Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Perfect Prep

Your wedding day is typically filled with anxiety and nerves which are perfectly normal for any bride – no matter how much you plan. The excitement of getting married and finally having reached the day you’ve dreamed of can overload even the most solid of brides-to-be with emotions she’s never felt before. However, there are ways to make the day run as smoothly as possible, keeping the stress to a minimum, and it’s all about scheduling, being prepared and going with the flow. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

1. The schedule – One of the most important things to have on your wedding day is a schedule stating the flow of the day, in particular if you and your bridesmaids are getting your hair and make-up done. Although the schedule is most important, be careful not to be too controlling with the timing. You only need to schedule the time period that it will take to complete the entire group, you do not need to map out which girl will be in the chair at each time slot. Trying to control things too much will only make it impossible to obtain your goal, causing you to fail before you begin.
2. Let them come to you – Typically, the hair dresser and make-up artists will come to the bride’s house or hotel room the morning of the wedding. Having them come to you is the best thing possible so that you do not have to account for travel time, regrouping the troops, etc. Being able to wake up and have everyone come to you often makes the bride feel more relaxed and less rushed from the start of the day.
3. Make it possible to sleep in – Starting at a time that is later than the crack of dawn helps you feel relaxed and not worn out by the time the big event takes place. In order to ensure that you can sleep in, you want to assess just how many girls are getting their hair and make-up done and how long it will take each person to get each service completed. At that point, you need to decide if it’s best to have two hair dressers or make-up artists in order to get everyone done in less time. This could mean the difference between starting at 7:30am in order to get 7 girls ready by 3pm or being able to start the prep at 11am in order to get 7 girls ready by the start of photos.
4. Check with your photographer - Before finalizing the schedule for the prep, you’ll want to check with your photographer to make sure you are giving him/her enough time to complete pictures before heading to the church. You will want to check on the arrival time of the photographer if you want your prep photographed. Ultimately, you will need your bridesmaids to be dressed and completely ready before you get into your dress. After you are completely dressed with jewelry, the veil, etc. the photographer can begin taking portraits and group shots. You will want to check with the photographer to find out whether or not a second shooter will be on hand to photograph the groom and his groomsmen at the church before the ceremony. This can change the time that he/she will start pictures of the girls depending on whether or not he/she has to leave to make it to the church.
5. EAT, DRINK and RELAX - Make sure to have lunch brought in for you and your girls so that you have something in your stomach before the night begins. Most brides do not eat enough on the night of the wedding, even when time is allotted for such, but having lunch and snacks during the day helps to keep your energy up and absorb some of the alcohol that you will be consuming throughout the event. A glass of two of champagne or wine is nothing to worry about while relaxing with your girls on the day of your wedding, but make sure you save the real party for the reception.

I should have prefaced by saying that this type of relaxation only comes from having a planner, a good friend or a great venue that provides someone you trust to set up the reception venue and make sure everything is in place. Not having to worry about when your vendors are showing up, travel schedules or who is handling the extra details at the church and/or reception venue is the top priority for any bride. Once you have that taken care of, you are free to work out the other steps to a relaxing day. Just make sure that you and your vendors know the schedule prior to the morning of the wedding and that the times match with everyone’s responsibilities. Try to have vendors come to you to avoid travel confusion and losing items. Do not forget to eat, eat, eat and have a cocktail if the spirit moves you!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The out-of-town photographer

Last month I worked with a photographer who was from out of town and wanted to take pictures of the bride and groom after the ceremony, since they were not going to see each other before the big walk down the aisle. This sounds pretty traditional, but this particular photographer wanted over an hour for pictures of just the bride and groom (not including bridal party or families). I had to explain to this professional that the reception was only three hours long so we could not possibly dedicate an entire hour to a portrait session of the bride and groom.
This is just one example of the issues that I’ve found with the sudden outbreak of New Orleans brides bringing in photographers from other parts of the country. For the most part, I find that the brides are picking these out-of-town photographers in order to gain the fresh eye that he/she brings to the table. Often times, I hear brides say that they want something different from the photos on the websites of some New Orleans photographers, being that they can appear cookie-cutter or “insert bride here,” as I like to say. By bringing in a person who does not shoot in the church or reception venue with the same city background every weekend, you get to see a new perspective in turn making your pictures seem fresh, new or different.
While the fresh eye is a perk, some may rather the carbon copy of the wedding prior to theirs if it means they don’t have to spend 5 hours taking pictures before the reception or wake up at 7am in order to be ready 5 hours prior to their ceremony.
Some people may not get this, but New Orleans has its own way of doing everything, especially weddings. We are not representative of a traditional “Southern” wedding and we know we do not have any similarities to the way it’s done up North. We do it the way we do it here in New Orleans; plain and simple.
There’s a definite protocol or formula to a New Orleans wedding, and having a local means having someone who understands the sensitive time restraints that we are working with. The locals also understand the geographic time in which to travel and how to get from Uptown to Downtown in only 3 minutes when it takes the bridal party (with police escorts) 10 minutes.
We do not often have an hour of cocktails, a two hour seated dinner and then a 3 hour reception which would allow a photographer plenty of time to play with poses and creative range. In New Orleans we have three to four hour receptions, most of time. So the photographer has a certain amount of time prior to the ceremony to take the bride’s pictures with her bridesmaids and family members, the groom’s pictures with his groomsmen and family members and then after the ceremony there’s a 30 minute window to take the bride and groom with the entire bridal party and family members. In some cases, when taking pictures in the church, the photographers are only granted 15 minutes for said pictures before the “church lady” rushes us out.
In the Big Easy, part of the nature of the beast is being able to get the job done in a timely manner without rushing the bride and groom all the while still being creative and getting the perfect shot. Although some of the out-of-town talent that I’ve seen did the research and learned how to adjust to the New Orleans way, my suggestion for the girls out there who want something “different” is to dive into the local pool and meet with your photographer. Talk to him or her about what is visually important to you. There are cons to some of the photographers who do weddings here every weekend, but most of the time their attitudes and inabilities to be flexible are where they fall short, but being creative and capturing what you want in the creative way that you want it is something that can be fixed with a simple conversation.
Before you rush out to pay double the price for a photographer that may make you miss half of your special day, dig deeper into the locals who are just as great as the “fresh eye” you think you’ll be bringing in. Sometimes they just need a push to realize how far they can stretch their imaginations. And for the local shutterbugs who aren’t willing to get more creative and less rigid, you can find another photographer just around the corner who has the experience to know that this industry is ever changing, the courage to take risks when it comes to his or her creativity and the flexibility to roll with the punches.