Wedding Tip 004: Your Photographer

wedding photographer


It is hard to pinpoint the number one most important priority at your wedding. There’s which venue to book, what dress to say yes to, who to include in the wedding party… The list goes on and on. Although there are many items I could argue to be at the top of my personal list, choosing a great photographer keeps making the number one slot. Booking the right photographer is so important for your wedding day and can be very overwhelming if you don’t already have a few favorites. Here are some tips to consider in order to go about the process right.

{Tips For Finding Your Photographer}

  1. Know Your Budget. Certain things at your wedding will take up the largest portions of your budget. It is usually the venue, the photographer, and the meal. I suggest putting a large portion of your budget toward the photographer, but know your limit and the specific numbers that can be spent in this area of your wedding. Photographers can charge very high prices and still get plenty of business, so it is your job to make sure that you can afford them.
  2. Negotiate. I am not suggesting that you barter for a better price with your photographer or haggle them down like you are arguing with a street vendor. But don’t be afraid to ask questions and inquire about any deals or discounts.
  3. Be Creative. Oftentimes, photographers offer a few different packaged deals.  Instead of automatically choosing one of them, take the time to figure out your priorities and ask to make a custom packaged deal that is cheaper and leaves out unnecessary items. My photographer was great and let me make my own custom deal that was tailored to my wedding day and needs.
  4. Inspect The Photographer’s Work. Have you actually gone to their website and looked through a lot of their work? Make sure that you like their style of photography. If you dislike anything about their photos, move on. Those photos will become your photos, and if you don’t like them now, you won’t like them later.
    • Take into account the way they edit their photos. Is it too edited or too unnatural? Are the majority of them black and white?
    • Pay attention to recurring poses they have used on different couples. Do you find their poses to be too cheesy or too boring?
    • Focus on their framing. Are they trying to be to artsy with the way they frame photos? Where does the focus of their photo lie?
    • See if they captured everything. Do their photos capture all aspects of the wedding day thoroughly? Does the album as a whole tell the story of the wedding day? Or are you left wondering what the bridesmaids wore, or if they had a first dance or not?
  5. Ask Others. If you have narrowed down your search to a few photographers, ask some of their past clients what their experience was like if you get the opportunity! They will have plenty to tell you about the pros and cons of their day with the photographer.
  6. Consider Communication. Is your photographer easy to communicate with. Communication is crucial in a couple of different ways.
    • Is it easy to get a hold of them during the planning process? You may think that once you book them, you don’t have to talk to them until the wedding day. This is not true! During the planning process, details and schedules are always changing. You need to be able to make sure that the photographer is in the loop every time it changes. You don’t want to have to call them on your wedding day asking why they didn’t show up to take pictures of the girls getting ready because they thought they weren’t supposed to show up until the first look.
    • When the photographer is directing the photos, are they easy to understand? Do you know how they want you to pose, or are you fidgeting around until they tell you to freeze? Your wedding day is a blur as it is, so make sure you don’t waste time during photos due to bad communication.
    • Is the photographer assertive and loud enough? Most of the time, you want the photographer to be discreet, quick, and quiet. They should be a fly on the wall documenting the day. But when it comes to taking group photos, everything changes. Clear and loud direction is needed to keep the ball rolling when taking family photos or large wedding party photos. I was so blessed that almost all my extended family came to my wedding. But when it came time for the family photo, there were so many people to direct. It could have taken forever! Thankfully, my photographer took charge and quickly told everyone where to stand. And she did it loud enough so everyone could here. All I had to do was stand in place and smile.
  7. Consider Comfort. Are you comfortable with your photographer or do they make you uneasy? You need to make sure that you enjoy their presence and are okay with including them in some of your life’s most memorable, special, and personal moments. Although a good photographer is discreet, they still have to be present to get the shot.
  8. Discuss Details. Make sure you discuss all the details of your wedding day and your photography package in detail. This is part of the planning process before and after you book a photographer. Here are just a few of the many things you need to discuss.
    • What happens if the wedding goes longer than planned?
    • Do they have a second shooter with them?
    • Are they coming to document the girls getting ready, or are they showing up at a later time?
    • How many hours do you want documented? How much does this cost?
    • How long will photos take in between the ceremony and the reception?
    • Will their be a first look?
    • What type of family photos are you taking?

{So you booked the photographer…what now?}

  1. Glean Wisdom. Your photographer has been a part of several weddings. They know the schedules front and back of every one so they don’t miss a beat. They also have a great eye for detail, as they need to capture every single one. Glean wisdom from your photographer’s experience. The first draft of my wedding day schedule was drafted with my photographer when I was speaking with her on the phone. I had no idea how long first look photos took or when couples typically cut the cake. But she did.
  2. Consider Engagement Photos. Initially, I was just going to have a friend take our engagements photos for free. They wouldn’t be professional, but it would help out our budget a lot. Thankfully, I changed my mind! Please consider using your wedding photographer for your engagement photos as well!
    • I have found that it is so nice to have professional photos of me and my man that are more casual than those taken on my wedding day. I love my wedding photos, but they are very specific and unique. It is nice to have some casual ones to frame as well, that are just as high quality.
    • You will be prepared for your chaotic wedding day. Our engagement session was relaxed and not rushed at all. It gave us a great chance to get to know our photographer without a time crunch. We learned how to communicate with her well and we learned the different poses. So on our wedding day, when she told us to go toe-to-toe, we knew what to do with our toes, hands, and heads right away, which saved a lot of time.
  3. Ask If They Have A Videographer. I ended up using a videographer completely separate from my photographer. But since they have to work together on the wedding day there is a good chance that your photographer has some connections or great recommendations for a videographer.
  4. Be Content. You’ve booked your photographer. It is done and the deposit is down. So be content with your decision. Perhaps this particular photographer was not your number one choice, but they are the one that fit your budget. Be at peace and enjoy the fact that you have made a decision.
  5. Remember That You Are One Client Out Of Many. Don’t freak out if your photographer does not pick up for a whole day or email you back until after the weekend. This is their job and they have other clients to take care of as well.
  6. Communicate. Please keep your photographer in the loop so they can do their job well. If you are going to give your groom a special gift at a certain time, let your photographer know to be there to document it.
  7. Trust. Trust your photographer. If you have communicated well, trust that they will show up when they should and do what they said they will do. This is not a place to waste worry on.
  8. Relax & Soak In Your Day. Your wedding day flies by! Don’t keep checking in to make sure that the photographer is documenting your day. You will forget to live the day. Their job is to photograph it so you can look back on it. Your job is to live it so you can remember it.

{My Amazing Photographer}

Choe Murdoch was my photographer and she was amazing! She was a clear and an assertive communicator, but great at not getting in the way. She got pictures of everything and everyone at the wedding. She was very kind and I was comfortable having her around at every moment. If you need photos taken in Costa Rica, or the Central Coast in CA, please check her out! Click here for her Facebook Page & click here for her website! She does several different kinds of sessions, so don’t be afraid to contact her for other photo shoots.

I hope these tips and thoughts make your decision-making process much easier! If you need more tips for wedding planning, check out Wedding Tip 001: The DressWedding Tip 002: Go Green, & Wedding Tip 003: Meaningful Decor. All these posts are written from my personal experience. And don’t forget to check back in sometime as I have a whole list of tips to write about in the near future.


Wedding Tip 003: Meaningful Decor

wedding cake topper


When deciding on decorations for your wedding reception, there are endless options to choose from. It was very difficult to narrow down exactly what I wanted in my barn reception. By the wedding day, I had successfully weeded through all the options and was happy with all my choices of gold, white, and lavender. When I look back now though, a few decorations consistently stand out as my absolute favorites. And they happen to have a certain thing in common: they are all meaningful to me in a personal way.

Using personal and meaningful decorations is a great choice for your wedding day. They can still be just as beautiful and cute as other random decorations, but they have much more significance, which is fitting for such a significant day. Personal touches usually provide a bit of entertainment for the guests too. Instead of just glancing at a cute welcome sign, they will take the time to read through your love story and say “awww!” at the especially exciting milestones. Check out these meaningful decorations below and find out why I loved them. Feel free to use them at your wedding and send me a pic!

{Our Love Story Board}

My very talented friend Ariel created most of the beautiful signs at our wedding. Thank you Ariel! My favorite one though, that is now hanging up above the fireplace in our apartment, was our love story board. My husband and I have always been big on milestones in our relationship and like to use them as excuses to celebrate. We wanted our close friends and family to celebrate these milestones with us, at our biggest milestone yet. Plus, it is a fun way to let your guests know about your own beautiful and unique love story.

Wedding Sign

Wedding Sign

{Cake Topper & Family Photos & Banner}

I am blessed to be very close with my family, and even more blessed that my parents and grandparents have set a beautiful example of marriage for me and are still married. My grandma Carol and my mom both used the same cake topper at their weddings. I decided to carry on the tradition and be the third generation to use it. When we cut the cake, our MC mentioned the significance of our topper. It was such a fun and personal way to connect with my parents and grandparents, and honor them and their strong marriages. To highlight this even more, on either side of my cake, I printed up pictures of my parents and grandparents cutting their cake. I now have a picture with three generations cutting their wedding cake with the same cake topper. This is so special to me! Lastly, I brought it together with my cake table backdrop. Strung across a wall of glittery ribbons, I hung a banner that said “generations of love”.

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{Family Wedding Table}

In order to honor and celebrate our families’ marriages, I set up a family wedding table. I framed wedding photos of our parents and grandparents. I also had all of our living grandparents write up an account of their love story and wedding day so I could frame and place them alongside their photographs. It was not just a beautiful table, but a personal way to rejoice with our families and uphold traditional marriage.

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{Photo Pallet}

Jon and I love documenting our relationship through photographs. We take selfies everywhere and I always make a photo book of our memories from the previous year. We wanted to share memories of our relationship with our guests, so we strung fun photos on a pallet. We used selfies, engagement photos, pictures of our adventures together, and our wedding invitation. My dear friend Carlyle designed our wedding invitations and our save the dates. Thank you Carlyle! There are so many fun and different ways to display your photos, so I suggest going with something simple and easy.

wedding photo display

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{Wedding Program}

So our wedding program was not exactly a decoration, but it did look beautiful. And most importantly, it had a personal touch. On the back of our wedding program, Jon and I wrote down fun facts about ourselves and our relationship. When it came time to dismiss tables for dinner at the reception, the MC had all the programs put out of site and asked questions about the answers on the back. Whichever table got the answer right first, was excused to eat dinner. It was fun to share some personal information, while making our hungry guests wait in a more entertaining fashion.

wedding program

Let me know of any personal touches you added to your wedding day or are planning to! I love hearing what brides end up including at their wedding.

{Our wedding day was thoroughly documented by Chloe Murdoch. She got a shot of everything. If you are looking for a great photographer, I highly recommend her!}

Wedding Tip 002: Go Green

Baby's Breath


Weddings are a wonderful and beautiful event. But they can also be very pricy. When it comes to your wedding flowers, one way to cut costs is by going green. As you can see in my wedding photos, I did not go green. I did however go simple, which achieves the same effect.

When choosing your wedding flowers, there are so many beautiful and colorful choices. And chances are, the flowers you love the most will also be the flowers that cost the most. Here is my advice on how to get the flowers you want, for the best price.

  1. Go green! For decorations and centerpieces, weed out a lot of the cost of flowers by including greenery instead. It still looks beautiful and elegant and is actually very in right now. Just browse Pinterest!
  2. Go green or simplify! It is important to care for your bridesmaids and make sure they are thanked for making the effort to be in your wedding. You can still do this by saving money through the bridesmaids bouquets though. Consider using smaller bouquets, simple bouquets (like my baby’s breath ones), or bouquets that are mostly made up of greenery. This will save you money, still look amazing, and will not upset you bridesmaids in the slightest. They aren’t looking to save their bouquet forever.
  3. Be resourceful! Some of my decorations at my wedding were a few sprigs of lavender put in mason jars and placed around the reception. The lavender came from my aunt’s garden just down the street. So I got some of my flowers for free! Don’t be afraid to ask around or use some of the flowers from your own backyard.
  4. Be a minimalist! Although huge arrangements of flowers are hard to resist, you can still make gorgeous decorations and centerpieces using only a few flowers. Just take some time to look around and find out what flowers work well when standing alone.
  5. Splurge on your bouquet! Your bouquet will be the most photographed flowers at your wedding and there is a good chance you will keep it forever. It also will be in most of the photos with you and your beautiful and carefully picked dress. So get yourself a bunch of huge and colorful flowers!

Here are some of the flowers from my wedding day! Chloe Murdoch took all of our wedding photos and I am so thankful we picked her!

 bridal bouquet

wedding cake flowers


wedding decorations

bridesmaids flowers


wedding bouquet

ceremony flowers

purple bouquet