not me but I don’t judge).

If you want kick ass amazing photos be sure to check out my wedding photos.  Good luck wedding photographer hunting!

Let me know if you have any questions.  Want more tips?  Go to my tip site


Mike Allebach
Wedding Photographer, Allebach Photography

Mike Allebach Wedding Photographer



Allebach Photography in King of Prussia and Philadelphia Area

Allebach Photography

by Allebach Photography


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Wedding Planning Tips

Anne & Neil Engagement Photos

Anne and Neil’s engagement photo shoot:

buy photos here.

Wedding Planning Tips

Tara & Matthew’s Wedding

Check out this awesome wedding!


buy photos here.