When the time comes to walk down the aisle, more and more couples are choosing to make the procession in a far-off land. Destination weddings are on the rise, with researchers at TheKnot.com reporting that roughly one in four couples who tied the knot in 2011 chose to have a destination wedding.
Destination weddings may appear to be an ideal way to tie the knot, but couples should know that planning such a ceremony may be even more difficult than planning a more traditional affair. Couples who choose to have a destination wedding must be ready to put a significant amount of faith in a wedding planner, who is often affiliated with the resort where the couple will be staying. Though the wedding planner may handle many of the details concerning the ceremony and the reception, couples should know that some of that planning will still fall on their shoulders as well. That planning may not be so simple, so before couples spread the word about their island wedding, it’s best to consider a few factors to determine if a destination wedding is truly the best way to go.
* Guests: How many guests a couple hopes to invite is a great starting point when determining if a destination wedding is for you. Many couples who choose to have a destination wedding do so because they prefer a more intimate ceremony. Destination weddings are obviously more expensive for guests than a more traditional ceremony, so many guests won’t be able to afford to attend. Couples who intend to invite many guests might want to avoid a destination wedding.
* Locale: The destination for your destination wedding should be a locale that holds a special place in your heart. A random location that you find on the Internet might work out, but having some prior experience with the destination can help you anticipate minor, yet potentially problematic, issues. These issues can include the accessibility of the airport, currency exchange rate and the weather. In addition, you can help guests have a better time on their trips if you have already familiarized yourself with the locale. If you haven’t traveled much as a couple and don’t have a particular place in mind, then you might find a destination wedding is more hassle than it’s worth.
* Accessibility: A common problem many couples encounter when planning a destination wedding is the accessibility of their chosen locale. Couples will likely have to visit the destination at least once prior to their wedding, which will eat up some of your weddingbudget and your vacation time (which you will need to save for the actual wedding and your honeymoon). If the locale is a remote island that’s not very accessible, that can make these pre-weddingtrips pretty stressful.
Accessibility should also be a consideration for your guests. How far will your guests have to travel? How much money will guests have to spend on airfare and hotel accommodations? The less accessible the locale is, the more you and your guests are going to have to spend.
Accessibility of the airport is another consideration. Some island locales and resorts are known for their remoteness, which can be a problem for wedding guests. If the resort is a long ride away from the airport, that’s another expense for guests. The resort may provide a shuttle service, but that cost will fall on the couple and the shuttle may not run frequently, which can prove problematic when guests’ arrivals are staggered.
* Legality: The law is another thing couples must consider when deciding if a destination wedding is for them. Laws vary depending on the locale, so before you commit to a specific locale, make sure you’re legally allowed to get married there and if there are any hurdles you must clear before you can. Those hurdles might be significant, and couples may find they’re not worth the hassle.
Renowned as the “Wedding Capital of the West End", The Dominion Club offers over 25,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space, including four breathtaking ceremony sites and an elegant Rotunda for weddings up to 300 guests. The unique architecture of the Rotunda exudes a modern elegance in neutral colors, allowing the reception to take on any style: simple or traditional to shabby chic or contemporary, and everything in between.
Nicole and Andrew tied the knot at The Dominion Club in Richmond, Virginia in August and this venue proved to be just beautiful!
These two loved doing creative and fun photos and we had a blast photographing their Richmond, VA wedding!
You’re Engaged! Congratulations! Now is the time to start planning your wedding and that also means it is time to choose your wedding photographer and schedule an engagement photo session.
Today, most wedding photographers offer free engagement sessions if they are photographing your wedding. If that is the case with your photographer you will want to be sure and be prepared for your session.
Here’s a few tips we share with our couples:
Newly engaged couples choose to capture the occasion in photos that they can cherish. Often, one of these photos is used as an announcement to family and friends and might even be published in the newspaper.
Engagement photos may be part of a package negotiated with the photographer who will be covering the wedding day.
When shopping around for a photographer, there are certain things couples should keep in mind. The first and most important is selecting a photographer you can relate to. If you don’t feel a connection with the photographer, he or she will have trouble coaxing the shots that will produce the best results. He or she should also be a professional and have some experience working with posing couples. This way the photos don’t look stiff or contrived. Here are some other tips that can lead to great photos.
* Find a photographer who fits your style. If you’re a quirky couple, go with a quirky photographer. If you’re reserved and a follow-the-book type of couple, then select a more traditional photographer. Some photographers out there forget that this is your moment and want to impart their idea of what you want. My advice: Stay away from these photographers because in the end you will not get what you really want! I believe when a couple chooses a photographer they should get the type of images THEY are looking for. After all, who’s paying the bill?
* Select one who is open to different shoot locations and brainstorming. Some of the best photos occur in natural settings, where things aren’t entirely planned. If a photographer simply works out of a studio, you may want to select one who has more free rein with different locales.
* Choose your location wisely. Certain locations will stand out in your minds because they are visually stunning or are special places where you have spent moments as a couple. By choosing a place that offers a personal connection, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate the photos in the long run. Also, be open to the fact that unplanned stops may offer a great background for the image. Be open to the unexpected.
* Try random poses and some candid shots. Although you might have a vision of the perfect photo in your mind, experimenting with different ideas can sometimes lead to a great photo you really love. Expect to take your share of kissing, nose-touching and portrait shots. But some fun poses, such as running or jumping (or rolling around on a beach full of waves) can produce candid shots that are truly masterpieces. Remember, sometimes photographers will pose you in positions that seem a bit awkward, but this is to get the best lines of the body and flattering images.
* Choose clothing that fits the mood. If time and budget allows, have several different wardrobe changes so that you can see which outfits work and which ones don’t make for interesting engagement photos.
Avoid clothing that is too trendy or busy, which may take away from the actual images in the long run. Plus, you don’t want to look back at these photos in the future and say, “What was I thinking?”
Jen and Pete are possibly my favorite couple for 2014. There two were awesome to work with. Not just them, but the entire wedding party and their families.
The venue, Whitehall Manor in Bluemount, Virginia was about a four drive away from us but well worth it!
This place is amazing to shoot at and the staff is one of the best I've ever work with!
As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen my share of problem weddings that only add to the ever-present wedding stress. Planned improperly from the get-go, no one person is to blame, but the outcome is upsetting for everyone involved. Often, the bride’s face looks utterly uncomfortable in all the pictures thanks to mile-high heels, guests are kept waiting for an inordinate amount of time, and the DJ is running around trying to get everyone name straight for the announcement at the reception. (I’ve seen this take up to 30 mins.)
Planning a wedding is serious business, especially if you have out of town guest to worry about and little children to keep an eye on. Here are ten wedding day tips to keep you upbeat – and stress-free – on your special day!
Avoid Wedding Stress with These Ten Wedding Day Tips
#1 – Have an emergency kit on hand: A bride without her trusty emergency kit is a meltdown waiting to happen. Before the wedding day, put together a little kit of must-haves in case something should go wrong. Ideally, you should have extra make-up, safety pins, breath spray, nail polish for snags, hairspray, a comb, and anything else you deem appropriate to combat wedding stress. If a situation does arise, you’ll be thankful you had these things with you.
#2 – Bring comfortable shoes to change in to: Please don’t maintain the illusion that you can wear those fabulous designer heels all night long. They will begin to hurt your feet and impede your ability to hob-knob with your friends. Pack some cute flats (that you’ve previously broken in) or some simple white sandals so you can keep dancing all night long!
#3 – Put someone in charge of the vendors: Entrust a friend or family member to keep track of vendors, such as the DJ/band, caterers, florists, facility manager, wait staff, and photography team. Let him or her be the point person if the vendor has a question, if something has changed, or there is an issue. Trust me – this will reduce much of the wedding stress that will occur throughout the day.
#4 – Don’t forget to eat before and during the wedding: Number four on this list of wedding day tips is incredibly important. Sounds impossible, but brides do forget to eat with all that’s going on. One of the best wedding day tips I can offer is to start the day out with a healthy breakfast that will keep you going until your afternoon or evening meal is served. The last thing that you want to do is add to your wedding stress and pass out in front of your guests or experience hunger pangs all day. Rely on one of your bridesmaids to fix a plate for you or do it yourself while you converse with guests waiting in line and then actually sit down and eat it. You picked the menu. Don’t you deserve to enjoy it?
#5 – Provide your guests with an accurate map and directions: Everyone will tell you this is one of the best wedding tips you could get! The last thing you want to deal with is guests calling you or your friends asking for directions because yours aren’t quite clear. Talk about wedding stress! Make sure you provide turn-by-turn navigation (especially helpful for those out-of-towners) as well as a detailed map of your venues with each surrounding street clearly listed and identified.
#6 – Make sure your bridal party knows to come early: Every photographer’s nightmare – and a major wedding stress inducer – is a scattered, mismanaged bridal party. Make sure to coordinate with your bridesmaids and fiancé’s groomsmen beforehand. If pictures are to be taken before the ceremony, everyone needs to show up with ample time to allow for this. If you are dressing at the church or venue and require the assistance of your bridesmaids, set the time back appropriately.
#7 – Set up something special for your guests in the facilities’ bathrooms: A basket of toiletries is a clever way to show your creativity at your wedding. Usually, the bathrooms get overwhelmed and guests may need something to get them through the rest of the night.
#8 – Keep the kids in mind: Everyone is having a good time, but what are the kids up to? If you choose to have children at your wedding, so be it. They’ll need a little entertainment, though if you want to keep wedding stress at bay. One of my favorite wedding day tips is to serve fun finger foods like chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, French fries, and carrot sticks to get them to eat and keep them happy. A great idea is to have all the children at a centrally located children’s table – adorn the table with activity and coloring books, crayons, puzzles, and lots of drawing paper to keep them occupied. If you and your fiancé decide not to have children at your wedding, however, make sure that all parents know this well in advance so that they can find a babysitter.
#9 – Hand the rings off to someone responsible: Have one of the attendants in your bridal party hang on to the rings before the ceremony. Instruct her to wait until right before the party is sent down the aisle to give the ring bearer and flower girl the rings so that they don’t get lost in the day’s hustle and bustle.
#10 – Create a menu for guests to peruse: Number 10 on this list of wedding day tips isn’t hard to do, but gives your guests an idea of what kind of food will be served. For a sit-down dinner, this is imperative, of course, as there will be multiple options to choose from. Even if you’re having a large buffet meal where guests help themselves, place a menu on each table so that anticipation can build. Sometimes, without a menu, your guests might have even overlooked a food station with their favorite dish!
This post comes from our friends at Manifesto Photography
Did you know that there is far more to Wedding Photography than what comes in the neatly laid out wedding package you purchased? Below is a list of 7 things you didn’t know you were paying your wedding photographer for, but will be glad that you did!
Anyone can buy a camera and take a picture, so what makes a “professional” photographer so special? Understanding weddings and the expectations that couples have only comes with experience.
Besides grabbing shots of those emotional first looks, and your mother’s tear rolling down her cheek after you say “I do,” your photographer has a lot more on their mind. Behind the scenes, they are making sure your timeline stays on track, putting out emotional fires between your MOH and your BFF, and liaising with your other vendors to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
The time you’re paying your photographer for is not just for the amount of hours they’ve covered your wedding. It’s their correspondence, booking, prep, engagement session, travel, in person viewings, importing, editing, exporting and ordering photos, designing samples, creating products, delivery and shipping. The average wedding for us takes 80 hours of work from the first point of correspondence to its completion. Not to mention that being a small business owner entails many time consuming tasks that us creative types are not huge fans of (*yay* accounting).
Any photographer worth their salt is going to take time to get to know your style, personalities, and relationship in order to create moments that will portray you in the best way possible. This includes helping you find locations, making wardrobe suggestions, and helping you pick just the right product to fit that empty wall in your hallway.
Photographers work in a field that is constantly changing. They have to keep up to date on the latest technology, techniques, and trends. This includes participating in mentoring relationships, workshops, online forums, reading, and studying their target market.
Gear & Upgrades
Pro level digital cameras run from $3000 – $7000 and the average pro level lens costs around $2000. Now imagine needing at least two camera bodies, three to six great lenses… it adds up quickly! That’s not taking into consideration computers, editing software, off camera flashes, radio transmitters, camera bags, diffusors etc… And then when new and better gear comes out, we buy more.
Your photographer should be insured to protect themselves against stolen, lost, or broken gear, as well as liability insurance in case a guest trips over their bag and breaks their arm.
Redundancy From Start to Finish
What happens when things go wrong? A professional needs to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Your photographer should have multiples of everything! A backup camera, several lenses, multiple flashes. Modern pro-level DSLRs shoot to multiple memory cards at once, allowing photos to be backed up from the moment they’re taken. And speaking of backing up files, after the wedding your images are backed up multiple times for safe keeping. We actually keep a copy in a fireproof safe!
I really loved this quote from Nikki Wagner:
“Yes, it seems like a lot of money for one day, but one day isn’t all we spend on your photographs or on our business. You will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or flowers or a venue or on catering which you are going to have for only one day, but your photographs will be the only thing you have to remember that one day for the rest of your lives.”
According to a 2012 report in Brides magazine, the average American couple spends just under $27,000 on their wedding, while their northern neighbors in Canada spend slightly more than $23,000 on average for their big day. Clearly, couples, regardless of which side of the border they call home, can expect to invest a substantial amount of money for their weddings.
While many couples find the cost of a wedding is well worth it, others would like to find ways to save so their big day isn’t a budget-buster. Such savings aren’t always easy to come by, especially for couples with a very distinctive picture in mind of what their wedding should be. However, even couples strongly committed to a certain wedding style might change their minds once they realize how much such a dream wedding will cost. For those couples as well as couples who simply want to save some money, the following are a few ideas to avoid busting your budget without venturing too far from your dream wedding.
* Trim the guest list. The guest list is perhaps the easiest place to begin saving money. Many reception halls will charge by the head, so consider if you really need to invite 150 guests or if 100 will do. Such trimming can save you a substantial amount of money. For example, a banquet hall that charges $200 per guest will cost couples with a guest list of 150 $30,000 for the reception alone. Cutting that guest list to 100 reduces that cost by $10,000. When putting together the guest list, remove those candidates who would best be described as acquaintances. This can include coworkers with whom you don’t socialize, as well as old college friends to whom you rarely speak. Distant cousins you haven’t spoken to in years can also be cut from the list.
* Don’t go overboard with the gown. Styles are ever-changing, so there’s a strong chance brides won’t be passing down theirwedding gowns to their own daughters someday. What’s popular now will likely seem outdated by the time your daughter walks down the aisle. Keep this in mind when shopping for a weddingdress, which can be made in the same design as the one you try on but with cheaper fabrics that are a fraction of the cost.
The disparity between gown costs in the United States and Canada should paint a good picture of how easily brides can save money on their gowns. According to a survey of wedding trends conducted by Weddingbells, an online resource for Canadian brides, the average Canadian bride in 2011 spent just under $1,800 on her wedding gown, while the average American bride spends roughly $1,100 on her gown. Though the reasons for that disparity are unclear, it’s safe to say there are savings to be had for brides who don’t want to break the bank paying for their wedding gowns.
* Get hitched in the off-season. Many couples prefer to get married sometime between the months of May through October. During these months, venues and vendors, including limousine services, caterers, photographers, musicians, and deejays, are more expensive. If you are willing to switch your wedding date to the off-season you can save a substantial amount of money. In addition, you likely won’t face as much competition for the best venues and vendors as you will during the peak wedding season.
* Trim your beverage budget. The bar tab at the end of the reception can be considerable, but there are ways to save money while ensuring your guests can still toast you and yours with a few libations. Rather than offering a full bar, limit the choices to beer and wine, which will be perfectly acceptable to most guests anyway. In addition, rather than paying the caterer for the wine, buy your own and you’ll save a considerable amount of money. You may have to pay the caterer a fee to pour the wine, but that fee is negligible compared to what you’d pay the company to provide the wine.
* Choose a buffet-style dinner over waiter service. Many guests will no doubt prefer a buffet-style dinner instead of waiter service, so take advantage of that and choose a more affordable buffet-style dinner that allows diners to choose their own entrees and side dishes.
When it comes to trimming wedding costs, couples will have to make compromises. But those compromises don’t have to come at the cost of a beautiful and memorable event.
When a couple envisions their ideal wedding day, rain rarely comes into the picture. Unless a couple likes things soggy, chances are rain on the big day will be a bit of a disappointment. While there’s no way couples can keep it from raining on their wedding days, there are ways to prevent rain from ruining the ceremony and the ensuing festivities.
* Have a contingency plan in place well in advance. Weather is unpredictable, but couples who choose an outdoor wedding should begin making a contingency plan well in advance of the wedding. This doesn’t mean couples need to plan two weddings, they just need to discuss with vendors what the plan of action is going to be should rain arrive. When booking a venue, discuss with the venue manager what the venue can do if it rains. Many venues will set up a tent and have an umbrella station for arriving guests. When getting married outdoors, choose a venue that’s both idyllic and capable of handling a wet wedding.
It’s best to also have a contingency photography plan in place as well. If it does happen to rain on your wedding day and you change the place of your wedding, please BE SURE TO LET US KNOW WELL AHEAD OF TIME. Crystal can always be contacted at 434-610-8917.
* Get dressed at the venue. Brides understandably fear their wedding dress won’t survive a soggy ceremony. To reduce the gown’s exposure to rain, brides should consider getting dressed at the venue. This means they will only have to wear the dress outside during the actual ceremony. Wrap the gown and other accessories including shoes, in plastic to keep them safe from rain and mud. If the wedding is slated for later in the day, call the venue and determine how early the wedding parties can arrive and how much space will be provided for the party to get dressed. This won’t be too big an issue for the groom and his groomsmen, but the bride and her bridal party will likely want to get there several hours in advance of the ceremony.
* Wear waterproof makeup. Brides-to-be should wear waterproof makeup. In addition, bring a collection of items, including hairspray and extra makeup, that can help combat the elements.
* Prepare the ushers. Ushers will need to be extra diligent during a rainy ceremony. Instruct the ushers before guests begin to arrive that their roles have taken on greater importance thanks to the weather. Ushers should keep an eye out and an umbrella open for arriving guests, escorting guests to their seats under a cloak of dryness. Once the happy couple has said their “I dos” and all the guests have managed to stay dry, the bride and groom should offer some special thanks to the ushers who helped keep everyone dry.
This Blog Post comes from our friends at DreamPop Media
There are lots of these lists out there on the interwebs. But this one is from us to you. These are our favorite 15 things for you to take into consideration when setting the expectations for your wedding day photography. Alright, brides -to-be! We (and every other photographer out there) want to be able to give you photos that are better than you could have ever expected. Having said that, here's what you can do to help us be the best photographers that we can possibly be.
1. Hire a photographer you love: Does your photographer's work make you feel the feels? It should. Does something about their work stand out to you that you may not be able to put your finger on? That should happen too. Meet with your photographer. Make sure your personalities, styles, and priorities are a good fit. Your photographer is going to be following you around on one of the most important days of your life. You better like them as a person as much as you love their work. Choose someone whose company you enjoy and who makes you feel comfortable just being you.
2. Don't skip the engagement session: An engagement session isn't done just for the pictures. It's also a way for your photographer to learn about you. To learn how to pose you in ways you feel more comfortable, to learn whether you prefer one side of your beautiful face to the other, to learn whether or not you will laugh at our corny jokes. It makes everyone, including you, more comfortable on the wedding day. See, we're all friends now, let's go take pictures in your wedding day attire!
3. Get ready in space with lots of natural light and plenty of room: It may be the most affordable option to shove your whole bridal party in one hotel room at the best western down the street, but it's worth budgeting a little more for for a space that will photograph well. Make sure there is plenty of room for everyone who plans to be getting ready there and has as many windows as possible. Homes, bridal suites, salons with ample window light are all great alternatives. Side note: Keep it clean. The wedding day Cheetos probably tasted way more awesome than they will look sitting in the background of your photos for years to come.
4. Allot extra time for almost everything: Hair and make-up say they will be done by noon, put it in the timeline as 12:15. Think the bridal party photos will only take 15 minutes, allot 30. Things happen, especially when large groups of people, which often include 5 of your best college buddies, and half of your sorority are involved. Worst case scenario, you allotted too much time and you have a moment to relax before the ceremony starts. In this case, I will happily pour you a glass of wine for your amazing time management skills.
5. Keep wedding day travel to a minimum: Consider finding a salon that does both hair and make-up, or have them come to you in your bridal suite at your venue. Don't choose an out of the way location for your bridal party photos or first look. It's really difficult to get large groups of people anywhere in a timely manner. If there is a location that is meaningful to you that isn't doable on the wedding day, have your engagement session there! The day is going to fly by, relax and try to limit the amount of travel you expect from your family, bridal party, and photographers on the big day.
6. Do a first look: I'm just going to link you to this article for this one, which NEEDS to be read if you are on the fence about this:amazing first look article here
7. Trust your photographer: Trust his or her eye. They know what they are doing. A lot of what we do is dependent upon light. You may want to have a first look under a giant tree at midday where shadows and spots of harsh sunlight can affect your images. We want you to have the best photos we can possibly give you so we may offer a suggestion for a different spot. It's not because we're jerks. It's because we're looking out for you. Trust us.
8. Feed your photographer: I have no shame, this is important. A well fed photographer is a happy photographer. So basically for an entire wedding day your photographer runs on adrenaline. Sneaking in a power bar and a bottle of water whenever they can. Using all of their mental energy to focus on trying not to miss a single moment. Taking very few sit downs for fear of a family member or guest thinking they are lazy. Happily include them in your dinner and help them keep their energy level up.
9. Golden Hour: Take advantage of it. There is a sweet spot where photographers like to shoot an hour or so before sunset in which all of your images look bombdotcom. Use this. This is definitely something you should discuss with your photographer when creating your wedding day timeline. Try to schedule your ceremony just before to take advantage of this beautiful time frame for the bride and groom portraits.
10. Hire complementary Photo/Video services: If you are also hiring a cinematographer, make sure you choose one who is experienced and knows how to work with photographers and vice versa. This one can be confusing. We offer both services and of course, highly prefer to work together. We know how the other shoots, and can pretty much predict their next move. We know where we like our cameras to be placed and how to not get in each other's way so that we can both give uncompromised products. You may hire a really nice photographer, and a really nice videographer who may just not know how to work together. Encourage them to communicate with one another beforehand. But if your photographer also offers video within their team, and you love their work across the board...use them.
11. Tell Uncle Bob with his fancy camera that today he is a guest: In the nicest way possible of course. Uncle Bob is probably a really cool guy, but if he feels the need to be the "other photographer" at the wedding, he can compromise the shots you are paying for. Whether it's by using is flash and over exposing your real photographer's photos, or by stepping in from of the video camera during important moments so that he can get his shot. We know that Uncle Bob isn't malicious, but he can really unintentionally make a wedding day difficult for your hired photographers.
12. Break up with your Pinterest wedding photo idea board: Break it's nonexistent little virtual heart. If you are a normal internet savvy female, you've probably been racking up the Pinterest photo ideas for years by now. Any chance you've gone back to the beginning of your board to check out how cheesy and out-dated some of those contrived, prop-laden photos seem today? Well they do. Your wedding day is exactly that: YOURS, Not the 300 other brides whose weddings you have archived photos of. Let your photographer photograph it how it naturally happens. Let them pose you in a way that's flattering to you specifically. Let them capture real moments. You will thank them later. I could go on about this topic forever, but this is my favorite article on why mentioning Pinterest makes your photographer cringe and why it's in your best interest to kick it to the curb: amazing lay off the pinterest article here
13. Venue rules and regulations: know them before you book. If photography is a priority for your wedding day, you will want to make sure that you book your ceremony and reception in a location where photography is allowed. We mostly run into this issue with church weddings. In many cases, your photographers are limited to staying behind all 40 rows of pews in a dark (yet beautiful) church and are not allowed to use any sort of lighting. This is not the ideal setting for your photographer. Keep this in mind when you are venue sourcing. Or if you've chosen a venue with strict photography limitations, discuss this with them in advance. On the other hand, give us a big white tent for the reception and we will love you forever.
14. Be Happy: Smile, cry, laugh, feel everything you possibly can and express it. Take deep breaths. Surround yourself with people who you truly want to be there. Smile and smile again all day long.
15. Let go of perfection: Perfect, simply isn't a real thing so go with the flow. We've yet to photograph/film a wedding where everything went perfectly the way it had been planned. But, every wedding we've ever photographed/filmed was perfect for each couple. Let the real moments happen.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.