Wedding Wednesday

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Wedding Wednesday

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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Last week’s Wedding Wednesday post resulted in a ton of great questions and I’m excited to try to answer them all! I really didn’t how what the response would be like so thanks to those of you who participated! Some questions more related to more of the photography world but I’ll try  to answer those too! So since there are a ton, we better get started!!! I have my work cut out for me!!  Oh but before I get on a roll! …. Congrats to MEGHAN who just got engaged and won a Starbucks giftcard! It’s on its’ way girlfriend! Good luck with the planning process!!! Woohoo!! Ok, here it goes:

Faye Bernoulli: How would you convince a bride and groom to make more time for their portraits, rather than multiple group formals?

I train my couples to LOVE portraits by posting so many of them on the blog! By the time their wedding day arrives, they WANT what they have seen and they make sure we have adequate time for their portraits together. I also have to make sure I educate them MONTHS before the big day about how much time is necessary.

Patricia Carlisle: What time of day do you recommend having the ceremony and reception as far as lighting for the photography is concerned?

If a couple opts for a First Look, it’s nice to have a ceremony at 6 or 6:30 and then have 30 minutes to shoot in “glowy” evening light afterwards! Because the majority of their portraits are done beforehand, it’s ok to have a later ceremony!

Harris S.: When you take photos of the rings for e-sessions or weddings do you ask for them and place them your self? Have you ever had a bride hesitate to let you hold her ring? 

I’ve never encountered this. Most brides LOVE having a pretty ring shot and they’ll gladly let me do whatever I want in order to get it! I always ask if they’re ok with me taking it for a few minutes though. It also works well to shoot these when they’re changing clothes so that they aren’t watching you the whole time. You’ll be less nervous that way!

Meghan: My fiance just proposed to me last week (eek!!) and we are planning a two year engagement while am pursing my Masters Degree. What is the best timeline to have as far as photography is concerned, especially if we want to have fall engagement pictures and a summer wedding two years from now?

I only book a little over a year in advance and that’s pretty common with most photographers. So if you’re planning a wedding for summer of 2014, I would start inquiring about photography this coming spring! And then have your engagement session in the fall of 2013!

Stephanie Stewart:  Hi Katelyn! Do you always have your assistant/2nd shooter along side you for First Looks, bridal party, and additional bride/groom portraits? I usually have my 2nd shooter off capturing cocktail hour and other candids. Just curious as to how you handle this, especially when the timeline is tight and you have to get reception details prior to guests entering the reception area. Thank you! :)

Yes and Yes!:) I have my second shooter shoot whatever I’m unable to! For example, if the timeline is tight, I’ll shoot portraits and my second shooter shoots the cocktail hour. However, I ALWAYS try to get a few of my own shots of the reception untouched just because I’m really picky about those shots in case they get published. If the timeline is more relaxed, we’ll stick together and capture different angles of the portraits. I definitely have them at the first look though!

Molly: think my biggest question is, with things like social networking and pinterest, do you see too many similarities between all weddings now? Or does it promote individuality?

GREAT QUESTION!!!  I do think that Pinterest is a wonderful thing! However, I think people 50 years from now will laugh when they look at weddings from 2009-2012 and see an explosion of burlap and bunting in wedding photos!! Haha I think it’s great to have so many ideas out there for brides… the TRICK is to hone in on ONE THEME… and not try to do everything on your Pinterest board! So some, Pinterest allows MORE creativity, for other brides, Pinterest can be a pain because there are just too many ideas! Some wedding themes are a bit overused in my opinion but hey! Every bride can do whatever she wants!

Jaquielyn Katelyn!! I was wondering what the qualities of your ideal clients are? What takes it from a client being so-so to being super-awesome-want-to-photograph-them-foreverrrr kinda clients?

I love this question! The qualities of my ideal clients are couples that 1. CARE about their photography, 2. Love my brand and my blog (didn’t just hire me from google)  and 3. Desire to be FRIENDS… not just clients. I think you achieve this type of client relationship by marketing yourself in a personal way. If your clients look at your site and feel like they KNOW you, they will either be REALLY attracted to your brand or repelled. Eventually, you start to ONLY attract clients that desire to be friends! And those friendships make the wedding day amazing!

Ashley Link: I would LOVE to know what YOUR favorite part of a wedding is? If you can choose. hehe. i know i would have a hard time. like… what’s your favorite moment? or is it different every time?

I love portrait time!! I really do! However, I’m most nervous during portrait time because I have high expectations for myself. But I also love when the bride gets into her dress and everything becomes REAL!

Mandy: Where did you get your birdcages? I kinda want to buy a couple to decorate the future home with! It would be a good little souvenir of the wedding! :)

Haha they’re from

Heather: I was just wondering what kind of wedding favors you have seen… I know that people have been doing the candy bar as a popular favor but I was wondering what other kind of creative ideas you have seen. Also, you wrote about themed weddings once… besides your own (which is wonderful, turquoise is a stunning color) what are some of your favorite themed weddings and what made them successful?

Oh this is tough! I’ve seen so many favors and so many theme ideas! I recently had a friend who shot a Kate Spade themed wedding and I thought that was adorable! I’ve also loved Mod Themed weddings with modern details and bold colors and patterns.  Some great favor ideas are on Pinterest! A great spin on the “Candy Bar” is to have a different type of “Bar”…. Ex: Ice cream bar, Nut Bar, Cookie Bar, etc!

Jaquielyn: Hey Katelyn! What was your favorite couple to work with? I realize you may not be able to provide names, but what makes a couple super awesome to a photographer? What are the qualities of your ideal customers?

I love couples that really appreciate what I do. I have some couples that are just SO excited for their pictures they can barely stand it!! And to be honest, I don’t have a favorite couple… I couldn’t possibly choose one favorite! I love them all!

Kyle: Hi! Just curious if you during your weddings if you also shoot traditional portraits of the bride w/families (bride with mom, dad, siblings, whole fam, etc). I am constantly asked to shoot these for clients, often inside dark churches. Although I don’t mind them, they often seem extremely outdated. So. Do you shoot these? If so, any tips on modernizing them? Thanks!!

Oh definitely! I shoot them at EVERY single wedding! I just don’t blog them because they’re boring! Haha But I do love making them a little more relaxed.  Instead of having the “sister” shot very formal, why not make them hug really tight and laugh for the camera. There are ways to make these more relaxed!! This will have to be a blog post later!

Emily C: Hi Katelyn! I fell in love with those necklaces Amelia & James had made for the bridesmaids and was wondering if you could please send me a link to that Etsy account… I’m dying to have them for my girls as well! I’m not on a huge budget, but I’d like to give the bridesmaids a nice token of my appreciation that is meaningful from me… any suggestions for a fall wedding are much appreciated! Thanks!

Hi Emily! I’ll email her and try to find out for ya!

Victoria: I’m getting married in 6 months (ah! excited!) and I wanted to ask about how to divide out tasks for your wedding day. For example, my venue has a STRICT timeline (have to be in and out in 4 hours) while our reception site is close, we need to make sure the venue is cleared and cleaned. What do you suggest? Should we ask groomsmen or would they need to be heading to reception? And where does photography fit it!? (Ok, that was a lot of questions…. :)

 Whew! That is a lot of questions!:) My advice would be to talk to your photographer asap and start working out a schedule.  They should be eager to help you plan since they need to have a say in the timeline in order to have a good amount of portrait time! I would also suggest delegating CLEAN UP to someone else. You shouldn’t have to worry about that at all! Another option is to hire a coordinator that takes care of all of that for you!

 Blythe K: What is the best and more ideal wedding time line? From a photographer’s point of view what would you like to see and as a bride looking back, what would you have made more time for and how much time? Also – do you recommend a faux send off earlier in the evening so guests can party away without concern for where to be next & is there a best time for this? — ok that’s more than 1 question but it’s all under one big category! :) xo

I actually wouldn’t have changed my timeline at all! Jasmine may have needed a LITTLE more time to shoot my reception details but that’s because I have 2 acres full of them! You can find my wedding day timeline here:

I LOVE church exits! Everyone is there, you just run out and and you have exit shots in daylight! It’s great! So many couples have exits in the pitch black and it’s hard to shoot.  However, I understand wanting a fun exit from the party! We exited in our car from the church and it was one of my FAVORITE parts of the day! PLUS, we got this great shot! :

Meg:  I am less than a month away from my wedding, and my biggest project is menu cards/programs/table numbers. How can I create paper products that look nice that don’t require a lot of money or time?

Templates! Tons of blog have templates that you can recreate or alter. You can design them and then have them printed by or any other printing site! Or you could print them yourself on hard cardstock.  Check this out! :

Amanda: Hey Katelyn! I am so glad you did this because I have been wanting to ask you- when do you find the time to head over to the reception and photograph all of the details before all of the guests arrive? I’m still getting into my own flow of timeline but am stumped with this one! Thanks! :)

I have to work this in the timeline before EVERY wedding! Sometimes it’s super hard to make it work but when you tell the bride months in advance that you need time to shoot details, she can be aware of that when she sits down with her coordinator and works on her timeline. It’s all about educating the bride. Brides don’t have time to think about things like that and when you throw them that curveball 7 days before the wedding, it can be stressful.  This weekend I have a wedding where I forgot to add in that extra detail shooting time and so I talked to the bride today and just said I would make it happen, she doesn’t have to worry about it. So I’ll just have my second shooter cover cocktail hour and I’ll run up to the reception site!

Mallory: I’m definitely one of those extremely detail-oriented brides but I still want to make sure everything flows well on the day-of. What is your best advice for creating the day-of timeline? (our ceremony is around 6:00pm next June)

My best advice is to start the ceremony and work backwards when you’re writing it out! Consider travel times and add an additional 5 minutes to everything just in case.  Simply having to use the bathroom can throw your timeline off by 15 minutes… especially if you have a big dress! Haha Here’s a link to my timeline. We had several portrait locations so we needed a ton of time but hopefully this will help! :

Stephanie: Speaking of budgets….have you ever been a wedding that didn’t serve a full meal (or heavy hors d’oeuvre)? I feel like so many people do so many things for their wedding because supposedly it’s tradition, or someone’s told them they just HAVE to. For me, food is one of those things. Does serving a meal to 100+ guests make or break what you’re really there for? I’m toying with the idea of having an evening wedding with very few hors d’oeuvre and a variety of some nice desserts and cake. Have you ever seen this before and what’s your opinion?! :) Thank You!

We had heavy hors d’oeuvres because we had 400+ guests! YIKES! I think it’s totally fine to have a later wedding and just serve dessert. However, it needs to be late enough that guest can eat dinner beforehand.  If it’s a 5:30 wedding, it’s kind of weird not to have dinner for them because you’re asking them to be there through dinner time. If you have a 6:30 or 7:00 ceremony, it’s fine for them to eat and early dinner before hand and then have some amazing desserts later at the reception! I feel your pain girl! Food is pricy!!

Erica C.: My roomie is planning her wedding and I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times. I’ve seen the range of wedding types and budgets (and spent my own mini fortune to participate) Should my day ever come, I’m concerned that the out-of-control wedding industry inflation will make even a simple, elegant wedding for my huge family cost prohibitive. Any thoughts to calm the anxiety and see the light in the tunnel? In the sea of possibilities, what sort of details have you seen to be worth the effort? And why, why are most of the wedding dress industry based on strapless?!

Hi Erica! As far and the dress goes, it’s just a matter of style. If you like sleeves on your gown, you can make that happen but you might have to search a little longer since that’s not the style right now. They do exist! There are tons of beautiful lace designs with cap sleeves and open backs! Love those! Now for the budget… the average spent on a wedding in America is around $26,000.  It’s a lot. I remember saying “Oh my wedding won’t cost that much!”… But I was wrong. The cost comes in with the food, the rentals, and the vendors. You can cut corners and save some but the best way to cut costs is to cut the guest list! It’s tough… and I’m a bad example of this since I had 400 people at my wedding…. but it is possible to have a cheaper wedding.  My friends Mandy and Josh had one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever shot and they had a very small budget. So it is possible! It just takes some DIY projects and some savvy shopping!

Kristina W.: I remember seeing your cute wedding thank you postcards on the blog. I wound up having prints made and including one in each thank you card. So… what is your favorite place to order thank you cards/Christmas cards from/stationery with photos?

Well I love designing my own stuff so what I use may not be helpful for you. However, I’m really loving right now!

KateAnn: When you shoot a destination wedding, who pays for your plane tickets and travel expenses!?

The couple who hires me pays for my expenses. If I had to spend $2,000 of my own money to shoot their wedding, that’s a horrible business decision.  Some photographers charge for travel expenses AND add additional costs to their wedding packages just because they are going to be gone for double the amount of time and time is money.  I don’t do that but I may have to one day.

Meredith Sledge: Katelyn! What do you do if a bride and groom have their wedding at a church and reception at a different venue about 20 minutes away from the church? How would you photograph the table details, etc. if the place won’t have everything set up until it’s too late? Also, how long do you take to do family formals, bride and groom pictures, etc. if the couple doesn’t do a first look? Usually that happens during cocktail hour, right? But how long does that take?

Whew! Lots of questions! Haha Every wedding is different.  Two weekends ago I shot a wedding in California.  The reception wasn’t ready before I headed to the bride’s house so I had to save 15 minutes before they opened the ballroom doors to shoot the reception untouched.  This coming weekend, the reception and ceremony are in the same place…. Easy! You just have to work it in when you can.  If the couples doesn’t opt for a first look, I need an hour and half to accomplish everything post-ceremony. It’s just smarter to do a first look. You’ll be less rushed, your bridal party gets to go to cocktail hour and your guests will love you!

laura:  Oh Katelyn, I could ask questions all day about weddings! haha.. my two biggest are we are having our wedding in a barn and have to bring in ALL our lighting. What is the best way to have good lighting for photographs? AND what are some great bridal party gifts that you have seen?

The large patio lights from target are great to string across the dancefloor! They make amazing bokeh and ambient light for the dancing shots!! For additional lighting, you can rent spots for the dancefloor or tables. You can see in the corner of this shot, there are spots hung on the tent posts that shine direct light on certain areas. We used:

Beth: Thanks to blogs and Pinterest, there are SO many creative wedding ideas floating around. How should a bride begin to sort through the ideas? Thanks Katelyn!! :)

Pick a THEME from the beginning and stick with it! I love lace and burlap but I had a “Vintage Peacock” wedding… not a country barn wedding. So I scrapped the burlap idea.  By picking a THEME you can cut out a lot of ideas and narrow your projects down!

Sara S: Love this! I am also curious about how to do DIY on a budget, but also really wondering – what do you recommend for a bride to prepare for possible rain? What kinds of places can you still shoot outside, how do you work with doing things inside, etc? Getting married in the summer means being worried about rain – and I want outside portraits! :) Thanks Katelyn!!

DIY projects are fun but can be pricy if you’re not careful. The BEST DIY projects are the one’s that are HIGH IMPACT! For example, Mandy found old sheets from thrift stores and her grandma made them into bunting! It transformed their reception! Tissue Poms are also GREAT because they are high impact but add color and are cheap!! If it rains (please no rain!) we’ll find some cute porches, some old columned buildings and some covered alleys! When it rains on wedding days I just have to be super creative!

Kimber Wassenberg: Okay, this isn’t a question from a bride…just a wondering photographer! In Brian and Kristen’s wedding, how in the world did you get such beautiful bridal party portraits in full sunlight? Whenever I shoot in full sun I get terrible shadows across the front of the person, or (adversely) people squinting from the light. I would love any tips for shooting in full sun because I absolutely stink at it!! :) Thanks ahead of time. :)

They were standing on white concrete which reflected on their faces. Also, I placed them in front of the side of the church, which was also white and bright! Natural reflectors!

katie: Okay, I’ve got a tricky one. When trying to come up/work with a budget I keep fighting myself on “this is our ONE wedding day we have to do it RIGHT” with “this is the start of our new life together and I don’t want to be swimming in debt!” Have you seen a huge difference in the weddings where it seems the couple went all out versus worked within a budget? By differences I mean the overall happiness and smoothness of the day, things like that. Thanks Katelyn! :)

This is definitely a hard one! My advice is to have priorities. For me, photography was the MAIN thing I cared about! My opinion is “Pay for what will last the longest!”.  That means photography should be the most important thing! It’s all you have left!  For our wedding, I realllllly wanted Chivari chairs… but it was $1600 more than white plastic chairs. That’s crazy!! So I bartered with the rental company and shot 2 events for them in exchange for those chairs… and I’m so glad I had those chairs… it made a big difference. However, some brides don’t care about chairs… they would rather have a BAND! We had a great friend that was a DJ and he was great so we opted for that over a live band and he was wonderful. Some couples HAVE to have alcohol at their wedding. An open bar at our wedding would have been over $7,000 so we decided to have great photography over an open bar… it’s just a process of give and take. So make priorities for yourself and that may make it easier!

Tamara: Your wedding and so many of the weddings you shoot are absolutely FULL of details and decorates – what is your best advice for having a lot of details on a budget? Any stores/websites you recommend?

These links may help! :



Whew! It’ll be a while before we do another one of these posts! It’s a ton of work!! But I hope it’s helpful!! Happy Wednesday!  


Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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