Boutique Photography ~ So Oregon-Calif Weddings

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                              Wedding Tips...
                                                                                                                  ....... for the big day!

These tips are designed to help you have the very best photography experience…
and the very best wedding day photos! These ideas and suggestions come from several years of
experience and are guaranteed to give you excellent results if followed. You are spending good money on your
photography and you should want to get the very best for your money. :))

1. MATTER OF FACTORS ~ Weather, lighting and view
This is probably one of the most important suggestions I can give you. When you are choosing your venue and the time of your wedding and reception, take into consideration 3 important factors; weather, lighting and view.
You are spending good money on your wedding photography… so you want to make sure that everything else lines up in order to get the very best shots! First of all think about the weather. If you plan to get married in the mountains… then you may want to hold your wedding in the summer unless you are planning on a winter white wedding. Be sure that you coincide your wedding date and location in order to avoid (to the best of your ability) rain, snow, wind etc.
Second… think about the lighting. Schedule your wedding during a time of day that gives you the best lighting possible. If you are planning to have your guests facing the Rogue River at 6pm in June… You, your guests and your photographer will be facing into the sun. This makes for terrible photography and very uncomfortable guests.
And third… the view. Stand back and look at the background of the area that you have picked out. Is it going to be pretty and complimenting in photographs? Have someone take a few photos of you standing in that area at the time you have your wedding scheduled for so that you can get a good idea of what to expect. That fountain may look pretty… but when you are standing in front of it for pictures… it may appear that the water is coming out of the top of your heads.

2. BIRDS EYE VIEW ~ What your photographer might see
When you are choosing your venue, or after you have... and are planning on the set-up… take a walk around the venue... where the ceremony will take place, the reception... etc., and using your camera, look through the view-finder to give yourself a better idea of what you might expect your images to look like. Take a few shots of some friends standing in various places for a little better perspective.
Often things look beautiful and different (like the fountain I mentioned before) when just looking at them normally… but when you view them through the eye of a photographer… your results may be quite different.
A bride and groom might be dead set on a particular area of a venue for the formal shots (like one couple I had )... and at first glance was absolutely beautiful... but they where not as keen on the idea when I showed them how it would appear that small trees were growing from the tops of everyone's heads. :))

3. PUTTING YOUR DUCKS IN ORDER ~ Organizing your guests:
Getting the family photos or getting everyone into the shot takes a little planning. While you're thinking about groups and portrait sessions - make a list of who you desire in each shot. Tell all your relatives (in advance) that they should be there or be prepared at a certain time. Be sure to fill out your itinerary sheet (with photo session times), and make several copies before mailing it to your photographer. Email it to your wedding party days in advance, and pass it out again at your reception. It is also a great idea (and highly suggested) to appoint someone who will gather the appropriate family members at the appropriate time, leaving you with one less thing to worry about! Consider them your personal assistant for your wedding day! Most of all leave a selection of time aside strictly for family shots. to your photographer. Email it to your wedding party days in advance, and pass it out again at your reception. Leave contingency reserve for potential late comers (yes, you know who they are). Most of all, leave a selection of time aside stricktly for family shots.

Realtors use the expression, “location, location, location!” And they use it for a reason… whether you are selling or buying a house or just going for a picnic… location is key… and so it is for your wedding as well!
If you are looking for great outdoor shots, do your research and scope out plenty of areas at your venue. If you are getting married in a location that has a variety of different photo "op" locations, allot your photographer the extra time to be able to move about and get all those great shots. Dramatic backgrounds are great for this t 
ype of photo shoot, but many things will work... a forest, field of flowers, old buildings, barns, rocky riversides, meadow, city streets, college campus, city park, etc.
Try to avoid heavily shaded areas or backdrops that have you looking straight into the glaring sun. If you are just not sure... make sure your photographer is one who researches or visits the venue location beforehand. You certainly do not want your photographer showing up on your wedding day ill equipped for the job!

5. BEACHIN IT ~ beach weddings:
Beach weddings are beautiful and fun, but if you plan to get married at the beach there are a few things you should know. The first thing is just the same as above… do your research!!  Beach weddings can be tricky… and some more than others depending on where you live!
A beach wedding in Southern California can be done just about any time of the year… where a beach wedding in Northern California or Oregon is a completely different story. The best months for a beach wedding in Northern California and Oregon or Washington would be June or July through October… with your prime months being August and September.
Be sure to choose a time later in the day, as many times it can be foggy along the coast in the mornings and early afternoons. The best times for a beach wedding is between 3 and 6 pm. You will also want to check the tide tables to find out when the tide is out and arrange your ceremony times accordingly. A high tide can put a big damper on your wedding plans! great for this type of photo shoot, but many things will work.... a forest, field of flowers, old buildings, barns, rocky riversides, meadow, city streets, college campus, city park, etc great for this type of photo shoot, but many things will work.... a forest, field of flowers, old buildings, barns, rocky riversides, meadow, city streets, college campus, city park, etc.

Finally, check with your local State Parks Departments regarding permits. Many State Parks require a small fee for beach weddings.

6. AMELIA BEDILIA ~ Decorating the brides dressing room:
This usually gets overlooked in the planning and decorating phase. First, start by picking a room that has enough room to move around... one with lots of natural light. And use light gauzy fabrics over the windows instead of thick curtains or shutters that obstruct illumination. Appoint someone to keep the room tidy and to eliminate unnecessary objects, trash, etc. eliminate unnessesary objects, trash, etc.
A natural look is the way to achieve the a documentary style you are looking for, so you don't want the room to be pristine... but you do want it tidy. Cover up any unpresentable objects with curtains or drape cloth. Empty boxes and bags should be placed somewhere outside the dressing room. It looks wonderful to have all the dresses hanging and shoes lying around on the floor, but they look awful if they are still in the boxes or if they have piles of plastic wrappers and cardboard boxes lying next to them. A natural look is the way to achieve the documentary style you are looking for. So… you don’t want the room to be pristine… but you do want it tidy.  Cover up any un-presentable objects with curtains or drape cloth. Empty boxes and bags should be placed somewhere outside the dressing room. It looks wonderful to have all the dresses hanging and shoes lying around on the floor, but they look awful if they are still in the boxes & have piles of plastic wrappers or cardboard boxes lying next to them. And… do you really want those McDonald’s bags in your shots???

Photography in the dressing room is a touchy subject, especially if your wedding photographer is male. If you are self conscious or modest, feel free to ask your photographer to leave the room at any time. However some of the best images happen in the dressing room, especially when the dress is going over the bride's head while all the bridesmaids (or the mom) are helping to get it on. If you have your photographer wait outside when this is happening, you will miss out on one of the most spontaneous photo opportunities of the entire day. Remember, with photography, it’s easy to delete things later, but it’s impossible to turn back time and do it again.
Taking all this into consideration… if your photographer is male, you may want to ask him if he has a female assistant who can photograph you getting ready.
And remember, under professional photography ethics, a wedding photographer would never show inappropriate photos in his/her portfolio, or on the web. If you are concerned about this issue, be sure to review and discuss the contractual obligation and portfolio usage rights with your photographer. Also pay keen attention to your intuition, and trust your instincts.

7. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE ~ Lighting:
Choosing the right time of day can affect your photography. The bring noon sun can create harsh shadows on faces... having your wedding later in the afternoon/evening has a softer tone. Don't worry if it's cloudy or overcast... those are ideal photo conditions in some cases! Very dimly lit churches or buildings can often cause a yellowish effect in your photographs. If you are planning a wedding in a dimly lit area, be sure to set a time for your photographer to visit the church or venue so they can be prepared with the right lighting equipment. In addition... placing a great number of beautifully lit candles throughout a dimly lit room or even throughout the reception area in the evening will beautifully enhance the effect of the photographs and give your area great ambiance as well!yellowish effect in your photographs. If you are planning your wedding in a dimmly lit area, be sure to set a time for your photographer to visit the church... See More or venue so they can be prepared with the right lighting equiptment. In addition... placing a great number of beautifully lit candles throughout a dimmly lit room or even throughout a reception area in the evening will enhance the effect of the photographs

8. DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY ~ Your dance photos:
During dances, such as “the first dance” or the “father daughter dance,” you should ignore the photographer completely. Be natural and enjoy the moment… those shots are precious and you want them to be as spontaneous as possible. Also, try to avoid dancing every dance with your bouquet in your hand… it often blocks yours or your partners face.
Later on when the photographer comes around to shoot the fun dancing shots, it would be wonderful if you and your wedding party would occasionally turn and dance facing a little bit towards the camera. These shots, along with the candids, are the fun and exciting shots you don’t want to miss!

Be sure to give your photographer a time-line of which dances, or people, you want shots of.

This is one of the most difficult shots to get for a wedding photographer. Most couples are not aware of the fact that they are blocking it either with their hand positions or with their bodies. To turn this moment into a great photo opportunity, all you need to remember is that as you are putting the ring on, position your fingers on the top and bottom instead of on the sides of the ring.
One more tip is to avoid extending your free hand out to grab your partner's wrist so that you can push that ring on their finger better. Put your hand UNDER your partner's hand instead. This approach prevents your wrist from blocking the shot. Practice this couple of times before the wedding with someone watching and telling you which way looks best.

Don't rush through this part... take a minute to play with your crowd. This gives your photographer time to get a shot of you holding the flowers and looking back over your shoulder at all the gang getting lined up. Before you throw, be sure all the little kids are out of the way and it’s just your bridesmaids and guests who are gathered around. Now look up and make sure you don't have anything low like lights and ceiling fans that are going to intercept your flowers before they get to the crowd.
Likewise, you want to take your time cutting the cake. Actually pose with the knife just as it’s cutting into the cake and take your time. Remember… there are tons of friends and family that also want to see… so your photographer needs to get a clear shot between everyone. Basically, savor each minute and let your photographer capture those special moments.
Like I said, take your time and allow the photographer to get as many shots as possible, both of you and the guests who are watching.

The same rules apply for the garter toss and the toast… take your time! Slow and anticipatory gives the whole event that extra touch of fun and excitement! Be sure that the groom doesn’t swish the garter off your leg so fast that you almost land on the floor… have him take his time, as well as when he throws it. Have him show the garter… holding it up in the air and looking over his shoulder at his eager groomsmen before actually tossing it. Be careful if he decides to shoot it like a rubber band… that often doesn’t go well… so he should practice ahead of time!
During the toast… hold your glasses in position for a minute or if you link arms, hold it there for a minute… and when sipping the champagne (or wine) do so slowly… so that the photographer has time to get a few good shots. Remember... many times your guests are gathered around and the photographer may need to do a few acrobatic moves has time to shoot through all the guests!

12. VIDEOGRAPHERS or "Faux"tographers:
Videographers and photographers are like fire and ice; And they often don’t play well together. Some inexperienced videographers will occasionally get right up in the middle of the altar area during the ceremony without a second thought of privacy. So... If you are using a videographer and you do not want their backside to show up in all your pictures, please be sure to tell them to stay at least 15 feet away during the ceremony.
Some videographers will actually watch to see what the photographer is shooting… then step in front of them to get their own shot.
So... picking a courteous and well experienced videographer is an important task.
You will also need to make a decision as to which is most important to you... Life long images to hang on your wall or a DVD that will be watched a couple times and then stashed away.... and in this decide which one of them has the highest priority for you. Your photography investment is too important and you want to make sure everyone understands your desires. Be sure to check with your photographer about any clauses they may have in regard to other professionals. And if you don't want to worry about this at all, ask your photographer to recommend a videographer that he/she has worked well within the past. This can alleviate a lot of headaches!

So many times with all the rush and bustle of the wedding day… the groom and groomsmen often get overlooked before and after the wedding. Be sure to communicate with your groom and your photographer regarding photographs of the groom with his groomsmen. Find out from your fiancé what his desires might be… he may have a separate location in mind for he and his groomsmen to be photographed at. One of my absolute fav’s was in a pool hall… all the guys laughing with their bow ties undone… shooting pool. Set a separate time for these photo’s aside from your preparation photos. For example; if you are getting ready at the salon or venue at 2:00 pm… have the grooms session at 12:00 pm… giving plenty of time in between for the shoot and travel.

14. DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE ~ Decorating no-no’s:
You may think that that big red ice chest is out of the way sitting up against the wall… but if you plan to use that same area for your dance floor, you may want to re-think the big red ice-chest. The just do not look good in the background of your “first dance” shots. If that spot is where you really want to have beer on ice… why don’t you exchange the ice-chest for a rustic metal troth or a half size oak barrel filled with ice and drinks.
Again… even the most obscure items that you think are out of the way, will end up showing up in the background of your shots unless they really are out of the way.  Your dance floor, cake cutting area, etc. should be free from any clutter or obstacles that could otherwise interfere with the perfect photo!

15. COOL DOWN THE INDOORS~ Avoiding unflattering colors:
If at all possible, avoid dark rooms or rooms with yellow or red walls. They do nothing at all to enhance your photo experience. 

When planning your indoor venue... look for churches, rooms, and halls that are light and airy... rooms that have lots of windows and lighter colors. Where red walls and doors or darker textured walls are wonderful for outdoor shots... Yellow, red or dark walls tend to reflect those colors on to you, and avoiding them is best.

16. PRIVACY PLEASE ~ Your first kiss:
There is nothing more special that that first kiss after the preacher finally pronounces you man and wife. And of course you want to capture that special moment as one of your fav photos. But wait… there is a pastors head sticking up right behind yours and a giant microphone right in front of your faces! Not pretty!
In order to avoid this unattractive image, speak to your pastor ahead of time and ask him to please move to the same side as the photographer or either to the left or right, and ask him to take the microphone stand (if there is one) with him.  In other words direct him to be aware of where the photographer is at the moment he makes the pronouncement and to move over, out of the way, to the same side as the photographer; or if the photographer is in the center… then he should move to one side or the other.
If you feel uncomfortable asking the pastor to do this… then ask your photographer to make the request for you… they will be more than happy to do the favor.
Note: If Pastor Dave is your officiant… he already knows to do this. :))

17. KEEP YOUR CHIN UP ~ Instructions for the wedding party
What a joyous time… All your closest friends are in the wedding party and these will be images to last forever! And you probably want to see their faces in the pictures too. :))
9 times out of 10 I end up with half of the wedding party looking at their feet as they walk down the aisle either to or from the alter, or they are waving, smiling and making faces for one of their friends with a camera phone.
If these are images that you are hoping to have for your memory book or other remembrances, then you will want to be sure to instruct your wedding party (including yourself, the groom and the Father of the Bride) to keep their heads up and to smile for the “paid” camera. Remember… you are paying your photographer good money to capture these special moments.... and you don't want photos of the tops of your wedding party's heads!

In conjunction with tip #17... here's a big one... SMILE!
Are you happy that you are getting married? Then you probably want your images to reflect that. Practice that smile until the wedding day and then show it off!
Also, instruct your wedding party to smile too. I can't tell you how many images I have seen of wedding parties that appear to be at a funeral rather than a wedding! Even if they don't like to show their teeth, they can at least grin. :))
Lift up your heads, all you beautiful brides... and smile, smile, smile!!!

19. ODDS AND EVENS ~ Your Wedding Party structure
Visual esthetics are very important to coming away with beautiful imagery of your special day. Having your wedding party coordinated… and balanced are key to your visual esthetics. Coordinating the bridesmaids dresses with the tuxes create flow and beauty… but if you have uneven numbers… that flow is broken. So, if you have 5 bridesmaids, and your groom only has 4 groomsmen… (or visa-versa) here are a couple suggestions. You can ask a younger family member to be a Jr. Groomsman (or Jr. Bridesmaid) or The Father-of-the-Bride can take the 5th place beside the groomsmen... etc. This creates a beautiful balance in your images.

20. X MARKS THE SPOT ~ Your Wedding Party order and position
Once again, visual esthetics are very important to you getting the best wedding photographs… and when you have half of the wedding party close to the bride and groom and the other halt 30 feet away, it throws the balance and order thing right out the window! Also... if the Bride and Groom end up standing either left or right of center... it makes all your images look off-kilter... especially if you have something like an arch behind you.
Before the wedding (maybe at the rehearsal), line your wedding party up in order and in proper distance from you to them, and in between one another. Then take small pieces of masking tape and mark the spot that they are suppose to stand on. No-one else will notice it… and it’s a BIG plus for you and for your perfect photos!

21. ACCIDENTS HAPPEN ~  Avoiding beauty faux pas:
Wind, rain, and acts of God can seriously undo your updo. When you’re contemplating your wedding hairstyle, consider the locale, temp, and time of year. Meet with your hairstylist weeks before your big day and schedule at least 3 hours of her time to play around with hairstyles and to actually do the one you decide on. That way… you can play hard the rest of the day to see just how well it will hold up!
Additionally, schedule tons of time for your hair and make-up. It is not un-usual for a wedding party of 4 girls and the bride to spend 4+ hours at the salon the morning of.
ALSO - the week of/day of your wedding is not an awesome time to try exciting new beauty treatments for the first time… especially tanning products, tanning booths or harsh sun. Tan lines and sun burned skin are neither pretty for pictures, or comfortable for you!

22. DON'T DRINK AND TIE... the knot:
Doing a shot with your groomsmen or sipping a couple Mimosa's with the girls during prep time is more than alright... but jello shots and downing a fifth of Jack just before your nuptials is taking it to a whole new level... one that is way off the mark!
Unless your wedding is of the "shotgun kind," you probably want to remember all the special intricacies of it all... walking down the aisle, looking into each other’s eyes... the smile on your grooms face as he slips the ring on your finger... These are all magic moments to be cherished and remembered. Don't get so looped beforehand that your day ends up being a fog of "what the heck happened?"
And to avoid a hangover and getting a little too looped at the reception that you don't remember your wedding night... drink lots of water in between drinks, each small portions of your meal and have small snacks (crackers are GREAT!) throughout the evening with your water.
You'll thank me later! :))

Most people think that there is no extra time to spare on your tight wedding day schedule…. And that it is suppose to be rush, rush, rush! Things rushed are things improperly done. It’s ok to slow down… no bride wants to sweat on her wedding day. Remember to delegate, delegate, delegate! Let someone else handle all the little details. Keeping your head will ensure your wedding and photography sessions progress smoothly.
Remember that even small details anticipated will benefit you, such as the sunburn I mentioned earlier. You should be extremely aware of staying out of the sun before the big day. Save the sun tanning until after the wedding. All too often I've seen brides that got burned in the week before the wedding and were extremely upset to have peeling skin or bright red tan lines on the wedding day. Use a spray tan instead… there are some great ones out there today that doesn’t stain. And many salons do professional spray tans… better to spend $50 than to be sunburned and in pain!

Also remember… expect the unexpected.
          Things happen. If you go into the day with a good attitude and the position that NOTHING can move you… then you won’t be moved!
                                        Smile and be blessed!

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