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The day has finally arrived!  Your graduate needs celebrated, inspired to go forward, and congratulated by all her friends and family.  What better way to show your support than with a big ole party/open house! Here’s how I celebrated my daughter, McKenna’s graduation.

They keys to making any party a success is PREPARATION!  You will need to plan a couple of weeks ahead.  These are the areas that have to be planned.

  1. invitations
  2. menu (pork and chicken slider bar, appetizers, cake)
  3. decorations (both inside and outside if doing both)
  4. lighting (lots of mason jars with LED lights, hanging lanterns, and tons of string lights)
  5. seating (dining room, back porch, and pergola)
  6. drink station
  7. gift area
  8. photo booth  (an easy DIY project)
  9. activities (corn hole is awesome)

Invitations are usually done either by the photographer or you can upload your own to shutterfly or tinyprints.   I designed an insert to be sent with McKenna’s graduation invitation inviting everyone to our house the night before!

The menu came together as my great friends, neighbors, and family all pitched in and helped me stock our SLIDER BAR! YUM!

I decided on the menu, I copied cute ideas straight from Pinterest. Next up, decorations!  McKenna was a cheerleader her entire life, so,  I gathered all her old uniforms when she was little, tons of pom poms and other memorabilia and decided to make cheerleading, along with her school colors, our main theme. We gathered lots of meaningful photos, keepsakes, certificates, awards, and everything we could find with a Bulldog on it!  Here are some pictures of how it all came together, starting with the front door.

Door pennant is from Etsy. Chinese Lanterns are from Amazon.

Drink Cart stocked with Sangria for adults, Blueberry Lemonade,  and blue stripped paper straws from etsy!

Mercury Glass LED lights and mason jars were perfect for this outdoor celebration after dark. I ordered all of these from Amazon and will be used for many future celebrations, a great little investment.

Paper lanterns in all our school colors were beautiful hanging in the trees.  These come in all shapes and sizes
Photo Trees are from Restoration Hardware.  We use these all seasons at our house!  We added the photos as a way to make them fun for our guests and graduate.

Here some images from our homemade photo booth.  This DIY project took a little work, but was so worth it.  It’s only fitting that a photographer would have a photo booth/selfie station at a party! All our guests had fun grabbing different props. The Background is a curtain I borrowed from my photography studio.  I copied the photo booth fonts from a chalkboard book.

A signature board is a product I have been making for graduates for years!  We ordered a cheer picture on a 16×20 inch mat board in metallic paper.  It was so cute!  And what a keepsake any graduate would love.

Back porch decorations were a combination of led lights, plaid pillows that compliment our school colors. My favorite thing about this seating area are the old H.H.S. Yearbooks we spread on the table for a walk down memory lane!  We had issues from the 70’s through some of the 2000’s.

We had to have a cake and decided to go with a simple design with a focus on DELICIOUS FLAVORS from our local artist, Teresa Caudill.

These Taco Bites are a hit anytime I make them. The recipe is from Christina Ferrare!  Click here! 

The tablescape was a mixture of fresh flowers, glitter, candles, balloons and McKenna’s tiny cheerleading uniforms.

I have to say the party was SO MUCH FUN!  As a mom, the planning and decorating was therapy for me. Here’s my graduate!

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“Yuck, I Hate P’sketti”    :    IPC Loan Print, 1st Place Children’s Portrait Southeast District, scored 95.   Inspired by the pictures of children eating pasta at Fazoli’s.


“There’s Always Next Year”   :   IPC Loan Print, 2nd Place Children’s Portrait Southeast District, scored 93.  Inspired by the love of children playing sports and putting their heart and soul into their passion at such a young age.  Jayvon White was my model and he sure delivered the emotion I was looking for!

“My Science Homework Ate My Dog”  :   IPC Loan Print, scored 92 at Southeast District.  Inspired by the book, “Homework Eats Dog and other Woeful Tales”, by Alan Haehnel.  I wanted to bring this story to life in print medium.   If you look closely, you will find all kinds of doggie parts in the beakers and beyond!!!

“Anticipation”    :     IPC General Collection Thanks for looking, now I have to find inspiration for this year’s competition.  Wish me luck!





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Suzanne Deaton Photography creates a luxurious, fashion inspired,  model-like experience that make your friends say, “I want to be photographed like her.”  Parents tell us over and over again it’s one of the highlights of their senior year!!!!

Here are some highlights of this summer’s Seniors 2018. These girls have exceeded all my expectations!


Don’t forget to book your fall or winter session.

To BOOK a session CLICK HERE. 



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When I discovered my passion for photography 14 years ago,  it was so I could capture moments of my children that were fleeting. McKenna was 4 years old then.  I placed her on a rock outside wearing a short sleeved dress in the freezing cold.  The expressions she made while shivering to death were priceless.  And so began my love of photographing the girl in my life that means the most.

How can I express what it meant to photograph her childhood, teenage years, and then her senior year?  Not all of the pictures are portraits.  Not all of the portraits are perfect.  But, finally, here are some of our favorite portraits we captured together.   We had an amazing 4 years . . .

Myrtle Beach, SC, Spring 2016  { hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton, wearing vintage U.S. Navy pants, circa 1967 }

Hazard Country Club, Fall 2015 { hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton }

Savannah, GA, Summer 2016 { hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton }

Studio Portraits, Hazard, KY  { throw back to the 80’s, styled by me and my sister, Lauren, hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton }


Inspired by the movie, “Flashdance” . . .

Vintage Mick Jagger jacket owned by Mick, circa 1976. { the discoloration of the jacket is from his sweat, and thanks Aunt Trish for loaning us such a valuable piece of pop culture }

Some Studio Shots . . . { hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton }

This Black and White Portrait is probably my favorite.  It looks like I see her everyday and I am in love with the tones.

Eastern Kentucky locations, Fall 2016 { hair and makeup, McKenna Deaton }

Prom, Spring 2017 { hair by Suzanne Deaton, makeup by Kayla Beverly }

Thanks for looking at this lengthy post.  It’s been an emotional time for us all as a family.  Photography keeps me going each day, inspires me, and so do my husband and children.


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