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Congratulations on getting engaged, now the craziness begins! Just kidding, but now the planning begins

and the first thing on the agenda is selecting a date (and venue). In this post we are going to focus on

picking the date but it impossible not briefly discuss the impact that a venue has on the date. If you have

your heart set on a particular venue and that is your priority, then you will likely have to be flexible on

the date. So if you are trying to get married on an anniversary or specific date of significance this may

mean not selecting the perfect space.

We will break down the date selection process into two categories, seasonal and day of the week. It

goes without saying that depending on where you live plays an integral part in what the seasons look

like, and just to be clear, we will be writing from the perspective of couples getting married in Western

Washington/Seattle area.

 

Seasonal Options

Spring (March-May):

Spring in Washington is generally cool at wet in late March, but by Memorial Day

weekend it is warm and beautiful. This is probably the season best suited for couples that plan on

getting married and having their reception indoors. In fact, many outdoor venues, like farms or gardens,

do not take weddings before May because the weather is so unpredictable. A main advantage to getting

married in the spring is flower plants are exploding which provides great color without having to buy

extra flowers and travel costs for guests (and the honeymoon) are lower than around the holidays or the

summer.

 

Summer (June-August):

This is the choice for most couples in the Pacific Northwest, in an effort to have

optimal weather. Here is the thing lots of people don’t consider though. The summer, particularly

August, is notorious for thunderstorms with heavy rain. We have had more weddings get rained on in

August than fall for this exact reason. Luckily the rain doesn’t last long, but these storms tend to come

thru in the mid afternoon when the temperature is at its height which is right when you want to take

portraits or have your ceremony. Speaking of heat, another factor some fail to consider is how hot it can

get when sitting out in the sun for an hour. From the time your guests arrive to the time the ceremony is

over, an hour is a good guess for how long they will be exposed to the sun. Make sure that you have an

option for them to get shade or have air conditioning to keep them comfortable.

 

Autumn (September-November):

This is arguable many people’s favorite time of year. The leaves are

changing, the weather is cool but generally sunny, and rich colors abound. This is the time of year we

recommend to our couples to get married because of the previously mentioned reasons and some

venues count October and November as off season and give discounts. It can be challenging for your

guests to travel during this time because school is starting up and the upcoming holiday season may

have already claimed their vacation days. But that is what save the dates are for, right?

 

Winter (December-February):

Winter is typically the slowest time of year for weddings which could work

to your advantage. There is a much higher chance that your guests may be invited to another wedding

on the same day in August, but in January there isn’t usually too much on people’s social calendars.

Another pro to getting married in winter is many people plan on traveling to see their family during the

holidays and already have time off from work. By getting married on the same weekend as Thanksgiving,

the weekend before/after Christmas, or New Years Eve is a great way to celebrate the holidays with

your friends and family. The con is the weather, plain and simple. So make sure that you have a venue

that has plenty of opportunity for pictures indoors and possibly covered areas outside.

Days of the Week

Monday-Thursday:

There seems to be two common threads that run through all week day weddings we

have shot, the couple wanted a specific date which fell midweek and/or they were on a tight budget.

Wedding venues will often give discounts for midweek weddings because they space was going to be

used anyway. This may or may not be the case for other vendors. The main challenge you face is guests

being able to attend. If they are coming from work you should be conscious of that and schedule your

ceremony time later so they are able to make it in time. This options may work to your advantage if the

majority of your guests are coming from out of town because no matter what they were going to miss

work.

 

Friday:

Like weekday weddings, Fridays often have a discounted rate at venues. If you provide a full

dinner and alcohol, guests tend to stay late into the night to celebrate with you. The challenge some will

face is fighting Friday afternoon traffic but again, if most of your guests are traveling to attend this won’t

really be an issue.

 

Saturday:

This is the most popular choice because guests don’t need to miss work and can commit the

day to being with you. The downside is that Saturday will be the most expensive day of the week to get

married and dates get booked much earlier than other days of the week. So if you have a specific

Saturday in the summer that you want to get married, you may need to find an alternate venue if they

are unavailable.

 

Sunday:

Many people don’t consider Sunday as a day for weddings but there are cultures out there that

only allow weddings on Sunday. Sundays are great for weddings that smaller, and is not providing/only

providing a small amount of food and alcohol. These events tend to be shorter and end earlier since

guests need to go home to prepare for school and work the next day.

A final note on selecting a date. It always strikes us as odd when someone tells us they found the perfect

venue but didn’t have their date available so they booked elsewhere. If you have a specific date in mind

and there is no flexibility, we highly suggest that you are up front with venues about it so you and they

don’t waste time.

So, the questions is, when will your wedding be?

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Five ways to get the most out of your wedding photography

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1 Take as many or all picture before the ceremony as possible

Whether you want to do a first look or see each other for the first time during the ceremony, try to schedule as many pictures as possible before the ceremony. Pictures take time, and you will need to budget accordingly. We always respect our clients wish about when they will see each other, but ask that in return that there is a mutual understanding that we need your undivided attention and time to give you the quality and quantity of images that we present.

 

2 Include as much color and texture in the wedding as possible

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Colors in your bouquet will stand out against your white dress rather than blend in, creating a much more striking image. Choose portrait locations like a brick wall or interesting stairs to help you pop out of the image. When you are dressed beautifully and put against a beautiful landscape you blend in. This isn’t a bad thing, but we often find the most interested images have our couples juxtaposed against a backdrop that is unexpected.

 

3 Make hair and makeup appointments one hour earlier

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We don’t want to throw your hair and make up team under the bus, but in our experience they are the number one reason why pictures are negatively effected. They often underestimate how long it takes to do hair and make up and go way past their allotted time. To be fair, they most likely don’t realize the negative impact they have because they are gone and don’t see that they took up 45 of the 60 minutes you had planned to take pictures. Having more than enough time is much better than running late; plus you can hang out with your friends a little bit longer!

 

4 Create the family shot list and explain it to your point person(s)

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As photographers, we know that you will want basic photographs that apply to all weddings pictures like the ones listed above, detail shots, etc., but what we will need your help with is the family photographs. Every wedding has different needs and we want to make sure that we capture all the family photos you wish to have with efficiency and care.

A great way to ensure that this portion of the day runs smoothly is for you to pick a representative from each side of your family to help get everyone organized. Usually a close family friend or an aunt is ideal. Don’t put this responsibility on yourself or your parents since you will be in the photos!

A common question we are asked is, “How far out should we include with our extended family?” The answer is based on your individual families (and the feelings of your parents). Generally, our couples choose to include their immediate family and grandparents. An easy rule of thumb: more than ten people in a picture are too much. It is possible to include more than ten but the picture will be zoomed out to include everyone and details are lost. It is also helpful for us to know if there are any unique family dynamics we should be aware of while posing family members. The most common dynamic that comes up is divorced parents. Let us know they don’t get along so we do awkward put them together. We are all about avoiding the awkward faux pas because no one will be able to tell us what we are doing wrong in the moment and we will force something weird because we are trying to be thorough.

Another issue that families have to navigate is if there is a member that is unliked by some or a significant other of a sibling that hasn’t married into the family but has a good relationship. We have watched couples and their parents make a semi awkward situation really awkward by not communicating clearly what they want and who is in the pictures. Since photography is digital, we suggest avoiding the awkwardness by just taking all the pictures. Take one with Uncle Herb in the picture and another without him. Take one with your brother’s girlfriend and then another without her. It takes much less time to just do the picture than talk about it and have to relive it over and over in the future should it cause hurt feelings.

Here are some sample ideas of family shot ideas to get you going.

Bride, Groom, and bride’s father

Bride, Groom, and bride’s mother

Bride, Groom, and bride’s siblings

Bride, Groom, and bride’s immediate family

 

5 Relax, it will show in pictures if you are stressed

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We cannot stress enough, that whatever you are feeling while we are taking your pictures is going to show through in the camera. If you are nervous, the image will reflect that. If you just got in an argument with your florist, you will look flustered in your pictures. So hand off the reigns to your day of coordinator or someone you trust, and enjoy your day. You put an enormous amount of effort into planning and spent a lot of money, so you deserve to have a wonderful, stress free day!

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6 Ways to Flatter any Body Type in Pictures

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While helping our couples prepare for their wedding pictures we hear a lot of criticism about their face, body, smile, etc. While we always encourage them to be kind to themselves and love who they are, we know that insecurities are a part of daily life for most. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can employ to embrace your looks and have great wedding pictures.

1 Arms away from your side

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It doesn’t matter if you are a size 0 or size 16, anyone will have the dreaded arm fat if you press your arms to your sides. It creates a squished look that even we will admit is unflattering. But you don’t need to go so far as to do what celebrities do on the red carpet by putting a hand on your waist in every shot. Honestly, that is one way to make everything look stiff and posed. Instead, we suggest taking an more subtle approach by turning your elbow a couple inches away from your body. This simple adjustment allows you to stand in almost any position while losing the weird looking armpit area.

2 Avoid dangling hands

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We all remember watching Talladega Nights as the newly famous Ricky Bobby gives an interview and can’t figure out what to do with his hands. Funny enough, this same phenomenon happens at weddings as well, mostly to men. Women are lucky because they have flowers to occupy their hands but these men aren’t used to wearing tuxedos or suits feel uncomfortable so they face the dilemma of what to do with their hands. The answers is, as long as they aren’t dangling like zombie hands, you are probably good to go. Put them in your pockets, around the waist of another person, or folded in front of you. We do not suggest holding behind your back, like you are standing at attention, because it pulls on the jacket in an unflattering manner. By occupying your hands, you instantly look more pulled together.

 

3 Chin up

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Since we were children we were told not to stare at our feet. While teaching acting students, in my former life, I would always say “The next line isn’t on the floor” to get them to look up. The same is true on the wedding day. When we look down, additional chins magically appear that weren’t there a moment ago. It can also create some very unbecoming angles that just look awkward (more on that in #4). As much as you can remember to do it, keep that chin up. It conveys confidence in a way that little else can.

 

4 Angles

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Fashion magazines constantly tell women to “know their angles”, but what happens if you don’t know your angles? Never fear, there are some quick and easy rules to make sure that you are creating a visually interesting, flattering image without having to do much work. In fact, there is basically one rule: don’t stand straight on with the camera. When facing directly into the camera you are giving the widest version of yourself and the light will hit you straight on. By angling yourself slightly and turning at the hips or facing off the side of the camera and bringing just your eyes back, you create a more interesting subject for the camera to capture.

 

5 Accentuate your strengths

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Stop worrying about what you don’t like about your body and focus on what you do like. This advice will probably fit well when dress shopping too. If you don’t like your arms, then find a way to highlight your legs, or smile, or whatever feature you like most. If you have something you are very insecure about, talk to your photographer. Let them know that you would like to avoid that part of you being highlighted and talk about ways you can highlight that parts that make you feel good.

 

6 Smile (and actually mean it)pinthis

We say this all the time, but it doesn’t matter what you look like, it is how you behave that will dictate what your pictures will look like. If you are a big ball of stress and freaking out every couple minutes, then it is going to show in your pictures, even if you are smiling. At some point you will need to accept things for what they are on the day of the wedding and focus on enjoying yourself. No one is going to notice if they flowers were white or off white or that it was penne pasta instead of rigatoni. What they will notice is if you aren’t having a good time. So try to truly enjoy yourself and that alone is the best way to get your pictures to look great.

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Creating a Photography Timeline

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Every wedding is different, but portraits tend to follow a similar pattern. There is only so much that can be done in a certain amount of time, and that is assuming that everything goes exactly as planned. But let’s face it, there are fluctuations and change that happen at weddings and you have to be prepared to be flexible. With all that said, it is best to have a plan and share that plan with bridal party members, family and vendors so that everyone is working toward the same goal at the same time. Below is a suggestion of about how long things take, in our experience, and generally the order they will appear (including a little buffer time):

 

Bride Getting Ready portraits = 30-45 minutes

Groom Getting Ready portraits = 10-15 minutes each

First Look = 10-15 minutes

Bride and Groom Portraits = 45-60 minutes (this could be broken into a couple chunks throughout the day)

Bridal Party portraits = 20-30 minutes

Groom and Groomsmen portraits  = 10-20 minutes

Bride and Bridesmaids portraits = 15-20 minutes

Groom and Bridesmaids/ Bride and Groomsmen portraits = 5-10 minutes

Family portraits = 15 minutes (less than 15 members) or 20 minutes (more than 15 members)

Ceremony = Minimum 15 minutes (This is the minimum amount of time we need to get multiple angles and give complete coverage)

Dinner = 3 minutes per person for buffet line or 30 minutes per course for served

Sunset/Evening portraits =  10-15 minutes (Provides different quality of light than earlier in the day)

Toasts = 5-15 minutes

Cake, First Dance, Mother and Son Dance, Father and Daughter Dance, Anniversary Dance, Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss = 5 minutes each

Prosperity/Money Dance = 5-15 minutes

 

Other variables that need to be taken into account are weather and multiple locations. If your ceremony, reception, and/or portrait locations are different you need to also budget for travel time. This travel time will take long than on a normal day since most likely you are in heels and a big dress that will force you to move slowly. Also, if the weather becomes an issue you may need to make changes on the fly.

If at all possible, try to include some buffer time. Worst case scenario, you didn’t need the buffer time and you have some extra time to enjoy yourself with your future spouse and close friends. Best case scenario, you do need the buffer time and planned ahead for something to go weird but don’t need to stress out about it because you won’t need to rush.

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Wedding Family Portrait Advice

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As photographers, we know that you will want basic photographs that apply to all weddings pictures like the ones listed above, detail shots, etc., but what we will need your help with is the family photographs. Every wedding has different needs and we want to make sure that we capture all the family photos you wish to have with efficiency and care.

A great way to ensure that this portion of the day runs smoothly is for you to pick a representative from each side of your family to help get everyone organized. Usually a close family friend or an aunt is ideal. Don’t put this responsibility on yourself or your parents since you will be in the photos!

A common question we are asked is, “How far out should we include with our extended family?” The answer is based on your individual families (and the feelings of your parents). Generally, our couples choose to include their immediate family and grandparents. An easy rule of thumb: more than ten people in a picture are too much. It is possible to include more than ten but the picture will be zoomed out to include everyone and details are lost. It is also helpful for us to know if there are any unique family dynamics we should be aware of while posing family members. The most common dynamic that comes up is divorced parents. Let us know they don’t get along so we do awkward put them together. We are all about avoiding the awkward faux pas because no one will be able to tell us what we are doing wrong in the moment and we will force something weird because we are trying to be thorough.

Another issue that families have to navigate is if there is a member that is unliked by some or a significant other of a sibling that hasn’t married into the family but has a good relationship. We have watched couples and their parents make a semi awkward situation really awkward by not communicating clearly what they want and who is in the pictures. Since photography is digital, we suggest avoiding the awkwardness by just taking all the pictures. Take one with Uncle Herb in the picture and another without him. Take one with your brother’s girlfriend and then another without her. It takes much less time to just do the picture than talk about it and have to relive it over and over in the future should it cause hurt feelings.

Here are some sample ideas of family shot ideas to get you going.

Bride, Groom, and bride’s father

Bride, Groom, and bride’s mother

Bride, Groom, and bride’s siblings

Bride, Groom, and bride’s immediate family

Bride, Groom, bride’s parents, and bride’s grandparents

Bride, Groom, and bride’s grandparents

Bride, Groom, and bride’s extended family

Bride, Groom, and groom’s father

Bride, Groom, and groom’s mother

Bride, Groom, and groom’s siblings

Bride, Groom, and groom’s immediate family

Bride, Groom, groom’s parents, and bride’s grandparents

Bride, Groom, and groom’s grandparents

Bride, Groom, and groom’s extended family

*All of these could also be done with only the bride or groom with each group

It is amazing how quickly the different combinations can add up, which is why we suggest writing it out before the wedding. In the moment it is really difficult for you to remember which combinations have already been taken and as your photographer that doesn’t know all of your family dynamics, it is impossible for us to know if something was missed. Following these tips should ensure a quick and quality family portrait session and allow everyone to get back to the celebration.

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