It’s a whole new ball game for photographers when it comes to weddings…. gone are the days when one “Uncle Bob” shows up with a nice camera wanting to take photos of the same wedding the photographer is getting paid to cover. Now every person attending a wedding has a pretty decent camera in their pockets in the form of a “smart phone” and for some reason this has given wedding guests the idea that the photos taken from such phones are wanted and/or needed making it more difficult for the actual paid professional to complete their assigned duties! A couple years ago it was a nuisance at best, however in 2018 if you have not asked your guests to refrain from taking photos at least during the ceremony it can become an all out war fighting guests for the best spot to photograph the happy couple.
Now you may be asking yourself “What’s the Big Deal? Why wouldn’t we want more images from our wedding that can be provided by our guests?” And that is a great question because I have seen some great photos taken by guests over the years, and maybe they capture something that the photographer has missed while he or she is photographing other things. It makes me happy knowing that others have captured other angles or events that I may have missed, but it literally breaks my heart when a guest ruins a perfect photo opportunity by jumping in front of me when I’m capturing a key moment of the day; mainly because I know that the photo that they just had to get will more than likely be blurry, low resolution or perhaps the couple will never see because it doesn’t get posted or even given to them! If I had been able to get the shot that I had prepared myself for than my clients would be happy. Shots like I knew we were just seconds away from like “the first kiss” that would’ve been a key element in their wedding album!
I’m including some photos from recent weddings that I’ve covered in this blog post with the faces of the couple and guests blurred out because my objective is not to shame these people, but rather to inform the public the benefits of an “Unplugged Wedding” or at the very least an “Unplugged Ceremony”. I’ve been in the business for 18 years. Not to make myself look old, but I started out assisting my mother who was a pro in the days of film. It’s been sad watching the progression of seeing the smiling faces of wedding guests during the ceremony when the bride walks down the aisle to seeing faces hidden behind cameras and tablets. It really looks like the guests are more engaged with their phones than the actual wedding.
The most recent wedding I covered I literally had to push between at least four woman all vying for a position to photograph the couple. How was I ever to get the photos I was getting paid to take without having to be a little rude to guests. One time I was covering a Jewish wedding and I and my 2nd cameraman were both positioned for a crucial shot. When the rabbi got to the end of the ceremony and the couple were about to smash the glass an important Jewish tradition. Suddenly, a big guy sitting up front jumped up with his iPad blocking both of our views and so you can’t see the groom stomping on the glass at all! It’s not like I could yell, hey you up front move! Guests standing in the aisle of the photos also makes me sad because no matter what when you look at the photo your eyes go directly to the person standing in the aisle taking the photo and not to the actual subject of the photo.
I also really cringe when guests try to take photos over my shoulder during the formals. Usually, we are already under a time crunch so this extra interference doesn’t help. Flashes from others cameras can ruin my photos and the eyes of my subjects tend to wander to whomever is trying to take an additional photo and so they won’t be focused on my camera. And it can make guests angry if I have to tell them to put down their cameras. It’s better just to leave these photos up to the professionals. I’m not even interested in making money off print sales as most of my clients are getting all of their high resolution digital files anyways. I just want their photos to be the best that they can be, so the respectful thing is to let the photographer do their job.
So for the distinguished couple comes the new trend that is actually kind of sad that it has to be done… “The Unplugged Wedding”. Other than having your guests surrender their phones at the door to the venue like they do at some comedy shows now to protect the artists’ routines, some wise person came up with the idea of the “Unplugged Wedding”. The idea is plain enough in that it’s a simple request from the couple to their guests to turn off all of their electronic devices (even if it’s just for the actual ceremony only) and to be present in the moment for their special day. To facilitate this couples will not only write this in their wedding program, but also create signs to have displayed at their event and/or ask their wedding officiant to make an announcement during the opening remarks before the processional begins. I’ve only actually been to a couple weddings so far that put this idea into practice and I can tell you it was completely worth it! The photos and video during the ceremony that we took at these events were all amazing and the guests look like people participating in something rather than screen zombies!
I know selfies are a thing now and so are wedding hashtags, but if I were getting married today instead of 12 years ago when I did get married I would be going for a fully unplugged wedding with the reception included. Smart phones were around when I got married, but they weren’t as prevalent as they are today. My mother has always been the photographer in our family, but I ordered her not to bring her camera to my wedding because I wanted her to be present, to enjoy herself and to not be concerned about whether or not she was getting enough photos. And for one of the few times in my life I saw her at an important event in our family’s lives without a camera in hand and she was loving it! I also ended up with some beautiful photos with her in them which are few and far between because she was always the person taking them. I researched my photographer thoroughly, I had seen his work and I spent more money on that then almost everything else (besides food) because photos were that important to me. And I didn’t worry about a thing. He covered every moment of our big day, nothing was missed. I saw maybe two people pull out other cameras that day. I received one disk of photos from one of those people and almost every image was either blurry, over exposed and just not up to my standards. The other person posted a few on Facebook and I never saw the rest. I’m so grateful for the photographer that I hired and happy that I got married in another time!
I loved working with Angelina & Darrin to create their dream wedding in the mountains! This was another case of less is more! This couple planned a destination wedding here in Colorado from their home state of Illinois. Angie and I spent quite a bit a time on the phone discussing the special places that she wanted to go to do some of their photos, colors, and more. I even ended up fielding a call for where they should look to rent chairs! I just enjoy helping couples plan their big day and having seen almost every kind of wedding imaginable over the years, I can almost always point them in the right direction for their needs. This couple had camped in Golden Gate Canyon State Park many times prior to their wedding so having it here just seemed like the best idea! It was a simple affair with I think with no more than 20 guests. They utilized the Harmsen Guest House in the park where their parents were staying as the getting ready area and held their beautiful ceremony at Panorama Point. On most days this location yields a beautiful 180 degree view of mountain peaks, but unfortunately, the mountains were fogged in during their ceremony. Luckily, the clouds parted right after the vows and we were able to get quite a few photos with them in the background. After the family photos we did a couple mini hikes to a couple more spots with amazing views for photos and then afterwards headed to Black Hawk which is just a short drive from the park. The Saratoga Casino houses The Mill Chophouse on their top floor where the small dinner was held. The food was amazing and abundant! I think each person present went home with a “to-go” bag! It was a beautiful day and I’m glad I got to spend it with them!
Reception Venue: The Mill City Chophouse at Saratoga Casino
Chair Rental – Area Rent Alls
Officiant: Edwin Ward
My hearts are with Kelly & John as they spend some of their last days together as a married couple. While I was really happy that I could be at their wedding ceremony to document this special occasion for them it was also not without sadness. I absolutely hate cancer and it’s devastating effects on people’s lives and I can’t wait until the day a cure is finally found. The Ranch Country Club did an amazing job accommodating the couple’s last minute wishes to move their wedding ceremony up a few weeks and while it wasn’t quite as large as it was originally planned it was still a beautiful event with touching moments, amazing people and an outstanding view. Thoughts and prayers and all my love ~Jamie
Venue: The Ranch Country Club
This wedding took a while to happen! We were originally booked to cover Denise & Tauna’s wedding in 2017 and due to some unforeseen circumstances the ladies had to postpone their grand affair until a year later because of this they had to downsize their plans to a simple ceremony held at the Genesee Mountain Park Picnic Shelter just a little ways up in the mountains outside of Denver. I was pretty amazed at what can be done at this affordable venue with beautiful picturesque views! The shelter comes with access to electricity so they were even still able to have my husband, Michael with Digital DJ provide music for their event. The couple made this a complete DIY event by do all of their own decorations, silk flowers, and even all their own cooking for the event! Denise told me she was up to the wee hours of the night creating their amazing taco bar for the wedding.
The bride’s decided to incorporate a lot of LGBT friendly colors having the wedding party wear rainbow colors. And combining rainbow sand for their family blending ceremony during the actual ceremony.
A lot of fun was had by the guests that attended… and you could definitely feel the love these two shared! Congrats again Denise & Tauna!
Disc Jockey: Digital DJ
I had the most amazing time photographing this backyard wedding the first weekend in June! I told my husband when I got home that I don’t think I had ever had so much fun photographing a wedding as I did for Jordan & Ryan’s Geeky themed wedding! This couple was truly made for each other! And they hosted an event that many people participated in by dressing up as their character of choice. They told me prior to the wedding when I spoke with them that they wanted to have an inclusive event that allowed everyone to become whomever they wanted to be whether that was a princess like how the flower girls were dressed, a villain as some of their guests were dressed or if you just never get an opportunity to wear your stilts! Thank you so much for choosing me to photograph your event! I’m excited that I got to use my creative imagination for the group portraits and I hope you love your images as much as I do!
I’m so very happy for Annje & Jim who were married in a very small ceremony at Peace Lutheran Church in Arvada, Colorado. The couple shared their vows in an intimate setting and held a small dinner afterwards at The Butchery, a restaurant located not far from the church. While Annje was getting ready she shared with me her “something old” which was a pocket watch that was her fatehr’s who had recently passed away. I made sure to photograph it knowing what a special memento this was for her. I loved that she could carry it in the pocket that was in her dress! I’m also glad I was able to talk them into stopping over at a park on their way to the reception venue to get some more relaxed photos of the two of them with our famous Colorado mountain views! An extra fifteen minutes gained them an additional set of photos that we will treasure for years to come. Best wishes to you both!
Ceremony Venue: Peace Lutheran Church
Reception Venue: The Butchery
The first thing I noticed abut this couple was that the groom, Craig has an infectious smile! He was seriously grinning from ear to ear all day long and from what I understand this is a fairly common look that he carries. Nidia is lucky to have such a happy fella to count on! These two teachers met at a school they were both teachers at. Their love of teaching brought them together! I think it’s especially fitting to share this post today when thousands of teachers are walking out here in Colorado to protest better pay and funding for schools. I believe that all teachers should receive a livable wage and a great retirement. Since the costs in our state are continuing to go up so should the amount of money we pay as taxpayers. Having better educated citizens will benefit everyone in the long run! And who doesn’t want to support people like these two!
So enjoy this lovely Spring event at one of the most picturesque venues in the foothills near Denver! These guys were a joy to work with and I can’t wait for them to get their final video and photos!
Here also is the highlight wedding video of their ceremony!
With Summer wedding season just around the corner I thought it would be helpful to share some ideas for warm and sunny day events. While there might not be as many weather challenges as when you host a Winter event there can still be some hiccups in your big day and also ways to make your event more special. Here are some really great tips for Summer Weddings! And if you are interested I also wrote a blog post about “Plan B” for a Rainy Day and it’s here if you want to check it out: http://crystalinephoto.com/blog/2017/04/28/what-to-do-if-it-rains-on-your-wedding-day/
1.) Have a non-alcoholic drink station set up for guests upon arrival. Whether you are having an outdoor or indoor wedding during the Summer the one thing you will be dealing with is the heat. Offering your guests a way to cool down and to stay hydrated is a really great idea, especially in the higher altitude states like Colorado.
2.) Speaking of drinks, it’s a good idea to refrain from opening your bar too soon! Allowing guests to partake in cocktails before the ceremony on empty stomachs can be a recipe for disaster. Often times the wedding party might do a celebratory toast with either the bride or groom in their preparation rooms, which is a really nice photographic moment with one or two drinks, but allowing the guests access to unregulated drinks can sometimes result in unruly guests. Save the open bar for the cocktail hour and also save your pocket book.
3.) Consider a not so formal wedding. Floor length gowns and black tuxedos can get quite uncomfortable in 70-100 degree temperatures. Picking shorter dresses for your wedding party and having a more laid back affair can sometimes be the best thing for mid-Summer events when the days are scorching hot! While you still might want to have some sophistication by not have everyone show up in their jeans you can just list your wedding as semi-formal or dressy casual attire on your invites or if fancy dress is not for you go ahead and open it up to “come as you are”! It’s your wedding do what you feel is right for you!
4.) Stock bathrooms with items to freshen up that you can grab from any travel size section at a store such as mini deodorants, face blotters, sunscreen, bug spray, wet wipes, mints, mouth wash, feminine products, mini water bottles, etc. Guests will appreciate the extra thought and effort you put into this tiny detail!
5.) Try not to plan your outdoor ceremony to take place right in the middle of the day when the sun is at it’s highest point (bad for photos and also the hottest point of the day). But if you must do it around this time provide relief for your guests like a basket of sunglasses as wedding favors, or inexpensive paper fans, or paper parasols (I would save those parasols for after the ceremony so as not to block the view of other guests). There’s a lot of ideas out there for creating wedding programs that also double as fans!
6.) Here’s an idea that florists will appreciate… Order a couple back-up boutonnieres and a few extra replacement flowers for larger designs if you plan on re-using your floral arrangements for decorations at the reception. Hot sun can wilt flowers quickly, especially if they are a more delicate type flower. Also I’ve seen flowers on boutonnieres fall off a groom or groomsman before the ceremony and photos, having a quick replacement avoids unnecessary repair work on a boutonniere.
7.) Providing chair covers for an outdoor ceremony not only adds elegance to an event, but it protects bare legs from getting burned on hot chairs that have been sitting in the sun. While again it’s not an absolute necessity, it’s a nice touch!
8.) If your Summer reception will take place somewhere outdoors or without air conditioning than serving foods that will stay fresh in hot weather is also a great idea. Here is a list of the most common foods to avoid for hot weather – Chocolate (melted hot mess chocolate covered strawberries, yuck), hot soups, salads made with mayonnaise (if they will be left out for a long period), cheese products (also a gooey mess), fresh fruit can quickly brown, seafood, and deviled eggs.
9.) If your ceremony is going to be near water or in an area known to have a lot of bugs and mosquitoes strategically placed citronella candles are a must! Use them to decorate the ceremony aisle or even place them in your table centerpieces, along with providing some nicely scented wearable bug spray for guests you can help save them from getting eaten alive!
10.) My favorite thing to see at Summer weddings is a bride & groom send-off of any kind. The sunlight lasts longer, the evenings are warmer and guests tend to stay later at these events so it’s quite easy to have your DJ round-up your guests at the end of the night for a special send-off. If your venue will allow sparklers these are always a crowd pleaser, other ideas are: glow in the dark sticks, bubbles, flower petals, and a balloon release.
Looking forward to those long Summer days ahead and some amazing events! ~Jamie
Lindsey & Jeff’s Intimate wedding at Black Canyon Inn located in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Perfect location for their small ceremony with close friends and family who mostly came in from Texas to enjoy the mountain views. Loved being able to capture this special day for the two or should I say three of them! Congratulations again!
Special Shout out to all the other vendors –
Ceremony Venue – Black Canyon Inn, Reception Venue – Twin Owls Steakhouse, Photographer – Visual Poetry, Hair & Make up – Estes Park Bridal Co, Florist – Enchanted Florist, Cake – You Need Pie Video – Crystaline Photography & Video
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!