Big Wedding, Small Budget

Pre-wedding Photo Sessions

A while back, I came across this post: Pre-wedding session. The blog says,

We are completely obsessed with the idea of a pre-wedding session. Not only do you get do a test run with your hair and makeup, make sure your dress is exactly right, but you also get to have some incredibly gorgeous photos captured of you and your love. All this without the stress of the wedding day.

We recommend bringing items that you want photographed, your invites, wedding shoes, or any keepsake you want captured. We love the idea of having a bouquet made for the session as well, to add that extra pretty element in all your photos.

This post has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and now that the wedding day is starting to take shape, I have been thinking about it even more. I could not disagree with it more. Having a pre-wedding shoot pretty much goes against everything I believe in, at least when it comes to weddings.

I hope that my wedding looks nice. I don’t really care if it is beautiful, perfect stylized or “blog-worthy.” I know Steve will look nice, and I’ll hopefully look pretty (although I’m pretty committed to looking normal, too). When I was looking for a photographer, I didn’t choose one based on her recording our fabulousness. I chose one based on her capturing our wedding. How it looks, but also, how it feels.

Dressing up in our wedding clothes, with a bouquet, with hair and makeup done, on the day before our wedding doesn’t mean anything. Pictures of us at the wedding, feeling the emotions (and hopefully, joy) of the day, connecting with friends and family—that’s what I want to see in our photos. We are not models in everyday life, and I definitely don’t want to be models at our wedding day.

This has come up especially when I’m thinking about first look photos. Steve really hates posing for photos, and I really hate contrived moments. We are not good actors, and we like to just get on with things. We will see each before the ceremony for several reasons (Jewish wedding, pictures beforehand), and I would like pictures of that time, but I just want us to act naturally. I learned from our engagement session that our photographer is really good at capturing those kinds of moment without making it look or feel contrived, so I’m not worried about it all.

I guess what it comes down to is this: for me, a wedding is an experience, not a diorama. Treating a wedding like a photoshoot by taking pictures the day before misses the point of the whole thing. Who cares what we look like? I want to see what we felt like.

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Pictures and Parties

As I mentioned earlier, this has been an exciting week in wedding world. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

First, last Friday, we took our engagement pictures. This was something that had been causing me no small measure of anxiety, mostly because Steve doesn’t really like getting his picture taken. In fact, that was basically the whole reason we had engagement pictures taken in the first place; they were included in our photography package, and I thought it would be a good chance for us to get to know our photographer a little more so that the process would go much more smoothly on our wedding day. Well, I was totally right, and I would recommend to anyone that they do engagement pictures for just that reason. We did them with Emily in downtown Orlando. The session was really fun, and our photographer was wonderful. She came armed with ideas to make everything more fun and natural, spent a lot of time just talking to us, and ended up having dinner with us afterwards. The experience was great, and I cannot wait to see what the photos look like!

Then, the very next day was my bridal shower. To tell the truth, I hadn’t thought that much about it beforehand, mostly because I was doing so much to get ready for the engagement pictures. But the minute those were over, I started getting really excited for the shower. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to sleep the night before! Anyway, the shower was everything I could have hoped for and more. Everything looked so nice and the food was amazing. The gift giving was even fine, something remarkable since I really hate opening presents in front of people. Mostly, I was just so touched that a group of people got together to put it on for me. They put so much work into it and I could really feel the love. To look around that room and realize that all of these people had come there just for me, and some from pretty far away, was incredible. The time went by really quickly as I tried to talk to and spend some time with everyone. I can only imagine that the wedding will feel like that times 100!

We’ve been taking care of some other wedding stuff this week, but mostly we’ve been hanging out with Emily and having lots of fun. It’s been a great winter break generally, and I’ve felt really productive wedding-wise as I’ve been checking more and more things off of my list. Next week, I’m back to work, hopefully, I’ll continue to get just as much stuff done!

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The Next Few Days

The next few days are going to be really exciting around here! Emily came in yesterday, so of course we’re thrilled. On Friday, we’ll be taking our engagement pictures. In preparation, I have gotten in touch with my inner girl. Fancy makeup, manicure, brows, getting my hair done…wow. It’s a lot! But it should a really fun afternoon. We’ll be headed to downtown Orlando, starting out in the same spot where we got engaged last year. It will give us a chance to get used to having our pictures taken and to build rapport with our photographer. So, it serves more of a purpose than just pretty pictures (although that would be great on its own).

Then on Saturday is my shower. This is the first big pre-wedding event. My first time as a bride, publicly, anyway. Sometimes I do get nervous about it; I don’t always like being the center of attention. But I know it’s going to be great, and I have absolute faith in those who have been planning it, so that has alleviated any anxiety. I’m so glad Emily will be here for it, and I just think it will be so much fun!

People have been calling me a bride for almost a year now, since we got engaged. But I haven’t really felt like a bride; I’ve just felt like me, but me as I’m planning a huge event. But the wedding is coming up in conversation a lot more now that it’s getting so close. And with the engagement pictures and the shower this week, well, I’m anticipating some kind of switch over to that bride feeling. What that feeling is, exactly, I don’t know. But I’m sure I’ll be working it out here. For now, I’m just excited to be able to enjoy the fun stops along the road to March 24th.

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Searching for a Photographer

As one of my big wedding projects for the spring, I’ve started searching online for wedding photographers. Luckily, there are a lot to choose from. Looking through them all has left me many times with too many tabs open in my browser, too many ideas running through my head, and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed. So I think it’s important to really think about what I’m looking for in a photographer as I’m doing the search. The more I can rule out immediately, the better.

Ok, so what am I looking for in a photographer? These are my priorities:

  • Price—As with everything else in this wedding, we’re working with a pretty strict budget. Before I even look at the galleries, I’m looking for a price. There is no reason to fall in love with a photographer I can’t afford. Now, the only time this really becomes a problem is when prices aren’t listed. Generally, I’ve assumed that those photographers are just too expensive, but there have been a few that I’ve emailed for more information.
  • Type of photos—Although we’ll definitely be doing some formal poses, the pictures I’m most interested in are the candids. I’m not looking for a photographer to document how beautiful I look, or how nice my shoes appear against a background of flowers. I’m looking for someone to capture the feeling of the day, the joy and community that we are hoping to create. I want someone to document the fun, the love. So if a photographer shows nothing but detail pictures on their site, they’re probably not a great fit for me. Also, I’m a little picky in that I don’t like all of the special effects added to pictures. I want simple, beautiful photos that stand on their own.
  • Photography package—We’re not looking for anything fancy in our photography package. We’ll make the albums ourselves, and while prints might be nice, they are not necessary or even preferred. What’s most important is having a photographer for enough time to get everything. I’m also hoping for an assistant or second photographer, since it will be such a big wedding. And one of the most important parts of the package, one of the non-negotiables, is to have the digital, high-res proofs with printing rights. That way, we can print the photos we want, make albums or photo booths, and gift photos to our families. Fortunately, this seems to be pretty standard now.
  • Personality—We’ll be spending all day with our photographer. They will get to know our family and friends. They will be with us while we’re getting ready and when we see each for the first time on that day. They’ll capture intimate and important moments. The photographer’s personality is extremely important. I’ve tried to glean what I can from bios on websites, but this is something we won’t really know until we start meeting with people. But we’ll be looking for that click.

My current plan is do exhaustive research online (luckily, this is one of my skills) and try to narrow down the list to two or three favorites. I’m not interested in spending a great deal of time meeting with people, and I think too many meetings can cloud the picture. I’m hoping that, like so many other things in this wedding planning process, when we find the right one, we’ll just know.