As a seasoned wedding photographer who specializes in unique and DIY weddings, I’ve pretty much seen and done it all in my 13 years. The idea of a DIY wedding, or even just shaking up the traditional dynamics, sounds great, however sometimes it causes a lot more stress and frustration. For you, your guests, your bridal party and for your vendors. A well-planned event will make all the difference, all while letting your freak flag fly in whatever fashion you see fit!
The biggest tip I can offer you is to hire at least ONE seasoned wedding professional that will be with you all along the way. Whether that is an event coordinator or a very opinionated, A-type personality wedding photographer like myself. We will remind you that you need trash cans, safety pins and time to actually enjoy your new spouse on the wedding day. Though I’m biased, my vote would be to hire an established wedding photographer before you do anything else for your wedding. I can save you time, money, arguments with family and offer insight and behind-the-scenes tips on how to plan a smooth and fun wedding. From picking your venues and planning out your wedding day timeline to re-sewing your dress bustle at the end of the night, I’m there through thick and thin. I’ve cut the undergarments out of the wedding gown, driven a drunk Bride home and put her to bed, fixed or attached bouquets and boutonnieres at pretty much every wedding, redone the Bride or Bridesmaid’s hair and cued the guitarist friend when the bridal party was walking down the aisle. I’m also a pro at keeping your mother out of your face when you are stressed.
As for locations, we have so many wonderful places right here in the South Wedge area that do an amazing job, are unique, photograph well and are more affordable than a standard wedding venue. Two of my favorite combinations would be The Cinema for the ceremony and the German House for the reception or Highland Park’s Lilac arches for your wedding ceremony with the Playhouse or Orbs for the reception. Need a church instead? Colgate Divinity allows any faith to hold their ceremony there and it is just up the street! I’ve photographed weddings inside The Cinema, The German House, Colgate Divinity (inside and on the lawn), the Tap & Mallet, Highland Park’s Lamberton Conservatory, a neighbor’s backyard and in Buta Pub (formerly The Keg)! All of these locations allow a plethora of photo opportunities within walking distance.
Hiring a photographer to capture your unique-to-you local wedding is no small feat. A true professional photographer can make a low-budget wedding look high-end, however the reverse is not true. Many people choose to use a friend or family member to document their day only to realize that the images are boring, poorly lit, poorly composed and many wonderful moments were missed. There are so many horror stories about images never getting delivered (or seen!), media cards being corrupted and priceless images lost.
Those of us working full-time in this industry take our jobs very seriously. For me, every waking minute is spent thinking about my clients, their wedding dynamics, their family dynamics and getting to know what makes their relationship special. My personal goal is to guide my couples in thinking more about the marriage than about the wedding day. I truly believe that there is a perfect photographer out there for every couple and encourage you to find one you can’t live without. A few questions to ask when interviewing your documentarian would be: “How comfortable are you with difficult lighting situations?” “What happens if my Aunt is getting in the way while you are taking our photos?” “Will you create our wedding album for us and how many of your couples get an album within two years?”
Hopefully when you meet with potential photographers or view their websites, you will see that they love working weddings just like yours. Most of us have blogs and if you can get yourself to look more critically, the signs are right there as to who they like working with and where they feel inspired. When Jodi (owner of Revival Vintage Rentals) met with me in 2007 for her wedding at The Cinema, I literally started clapping and squealing like a little kid! Every single thing they had planned, I loved. Other photographers in the area were trashing the wedding venue choice and didn’t see the appeal. So it was a perfect match for all of us. And in the end, their wedding earned me a prestigious wedding photography award from the acclaimed international Wedding Photo Journalist Association!
So let that freak flag fly high and go ahead and plan your perfect wedding the way you want it to be. But remember to include a professional in the mix to help guide you through the process and ensure you have a memorable and perfect day.