Most of us have been to a wedding where the couple getting married takes off right after the ceremony to do photos with family members, the wedding party and some photos by themselves. This happens and we don’t see the couple we are there celebrating for about an hour, there are a few different ways to alleviate the amount of time spent on these photos and I will list those really quick so that you have them as well, but this post is mainly to help with some ideas to entertain your guests if you have to do the bulk of your formal portraits immediately following the ceremony… So if you are looking for some fun and creative ideas to keep your guests busy while you are getting some important photographs taken please read on…
But real quick…. to take the least amount of time possible with your formal portraits after the ceremony here are three suggestions:
1.) Do a First Look with the Bride & Groom and schedule all of your formal portraits or a vast majority of them before the ceremony. This is for the couple that doesn’t care about the tradition of seeing each other before the ceremony. Often times it requires adding extra time with your photographer before the ceremony to ensure that you have enough time to do them before the ceremony is slated to start. You will also want to add a little extra wiggle room in case preparation and getting ready takes longer than expected. Plan on guests beginning to arrive about 30 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. You will want all of your photos slated to be done or just finishing up with the groomsmen at that time. If you don’t want to do a first look try and do at least the bride and bridesmaid photos beforehand and groom and groomsmen photos as well to get some of the formals out of the way.
2.) Tell everyone that you want to be in your photos that their presence is requested and when and where these photos will be taken, don’t assume that your aunts and uncles will stick around after the ceremony for photos… Give them a heads up beforehand… sometimes handing out a timeline at the rehearsal and/or putting something on your wedding website alleviates confusion and precious time looking for people who have wandered off. It doesn’t have to be a lot of details something like this (being specific to who you want and where you want them) –
3:30pm – All Family Photo of Bride’s Side by the Alter (all relatives are requested to be in the photos)
3:45pm – Immediate Family of the Groom’s Photos at the Front of the Building
Doing this one simple task can make the difference between family photos taking 20 minutes or an hour!
3.) In most cases couples will receive all of their digital images from their photographer or the very best of the group photos taken so with this in mind, it goes a lot faster if the photographer doesn’t have to stop every few minutes to let someone else take a photo of something they just took. If you have a limited amount of time to do formal photos…for example if you’re getting married in a Catholic Church and they gave you precisely 30 minutes to take photos after the ceremony before parishioners come into the sanctuary for confession. If time is absolutely of the essence, any deviation from the photographer’s job will effect the outcome of your photos and the amount you can actually take. It’s best if you as the couple just ask everyone else to put their cameras away and let the photographer do their job because it sounds better coming from the people paying for the photographer than the actual photographer themselves.
Most couples will usually still use the “cocktail hour” following the ceremony for the time period to take their photographs. Traditionally, this is the time that guests will mull around the venue, chat with other guests, eat appetizers and have a few beverages while searching for their seats for dinner. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you as a couple to put your personal stamp on the event by introducing some fun items to entertain guests and here are some ideas for entertaining those guests –
1.) Lawn Games or Table Games – Many companies rent out lawn games like the photo of “Connect” below, other items they might rent are large chess pieces, Jenga Blocks, Corn-hole and more. These are perfect for a laid back wedding with more of down home feel to it. Board games are also fun and can be used at more of an indoor location. Both ideas give guests who might not know each other a way to bond.
2.) Photo Booth – There are many companies in Colorado that offer the old school photo-booth with print on site capabilities. We offer a portrait station which is similar, but rather than print on site we just provide all the images along with your wedding photos and you can share them with your guests after the wedding either in digital form or print one out and mail it with your “thank you” cards. This option allows for more space for larger group photos and is less expensive than printing on site. (Print on site option are also available, but require an additional assistant and thus cost more). We’ll include props for no additional charge (only available with a 2-photographer package).
3.) Live Band or Musician – If you already are having a live musician for your ceremony you can see if they will stay through the cocktail hour to give your guests a more unique experience. I’ve been to some events that just hired a musician for the cocktail hour. A musician like a piano player, flutist, or bagpiper would be great for just that.
4.) Hire an Entertainer – Examples: A Magician, A Celebrity Impersonator, A Belly Dancer, Etc. I’ve seen Frank Sinatra impersonators belt out tunes and walk among guests during the cocktail hour, belly dancers, and even balloon artists hired to entertain at a wedding with a lot of children. A medieval themed wedding with fire jugglers would be amazing to see! Anything that really sets your event apart from others is awesome!
5.) Interactive Food Stations – Examples: Make Your Own Cupcake, Make Your Own Omelette (great for a morning wedding), Roast S’mores Over a Fire, Wine or Beer Tasting Station, Etc. Nothing is more Colorado than camping, so as a nod to that, let guests do their own S’mores either during the cocktail hour or as a late night snack over a fire pit or fondue pot. Setting up fun food stations with exotic foods is also a great way to incorporate the food tastes of a couple. Watching a chef flambe’ something is always fun!
6.) An Interactive Video Booth Where You Can Leave Messages to the Bride & Groom – Here’s another one we will offer if you are doing a two person videographer package for no additional cost. This way you have a videographer to go with the guys and one with the gals while they are getting ready and to get more angles of the ceremony. Then one videographer goes with the couple while they are doing photos while the other sets up in a quiet area as guests enjoy the cocktail hour to get “well wishing toasts” from the majority of guests before dinner. Do this in lieu of a guest book and you’ll be glad that you did!
Highlight Reel from Sianna & Michael’s Catholic Ceremony, Enjoy!
Highlight Video from Dennis & Cassie’s Fall Wedding at Boettcher Manison!
Again a little behind on the blog postings with all of the events we covered in December, but really excited to share this end of Fall wedding at Willow Ridge Manor of Mary & Mike. It’s amazing to me how different the venue photographs every time we are there due to the time of year, lighting etc. The sun goes down a lot quicker in November than it does in July so just gives all of the photos a completely different feel to them. Still beautiful just sort of more dramatic in my opinion! These two were so cute with their “nerdy” theme. I loved the beakers and text books that they used not only for their centerpieces, but also their cake display. They also put candy in test tubes for their guests to grab on the way out the door. It totally fit their personalities! Check out the photos below!
Here are photos from this amazing outdoor ceremony location!
Love, love this angle of the first kiss! Special request from the bride and only an angle you can get if you hire two photographers!
Wedding party photos and some of the couple alone….
Getting into the reception photos with some more detail shots of this adorable wedding!
Here’s a shout out to all the amazing wedding vendors that made this possible: Venue – Willow Ridge Manor, Catering – Rocky Mountain Catering, Disc Jockey – The DJ Guy, Cake & Flowers – King Soopers, Lighting – Firefly Event Services, Transportation – Premier Charters, Onsite Childcare – The Nanny Brigade.
Finished the highlight reel from Tim & Liann’s amazing mountain wedding in Edwards, Colorado last month! Enjoy!
After many years photographing weddings in every type of wedding venue imaginable I started thinking about some of my favorite venues to photograph in and ones that are really challenging to work in. The challenging ones have many different reasons that make them challenging and are not necessarily reasons to completely take them off someone’s list of choices, but knowing what the obstacles are beforehand would help facilitate an easier day on both the photographer and possibly even your guests! This post is going to be about some of the criteria I would use for choosing a wedding venue (as a photographer) as if I was choosing it for my own wedding… it’s some of the things I looked for in a venue when I was planning my own wedding more than 10 years ago because well, photography was my number one priority after marrying my husband! Hope these tips help!
1.) Picturesque Views – Colorado is full of amazing venues with equally amazing views… the better the view, the higher the price the venue commands (most of the time). Most couples want something in the mountains, but there are also a lot of venues in the Front Range that have mountains in the background as well. If you can’t afford a venue with a view then finding a park near the venue with some great photo opportunities is also another way you can still get beautiful photos with lovely scenery. We plan a lot of park visits in between the ceremony and reception especially if couples are getting married in a church, but still want beautiful outdoor photos.
2.) A Lot of Available Natural Light – Now there’s nothing wrong with having a church basement reception. I’ve covered a lot of events in some of the most plain establishments ever designed. A great photographer can use angles and lighting to make even the drabbest areas more interesting and there’s a lot to be said about decorating. But I’m talking to all of those people looking to have the most amazing photos ever! Lots of window light with beautiful views makes it so the photographer doesn’t have to use a lot of additional lighting unless he/she wants to. It also makes your event feel more airy and romantic. The key to this though is to not choose a space that is really dark inside with a lot of bright light pouring in, particularly behind the head table so that all of the wedding party is back-lit because even with a ton of fill-flash the area behind the people will still be very bright. Look for light and airy spaces for the best photos!
3.) Lots of Ample and Available Parking or a Solution to a Venue without a Lot of Parking – This year was really a difficult year for me with parking and at more than one event! The one that stands out the most is the one I’m about to describe… I showed up to a high-end resort for preparation photos and because there was a festival going on there was no parking to be had anywhere! The hotel was not going to let me valet my vehicle even for an hour. I had to call the bride and get her involved… trust me a call to the front desk from a bride who was paying a ton of cash to stay at the facility got me a parking space pronto! Magically, they were able to find space for my vehicle, but again not without a lot of stress and having to bring the bride into the situation. This was one of those almost not foreseen circumstances that I hadn’t ever encountered in 17 years of covering weddings. However, with a little foresight it is something that could of been addressed before the big day. Check with the place that you are staying at or having your event at to make sure that there will be parking available for all of your guests beforehand. If they only provide parking for registered guests make sure that you pay or arrange for parking for your vendors because you don’t want them to be running late due to having to find a place to park.
4.) Large vs. Small Venues, Reasons to Consider a Second Photographer – Weddings can even be held in stadiums now! For a baseball enthusiast getting married at Coors Field is amazing, but it to is not without it’s challenges. I found this out the hard way years ago when I covered my first event there. When the bride and groom are getting ready they put each person on opposite sides of the stadium! Do you know how large that venue is?! Also because of security concerns they will not allow you to walk anywhere in the stadium without an escort. I spent needless amount of time looking for my escort (who kept leaving) to walk me back and forth between the getting ready areas as well as the amount of time it took to walk back and forth between the areas (time that I could’ve used taking more photos). I now know… don’t book a wedding there unless a 2nd cameraman is hired so one can be with the bride and the other with the groom. When choosing a venue think about how close the separate getting ready areas are to each other. Perhaps you will be getting ready at a hotel and then traveling to the venue. Would it be more economical to go with a venue that provides both rooms on site near each other or would it be better to hire a company that provides two photographers so things don’t get missed?
5.) Consider How Well the Venue will Work for Inclement Weather – I’ve had previous posts on how to deal with bad weather, but this one has to do with choosing a venue that will facilitate Amazing Photos in any type of weather. Look for venues that also have great areas indoors for photography too. A nice fireplace or staircase to take your family photos in front of due to a storm is a great back-up plan. Does the venue have a place to hold a ceremony indoors should you need it? Crossing your fingers and hoping for a Sunny day is not really a good plan unless you are ok with having a drenched cake and guests.
6.) Pay special attention to the lighting. If a venue is too dark, it can make it tricky for your photographer to capture all of the details that you worked so hard to plan. While a great photographer still has ways to work around this, your photos will still look a lot darker if the walls and ceilings are all cherry wood as opposed to walls painted white. I’ve been in churches that won’t allow any flash photography during the ceremony and then their hall is super dark without additional lighting. Modern cameras can take better photos in low light situations, but you won’t be able to see much of your background in the absence of light and it’s something to consider. I also recently took photos at a wedding that was held outdoors after dark. The only thing the couple lit was the gazebo they were getting married under. While it was different and really dynamic, it was very difficult for photography. We had to add video lights on either side of the couple so we could see their faces to focus as well as use a handheld light to light them coming down the aisle. And no amount of light that we added would show off a completely dark background. I’m sure the couple thought it was an amazing idea, but didn’t consider that every single photo taken would have to be with flash photography or that we would have to add lights to even be able to see them!
7.) Ask if you’ll have exclusive use of the venue. It’s important to know how many functions they’ll have going on at once and how much interaction there will be between your guests and theirs (if any). The privacy factor differs for every space; some venues may offer separate restrooms and parking areas for guests from different events, while others have the rooms set close together, so you might hear the other party’s music pumping from down the hall. Will you have to compete with the other events for the most picturesque areas to do photographs? If you’re getting married outdoors in a public space, such as a park or beach, be aware that strangers may stop to give you their good wishes or find their way into the background of your wedding photos.
8.) Time Allowed for Your Wedding – Venue packages widely vary and so do overtime fees. Some venues will let you party to the wee early morning hours, while others are in neighborhoods with noise restrictions and have to be shut down promptly by 9pm. Nothing is worse than having a kicking party going on and then having the owner of the venue shut down your dance party because it’s too loud! (Sadly, I’ve seen this on more than one occasion) If you are looking to have an awesome dance party it’s good to know the venue’s policy before signing the contract. Also if overtime is allowed what their fees are. If your event starts to run behind because of some unforeseen circumstance, will the venue charge you a lot more fees and will the other vendors as well. Because every extra minute that a clean-up crew has to wait before they can start on their duties they are still getting paid by their employer.
9.) Does the venue Restrict Where You Can Take Photos At? – What if you choose a beautiful country club with many gorgeous views with plans to walk out on to the course to take some photos and then the day of the event find out that you and your guests are suppose to stay in the area you rented and are not allowed to go out on to the course what so ever. Most venues would be up-front with their restrictions before you sign the contract, but it never hurts to ask ahead of time. Maybe you saw a really neat barn and silo next to the club and assumed it could be used for photos as well, but come to find out it is not on the venue’s property. Find out if you can contact the other owner for special permission to take photos on their property. Don’t just assume that you can or plan on getting a trespassing ticket. Also churches may have restrictions on where a photographer can be during the ceremony, some just forbid a photographer from going on the alter area during the ceremony while a few will only let the photographer take photos from the back of the church without a flash! Asking questions about restrictions will help you quickly weed out venues that don’t work with your vision.
10.) If You Have a Photographer in Mind Before You Choose Your Venue Ask Them What Their Favorite Venues to Work At Are. If they’ve been working for a number of years then I’m sure they have a short list of venues that are awesome to work with. Maybe they have a lot of great spots to take formal photos at, or they know how easy the staff is to work with or can give you lots of tips and hints about their faves and maybe they can even steer you away from venues that won’t fit your vision or better yet can suggest ones that they know will come out under your budget!
11.) Finally, Be sure to go to the venue, especially for outdoor weddings, at the time and around the date you plan to get married. You will want to see how the sun shines during different times of the day to avoid you, your fiancé, and your guests having to stare directly at the sun. Squinting eyes don’t make for the best wedding photos! You may have picked a venue because of it’s beautiful views, but if you choose a time of year when the patio that you are holding your ceremony on has absolutely no sun and the background is very bright the photographer is going to have to choose whether or not to expose for their subjects (which is you) or the background. I’m guessing they will want you to be visible in the photos so they are going to choose exposing for the subjects and let the background go white thus eliminating the mountain backdrop in most of your photos that you worked so hard to find. If you don’t know a lot about photography then arrange for a walk thru at your venue with your photographer even if it costs a little extra so you can avoid potential pitfalls before the big day!
Liann and Tim had a really beautiful event at the Vista at Arrowhead Country Club in Edwards, Colorado with my whole team covering it! We did photo and video and my husband, Mike of Digital DJ provided their music entertainment and MC service. The day started out with us covering the couple getting ready at the Beavercreek Lodge and Resort. A beautiful facility with ample preparation room.
Also an awesome bridge for the “First Look” shots and a fun bus for transportation to the venue.
And who could complain about the amazing view from the back patio at the Vista at Arrowhead Country Club where the couple said their “I Dos”
We also had a lots of options for places to do the formal portraits. This large wedding party did not disappoint with their flexibility and willingness to go above and beyond for this couple!
Congrats again Tim & Liann and thank you for having us be a part of your special day! Your highlight video will be forthcoming!
I’ve been a little behind on blog postings due to back to back events… but wanted to share this rustic, do it your self wedding that was held at the parents of the groom’s property. This couple was able to have their dream wedding on a budget due to a lot of help from friends and family. Their Aunt Jenny & Uncle Bill hired us for photography along with my husband’s DJ company, Digital DJ to provide music and MC services. It was a beautiful location to get married at with a ton of country charm.
The couple chose a clearing between a line of trees to set-up the chairs, arch, hay bales and aisle runner for their ceremony and then just a short distance away from the ceremony spot a huge white tent was set up to hold their reception under. A friend catered the event with his amazing BBQ and they also rented lawn games for all of their guests to enjoy.
I truly love when a community comes together to help a young couple put together an amazing event. Weddings don’t have to be huge grand elaborate affairs. This simple country wedding just reminds me of what Colorado is all about… down to Earth people with a lot of love to give! Congrats again to Chelsea & John! May you have many, many years together!
Sarah and Jason had a magical wedding at Willow Ridge Manor last month and we’re so excited to share this wedding that I’m not even waiting until their video clip is finished! (I’ll share that as well when it’s done!) Here are some of my favorite moments from their event starting with some of the preparation photos. One of my favorite detail shots from this wedding is the one I took of the dress reflecting in the mirror with the bride’s bouquet in the foreground… this one I didn’t even set-up everything was there when I arrived!
Sarah had one of her best guy buddies stand in as a bride’s man in the wedding party… so my next favorite photo was when they asked him to do the last two buttons on her dress! He had no idea what he was doing and it was sooo cute!
Our associate photographer, Chris covered the guys getting ready and there were plenty of shots of the men helping Jason into his military uniform. Who knew it was such a challenging outfit to wear!
One of the “must have” shots of the day for the bride was a staged shot of her father seeing her for the first time in her dress. So we set this up on Willow Ridge’s awesome staircase. The emotion of this moment was really amazing and equally awesome to capture both in photos and in their wedding video!
Then of course you can not forget getting those important formal photos of the wedding party with the couple. We make sure to get the shot that mom and dad want along with fun and playful ones!
There was a little sprinkle of rain for the ceremony, but it mostly held off until just afterwards… made for some amazing photos though! You can definitely feel the love these two had for each other! I love that first moment when the groom sees his bride for the first time!
When the venue has a perfect spot for this photo I always suggest a large group photo of everyone present at your wedding. What a perfect way to capture all of the special people in your life that made it to your big day!
And then of course setting aside some time to take some romantic photos of just the couple getting married! This is always the best part of photographing a wedding for me. It allows the bride and groom a moment to relax before they have to go greet their guests and the photos will be some of the most cherished images that they will have from the day. The images of Sarah & Jason together did not disappoint!
The reception was also full of a lot of heartfelt moments: touching toasts from the couple’s friends and family, the perfect first dance, and lots of partying on the dance floor!
This couple also planned a send off at the end of the night with all their guests greeting them with glow sticks. Another perfect ending to a perfect day!