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Southern Weddings

Category: Expert Advice

Y’all know we love us some wedding photography around these parts. We’re passionate about sharing beautiful images because we know that these photographs are the witness to the beginning of your life together, and that they will become some of the most treasured possessions you’ll ever own, something to be shared with your children and your grandchildren and their children. Y’all, that is something special!

You put so much time and thought into choosing the perfect photographer; it only makes sense that you’d want to have the best working relationship with him or her possible. Today, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips and suggestions to help you do just that.

1. Consider an engagement session. A pre-wedding session will help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera (I know this was definitely true for my husband!). And, it will prepare your photographer for your wedding day by allowing her to see how you two interact, and get a feel for your best features.

2. Plan your morning carefully. I am a huge proponent of this tip. Choose a room with abundant natural light to get ready in. If possible, choose a room with neutral colors, and try to keep things neat and tidy throughout the morning. This will help your photos stay cohesive and clean-looking. If details are important to you, have everything you’d like photographed laid out and waiting for your photographer — a full invitation set, special jewelry, a vintage handkerchief, etc. See more of our wedding morning tips!

Photo by Ryan Ray (planning by Jacin Fitzgerald) from Katie and Ryan’s wedding

3. Share your morning. This is a tip from our friend Caroline: “Specifically invite your closest loved ones to be with you when you’re getting ready for your wedding. And encourage them to get totally ready beforehand, because most people like photos of themselves more when they look their best. It could be your mom, dad, a special relative, or simply your closest friends, but I love the idea of intentionally making them feel special by sharing those moments with them.” This is a wonderful way to create an opportunity for those spontaneous, sweet, intimate moments to happen — the ones we want captured on our wedding day, but can’t really plan for.

4. Create a generous timeline. I spoke about this a bit here, but if photographs are important to you, build in as much time as possible for them. Generally speaking, the more time your photographer has with you, the better the photos she/he will be able to produce. If you’re not sure how much time you’ll need for portraits, check with your photographer.

Photo by Amy Arrington (planning by Invision Events) from Sarah Beth and Matt’s wedding

5. Consider doing a first look. I completely respect those who want to see their significant other for the first time at the end of the aisle, but if you and your fiance are ambivalent, I’d definitely consider doing a first look. That way, you can take care of the majority, if not all, of the formal family groupings pre-ceremony, leaving extra time for bride and groom portraits or to attend cocktail hour post-ceremony.

6. Do not create a ridiculous shot list. Please, for the love of sweet tea, do not create a shot list with specific poses or moments. (You know the ones I’m talking about: they include things like “Dad whispering last minute advice to groom” and “bride’s parents whispering to each other during dinner.”) Remember why you hired your photographer, trust him, and give him room to let his creativity shine. Asking him to recreate something he or someone else has already done before will not give him the time or space to create something amazing for your special day. Instead, try showing your photographer some of your favorites from his portfolio, which will help him understand the work you’re attracted to.

Photo by Sawyer Baird (planning by Jacin Fitzgerald) from With This Ring

7. DO create a formal shot list. On the other hand, it’s important to think carefully about the formal groupings that you’d like captured either pre- or post-ceremony. Try to keep the list to ten or fewer combinations (i.e. bride and groom with bride’s parents, bride and groom with all siblings) to avoid impatience and stress. When you give the list to your photographer, be sure to include names — this will help her direct the portrait session smoothly and kindly!

8. Communicate with the VIPs. Once you’ve got that great shot list, be sure to share it with all the people involved. Email them a copy in advance, print out more copies for the day of – whatever it takes! Make sure they know where to be, when to be there, and what they should be wearing so you’re not scrambling after everyone on the big day. Even still, it’s great to assign one (kind but firm!) member of the family to be the official wrangler – maybe an aunt or older cousin. That way, someone who knows each person by name is helping to round up the group, meaning neither you nor your photographer (who doesn’t know who anyone is anyway!) is scrambling.

Photo by Ali Harper (planning by Blue Eyed Yonder) from Fine Feathered Fete

9. Plan for capturing the details. In addition to gorgeous portraits, many of y’all want your photographers to capture the details you’ve worked so hard on. This requires communication, too! If possible, work with your planner/venue/special helpers to set up the reception space as early as possible, so that your photographer can snap the details either pre-ceremony or during cocktail hour, before guests have entered the space and ideally while there’s still natural light outside.

10. Ask questions. Our last tip for working with your photographer? Ask them! “Is there anything I can do to help you do your job better?” Photographers, like all wedding vendors, try their hardest to be flexible, and they’ll do the best they can under whatever circumstances they find themselves in. But, if you do what you can to provide the optimal environment, they’ll probably produce their optimal results. And THAT is what we call a win-win :)

Photo by Heather Hawkins (planning by Mayhar Designs) from Maegan and Jared’s wedding

What do you think, ladies? Anything you’d add to our list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jacin Fitzgerald, Amy Arrington, and Invision Events are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Some of you might be wondering why we’re even writing a post about whether you need to feed your wedding vendors, because the answer seems so obvious, while others of y’all are eager to hear the answer. And that’s part of the fun (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about wedding planning: you’ve never done it before, so almost every to do is uncharted territory. We’re here to help, with one of our main goals being to give you both the practical and the pretty as you plan your joyful, meaningful wedding day.

Photo by Whitney Neal with styling by Jaclyn Journey from Volume 8

But back to the question at hand! The short answer is yes, you need to feed your wedding vendors. A Southern bride is a gracious hostess to her carefully-chosen vendors as well as her invited guests, and in addition to being the right thing to do, it pays dividends! Here’s what you need to know:

Who should you feed? Any vendor who is “on” during your reception should be fed. You don’t need to worry about feeding a back-of-house vendor like your florist, who is setting up before your reception begins, because she’ll have the flexibility to set her own schedule and breaks. Generally, your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or band members, and any assistants for any of these folks, will need to be fed.

Why should we be responsible for feeding them? Well, since they’ll typically be on the clock for 5-12 hours, they’ll need to eat to keep body and soul together somehow. A hot meal will give them way more energy to keep doing their best work than something they packed that morning, and you definitely don’t want them driving off-site (and missing important moments!) to find hot food. Most vendors will carry protein bars or something similar for emergencies, but you don’t want them to rely on those alone.

What should we feed them? Check each vendor’s contract, because some will specify what they need to be fed. If they don’t, many caterers offer “vendor meals” at a lower price point than what they’re charging for your guests. Ask what this consists of, because it can range from a boxed sandwich and chips to the exact same menu you’re eating. Again, it’s such a nice treat for your vendors to have a warm, yummy meal, so if at all possible, try to work that out with your caterer. If you’re having a buffet, sending your vendors through the line like everyone else is a great option.

Where should they eat? The best place for them to eat is an unobtrusive place that’s close to the action – maybe a table at the edge of the room, or a table just inside the catering tent, if it’s near the main event. You want them to be close enough so that they can spring into action, should it be required! Impromptu toast that needs to be photographed, anyone? :)

When should they eat? Generally, the best time for your vendors to eat is when you and your guests are eating. No one wants to be photographed while chewing, after all! Be sure to ask your vendors if they have a preference, or show them your proposed timeline and see if your suggested meal time works with how they like to do things. They have worked tons of weddings and will know what works best! See our tips for making a wedding day timeline.

Making sure your beloved vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but will give them the fuel they need to finish out the night strong – a win-win for everyone! And if you have extra cake, a slice of that never hurts, either :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Cebu wedding photographer reply

    For me, the vendors should be fed. Its a common sense. It would definitely get the couple an extra mile.

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    Thank you so much for a well written article As a wedding photographer for several years this time sometimes seems to be a point that brides don’t really understand. Thank you for making it So clear!

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You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I knew exactly who we wanted as our photographer and videographer, for example, but when it came to where we were actually going to get married? Noooo clue. Deciding on a city and a venue was one of our hardest wedding planning decisions (you can read about it here), and we ended up choosing a totally different state than we were originally leaning toward! I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” (and the party!) would occur.

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue? For me, it was the aesthetic and the fact that there was an indoor space for the reception surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar mary reply

    We chose our venue ultimately because my mom really liked it (lol), but we loved that it could accommodate lots of guests, since we had a fairly large list, and that it was a hotel. Lots of guests came in from out of town so it was convenient for them and we had a great after party at the hotel bar after! It also was very close to the church which was a must for us, as well!

  2. avatar GetWedSoon reply

    Very useful piece of advice for all those soon-to-weds who’re confused about choosing their wedding venue. Especially the beautifully arranged questionnaire!
    We would like to quickly throw in a couple of useful tips here:
    1. Avoid having your wedding ceremony on a holiday. Reason being that the wedding venues are far more expensive on those days. Instead, be smart and select a date which is not a holiday, and when most of your guests are free.
    2. Try to choose a naturally beautiful wedding venue. This could save you tons of cash that you otherwise have to spend on wedding decor.

  3. avatar Lydia Royce reply

    It’s also important to think about the season. Some venues have gorgeous greenery and trees that will really make your photos pop, but that foliage is gone during the cold months and it will look completely different.

  4. avatar Nicholle McKenzie reply

    Choosing the right and cost-effective wedding venue takes a ton of research. It’s the foundation that your build your perfect day on. Adding to the tips from Lisa here are some other useful things to keep in mind while choosing your wedding venue .

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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