The year has just flown by once again. I’m finishing up on the last of my December events and realized it’s been a while again since I’ve done a blog post and decided to share this fun family session that I photographed at Brookside Gardens in Berthoud, Colorado. I met this family while I was photographing a wedding last year as the mother was the sister of the bride. We started planning her family photos shortly after that wedding and since they were located in Greeley and I was located in Arvada I wanted to find a location in between us that worked. And not just any location would do… Reyna had some specific requests. She wanted a waterfall and flowers and then I said I knew the perfect spot! Brookside Gardens is a wedding and event facility so we had to work around their busy event calendar, but it was all worth it in the end. I had a great time photographing this family and they now have some amazing images capturing this time-frame in their young children’s lives. Check out some of our favorite images below.
Winter is on it’s way and so is a magical time to get married! Emily and Luke like most couples who got married in 2020 had to face a multitude of challenges including closed wedding venue, losing their caterer to the business going under and more! Their wedding date changed with us no less than three times! The last time I got notice a couple weeks before they decided to tie the knot. After everything the couple just wanted to say “I Do” and they exchanged their elaborate mansion wedding for a quaint wedding in the living room of the bride’s parents’ home with just immediate family and a few close friends. I was still privileged for to get the opportunity to document their special holiday themed event.
Luke apparently spent hours setting up the decor in the home and making it look lovely. We were also able to go to nearby 17 Mile Farmhouse Park to get some beautiful photos in the snow. It ended up being a really beautiful day and I’m so excited that I got to be there for them.
Whether you love all the group photos taken at a wedding with friends and family or would prefer to spend more time smoozing with your guests the reality is that the only way to guarantee a photo with grandma is to plan to take one. These type of photos are the formal portraits at a wedding and I’m going to chat a little bit about how to do them quickly and efficiently so you can get on to the partying!
There’s been a trend in the last couple decades of couples wanting to have more of a photo-journalistic style of wedding coverage. A true photo-journalist should never stage a photo as they are there mainly to document the event. While this can often times capture some of the most emotional and memorable moments at a wedding, choosing a photographer who only offers this type of photography can often mean you miss getting photos with a lot of the people who are important to you that a traditional portrait photographer will take. You can have both styles of photography and the best wedding photographers will offer both!
I started out assisting my mother with weddings back in the nineties during the days of film when each wedding you photographed had a limited amount of film to shoot for each event. Photographers had to choose their frames very deliberately. In those days you took maybe 2-3 frames of each group shot and just hoped someone didn’t blink. You took one shot of the cake and maybe 2-3 of the cake cutting. Delivering 300-500 images back then was considered a lot! I’m thankful to have learned photography during that time period because not only does it make me appreciate the ability to take as many photos as I want at an event, but also it did teach me a lot of skills that I still use today to help with facilitating the formal portrait session quickly. Here are some tips for couples planning a wedding:
1.) First, if at all possible find a photographer that has a portfolio that includes group portraits and speaks about the importance of taking these types of photos at a wedding. This will ensure that you get a photographer that will be proactive in making sure the photos you want with others get completed and not missed.
2.) Ask the photographer to walk you through their process of doing group portraits. Each photographer will probably have a way of doing things that works the best for them. This way you can hear about any potential “red flags” they may state like “I really hate taking group photos, so I do the bare minimum” or “I’ll do group photos if you really want me to” or my favorite “Just grab me whenever you want a photo” That last statement is fine in conjunction with a well laid out plan for how and when you will be doing the bulk of the portrait photos and should be in addition to those photos not in lieu of a planned group formal photography time. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is being in charge of grabbing all the people you want to take photos with, this is the photographer’s job.
3.) Most couples utilize the cocktail hour immediately following the ceremony for the time period to take these group photos. I am starting to hear more often that couples would prefer to enjoy some of that time-frame to meet and greet guests and are opting to do some if not all of the group formals before the wedding. If you are planning on doing this it’s imperative that everyone you’d like to be in these photos knows the time-frame that you will be starting the photos. I also suggest telling them a start time 30 minutes prior to the actual start time to make time for late comers (especially if you know you will have a few of these). Even if you plan to do all of the group photos before the ceremony leave some time directly following the ceremony to do just a few more in case someone doesn’t get the memo or you run out of time before the ceremony. If you don’t need the time it will just give you some extra moments with your new spouse and maybe some extra time for more relaxed photos of just the two of you which really are the most important photos you’ll want from the day!
4.) Utilize your wedding officiant or DJ/MC to make announcements for photos. Simply stated, if you plan to have the officiant tell the guests where they are supposed to go following the ceremony recessional, it’s a great idea to also have him/her mention that the couple has requested that immediate or all of the family of the couple should stay behind for a few moments for some family photos. This tells Uncle John that he can’t make a B-line to the bar just yet! And saves a lot of time looking for the family members needed for the group photos. Less time taking photos means more time to hang out with friends after wards. Family photos can be done as quickly as 15-20 minutes if everyone is present. The overtime comes when a photographer or another person has to go and look for someone who is missing.
5.) Start with the largest family first or with the side that has the most jobs to still do if they are helping out with the reception set-up or meal. Do the extended family photos first if you are doing them and whittle them down to smaller groupings and complete one side (if at all possible) before moving on to the other spouse’s family. If you have any specific groupings you’d like to have photographed give a list to your photographer. Every photographer should have a basic list of what they usually cover to show or tell you about (if you’ve been doing this for 20 years like me then your list can be in your head, but they should easily be able to tell you what their normal groupings are) and then you can decide if there are special groupings you want that are not on that list for instance: generation groupings, just cousins, just aunts and uncles, etc. This will ensure that the photographer knows what’s important to you.
6.) A loud boisterous photographer who is willing to direct people will get things done a lot quicker than a timid person waiting for groups to arrange themselves. If you get the feeling that your photographer is not going to be good at this, but still really like their work then utilizing a family member who can help with this is really recommended. A loud Aunt or Uncle who knows all the key family members and that wants to help is a great person for this role! You can also ask them to keep an eye on your dress and/or other things as the photos are being taken. A detail orientated photographer is great, but an extra pair of eyes is also helpful.
7.) Put the kibosh to others wanting to take photos while the photographer is doing formal portraits. I can’t stress this enough! I know the urge for the mother of the bride to want to take a duplicate photo of every photo the photographer is taking, I really do, but every time the photographer has to stop in the middle of their group arrangements to allow someone else to take photos it adds on to how long it takes to do the group photos. This also results in photos with people looking everywhere, but at the paid photographer’s camera. The couple is going to get a high quality large resolution digital images back from the photographer that they can share with everyone so why would they want a dark, crooked underexposed low quality cellphone picture of the exact same thing? The shocking answer is they won’t want them. Half the time they won’t even see those images as they will get forgotten about and never downloaded from the person’s phone. The best thing a couple can do is set expectations before the wedding by telling everyone that they think will want to take photos that it’s best to let the photographer do their job so that they can get through the photos quickly. This always sounds better coming from the couple rather than the photographer.
Sometimes there’s a real shutter bug in the family as well that likes to bring his/her DSLR which is great, but can also sometimes become an issue. For example if they are taking key members of the wedding party away to do photos of their own while the contracted photographer is trying to get their shots. This has happened to me on more than one occasion and it’s really not helpful and again makes the portrait session take longer. I think it’s great when another photographer comes up and introduces themselves to the photographer and asks permission to take photos. When this occasionally happens I can tell them exactly what they should and should not do. The most beneficial way to take additional photos is to get photos of things the contracted photographer can’t take. Examples of this would be photos of the guests at cocktail hour and dinner or even covering the rehearsal the day before. If someone in your family has expressed interest in taking photos at your wedding it’s imperative to chat with the photographer you have hired beforehand to discuss what this might look like. Most photographers have clauses in their contracts that won’t allow a second professional unless they are hired by them and this is to ensure another photographer is not impeding their job. Having an extra person covering stuff that contracted photographer can’t cover is a great way to utilize someone else with a camera.
8.) Overall, if you really feel like group portraits are not for you, at least consider doing photos with your immediate family with you and your new spouse in them immediately following the ceremony. A few frames of each side of the family should at least be enough to appease mom and dad. These can take as little as ten minutes. If you are worried about it turning into a long session tell the photographer up front that you only want “X” photos. This will let them take control of the situation should more group photo requests come up on the day and allow you an easy way to escape the multiple groupings if you don’t want to do them.
The last wedding we photographed in the fall of 2020 was Alyssa & Zakery’s chilly but beautiful wedding at Willow Ridge Manor. With a bit of chill in the air today; I thought about them and their one year anniversary coming up next month. I realized that I never did a blog post with photos from their event. I guess I was busy making albums and then the 2021 wedding season took off. I’ve just been behind on blog posts ever since. So without further adieu here is their amazing event held on the mountainside in Morrison, Colorado! It was the perfect end to a rough season with re-bookings, cancellations and more. It was great that we were still able to service so many weddings in 2020 and most of the couples that had to re-booked their events in 2021 as we heard that not everyone in the wedding industry fared as well. As we pass into Winter I often reflect on how lucky we are to do what we love and spend some of the happiest days with our clients! The 2021 wedding season has been the busiest year we have ever had with us covering a wedding or two almost every single weekend and we’re not done yet! So bare with us as we update the blog over the coming Winter months!
Vendors who made this day possible:
Ceremony & Reception Venue – Willow Ridge Manor
Disc Jockey – Digital DJ
Caterer – Rocky Mountain Catering
Hair & Make-Up – LesliesArts
Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video
Fall has got me thinking about this beautiful church wedding Chris photographed last year. I was already booked for two weddings on the most popular date to get married on in 2020 which was 10-10-20. Leia and Zach had put off booking their photographer due to the pandemic and not knowing if they were going to be able to host their event, but luckily Chris was available to cover it for us! This poor couple like many last year had many hurdles to overcome for throwing a wedding. The golf course that they had planned to host their ceremony at was not allowing events during the pandemic so the couple opted to move their reception to their parent’s back yard. It ended up being very lovely and the perfect wedding that suited their personalities! Their indoor catholic ceremony was beautiful with all the colors of fall and all the important people attending! And the bride and groom were even able to swing by the golf course that was supposed to be were their reception was going to be to do some photos of just the two of them before heading on to the backyard reception. Check out more of the photos below!
It’s just a testament to “love conquering all” because in the end it’s not about the fancy party, but about the person you are deciding to share forever with… Here’s to all the 2020 and 2021 couples still navigating a worldwide pandemic! I didn’t think we’d still be dealing with whether or not to host a wedding one year later, but here we are! Whatever you decide to do just know your true friends and family will back you up!
Events are back and so are Photo-Booths! This fun couple had a steam punk themed wedding and created their own gear backdrop to use with our open air booth. One of the great things about the open-air booth is you can use one of our backdrops or create one of your own! Let your imagination run wild! Our largest package also includes a guest-book option with a second set of prints for the couple and a place for all your guests to leave a special note to the newlyweds!
I just loved the centerpieces that were incorporated with their theme throughout the venue for this event! So of course we just had to take a photo of the table with the guest book and the pandemic mask!
What a unique wedding and couple! Memories to remember for a lifetime!
We created a personalized template that fit their theme…. including the Tiffany blue color and steam punk gears!
And here’s the best thing about an open air booth…. fit as many people as you think you can into the photo!
Highlight video from this all outdoor event held at Willow Ridge Manor in Morrison, Colorado. Covid kept the guests mostly outdoors for this event with the couple choosing to host their whole event outside with this incredible view! Check it out!
I’m going to start off by saying that I am not a wedding planner, but as a wedding photographer who has been covering weddings and events for over 23 years I have a unique perspective on planning weddings… what works and what doesn’t. I’m also going to say that a wedding planner is almost always worth the investment even if you can only afford the “day of coordination” services. I always remember the story about a mother of the bride that came up to me after the event. I told her it was an amazing day and she had done such a good job setting everything up and coordinating with all of the vendors and then she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “I feel like I missed my daughter’s wedding because all I was doing was taking care of everything so that she could have a perfect day!” After that day I started looking at wedding planners as more of a necessity than a luxury, especially if you want your friends and family to enjoy the event instead of spending all their time working.
We still do work with tons of couples who decide to do it all them selves whether that’s because they don’t have a budget for a coordinator or because they really, really enjoy the planning aspects of party planning. Sometimes it’s because the venue or the caterer also offers some sort of set-up and/or breakdown service for the event. And when this happens we often run into no concrete plan on how things for the day are going to go and I find myself helping the couple come up with a timeline that not only makes sure there’s enough time planned for all the special events, but also enough time to get all those posed photos that they want too! Because of this background I thought I would share some helpful tips for planning your wedding timeline especially if you are going to host an event in Colorado. Because of our beautiful scenery a lot of Colorado weddings are held outdoors (at least for a portion of the event). Outdoors can bring a whole extra set of challenges that you need to consider such as time of year, weather, location and guests’ comfort. I’ve seen it all – Winter weddings held outside with a snowy landscape to Church weddings on one side of town and a reception over an hour away. All of these things can effect a timeline. So here are some things to consider when you start planning out your timeline.
1.) Are you hosting the ceremony and reception at the same location?
If your ceremony and reception are being held at completely different locations then you have to remember to include drive time between the two venues in your timing. Make sure to leave in extra time for things like traffic problems and construction. If you are having a shuttle bus take guests between the two locations or from accommodations to the venues make sure you find out if they need multiple trips or if a large bus can be used to take all the guests who would be using it. Again make sure you have extra time planned in the timeline for things that come up.
2.) What time of the year are you getting married?
Sure there are savings to be had for couple willing to brave hosting a wedding in the middle of Winter, but it’s also not without risk. Colorado ski towns are notorious for getting blocked in with snow that close down roads in the Wintertime. If you are having a mountain wedding in November-March you should prepare for all scenarios with the worst being yourself, guests and vendors unable to make it to your venue. I highly suggest that you plan an extra day for arrivals prior to the wedding to ensure that yourself, vendors and others can at least be able to get to town prior to the wedding date. We covered a wedding in Silverthorne in 2019 where the bride mentioned frequent tunnel closures and ski traffic in her invitations. She suggested that guests give themselves an extra hour to get to the venue and because of that all of her guests were able to make it just before the ceremony started because the Eisenhower Tunnel had a closure. It’s a good idea to see if there are any festivals, planned road closures, or other travel issues in the area during your planned wedding date and take all of that into consideration when planning a timeline. And offer up alternate routes than what the map on your phone will give or suggestions for time management.
Next, the time of year can most definitely effect when you should plan an outdoor ceremony. The sun starts to go down earlier in the Fall and because of the mountains you may loose light for photos even sooner than other locations. If you are planning a sunset ceremony than you should plan to do the bulk of your formal portraits prior to the ceremony because once it’s dark out a photographer can use flash, but no amount of flash will bring those beautiful backgrounds back into the light and all that money you spent on a venue with views is wasted for your photos.
3.) Start your timeline early… from when you are planning on getting ready.
When you choose hair and make-up artists tell them the time that every person in your wedding party must be done for photos starting plus half an hour to an hour. The artists should know how long it takes for themselves and/or a team of stylists to complete the job and they will tell you what time you need to start getting ready. I’ve been to many weddings where someone from a stylist’s team doesn’t show which puts everyone behind or one of the bridesmaids hates their hair and they have to start over. Having that extra wiggle room for time will either be needed or it will give you some time to just relax.
If you are planning on doing any of the decorating yourself utilizing family and wedding party members then I highly suggest doing all of this either the day before your event (if at all possible) or plan on it being completed by the time you need to get ready as you can’t do both at the same time. Couples often forget that a lot of the wedding portraits can be done before the wedding as well and if you are too busy setting up instead of taking photos then you are just paying your photographer to stand around until you are ready. Also you probably don’t need the photographer there for all of the 3-4 hours of the wedding party is getting ready. One to two hours before the ceremony should be sufficient to capture the last minute touch ups and getting dressed. The photographer and videographer’s start time will depend on whether or not you are doing a “First Look” and how many portraits you plan on doing before the ceremony.
4.) Utilize the experts in the industry.
Talk to the owner or coordinator of the venue and ask them what timelines work the best for the time of year you are getting married. Chat with the caterer to find out what order for service works the best for them because if they have a way that they normally do things sometimes if you change anything up it can also affect the level of service they can provide you. Take into consideration time for things like “room flipping” which is when the same room the ceremony is held in is switched during the cocktail hour to a reception set-up. If you have to do this at the venue you have chosen then plan a little bit extra time for your cocktail hour in case things take longer to do. Of course talk to your photographer and videographer about the important things you want to make sure are covered from your day so that you can utilize their coverage time the best.
5.) Distribute your written timeline widely.
You should have a nicely typed out timeline that is given out to all of your vendors, as well as anyone in the bridal party and important family members. This way everyone knows where they are supposed to be and when. Having to look for a missing groomsmen or waiting on a family member to arrive can not always be prevented, but it’s a lot less likely to happen when everyone knows when and and where they are supposed to be. It can also take some of the stress off of everyone involved. Make sure your venue and/or a trusted wedding party member has a copy of it so they can help keep you on track if you are not using a wedding planner.
Weddings come in all shapes and sizes and some of the most unique are quaint small affairs that couples host with family and close friends like this even held last October in Colorado Springs at the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort. Another event that just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a beautiful Colorado wedding. This historic roadside motel has been fixed up with bicycle themes to cater to those that love to get on two wheels. The resort even provides an assortment of bicycles for people to ride on in the area. It’s located just minutes down the road from the Garden of the gods which is one of the premier tourist destinations in Colorado Springs.
The pavilion by the pool made a lovely ceremony and reception spot for this very much “in love” couple. We utilized all of the fun bicycle themed elements to get some amazing photos on property, but were still able to get some majestic mountain backdrop photos of just the two of them! It tourned out to be an amazing Fall day and I would come back here in a heartbeat!
Vendors Who Made This Day Possible:
Ceremony, Reception and On Site Accommodations – Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort
Photography – Crystaline Photography & Video
Released Alexie’s Quincenera Video from this past May today! What an amazing event. A church ceremony in the morning followed by an evening full of fun for all the guests! There was a party bus and horse carriage rides for the court, photo-booth for all the guests, multiple food stations with donuts, popcorn and a taco truck. Dancing went late into the evening with special dances performed by the court and an appearance by juggler entertainers. This event had it all! Check it out!