Conquer your engagement session anxiety!

So, you’re not feeling excited about your upcoming engagement session? In fact, you’re kind of dreading it? Well, you’re not alone. Many couples tell me they are overwhelmed with the idea of finding the right outfit and location, not to mention, thinking of poses that don’t feel cheesy and awkward. Do not let this stop you from booking an engagement session!!! This is supposed to be FUN. It’s also a great way to evaluate whether the photographer you chose is right for your big celebration. This is someone you are going to spend 8 to 10 hours with on your wedding day. You want to make sure you are comfortable with this person and that their style is a good match for you.

1. Location, Location, Location 🌎– The best engagement session locations are in places that have a special meaning to the couple, that being said, that special place isn’t always available or practical. Maybe you are stuck and need a little help? I have a lot of favorite places I suggest to couples but it’s helpful to know what kind of place is relevant to you. What environment tells your story? Sunset at that beach? A hike in the woods? A stroll through the city? Maybe you’d rather document an experience? Let’s go apple picking together or share an ice cream sundae at an old-fashioned parlor. I am an expert at discovering visual opportunities. After our introductory conversation, I’ll have lots of ideas for you! 

2. Get a manicure 💅 and a haircut 💈– You probably have some bling, right? Since your hands will be showcasing the symbol of your engagement, you should give your hands and nails some attention. Even if you’re not into gels or polish, simply moisturizing and shaping your nails will take those detail shots of the next level. Hair styling is super important too. Ladies, consider scheduling a blowout before your session and, gentlemen, get your ears lowered a couple days before your session, not the day of…

3. Clean your ring 💍– Stop at any jewelry store a day or two in advance of your engagement session and have your ring polished. It’s free and will add a little extra shimmer to your session.

4. Go shopping! 🛍️ – Don’t wait until the last minute and throw something together. Make this an intentional, well-curated experience. Go shopping together and pick out outfits that color coordinate without matching. Solids work best but if one lovebird wears a print that compliments their sweetheart’s solid, then go for it! Shoes are important (unless we are going barefoot on the beach). Every component of your ensemble should be planned out. Look at style guides for inspiration. 

5. Trust your photographer – You don’t need to practice poses or know what to do with your hands. Your photographer should be an expert in this and will help coach you with positioning. The most important thing for you two to do is to arrive relaxed and to keep an open mind throughout your session. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your location so you are not stressed out when you arrive. Let your photographer guide you. Even if something feels a little silly, just go with it. Often times, the goofy laughs make the best pictures. 

6. Make it a date night! 💃– You put all of this time an effort into your appearance, now it’s time to treat yourself. After your session, go out for dinner or dessert. It’s a lot of work preparing for a photo shoot so give yourselves high fives and celebrate with something special to mark the milestone in your wedding planning journey.

No Regrets! How to Get the Best Results From Your Wedding Photographer

As a wedding industry professional (and also a newlywed), I’m active in a lot of social media groups and networks. I am constantly asking recently married folks about their wedding day experience. I have compiled this list to help engaged couples prepare for their big day. Getting the best results from your vendors often means that you need to be participating in the discussion. Here’s some common threads I have found in my research…

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1. BUILD A BUFFER – If you don’t build a realistic timeline for your wedding day, your group photo session will likely be the chunk of time that will take the hit. Make sure you build enough padding into your timeline for travel and even for unexpected changes. Hair and makeup appointments notoriously go overtime. That doesn’t always mean the stylist or technician is at fault, a bridesmaid could arrive late or you could blow a fuse while you’re getting blown out. There are so many moving parts to this day–expect everything to take more time than you think. Make sure you have checked and re-checked your timeline with your wedding party and vendors. Your photographer should be happy and willing to help you with this.

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2. WIND – Couples often worry about rain on their wedding day but I will tell you the biggest threat to your outdoor portrait session is not drizzle, it’s wind! Showers pass but if you have a blustery day, all of the updos your hair stylist worked so hard to perfect turn into wind blown messes. What’s the solution? Have a backup plan. Come up with indoor alternatives and make sure your photographer has a light kit.

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3. HARSH LIGHT – Your wedding day festivities will likely span 8 to 10 hours from start to finish. Ceremonies usually begin anytime between 2pm and 5pm. If your ceremony is on the later side and you are planning to do your photos afterward, you will have the best light of day. On the other hand, cloudless, bright mid-day sunshine is the absolute worst. Don’t worry! There are plenty of workarounds like taking group photos in the shade so no one is squinting (or sweating profusely). If you’re passionate about getting the best quality pictures, plan ahead and schedule your photo session for later in the day. 

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4. DON’T CUT CORNERS – Many couples consider reducing the number of hours the photographer will be on site in an attempt to save money. Please DO NOT do this. Cramming all of your important wedding traditions into a shortened timeline will not get you good results. You’ll be stressed about getting everything done and you won’t be living in the moment. Photography is the one service from your wedding day that will result in a product you can cherish for the rest of your marriage. After the food is savored, the makeup washes off and the decor is put back on the shelf, it’s the photography that remains as your only record of this important occasion. Don’t give in to the temptation to save a couple hundred dollars. Investing in a complete photographic collection of your wedding day is priceless.

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5. TOO FORMAL – Sometimes couples request so many family photos that there isn’t enough time for a couples session or, even worse, you become so exhausted from the long (often hot) family session that you don’t want to take the time to do a bride and groom session. There are several ways to avoid photo burnout. First, simply take a break! After you get the formal group photos are finished, have a drink and nourish yourself with some hors d’oeuvres. Take a deep breath, powder your nose and then do your couples session. Or better yet, wait for the golden hour! Enjoy some cocktails and wait for the best light of the day. Consult with your photographer on this since the timing of this prime light window varies depending on the time of year. Also, make sure you take some photos that truly express who you are as a couple. Make some silly faces and goof off if that’s part of your dynamic. Making suggestions and sharing your ideas will improve your session. You won’t regret it.

Why do I shoot weddings?

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When I first started working as a cub-photojournalist, I admit it, I thought being a wedding photographer was the sign that someone who wasn’t really serious about professional storytelling. I was young and and naive and didn’t realize that the newspaper profession, too, has its own trappings and career pitfalls. Once it became clear that I would need to create my own growth opportunity, I started to re-evaluate my perspective.

Weddings have a natural story arc. They are the perfect assignment for story hunters like myself. Photojournalists are passionate about access and discovery. Weddings are a challenging assignment but provide the perfect opportunity for unfettered access to wedding couples and their families. Moment-driven wedding photography requires expert-level organization and superior time management skills to achieve success. I truly enjoy working with the couples who sign on with Salty Broad Studios and by the end of the wedding night I feel like part of the family.

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I pour my heart and soul into wedding day coverage. I’ll put it to you this way, in my free time, I enjoy training for long distance cycling events. I usually train for 1 or 2 centuries (riding 100 miles in one day) and I am more sore and body-wrecked after shooting a wedding than after a 100-mile road ride. I’m passionate about getting impactful photos that show emotion. It’s not just a job for me, being a photojournalist is a way of life.

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I’m a documentary photographer and a collector of stories. I enjoy observing family traditions and then composing them in my camera frame. It’s also fun to have dinner with friends and talk about the most recent wedding I photographed and what sort of amusing anecdotes have surfaced. So, if you are considered wedding photographers right now, ask yourself if they are truly passionate about they do? Are they passionate about creating pictures? Does their creative practice integrate well into your wedding day vision?

And one final addendum, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that another big part of my “why” is celebrating and supporting marriage equality. I’m marrying my bride in only a few short weeks and I am ecstatic. To be able to share that joy with other couples, gay or straight, means everything to me. It’s a great honor to be certified as a LGBTQ-owned business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce but there’s no bigger sense of pride in my heart than when I see a same-sex couple walk down that aisle for the first time as a legally married couple. It’s my great privilege to be among the first to congratulate them. In fact, I’d go ahead and say it’s my favorite part.

Interested in learning more about the difference a photojournalist will make in your wedding day photography? Read my first blog post: “7 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Photojournalist to Shoot Your Wedding”

Wedding Planners! So you can have your cake (and eat it too!)

By Dani Marrero of DanDee Event Planning

Congrats! You’re engaged and starting this very exciting journey of planning your dream day. You may have all the details planned out in your head but you probably also need someone to help you transition your ideas into real life! Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? A wedding planner can help you figure out those first steps. If you are well advanced into your planning, you might just need a coordinator to make sure it all comes together. Whatever the scenario may be, it’s you and your love’s special day and you both deserve everything you can imagine and more.

There are so many reasons a wedding planner can be a valuable asset for your day. We can help you make sure your celebration comes to life in the most perfect way possible but here’s a snazzy list to break it down for you.

10 REASONS YOU NEED A WEDDING PLANNER:

1. ⏰ Saves you time – The average wedding takes 200 hours of planning.

2. 💰 Saves you money – Negotiating discounts.

3. 👍 Acts as your “go-to”- No back and forth with questions from the vendors.

4. 💃 Allows you to have a worry free day – Have fun with your guests!

5. 😎 Handles any crisis behind the scenes – You don’t need that stress!

6. 🎉 Friends & family enjoy the day as guests, not volunteers!

7. 🎪 Recommends vendors you can trust – Eliminating the guesswork

8. 🤑 Helps keep you on a budget – Stay on track!

9. 🙌 Arrives early and stays late – Reliability you can count on.

10. 💫 Works out logistics – Those little details that aren’t your top priority.

Wedding planners can do all the major things and even help you figure out a workable budget. Planners work their connections to get you set up with reliable vendors. They can negotiate costs, do small and big scale details and are there with you every step of the way with advice, tips and guidance as your wedding vision forms. A planner can also offer a different perspective that stretches your imagination and opens your eyes to new ideas and trends.

Planners have experience in the unexpected. Unforeseen changes, or even catastrophes (gasp!), can arise and a planner will handle it. We’re there to take that big burden off of you and stay calm, cool and collected while addressing the issue. We know what to expect and what to do in the event that something off-track happens.

Day of coordination is just as important as full cycle planning. You don’t want to miss out on spending time with your guests, worrying that all your hard work isn’t coming out the way you planned. Being preoccupied with anxiety and wondering if something wacky is happening, it not where your head should be at on your wedding day! You should be completely immersed in your special occasion, marrying your love and celebrating with your family and friends!

The Case for the Unplugged Wedding

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You’re getting married. You’re excited. Your friends are excited. You want the world to know that you found the one. I get it. If you can’t contain your elation and you’re the kind of person that’s going to take a selfie at the altar, then I don’t think this post with resonate with you.

On the other hand, if you don’t feel that burning desire to alert the Twitterverse and the Facebookland the very second you have legalized your nuptials, then consider the unplugged alternative. There are many reasons to have an unplugged ceremony—top of list list seems to be encouraging your guests to be present and distraction-free while you and your partner formalize your commitment to each other. From my perspective as a photographer, if you invested in hiring a professional, you want to set them up for success. The pictures should show the smiling faces of your guests—not outstretched arms with that little glowing rectangle blocking their expression. Who knows, unplugging may even spark conversation and new friendships between your guests!

But it’s not just cell phones that impose distractions. An uncle with a new fangled camera gadget or your friend who’s trying to develop his portfolio likely will not have the skillset to get the shots without interfering with your chosen photographer. Avoid any awkwardness by letting those folks know that the pictures are being handle by a pro.

Stephanie Diaz Eldredge wedding planner with Cape Cod Celebrations says that unplugged ceremonies are continuing to grow in popularity, “In our ever-connected world, guests can actually find it refreshing to be reminded to be present for the marriage moment instead of watching it via a handheld device.”

Not everyone thinks unplugged weddings are a great idea. I have seen comments from brides in wedding planning forums declaring the practice “obnoxious” and that since your guests are helping you make the event possible by making travel arrangements, bringing you gifts and giving you their personal time, they should have the freedom to take their own photos.

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For sure, this is the couple’s call to make. There’s no blanket approach for every wedding but, in my humble opinion, looking out at a giant sea of iPads and droids, doesn’t strike the right tone for a romantic occasion and your guests should respect your wishes simply because it’s your special day!

Here are a few ways to convey your wishes to your guests in a polite way with a chalkboard or sign describing your requests.

Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We’ve hired a professional photographer to capture this special occasion so we ask that you kindly refrain from using your handheld devices. We want to see your smiling faces in our photos!

We invite you to be fully present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. We look forward to sharing our professional photos with you after the big day.

Oh snap! Thank you for coming! We have just one plea, please help us keep our ceremony cell phone free. Our I-dos are unplugged, but our reception is not. Once we finish the first dance you’re free to take all the shots!

You can also ask your officiant to make an announcement about your unplugged policy and also remind folks to turn off devices.

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Even if you are clear about your preferences, you should expect that some of your guests will defy you! I once witnessed another guest obliviously shoot constant cell phone video during a ceremony against the wishes of the bride and groom. Eventually, the bride’s brother went up to the offender and asked her to put down her phone. If you feel strongly about unplugging. have a designated person to remind people to of your request. You don’t need anyone upsetting you on your special day. Take that 25-30 minutes to unplug and connect the old-fashioned way. Your photographer will thank you and you’ll see a more faces in your photos.

Special thanks to Ashley Green Photography and Gretchen Ertl Photography for contributing photos.

2018: Year in Review

It’s been a fabulous, busy year and I have so enjoyed working with all of my brides and grooms. Last year’s wedding bookings took me from Bourne to Provincetown and every Cape Cod town in between. I even had a few off-Cape and even out of state in Austin, Texas! Here’s a smattering of some of my favorite pictures from my now colossal collection of wedding celebrations.

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Jackie + Nathan

When I first met Jackie earlier this year at a bridal show, I knew right away that we’d have fun together. She’s a cat mom with gorgeous purple hair, so obviously we connected. She and Nathan are both gentle souls. They were beaming naturally all day. Their intimate wedding was at a private home on Rocky Nook in Kingston. It was a warm, sunny day filled with cupcakes, lawn games and laughter. They even got a surprise visit from neighborhood cat, Luna, which totally delighted this feline-loving bride! The bride wore a magical Anthropologie gown flowing with tulle and the groom wore clever “meow” socks with his smart three-piece suit. They both wore their favorite sneakers down the aisle. Loved how they stayed true to their own style throughout the day. I truly enjoyed getting to know this couple and their family. What a lovely backyard wedding complete with New England charm and hospitality. Congratulations, Jackie and Nathan!

Pam + Ross

Classy waterfront wedding celebration at Wequasset

This lovely couple pulled out at of the stop for their guests. It was an intimate gathering with the serene backdrop of Pleasant Bay. Salon Justine in South Dennis provided the beauty services and New England Gardens in Harwich created the gorgeous floral design. Jason Houle of Cape Tunes kept the dance floor grooving with great music. Congratulations to the happy couple!

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Adrienne + Chris:  Blending two hearts into one family

Adrienne and Chris had a beautiful wedding at The Church of St. Mary of the Harbor in Provincetown in July. Of course, the bride arrived in style…by pedicab! Their ceremony put focus on their blended family with a touching sand ceremony. Each sibling and parent poured sand from their favorite beach into one vase. A brief shower during the family portraits made for a spectacular rainbow later that evening. Their 11-year-old son, Soren, and his ballroom dance partner wowed everyone with their polished routine. KDF Beats kept the dance floor bopping all night long with expertly mixed playlists. What a lovely group of people celebrating two longtime sweethearts and their loving family. 

Carly + Will: Dennis Port engagement session

I met Carly and Will for their engagement shoot at the family cottage that they visit often on vacation. We went for a stroll up to their favorite pizza spot, Joey’s, then circled back to Glendon Road Beach. They posed so naturally together and you can tell how smitten they are with each other. Really looking forward to their wedding at the Sea View in June next year.

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