Updated: Apr 28
In the immortal words of Jack Sparrow: "Weddings! I LOVE weddings!" And while there may or may not be drinks all around (I'm a fan of water for wedding days, personally), there will be photos all around! Wedding photography is a special beast in my line of work: it's a long day, with a lot of equipment, and literally thousands of photos taken. But I love wedding photography. I started taking pictures because I was fascinated by people's faces and how our emotions just create their own light, and there is a special glow on a wedding day. I love the palpable adoration at a wedding day. I love raising my camera and snapping that candid moment that I know bride and groom (or bride/groom with their parents, or their friends, or their family, or anyone they've invited to share such an impactful day with) will cherish forever. I love setting everyone up for a huge group photo and making sure I can see every face. I love the traditions, old and new, I see at ceremonies and receptions. I LOVE the pretty clothes (I do a lot of costume design in the theater side of my life so I will absolutely drool over a wedding gown). I love the laughter and the dancing and the kisses and the flowers. I love it all.
Also the food. I love the food. I'm a sucker for cake.
But before we get to the wedding day, you have to go through the wedding planning. Feels kind of overwhelming, right? I don't blame you. When I got married, my husband and I left on a study abroad six days after our wedding, and the deal we made with my parents was that, instead of paying for a wedding, they would pay for the study abroad. We took that deal. Quickly. So, large in part, I was spared from the stress of wedding planning. Having been so remarkably blessed, I do my best to make wedding planning as easy for other couples as I can. I know you have so many options for a wedding photographer. Especially here in Utah, there is such a bountiful community of talented artists ready to capture your wedding. The plan for this blog post is to give you an idea of what your experience would be like, should you decide to entrust your wedding photos to me. So let's talk about it! It'll be fun!
So you're engaged! CONGRATULATIONS! Most of my wedding options are going to begin not too long after that ring hits your finger. Engagement photos are the first step for my Luxury and Everything wedding packages. An engagement photo session usually lasts about an hour, and can take place anywhere you'd like. Want to drive out to an island? I love it. Hike up a mountain? I have boots for that. Cozy downtown pictures in a snowy SLC? You got it. During your engagement session, I have three main photo focus areas. First, we need great, traditional photos of you and your partner looking at the camera. These look fantastic on a wedding invitation and your mother loves them. I love these photos because it gives me a great chance to really get to know your faces, and get to know you. I can see your natural smile and get a feeling for how long you can have a happy face on before your cheeks need a break. You get a lot of practice looking a camera and feeling comfortable, which is a big deal. And it can be hard! If you feel awkward in front of a camera, please know you are in good company. But this engagement session is the perfect time to shake it all out and relax. Couples typically dress in work casual clothing, so you feel like yourself, and it's a very low pressure environment.
My second photo focus is candid moments. This is my favorite style of photography. Here's the secret: in order to get those perfectly photogenic moments, I have a huge collection of directions, prompts, and poses to put you in an ideal setup before the cute laugh or the big kiss. I've done my homework on how to help you feel comfortable and grab a shot of you and your partner genuinely interacting with each other, in a way that looks really pretty in a picture. Another great advantage of engagement photos is that all of us get a great chance to know each other. I'll be chatting, making jokes, telling stories, and repeating again and again how unbelievably gorgeous you look in between snapping shots. It's a big deal to me that your experience taking the photos is just as enjoyable as looking back at them later. So don't be surprised if we spend a lot of time during your engagement session laughing, turning on a playlist of silly love songs, taking videos for instagram, quoting movie lines, etc. I like to have fun! I love what I'm doing, remember?
The last photo focus area is detail shots, and for engagement photos, that usually means the ring! Again, this looks great on a wedding announcement. It's also beautiful in a wedding album and it's always a fan favorite to print out and display at a wedding reception. A lot of thought went into this ring, so you bet I'm going to show it off. Very carefully, at pretty close range, and in a very detail-oriented manner that makes sure that stone is sitting dead center. It's important to me that you know you can trust me with details. I'll make sure that ring is straight, your clothes are sitting nicely, your hair isn't in your face, there isn't any lipstick on your teeth, you're holding your bouquet at a good height. All of those little things to worry about are worries no longer, because I've got it covered! I know how much you want to look good in these photos, and I'm committed to making sure you look your best. Your only job is to relax and have fun. I'll make sure you get the photos you want and you look incredible in them.
Generally I recommend couples take engagement photos no later than three months before the wedding. This gives you plenty of time to design and print invitations. Remember that your engagement photos are a reflection of you as a couple, so feel free to bring me all of your fun ideas! I've had couples in kilts, couples sitting in the bed of their truck, and most recently, a couple with light sabers. I learned a lot of new photoshop techniques for that last one. We can take bright, sunny photos or do a moody evening shoot. Ask me to take your photos in the water in a mountain lake and I will instantly be your best friend. Whatever you want for engagements, let's make it happen.
Alright, you've gotten engaged, the invitations have been sent, and you are now the proud owner of wedding attire. It's time to take some bridal (AKA formal) portraits. Traditionally, these photos would be of the bride in her dress, taken prior to the wedding day. It's the perfect opportunity for a hair/makeup dry run, it gives everyone a chance to swoon over the dress, and it means that when you put on your wedding dress (and shoes) for the big day, it's a bit broken in. However, it's becoming more and more common for both the bride and the groom to be present at bridal photos, and I am a huge fan of this practice. I include a bridal session before the wedding day in my Luxury and Everything bundles, and here's why I strongly encourage both partners to attend.
A bridal session is the perfect opportunity for a First Look. Whether or not your wedding ceremony involves partners locking eyes at either end of an aisle, that first moment that you see each other in your wedding attire is a moment you will want to keep forever. It's a special and intimate handful of seconds, and setting aside time to plan and photograph a first look ensures that I can capture all of the excitement and joy and love wrapped up in that look. I guide my couples through a first look, making sure to get great shots of both bride and groom before that magical command of "Okay, turn around!" And then, while you take in each other and hug and kiss, I'll be circling discreetly with my camera, soaking up all of the goodness and getting it all on an SD card. And then I'll probably make you a GIF out of it. A first look is always optional, but I have never seen a couple regret opting for these wonderful photos.
The next big advantage to taking formal photos with both bride and groom prior to the wedding day is that it cuts out a lot of time I need from you on the wedding day itself. Wedding days are long. Theres a lot to do and a lot going on. While I'm at a wedding, the last thing I want to do is take you and your new spouse from your guests and your food (especially your food) and your partying to grab a bunch of extra photos of you. (Unless you have a specific reason to ditch your reception and take photos, in which case, let's get out of here). By taking formal shots before the wedding day, I can expedite your posed wedding day photos in the extreme and you can spend more time just enjoying the day. This also gives you the advantage of having so many beautiful photos to display at your wedding reception, should you so choose. I've seen couples use their bridal shots for photo books which guests sign, for slide shows, for framed prints to be displayed during the reception, and even for really cute fans passed out to guests to keep cool on a hot summer night. However you want use your photos, I think it's always an advantage to have them ahead of time. I usually advise couples to schedule their bridal session about two weeks before the wedding date, but have had couples take them several months before or the night before the wedding. If you need prints in a hurry, I can and will have edited photos ready for you the day after our shoot. Whatever your schedule, we can make a bridal session fit nicely.
The final advantage to taking bridal photos with both partners before the wedding day is that you can have photos in your wedding clothing together in any location, in any light. Many weddings are scheduled during the morning or mid-day, but a bridal session give you the opportunity for lovely golden hour photos. Similar to your engagement photos, your bridal session can be scheduled anywhere you'd like! We can take photos at your wedding venue, or we can go out on an adventure to suit your aesthetic. We can chase down the best fall colors or the loveliest summer wild flowers, or throw long johns and waterproof boots under a wedding dress and go out into the snow. My goal for your bridal photos is to get you the exact images you want to fit the vision for your wedding, and to reduce stress on your wedding day. And to gush about how beautiful you look in your dress. If you don't feel like a model for a bridal magazine, I'm not doing my job.
Alright, the day you've been waiting for has finally arrived! Let's walk through your wedding day. If you are having a traditional ceremony, I like to arrive around 30 minutes before the event. I'll pop in as the finishing touches are put on hair and makeup, dresses are zipped up, ties are tied, boutonnieres are pinned, and guests chat and greet each other. If your wedding ceremony or venue does not allow photography, I will arrive at the venue about 20 minutes prior to your exit. I like to capture candid photos of your guests and family until you and your spouse exit your venue. I will then take posed and candid photos during the exit (the main pose is, KISS!) After your ceremony or exit, I'll take you and your guests through about 30 minutes of posed shoots. I have a questionnaire for you and your partner to complete to ensure I photograph all of the groups you'd like, in addition to my regular photos of family and wedding party. After finishing group photos, we'll have a short reprise of your bridal session to make sure we capture you at your venue. This usually takes 10-20 minutes. For some couples, these photos are the only service they require from me as a wedding photographer. No worries! This is exactly why I offer an hourly wedding photography option. If family photos after a ceremony or a temple exit are all you need, I have an option for that, and I'd be honored to be included in your day.
Whether your reception directly follows your wedding ceremony, is later in the day, or is even a totally separate day, my three wedding bundles vary in hours included to fit your needs. Along with your family and friends shot list questionnaire, I'll send a second form about the events at your reception. Maybe you have your reception scheduled to the minute, or maybe you just have a loose plan for the evening. Either way, I'll be happy to capture each event and happy moment. During your reception, I spend most of my time taking candid photos of you with your guests. I love photographing hugs and greetings as guests arrive. I like to arrive at the reception around 15 minutes early in order to photograph all of the party details: centerpieces, table spreads, decorations, signs, floral arrangements, and all of the other touches you have worked so hard on. Of course, this is a perfect time to snap a close up of your cake.
Along with candid photos throughout the night, I'll also gently prompt guests into more posed photos. My favorite prompts of the evening are taken of full tables. I won't take pictures of guests while they're chewing, or make myself overly conspicuous. But I love to provide a wide selection of your guests smiling toward the camera, especially groups of friends or family members brought together for your celebration. As your reception continues, I'll be nearby to capture first dances (hot tip: try some spins in your dance for fun photos!), cake cutting, bouquet throws, sparkler exits, or any other events you have planned. Yes, I might get a little teary eyed during during mother-son and father-daughter dances. And I will always root for couples to put at least a small amount of cake frosting on each others' faces. Whatever you include in your reception, I'll be there to make sure the memory is saved forever.
I hope this post has been enlightening, and has given a good picture of working with me leading up to and on your wedding day. After the photos are taken, you can expect your wedding photos within six weeks. You should know that I love to edit, and I understand how awesome instant gratification is, so I like to send you previews of your wedding photos as they become available. All of my wedding bundles include online galleries, and those with longer wedding day coverage also include a USB containing all of the edited image files. In selecting your photos, I have no image limit on delivery. I edit and deliver all useable shots. As long as the photo is in focus, unique, and everyone's eyes are open (maybe with some photoshop assistance), you'll receive it in a fully edited, full size JPEG. Once delivered, your photos are yours to print, share, and enjoy however you choose.
If you have a wedding coming up, I'm truly so happy for you. Congratulations, and I hope your happy wedding day is a great prelude to your happy marriage. As you consider all of your options for wedding photography, I'd be so honored if you were to choose me. I'll do my best to give you, not only beautiful photos, but a fantastic experience. I'm always available to chat with my potential couples, so if you have any questions, please reach out! And as true love, that dream within a dream, brings you together with everyone you love, I'd love to be there with you!