I've waited patiently to share these images with you... they are some of my absolute favorites! I love how they showcase just how varied the landscape of North Carolina can be! You might second guess me, but I assure you these were shot at Jockey's Ridge during The Film Gathering last fall. This has quickly become one of my favorite events to attend as a photographer, it's laid back, but chalk full of connections, conversation and open sharing of information. It's nice to be in a non-competitive environment as a creative for once... business can get so caddy and secretive, it's nice that this is a space the polar opposite! All images are Portra 400 or 800, developed by The FIND Lab.
Caroline and Bram were lovely enough to model for us, and the following vendors supplied us with some top notch goodies to photograph!
I could shoot weddings like Jake and Christin's over and over and over and over! They had family come in from all over that had never met (including their parents!), so they opted to rent a large home on the Denver side of Lake Norman for everyone to stay in. It was cost effective and made for a beautifully, intimate setting to tie the knot. I arrived to the house buzzing with excitement, Christin's dad lead me inside, to meet the happy couple, who were dressed and ready in the kitchen... such a refreshing pace from the regular 8-10 hour wedding days I typically work. They said their "I do's" on the rear veranda of the home, Christin wore a sweet lace dress and Jake donned a navy blazer and pink tie, to match Christin's killer Jimmy Choo heels.
This wedding is also proof, you don't need to hire me for a full day of coverage. About an hour of my time is all they needed to memorialize their big day!
To view all images from Christin & Jake's wedding day, click here! (all orders placed within the first week are 20% off!)
First, thank you so much for all your kind words last week... it's surreal to have it out and public... part of me is so fearful that now something awful will happen... but I am trying to focus on the good.... and that I have no signs on anything wrong! On to today's topic... everyone's favorite word, budget.
This is not a post telling you what you should or can expect to spend... let's get that straight. This is advice on allocating the budget you have to get the most from it... in my opinion.
When we got married, I kept a running spreadsheet of what I had spent... and at the end, I couldn't believe how all the small items added up so fast... things that were so insignificant. Below is a list of certain items I think are necessities:
Let that sink in.... everything else is just nice to have. Seriously. When I say "bride & groom", I literally mean YOU and your significant other just showing up... and when I say "venue" that doesn't necessarily mean a traditional wedding venue... this could be your back yard, park, etc. Legally, you need a someone to marry you, a couple of witnesses... and you need to inform them of the occasion. Your goal is to get married, don't lose sight of that. Remember when Chandler kept calling his and Monica's wedding "a party" and she was pissed? He wasn't wrong. We can call a reception a reception all day long, but it's a party. The following is the "nice to have" list.
Bridal party stuff
Now... I wanted to make a list of insignificant expenses... things that no one will notice if they aren't there. This will help free up some of your budget to afford the items on the nice to have list... or splurge on the necessities list:
Expensive hangers... you know the ones... for THEE dress shot. Seriously guys, I can find a non-hideous hanger, and a lot of times I keep one in my car! Don't waste precious dollars here if funds are limited. Expensive ($23.53 with shipping) vs. Grab one out of your coat closet ($0) or if you must spend on a prettier one.... Container Store ($7.99)
Monogrammed cocktail napkins. Are they pretty? Yep. ($75) Are they any more useful than the 1040 pack from Costco? Nope. This can also apply to other linens... skip table runners (~$20ea), and chair covers ($1ea)
Crazy bridal party gifts. The copious amount of robes, slippers, pajamas, etc. can blow a budget.... those Pretty Plum Sugar robes are adorable... but good God, if you have just 5 gals... you'll drop $340... and you know that won't be all you gift them. A common gift is a piece of jewelry to don on the big day... give a pair of pretty earrings with a heartfelt note, and call it a done.
Cake toppers. Yes, they can be cute or pretty... you justify the price by calling it a "keepsake"... but it's just going to collect dust and be that thing you move 18 times and can't bring yourself to part with, so avoid the hassle and don't buy one to begin with. Have your florist provide some loose blooms to stick up there and be done with it. YOU'RE CUTTING IT TO PIECES AFTER-ALL. (~$50)
Party favors. What is this, a six year olds birthday party? No one needs your goodie bag filled with.... candy (I'm guilty of this one), seeds, plants, cupcakes, popcorn, shot glass, etc. to take home to "remember your wedding" (~$3ea)
Kid stuff. Again, I'm guilty of this. Reality is... it's not your job to entertain the kids that come to your wedding. As someone who's going to be a parent soon, I cannot imagine taking a child to a wedding. That seems like a horrible time for me, so I don't expect you to provide my kids toys, stations, special food, etc. to keep them happy. (~$10ea)
Extra paper stuff. Besides an invitation (which I do still think should be on paper and sent snail mail) everything else is fluff. Table numbers, escort cards, guest books, save-the-date cards, fancy calligraphy envelopes, etc. are just not necessary. ($400)
Transportation. We all manage to get ourselves from point A to point B every day... why is this day any different? Renting fancy limos, vintage cars, car service, trolleys, or buses can be convenient... and I do think in some cases are a safety feature if booze will flow heavily.... but isn't that what uber is for? ($600)
Some of the dollar amounts above are spot on (I Googled) and others are estimates... so let's base it on a 150 person wedding with 10 kids in attendance and 10 tables.... I just bought you over $2300 to use somewhere else! I mean... that's the wedding album/string quartet/Manolos you thought you couldn't afford. You're welcome.
Now.... as a photographer, I'm the FIRST to tell you how much I love photographing these things.... I mean, a vintage car and pretty paper goods top my list of details that make my heart sing... but if you not having those things means you can now allocate money to something that matters more to you, do it!
So here's my list of must haves... again, in my opinion...
A dress you feel pretty in
A beautiful bridal bouquet (it will be in ALL your photos... so don't get a dinky one... skimp on bridesmaid bouquets or centerpieces instead)
An outfit he looks great in
A nice invitation (I did not say expensive)
Floor length linens (seeing table legs is like seeing spanx!)... only exception is if you are doing some pretty wood tables or something.
A venue with or adjacent to pretty outdoor space (even if you're not utilizing it for your ceremony or reception, you will take photos out there. It doesn't have to be huge, a pretty courtyard will do fine)
Yummy food... which could be fried chicken for all I care... it's still yummy.
A beverage. We served local, keg beer and cheap, tasty wine!
Good music. A bad DJ can ruin a party... spend wisely, as your friends will remember "the party"... pllllleeeeeaaasssse don't put someone in charge of an iPod.
A coordinator. Someone to wrangle vendors, light candles, refill your glass, and deal with the drama you don't know is happening.... is invaluable!
I challenge you to examine things you purchase when planning your wedding, and ask yourself "Is this going to make my wedding memorable and/or is this important to me, and why?"
**This post stemmed from a fellow disgruntled wedding vendor who was overly annoyed with brides haggling or walking away from their services for a relatively small amount. She was frustrated because she (and all of us) keep seeing brides spending money on meaningless items and then passing up higher end things that should matter. We lose clients and thus paychecks because of this stuff guys.... Don't look back at your wedding and think... "man, I wish I hadn't bought X and spent that money on a a better DJ/Food/Photographer/etc."
It's that time again. Time for me to give you my unsolicited advice on selecting a wedding photographer. Here we go... hold tight.
Like the style the photographer shoots/edits in.
Duh. Except not really... please never send a photographer a Pinterest board of "what you like" because if you don't like what's already on THEIR website, don't hire them. Period. It's incredibly insulting for someone to be like, "I like this better than what you do..." #eyeroll You'd loose your lunch if you knew how often this happens. Stopit. On the same note... if you're getting married at night, under the stars, refuse a first look (which is OK!), think twice about hiring a photographer that shows nothing but daylight, afternoon images on their site. I'm not saying they cannot handle what you want, but they probably don't prefer that setting.
If photography is important to you...
Don't let you cousin with a nice camera shoot your wedding photos. I completely understand that photography is not always a priority to couples, and that is OK. Maybe great food or a great band tops your list of important things, perfectly fine.... but for the love of all things sacred.... hire a professional for the important stuff (ceremony and formal portraits). Just an hour or two of coverage will be pretty inexpensive, make room in the budget for it!
Inspect the products offered.
I know, I know... getting the digital files is king these days, but hear me out. Get SOMETHING printed professionally.... because this is what's going to happen.... you will get your digital download code or thumb drive in the mail... you'll scroll through the images, ohhhing and ahhhing, reminiscing and then that's it. You might post a few to Facebook or Instagram. What on earth will you look at when you lost the downloads, your computer crashes or that thumb drive is now obsolete? I'm not saying you need to drop 5k on prints or albums, but get something nice, that's also color correct. If you take that flash drive to Walgreens, don't expect anything but disappointment. Your skin might look orange, the church might look green... you get the point. They don't operate with color correct machinery, and don't really care because their game is laundry soap and prescription drugs. Do you trust your pharmacist to produce beautiful images? Nope.
Respect the photographers talent and time.
If a $6000 photographer is over budget, don't lead them on with meetings and emails. However, if you have a less popular date or are getting married within a few weeks of inquiring, you may have a bargaining tool in your favor. January, February and December are the least popular here in NC, so you might get a break there.... as well if you are having a super short engagement. I happily entertain all budgets, but be realistic about what you might get for the budget. You won't be getting all day coverage and a quality album for $1000.OK.... I've said my peace on what I think :-)