Archive for Planning Tips

Almost everyone has heard the term “hashtag” but still not everyone knows what a “hashtag” is or what they are used for; most importantly  most folks over the age of 40 are not going to know what the purpose of a hashtag is…. I’m here to help you out and give you some information on this trend for weddings and events just in case you were wondering if you need one or not!

  • A hashtag is any word or unbroken word-grouping (no spaces) with a # sign in front of it, used on a social platform like Instagram or Facebook.
  • A hashtag links your individual posts with all other posts containing that hashtag, giving it greater exposure and longevity, and connecting it to larger conversations.
  • To create a hashtag, just think one up and start using it across your social channels. No need to register it anywhere.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram—use the same event hashtag for all content related to your event. This creates a branded hashtag that provides a clear way to track activity across all social platforms.

So how do you create a hashtag that’s perfect for your wedding and why would you need one? Let’s start with the why… Mainly because everyone  has a camera in their phone which is on them at all times. People will be taking photos at your event (as long as it’s the time to do that… see my article about “Unplugged Weddings”). Do you want to see the photos everyone took? Maybe you are not “friends” online with a plus one that was invited, but he or she got an amazing sunset photo at your event and you would love to see it! If they use the hashtag when they post it to their social media you will be able to see it grouped with all of the other photos tagged with your special hashtag! It’s a great way to bring all of these amazing images together in one place!

Here are some tips for picking the best hashtag for your event!

  1. Create your own… try using an online “Hashtag Generator” for ideas. A good place to start is with your names because it will be easy for your guests to remember plus you can put a fun spin on it by doing a funny pun or play on words. #MorganHeBargainedFor #WritghtStateOfMind #SayYesToTheKress
  2. To be more unique try using numbers in the tag so that your hashtag doesn’t get mixed up with another couple’s event. For instance #BobAndSueWedding2022
  3. Capitalize the first letter of each word so that the hashtag is easy to read.  Whether your guests post with the capitalization won’t matter – the hashtag will still work!  It’s just easier to read (and remember) with capital letters.
  4. As you pick your favorite hashtag options, do a quick search to see if it’s already been used before! If so, just add a number, your wedding date, or change a word in the hashtag.  You want yours to be unique to YOUR wedding so it curates photos from your event!
  5. Make a list of several options, and then narrow it down to your favorite!  This is definitely a fun activity for you and your fiancé to do together.
  6. Next spread the word about your hashtag – Start using your hashtag before the wedding.  Tag your engagement pics, selfies during date nights, pictures from your other wedding events such as showers, rehearsal dinners etc. and attach your hashtag in your post.  The more you use it early on, the more people will notice it.
  7. List your hashtag on your wedding website, save the date cards, and/or invitations.  At the wedding, you’ll definitely want to have a cute sign with the hashtag.  Order a few of these signs, have them match your wedding décor, and place them strategically:  near the bar, at each table, on the gifts table, near the cake, etc.  Have the DJ or band encourage guests to take pics and post using your hashtag too! I’ve even seen them on the cocktail napkins!
  8.  Tell your photographer and/or videographer about your hashtag so if they post anything they can use it too! Having access to all the photos friends and family take is awesome! Just make sure that people do not interfere with photos the photographer is taking so you can have photos without cell phones in them!

We can’t wait to see what fun hashtags you come up with for your wedding!

As a wedding photographer/videographer I see a lot of wedding trends come and go. Some of the classics stick around for a good while, but even some of the die hard wedding traditions are starting to move their way out of the limelight. I thought I’d take a peek at the fun trends that are making their way to couples this year and with a mention of the ones on their way out. Let’s see if you agree…

TRENDS ON THEIR WAY IN

1.) Weekday Weddings – We saw quite a few of these over the last year just due to couples needing to work within venue’s availability after they had to postpone their 2020 event. Don’t expect them to go away. Lots of venues offer special savings when a couple is willing to host their event mid-week. Almost everyone has a limited budget, so couples all over have found this is a great way to save big on their wedding!

2.) Customized Weddings – These have already been really popular. Engaged couples want to do something different that stands out and makes their event more memorable. I see a lot more couples wanting to do their wedding “their” way instead of the “traditional” way. This can mean having a food truck instead of a sit down dinner, having a cocktail hour before the vows,  coming up with their own unity ceremony instead of a candle, etc. I already have two “brunch” weddings booked in 2022 for breakfast lovers everywhere! Anywhere a couple can put their personal stamp on their event they will be doing it!

3.) Electronic Invitations – The pandemic made electronic ways to stay in touch with your guests more acceptable due to all the postponements and reschedules. And now they are here to stay. Electronic save-the-dates, invites, RSVPs are a great way for couples to save money, even if you just use a wedding website to get all that extra information out for instance like where to stay, and how to get there. A small QR code placed on a physical invite even gives your guests a quick way to go to your wedding website.

4.) Destination Weddings and Elopements – We’ve covered a lot of these in the past few years and when Covid lockdowns happened couples still wanted to get married, so they chose the most exotic place they could get to within the US borders. We had quite a few couples coming from areas without snow, or from the flat plains to Colorado just because they wanted to get married on a mountain top. And in reverse a lot of couples in Colorado going to locations with beaches!

5.) Renting a Vacation Home for Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties – People looking for ways to avoid crowded clubs and bars are looking into staying with their close friends at a large home they can rent through sites like Vrbo.com and Air BnB. And then they are even hiring a photographer to come out and document it! This can be a long golf or ski weekend or  maybe a great location like Nashville or Las Vegas for fun shows and gambling!

 

TRENDS ON THEIR WAY OUT

1.) Bouquet and garter toss… Many, many couples today are deciding to drop this steadfast tradition. Some of the reasons are because couples are waiting to get married later in life and it just doesn’t seem right singling out  one or two of your last unattached friends. Also your dance floor is rocking, who wants to slow down a party for this out dated tradition.

2.) Things on Guest Registries – Also a sign of the times with couples waiting until later in life to tie the knot; a lot of couples are already in a co-habitating scenario and don’t need stuff.  I see a lot of couple’s that have honeymoon registries or a site for saving for a down payment on a home. Young couples today are not interested in china patterns. Some are even asking for donations to charities in lieu of a wedding gift.

3.) Wedding Favors – Most couples are ditching the wedding favors in order to afford other items like a video record of their event, or higher end entertainment. Over the years I have found that the largest waste of money goes to wedding favors. People often forget the trinkets given to them by the couple leaving most items behind. The exception to this rule is if you give them something you know they will use like food or drink. I remember one couple that provided a bottle of wine to each family on their way home from their family owned vineyard. Now this is something we all know will get used! Photo-booths have also become a popular favor replacement because it gives guests a memorable experience and a memento that you know they will save and cherish.

4.) Extra Large Bridal Parties – While couples have a lot of friends many are opting to go with small 1-2 attendants or none at all. It gets really hard trying to coordinate schedules of a lot of people for dress fittings, parties, and more. Couples are finding that they’d rather have their guests be guests instead of having them full-fill the obligations of a wedding party. Not to mention how you’ll need a larger alter space in the ceremony to fit a large bridal party. Group photos also take twice as long to do with large entourages.

5.) Receiving Lines – I will go as far as to say this one is pretty much already gone. When I ask couples if they are going to have a “receiving line” I often get a blank stare followed up with the question of “what is that?” A lot of today’s couples have never even seen one unless they’ve been to a very traditional church ceremony. If you’ve never seen one  here’s a brief explanation: it’s where the couple and their parents stand in a line to greet and shake the hands of each and every guest after the ceremony and it can take 30-60 minutes depending the amount of guests you have invited. One of the main reasons this one has disappeared is because of the amount of time couples have to do their formal group photos after the ceremony. Most of the time the photos take precedence over a receiving line. Covid pretty much put a complete kibosh to this tradition. A lot of couples now greet their guests while dinner is going on at the reception after they have eaten.

 

 

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!

Large family photo

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.

Bride and groom with parents

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.

Nice family shot

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!

Fun wedding party pose

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.

Family with pictursque backdrop

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.

Fun groomsmen pose

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.

Large group of bridesmaids

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.

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.

Destination weddings in Colorado have become big business in the wedding industry. Couples from all over the world are imagining themselves saying their nuptials with majestic peaks in the background. Maybe the couples has previously vacationed here and fallen in love with the state or perhaps like one of the couples I photographed a couple years ago the bride had never seen snow before and had always wanted to get married on a snow covered mountain top! Whatever your reason for getting married in Colorado it’s now easier than ever to do! The internet has given everyone the key to searching out thousands of venues and vendors. Couples can check out photos and videos of properties, search by price point and even view reviews from others who have used the vendors in the past. Tools like email, FaceTime and Skype make is easier to do virtual meetings to discuss your needs and concerns that some couples choose to book some or even all their wedding vendors without ever meeting in person! If this is something you plan on doing here is some tips to help you navigate choosing the best vendors!

1.) Consider hiring a Wedding Planner – I’m all for do it “yourselfers” that want to save money, but sometimes a planner is a huge help in facilitating the wedding of your dreams; especially if you don’t live or know anyone where you plan on hosting your event. A planner can have more insight on particular venues and vendors and can even in some cases save couples money by helping them find the best value for what they want to spend. If hiring a planner isn’t in your budget, look for venues with amazing on-site coordinators. When booking a site that includes an on-site coordinator make sure you get a list of their duties so you know what you’re getting. Some venues provide a coordinator purely to  protect their own interests. The coordinator is just there to turn on and off the lights, show you what you can and can not do and make sure guests don’t destroy the property. Others offer full on planning services as well. They help with decorating, organizing guests and the wedding party and more. Just make sure you are aware of what they will and will not do especially if you are paying extra for them.

2.) Hiring Pros…when to choose someone from home and when to go with someone locally – Hiring some local vendors are much more obvious. Hiring a caterer from home and expecting them to haul out all of their gear etc. can become very cost prohibitive. So looking at local caterers is probably recommended. Others might not be so cut and dry… not to shoot myself in the foot, as I would love your photo and video business, but sometimes you have built a repertoire with a photographer who lives near you and you really want to use them. I completely get that! I myself have covered a number of destination weddings for people who have grown to love my work. I’ve covered weddings in Florida, the Virgin Islands and even Costa Rica! But sometimes choosing a photographer who lives and works in the area you’re getting married in can be very beneficial. They might work at your venue on a regular basis or know some amazing off the beaten path spots to take photographs. Consider the travel costs you might have to cover when bringing a vendor with you. Sometimes these costs can double the cost of the service they provide.

3.) Do your research and set a budget in advance – Talk with all the parties involved to set-up realistic budgets for each service you are looking for prior to meeting with venues and vendors.  In your research don’t be afraid to ask the business what their starting prices are and a rough estimate of what their services would cost for what you need. Caterers this might go off of an estimated guest count and food preference. Photographers and videographers might charge for how much time you want them to document your event and whether or not you want more than one cameraman present. Disc Jockeys and musicians usually start with the time-frame they will be playing music and then add-on for things like extra lighting. Once you have found a few vendors in your price range only set-up meetings (whether they are on the phone or in person) with vendors who are in the range of your budget.

4.) Visit your Destination Location – If at all possible schedule a scouting trip to the area you are looking to getting married at during the time of year that you plan on hosting your event. Photos of a property are great, but we all know that photographers have ways to take the photos showing the venue off in it’s best light and can doctor the images using Photoshop! It’s good to see and meet vendor in person whenever possible. Remember that great venues and vendors book up quickly so while I recommend doing your due diligence with all services, if you have a particular date in mind it might be wise to do this sooner than later because for most vendors once they are booked they’re no longer available to take on more work.  Don’t be afraid to ask for past client referrals!

5.) Get it in writing! – Make sure the vendors you hire always use a contract and be sure to review the contracts before signing. Bring up any concerns to the vendor before you sign and give them a deposit. If the vendor doesn’t provide it for you, ask them for an itemized list of everything that is included in the quoted price. At a destination wedding, it’s especially important to make sure things like pick up and drop off of items are being handled by the vendor and everyone is on the same page of timing and what’s included. Be sure to think about things that make it easier for guests traveling to your destination like room blocking at hotels and shuttle service to and from ceremony and reception locations.

6.) Go with your Gut – If after meeting with a vendor for any service something feels “off”, but you can’t put your finger on it listen to what your subconscious is trying to tell you.  Some red flags to consider: disparaging talk about a current or past clients (unless it’s to explain how they handled a challenging situation without naming the clients), how quickly they return emails and phone calls (sometimes with emails it’s just technology failing, don’t hesitate to pick up a phone and call them), trying to strong arm you into features or add-ons that you might not need or judgemental comments about your budget and an unwillingness to work within it. While vendors all understand budgets please don’t call a vendor that says their prices start at “X” price expecting them to do basically the same service they are advertising for at a 1/3 of the price! There may be a little wiggle room in some vendors prices, but don’t expect over a 5-10% difference.

Now everyone knows I’m a big proponent of hiring a disc jockey for your event whenever possible, but there are some events where it’s going to be very small or it’s just not in the budget to hire a professional and in that case if you are looking to save some money on your entertainment you can look at renting the equipment and doing it yourself. That’s where Rockstar Rentals comes in. Not only do they rent sound equipment, but they also rent lighting gear and do light installations. Check them out!
Rockstar Rentals is a premier boutique audio and lighting equipment rental company and event-production team located in Centennial, Colorado – just a few miles south of Denver.  Over the years, we have worked with a variety of bands, DJs, event planners, corporations, and individuals.  We have rented our equipment and décor to small, home-based events, large weddings, and even full-scale A/V events and we have provided services for individuals and corporations.
 
Contact Information:
Jacob Bieber (for all audio inquiries): 720.515.3391  | email: rockstarrentals.jacob@gmail.com
Vassi Bieber (for wedding lighting inquiries): 303.578.5692 | email: marketingrockstar5280@gmail.com
Address:
7338 S. Alton Way Unit 16G | Centennial, CO | 80109

I received another amazing personalized gift from Bridesmaids’ Gifts Boutique  this time it’s a monogrammed makeup bag with my initials. The bag is nicely made, comes in a variety of different colors and has a lovely tassel on the zipper. Super cute! This would be an adorable gift for each one of your bridesmaids or for the bride herself as a bridal shower gift! As always the delivery was super fast so if you are procrastinating on the gifts check out this site! And their associate site Groovy Groomsmen Gifts

For the bridesmaids: Put in a lip gloss, a nice lotion set, maybe a pair of flip-flops for when the dancing starts, some tissues, mints and maybe a cold brew coffee or other caffeinated drink as it’s going to be a long day!

For the bride: Fill it with bridal emergency kit items and you have the perfect accessory for her big day!  Need some ideas on what to include for an emergency kit here’s my go to list: 1.) A Tide Pen – for any spills or stains 2.) A small sewing kit – for wardrobe malfunctions 3.) Super glue – I’ve seen this save many a heals on shoes and even boutinears!  4.) Scissors – Everyone always forgets to remove tags 5.) Gum and/or Breathe Mints – Fresh breathe speaks for itself 6.) Pantyhose – In case you get a run in one and they can be used for other things 7.) Lip gloss! 8.) A small first aide kit with band-aids, etc. 9.) Clear nail polish – Also stops pantyhose runs 10.) Tissues – For inevitable crying! 11.) Aspirin or Ibuprofen – For pain relief 12.) A nail file 13.) Sunscreen – Especially if the event is outdoors! 14.) Bobby Pins 15.) Fabric Tape –  This has also saved someone from embarrassing clothing mishaps 16) Lint Roller – Keep fuzzies off that dress! 17.) Deodorant – Bride’s forget this all the time! 18.) Pens – To sign the license! 19.) Antacids – In case dinner doesn’t agree with you. 20.) Water & Snacks – the day goes so fast she often forgets to eat!

I’m going to enjoy this bag for years to come! Make sure you check out their site: https://www.bridesmaidgiftsboutique.com/and their site for groomsman’s gifts: http://www.groovygroomsmengifts.com

So a bunch of couples got engaged over the holidays and possibly Valentine’s Day! And they are wondering what they should start with first in the planning process! Well, before you get knee deep in the planning process a fun thing to do is to announce your engagement to the world! And one of the best ways to do this is by having some amazing photos taken of you both during an Engagement Portrait Session! Whether you and your significant other have been together a year or longer, a lot of times there are not a ton of photos of you together as a couple. This is a great way to add some photos to your albums, meet and try out a photographer that you might possibly use for your wedding and to have some fun casual photos of you and your fiance’ for things like your wedding website, save-the-date cards and more!

Here are some great poses and ideas to make your session fabulous!

1.) Beautiful View – Choose a Location for an Outstanding Natural View! (Especially if you can’t hold your wedding at a location with a spectacular view!)

2.) Incorporate Your Pets – Let’s face it your dogs are your family! Bring them along to the photo-shoot for some fun photos. This is a great way to include your furry family members, especially if you can’t bring them to your wedding venue.

3.) Highlight the Engagement Ring – Did your fiance’ do an excellent job picking out your ring? Make sure the ring is the focus for a few shots!

4.) Choose a Fun Activity for Photos – Maybe you are avid rock climbers, role-players, bikers, etc. Use the hobbies that you like to do together to create a fun photo-shoot that shows off what you love to do together!

5.) The Hand-Hold Pose – is a must for every engagement session! It shows how connected you are to the one you love.

6.) Lovely Portrait – Don’t forget to do some traditional poses looking at the camera too! Grandma wants to see your faces!

7.) Nightime Photos – Be unique and schedule your session close to sundown so you can also incorporate some night-time poses, especially if you got engaged around the holidays and Christmas lights are still hanging up around town.

8.) Wall Art Backdrop – Want an urban/edgy look… find some Graffiti Wall Art to pose in front of!

9.) Epic Kiss Photo – Don’t forget the romantic Hollywood kiss photo!

10.) Sun Glow Photos – Use the sun as an interesting/creative element in your photos!

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!

 

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