For Brides: 6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer
7. Should We Do a First Look?
8. 5 Steps to Great Bride & Groom Portraits
9. How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures
10. 6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

Let's face it, taking family formals on your wedding day is usually stressful. There's a lot of people to manage and organize in a short period of time. Sometimes there's difficult family relationships or drama to think about and people are always ready to get to the reception. Family formals don't have to be stressful though! Here's 6 steps to successful family formals:

1. Send Your Photographer An Organized List with First Names
I usually try to accomplish all family formals after the ceremony in 20-30 minutes. 20-30 minutes should be enough time if you are organized! Sending your photographer an organized list of family portraits is essential to successful family formals. I always have my couples send me a list of all the family pictures they want before the wedding with first names. The reason why listing first names is important is because it's much easier and more personal to call out someone's first name than to say "grandparents of the bride on mothers side" and other complicated combinations. So, for example, on your list you would write: Bride and Groom with Brides Parents (Kevin and Brenda).

2. Simplify Your List as Much as Possible
Try and narrow your list down to as few groupings as possible. An example of a "grouping" is: Bride and Groom with Brides Parents (Kevin and Brenda). Within this grouping you can have more than one shot (e.g. Bride and Groom with Grooms parents, Bride and Groom with Brides Parents, etc.)  If you have a large extended family you want in your pictures and more than ten groupings, I recommend simplifying your list or taking some of the larger group shots during the reception to save more time for your romantic portraits.

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

3. Tell Your Family About Pictures Beforehand
Make sure your family is aware that you will be taking pictures directly after the ceremony. Often this is assumed but after the ceremony people get caught up in the excitement and forget to stick around for pictures! I would also consider having the wedding officiant announce that the family needs to stay after the ceremony for family formals. Also, make sure that you begin taking your family formals immediately after the ceremony if possible. Once time goes by, people will begin to go their separate ways and they will be much harder to locate.

4. Make Your Photographer Aware of  Sensitive Family Situations
Make sure your photographer is aware of any sensitive family situations. I always ask my couples about this so I can be as aware as possible of any family issues that could arise. Make things as easy as you can on everyone by avoiding an awkward situation or embarrassing your photographer or family members.

5. Take Your Pictures at the Ceremony Venue
As we've discussed, you'll have very limited time to get your family formals. It is most ideal to take your family formals at or outside of your ceremony venue. One other important thing to consider is the lighting for your pictures. Your pictures will look best if you either take them outside or take them in a room with a lot of windows and natural light.

6. Designate a Person to Help the Photographer
I have found it helpful when my couples designate someone to help me locate everyone for family formals. Ideally, this would be a person that knows many of the family members and can easily find people. It is difficult to play the role of photographer and coordinator and so it's very helpful to have someone gathering people as the photographer takes the pictures. 

6 Steps to Successful Family Formals

If you found this post helpful or interesting please share it and/or leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below! Check back next Wednesday and I'll be sharing my next post in the "For Brides" series on how to get beautiful reception pictures!


For Brides: How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer
7. Should We Do a First Look?
8. 5 Steps to Great Bride & Groom Portraits
9. How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures

How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures

Your ceremony is one of the most important parts of your day but it can also be one of the most difficult to photograph! Ceremonies are often in dimly lit churches or outside during the harshest sunlight of the day. Here's a few tips on how to get beautiful pictures of your ceremony:

1. Consider the Lighting
If you've been following along, you've probably noticed a theme in my blog posts by now: lighting is key!! When you're considering venues for your ceremony, think about the lighting. If you're planning an indoor ceremony try and find somewhere that has a lot of windows and natural light. If your ceremony location doesn't have windows, consider leaving all the lights on. I know that may not be the "look" you're going for, but I promise you'll be happy you did it. I've shot in an auditorium before with all of the lights off except for harsh spotlights hitting the couple on stage and it is not a flattering look! It would have been much better, and the lighting would have been more even if all the lights in the auditorium were on.

Ceremony Picture_DiPrima Photography_NC Wedding Photographer

2. Consider the Time of Day
This tip is especially important if you're planning an outdoor ceremony.  I absolutely LOVE shooting outdoor ceremonies! However, if you plan your outdoor ceremony at noon, you're going to have very harsh lighting that will not be flattering in your pictures (unless you luck out with an overcast, non-rainy day!). Consider having your ceremony as close to the golden hour as possible (the golden hour is one hour before the sun sets). If it's not possible to have your ceremony during the golden hour, the later in the afternoon you can have it, the better. However, make sure you steer away from having your ceremony after the sun goes down if you want the best lighting possible!

Hidden Cove at Lake Keowee Wedding

3. Consider the Rules of the Location
Some locations (usually churches) have very particular rules about what the photographer can and can't do during the reception. Sometimes the photographer must remain in the back of the church and cannot use flash. I can work with these requirements because I have the equipment I need to have to perform under those conditions. However, it is always helpful to be able to get closer in order get more intimate shots and creative angles. 

Sleepy Hollow Clemson SC Wedding

If you found this post helpful or interesting please share it and/or leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below! Check back next Wednesday and I'll be sharing my next post in the "For Brides" series one part of the wedding day that can sometimes be the most difficult...family formals!

For Brides: Should We Do a First Look? | NC Wedding Photographer

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer
7. Should We Do a First Look?

Should We Do a First Look

There are a lot of opinions on this topic! Before I share my thoughts with you, let me explain what a "First Look" is in case you haven't heard this term before:

What is a "First Look?" 
The first look is a special time when the bride and groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony. It's intimate and private with only your photographers (and videographer if you choose to have one) there to capture each moment as it unfolds.

Now, I want to preface my opinion but sharing that I think the decision on whether or not to do a "First Look" is 100% up to the bride and groom. Your wedding day is YOUR wedding day and not your mom's or your photographer's or anyone else's day. So ultimately, you and your fiancé need to decide together on what is best for you. Also, while I'm about to share my thoughts on all the benefits of doing a first look, I completely understand why people choose not to do a first look. Most of my couples decide to do a first look, but I have some that decide not do it and want to be more traditional. I completely understand that and I know there is definitely something special about your groom seeing you for the first time as you walk down the aisle!

First Look Picture

With all of that said, my opinion is that doing a "First Look" has many benefits and should seriously be considered as you're planning your wedding. Here's some of the main reasons I encourage couples to think about doing a "First Look":

1. You'll Get Intimate Time Together
Wedding days are a whirlwind and brides and grooms usually have no private time together to connect and take it all in. During the "First Look," I always tell the couple that I want them to enjoy the time together and not worry about me being there. I far stand back with a zoom lens and allow them to embrace and interact without any direction or posing. My goal and hope is that they'll forget I'm even there! I also think having some intimate time together before your ceremony can ease a lot of nerves and pressure. During my own first look, I found that it really helped me calm down and be a lot less nervous and it was such a sweet time to talk and interact with Alex before our ceremony. 

First Look_DiPrima Photography_NC Wedding Photographer

2. You'll Get More Pictures
You're investing a lot of money into your wedding photography and you want to maximize the amount of time you have for pictures! Doing a "First Look" gives you more time before the wedding for bridal party pictures and bride and groom pictures. Instead of trying to cram bridal party pictures, bride and groom pictures, and family formals into an hour after the ceremony, you will have a lot more time if you do a "First Look." In addition, couples who do a "First Look" get a lot more bride and groom portraits. And I promise you, those pictures are some of the most important ones you'll take on your wedding day because you will cherish them and they'll end up hanging all over your house (90% of the wedding pictures displayed in my house are portraits of me and Alex that we took before our ceremony!). 

First Look_DiPrima Photography_NC Wedding Photographer

3. You'll Get to Your Your Reception Faster
Let's be honest, no one really like waiting around after the ceremony to get all the pictures done before entering the reception. Everyone is ready to get to the reception and party! Doing a "First Look" cutsout most of the wait time for you and your wedding party so that everyone can get to the reception faster and enjoy it longer. 

First Look_DiPrima Photography_NC Wedding Photographer

From the Groom's Perspective
What is it like to do a "First Look" from the groom's perspective? Obviously every groom is different, but here's a quote from my husband, "We chose to do a first look, and boy am I glad we did! It made the day run so much smoother and gave us more time to get the shots we really wanted. Now some of those images are among our most cherished."

Here's a shot of my husband and I during our first look (captured by the amazing Naisang Photography):

If you found this post helpful or interesting please share it and leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below! Check back next Wednesday and I'll be sharing my next post in the "For Brides" series on how to get great "Bride and Groom Portraits."

Marie & Ben's Engagement Session at Eno State Park | A Durham, NC Photographer

I met with Marie and Ben at Eno State park in Durham for their engagement session and I had a wonderful time! Marie and Ben spent a lot of time at Eno park while they were dating and so they showed me around and took me to some of their favorite spots. Since moving to NC, I have really enjoyed getting to do photo shoots at so many new places! I loved Eno park and I especially loved the beautiful drawbridge. I definitely plan to come back here for more shoots in the future!

I  loved watching Marie and Ben interact with one another during their session! They were completely natural in front of the camera and their chemistry and love for one another was very obvious. Marie and Ben told me a little history about her engagement ring. The diamond in Marie's ring was Ben's grandma's and has been in Ben's family for many years. 

Marie and Ben, I had a blast and I can't wait until your wedding in September!

For Brides: 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer | NC Wedding Photographer

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer

6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer

I have found that one of the things brides often forget about is getting their details together for their photographer. I completely understand because I know that as a bride you have about a million things going on in your head! However, it really helps to gather all of your details together before your photographer arrives. It's also really important to make sure all of your details are at either the "getting ready" location or the location where you and your photographer have agreed to shoot your details. As I mentioned in an earlier post, making sure your details are ready and that your photographer doesn't have to go searching for them could mean that you get hundreds and maybe even thousands more pictures on your wedding day!

I love taking detail shots and I think they're really important! Details shots add dimension and variety to your photos and to your album. Your details tie the theme and colors of your wedding day together beautifully and create lasting memories of all the beautiful elements that went into your day.

Here's a few of the important details you need to remember to get ready for your photographer:

1. Wedding Dress and Veil
I highly recommend having your wedding hang on a wooden hanger and also consider getting a customized hanger. You've spent a lot of money on your dress and so you want it to be displayed beautifully in your pictures! A nice hanger will look WAY better than  plastic hanger in your pictures! Also be sure not to forget your veil. Detail pictures can look really beautiful placed against a wedding veil.

2. Shoes
Make sure you have your shoes! Pictures of your shoes always look great in albums and they really give a sense of the style and color of your wedding day.

Detail Shot_NC Wedding Photographer

3. Wedding Rings and Other Jewelry
I've found that when I get ready to shoot details, the groom or best man almost always has part or all of the wedding rings. You definitely want to make sure that the bride or one of the bridesmaids has all 3 of the rings for the beginning part of the day so your photographer can get beautiful shots of all three rings together! Also, if you're wearing a necklace, bracelet, earrings or other jewelry have those ready for your photographer. In addition, be sure to include any other keepsakes or family heirlooms you want photographed.

Bridal Details_NC Wedding Photographer

4. Complete Invitation Set
Your invitation set really sets the tone and theme for your wedding. Be sure to have your save the date, invitation set, programs, and any other paper products or textures (like ribbons from your invitation or vintage stamps) you want photographed. I recommend putting all of these details in a zip lock bag or manilla envelope. 

Getting Ready_NC Wedding Photographer

5. The Bouquets and Boutonnières
Most brides have their flowers brought to their wedding venue. If possible, I recommend having them brought to your "getting ready" location or location where you've agreed to have your details shots. I love to incorporate flowers into detail shots and flowers always make gorgeous pictures!

6. Bridesmaid Dresses
I love taking pictures of all the bridesmaids dresses hanging up next to the wedding dress! If possible, I also recommend putting bridesmaid dresses on wooden hangers or personalized hangers. Bridesmaid dresses also make great backgrounds for some of your detail shots because they tie your color scheme together. 

Bridal Details_NC Wedding Photographer

I hope you found this post helpful! Check back next Wednesday for my next post in the "For Brides" series. I'll be answering the question: "Should We Do a First Look?"