To Receive Or Not to Receive?

Receiving lines are an old tradition. They are a great way for the bride and groom, as well as their parents, to personally thank each guest for coming and sharing in the big day. But they also take up a large amount of time out of your day and can throw your schedule off track. Now I know that it is your day and you don’t have to have the entire thing scheduled to a tee but there usually is a timeline in place after a ceremony for photos, cocktail hour, introductions and all of the reception activities. This means you have vendors, specifically the photographer, D.J. and caterers, who have a timeline they are working with in order to be sure your day moves as smoothly as possible. When a schedule gets off track, it means each of these vendors has to make up for that time somewhere and it often means everything being pushed later or, in the case of the photographer, less opportunity to complete their specific task they are scheduled for….and, lose the available light, in a lot of evening situations.

In my experience, less than half of my clients do a receiving line. I’m not sure if the tradition just isn’t as important anymore or just that the bride and groom is eager to start their party. I think often times, the bride and groom decide to make their rounds to each of the guest’s tables after they eat their dinner to say hello and thank their guests. It is a nice alternative to everyone standing in line waiting to congratulate the couple and say hello. Alternatively, couples that do a receiving line often find it takes almost twice as long as they expect, mostly because their well-wishers are eager to talk to them and congratulate them. In some cases, relatives haven’t seen each other in years and so having a conversation is completely natural. No one wants to rush people out because they have a schedule to keep.

If you must do a receiving line, be sure to pad your schedule enough to allow for it. I would say you need at least 30 minutes of time. Consider that if you do not see your bride/groom before the ceremony that you usually need about an hour to capture all the necessary photos after and try not to let the receiving line overlap it too much. Overlapping means your photographer has less time and light to work with and often has to make the other vendors wait on them. Caterers have meals to serve and D.J.’s have introductions and activities to M.C. It’s always best to allow too much time than too little. Things can always be moved up in the schedule if things are finished early. This allows for a more relaxed day for everyone, including yourselves.

Just some things to think about!

What’s in a bridal suite?

I was sitting here editing some getting ready photos from a recent wedding and some thoughts occurred to me about the room you’re getting ready in on your wedding day. Oft times, the bride is given one of the most lavish and airy rooms in the venue but this is not always the case. When touring your venue, be sure to ask about the room you’ll be spending several hours getting ready in. I have seen what really is a glorified closet with no windows and five bridesmaids, myself and a bride and her mother, all crammed in while the bride is getting into her dress, all the while I’m trying to get a good shot as mom and maid of honor lace up the beautiful gown. There was no way could I get a full length shot of that dress while standing in that room. And get this, the groom had this large, airy wall of windows room across the way! As a bride, you should be happy with your surroundings and what is available to you on your big day. Those little, windowless rooms can get really stuffy and hot, let me tell you. Not to mention, they become chaotic, loud and messy very quickly. Another thing to consider is; will it photograph well? Do you like the decor? (You can always bring in your own furnishings and stuff).  Are there windows to allow natural light? Is it really dark? Is the wallpaper super busy and loud? Or, in the case of a recent wedding, are there weird painted portraits of people who remind you of Colonel Sanders? I’m sure that most places might have second option available to you. Country clubs often have a bridal room but they also have really nice locker rooms with lovely wood and comfy furniture and huge mirrors. They’re also large. So if you have a large bridal party and need lots of room, this would probably serve you better. I’m not saying you can’t get ready in a smaller, darker room, sure you can. And I can still take photos in that room. It just might be more comfortable for everyone involved if you have more space and light.

The other thing to consider about your bridal suite is containing the chaos! Ha. I mean this in the best possible way but you get a large group of girls getting ready in the same room and BAM! Bras, shoes, purses, makeup, hair spray, underwear, plastic bags, the list goes on and on, get thrown all over the room. Try to contain the clutter and keep it possibly in one area so it’s not being photographed at every turn or I’m having to move your stuff around, which means something might get misplaced by mistake. And yes, I can Photoshop some things out but not an entire counter-top of clutter!

Considering windows and such….I know a lot of mothers of brides especially, are concerned about the bride being seen before the wedding if there are windows and such. You can always draw curtains or blinds and still allow light in. If you feel you have to block the view, please don’t use black opaque fabric to cover the windows and doors! They don’t let any light in and look weird in the background of the photos. If at all possible, use actual drapes or curtains. Most of the time, you don’t need to do this anyway. Windows to bridal suites don’t always face a main traffic area or are higher than street level and often times, french doors have frosted windows.

Alright! There is my two cents on the topic. Ha ha. I’m sorry if I rambled on. I just want you to have the best possible images and the best wedding day experience you can have.

Should I tip my wedding photographer?

I know this is an awkward question to pose to your photographer but I know it is on many a bride’s mind when it comes to tipping their vendors. I’m not sure if there is any specific custom for this, and according to an article I read on the Knot, unless it is specified in a contract, you are by no means obligated to tip.

I personally do not expect to be tipped but have been very flattered and ecstatic when a client thinks enough of the services I provided to want to give me one. Thank you notes or just simply telling me you appreciated the job I did for you is certainly thanks enough but I will graciously accept a gratuity if you would like to include me in your vendors that you do tip on your wedding day.

As for guidelines as to what to tip a photographer if you do decide you want to, the Knot states anywhere from $50-200 is the standard. I’ve also been tipped in gift cards, anything from a massage to a restaurant, which is also very thoughtful.

If you would like to read some further advice on tipping your vendors, check out the Knot’s article here.


Embracing writing things down

I am a well meaning person. I have the best of intentions but sometimes I just don’t follow through! Blogging is just one of those things that gets away from me. So as usual, I’m starting fresh with the intention of continuing a habit of regularly sharing here.

2013 was a year of growth for me, both business-wise and personally. I started learning the importance of writing down your dreams, goals and plans and have whole-heartedly embraced what this can do for me. It helps give me purpose and a goal to strive for. I have heard that it is proven that people who write down their dreams and goals and make them strong enough of an obsession, that those people are more likely to achieve their goals. This ph should make me a better person as well as a better business person. I’m looking forward to embracing this discipline and making it a part of my day to day life. I look forward to being more organized and successful in all aspects in the future.

I am usually a fiction reader but I had a book recommended to me that will help me make changes in my life that will allow me to achieve my goals. “Changing For Good” by James Prochaska ( If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, your self esteem, achieving your goals, quitting smoking, procrastination, etc, this book is for you!

I know this isn’t the most riveting of blog posts but I wanted to share my own journey with overcoming my obstacles and taking control of changing myself for good.

Getting my sanity back

You would think as a wedding photographer that I would dislike the winter because it’s not wedding season but actually, I tend to look forward to it near the end of wedding season. I was a crazy busy person in 2012. I hit the ground running with four weddings in January 2012 and didn’t stop until 23 weddings later. Not to mention all the senior photos, family sessions, engagements and boudoir sessions I had. It was the busiest year I’ve had yet and it was great. But I was an insane person toward the end of the season. I now understand why some wedding photographers have a certain amount of weddings they will book every year. It seems on average, between 15 and 20. Seeing as my business is relatively new, I wasn’t sure what that threshold for me was. 27 was too many with all the other things I have going on in photography as well. So in going forth, I am now only taking 20-22 per year.

You may think that that doesn’t sound like a lot but there is a lot of behind the scenes work that you don’t know about and see. I had crazy hours, just trying to get everything done within my time frame that I tell my clients.  I ended up not able to do albums for most people until several months after their wedding, with a few exceptions. So in honor of good customer service, which I like to strive to provide, I think it best to not take on as much as I did last year. For my sanity and your overall good experience.

So now, I’m finishing up the few albums I still owe people, doing a couple winter bridal shows, meeting with clients and trying to prep my business for the upcoming busy season. It feels so odd to not be totally stressed and feeling like I have things looming over my head. Yesterday, I did a couple office things and then spent the day CLEANING MY HOUSE. You have no idea how good that felt. I haven’t been able to do more than surface clean in a long time. It gets me in the mood to do some painting and some home improvement and organization projects. Sounds weird, I know, but I actually am excited to work on these things because they have been nagging at the back of my mind for months. Call me crazy.

In addition, I do have daily work things that I want to accomplish. I would like to push my senior photo program this year but haven’t had time to work on it in the past. Now is the time. And I have some educational workshops that I have scheduled to complete online. I’m excited to learn more and to better my business. I’m cleaning out my equipment and selling things I no longer need. It feels like a freshening of my life and business! I’m excited to see what is to come in 2013.

It feels good to be getting back to me.