The Blog

In Engagement Session On
May 15, 2019

Charlotte Engagement Session | Lee + Taylor

I have been so excited to meet Taylor for a while now! She works with my husband, and after hearing her name for some time, it was so great to finally put a face to the name! When I was preparing for this session, I asked my husband what she looked like. Since we hadn’t met in person, I didn’t want to be staring people down at Freedom Park- he so helpfully told me she was a woman with hair (insert eye roll). We have since agreed that he would be no help to a sketch artist!

One of the first things Lee and Taylor told me when I met them (without having to stare people down!) is that they weren’t photogenic. I think this might be one of the most popular things I hear from couples! With them being such a beautiful couple, though, I didn’t quite take their word for it ;).

I think when most people say this, it’s because they’re used to not loving photos of themselves. There are SO many things that go into making a photo one that you love. Lighting, angles, location, posing- most people don’t know how to work all these things for an amazing photo, which is why they think they’re not photogenic. I view it as a personal challenge to change people’s minds about this ;). (How many times in one post can I make a winky face?!)

I met Lee and Taylor at Freedom Park in Charlotte on a beautiful Monday evening. I love shooting here during the week because we aren’t fighting the crowds just as much. We found some beautiful light, and I’d like to submit my argument that these two are, indeed, a very photogenic couple. Adding in a super cute pup like Jack certainly didn’t hurt, either!

A Freedom Park Engagement Session

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The saddest part of this session ending was that I have to wait a year to get these two back in front of the camera! Absolutely cannot wait until their May 2020 wedding at Camellia Gardens!

Make sure you’re caught up on the recent busyness- did you catch David and Megan’s Riverwood Manor wedding?

Mount Holly Photographer

In Weddings On
May 2, 2019

A Riverwood Manor Wedding | David + Megan

They were both at a Halloween bar crawl. David was wearing a pizza costume. Megan turned around, saw him, said, “I LOVE pizza!”, and this past Saturday, on the most picture perfect April afternoon, they committed their lives to each other in front of their friends and family.

As soon as I heard how they met, I knew these two would be such a fun couple to work with! And gosh, not to toot my own horn, but I was so right. They are so sweet and goofy with each other, and I just love seeing a couple be SO comfortable together!

Megan said as she saw Riverwood Manor, a cute wedding venue right outside of Charlotte, she knew it was where they wanted to get married. It sat right on the water. With David being in the Coast Guard, it made perfect sense. It was the perfect place for them to exchange their vows!

David and Megan, thank you so so much for allowing me to document your most special day! Your wedding was beautiful. I am so grateful to have been able to witness the tears, the joy, and the love that was so clear between you both. Hope you are having an amazing and relaxing time in Punta Cana!

Riverwood Manor Wedding

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Vendors-

Venue- Riverwood Manor

Dress- Savvy Bridal Boutique

Shoes- David’s Bridal

DJ- Carolina DJ Professionals

Hair/Makeup- Lavish Salon

Rings- Diamonds Direct

In Engagement Session On
March 25, 2019

Freedom Park Engagement Session | Nick + Alexa

I am so excited to share this sweet engagement session with y’all! Alexa and I were able to connect thanks to one of my sweet October brides (thanks, Caroline!), and because of how much I like her and Hunter, I knew I’d be a big fan of Alexa and Nick’s!

After talking a little with Alexa and hearing a bit about what they wanted in their location, we agreed that Freedom Park would be the perfect place! This is such a fun place to shoot because no matter how often you’re there, there are always new areas to find! This session was on the most beautiful day so the park was packed, but we managed to find a few less-busy spots and give their session the same private feel I love!

Nick and Alexa met through mutual friends, and they moved here about 2 years ago from Raleigh for Nick’s job. They’ve made Charlotte home with theirs sweet pup, Maverick (who was SO well behaved!), but they’ll be returning to Raleigh in January for their beautiful winter wedding. I had such a fun time hanging out and chatting with these two, and even though being behind a camera may not have been Nick’s first activity of choice, they both did so great- and Nick started doing #allthethings without me even asking! I know he said it was for efficiency, but I’m thinking there might be a natural born model down there somewhere ;).

Enjoy a few of my faves!

A Freedom Park Engagement Session

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This tree was more than amazing, and the light coming through was gooorgeous!! Could have shot here all day long!

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Nick and Alexa, thanks again so much for dealing with my squeals of delight over the light and saying “just one more!” a few times!

And if you don’t remember our mutual friend Caroline and Hunter’s engagement session, make sure you check that beauty out here!

Mount Holly Photographer
In Engagement Session On
March 22, 2019

A Davidson Engagement Session | Cheyenne + Samantha

We have been getting so much rain here, y’all, and I was a little worried about whether we’d have to reschedule Cheyenne and Samantha’s engagement session. Thankfully, Charlotte decided to actually have a dry weekend! It was slightly overcast, but it made lighting a dream for me, and I had so much fun getting to know this sweet couple.

I was so excited when Samantha suggested Fisher Farms as the location for their session. I absolutely love this space! It gets the most beautiful light! Also- it’s so big! Which is great, because when we showed up, turns out there was a cubscout camping thing going on that night. It looked so crazy when we pulled in, but I love that you can find private areas all around this place.

Cheyenne and Samantha moved here about 8 months ago from California, so poor Samantha’s impression of Charlotte so far is that it rains a ton, haha! I tried to assure her that it isn’t actually usually this rainy…but y’all, this weather lately doesn’t make it easy! But moving on.

I have to tell ya, I think Cheyenne and Samantha are such a gorgeous couple! Cheyenne told me straight away that he was going to need a lot of direction, but I think he nailed it. I always tell the guys they have such an easy job- all they have to do is be in love with their fiance! Cheyenne and Samantha, thank y’all so much for letting me capture this special time in your life! I had such a fun time with y’all!

Fisher Farms Engagement Session | Charlotte Wedding Photographer

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Aren’t they so beautiful?!

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Samantha, you can model for me aaany day! You’re gorgeous, girl!

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If you’re looking for more Fisher Farms gorgeousness, make sure to check out Tanner and Madison’s beautiful session. Austin and Melissa’s was a stunning sunset, as well!

Mount Holly Photographer
In Tips, Weddings On
March 1, 2019

All About First Looks

If you’re planning a wedding, chances are you’ve heard of a first look.

If not, let me clarify that a first look is when the bridge and groom see each other before the ceremony. It’s usually a private moment (with two photographers and possibly videographers capturing from afar), and it is a really big decision for determining the timeline of the day.

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I also want to say that I know quite a few photographers who are really adamant about first looks and actually won’t photograph a wedding unless you do one. This is not me. I wanted to write this post because I think a lot of times in the wedding industry we can toss this term around and expect brides and grooms to know what it means. And maybe you know what it means, but you don’t necessarily understand what the big deal is or why everyone is bucking tradition. This post is meant to be educational and share pros and cons of a first look. I absolutely never push my couples to do one if they want to keep things traditional! My husband and I did it the traditional way, so I totally get it!

So like I said, a first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. There are a lot of reasons couples choose to do this!

First, it provides a really special and intimate time for just the two of you. Until your wedding is over, you will not get one on one time with your brand new spouse. Even though you have photographers and videographers observing, a first look truly allows you some time as a couple to be (almost) alone and really soak in what is about to happen. It’s always a really special time to get to spend together. Almost all couples who do this end up saying that it’s their favorite part of their wedding day!

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It helps with photos! And this is the reason so many photographers love first looks. Not only do you get incredibly sweet photos of the first look itself, but it allows you to do your bride and groom portraits before and after the ceremony. You can also do full bridal party photos and family photos all before the ceremony itself. This allows for a much more relaxing transition from ceremony to bride/groom photos to reception. You can also choose to do your couple portraits after the first look only if it’s important for you to be a part of your cocktail hour.

You get a lot more photos, specifically bride/groom portraits. Every bride and groom values couple’s portraits differently. All photographers love this part, of course, which is again why first looks are so heavily encouraged. If you’re a bride (or groom!) who really values couples’ portraits and want a lot of options and variety, definitely consider a first look as that will give you extra portrait time! However, if you are fine with 15 minutes to do portraits, that’s fine too!

It relaxes the timeline. I personally try to do all bride/bridesmaid and groom/groomsmen photos, as well as immediate family photos, before the ceremony. Without a first look, all family formal shots, bridal party, and couples’ portraits are needing to fit in a 45/60 minute window. That can be really tight, especially depending on how many family combinations you have! But again, if you’re ok with limited time for couples portraits, this may be ok with you! If you get a little stressed out with a tight timeline, though, it might be beneficial to consider a first look!

And let me add a quick disclaimer to the above. Make sure you have a photographer you trust. I obviously always recommend this, but especially if you choose not to do a first look. You absolutely have to have a photographer who you feel can work well under pressure and work quickly. 10-15 minutes with a bride and groom isn’t a ton of time. If you have a good photographer, that will be plenty of time to still get you great variety!

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There are very few scenarios where I will actually recommend my couple do a first look. (Much as I love them, again, I never push my couple’s to do them! I love to educate about them and then let me couple decide what they want to do!) If you are getting married in January and your ceremony is at 5pm, I will recommend a first look. This is simply because by 5pm in January…the sun is gone. There will be no natural light after the ceremony for portraits. While I feel confident shooting with flash at night…that’s not my style, and that’s not the style my couples have hired me for. In order to get portraits that I know my couples want and will love, I will always recommend a first look if the ceremony time is at or after the sun setting.

If you have 30 family formal portrait combinations, I will also recommend a first look. I am very used to working under pressure and on a tight timeline, however. Family portraits can take up major time. Getting different combinations in and out quickly is tricky and time consuming. Family shots are really important, as well, and I never want to detract from them. They can, however, take a lot of time away from bridal party shots and couple portraits.

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At the end of the day- it’s your wedding! You need to make the best decision for you and your fiancé. Definitely communicate with your photographer about the timeline and seek their opinion, but it just depends on what you prioritize! If you want time alone with your soon-to-be-spouse and want that intimate moment, a first look is for you! If you love tradition and have always dreamed of seeing your groom’s face in that moment, don’t feel pressured to have one! As much as photographers (me included!) love them, it’s not our day, it’s not our photoshoot, and you should choose what you both want and will work with the flow of your day!

Mount Holly Photographer
In Guest Post, Tips On
February 26, 2019

The Value of a Wedding Planner/Coordinator

Hey y’all! I’m so excited to have another guest blog post, this time by Dana, owner and lead planner for A Lark Creation. I’m really excited about this one because having been at my fair share of weddings, I fully realize how invaluable wedding planners, or day of coordinators, are to help your wedding day flow smoothly. They prevent so much stress from you and your bridesmaids! I’m exited to share some insight from Dana! If you have any questions for her, put it in the comments! And make sure to give her a follow on Instagram!

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Each couple I have worked with is different in terms of what they need help with, it is safe to say no two brides have approached planning their wedding in the same way. I have had some brides start off at our first consultation flat out saying, “I have no idea what I am doing” while others strongly imagine they can handle any hurdle that comes their way during the planning process and on their wedding day. Even if some of those latter brides can, why should they add extra stress to their day. Hiring a wedding planner may seem like a huge investment, but if chosen wisely, your planner can actually end up saving you money and sanity. Even if you feel on top of the planning, check out my list of reasons why hiring a day of coordinator to manage your wedding day.

At the top of nearly everyone’s list for events is the budget of how much it can cost to pull off that dream wedding. Wedding Wire’s 2018 newlywed report updated the national average for weddings as $27,000. Are you able to spend that much? If you are, great! If not, believe me when I say wedding planners can actually help keep your budget under that number. As with many other areas in your life small changes can add up to big savings. As professionals, we have seen a lot. We have learned what works and what doesn’t and how to trim the corners to still get the feel you want without the grand price tag.

Wedding planners are experts in seeing many overlooked details. As a bride (or mother of the bride) you can only see and do so much. It is our job to make sure your mom doesn’t miss the first dance, or that the cake gets delivered and placed in the correct location. No one wants to walk far for a sweet treat! With A Lark Creation, your planning and coordination package includes a walk-through of your ceremony and reception sites, as well as a ceremony rehearsal to go over every detail and make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

As your wedding planner, we are your greatest support for defending your wedding vision with the goal to keep everything on track. Occasionally we get a bride worried about hurting someone’s feelings with their seating chart or concerned unwanted guests may show up, that is where we step in and tell those guests in a polite way that the details were planned out ahead of time and will not be changed last minute (or politely ask them to leave the event). It is your wedding day and you should definitely enjoy it! This might easily be the most important perk of hiring someone to manage your day.

Many vendors tackle more than one wedding per weekend sometimes per DAY, however, a wedding planner is focused only on your wedding day. While your hair and makeup are getting done, we make sure catering has brought enough place settings, your favorite fury ring bearer is taken for a walk before ceremony start time, and that champagne is poured to the exact minute to start toasts. At A Lark Creation, we only take 20 weddings per YEAR to ensure that our brides get the time and attention they deserve. Our passion is to make sure everything goes according to your unique plan. This means if you desire an outdoor ceremony, and it rained that morning WE will be the ones running outside to dry off chairs before your guests arrive as you relax inside surrounded by your loved ones not even thinking of rain drops.

From a “behind-the-scenes” perspective, as I meet with various vendors, they have mentioned time and time again how they enjoy working directly with a planner as the wedding date gets close. It is comforting not having to bother the couple to iron out last minute details. Those built in relationships minimize a lot of headache, keeping things stress-free for everyone involved. Your coordinator will confirm all start times, send reminders as needed, and ensure all vendors are present and on time. As an added bonus, we will even distribute tips at the end of the night so you can hop in your getaway car to enjoy your honeymoon without hesitation.

In our opinion, a wedding coordinator is the best right-hand woman for your special day! There is nothing better than knowing that you have hired a professional to ensure your wedding day is perfect. If issues arise, and something always does, they will be handled quietly as to not let any unneeded stress be put on you or your guests. Your coordinator is by your side from the minute you hire her until the last wine glass in the venue is cleaned. We joyfully will put in the longest day and not once wish we were somewhere else. We will continuously wish you and your new spouse nothing less than a lifetime of happiness together.

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Hope y’all enjoyed! Make sure to check out Megan’s guest post if you’re looking for another post!

In Guest Post, Tips On
February 19, 2019

8 Tips to Guarantee Flawless Makeup in Photos

Hey ya’ll! I’m so pumped to have a guest blog post today from Megan Oliveri. Megan is the sweetest person ever, and she is also an extremely talented hair and makeup artist. I had the pleasure of working with her on this styled shoot, and she is just so darn good. She has some amazing tips today for wearing makeup for photos, and I’m just so glad she’s my first guest post! Enjoy, and make sure to follow along with all of her beauty on Instagram!

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Hey guys!! Megan Oliveri here, I am just so stoked to be sharing my knowledge with all of Alex’s network of brides & photographers! I am a bridal makeup artist & hair stylist who has been trained for makeup that looks amazing on camera. Sometimes when photos are taken of you, your makeup may look completely different! My job as an artist is to ensure that you look great in person & when you look at your photos 30 years from now.

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  1. No Sunscreen- SPF is imperative in your everyday moisturizers, but not for photography! If you use a moisturizer with SPF, you will experience a white cast over your face in the photo because of the chemicals used in sunscreen.
  2. Primer- Primer is what fills in fine lines and imperfections in the skin texture. Using a primer will help to smooth out your skin to get that extra flawless look!
  3. Foundation Color- Now, this is obviously an important step. You’ll want to make sure that your foundation shade matches your skin and you are blending it into your skin well! A great way to achieve a perfect match is not go super full coverage. Using a foundation that is a bit more sheer will ensure a great match and help you not look so cakey!
  4. Blush- Blush almost completely disappears in photos and is the first thing to fade on your face! A glimmering blush is what keeps you looking fresh with a natural glow. We don’t need you looking like a blank canvas! You’ll always want to have a bit more blush than normal for camera-ready makeup.
  5. Brows- We know that we’ve already gotten most of the world on the brow train, but please take a seat if you are not already here for the ride. Filling in your brows is imperative to frame your eyes, it forces people to see your beautiful eyes before anything else!
  6. Bronzer- Using a bronzer will frame your face and create the definition which is sometimes lost in photos. Be careful to choose a non-shimmery bronzer, light is reflected off of shimmer! You want to create a natural shadow, not a highlight.
  7. Lipgloss- Matte Lipsticks can tend to look dry and crackly, especially in photography. Choosing a shiny lipstick or a lipgloss will make your lips look plump and moisturized! A big plus to this one is you won’t have to fuss with uncomfortable lipstick all night!
  8. SMILE! While taking pictures just remember all the things that you are so grateful & happy for in life. This will put a smile on your face no matter what. If all else fails, think of that one time you peed your pants and I’m sure you’ll crack up a bunch!!

I hope you learned so many new tips and tricks about having a flawless makeup look for your wedding day & beyond! For questions & more makeup fun, please check out my website at www.moliveri.com!

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In Tips On
January 25, 2019

Why Details Matter

You might have heard it said, particularly from photographers, that details matter on your wedding day. And they’re right. Details do matter.

But if you’re new to weddings, or have seen this said but haven’t really understood it…I want to tell you why these matter and what your details could include!

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What Is In The Details

So, let’s start from the beginning. What are wedding details? The details are the first thing I photograph when I arrive on the wedding day. They’re the small parts of the wedding day that probably don’t seem like thaaat big of a deal when looking at the overall wedding plans. The small elements that make the day what it is.

Your wedding invitation suite. Earrings. Hairpiece. Rings. Shoes. Perfume. Family heirlooms. Gifts to/from your groom (or bride). Letters. This also extends to your dress, veil, and bouquet.

And then there are his details. Granted, usually men don’t have quite as many details as women. But they’re still important! Shoes. Watch. Tie and tie clip. Cuff links. Gifts to/from your bride. Sometime men have fun socks, so those are always fun to include. Any family heirlooms. Boutonnière.

(Just a lil’ note that if you’re one of my brides, I send a whole list of possible details a few weeks before the wedding! By no means a must have list, just to help you remember things to bring on the morning of!)

Why Are They So Important?

So why are these so important? Have you seen a photographer post about these and talk about how much they LOVE details? (Spoiler alert: I’ve done this.)

Photographers love details because we have creative control. You can style and use ribbon and ring boxes and florals and get some stunning shots. And, full disclosure, publications love detail shots. If a photographer is wanting to get a wedding published, detail shots really matter.

But. More importantly than all of that. Detail shots matter for you. These may seem the small parts of your wedding day. But these are the items that go into making your day complete. The things that you spent time picking out and will make up your complete bridal look and your memories of the day. But these small details are the things that you can forget as the years go on. You might not be sure what your bracelet looked like or what earrings you wore. You may remember the shoes, but you may not remember what kind of perfume. A photo of your invitation suite may help you recall all the time you spent together picking the perfect one.

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How to Prepare for Detail Shots

Some brides love to invest in ribbon and ring boxes and stamps to help tell that story in a beautiful way. Others prefer to keep it simple and provide what they have. A lot of photographers have “styling kits”, meaning they may bring ribbon, boxes, stamps, seals, to create more stylized detail shots. By looking at your photographers’ portfolio or galleries, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the kinds of detail shots your photographer takes. And if there’s a type of shot you really want, don’t hesitate to communicate that to your photographer! Like mentioned above, I send out a detail recommendation list to my brides and grooms to help them think through what details they want to bring!

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While detail shots are undoubtedly important for photographers, the purpose behind them is to capture the full story of your wedding day. To make sure that the time you spent picking out your details is noticed and remembered.

Some sources for things I love-

Velvet Ring Boxes! Everyone loves a Mrs. Box, but sometimes they’re just a little out of the budget. Etsy has some amazing quality and affordable velvet ring boxes that you can get to match your wedding colors!

Ribbon! Ribbon is so fun to add to details, and you can repurpose it and add it to your bouquet, as well, for some fun extra color. Etsy has amazing ribbon options, but so does Amazon! There are also some amazing small shops on Instagram that sell great quality ribbon!

Florals! Ask your florist to provide a few loose pieces so your photographer can tie them into your detail photos. Chances are, they’ll be more than thrilled to oblige, and it’ll help all your detail shots tie in even more with you floral shots.

If you have any questions, make sure to reach out to your photographer (or me, even if I’m not your photographer!) on what you should bring or what they may bring! I love detail shots, and hope to help make you excited about them, as well!

If you’re looking for more wedding tips, make sure to check out this post on why I think bridal sessions are so important!

Mount Holly Photographer
A Guide for Brides All About the Details
In Tips On
January 24, 2019

What to Look For in a Wedding Photographer

You’ve been asked the question. You’ve said the YES! Celebrations with your friends and family ensued. Maybe some dreaming and chatting about your ideal wedding. You go on the venue tours. You’ve found the PERFECT venue! Now you have your date.

And the reality of the rest of wedding planning sets in.

I remember when I got married, when we first started the planning process, I was SO overwhelmed. I got married when Pinterest was juuust starting (good grief I feel old), but Google was alive and well and just FULL of things that made my head spin in regards to planning a wedding. Obviously I had never been married before. I was also one of the first of my friends to get married. So I seriously had no idea what to expect and what to look for.

what to look for in a wedding photographer

Since that time, I have, quite obviously, become a little more familiar with weddings. Which is why I’ve learned that, after the venue, a photographer is typically the next vendor booked for your day. That’s because it’s a really exciting vendor to book (I think, anyway, and I’m completely unbiased), especially if you want engagement photos, and a lot of photographers book up about a year in advance.

But if you’re newer to the wedding world, or starting to think about planning a wedding and have no idea what you should be looking for in a photographer, lemme help ya out! I’m sharing 5 things you should look for in a wedding photographer before you book!

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Style

I put this one first because I think it’s one of the most obvious ones. It’s also one of the easiest ones to determine right off the bat! But you need to know what style you want, and then find a photographer who creates that style. If you want light and airy photos, don’t reach out to a photographer whose website and portfolio/Instagram account is all dark and moody, and vice versa. A few people I’ve met have thought photography is kind of a one size fits all. A person finds a photographer, tells them what they want, and the photographer’s job is to make that happen.

This is not how it works with style. I’m a light, bright, and clean photographer. I can make a dark and moody image, sure, but it’s not my speciality. This means it’s not going to be consistent, and it’s not going to be as good as if you go with someone whose style is dark and moody. Myself, and most photographers I know, won’t work with clients who want a different style. I know what I’m good at creating and what I can confidently provide. You really want a photographer who is consistent and whose work looks similar across the board. This will give you peace of mind that you know what you’ll be getting when you book with them!

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Communication

I think this one is HUGE! You want a photographer who is going to be good at communicating with you! Photography is a big investment, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly on either end. If you reach out to a photographer and they take a week or so to get back to you, don’t provide much information, and don’t seem interested in you or your day, try to evaluate how much you want to deal with that throughout your wedding planning process. If there’s not an extenuating circumstance, you should have a response quickly after your initial inquiry. The photographer should be interested in you and your wedding day, and should provide all information you ask for (plus some!).

If you should have any questions throughout the process about booking, payments, your engagement session, your photos, the wedding day itself, etc., you want to have peace of mind that your emails are being read and your photographer is responsive. Trust me. The LAST thing you want to be doing while wedding planning and living your life is spending valuable time tracking down an unresponsive vendor!

(Please note, this should not mean that you should expect a response moments after your inquiry. If you inquire at 10pm on a Friday night, you shouldn’t expect to hear back until Monday. Most photographers have weddings on weekends, or use that as time off and get to emails on Monday like other companies! I personally put on my website to expect to hear from me within 24 business hours, so prospective clients can know a timeframe they can expect to hear back from me.)

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Personality

This one is important, and maybe a little underrated. You really want to make sure you get along with your photographer! Without exaggerating, you will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your new spouse. Seriously. So please make sure you get along! A great way to do this is by meeting in person for a consultation (most photographers do this for free!) if possible. If not, see if they are available for a phone or Skype call. Just speaking with someone is a great way to see if they’re a good fit. If you get together and conversation is a little awkward and jilted and doesn’t flow, consider if that person may be the best fit for you! Likewise, if you meet with someone and they’re really loud and a little intense and in-your-face but you and your fiancé are more laid back and intimidated by that, that particular photographer may not be for you.

Again, you spend a lot of time with this person on your wedding day (and for engagement photos!), so try to make sure you’ll have a fun time!

Knowledge

Make sure your photographer knows what they are doing! I’ve met a lot of people who, when they get engaged, say they’re just going to have a family friend take pictures because he/she has a nice camera and can do it for cheap.

Listen. I get having a budget and needing to save where you can. My husband and I are currently on a 3 month spending freeze so I GET IT. But. Just keep in mind that this is one of the best days of your life. It will go so fast, and all you will have left is your photos to help you relive that day. You want to make sure that your photographer is capturing everything and capturing it well. Nothing can compare to that awful feeling of receiving your wedding pictures and not having shots you wanted or were expecting, or having the color and quality seriously lacking. This isn’t saying you need to spend $6k on a photographer, but try to work with your budget to make a good photographer a priority!

Also. If you don’t have a wedding planner, the photographer is the one who will end up keeping the wedding day moving. They will tell you when to get dressed and when to do bridal photos and when to do family photos. They will direct your first look and your portrait time and make sure you’re ready in time to be announced. You really want to make sure that your photographer has a plan for this and can make a timeline for this to go smoothly. Things can also go wrong on a wedding day. Timelines are pushed back, bridal parties are drunk and not cooperating, vendors can be late- and you need a photographer who knows how to not only handle all of that, but problem solve and still get great photos.

I send out a questionnaire to my brides 6-8 weeks before the wedding asking for alllll of the information. I create a timeline and go back and forth with the bride to make sure she’s comfortable with everything. I send it to other vendors involved so they know what to expect. I arrive early on wedding days to make sure I have plenty of time in case anything starts to run behind. Every photographer will have their own system, but make sure they have a plan or a system for your wedding day!

*Just wanted to mention why I said KNOWLEDGE and not EXPERIENCE. A photographer can be a photographer for 10+ years and not have a good system. On the flip side, a photographer can be a photographer for 2 years and have taken the time and invested financially in the education and mentoring and shadowing to know what to expect and create a situation around this. While it may seem the photographer of 2 years has less experience (as long as they have some experience!) his/her knowledge may outweigh years of not-ideal experience of a more “experienced” photographer. Just something to keep in mind!

nc wedding photographer

Availability

Like I mentioned above, a lot of photographers can book up about a year out. Almost all of my couples only have their venue booked before they book with me. So with that- I highly suggest booking your photographer soon after your venue! If there is a particular photographer you know you want, book them! There is no such thing as booking too early!

If there is a photographer you had your heart set on working with and they aren’t available on your date, check with your venue to see about moving your date! Most venues don’t book up on Friday’s and Sunday’s as quickly as Saturday’s, and the same is true of photographers. Chances are that another day that weekend will be available (and venues are typically cheaper on a Friday or Sunday!). This gives you the opportunity to have your dream photographer without having to move your date more than a day or two!

I’m of the pretty firm belief that wedding planning should be fun and exciting! I know, though, that trying to sort through and find the perfect vendors can be difficult. I really do think that paying attention to these things when looking for a wedding photographer will help your process, and ultimately, your decision, so much easier!

If you have any other questions about what you should look for, make sure to drop it in the comments so I can answer! And, if you’re in NC (or elsewhere, I travel ;]), head over to this page and tell me a little about your day– I’d love to hear from you!

Mount Holly Photographer
In Bridal Portraits, Tips On
January 16, 2019

Why Bridal Sessions Matter

I. Love. Bridal sessions. But let me just say- up until about 2 years ago, I had no idea what a bridal session was. These aren’t really a thing up north where I grew up. They are, however, very much a thing down south.

bridal portrait session charlotte nc

What Is a Bridal Session?

So. If you’re me 2 years ago, what the heck is a bridal session?!

Basically, it’s a separate session a few weeks or months before the wedding day where the bride has a trial done of hair and makeup, a mock up of her bouquet, and she puts on her dress for a session of just bridal portraits. Many brides choose to do this and then display print(s) at the reception. Think of it as a dry run of getting ready on your wedding day (just without the anticipation)!

uptown charlotte bridal portraits

Why Should I Consider a Bridal Session?

There are a few different reasons I love these and why brides choose these. I’m just going to name a few that I think are important, though I’m sure there are so many more!

  1. Test your hair/makeup and bouquet. Like I had mentioned, think of bridal sessions as a dry run of your big day. This is the perfect chance to make sure you’re going to love how your hair and makeup are done! You get a chance to see the completed look instead of hoping it turns out how you’re envisioning on your wedding day. It also gives you a chance to see how your bouquet is going to come out. I’ve had brides in the past who were really unhappy with how their bouquets showed up on their wedding day, and there’s not much more disappointing than that. A bridal session is a wonderful chance to make sure you will know what to expect on your wedding day, which will keep great relationships with you and your vendors!
  2. You get to wear your dress! Wedding dresses are not cheap. They are also incredibly special, but you usually only wear it for a few hours on the actual wedding day. A bridal session gives you a chance to wear the dress you love so much, see your whole look, and soak up what you’re about to do in a few weeks/months. It’s then such a sweet surprise to have these photos printed and framed or put on a canvas to display at your wedding. These are always a hit with guests! Also, as a bonus, it never hurts to make sure your dress fits correctly and your shoes are comfortable (for wedding shoes!)!
  3. They create a more relaxed timeline on the wedding day. Wedding days almost always end up being a tad rushed. If a bridal session is done beforehand, it alleviates a little bit of time crunch on the wedding day because you already have beautiful portraits in your dress. (Don’t worry- I still get a few shots on your wedding day since it is, ya know, your wedding day!) But not having the time pressure to get quite so many shots and a wide variety ensures more time can be focused on capturing the other aspects of the day
  4. Practice, practice, practice! Most people are not models. There is no such thing as too much practice in front of the camera! While most shots on your wedding day will be with family or you husband or bridal party, I do always make sure to snag some quick bridal portraits on the big day. If you’ve had bridal portraits done, you’ll know exactly what to do. That portion of the day will flow so smoothly! Most brides also bring their mom’s or maid of honor along with them, so it’s truly just a really fun, laid back time to hang out with friends in your wedding dress. Sounds fun, right?!
wedding inspiration bridal portraits

When Should I Do a Bridal Session?

I like to recommend to my brides that we schedule their bridal session around 6-8 weeks before the wedding! This is for several reasons. First, we obviously have to make sure the dress is done being altered! If a dress is ordered and takes a while to arrive and then wait to have the alterations completed, most dresses aren’t ready until a short while before the wedding. I like to make sure there’s plenty of time in between the session and the wedding, though, because, as mentioned, quite a few brides decide to have a print or canvas displayed at the reception. Because I highly recommend that your prints/canvas is ordered from a reputable, professional lab, they can take a little bit of time to come in. I personally have a very quick turnaround time on my bridal sessions to ensure plenty of time for ordering. If you don’t do your session until 2 weeks before the wedding, though, and you’re wanting prints, you most likely would not have enough time to get your photos back and place an order.

In addition to thinking about how long before the wedding, you may also need to consider what day of the week. Depending on the availability of your photographer and your venue, your best option may be during a week day. If you are able to have your bridal portraits done during the time of year when the sun is up for longer, you may have more options as evenings are available. Any winter/early spring/late fall portraits, however, are a lot more limited as far as what hours are available!

charlotte nc wedding photographer bridal portraits

Where Should I Do My Bridal Session?

This is something that would be decided upon by you and your photographer! The majority of brides choose to have their session done at the venue. This just really helps the bridal portraits flow with the wedding photos. This will just take coordinating with the venue to make sure they have availability. As most venues are pretty booked through the popular wedding season, if you’re having your portraits done during this time you may need to take the advice in the section above and consider a weekday!

I have had brides choose portrait session locations that are different than the venue. This can be because the venue is too far away, isn’t available, the bride wants a change of scenery, etc. These always turn out gorgeous, as well, and again, just take coordinating with your photographer and whatever venue you choose, if applicable.

I know it may seem a little daunting to get all dressed up and step in front of the camera by yourself. Coming from someone who doesn’t love being in front of the camera herself- I get it! I’ve never met anyone who has regretted having these done, however. Talk to your photographer beforehand if you have any concerns or questions. He or she will more than likely have done these before and know exactly how to make you comfortable in front of the camera. I personally make sure to do the beautiful traditional portraits that parents always love and the husbands put on their desks, but it’s always a fun time to get creative and really have fun with my brides!

charlotte nc wedding venue bridal portraits

If you’re looking for previous bridal shoots, make sure you check out Karlee’s beautiful sunset portraits or Desi’s beach sunrise inspiration shoot!

Mount Holly Photographer