So we're doing this together.
You did it! You booked your photographer - one less thing off your to-do list - and I'm a bit biased, but I think you made an excellent choice.
Below is a list of resources: tips, do's and don't's, vendor recommendations, and more!
Of course, ask me all the questions all the time. We're in this together now, and I am so excited to help you on the road to the wedding day!
Engagement Sessions (5+ months out)
Engagement sessions are fun for many reasons; they're a great way for us to get together and for you to learn more about your preferences, they're an occasion to get dolled up (and go to dinner afterwards!!), and if you're using them for your Save-The-Dates, they're a great opportunity to inform your guests what the vibe will be for the wedding.
I'm working on a pinterest board of outfit inspiration, but until then, here are some general rules of thumb:
- Keep it simple: if you're rocking plaid and your spouse-to-be is in polka dots, that may be a little clashing.
- Coordinate, don't match: keep with the same color scheme, but both of you in white tops and jeans is going to feel a bit early-2000's. Unless that's the theme of your wedding, in which case, absolutely do that.
- Be reasonable: if you're wanting to do portraits in a field, don't bring stilettos.
- Don't overthink it: Sure, get your nails done (because we'll be looking at that sparkly gem on your finger), but don't worry about getting a spray tan or having your teeth whitened. Relax!
Please note that, if you're getting hair and makeup done for these photos, you need to reach out to your artists about their availability too. For this reason, I suggest scheduling engagement sessions on weekday evenings (an hour or so before sunset).
You'll receive a minimum of 25 edits from this session, and the turnaround time is approximately 3-5 days.
BRIDAL SESSIONS (2+ MONTHS OUT)
Not everyone opts to do bridals, but if you're wanting an opportunity to glam-out before the wedding day, this is a ton of fun. I recommend bridals to anyone who feels like they may not have time day-of for solo-portraits. (I've also had some couples choose to do a "first look shoot" instead of just bridals, so they have more time day-of to enjoy their wedding without photo breaks.
Clearly, you don't need outfit suggestions here, but there are some things to think about:
- Things to bring: water, deodorant, any/all bridal accessories (except your garter, it's not necessary), clothes to change into after, comfortable shoes if we're doing a lot of walking, etc. Don't forget to reach out to your florist if you're wanting a replica of your bouquet for these photos.
- Get dramatic: if you want, of course, this is a fun time to maybe get a bit more "dark" than you're planning to on your wedding day. If you secretly want a dark, bold lip for the wedding but know it isn't logical for you, put it on at the end of the shoot! This is YOUR time, so live it up!
- Why: when we're shooting, think about what you're planning to do with these photos. If you're wanting to put one on display at the reception, what do you want that to look like? Something more traditional - a smiling, timeless portrait? Or something more artistic - a landscape of you with some scenery?
- Bring a helper: while I'll always try to carry all the bags and your dress and your flowers, it helps a ton if you have your maid-of-honor or your mom there to assist. Plus, we can take time to go over how to properly lay out your gown, and work on your bustle if that hasn't been worked out yet.
- Talk to your gown shop or alterations shop about cleaning. Sometimes it's included, and though all care will be taken to make sure your dress stays pristine, it's always good to know you'll be able to take it in just in case.
Though this is a bit more obvious than engagement sessions, don't forget to reach out to your hair and makeup team (and florist, and venue, if applicable) about their availability. Same as above, I try to keep these on weekday evenings (an hour or so before sunset) to best accommodate their schedules.
You'll receive a minimum of 25 edits from this session, and the turnaround time is approximately 3-5 days.
to First-look, or not to first-look?
Every photographer will tell you - first looks rule. It's a much more intimate moment, but it also isn't the "down the aisle" vision most couples have when they envision their wedding day. So here's some questions to ask yourself (and your spouse-to-be) when considering whether or not to do a first look.
- Do we want to set about an hour aside for portraits between the ceremony and the reception? Since all family photos can't be tackled without the two of you, group portraits have to be done after you've seen each other. If you do a first look, you can give yourself time to do all portraits before the ceremony (which frees you up to go straight into the reception), or you can leave yourself about a 15-30 minute gap to do family/wedding party photos between the ceremony and the reception. *If you're having a sunset ceremony, I highly recommend a first look, due to the sun setting and all.
- Do we want all our guests to experience us seeing each other for the first time? Some couples are shy and really don't want the weight of all that attention (although, let's be real, they'll be looking at you regardless). First looks are so personal and really allow you to experience that moment alone (...well, with me there, too).
- Will we regret it? There really is something magical about that aisle moment, I can't deny it. But this ultimately is up to you. Don't let anyone else sway you on your decision - this is YOUR day! Let it be everything you want it to be.
The Dreaded Group photo scramble
Sigh. We all know it. Group photos are just the worst part of the day, and there's no denying it. So I try to make it as quick and painless as possible for you. Obviously, feel free to make any changes to this, but this is a general breakdown of the order I try to go in. *Person One and Person Two are you and your spouse-to-be.
- All grandparents, parents, and siblings.
- Person One's grandparents, parents, and siblings.
- Person One's grandparents.
- Person Two's grandparents, parents, and siblings.
- Person Two's grandparents.
- Call for any additional groupings before sending away all grandparents.
- Person One's parents and siblings.
- Person One's parents.
- Person One's siblings.
- Person Two's parents and siblings.
- Person Two's parents.
- Person Two's siblings.
- All parents.
- All siblings.
- Call for any additional groupings before sending away all parents and siblings (who aren't in the wedding party.)
- All wedding party.
- Person One with their side.
- Person One with individuals of their side.
- Person One with Person Two's side.
- Person Two with their side.
- Person Two with individuals of their side.
- Person Two with Person One's side.
- Call for any additional groupings before sending away wedding party.
- FINALLY WE ARE DONE WITH GROUP PORTRAITS.
Usually, anything outside of this realm can be captured during the reception, though I try not to grab you for any photos after all posed portraits are done.
Products - A simple guide
In your contract, it states (in a much more formal way) that YOU have the copyright to YOUR images. These are not my images. I simply took them for you, and you're allowing me (usually) to put them online so that other couples can see what I'm able to produce for THEM.
So you get to print off your own stuff. But if you don't want to (because let's face it, you might not have the time to go and do all of that yourself), I do offer prints and albums. You'll see below that the pricing is more expensive than doing it yourself, but much less expensive than industry standard. I try to keep all products low in price because I'm not using my own ink or paper to print them. Why should I make such a heavy profit?
These high-quality albums are GORGEOUS. These are priced slightly above my at-cost price due to design time, but that's really it. The smaller size is ideal for gift-albums (great Christmas gift for parents!), and the two larger options make for great coffee table albums. (The 10x10 would also be a great option for a photo guestbook, filled with engagement photos.)
- 8x8 Hardcover, lay-flat album, 20 pages - $150 with shipping.
- 10x10 Hardcover, lay-flat album, 20 pages - $200 with shipping.
- 12x12 Hardcover, lay-flat album, 20 pages - $300 with shipping.
- Each additional page - $2.50/page
Prints have always felt wrong to sell, because it is so inexpensive to do them yourself. But I offer them more for convenience sake, and because there really is a difference when ordering a print larger than an 8x10.
- 4x6 - $3
- 5x7 - $4
- 8x10 - $6
- 11x14 - $13
- 11x17 - $17
- 16x20 - $35 for standard print, $60 for mat board print
- Shipping - $12 flat rate
Some little reminders and suggestions
Now, I'm no wedding expert, but I've been photographing weddings for eight years, so I've seen a few things. And, with a ring on my finger and my own planning going on, I just want to share some things I've learned.
- Don't lose sight of what the wedding is about. You're getting married to the person you love. The rest is just a party. Someone will be late, something will probably break, and some guest will do something you're not excited about. It's okay. You're getting married. The rest is really beautiful fluff.
- If you're wanting champagne on a beer budget...embrace the beer. Pinterest is wonderful, but has also conditioned us to think weddings have to be this insanely extravagant event. Budget accordingly for the parts that are ESSENTIAL to you getting married, and let the rest be what it can be. *This is more speaking from personal experience with my own wedding, so maybe I'm biased. But I know our budget doesn't allow us to have everything I've always dreamed of. And that's okay. At the end of the day, I get to eat great food and marry the man of my dreams. I'd rather have a stress-free, simply decorated wedding than a stressful-DIY frenzy beforehand.
- Let's talk about spray tans. Don't take this the wrong way, but...just don't do it unless you've been doing it forever. For some reason, spray tans (more times than not) photograph very orange, and take extra editing time. By all means, if you're wanting that summer glow, don't let me get in your way - you're paying me to do my job and I will tone you up in Lightroom, but if you're already on the fence about getting one, don't. (I can make you more tan in editing. I promise. It's actually very easy.)
- You didn't hire a photographer just to have the images sit on your computer. Or maybe you did, but that's probably not the case. Remember that you have 100% rights to print off your own images or use them however you see fit, but I highly suggest you turn those photos into art.
- If you know there is an image that is SUPER important to you, tell me beforehand. Sometimes, the wedding day can get chaotic, and if I sense you're exhausted or upset during formal portraits, I'm going to ask if you want to continue. If you tell me no, I'll ask if you're sure. If you say you are sure, I'm not going to fight you, and we'll move on with the day. I have had one bride come back and say she regrets telling me to stop, because it cut our portrait time short and she did not get some of the more artistic, whimsical shots she wanted. She said that, in retrospect, she wishes she'd have told me before that she desperately wanted those shots, because she knows I'd have laid it on a bit thicker to get them done. Make lists. Send them to me. I'll get you what you want as long as I know what that is.
- I can help with more than just photography. I also do calligraphy (starting - I'm no pro!), and can do design work for paper goods like Save The Dates and invites. I'm also good at listening, so if you're in a panic and need to vent it out over coffee, reach out!
- Your gallery stays online for a few years, but your photos stay with me forever. I still have photos from the wedding I did eight years ago. They're not online on a gallery, but I do have them on a couple hard drives. Definitely make a point to save your photos in several places, but rest assured I've got backups on backups.
Obviously, there are a billion killer options for everything you'll need in the wedding-world. These are just a few of my favorites; people I've worked closely with, and people I swear by.
Hair - Hair by Kelsie.
Kelsie is my high-energy detail-queen. Her styling is immaculate, AND she does fabulous cut/color/hair treatments/everything. She's truly a one-stop-hair-shop and I simply cannot recommend her enough.
Makeup - Makeup by Krista Ann.
I can go on forever and ever about this woman and her talents. Not only is she one of my closest friends (which really just means we work super well together), she is the most professional makeup artist I've ever worked with. Her pricing is incredibly reasonable, and she has a three person minimum (which is also a really great thing).
Floral - Lizzie Bees Flower Shoppe
When I saw their work for the first time, I was speechless. Elizabeth and her team are rays of sunshine who create the most stunning arrangements I've ever seen. They can whip up absolutely anything that you're dreaming of, and again, at a reasonable price.
Gowns - Elizabeth Lee Couture
Elizabeth Lee has a gown for every bride, at nearly every budget. Wendy and her husband Jared run the shop, and their staff is so sweet and helpful. They work to ensure your gown is exactly what you're envisioning, and can create something custom and unique for you.
Skincare - Maven Skincare
Amber, the woman behind Maven Skincare, is phenomenal. I've personally received facials from her and I can vouch for the silky-awesome results. I would get any skincare services done well in advance to avoid any "skin-shock" breakouts, but definitely reach out to her when you need some skin love!