Regrets You Won't Have: Investing in a Professional Wedding Photographer | Guest Post: Andrew & Tianna

It is a great honor to have creative business friends contribute to help educate my readers and clients. Andrew and Tianna are among the best of the best in our area and I greatly value their advice. The part of planning I am most passionate about is the quality of your photographer. Take a minute to read their top reasons for investing in a professional wedding photographer! 

I’m not sure I had ever sweat this much in my life. Noooo, that’s silly - of course I had...but on that warm June day, at the beachfront wedding venue in my huge ruffled wedding dress I felt like a I was a one of those poor people in a team mascot suit on the hottest day of summer. I remember Andrew was red all over - not quite sure if it was from the sun or nerves. I remember jumping in that huge halter wedding dress for a photo op directed by our photographer. I remember how awkward our family photos were and feeling like we didn’t get much direction.
Friends, we never had this - this experience we are providing...so we incredibly passionate about it. In our engagement photos we felt like a number, a job to be completed - instead of really feeling like that time was for us to reconnect & remember why we are doing all of this in the first place. We didn’t have a photographer who would sit down and talk about our timeline with us, making sure it was optimized for our enjoyment and them being able to dutifully document all the moments we wanted and needed. We were never educated on the best products to display our images in our home. To be honest - if you asked to see our wedding images...I wouldn’t show them to you. Half of them are awkward and the other half - blurry.

As wedding photographers now Andrew & I wish we could go back and shake 18 & 19 year old us. We didn’t have much and got married before Pinterest was invented but boy oh boy we STILL ran up our credit card bill on a LOT for our wedding I wish we hadn’t. If I could tell any bride getting married it would be this - please please please hire a professional photographer and here’s why:
1. Timelines, plans, and backup plans for the plans, and all the necessary equipment. You’ve never done this before - and I hope if you are reading this you plan on hiring a professional wedding planner or day of coordinator but a beautiful wedding is a team effort. A professional photographer will be able to work with you to design a timeline that guarantees you have enough time for all the moments you want and need captured from your day. If things dont go as planned a professional can roll with the punches and still make sure to get you amazing images and document your story beautifully.. Having an indoor wedding, an outdoor one, in a church with very low lighting, or even during a hurricane (because we’ve shot three of those)? A pro will have the equipment to make sure no matter where, when, or the weather conditions your images will absolutely be beautiful, properly exposed, and true to life.
2. This is YOUR wedding. While bridezilla may be a term we all hate, you deserve to be a little spoiled. A professional photographer has time for that. You are going to need someone on your team who can will answer emails in a timely manner and knows their stuff. We’ve had brides who have texted or called us inthe middle of meetings with other vendors to ask us questions about where things should be placed for the best photos/lighting and we were happy to respond immediately. We know you care deeply about the details of your wedding and love when our couples ask us questions. Your photographer is a resource & wants the
very best for you - dont be afraid to use them!
3. Print those images. Our promise to our couples is a simple one - to give you authentic photographs filled with true-to-life moments & products designed to last a lifetime. A professional photographer can and should make sure you get the very best quality because we know you are going to want to show those beautiful moments off. We dont give our clients a CD of images and send you off hoping you purchase a product that it wont peel or fade within a few months. A pro knows all the best labs and options for you to ensure the images you have invested in show off the true beauty of your day, the best there is to offer.

Your love, your relationship, your unique journey and your life together deserve to be documented beautifully, professionally, and honestly.You are more than a job, and you should be treated as such! It’s absolutely an investment and one I promise 50 year old you will not regret for a second.

Love, Andrew & Tianna

Portrait photos courtesy Andrew & Tianna

How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

My friends Andrew and Tianna are guest posting today!!! I love featuring other creatives and hope you will find their words helpful and honest. Enjoy!!!

With all the many amazing options out there how do you choose your wedding photographer? Every photographer runs their business differently from the products they offer, to how they interact with and pose their clients, to their package pricing, and the style of their work. But ultimately its in your hands to find the photographer who meets your needs and wants for you wedding day best. Here are what I consider the most important tips you should consider in helping you decide who will photography your special day. 

1. Style: This (I HOPE) is the main reason why people choose me to be their wedding photographer. Do you like their work? Do you love their posing and the emotions evoked when you see their portfolio? If you see mostly sun flare photos note that that probably means that is an integral part of that photographer's style and so a lot of your photos may have sun flare.  Do the subjects tend to be looking at the camera or more engaged in each other? Photography is an art form that is directly built into the photographer. If you prefer one over the other this may play a part in who you choose!

2. Personality: Do you get along well? For a lot of your vendors, you will only see them when you book them or have appointments discussing your details. (And MAYBE when they are dropping off things for your big day) Your wedding photographer is with you ALL DAY LONG. It's important that your personalities jive and you enjoy being around them. How awkward would it be if you didn't actually like your wedding photographer but they were trying to elicit genuine lovey reactions from you?

3. Availability and Promptness: This may or may not be a a major factor for you but planning as a bride, it was for me! I'm SUPER prompt. As a wedding vendor I know brides have a million different plates they are trying to balance in order for their day to come together just right. So I make sure I answer my brides within a day (usually just within a few hours) because I know often that them making a major decision may be riding on my response, and I certainly don't want to hold them up or stress them out! So your wedding photographer should be prompt, not everyone can answer within a day or a few hours but I've heard horror stories about vendors who don't respond for weeks. Take note when you are communicating with your wedding photographer, how fast and in what manner do they respond?

4. Reviews: Check reviews of your photographer! While you should take everything with a grain of salt (both not so good and great glowing reviews) this will help access how others have responded and received services from this photographer. It takes a bit of effort to go and make a review so remember if these people really went out of their way to make these comments that means something!

5. See full wedding albums OR a full digital wedding gallery. REMEMBER a photographer's website is the best of the best and their favorite work. Make sure you see a photographer's full and most recent wedding gallery. It would be great to see a wedding that is similar to your own. If you have an indoor wedding make sure you see an indoor wedding and the same with an outdoor wedding.  If you have an indoor wedding make sure your photographer is good with flash because most likely the reception venue won't be perfectly lit. If you are having an outdoor wedding you want to make sure your photographer is comfortable with natural light and possibly harsh sunlight if your venue doesn't have a ton of shade.

6. Consider what YOU want to do with your photos. Some photographers only include digitals, some give the option for albums on top of digitals, and some ONLY do albums or prints. If you are looking at wanting to be able to share the images with your family and friends, an album only photographer may not be for you. A lot of people now use their images for invitations and thank you cards so you want to be sure you can either order those items from your photographer (and that you like the products they provide) OR that you will receive the digitals so you can make those yourselves.

7. Professionalism: This may or may not be a big factor for you but professionalism can be quite the criteria and potentially affect a lot of areas. For example if you happen to find a friend that has a photography business on the side great, BUT if this isn't this person's full time job you may run into a few roadblocks or find that they don't have all the "kinks" worked out. As a full time photographer I tell my wedding clients that their images will take 4-6 weeks and usually end up finishing around 3 weeks. I've heard stories where couples don't receive their images before six months which is understandable! If photography is something that person does on the side they may not be able to take the time to dedicate to getting the images done sooner. Or maybe you happen to have a bruise or blemish that your hair and makeup artist was unable to hide from the camera. Does your photographer have the equipment or post processing program to be able to handle hiding such blemish? This may not deter you, but all that to say, be informed, know what you are getting into!

8. Price: Let's be honest, though we all wish that money wasn't a factor it certainly can be. I think the best thing to remember here is to pick a photographer who meets all of the above criteria and then let it come down to budget. You definitely don't want to put price at the top and then end up landing on a photographer who mostly fits your style criteria but who's personality you don't jive with. Speaking from experience it's no fun to be that married lady on the plane to her honeymoon replaying the wedding day and those things you wished you could change. One of the number one regrets of brides is not investing in the vendors they REALLY wanted. Most photographers have payment plans! Just ask!

 Love, Andrew & Tianna

Wedding photos: Andrew & Tianna

The Importance of a Wedding Day Timeline | Guest Post: Just Dandy Events

Ah, the wedding day timeline. It is every wedding vendor's dream to have a well-contructed and thoughtful plan for the day. I'm excited to feature my dear friend Holly of Just Dandy Events! She's been planning weddings for many years and has seen the good, bad, and the ugly, so I thought I'd ask her to share her favorite wedding tip!

Check her out here! And if you're in wedding planning mode, heed her words!

I’ve met with so many couples who’ve told me in the beginning stages of planning that they won’t be needing a day-of timeline.  “We’re really laid back”, “We like to wing it”, and “We don’t want to feel rushed” are some of the reasons they’ve given me.  As their wedding planner, it’s my job to explain to them why those are all the perfect reasons they NEED to have a timeline for their big day.

Timelines allot the right amount of time for each aspect of your day, making sure that there’s no rushing to fit everything in.  Without a timeline, important things like the bouquet & garter toss can be forgotten.  Then you’re left to squish them in at the last minute, when some of your most important guests may have already headed home.

As much as you’ll depend on our timeline to keep your day on track, your vendors will depend on it even more so.  A wedding is full of so many moving parts...sometimes dozens of vendors are working together to bring your vision to life.  It’s so important that they each know what the order of events will be for the day so that they know when they have to be ready.  Your caterer will want to make sure that your dinner is served on time.  Your photographer will want to be ready by the cake table when it’s time for toasts and cake cutting. And your driver for the night will want to have your vintage car ready in time for your grand exit.

Now that you know why the timeline is important and necessary for your wedding day, how do you build one?  It can seem like a really overwhelming thing to tackle.  Your wedding planner will be a huge help when you’re putting it together, but here are a few tips for constructing the perfect timeline for your day:

  • Build it around the non-negotiables.  If sunset portraits are of the utmost importance to you, build the timeline around when you and your new husband will be outside catching that perfect light with your photographer.  If it is imperative that your great-grandmother be present for the cutting of the cake and you know she won’t stay past 8pm, take that into consideration when mapping out the order of events.

  • Include your vendors in the building of the timeline.  You hired each of them because of their ability to perform their craft so well.  Let them educate you on what they do and how much time they need to do it.

  • Set aside a little quiet time for you and your new husband!  Whether it’s immediately following the ceremony or during sunset, set aside just 5-10 minutes for the two of you to catch your breathe, sip some champagne, and give each other all the goofy grins because YOU’RE MARRIED!!

Holly, thank you SO MUCH for this! From one wedding planner to another, you have won my heart with this post!!

Folks, follow Holly on Facebook and Instagram to see what she's up to this wedding season!!

4 Tips on Ordering Wedding Stationery | Guest Post: PaperDolls Design

My vendor pal, April of PaperDolls Design is in the house today! She is sharing a few excellent tips for ordering wedding stationary! I love this list! Invitations often end up in the back of the line when it comes to wedding priorities. Don't forget, they are your guests' first impression of your wedding experience! 

Photo:  Zoe Grant

Photo: Zoe Grant

Set the Mood
It’s so important that your invitation suite sets the mood for your big day! It is your guests’ only “preview” of your wedding style (unless they happen to follow your Pinterest board :-p ). The biggest tone your invitation sets is the formality of your wedding — after all, the question that everyone will be asking/thinking…”What do I wear?!?".  Will your day be elegant or laid-back? Hipster or romantic? Be sure to pick relevant graphics/fonts/layouts that reflect your style. Not sure what that even means? Contact us and we will help guide you in the right direction!

Coordination is Key — but Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Of course you will want your invitation suite to reflect your wedding colors — but don’t be the crazy bridezilla that wants the digitally printed color to match the bridesmaid dress color EXACTLY. Digital printing varies a great deal depending on toner levels, calibration and a bunch of other super fancy, technical terms. Trust your Stationery Designer and their level of expertise — they will match as closely as they can!  You will find this to be true with linens, table ware, even your wedding dress! Trust us when we say it will all match beautifully.

In addition to wedding colors, you’ll also want to coordinate other day-of paper goods to your suite, such as save the dates, programs, menu cards, table numbers, etc. Many brides choose a common graphic element/icon to tie across all pieces — if you prefer something more timeless with no icon, you can also use the same fonts and colors from you invitation suite to carry out through each piece. 

Details Details Details
Even the most beautiful invitation suite can make a bad impression without attention to detail.
– Be sure to proofread your invitation extra carefully. We suggest having several set of eyes look it over — with many invitation projects going on at the same time, sometimes stationers don’t catch every typo.  We can’t emphasize this enough — triple check everything!
– Don’t forget to add a return address and postage to your response envelopes! Your guests will thank you. 
– Weigh one completed invitation before purchasing your postage; this step will save you a potential mental breakdown. No one wants their invitations returned due to insufficient postage!

For more insight on wedding stationery, feel free to contact us at april@paperdollsdesigninc.com.  Happy planning!!

Thanks again, April! I challenge my brides to look into custom invitation design. It is SO worth it!! To see more of her work, check her out on Facebook and Instagram!

How to Select Your Wedding Flowers | Guest Post: Courtney Inghram Events

Today, you have the special treat of hearing from my friend Courtney of Courtney Inghram Events. She specializes in floral design and every ounce of her work is filled with so much joy and creativity. Read on to hear her advice on selecting your wedding flowers!

Selecting specific flowers for your wedding arrangements can be a difficult choice. Depending on the season you are getting married in, the amount of flower options can be overwhelming, and most brides don’t have a vast knowledge of all the different options they have available to them! It’s important to remember that the availability, varieties, and colors of flowers are primarily dictated by Mother Nature, but your wedding florist will be able to educate you on which varieties are typically most consistent. Here are a few suggestions to get you started in choosing the types of flowers you would like for your wedding!

1. Select Flowers That Have a Sentimental Meaning
One idea to help you select particular flowers would be to choose a sentimental bloom that reminds you of someone special, or honor someone who may not be present on your wedding day with a pin or broach on your wedding bouquet! Selecting a flower that has a deeper meaning can create such a special moment on your wedding day, and it’s a unique way to add some value and meaning to your wedding flowers. If there is a scent of a certain type of flower that reminds you of someone special, make sure to talk to your florist about incorporating it into your wedding bouquet!

2. Select a Few “Must-Have” Flowers and Splurge
Another way to select your wedding flowers is to choose a few “must-have” flowers, and then have your wedding florist suggest some other ideas to supplement yours! Frequently, brides come to me and don’t know what season peonies or magnolias are in bloom, and they end up getting their heart set on peony bouquets for all 12 bridesmaids in September (almost impossible and very expensive). Instead, just using peonies for a small portion of a bridal bouquet will make that more special for the bride and allow for some additional room in the flower budget. For example, I was married in Virginia at the end of June, so peonies are almost out of season; I splurged on having them in my bouquet, and then ended up doing something smaller for the bridesmaids! Talking with your florist will definitely help you decide where you can splurge on your “must-have” flowers!

3. Select Seasonal/Local Blooms
Selecting flowers in season is always something I recommend to my brides - the quality of seasonal blooms is always so much better than an out-of-season flower, and they are almost always more price-friendly! Using local blooms is also amazing, because the quality is incredible, they are much more readily available, and here in Virginia, we have lots of great options, depending on seasons! However, if you choose to primarily select your flowers in this way, it’s important to know which flowers will be in season on your wedding date. If you live for spring flowers like sweet peas and peonies, plan your wedding for May, not November.

Using some of the ideas I shared will definitely help you select the perfect flowers for your wedding day! Choosing your wedding flowers and planning that part of your wedding is supposed to be FUN - so enjoy this time!

Thank you SO MUCH, Courtney! You are so adorable and talented! I love getting "meat and potatoes" advice from other vendors. Flowers are such an important element in any wedding day. No matter your budget or theme, you can make the most of your floral design by working with a talented florist like Courtney. Check her out on Facebook or Instagram to see some of her latest work!