Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting the Most Out of Your Photographer

This is a long post but full of info. Just wanted to offer a disclaimer ;)

If you'r getting married, no doubt you'll be doing your research when it comes to hiring your photographer. Photographers are one of the major pieces of the pie for your wedding and can also be one of the most costly vendors you pay for (some can even go beyond the prices of catering). Below are some tips and reccommendations for how you should utilize your photographer and some time allottments to keep in mind when budgeting how much time you need to hire them for.

Getting Started:
Do some homework first and research the style of photography you want. Most photographers have websites making this process a little easier. Also look into their prices. Some photography costs can be a shocker to brides-to-be so I often encourage brides to look into the photographer at the beginning of the planning process so they know how much of their budget to keep aside for this.

With high costs, it often causes some brides to only hire a photographer for "traditional shots" or the ceremony and then forgo professional pictures for the rest of the day so they can have more food or afford better linens. When you take this approach you have no guarantee if you'll get a picture of your brother doing his hilarious rendition of the sprinkler dance on the dance floor or if you'll get a good shot of your cake cutting. These are important memories and you don't want to leave their fate in the hands of those who may or may not have remembered to bring their cameras. Also, leaving disposable cameras on the tables may get those shots, but at poor quality. Trust me, if you don't have pictures of the wedding, you won't have anything to remember the fancy linens by in the first place. There are always ways to cut corners with flowers or food, but when it comes to your memories, go all out-this gives you something to remember that special day by and the photos become family heirlooms that will be passed down making good quality a must for longevity.

With all that in mind, there are still afforadable photographers out there. A planner can be very beneficial at this point because we often know of a range of vendors in all prices and can recommend someone that fits your style AND budget.

Keep your friends out of it
You may have a friend or family member that is great at taking photos. Avoid hiring them for your wedding! I can tell you horros stories of "my friend was supposed to handle ______ for our wedding and they didn't do it right OR didn't show up OR didn't do what they said they would!!!" Friends and family often take a very casual approach to photographing you wedding simply because they're your friend and they see their gesture as a favor to you. Whereas you see them as your source for your wedding day memories. Cutting out the friendship and having a contract with a professional photographer guarantees you great photos and no disputes or disappointment later on.

Ask the Right Questions:
Narrow down your potential photographers based on preferred style and cost. At this point, request to set up a consultation. Ask the photographer to include some of their recent work in the portfoilio they bring for you to look through. If a photographer is only showcasing weddings circa 1992, it may mean they haven't done weddings in a while or they aren't updated on modern techniques and skills. Either way, not always a good sign.

Questions to ask in your interview include:

"Will you be photographing our wedding?"-some photographers work with associate photographers or interns and you want to make sure you meet the face that will be taking your pictures along with that specific person's work. You also want to make sure your personalities are somewhat compatible-I'm not saying they have to be a kindred spirit or anything, but you want to be able to tolerate them in your personal space for about 10 hours. If you're uncomfortable with them, it will be reflected in your pictures.

"What is included in your cost" and "May we see a copy of the contract" are good questions to ask any vendor. With photographers you may find that some work with an "all-inclusive" cost while others will be charging you for the day and the photos are charged a la carte. Those are good things to know before you hire so you can make sure things will stay within your cost. When looking at the contract, be sure to see what their policy is in case your alotted time goes over. Will the photographer just leave the event or will they check in with you to see if you want them to stay longer for an additional fee. When is the final payment due? When will they take breaks?-Policy questions you want ironed out so you can keep things on track and in your budget.

Do what you can for the best photos:
Beyond the photographer are things you can do to ensure the best photos.

Makeup is great for glamour girls or natural brides-having a professional apply it will ensure the look you want from hollywood elegant to simple and natural and they can take into account techniques that will guarantee the best look for your skin in your photos.

Take a stance: learn how to pose your body in the best way for poses. Don't always look into the camera, gaze lovingly into your new spouse's face (you just got married afterall!!) and have fun! Opt to get rid of the paparazzi (family and friends following you on your shoot) so you can get comfortable and relax and don't be afraid to ask your photographer for suggesstions. Take your time and have fun! If you feel nervous about the photo shoot, consider an engagement session so you can get comfortable working with your photographer and have a better idea of what to expect being in front of the lens.

Work with the style that you wanted: My husband and I are not formal people, nor was our wedding and we found the best photos of our wedding were the ones where we really let loose and had a good time and forgot the camera was there. We could be silly, our friends could be silly and we had photos that reflected the day that we wanted. With that in mind, if you're comfortable with formal poses, go for it! If you want candid photos make your photo shoot a casual play date with your bridal party in the park and let the photographer catch the mayhem. Do what you are comfortable with so your photos capture your style.

Let the photographer get a LITTLE pushy :)
It's your wedding day and your friends and family want nothing more then to get a shot of you which can often lead to herds of people following you for a portion of your reception asking you for pictures. Give your photographer the ability to politely move your guests out of the way so they can get a good shot. You've paid them THOUSANDS of dollars to capture your day so let them get in there and do their job! Also, if a group does gather for photos, LOOK AT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. Nothing looks worse then a group of people being photographed and each one looking somewhere different. Looking at your photographer ensures that you get a good shot. And if you guests don't get a good picture, send them their very own print with a thank you card.
Hire them for the Right Amount of Time
Rushing photos can make everyone frazzled and you may forget important pictures that you wanted to take in the first place. The following timeline was sent to me by Jen of Jen Martin Studios in Bellingham. It's a great tool to decide how long to hire your photographer for:
You’ve called the photographer and they tell you that they are available for your date…then you realize you have no idea how long you need them for! Here are some suggestions by photographer Jen Owen of Jen Martin Studios, to help you plan out your day and budget enough time, to ensure that you get the photographs you want on your wedding day!

Here are her recommendations:

45min-1hour - Getting Ready shots – This is the time to get fun photos of the girls doing their hair and makeup, getting special jewelry fastened, pictures of the dress hanging up before its put on, visits for the first time from Mom or Dad (those “Daddy seeing his little girl in her dress for the first time” photos are ...*sigh* some of my favorite) and the all too fun “Let’s get this dress over her head without mussing up her hair!” shots as well as those wonderful goofing off and being silly pictures that you will cherish for years. With enough time allowed, photos of the fellas getting ready can be done too - which is always an adventure!

1 - 2 hours - Traditional shots - Make a list of every possible photo combination you might want for your traditional group shots and make sure to consult both sets of parents as well – you’ll find that often times, they want to get some group shots of them with various special people in their lives or yours as you were growing up. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in a photo with Mom and Dad and the guy that sold them their first car after they were married or the waitress they had on their first date together! (It happens….really!) So…depending on size of your list, I suggest counting them up and averaging about 4 minutes per grouping. Some groupings take longer (if there are small kids that may need wacky antics to get them to smile - or large groups that need arranging) and some take less time - but the average is about 4 minutes per posed shot. Be sure to add a few minutes to the final time for those relatives that might have to be hunted down, dragged kicking and screaming to the photo locations or just generally tend to be late for everything.

30-45 minutes - Just the two of you – Most photographers like to steal you away from everyone and get the kinds of shots you have been dreaming about for your whole life - without an audience so you can both be yourselves and they have a better chance of capturing those little moments between you two that normally won’t happen if there is a crowd of people staring at you and gushing over your every kiss. Most photographers will want at least 30 minutes and usually about 45 so we don’t run out of time.

10min-1hour - Ceremony – This all depends on how long your ceremony is :)

20-45 minutes Receiving line – This really depends on how many guests you have attending. I tend to suggest skipping this and greeting your guests at their tables during dinner, after you are finished eating (if you are eating) - its much nicer and easier that way and that gives your guests a chance to actually talk to you without being shoved forward to get the line moving. It’s a nice way to start wrapping up the meal time, by visiting each table as they are finishing up their plates while the rest of your guests are eating. This is also helpful in getting a giant group shot of you with each table so that you can make sure that you get a photo of each of your guests :)

45min-1 hour - Buffet/Dinner - If the meal is being plated and brought to your guests by servers - then it doesn’t take as long as it does when waiting for each table of guests to get up and stand in line to get their food - the last person will just be starting their meal when you are finished eating (you always eat first.) Make sure you don’t start the cake or any toasts until the last table is finished – they will feel rushed and will not enjoy their meal as much if you don’t allow for enough time for your guests to eat before moving onto the next event. Generally - once people have their food - it’s about 20 minutes for them to eat it all.

30-45 min - Cake cutting, Toasts, Bouquet Toss – If any of those activities are in your plans, average about 10-15 minutes for the cake – depending on if you plan to be nice and nibble or be crazy and smash it into each other’s faces! The flower flinging and garter tossing lasts about 10-15 minutes and depending on how winded your toasters are - it could be 10 minutes or an hour!

15 - 30 minutes - First dances – If you are doing a first dance, a Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dance, factor in the length of the songs and the time it might take to transition from one to the next and how emotional you might be after each dance. Some brides (and parents) get overwhelmed a bit and need to take a break between dances.

1-2 hours - Reception – This is when the FUN photos start! Everyone lets loose and really starts to have a blast after the stress of it all starts to wind down. Bring on the dancing, silly moments, crazy moments, more mingling, the chicken dance ;) and laughing until your guests are armed with ammunition and are eager to throw things at your head while you exit to the car (I suggest bubbles...birdseed tends to land in ears, cleavage, and hair and stays there for weeks!)

REMEMBER! – Please remember to add in a little extra time for unplanned things - lost shoes, wrong tuxes, florists/cakes/relatives that don’t make it on time, locked venue doors, car mishaps, toddler/mother/bride meltdowns ;) etc. I tend to ask my couples to add at least a 30-45 minute buffer in there somewhere to make up for those times. Nothing ever goes like clockwork and nothing ever happens exactly the way you hope it will. One wedding in particular…the brother of the groom was so excited about getting to the wedding venue on time...he forgot to pick his brother the GROOM up on his way. So the groom sat there calling all of the cell phones that everyone turned off so they wouldn’t be bothered while getting ready and it was about 15 minutes after the time the wedding was supposed to start that he showed up winded at the front of the church - he had to take a cab to his wedding! The bride was a wreck – she thought she’d been ditched and the groom had sweat stains under his armpits and the father of the bride was ready to punch the groom in the nose! Plan for the unexpected!

Pump Up the Color

Weddings are becoming more and more detailed by the day and brides are now looking at their shoes as the next way to customize their wedding day wardrobe. And with good reason. Shoes are a wonderful way to break out of the wedding day formality and scream who you are. And nothing says "We're dressed up because we have to be but we're here to have fun" then attending a formal event and having a hot pink toe peak out from beneath the bride's gown. And your style choices are limitless-I'm fond of heels because I tip the charts at a mere 5' 0" but flats are perfectly acceptable if you're looking for long night wearability. Wedges, sandals, boots and pumps are all fair game as well. Feel free to choose a color that falls within a shade of your chosen wedding colors. Or, for more casual affairs, pick whatever color is your favor.

Here are a few fun choices. All three are available at Nordstrom.

The best part to all of this is you're not picking a white pair of wedding shoes-you're picking a pair of shoes that reflect who you are and the chances of you wearing those shoes again goes up much more. I had a pair of black pumps covered in black sequins (our wedding was black and white) and they've seen more daylight this past season with all of the parties and gatherings we've gone to, then a boring pair of white shoes ever would. It justifies that higher price tag and gives your attire an added ounce of oompf.
Oh and let's go beyond colors! Consider having your bridesmaids write well wishes on your soles-in case you don't wear them after the big day, they become a personal keepsake. Or perhaps have your initials handwritted or outlined in rhinestones on the arches of the shoes. BW+BH
And this doesn't have to stop with the ladies. Grooms-consider matching your dress socks to your gals shoes. It makes a super fun picture when the photographer zooms in on your feet and is a way to get in on the fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Theo Chocolates Take Two

Ok, so I know I posted about Theo Chocolate in Seattle, WA only a few months ago but the more I learn about them, the more I love them. And with Valentine's right around the corner, I'm all about offering as many solutions of sweet things to do for your sweetie and what could be sweeter than chocolate?!
Theo Chocolate has paved the way for fine confections by not only offering a tasty product, but also in proving that creating their product can also make the planet a better place to be. They have made themselves a forefront producer of fair trade and organic goodies and aren't afraid to showcase their passions. Their Jane Goodall chocolate bars are a sweet reminder to the benefits of their company: proceeds from these bars benefit small cocoa farmers and promote rainforest conservation, just to name a few perks.

But beyond their ability to work with the planet AND make a product that tastes good is the way they showcase their products so beautifully. I'm in an industry that is all about presentation so being able to find that they not only make favors for your special occasion, but they're almost to pretty to eat makes me smile :) I'm all about little surprises in the weddings I put together and as a guest discovering that you're getting a small box of exquisite treats at the end of the evening is a big reminder of how important and special your attendence meant to the couple.

If you're looking for something fun and unique to do, you may be excited to note that Theo offers a variety of chocolate inspired classes and activities. Just last week they had a movie showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Facotry (circa 1971) complete with hot chocolate and popcorn. Other activities include chocolate making classes, knit nights, sponsorship of local shows and events like Chocolate Confessions (a one woman comedy show including the origins of some of our favorite candies) and more! Just check out their website for the latest and greatest offerings.

And as for Valentine's Day, choosing to get your goodies from Theo is a no-brainer. You'll get exceptional quality from a company with exceptional values and what's in the box will taste as good as it looks! And look to Theo for chocolate treats that go beyond the box: they offer a variety of exotic flavored chocolate bars, sipping chocolates, wine pairing chocolate kits and more. Satisfying someone's love of chocolate and keeping things special and unique will never be difficult at Theo.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cocktail Smarts

It is a little known fact that my family is the forefront leader in random trivia facts-perhaps it's because we were raised on board games like Trivial Pursuit or because we had an unnatural love of the game show Jeopardy! beginning at the age of 5. Either way, because of these random facets of my childhood, I'm fond of game nights. I'm also fond of cocktail parties so really, the only thing that could get better then either of those is when game nights and cocktail parties mingle into a casual, laughable get together with my friends. So naturally, Cocktail Smarts struck my fancy from the first moment I saw it. It tests your mixology knowledge in a fun way making it a fun addition to your next gathering of friends, or girls night or whatever. And if you happen to have cocktail loving friends that make it their business to know the ins and the outs of their drink, it also makes the perfect gift! Available at Mental Floss.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spread the Love!

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, you might be wondering of ways to profess your love to that certain someone. Well if you're the type of peron that likes to keep things short (a less is more kind of person, if you will) and you feel that sweet and simple can mean more to the person you love then flowerly love letters ever could then please meet Made By Girl . Made by Girl offers you trendy, cute and succint ways to let your feelings show. And the cherry on top? The items Made By Girl offers are also eco-friendly :)

Hosting a Bridal Shower?

While I was not a huge fan of shower games when I was getting married (I'm not a big fan of self-inflicted embarassment) I just might have taken on the challenge of this game. In case you need a little assistance figuring out a way to mildly embarass the lucky couple, I'm offering up this delightful product that I found at Spoon Sisters. As if weddings couldn't get any more fun, Do You Know Your Bride-A Quiz About Your Future Mate and Do You Know Your Groom-A Quiz About Your Future Mate, offers a plethora of random questions that are certain to prove whether or not the future Mr and Mrs are ready to take the plunge. Or perhaps play the games at the bachelor or bachelorette parties when you're starting the night out. For every wrong answer take a drink . . . ;)

Vendor Spotlight: Kerri Efendi Designs

I had the pleasure of meeting Kerri of Kerri Efendi Designs a few weeks ago and was able to discover her beautiful work. She is a vendor in Bellingham, WA specializing in couture stationery products-an area of the event industry that we have been seriously lacking in Bellingham. And if that wasn't good enough she fulfills many of my brides' wishes by being available locally, working with clients face-to-face, offering recycled paper products for the eco-chic, and oh, everything she makes is gorgeous! I could write about Kerri Efendi Designs for hours. But it's been a while since I've been able to post eye candy so I'll let Kerri's work speak for itself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New home, new look!

Welcome to the new blog of BB Jean Events!

We're excited to be upping the ante and offering you more tips, trends and ideas so that your wedding or soiree is exciting, unique and a reflection of you!

We'll be posting articles and ideas that we find as well as reader tips and techniques so if you have a party or wedding that you have put together-let us know!

Hey Vendors! Want to be featured? Send me an email and I'd love to spotlight you!