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One of the things I stress the most with my clients is that there are NO re-dos of your wedding day!! If you choose a sub-par photographer, you WILL regret it!!

Did I make that point clear?? ūüôā I’ve heard so many horror stories from people (who were NOT my clients) about how terrible their wedding pictures turned out and their disappointment can hardly be contained. Too many people think owning a “really good camera” means they are now a “photographer”. That could hardly be further from the truth.

Over and over again, I hear this, “Oh, my friend is a great nature photographer and has a really good camera, so they are going to take our wedding photos.” Great! It will save you some money, but trees, flowers, mountains, etc……these aren’t weddings. Weddings are fluid and moving. Getting a group of 30 family members to all look at the camera, at the same time?? That takes experience and patience. And you only get one chance to capture that first kiss on camera. You better bet you want the person behind the lense to be experienced with weddings.

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Photo by Quinn Photography

I’m not going to lie……good photographers cost money…..period! And you get what you pay for. Experience matters when it comes to your special day. If someone is offering an “amazing” price that seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. On average, in the Sacramento region, a good wedding photographer will cost between $3500 – $6500, depending on what services and products you need.

By now you are probably saying, “Well, why does this cost so much? They only spend a few hours taking pictures.” Ummmmmm……no! First, with digital photography, we now have the ability to tell a complete story of our wedding day, something I wish was available when I was married almost 23 years ago. You are going to want the photographer there to document the entire day, from the time you are getting your hair and make-up done, to the moment you step into that amazing vintage car and are whisked away from the reception. From ceremony start time to reception’s end, the average wedding is 5-6 hours long. Then add in about 2 hours for the getting ready photos and another 1 1/2 to 2 hours for pictures before the ceremony starts, and you are getting into quite a long day. And because digital cameras allow the photographer to shoot thousands of pictures of just your wedding day, it will take he or she days (uninterrupted) to review all those photos to delete the blinks or less than perfect lighting. Then, when you factor in the amount of time they spend editing those photos in Photoshop afterwards to crop them just so, or adjust the lighting just right, they are probably barely making minimum wage on your wedding. And don’t forget the time they spend meeting with you beforehand, shooting your engagement photos, or designing your wedding album.

View More: http://kristyweldonphotography.pass.us/patricejoewedding

Photo by Kristy Weldon Photography

So how do you go about finding the perfect photographer for your wedding? First, your coordinator can provide you with some good recommendations. We are fortunate enough to have some amazing photography talent here in the Sacramento area, and I’ve been privileged to work with many of them. I have an extensive list of photographers that I recommend to my clients based on their styles and needs. You can also ask friends and family members who they used for their wedding. Just make certain to see their finished album so you can see whether or not this photographer’s pictures style is right for you. Looking at a photographer’s website is also a good start, but remember, this is just a small representation of their best photos.

Once you have narrowed down your list, it’s time to start meeting with photographers. Most have various packages depending on your needs, but if you don’t see one that meets yours, ask if they can put together one that does. Most contain an engagement session. I highly recommend doing an engagement session as this allows the photographer to spend some quality time getting to know you and your personalities. This also gets you more comfortable with the photographer’s working style and makes wedding day pictures go much more smoothly. Ask to see many different albums from many different weddings. This will allow you to see a complete wedding, from start to finish. Also, make certain that the photographer has lots of good quality photos both inside and outdoors. Many houses of worship forbid flash photography during wedding ceremonies. Many photographers can get great lighting outside, but it takes a talented photographer, who knows how to use his/her camera and lenses, to take great indoor pictures.

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Photo by Everlasting Images

Ask if the photographer is bringing an assistant, or second shooter as we often refer to them. Having a second photographer makes sure that all angles are covered on wedding day. One photographer can capture the bride walking down the aisle, while the second can capture the groom’s priceless reaction.

Photos by Jacqueline Photography

Do invest in a package that includes an album. Many couples decide they can “save money” but just using the photographer’s “digital” package. This is usually all the edited photos on a CD or flash drive. Most of these couples think they will just take these digital pictures and have an album made later, but that rarely happens. This is one of the most important days of your life! Don’t leave the memories sitting on a CD or flash drive. Put them into something that you (and your future generations) will truly cherish for years to come.

AndreasImages (37)

Photo by Andrea’s Images Photography

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Once you have established your budget, figured out an approximate wedding date, and hired your coordinator, the next step is to find a location for your wedding. There are many things to consider. First and foremost, is to figure out your wedding theme or style. Many of us dream of getting married outside with an amazing mountain view, while others picture an elegant mansion for their nuptials. Some think a quaint farm while others think an urban loft.

Whatever your theme, always remember NOT to compare apples to oranges. What do I mean by that? Well, the first question you will most likely ask is, “How much does your venue cost?” That question really needs to be followed with, “What services does this price include?” You may be able to rent a hall “really cheap” but it only includes the blank space and maybe some tables and chairs that you need to set up yourself. Still you’re thinking, for only $1000, that’s still a great deal compared to the $15,000 that full-service venue, with in-house catering, wants. However, now you need to rent linens, china, glassware, a bar, and those chairs are really ugly…….time to rent chair covers! It adds up super quick, and you haven’t even added in the cost of catering or alcohol.

Some people think the best solution is having the wedding at their home or property. Sounds great and you don’t have to pay a rental fee……should be MUCH cheaper, right??? WRONG!! Wedding expenses add up quickly. First, you are starting with a blank space…..no tables, no chairs, no linens, no china, no glassware, no dance floor, no bars….and if you think the 2 bathrooms in your house are going to be enough for your 150 guests, think again. Can your house’s plumbing really handle the needs of 150 people? Most cannot and therefore, you will need to rent restroom trailers (not porta potties…..this is a wedding not a camping trip). In addition, what are your local noise ordinances? Where will all these people park? What about electrical for the DJ and catering? Who is going to set all these tables, chairs, linens, etc. up? And finally, who is going to clean this mess up and will you be able to fit all this garbage in your rather small garbage can? My experience has been, the more a venue provides, the happier my clients have been and they often save the most money in the end.

Weather is definitely another factor to consider when choosing your venue. Here in the Sacramento area, we are blessed with pretty amazing weather and can almost guarantee there will be no rain during the summer months. However, Spring and Fall can still sneak in a rain shower or two so having a venue with a back-up plan is a MUST. I highly recommend a venue with both indoor and outdoor spaces, just in case, during these months. Another factor to consider is the heat. You need to provide adequate shade for your guests, either with umbrellas, a tent, or trees. However, if you are depending on trees for shade, it is EXTREMELY important to visit the reception space during the actual time of your reception. The sun shifts all day long and so does your shade. A space that is nicely shaded at 10:00 in the morning, may be in direct sunlight by 4:00 in the afternoon. If the sun isn’t setting until close to 9:00 pm, your guests will be miserable and burnt to a crisp by the time your wedding is over.

Finally, one questions I always ask, that most couples forget, “What is your policy on open flame?” Often, I come into my clients’ planning process after they have booked their venue. Their “vision” for the wedding includes a beautiful candle lit reception. However, they are shocked to learn, after I have visited the venue and asked more detailed questions, that no open flame is allowed. Their vision suddenly goes up in smoke! Sure, you can use those LED candles, but they tend to be more expensive and nothing can compare to the real thing. Each venue’s policy on candles is different and it is important to ask this question BEFORE you book or you could be very disappointed later.

That’s all for today’s blog post. Over the next few weeks, we will start talking about booking the vendors (DJ, florist, cake, etc.). Until then, happy planning!

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Happy New Year and welcome 2016! How many of you got engaged over the holiday season? It’s a very exciting time in your life, but now that the excitement has worn off, the real work begins…….planning your wedding day!

Most couples start with an exact date in mind, but I strongly advise against that. Instead, chose a “time of year” and be a bit flexible within that time frame for your wedding date. Many couples who become engaged over the holiday season, have visions of getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall”. Problem is, many of the venues and vendors that you want, are already booked. In the Sacramento area, May/June and September/October tend to be the most popular times to get married. It makes sense as the weather is usually pleasant (and most likely rain free) with temperatures that aren’t too hot compared to July and August. If you are flexible in the your dates, you have a better chance of still getting married “that Spring” or “this Fall” as are there are at least a few openings left. They just might not be your “first choice” of dates.

Next, sit down and talk budget. What is your budget for this wedding? My experience shows that most weddings are a combination of the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and the couple all contributing to the wedding costs. The average wedding in the Sacramento region costs between $25,000 and $30,000. Now, pick yourself up off the floor from fainting and gather your thoughts. What does this include? How can I cut back on this?

Which brings me to my next step…….hiring a coordinator! Yes, I know….of course I am going to say hire a coordinator. I AM a coordinator! But I am honestly telling you that I usually save my clients money in the end, most often covering the cost of¬† what my fees were. Why??? Because this isn’t my first wedding “rodeo”. I’ve seen it all and know what a wedding needs, and what it does not. I know venues and vendors you don’t. It sounds like I’m being a bit pretentious, but I’m simply being honest. I’ve been building up my resources and knowledge on weddings in this area for years. I am going to be honest with you when it comes to why certain things will or will not fit your budget.

In my first planning meeting with clients, I ask them to tell me 2-3 things that are the MOST important to their wedding day. It could be great food, great entertainment, best photographer, lots of flowers, etc. Whatever your 2-3 most important priorities are, that’s where you should focus the majority of your budget. If you make those few things really shine, the other areas you spent less on will hardly be noticed by your guests. The other STRONG suggestion I make to my clients is be reasonable about your guest list. The more guests you have, the more it will cost. That’s just basic math. Think about it, how well do you REALLY know your 4th cousin that you met once when you were 3 years old? Do you REALLY think they will be offended if you don’t invite them? Chances are, they probably won’t. When making a guest list, stick to the people who matter in your life. If your parents are “insisting” that the 4th cousin be invited, then they need to be prepared to add more funds to the budget.

I’ll end today’s blog post here. In my next week’s post, I will talk about the next step…..venue search and selection. Until you know where the wedding will be, it’s virtually impossible to plan the rest of it.

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I just love when a couple has gone the extra mile to add personal touches to their wedding decor.  No this does not mean simply adding your name and monogram to all napkins, menu cards, etc., though those simple touches can really dress up a room.  Adding special, personal family photos and items to your decor can make your wedding much more meaningful and unique, and help you to honor those special family members in your life.

What if you made¬†a collage of photos from when you and your fiance were young…..photos from your childhood or photos from your “dating” years.¬† Imagine the fun (and most likely a few¬†laughs)¬†your guests would have during the cocktail hour viewing the photos and remembering your past.¬† Along the same line,¬† consider placing wedding photos from various family members (parents/grandparents) in frames and placing those on the guestbook table.¬† That is a wonderful way to honor those special family members whose marriages have¬†perhaps¬†been an inspiration to you.

Other ways to personalize your wedding is think “something borrowed”.¬† Perhaps it’s using your parents’ cake knife that they used on their wedding day¬†or placing your grandparents’ antique cake topper on your cake.¬† Maybe it’s your aunt’s beautiful antique lace tablecloth that adds that perfect touch to your¬†guestbook or cake¬†tables.¬† The ideas are endless!¬† For bridal showers, bridesmaid luncheon, ¬†and even small/intimate weddings, consider using your mother or grandmother’s fine china that has graced many a holiday table.¬† For me, it simply doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving or Christmas without the “special dishes” as my siblings and I referred to them when we were children, and I’m sure those feelings apply to many of you too.¬† Wearing a piece of heirloom jewelry (like grandma’s diamond necklace or your mother’s pearl earings) is something else you can do.

There are so many ways to make your wedding day feel personalized and special.  If you think of any, please feel free to share.  I would love to hear them!

Happy Planning!

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Are you¬†one of those brides who decided to take on all the wedding planning yourself but are now having second thoughts on that decision?¬† Do you think it’s now too late to hire a professional coordinator for your summer 2010 wedding?¬†

Fortunately, we still have a few summer 2010 openings for our Day-Of Plus Coordination package.¬† We will help you tie up all those loose ends, make a wedding day schedule, make the final calls to your vendors, and deal with all the rehearsal and wedding day hassles so you don’t have to.

It’s not too late to have a stress-free summer 2010 wedding.¬† Call or e-mail us today to see if your date is still available.

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When numbering your reception tables, why settle for the same old number “tent” card?¬† A little creativity can add a really great personal touch to each of your tables.¬†¬†A fun idea to¬†consider, during your engagement photo session, having the photographer take pictures of you and your¬†fianc√© holding up wooden numbers (1 through however many tables you have).¬† Then frame each of these pictures and place the frame on the table.¬† Much more fun and creative than the boring old tent card.

Another¬†personal touch is to add pictures of you and your¬†fianc√© that correspond to the table number.¬† For example,¬†on table number 1, place an assortment of pictures of you and your fiance at age one.¬† Table number two…..two year old pictures, and so on and so forth.¬† That will really get your guests talking and even serve as an “ice breaker” for tables mates who don’t know each other quite so well.

My most recent couple decided to name their tables instead of numbering them.  They chose places and things that held huge signficance in their lives.  For example, in this picture below, the table is named the Forest Hill Bridge.  This is where the groom proposed to the bride.

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Along the table name line, one of my clients is celebrating her Bat Mitvah next month.  The theme for the reception is theater since she is very into plays and musicals.  So for the table names, we are using the names of her favorite plays and musicals, many of which she has acted in.  Each name is being printed out to look like the front of a playbill and will be placed in frames on the tables.

If your budget is tight, consider incorporating your table numbers into your centerpieces.¬† Think of something like those little white trees you see at Easter time¬†(all branches no leaves) and hanging little numbers from the branches.¬† You could easily cut¬†the numbers¬†from cardstock and then add some embossing powder or glitter to them.¬† A ribbon hanger in your wedding colors¬†adds the perfect touch.¬† Sprinkle some rose petals around the table and add votive candles for a finished and elegant look that doesn’t break the bank.

Just remember, don’t settle for the “same old, same old” when it comes to numbering your tables.¬† A little creativity can really make your wedding stand out from the rest!

Happy Planning!

Karen

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Having been in the wedding industry for quite a few years now, over and over, I see things that end up being a complete waste of a couple’s money and resources.¬† For some reason, couples get it into their heads that they MUST have these things at their weddings.¬† Well, I’m hear to tell you that these MUST have items are usually a complete waste of money.

Number one item on my list……disposable cameras on the tables.¬† COMPLETE waste of money.¬† Nine times out of ten, you end up with a bunch of half-used cameras.¬† You’ll find yourself finishing up those rolls of film on pictures¬†of your pets instead :).¬† Then when you get the pictures back from the developer, you be lucky if you have more than ten “nice” ones (probably the ones you took of your pets, not the ones¬†from the wedding) in the bunch.¬† Oh, and as guests have more and more to drink, the pictures get weirder and weirder.¬† By the time you add up the cost of the cameras plus the cost to develop the film, you’ve wasted hundreds of dollars.¬† My advice, use that money towards upgrading your professional photography.

Favors that aren’t food.¬† As I’m clearing and cleaning up tables after a wedding reception, if the favor isn’t food, it’s often left behind by the guest.¬† Trust me, your guests don’t care about your favorite songs on a CD or a personalize picture frame of you.¬† These items will either get left behind or simply thrown away when the guest gets home.¬† Now, items that are¬†the exception to this¬†seem to be¬†candles and flower seeds.¬† Those do tend to be taken by the guest.¬† When designing your favor, do try to put yourself in your guest’s shoes.¬† Think about what you would want to take home as a favor if your were the guest.

Personlized cocktail napkins.¬† They are cute to have at the bar but most guests won’t even notice them.¬† The drink is usually served with the glass on top of the napkin.¬† Save yourself some money and just let the venue provide the cocktail napkins instead.

Programs.¬† Another item that is usually left behind in the ceremony seat.¬† Programs can be very useful if the majority of your guests are not familiar with your religious or cultural customs.¬† However, the majority of the weddings I’ve attended do not have this issue.¬† So, unless your ceremony is a particularly long, complicated one or requires a lot of “crowd participation”, like responding to prayers or songs, then don’t bother with this extra expense.¬† Use the extra money towards upgrading your invitations instead.

These are just a few ways that deleting some less important items from your wedding can add up to a big windfall in your overall budget.

Happy Planning!

Karen

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