Top 10 Wedding Photography Tips

With wedding season upon us and many in planning mode for late summer and fall events, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the best tips I’ve acquired as a wedding photographer.  I’ll be sharing these tips with my nephew and his fiance as I prepare to photograph their nuptials near D.C. this fall!

1. Make photography a priority!
Of course a photographer would say that, but it’s not a sales gimmick – it’s because photographs are one of the few elements of your wedding that you will continue to enjoy and share years later. Those images are how you will remember all the little moments of your big day so make sure you have someone you trust to capture those memories.  Your venue and attire are the other two things that should be considered carefully as they will be in all of your images too.

2. Do your research when choosing a photographer and other wedding vendors.
Each photographer has their own unique style and pricing. Find one that fits your vision and BUDGET!  The same is true for other wedding vendors – DJ’s, florists, cake makers and even wedding planners – which leads me to my next tip…

3. Don’t wing it. Have a plan and someone designated to help you make it happen.
Prepare a schedule and have someone in charge – either a wedding planner or friend/family member – who will not only keep everyone on schedule, but handle any problems that arise.  Your photographer and other vendors are there to provide the service you’ve contracted from them, not make decisions on how things will run because that’s up to what you want.  However, most wedding vendors are usually happy to offer suggestions if you want expert advice on particular aspects of your planning.

4. There will be hiccups to your plan. Be flexible when they happen.
If something doesn’t go as planned and it can’t be fixed, just smile and roll with it because no one but you and your planner will know that’s not how you intended it to be. By not making a big deal of it no one else will even notice the issue, instead all they will remember how enjoyable your wedding was and how happy you looked.

5. Think about how what you’ve planned will photograph.
Will the sun make you squinty in all your pictures or the will the wind blow your veil like a sail?   Will your photographer have a clear shot of you at the altar?  Will where you stand during the ceremony look awkward? These are things to consider and discuss with your vendors ahead of time so everything is the best it can be and you’re not stressed.

6. Schedule some alone time for portraits of just the two of you.
It’s tough to be romantic in front of a crowd. Give yourselves at least a few minutes alone with your photographer.  You’ll be much more relaxed and it will show in your photos, plus you’ll be glad to have a few minutes alone with your beloved after all the hectic activities!

7. Communicate with your photographer so they are ready to capture the special details you have planned.
This allows your photographer to be positioned in the best spot to capture each of those details, rather than trying to catch it as they realize it’s happening.

8. Minimize family/friends competing with the photographer.
Most photographers are used to friends and family also wanting to snag a shot, but it’s distracting for those being photographed and it can eat up precious time in your schedule if it’s allowed too much. Plus no one wants a shot where half of the group is looking at one camera and the others are looking at another.

9. If you’re uncomfortable, it will show in your expressions.
Choosing garments and shoes that fit your style and comfort level will ensure that you’re not fussing with pinching wardrobe items or forcing a smile through a blister. And you’ll be in a much better mood at the end of the night too!

10. Get comfortable with your photographer ahead of time.
Having someone show up on one of the most stressful days of your life and point a camera at you to document every little expression will only make you self-conscious. I offer my wedding clients a free engagement session so they can meet me well in advance and get a sense of how I work so they know what to expect.  This makes them much more comfortable in front of the lens on their wedding day and allows me to blend in with their friends and family to catch those candid moments they would otherwise miss because they are too aware of being photographed.

These tips also translate to other events you might be planning – graduations, family reunions, etc. so they’re good to keep handy! 🙂  For more tips on things to consider as you prepare to work with your photographer visit my photography website.

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Expo Display with DIY Barn Doors

screenThe past week has sure been a busy one – hence the brief radio silence here on the blog – but it’s been a pretty productive one.  The Hubs has been helping me prepare a booth setup at a big wedding expo, while I continued to purge the house and catch up on editing client images.  Today I want to share the expo booth we created.

The foundation of the display were these large wooden barn doors, that the Hubs built for the opening to the office some time ago.  When he installed the barn door hardware he realized that these doors were a bit to heavy for the hardware, so he built another set with the same design but different material (I’ll be sharing those soon too!).  In the meantime, this pair had been sitting in the garage just taking up space.  When I decided to have a booth at the wedding expo I knew I needed something visually appealing that would draw people into my booth, but also wanted to keep the set-up simple and use materials I already had where possible.  It was the perfect opportunity to put these doors to work.

I described my plan to the Hubs and he built a simple yet substantial brace system using scrap wood from other projects on the back side of the doors so they would stand on their own.  I don’t have details on that part of the project since he handled that on his own, but here’s a few pictures of the back to give you an idea of the arrangement which seems pretty straightforward.  I can tell you these beasts were extremely HEAVY and awkward to transport, but they really made a statement and didn’t cost me anything extra.

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The doors were each 35″ wide so they were a bit shy of filling my 8′ by 8′ booth space. To fix that problem I asked the Hubs to add a rod between the two doors where I could hang a lace curtain.  He used brackets left over from another project to loosely hold the ends of the rod (a regular  wooden closet rod) so the doors could be angled along the curved wall of windows.  When we went to set up I realized the pocket on the curtain I’d purchased was too narrow for the rod, so I just draped it over and tucked it between the rod and the door to hold it in place.  To finish off the top of the doors I tacked up these copper string lights I got at Bed Bath & Beyond recently.

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I draped the tables with drop cloths (which serve as curtains our guest room in their down-time) and added a burlap runner from our wedding on the longer one.  I decorated around my photo display boards with lanterns, our DIY birch candles, wood slices, moss and mason jars of baby’s breath.  I borrowed the fruit basket off our kitchen counter to hold my flyers and my cast iron soap dish card holder fit right in with the rustic vibe.

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At the end of the long table I positioned a small copper table we’ve had for a while with a little giveaway drawing.  I printed up a little sign and put it in a frame I already had, placed pens from my bank in a mason jar and tossed a few moss ‘stones’ in a hurricane votive I thrifted some time ago to collect the entries.

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The TV from our bedroom made a perfect display screen for a rotating show of my images on a USB, saving the expense of multiple large photo prints, which would have been difficult to display in the space anyway.  I did order two large prints to go on the doors and the larger one on the side table to accompany a smaller one I had from previous shows.

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I attached the photo boards on the doors with some removable velcro strips along the diagonal board of the door so I can easily reuse them for another show in the future.  The smaller board I already had has an easel back attached to it and I used a simple table top easel from my decor stash for the new larger board.

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An upholstered chair from our guest room and a cute little heart pillow from our couch – which I just snagged in the Target Dollar Zone for $5 completed the look and closed off the extra space between my booth and the cake maker’s booth next to me, which worked well as she had a cake displayed on that side of the table and didn’t want anyone to walk by it.  The vendor on the other side of me had an adorable metal cart and umbrella which looked very nice next to my display.

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I love how it came together, just as I envisioned it in my mind and the fact that the majority of the items came from shopping our home makes it even sweeter.  The only things I had to buy to complete the look were the additional photo boards, lace curtain, copper light strands and some baby’s breath, totaling about $215.  Plus a few copies of the bridal magazine that featured a wedding I photographed last year for display! 🙂

Now that the show is over and we no longer need the barn doors I’ve posted them for sale on the local buy/sell pages to recoup some of the cost we had in building them originally and free up some storage/work space in the garage since Mother Nature has decided to dump around 15″ of snow on us over the last few days.  Thank goodness for heated garages when you’ve got a long list of winter time DIY projects!

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Fall Decor & Fireside Chats

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you’re enjoying the day and giving thanks for the blessings in your life.  Since I plan to switch all the decor over to Christmas today because I don’t have another chance to do so for quite a while, I thought I’d take this last opportunity to share my fall decorations. If you look really closely, you’ll catch a sneak peek of another decor change I’ll be sharing soon.

I’ve found that using pumpkins and autumn elements can carry me from the first signs of fall in September all the way through to Thanksgiving.  This theme starts in the entry way with a collection of pumpkins flanked by lanterns with large pine cones and light strands I found in the dollar zone at Target.

0Next to the dresser I have a pumpkin wax warmer.  It casts a pretty orange glow near the front door and looks like mercury glass which is a favorite of mine.

1Over in the family room I featured a fancy purple velvet pumpkin in the new cloche I got at Home Goods during our recent trip to Portland along with my favorite woodland creatures, Mr. Fox and the thrifted Whooty Owl.

3On the mantel there are, you guessed it, more pumpkins.  The velvet one in the center is a rich burgundy so I gave it a bit of prominence on a birch round.  The new lanterns I got at the end of season clearance sale for outdoor accessories will work well for several seasons thanks to their neutral classic style.  And my favorite little raven is tucked up in front hiding out after he saw Brinley chew his buddy’s beak off after she mistook him for a chew toy and snagged him from the windowsill.  He’ll get some reconstruction soon so he can join his buddy again next season.

2The tray on the end table got a gold votive and a glittery pumpkin.  I thought for sure that little sparkle would make it fall prey to Brinley’s teething chompers but she never showed a bit of interest in it thankfully.

4Over on the curio, my favorite little scarecrow is guarding some gourds.  He also stays up high because his button legs would be too much temptation for our fur babies.

5Over in the office a metal lantern goes autumnal with some mini pine cones and two colorful floral picks.

6In the dining room I filled this large glass lantern with moss stones, mini yarn pumpkins and pine cones.  These antlers fit perfectly around the curve of the glass give the whole arrangement a more rustic style.

7Beyond the centerpiece is this vignette with another velvet pumpkin, my little turkey votive holder and this fun rusty cup I picked up at a new local shop filled with orange mums.

8On the next windowsill I added a fun little dollar store pumpkin I snagged on our recent trip to Portland next to the creeping Jenny I brought inside for the winter.

9On the sideboard a crock with decorative grass takes center stage with my rusty owl.  More velvet pumpkins line the top of the sideboard leading to more lanterns with moss and pine cones.

10Outside there are even more pumpkins, including the only REAL one in the entire collection which is being perfectly preserved by the recent low temps.

outside My wooden pumpkin stakes and the metal spheres from the garden adorn what’s left of the dusty miller in the whiskey barrels out front.  Behind them my DIY 4×4 pumpkins decorate the steps next to the metal and burlap planters.  outside5 outside6outside3

outside4Up on the porch my welcome pumpkin hangs on the front door and a ceramic one joins a metal lantern on the milk can table.  In front of the table is the lovely fairytale pumpkin I bought at the local grocery store.  It was originally inside but Brinley attempted to make her own pumpkin treats with it so it moved outside before she could really do damage to it.

outside7 outsidepI’d never seen a real white pumpkin before so I had to have one when I saw them at the store.  I’ll be saving the stem from this one for DIY projects next year, but the rest of this large beauty will become compost in the garden.

And while we’re still thinking fall, I had to share this pretty set-up one of my networking groups did for our “Fireside Chats” meeting.  This is a group of wedding professionals – event planners, photographers, cake makers, and more so there is usually some sort of decorations but this was the perfect mix of rustic and chic.

1The smores themed cupcakes were quite yummy and those who wanted the real deal had the ingredients ready just steps away from the fire.

24And if you wanted a snack to go, they had that covered too.

3Just shows you don’t have to make things complicated to create something special.   I hope the rest of your Thanksgiving holiday is fun and relaxing.  I’m gearing up for the big bazaar I have a display at this weekend and then more photography clients in need of Holiday portraits. I’ll be back tomorrow to share our quick trip to Denali with friends, so check back for that after you emerge from your turkey coma! 🙂

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Simple & Elegant Fall Centerpieces

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Today I thought I’d share a simple centerpiece I created for a recent work event.  I wanted something fall themed for this particular event, but hoped the elements I chose would pull double duty for our upcoming holiday party so it needed to be able to transition into winter.

The venue provided the silver lanterns, so I added a birch round, pinecone, pheasant feather and mini pumpkin to compliment.  Some of the birch pieces were thicker than others so I set the lantern next to the birch for those so they didn’t impede the view of the presentation being given.

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We also had some small signs on the tables with factoids about the subject matter, which we put in small silver place card holders.  Although I can’t share the factoids, here’s a blank card to give you an idea of how they fit in with the centerpieces.

I was able to do all 7 tables for around $100 which was pretty minimal. They were just enough for this business luncheon event once the rest of the table was set, and next month I’ll reuse the pine cones, birch pieces and feathers for our “silver winter” themed holiday party!  Low cost and multipurpose, that’s my kind of décor! 🙂

Builder Décor

Hi everyone! Thanks for your patience while I took a little break to get back on schedule after the craziness of the last few weeks. The DB&DT household is doing well and we have several new projects to share. The first is some fun décor I thought up for an event my employer puts on each year for home builders.

Last year I started the tradition of using typical construction materials for décor with flowers planted in small paint cans on the tables. The event is a bit more casual than the corporate events I typically do for the bank, so this was a nice fit for this particular group. The guests loved them and many took one home, which made cleanup easier!

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I also used paint sticks and a clamp to create plant holders to decorate the bar. I had a few left over so I used them to create a quick sign on the door prize entry box, which used paint swatches as the entry tickets!

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The event is a fancied up crab feed, so I thought we’d have a little fun with some subtle crab themed items such as this crab apple idea I found online and the caterer did a great job re-creating.

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We also ordered a special construction themed cake from a local bakery, which was a big hit with both guests and staff.

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All of these little touches were great conversation starters, which is just what we want at this event, so I took it up a notch this year. I originally planned to create something like this with gutters, but the local hardware stores only sell white gutters and that wasn’t the look I was going for. Instead, I swapped the gutters for a mosaic stone 12”x12” tile, which we cut in half to create a long runner for the tables.

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Luckily, the design of the tile had a straight line through the center of it, so cutting was pretty easy and the mesh on the back kept each half together, making set up quick.

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A few candles and some bulb shades meant for light fixtures completed the look.  This simple layout not only got lots of compliments from both our company’s staff and guests, but from the venue’s staff and owner as well!

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I used another light fixture part on the cocktail tables near the bar. These shades for pendant lights had a pretty nautical feel and fit right over a small candle on a plate for instant ambiance!

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We used the same paint swatches for the door prize tickets again this year, but instead of the paint stick sign we created a blueprint theme sign to tie in with the invitations we’d used.

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It’s a fun event to plan and attend, especially with the opportunity to use unique décor. I’ve already got a few ideas saved on Pinterest for next year and will be on the lookout for more between now and then!

My Fancy New Candles

I love candles. They create instant ambience, making a room feel cozy and romantic. But they can also be dangerous. Especially in the hands of someone like me who tends to forget about them. Long ago the decision was made that real flame candles aren’t allowed in our home because I’d left them burning overnight or unattended too many times and it was a safety issue.

I switched to using wax melts with lighted warmers, which doubled as nightlights around our house. It was a good compromise, but I still missed the flickering glow of candles in my décor so I purchased both votive and pillar sized flameless candles. Although they were safe and filled the need, it just wasn’t the same as a real flame. But safety was the priority so I accepted the trade-off and moved on.

Then last year a family friend introduced me to Luminara at a dinner party while we were visiting Portland. Thanks to new patented technology, this company had created a real flame-effect candle! It was so convincing that I would have never guessed it wasn’t real if she hadn’t told me. They were seriously amazing. Click here to see how real they look!

As soon as we got home I researched them online and soon discovered they were also insanely expensive and not readily available at local retailers. So I continued using my ho-hum flameless candles – begrudgingly. That is until I spotted them in the Bed Bath & Beyond flyer recently! They were still a little pricey at $30-$35 each, but with a coupon I could get them for around $25 each which is a little more reasonable. I decided to buy one each pay period so I could spread out the cost (and use coupons for each) so it’s not a huge hit to my budget all at once. Kohls also carries them, but only online.

So far I’ve bought two and I’m so happy with them. Just look at the difference. Here’s my old flameless candle in my Valentine’s Day centerpiece and here’s the same centerpiece with the new Luminara candle for St. Patty’s Day.

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I chose to use the built-in self-timer which comes on at the same time every day and turns off automatically 5 hours later. Now that’s safety and convenience! It’s so relaxing to come home and see flickering candles. And I can go to bed with them on without a care. It’s perfect. They also offer a remote which can be purchased separately. I’ll use that option when I replace the candles around the tub in our master bathroom since I won’t use or see those as much.

There is one downside to these new beauties. They are wider than my previous flameless candles, so they don’t fit in everything the old candles do. I’d originally planned to sell all my old candles once I replaced them, but I might have to keep a few for pieces like this that the Luminara pillars won’t fit. They do make a smaller votive size Luminara, but it isn’t available locally yet so I’m on the hunt to find an online retailer who not only has them but won’t charge twice the item price for shipping to Alaska.  So if anyone needs an idea for my birthday – there you go! 🙂

SURPRISE Baby Shower!

As an event coordinator for a community bank, I plan a lot of different types of events, but I was recently asked to arrange a surprise baby shower for a co-worker.  Yes, I have an awesome job! 🙂  Luckily, I already had a “Baby Shower” board on Pinterest full of ideas.  Those who know me personally would now say “but of course you would!”  LOL

My recon/planning partner learned that the nursery was being decorated in yellow and purple, so we based all of the decor off that, including a ribbon garland that can be hung in the nursery.     Garland

My co-hort picked out adorable mini cupcakes with purple and yellow frosting to match our theme so I made a simple cupcake stand with two square glass plates from Walmart and a glass candlestick from the thrift store.  Easy peasy!  And you’d never know it only cost about $8 to make! Oh yeah!  Thrifty chic!

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And what baby shower is complete without a diaper cake?  I’d recently seen a new style done to look like fondant on Pinterest, so I gave it a try.  Note to self – next time use thinner ‘flannel/receiving blankets’ rather than the cute, but thick fuzzy blankets!  Granted the chevron one was from her registry so I just had to make it work.  A little ribbon trim and thrifted faux flowers gave it the finishing touch.  Our male colleagues were quite baffled at the idea of a cake you don’t eat, but they too thought it turned out pretty well.  Although it did look good enough to eat on my pretty cake stand I bought last year at Home Goods for a measly $15!

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My Pottery Barn knock-off drink dispenser – which I found at Safeway for just $17 – finally found a use other than decorating the tops of my kitchen cabinets.  It held the very tasty pink lady punch that was a surefire hit!  And the recipe was super simple:

  • 1 quart pineapple juice
  • 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 quarts ginger ale
  • Cranberries to garnish (or substitute fruit or other berries)

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It was actually so good that I brought the rest home to share with my hubby who liked it as well – which means it’s super good because he’s a secret chef! 🙂

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I also framed a picture from the maternity session I had done with her and her husband the week prior so their baby girl will have a picture of mommy and daddy in her room from the moment she arrives!

We all chipped in to get the stroller she still needed and put together a hospital survival kit, so she’s got everything ready for the trip to the delivery room!  I’m still surprised we were able to pull it off without her finding out.  We had a few close calls and thought she might be on to our little scheme, but we were very happy that she was truly surprised!

That was my take on a simple, chic baby shower!  Whatcha think?