finding your perfect vendors
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I thought I knew so much about weddings. I followed wedding blogs long before I got engaged. I made mental notes of things I loved while photographing other couples’ weddings. I watched movies like 27 Dresses, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Princess Bride, and Wedding Crashers. :-)

I had a very clear vision of what I wanted our wedding to be like, but I had no idea which vendors we were going to pick… other than our photographers and priest – we chose them before we knew our wedding date. So I started asking my photographer friends. “Who cooks the tastiest wedding food?” “Who bakes the yummiest desserts?” “Who is the best and most creative florist you’ve worked with?” I trusted their recommendations because they have been to SO many weddings and have worked with these people before.

Our top three priorities in finding our perfect vendors were:

The quality of their work – Knowing they have impressed other vendors at past weddings assured me that they know what they are doing, and they are really good at doing it.

The fact that they love what they do – Attitude is everything. By hiring vendors who are living out their dream job, I knew that they were excited to book another weekend. Not for the money, but for the love of their craft.

They are easy to communicate with – I might have been ahead of the average bride by being in the wedding industry for a few years, but I still have a ton of questions and ideas to bounce around.

Finding vendors who meet all of our ‘requirements’ is SO comforting. In all the uncertainty of planning a wedding for the first time, they are there to take care of us by doing what they do best and letting us enjoy our engagement. We are planning on this being our one and only wedding and we want to thoroughly enjoy the day.

how to use great lighting to get the best photos on your wedding day
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The best way to get great photos from your wedding is to start with great lighting.

The majority of the day’s events are indoors and the best way to get great light indoors is to let in as much natural light as possible.

You’ll need to consider the time of day, time of year, and the amount of windows in each particular building you’ll be in on your wedding day to determine when you can utilize natural light and when you’ll need to bring in artificial light.

p.s. ‘natural light’ means the sun, ‘artificial light’ means anything else. :-)

Getting ready:

Have you ever been outside on a bright, sunny day and tried to look through a window or a glass door? You almost have to press your nose against the glass and cup your hands around your face to see inside, right?

Remember this when you’re inside putting on your wedding gown – when you open the shades to let in that wonderful natural light, no one outside can see you unless they press their nose up to the glass and cup their hands around their face. :-)

Natural light coming in from a window to your side is much more flattering than harsh fluorescent lights or anything above your head.

First look:

If the weather doesn’t allow you to start photos outside, have your first look inside next to some really big windows!


This is when you need to start thinking about the available light and when it’s going to start to disappear.

If you’re having a 4:00 wedding in the winter, (the sun sets around 5pm) you’ll need to consider additional lighting options for your indoor ceremony.

winter ceremony lighting

If you’re having a 4:00 wedding in the summer, (the sun sets around 9pm) it will still be light out when you start your first dances.


Again, this all depends on the time of year, time of day, and the amount of windows at your venue.

For summer weddings you will hardly need additional lighting if there are plenty of windows at your reception venue.

For winter weddings (or venues with few windows) you get to come up with creative ways to decorate with light!


Party lights have a time and place at wedding dances…

…but I think a simple white spotlight (for dark venues) or a few large windows (for light venues) is more suitable for the oh-so-romantic first dances.


Sparklers. ’nuff said.

try it on
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All of you brides out there (already married or soon-to-be), I want you to raise your hand if you tried on your wedding dress before the wedding.

Now, I want you to raise your hand if you tried on your wedding day makeup. Hair style? Accessories? Shoes?

These might sound like silly questions, and some of them might not even apply to you, but as a wedding photographer I have seen some pretty ridiculous scenarios all because someone forgot to make time to ‘try it on.’

First of all, please please please don’t try out brand new make up on your wedding day. I once had a bride look like a pumpkin because her brand new foundation wasn’t the right shade to match her skin tone. Thank goodness she was used to the brand – how awful would that have been if she had an allergic reaction to the new makeup?! My advice: hire a makeup artist and do a trial run a few weeks before the wedding (right when your spray tan is the perfect shade). Makeup artists know how to make makeup look good in real life AND in photos. Also, ask if they’ll stick around during photos to help with touch-ups.

Your hairstyle? Try it on! If you want your updo to stay up or your curls to stay curled all day long, ask your stylist to have a practice run to make sure you love how it looks from all angles.

Your accessories? Try them on! There are so many cute accessories out there – from necklaces to earrings to hair clips to garters – and they are all meant to help you feel even more glamorous on your big day. Find a worry-free necklace that won’t twist or hang too low. If you don’t wear earrings every day, wear them for a few days before the wedding so your ears don’t get irritated on the day of. And this is just me, but I can’t stand wearing a garter. They’re itchy and annoying and I’d rather not have anyone try to take it off with their teeth. But that’s just me. However, I happened to find this little beauty a few weeks ago, and if it’s anything like VS’s lace-waist hiphuggers, it has GOT to be comfortable.

And, last but DEFINITELY not least. The shoes. I have seen some pretty rockin’ shoes this past year, and some pretty amazing girls have worn them all. day. long. However, if you are planning on wearing stiletto heels for the big day and but your everyday shoes are flats, make it a point to wear your wedding shoes around your apartment for a few weeks beforehand. Your feet will thank you.

AND if you’re planning on wearing some Manolo Blahniks (ahem, Paige…) please be advised that I WILL dedicate a portion of your wedding day to photograph your shoes. :-)

behind the blog post
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Why do wedding photographers only share a handful of images from each wedding on their blog?

Because they are the best of the best. They are the photographer’s favorite images from the day. They show off the highlights of the day. They are easy to look through. They are the images that everyone else wants to see.

But what about the other hundreds of images behind the blog post? If you’re shopping around for a wedding photographer, don’t you want to see what the photos from the entire day look like? I highly recommend asking your top three photographers to see an entire wedding that they’ve done recently. Compare all of the images instead of just the photographer’s top favorites.

Any photographer can take 10-30 images and make them look blog-worthy, but a great photographer will have those images plus hundreds of professional photos from every other part of the wedding day.

be your own tradition
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I love it when a couple makes their wedding about them and what they like.

I’ve seen cakes switched out for cupcakes. I’ve seen an iPod replace a DJ. I’ve seen a dessert reception instead of a full meal reception. A couple seated in the middle of their reception instead of up on a stage. Unity sand instead of candles. Quilt squares instead of a guestbook. An absence of aisle decorations. A photobooth at the reception. No desire to shove cake up each others’ noses. The list goes on…

My point is, if you are planning your own wedding (or having someone plan it for you), make sure you make decisions based on what you like. Not what your aunt or cousin or sister or soon-to-be-mother-in-law thinks is best. It’s your wedding. Your day. You don’t have to have an 8-tier cake. You don’t have to have a limo. Unless that’s what you really want, then by all means, do what you want!! It’s your party!! :-)

If you’re looking for some visual inspiration, here are some blogs that are dedicated to all things weddings:

Snippet and Ink – Ruffled – Flights of Fancy – 100 Layer Cake – Wedding Chicks

What are your favorite wedding blogs? What are you doing to make your wedding more personal? What’s your tradition?