If you read this blog, you might know – I have a love affair with winter weddings. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is – part of me says it is the beautiful soft sunrises and sunsets here in the mid-Atlantic. Sometimes the sky is gray, sure, but sometimes it is pink. It could be the amazing reflectivity of the light on the snow, bouncing back onto the couple and making them glow. It could be the slower pace of the winter wedding season, where we get a bit more time to savor each wedding. I think, deep down, it’s often the couples – couples who have that “come what may” attitude – they expect snow or icy rain or the chill and brave it all – and at the end of the day, all that matters is that they are married.

Jennifer and Mike’s wedding day was in mid-December and we were so lucky – there was the first REAL winter weather just a few days before – so their wedding at the ski resort became the opening day of ski season! These two enjoy skiing together so it was only fitting – Jennifer got Mike into skiing and they even honeymooned on the slopes of Colorado!

Because these two shared a first look, they were able to have so many portraits captured before their twilight ceremony, including on the ski lift and the slopes AND on the tubing run! Shout out to the awesome shuttle driver who took them to tons of spots for us – it was frigid and the snow was ankle deep – but it was beautiful! And also thanks to Jennifer and Mike’s friends of honor – who helped with ski boots and carrying the cape and throwing snow as a prop!

Some of the special details in this wedding included photos in their ski boots, fingerprint engraving on the wedding band, a gorgeously decorated ceremony space (can you even BELIEVE this is usually the cafeteria and lounge for skiiers?!) and the cocoa and cookie bar during the reception.
Note to the couple:

Jennifer and Mike, it was wonderful to work with you on your wedding day! We thank you for choosing Kristen Wynn Photography and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness always! Congratulations!

See our full galleries here!

Vendors:
Prep location: Four Seasons Lounge at Hidden Valley Resort
Gown Designer: Juliana Maria/This Magic Moment Bridal Studio
Men’s Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse
Florist: Barron’s Landscaping & Floral
Hair Stylist: Elisha Evans Styling
Make-Up Artist: Elisha Evans Styling
Hotel Accomodations: Hidden Valley Resort
Ceremony venue: Alpine Room at Hidden Valley Resort
Reception venue: Clocktower Restaurant at Hidden Valley Resort
Cake: Vicki Zinsser/Sugarz Bake Shop – The Treat House Cafe & Bakery
Catering: Hidden Valley Resort
Entertainment: Entertainment Tonight
Photographer: Kristen Wynn Photography




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I get asked this question a lot and it makes sense – so many of my clients are about to take a BIG vacation as a couple and they want to document it! Or maybe they’ve always wanted to get into photography and Christmas is just around the corner! Or they are expecting a baby and want something a little better than their phone to document. I’ve included Amazon links where appropriate for research/browsing purposes only, but I highly encourage you to Google and look around!

1. What are the different types of cameras? Do you want a point and shoot, a mirrorless, or a DSLR? 

Years ago, before smart phones, many people (myself included) used “point and shoot cameras” – and just a heads up, those are still a thing! My sister has a nice point and shoot which is compact and can do great video too. These cameras are more discreet and less “I’m a tourist here to take photos!” and easier to take to outings as well as take up a ton less room in your luggage.

This discussion can get very technical, but for awhile, there were just TWO types of digital cameras: there’s a DSLR which people often think of as a big “pro” looking camera (what you see paparazzi with or photographers at the Super Bowl or typically yes, weddings) with detachable lenses and then small point and shoot/compact cameras where the lenses are built in – these can fit in your pocket/purse. If you were to take the lens off of a big DSLR, you would see a mirror inside of the camera.

So for years, there were just two kinds – but now there is something called “mirrorless.” You can think of mirrorless (remember the mirror I mentioned above?) as a “bridge” camera between a compact point and shoot and a pro camera (not my words – read this analogy online and source linked below). The mirrorless style is small and compact like a point and shoot but typically DOES have detachable lenses and a bigger sensor for quality. I should totally cite my sources on all this, by the way – it’s complex and I mainly deal in the world of DSLR’s, so I fully admit I am not well-versed on other camera options and have Googled and also asked photographer friends for their recommendations! Here’s an in-depth online discussion about it if you want to get deep and technical.

As of this writing (June 2018), this is the point and shoot camera my sister has and I recommend: Samsung Galaxy Point and Shoot Style Camera – around $300 

On the more expensive end of the range ($600 or so), there is a compact camera that my photographer friend Charlene has and likes and it gets great reviews: Canon Powershot G7X Mark II  – you can do a lot and learn a lot with this camera!

Those cameras are fixed lens. If you want to keep the camera compact but still take it up a notch and use interchangeable lenses, my photog friend Jen likes the Fuji mirrorless (you have to buy lenses with this model – there is a similar one with a fixed lens as well): Fujifilm XT-1000

TL;DR: Do you want a compact camera or a big pro style camera?

2. I want a DSLR “big camera” – which one?

I just want to say, I am so thrilled people are getting into photography! I will recommend what I started with – a Canon Rebel (I learned on Canon and shoot Canon now, so I am only familiar with their line and not the Sony or Nikon brand). This is a camera to grow on and is for beginners. If you are already past the beginner level or super techy/want to buy a step up from beginner, you probably want to step into the 6D/7D series – but this is unnecessary if you just want to get started with a DSLR.

People often ask me if they should buy the newest Rebel – and new Rebels come out very frequently! I feel like I see a new Rebel model in Costco every 6 months, versus our pro level cameras come out with a new model every 2ish years. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t necessary – they don’t change a ton on these from model to model and you can save a few dollars by getting last year’s model – this one currently runs about $400!

Here’s a Canon Rebel and it comes with a basic lens. 

This lens is 18-55mm, which on this camera sensor is actually a pretty good “vacation/general” lens. There are some limitations to it in that it is variable aperture, so it isn’t the best lens for learning, in my opinion – but I would get it for vacations/trips and to get you started! You don’t have to get the camera at Amazon either, but if you do, please get it from Amazon themselves and not from a third party/overseas seller. Costco and Best Buy might have better deals.

Truth: I got my first one on Craigslist! But I wouldn’t recommend that if you are a beginner since you need someone to come with you and make sure it is working properly.

3. What else do I need to get? I see a kit on Amazon that includes 3 filters, a lens cleaning cloth, a carrying bag, batteries, memory cards…

I personally think you should get JUST the camera and the included “kit” lens to start as a bundle – you don’t need most of the stuff included in those pre-bundled deals.

You can look separately for bags online to protect it. You want to buy a memory card or two right away – the one that comes in the camera will only hold about 10 shots typically. If you are going on a trip, buy a few memory cards and swap them out.

I don’t buy memory cards from Amazon – I buy only from BHPhotoVideo or in person at Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc – there are just too many fake memory cards out on Amazon in my opinion. I like Sandisk.

Other essentials? I like Peak Design straps as well as the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.

You may also want an external hard drive to store photos and Adobe Lightroom to get started in editing. As your editing skill progresses, you might want Adobe Elements (outright purchase) or Adobe Photoshop (subscription model).  If your computer doesn’t have a card reader, you can get one of those too.

As you learn photography, the lens I would recommend is the 50mm 1.8 lens, called the “Nifty Fifty” – this is a prime focal length, meaning it doesn’t zoom, and the 1.8 feature means it lets in a lot of light – it’s the best fixed aperture lens for the price out there. This should be your next lens purchase, in my opinion and is great as a portrait lens for kids or pets! 

4. Where should I buy all of this? Amazon?

Sure, you can do Amazon as I mentioned above for some items. If you are looking for a deal and want used gear, I recommend BHPhotoVideo.com as well. Also, if you want to shop local, YM Camera in Boardman, Ohio has some nice gear – you can actually see and touch camera bags, hold cameras, etc.

5. What about other cool stuff like underwater video and beach photos and drones?

For the beach, I recommend a LifeProof Fre for your phone – you can take photos snorkeling, etc. The GoPro Hero WITH LCD screen is good for action and ziplining and it is very compact. Lastly, if you just want to get started with droning a bit, the DJI Spark is great.

Best of luck and enjoy this wonderful world of photography! And remember – the BEST camera is the one you have with you!

Also, this post has WAY too much text – here’s a slideshow of how I started on my first ever camera and photo shoots and progressed to where I am today in 2018 – many cameras and lenses but also, mainly – lots of practice time later!




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Liza & Bryan were married in early December at the St. Louise de Marillac Parish with the reception at the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh.

Before the ceremony, Liza shared a special first look with her dad. Her bridesmaids surprised her with a video dedicated to her on her wedding day. If both of those events weren’t emotional enough, Bryan wrote a love note on the bottom of Liza’s wedding shoes!

The couple had a bubble send off after the ceremony and Liza & Bryan’s bernedoodle stopped by to greet the newlyweds! He also had a drink (The Wally) named after him at the reception.

During their portraits in downtown Pittsburgh, we had to stop and get a picture in front of the restaurant they had their first real date – Six Penn Kitchen.

Liza & Bryan had a fiddler entertaining their guests during cocktail hour. Blush pink & antique gold with black and white accents decorated the reception. One of Liza’s bridesmaids Molly sang an original song during the couple’s first dance.

At the end of the night we ran across the street to Point State Park which was decorated with lights and got to do some great night shots.

Note to the couple:

Liza & Bryan, it was wonderful to work with you on your wedding day! We thank you for choosing Kristen Wynn Photography and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness always! Congratulations!

Be sure to see our full galleries here!

Vendors:
Invite: By Invitation Only
Prep location: Private homes
Gown Designer: Justin Alexander/Bridal Beginning
Earrings: Macy’s
Veil & Belt: Bridal Beginning
Headpiece: Clarissa Boutique
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bridal Beginning
Men’s Formalwear: Macy’s
Florist: The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers
Hair Stylist: Bad Wolf Studio/Emily Andrews
Make-Up Artist: Simone Jene Makeup
Hotel Accomodations: Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Transportation: TDF Limousine
Coordinator/Planner: Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown/Ashley Brown
Cinematographer: Just Hitched Wedding Films
Ceremony venue: St. Louise de Marillac Parish
Reception venue: Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Cake: Bethel Bakery
Catering: Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Entertainment: DJ Sam Crawford
Rings: Goldstock Jewelers
Linens & chairs: Mosaic, Inc.
Photographer: Kristen Wynn Photography




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We have so much fun working weddings – check out our 2017 behind the scenes slideshow!




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Having done over 250 weddings, we’ve seen a bunch of little snafus – from common to super rare! I wanted to share a few anecdotes and advice for you.

I know the title says “make sure they don’t happen to you!” but there will always be delays on the wedding day and we pad the timeline with extra time for delays! I was just joshing you with the clickbait!

Still, there are things to consider and these little delays are one reason I like my full coverage packages – it gives us a bit of wiggle room and time to make up shots if necessary.

Know that in the end, these weddings were all successful and lovely – some of the couples even have a unique story to look back on! Here’s some advice for different scenarios. (Note – the photos are just to illustrate the article – not singling out any particular couple for any delays! Every wedding has delays!)

Common Delays on a Wedding Day in No Particular Order
*Bowties – If you are doing real bowties and not pre-tied ones, make sure every guy watches YouTube and practices. I can do boutonnieres and regular ties myself – but bowties are unique in that you can’t do them on yourself and then put it on someone else – so you have to tie it on someone else backwards. In order to get a tie that every groomsman is happy with – realize that this can take upwards of 30 minutes.

*Zipper and button issues – Ladies aren’t immune from wardrobe issues. I’d say the percentage of a button or corset stay popping off during dressing is about 1/10 – and the little hook and eye often doesn’t make it through the day either. I’ve sewn quite a few dress backs – so be gentle when lacing and buttoning – and practice buttoning it all the way up in the shop to loosen the buttonholes. (Buttonholes – make sure you read that right!) 😉  If and when this happens – don’t stress. We will all get you fixed up!

*Bustles – Make sure your maid of honor knows the bustle inside and out – but also realize that almost no one’s bustle lasts all night through dancing! So aim to get some approximation of it and bring lots of pins to fix it later in the evening as your dress can get a smidge stepped on during a packed dance floor number!

*Missing tux items – Why are so many of these wardrobe related? Sometimes a tux comes with missing pieces or a groomsman has forgotten socks. Once, we had a groomsman lose just the pants to the tux on a hotel room floor over an hour away! Make sure all the gentlemen check their tuxes and try them on to avoid making a trip to the tux store that morning!

*Shuffling and hotel logistics – Hotel elevators are notoriously slow! Also, if we have to shuffle the bride around to avoid guests or to avoid the couple seeing each other, it can add a few minutes of delay.

*Receiving lines and table visits – It’s very important to greet your guests – but make sure to keep an eye on time or have a bridesmaid help move the line along. You can always go back for “seconds” on visits once you greet everyone at least once.

*Hair and makeup – Sometimes, there’s a hesitancy for anyone to want to go first. Sometimes, a bridesmaid might need redone because she doesn’t like an aspect of her hairdo. I’ve also talked to my hair and makeup artist vendor friends, who report the biggest delays are adding another person last minute to the schedule (a bridesmaid sees how nice everyone looks and wants to get done after all), trying to count money/settle up the bill/write checks as the artist packs up to leave, attendants arriving with wet hair that then needs blow dried, and multiple interruptions to the lady in the chair – having to get up to hand over keys, look at arriving floral, show someone where the shoes are, go down to the lobby to move their car, etc.

*Family photos – Delays are very common here because people are excited after the ceremony and wander off! Make sure everyone stays local and we will get the photos done just as fast as we can!


*Limos/traffic – Make sure your limo is stocked with beverages – beer runs can eat up valuable time. And make sure the limo driver has a GPS and a full charged phone as well as a list of addresses!

*Photography runs long – yep, occasionally guilty! Sometimes I want to just keep taking amazing photos of you if I find some great light or I have some inspiration – but this is why my assistant Allison keeps a tight timeline and makes me adhere to it! I just love this part of the day, so she has to be the heavy while I am being creative!

Less Common Delays on a Wedding Day
*Switching and checking out of rooms – There are so many moving pieces to a wedding day – it is easier to not have to “check out” of a room at 11am or move a ton of bags to another room in the middle of the prep process. If you do have to do this, designate someone to help you get your bags to the other room – you’ll have a lot to do!

*Decorating the reception yourself/reception hall not being done – This all depends on the timing for your day. It’s just something to be aware of – if your venue is heavily DIY, make sure you have plenty of helpers so the groom and his friends aren’t having to go get kegs or sweeping floors when it is time to dress!

*The priest/officiant runs longer than expected – It happens! Also, if your ceremony will be in two languages, add extra time for the translation.

*Forgotten items – We mentioned earlier the tux pants left on a hotel room floor – but we’ve also seen a groom’s suit locked in a car over an hour away as well as wedding bands left behind on hotel dressers an hour away as well as marriage licenses that simply nowhere to be found (they had to do some vows the next morning to finalize it once the license emerged!) Designate a bridesmaid or groomsman to be the “rings and license” person.

Crazy, Memorable, Once-in-a-Lifetime Delays that Probably Won’t Happen to You


*a parade taking place RIGHT outside the hotel with marching band- completely blocking the entrances to the hotel lot!

*a 5k race also blocking seemingly every road to the hotel where the bride was getting ready – and the bridesmaids were carrying their dresses through crowds of people doing an actual color run! (No one’s dress got dirty!)

*the limo breaking down on the highway – this has actually happened twice in 250+ weddings, but both times, mom and dad to the rescue. Everyone loaded up in various cars and vans and it was actually kind of fun for the bridal party and guests!

*the priest showed up late – weddings are normally done at  a certain time at that church and this was a rare earlier wedding. One of the guests tracked him down at a nearby store and he hurried to the church, got dressed, and STILL got the wedding done finished on time – that’s a pro right there! The couple will always have a story to tell!

*This one’s a little risque…consummating the marriage before the end of the reception! Hey, you do you. I mean – you do each other. 😉 I joke and I kid, but if you two go missing from the reception hall for a long time and come back with messy hair and just married grins – well, we can only assume! It’s your day and you should do whatever you want – but just let the venue know you’re taking a quick break so no one sends out a search party before dinner!

I hope this article gave you a bit of advice and brought a smile to your face! One of the best parts about weddings is the unpredictability and uniqueness of each day – we’d love to help you plan your best timeline!




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Kylie and Marc were married in late November 2017 at Peters Creek Baptist Church in South Park with the reception following at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pittsburgh-Greentree. Kylie and Marc met on match.com and we first photographed the couple for their engagement session in the fall of 2016.

Kylie and Marc exchanged cards and gifts with each other prior to doing a private first look in Oakland. The couple’s dog got in on a few photos as well. The couple was then joined by their bridal party – one of the largest bridal parties we’ve ever worked with – 13 bridesmaids, 13 groomsmen, 2 junior bridesmaids and a flowergirl!

During photos and on the ride to the ceremony, a lady bug kept landing on Kylie and she took it as a sign from her late grandmother.

After the ceremony, the couple and their bridal party stopped across the street to take a few photos in the cemetery – only fitting as Marc is a funeral director and their engagement photos were taken in a cemetery.

As the evening transitioned from cocktail hour into the reception, Kylie and Marc greeted each of their 300 guests. On the way in to the ballroom, guests were treated to a shot of Slivovitz, bread and a boutonniere of rosemary, which is all part of the Croatian tradition. The couple also participated in the dollar dance where Kylie wore a babushka.

After the traditional parent dances, Kylie and her mom shared a special dance in which Kylie’s mom had pre-recorded a song as a surprise for her daughter. Kylie and Marc also unveiled an entire room devoted just to cookies! The couple also treated their guests to late night pizza.

Kylie and Marc were selected for the cover of the Canonsburg Observer Reporter 2018 wedding edition.

Note to the couple:

Kylie and Marc, we loved working with the two of you! We thank you for choosing Kristen Wynn Photography and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness always! Congratulations!

Be sure to see our full galleries here!

Vendors:
Invite: Hello Beautiful Designs
Prep location: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Greentree
Gown Designer: Sorelle Bridal Salon/Allure
Bridesmaid Dresses: MB Bride/Bill Levkoff
Men’s Formalwear: Jack’s Tuxedo
Florist: Fields of Heather
Hair Stylist: Julia James Salon
Make-Up Artist: JL Makeup Studio and Beauty Boutique
Hotel Accomodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Greentree
Transportation: TDF Limousine Service
Cinematographer: Shofilms
Ceremony venue: Peters Creek Baptist Church, South Park
Reception venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Greentree
Cake: Signature Desserts
Catering: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Greentree
Entertainment: 2nd II None Productions
Rings: Goldsmith Shoppe
Photographer: Kristen Wynn Photography




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Andrea and Frank were married in late November at Heinz Memorial Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh campus. We started the day with the ladies getting ready at Pittsburgh Airport Marriott in Coraopolis. Later on, we returned there for the reception.

Andrea and Frank met at Hofbrahaus and Frank later proposed in Nashville after almost three years of dating. Together they like to go to the gym, hike and spend time outdoors. So of course we got plenty of outdoor photos! The weather did start to get a little rainy but we were actually able to take one of my favorite photos in the rain – on the front steps of the Cathedral of Learning.
After the ceremony, we also got photos at CMU columns, which is a Pittsburgh tradition. As the sun started to set around 5:00 PM in November, we all headed back to the hotel for the reception. One of the special features of their reception was the late night buffet with snack foods of french fries, tater tots and chicken fingers. Congratulations on a beautiful wedding!

Note to the couple:

Andrea and Frank, it was wonderful to work with you on your wedding day! We thank you for choosing Kristen Wynn Photography and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness always! Congratulations!

Be sure to see our full galleries here!

Vendors:

Invite: Purple Wagon

Prep location: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

Gown Designer: Bridal Beginning/Allure

Bridesmaid Dresses: Bridal Beginning

Men’s Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse

Florist: Parkway Florist

Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist: Allison Roth Studio

Hotel Accomodations: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

Transportation: B&M Limo

Coordinator/Planner: Jeannie Dankowski

Cinematographer: One Night Only Films

Ceremony venue: Heinz Memorial Chapel

Reception venue: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

Cake: Bethel Bakery

Catering: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

Entertainment: Pittsburgh DJ Company

Photographer: Kristen Wynn Photography




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Kristi and Matt had the perfect time in October for their engagement session – right at the height of the fall leaves! Both Kristi and Matt went through the Physician’s Assistant Program at Duquesne University and they first met at Mario’s after seeing each other around campus multiple times. They got engaged in Ocean City, Maryland this past summer. The session was really unique because we did part of it at Squaw Valley Park and the other part was done on the grounds of their apartment. We love whenever people come up with session locations we haven’t used yet! We can’t wait to see the two of you again in August for your wedding!

See our full galleries here!




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This couple is getting married this weekend so we wanted to take the time to share their engagement photos! Kendra and Robert met in Kansas City and he proposed at the Point in Pittsburgh. They enjoy traveling, reading, cooking and hiking. They share the same profession – both are eye doctors! I love what Kendra chose to wear for her engagement photos – it really brightened up Phipps on this rainy fall weekend. I am so excited to be working with them again for their wedding this Saturday!

Be sure to see our full galleries here!




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In November 2017, I was a groomslady (or groomswoman or whatever you prefer!) in my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wedding! I was standing on my brother-in-law’s side as a way to represent my late husband. That was very important to me.

As my gift to them (they were working with a more DIY wedding), I also volunteered to do the photography – they were very sweet to gift me later in the interest of full disclosure – but the majority of my photography package was my gift. I have found a few photographers online who have also done this, such as Katelyn James and Amy and Jordan – but most people I found who have done this were husband and wife teams. I didn’t find any solo shooters doing this, so I wanted to write a blog post about this.

If you’re all “TL:DR” – I made a video too. Peppered throughout are some behind the scenes shots and I’m also including some of the finished product. Click here to see Emily and Bryan’s  full blog post.

Q: Is this a good idea?
A: So 2017 was my 8th wedding season – I had done about 250+ weddings at the time. Prior to 2016 or 2017, I would have said this is a BAD idea, actually – because I personally didn’t have the experience level and systems yet in place to be able to do this. I would (and have) told people online NOT to do this and to encourage their sister/best friend/college roommate to hire someone instead.

However, my thoughts on this changed in 2017 and it’s because I had more systems and support in place. In 2017, I had an office assistant who was able to free me up a bit personally and professionally to be able to carve free time out and enjoy more of the wedding planning process, bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc. Prior to 2017, I wouldn’t even have had the time to enjy the wedding as much as I did.

I’ve had an editor for several years and we have a good system in place as well – even for November, which is usually at the end of the crazy busy photography month of October.

Also, in October of 2016, my friend Char was a bridesmaid in a wedding and we arranged for me to shoot it and for her to edit for her very good friend – so I already had an idea of what the type of support structure could look like and how it could work.

So generally, I’d say YES this is a good idea if you are experienced in your career, have your workflow down, have supports in place, and a few other key things fall into place.

Q: What kind of support do I need to have to do this successfully?
A: I’ve already mentioned how I have an editor and I had an office assistant as well. I also had my regular wedding day assistant there in my sister Allison. Additionally, I hired a friend (Weddings by Alisa) to shoot the things I couldn’t like bridal party, family, and ceremony. What’s the price for this? Photogs, I paid 2x the going rate for second shooters – since they’re taking some primary roles that day. Obviously husband and wife teams will have a different work distribution – depending on which partner’s family the wedding is for. This was my gift to this sweet couple (as well as engagement photos) and that way I still supported and did not undermine our industry and pricing.

Q. Should you do weddings for friends/family in general?
A. You gotta know your friends and family.  You probably know which friends and family members’ weddings you should shoot in general and which you should refer out – whether that’s due to a personality fit, a photography style fit, pricing, etc.

TEN QUICK TIPS TO SHOOT A WEDDING AND BE IN IT

QUICK TIPS
1. You need to be selfless with your hair and makeup (and general appearance) – it’s going to suffer some.

As a bridesmaid, of course you should be all about the bride anyway. But if going down the aisle looking pristine is very important to you – refer the wedding out. Get your hair and makeup done first before any other wedding party members – and just know, it’s not going to stay perfect all day.

2. Along the same line, think about your outfit and what it can handle as far as shooting.

I’m a very physical shooter – I’ve never been the photographer who can wear a pencil skirt and 4″ heels. I lay on the ground, I climb things. So know your bridesmaid dress – a very light colors, tight, sequined dress with a slit – think about doing a quick change for photos. For this wedding, our dresses were short and not delicate (got to pick our own!), so I just wore Spanx underneath with shorts and then brought spare shoes just in case. (Also on hand: a t-shirt to throw over to prevent snags, which I didn’t ultimately use and a shower cap in case of rain for over my updo – see below)

3. Shoot every single detail you can shoot in advance – the week before (personal details) or the night before (reception details) – except floral for obvious reasons.

You can ask the bride what type of flowers she will have and then use fake ones or purchase some retail to fill in for the details, then the day of, just shoot the actual bouquet shots. This is a HUGE timesaver.

4. The type of wedding this is will make or break you.

My BIL and SIL had a very chill wedding – no traditional-style reception events. Their ceremony and reception were all on one property. All these factors alleviate some logistics and stress – you might need more support with a full Catholic mass, long drive, multiple photo locations, grand ballroom reception.

5. On the bright side, you are going to have more control over some aspects than a client wedding and you can also give more generously too.

You may have more influence over the vendors hired, the timing of the ceremony, ways to stretch the budget, time of year, timeline, etc. You can also give more generously – more elaborate engagement session, album upgrades, that sort of thing.

6. You’ll experience the wedding differently than if you were solely serving as say, maid of honor.

I’d recommend you do it for say, a sister-in-law, yes! Would I necessarily do this for my closest sibling or absolute best friend? Probably not – but my closest sibling and I work weddings together! 🙂 Also, if you are doing the photography – skip the alcohol. That doesn’t bother me because I don’t drink – but if you were thinking of having a few, make sure to delegate your reception duties to your assistants.

7. Write out every step and envision the day.

Get very detailed – what’s going in the car with you, when will you put your dress on, walk through the entire day and who will shoot what on your team. Even include putting on your jewelry – I forgot to put my earrings on for awhile since I didn’t have it written down (I’m a super linear person!)

8. You might feel MORE comfortable behind the camera.

I know I usually do – it’s something a lot of photographers feel. If you feel more comfortable having a job to do at social events (because I’m socially a bit awkward and maybe you feel that way too!) – this is something you might like!

9. Hope and pray it doesn’t rain.

This might be Pittsburgh specific. Just know the job is going to get harder with hair/makeup/outfits/lighting if you have to move indoors or shoot under cover. I had a raincoat, shower cap/rain bonnet, hairdryer and rain ideas planned. You could alternatively think about having a day-after session for the couple if the rain looks to be torrential.

10. Just say NO to any other additional responsibilities.

Don’t be the breakfast bringer, don’t be the reception hall decorator. Don’t be the dress bustler or the bridal shower planner. For myself, I couldn’t ever handle also giving a reading or a speech or singing or anything like that in addition to my responsibilities. Again, I’m very single-task focused though! Know what you can do.

Lessons Learned:

*In the future, I would try to do a first look and get everything done before the ceremony – that way, post-ceremony, all the hard work is already done! Also, I always feel that time pressure to get back to the reception at a reasonable time while still making good photos! Alternatively, consider a committed-to day after/post-session!

*I know from talking with a few other photographers, occasionally people will have another wedding the day before their sister’s or the day after their best friend’s. If at ALL possible – try to not do this. This was important for my anxiety level and balance – I had one the weekend before, then just my SIL and BIL’s, then a weekend off. That was so ideal!

If you decide it’s not for you:

That’s okay! I would totally do it again because I loved it and I had a ton of help and I wanted them to have the best possible photos – and it was a way for me to give a gift that otherwise would be out of my price range! But if it’s not for you, you can always hire a photographer for them as your gift or do a day-after session for them!




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