The 5 Things You Need to Know Before Moving Forward With Your Wedding Plans


STOP! Right now...don't make one more wedding plan before you find out the 5 most important things you need to know before making any more wedding decisions.

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  1. Know what your venue looks like at the time of day you're having your wedding.

    This is especially important if you are having an outdoor wedding. You'll want to keep in mind what the lighting conditions will be for your guests and most importantly you and your groom. I don't know about you, but I don't like standing in the hot sun in regular clothes let along a heavy wedding gown. 

    In terms of wedding pictures, the best time of day for lighting is early morning or just before sunset. Although, any good wedding photographer will be able to produce beautiful images in mid-day full sun. It's not the easiest light to work with, and it's not very flattering, but there are ways to work around it to still get stunning images.

  2. Find out if your venue has beautiful landscapes with plenty of open shade.

    When searching for a great venue, take note of the lighting and the landscaping. Wedding venues have some of the most beautiful landscaping, but if that landscaping is in direct sunlight, or even in spotty lighting, it could impact your wedding images. Look for venues that have a variety of different landscapes and backgrounds you can use for your wedding images and make sure those backgrounds are not in direct sunlight, or have spotty lighting.

  3. Determine how many guests you are realistically expecting.

    Knowing how many guests you can realistically expect to attend your wedding will play an important role in your venue decision and could alter your wedding budget. You'll want to make sure your venue can accommodate your wedding guests comfortably. You'll also have a better idea how much the catering will cost and will be able to budget accordingly. 

    The number of guests could also impact the wedding photography. Although any wedding can be photographed with one photographer, no matter the guest count, you might want to budget for a second or third shooter if your guest count is going to be over 100. This allows for more candid shots of your guests and ensures that not only are the important events of your wedding day being captured, but so are the little moments happening amongst your guests.

  4. Plan enough time for the unexpected.

    Ok, it's a wedding, something unexpected is bound to happen. The unexpected could throw your wedding day completely out of wack, or they could happen without a glitch to the time line. These unexpected items can be handled with a little pre-wedding planning and a timeline that has enough wiggle room for the unexpected. Work with your wedding planner and photographer to build a wedding timeline that will make the unexpected things the unnoticeable things.

  5. Plan enough time for the formal wedding portraits.

    When planning your timeline make sure you allow enough time for all of the formal wedding portraits (family, wedding party, you and your groom, etc.) You should plan roughly 3-5 minutes for each group shot. 

    A shot list of must have images that you and your photographer put together should help to eliminate any time crunching. It's a good idea to include the parents in this portion on the wedding planning to ensure that they get the images they want as well. It can eat up a lot time on the wedding day when mom brings her list of portraits she wants. This is where planning plays a huge role.

I can't stress enough how important planning is when it comes to your wedding day. A properly planned out wedding is a less stressful wedding. Know your venue, know how many guests, and know your shot list must haves. And most of all have fun planning your special day. Make it yours and enjoy the process. Happy wedding planning!


4 Benefits of Having a Wedding Day Shot List


As you plan and prep for your wedding day; coordinating with all your wedding vendors to ensure the venue is as you want it, the food is delivered on time, and the flower arrangements are delivered on time and set up according to your liking, you should be working with your wedding photographer on a wedding day shot list. Yes, your photographer should be asking you questions and working with you to develop a shot list, but you want to make sure you are advising your wedding photographer about any family dynamics that they might need to be made aware of as well as some of your must have shots that are important to you.

Planning out a shot list will provide several benefits, here are just a few.

Having a plan will reduce the amount of time spent on family photos

By talking with your photographer about what shots are important to you, you and your photographer can create a plan that will speed up the family photos after the ceremony. Your photographer will be able to create a plan that will reduce time and get you back to your guests faster. A wedding shot list has the most benefits when it comes to family photos when you have a big family.

Have a better understanding of time needed

Planning out the shot list with your wedding photographer will give both of you a better idea on the time needed for the wedding photos. This will help you when you are planning out your timeline and will give you a better idea on what time your make up artist and hair dresser should arrive. There is nothing like having your photographer ready to take the first look pictures when your makeup and hair aren't done and your bouquet hasn't arrived yet. You'll also be able to prepare your family and wedding party for the wedding photos by letting them know how much time you'll need them for. 

Reduce the risk of forgetting a shot you wanted

When you are creating your shot list ensure that you ask both sets of parents what shots are important to them. This will give you a more thorough list. Having a list on paper will ensure that all the important shots are captured. A lot is happening during the wedding day and if you don't have a plan before hand something is bound to slip through the cracks.

Reduce awkward moments - wrong parents together (divorced parents - know the dynamics

When talking with your wedding photographer about the shot list be sure to advise of any family dynamics (divorced parents, awkward family relationships). When your photographer is aware of potential relationship issues, they can arrange the family photos to ensure there are no awkward moments and problems don't escalate.

Just like any aspect of your wedding, you should have a game plan for the wedding photos. This goes for the first look, bridal party, and family photos. When you have a plan the risks of problems arising is reduced and you are bound to not forget a particular shot you wanted.

Click here for a sample shot list.


6 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer


Finding a wedding photographer can be a daunting task. you want someone with the skill level at the right price point and who you jive with. So how do you find this diamond in the ruff? Here are 6 questions to ask wedding photographers to help you find the right one for your wedding day.

  1. What is your shooting style?
    With so many photography styles out there (photojournalistic, lifestyle, classic, edgy, etc.) you want to make sure that the style your photographer shoots meets your tastes. You should be able to determine their style by looking at their online portfolio and/or sample albums, but the style they shoot will also determine how they approach your wedding and interact with you to get the shots they need. A classic wedding photographer might do more posed shots where a lifestyle photographer will photograph the moments as they unfold, with little to no interaction or prompting.

  2. How many weddings have you shot and how many were the same size as ours?
    There are a lot of photographers currently in the wedding industry and more and more are entering the industry on a daily basis. You want to make sure that the photographer you hire has the experience and the confidence to document your wedding. Someone who is experienced will not only have the appropriate equipment, but they will also have good knowledge of the wedding flow ensuring that they are in the right spot for those special moments.

  3. What are your packages and pricing? Are they customizable?
    Wedding packages come in many shapes and sizes and varying price points, so you want to make sure that the photographer fits your budget. You also want to make sure that you can remove items from the package that you don't need or add items/products that are more important to you. The last thing you want to do is pay for something that doesn't meet your needs, something that will be of little to no value to you.

  4. Can we pay for more photography time if we need it? How much?
    Photography time is usually included in the wedding package and varies by photographer. You want to make sure that you have enough time for your photographer to capture your wedding day from beginning to end. Ask your photographer if you are able to add more photography time to the package or if you can add photography time the day of the wedding in case the events stray from the wedding timeline. Last thing you want is to not have a photographer capture the two of you cutting the cake, or letting loose on the dance floor, partying it up with all your wedding guests.

  5. How many other events will you be photographing that day?
    Don't assume that your wedding is the only one that your photographer is going to be photographing that day. You want to make sure that you are hiring a photographer that will be dedicated to your wedding that day and not be rushing off to another event.

  6. How long does it take to get the images back?
    This will vary by photographer. If you hire a wedding photographer who shoots with film, you might be looking at a longer turnaround time because they have to send the film to the lab for developing. The editing process of the photographer might also cause a longer turnaround time. Make sure to ask so you know what to expect. Most wedding photographers will post some teaser images on social media or their blog within a couple days of your wedding, but you should clarify the turnaround time for the images.

The important thing is that you find a wedding photographer who you can trust and have confidence in photographing your wedding so you can focus on each other and having fund with your guests. These questions should give you a good starting point.

Remember to embrace this time and enjoy it. Happy Wedding Planning!

If you would like to learn more about my wedding photography services contact me for your free consultation.


4 Tips to Take the Stress Out of the Family Wedding Portraits


Let's face it, you spent the last few months stressing and planning the perfect wedding for you and your fiancé. The formal portraits don't have to add to that stress. Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for the formal family portraits so you can relax and have fun.

  1. Get all the parents involved. Find out what family pictures are most important to them.
    Talk to your parents and find out what pictures they would like to have. By having this discussion before hand, you can reduce this portion of the photography time significantly. Your photographer will be able to focus on getting the images you've requested as well as some extra ones without being interrupted by family members making portrait requests. The photographer will know what is important to you and your family which will ultimately eliminate or reduce your stress allowing you to focus on just having fun with your family and wedding party.

  2. Plan on arranging entertainment for your guests to keep them busy during this time.
    The formal pictures after the ceremony can take upwards to an hour or two, so you might want to consider arranging entertainment for the cocktail hour. Photo booths are a great idea for this. This could also be the time that you have people sign your guest book or photo mat, you could even consider having your guests video tape a message for you. Check out 4 Must Haves For a Successful Wedding Cocktail Reception.

  3. Consider doing first look pictures before the ceremony.
    I know this idea is still a fairly new concept and you may or may not be open to breaking the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding, but I do ask that you hear me out on this. There are many benefits to doing a first look session (check out 4 Benefits of the First Look Session) and one of those is it gives more time for the family portraits. Typically the portrait time after the ceremony is divided into getting pictures of you and your fiancé with the various family arrangements. After that you have to take pictures with your brides maids and maid of honor and him with his men, this too can include it's own multiple arrangements. Then, you can't forget pictures of the two of you. All of this within 1-2 hours. The first look pictures can free up some of that time and also produce more pictures of the two of you than if you waited till after the ceremony.

  4. Communicate with the family members participating in the pictures, what to expect and where to be after the ceremony for the formal portraits. Last thing you want is to have a scavenger hunt for aunt Betsy.

    This is important. You can eliminate a lot of time if you communicate to your family what is expected of them and where they need to be after the ceremony. This is even a great task to delegate to your mom and/or his mom or to your maid of honor and/or bridesmaids. By letting people know what to expect and where to be it could move things along quicker when it comes time to taking the family portraits especially when you don't have to waste time waiting for Uncle Bob or Aunt Betsy who are at the bar talking it up with cousin Allan.

Whatever you do, just remember to breathe and have fun. This is, after all, your day!


4 Benefits of the First Look Session


One of the many decisions the two of you will face when it comes to wedding photography is whether to do a first look session or go more traditional and not see each other until she walks down the aisle. Most couples don’t realize the benefits of doing a first look session. Here are 5 benefits for you to consider.

  1. The First Look is an intimate moment for the two of you before the chaos continues.
    By doing the first look the two of you have a chance to connect and enjoy each other before the craziness of the day continues. The first look allows for a more creative and spontaneous photo opportunity that during a ceremony won’t be captured. The photographer is able to not only capture that first reaction, but has the chance to capture the intimate moment right after. For example, you, the bride, see your groom for the first time and are overcome with emotions and he is able to wrap you in his arms and comfort you. Something he probably would not be able to do during the ceremony.

  2. The First Look allows more time for pictures of the two of you.
    In addition to allowing more spontaneous moments to happen, the first look session provides more time for pictures of the two of you. Yes your first look session has some time constraints, but you’ll also have time after the ceremony and formal family shots to capture more pictures of the two of you as husband and wife. It’s an opportunity to get more pictures to choose from.

  3. It frees up more time for formal family pictures.
    By getting a majority of the couple shots out of the way before the ceremony, you have more time for those important family shots. This can be particularly helpful for larger families. By taking some of the photography time and putting it before the ceremony, you can reduce the amount of time you’re guests are waiting for the reception to start.

  4. It can reduce the amount of time you are away from your guests.
    Your guests are excited to see you and want to get some time with you and congratulate you. They will probably also be hungry and ready to party. You don’t want to lose their interest. The longer you spend on your photos after the ceremony the more disengaged they will become.

The first look session will allow you to spend some intimate moments together in the middle of the busyness and it’ll get you onto the party and to your guests quicker.