Tag Archives: itinerary

Quotable Brides: “No Matter How Many Times People Warn You About How Fast It Will Feel, It Feels Faster”

08 | 28 | 2011

To reiterate (because I say let’s hear it again):

“No matter how many times people warn you about how fast it will feel, it feels faster”

Victoria & Nick, June 18, 2011

photo: Gia Canali


Collaborating With Your Wedding Photographer, 113: Planning for a Picture Perfect First Dance

02 | 18 | 2011

The first dance is such a sweet moment in the wedding day.  It’s a challenge for shy brides and grooms (since all eyes are on you!), but I think it’s a particularly lovely tradition, one that can yield some fantastic photographs, and one that deserves some thoughtfulness in the planning of your wedding day.  Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

1. Choose that just-right song.

Emotion in real life = emotion in your real photographs.  The song can be magical or meaningful, sentimental or just plain fun, but definitely choose one that makes you two dance.

2. Consider the lighting and space you’ll use.

Lighting can add drama, but it also shows off your faces.  And I know I’m always reminding folks about their grannies, but your grannies will be glad they can see your faces, too.  This might mean planning your first dance just before or after sunset if you are planning an outdoor reception.  Or it could mean bringing in lighting to accent the dance floor if you’re planning an indoor or late night outdoor reception.

3. Practice!

I don’t necessarily mean you have to take dance lessons, though I have seen—and thoroughly admired!—some spectacular choreographed and rehearsed first dances.  Practice could simply mean slow dancing around your living room a few times before the wedding (which you’ll probably love anyway at that point in the planning!).

photos: Gia Canali


Collaborating With Your Wedding Photographer, 110: Optimizing For A Limited Hour Package

01 | 25 | 2011

{click any image to enlarge}

Sometimes, getting the photographer of your dreams means going with partial day coverage instead of full-day coverage.  And if that’s what you need to do, do it.  But—if there’s any way you can help it—don’t skimp on coverage early in the day.  Unfortunately, photographs of getting ready are often the first thing to go with limited photographic coverage.  Not only is the getting-ready time a beautiful ritual in and of itself, but it’s one you and your fiance generally go about separately from each other.

Adding time on the day of the event won’t necessarily give you time earlier on in the day when you’d have really needed it. So it’s a good idea not to rely on adding coverage on the day of the wedding.  In any case, proper advance planning should tell you how much time you should budget for.

photos: Gia Canali


Getting Great Wedding Photographs, Tip #19: Pace Your Ceremony *Gently*

01 | 20 | 2011

Your wedding day will already feel like it’s moving by at lightning speed.  I can tell you that for sure.  And while nobody wants the ceremony to go on-and-on-and-on, the wedding ceremony is—truly—the wedding.  You want to remember these moments.  And not only by photographs.

But, frankly, you do want to give your photographer enough time to capture great images of all the goings on—not just with you and your beloved, but also with your attendants, friends, and family (sometimes the reactions are priceless).  So, take a deep breath and look around while it’s all happening.  Don’t rush yourselves.  And while you’re soaking up your real life ceremony, your photographer can work on creating a beautiful and varied record of those fleet-footed moments.

(I’m hesitant to put a number of minutes as a minimum on your ceremony, but I’d say: planning a ceremony that is shorter than fifteen minutes should give you pause.  Everyone is going to talk faster and walk faster on the day of the wedding.  They’ll be excited.  As a bride, I was so excited—and also so unfamiliar with the music—that my dad and I processed in at the wrong time.  Not that I really cared.  I just wanted to get on with it!)

photo: Gia Canali


Wedding Myths Debunked:: Myth #1: The Bride Should Get Ready Last So She’s Not Stressed Out

01 | 05 | 2011

I don’t know how this particular one is so pervasive.  I was just talking about this with one of my clients:  when I got married, all I wanted to do was get ready so I could get on with the day and see my love!  If I’d have had to sit around waiting while everyone else had gotten their hair and makeup done, and then mine had taken (as it turned out) a whole hour longer than I’d allotted, I think I would have lost my mind.  My experience aside, I also see this bridal scheduling snafu happen from time to time (always made by folks with the best intentions) and the bride is always so stressed out when it happens, that I think it’s worth mentioning here.

So: brides, get ready first.  Getting ready and, in the end, being ready for your wedding day is really grounding. What’s the worst that can happen? You have time for a toast with your girlfriends before the ceremony … ?

photo: Gia Canali


Interview With Yifat Oren: Tips For Everyone From Celebrity Wedding Planning, Part I

07 | 16 | 2010


Yifat Oren has spent the last dozen years planning weddings and parties for some of the most discerning folks in Hollywood. When asked about her work, Yifat says, “I love what I do because I love what goes into weddings:  design and décor, food and wine, fine papers, entertainment, and even the creativity that goes into executing it all flawlessly.   I think the best weddings I do are a great collaboration between the clients and myself—that kind of collaboration breeds the most creative, trend-setting results.”

Those clients are high-powered and high-profile, everyone from Mariska Hargitay & Peter Hermann and Christine & Kevin Costner, to a host of Hollywood producers and business moguls.  And while a lot of what these folks do for their weddings seems (or is!) totally unattainable for most of us, some of the most important and impactful aspects of planning a fantastic wedding translate perfectly to diy (or do-it-with-a-little-help) wedding planning.  You don’t necessarily need more money or a bigger wedding budget; you just need a little forethought.

Consider The Guest Experience:

“Be thoughtful and cover your bases. When I’m planning a wedding, I walk through the entire event ahead of time, as if I am a guest. I imagine, for instance, “I just got off the shuttle. I left my hotel room an hour ago.  I’m probably thirsty and I need shade because it’s hot.  So we would serve cold beverages as soon as people get off the shuttle to quench their thirst and either a canopy or some market umbrellas for shade.  The grass is tricky to walk on because ladies’ heels will sink. So we put out ‘heel savers’ … and so on, throughout the rest of the party, ending with a heater near the valet station, to be sure your guests aren’t freezing as they wait for their vehicles.”

centerpiece with peaches

Here are a few specific areas you can consider:

1.    Be thoughtful about parking.

If you’re not doing a valet, it’s okay—just make sure there’s plenty of parking so your guests don’t have to walk too far or fight for spots.”

2.    Consider the weather.

If there’s sun in everybody’s eyes during the ceremony, it’s awful.  So offer some parasols or change the direction of the ceremony if possible.  It’s nice to let people know, especially the ladies, what they can expect in terms of weather and terrain for the wedding day.  If they’ll need to wear wedges, let them know.  If it’s going to be cool during the evening but hot during the day, they might not think to bring wraps, so let them know ahead of time or provide them yourself.”

3.    Consider the general appeal of the food.

You can be a total foodie, but if you want to serve something that’s wild and out there, do it as one of six appetizers, not as the main entreé that comes out for dinner.”

4.    Consider your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Usually they have to be there hours ahead of time.  Make sure there are cold drinks for them, somewhere for them to hang their coats and stash their stuff, somewhere to sit down, and some shade, especially in the summer.”

5.    Consider the bathrooms.

Have someone checking the bathrooms throughout the night.  Make sure they are clean, well-stocked, and that the plumbing is working.  We like to set out nice hand-towels, not linen ones, but nice linen-like paper ones.  We also leave things your guests might need in the bathroom—a nail file, clear nail polish, extra deodorant, nice soap, lotion, safety pins, a mini sewing kit, and feminine hygiene products.”

I think that we (the wedding-ready universe) spend a lot of time thinking about who to invite and about hiring services, but not so much time about the experience of those services for ourselves and our invited guests. Hiring services is not the same thing as creating an experience. These tips are really helpful in taking diy wedding planning that one very important step further—having bathrooms at your venue, for instance, isn’t the same thing as having continually clean, well-stocked bathrooms for you and your guests all night long.  Small but important details can be not-thought-of at all.  Of course, in a world where we all had business-mogul-sized wedding budgets, we’d want to hire an experienced and expert wedding planner to think of all these things for us (because, believe me, Yifat thinks of everything).    Check back tomorrow for part two. Thanks, Yifat!

photo: Gia Canali


Getting Great Wedding Photos, Tip #15: Allow Plenty of Time To Put Your Wedding Dress On

07 | 05 | 2010


Allowing at least 30 minutes for just the “dressing” part of getting ready is really important—even if you’re wearing a really simple dress.  Not only do you not want to be rushed, but you never know when you might need that extra time.  Sometimes a zipper breaks, or you need to be sewn into your dress last-minute, or your straps are too long and need to be altered on the fly, or you’ve forgotten some totally essential part of the getup, or … or … or.  In any case, even if everything goes off without a hitch, you’ll still need time for putting on all your glorious accessories.

photo: Gia Canali


Getting Inspired Performances from Your Wedding Photographer & All Your Wedding “Vendors” or Artists

06 | 07 | 2010
The Inspiration For This Post Is You.

I have had drafts of this post floating around my computer for nearly a year and floating around my brain for much longer than that.  One of the driving reasons for starting this blog is that I want to help or coach people into getting the best photography that they can possibly get, from me or from any other photographer.  I want folks to be educated consumers (hmm … let’s say “patrons” or “commissioners”) of photography.  The truth is that everybody wants to get the most out of their wedding photography, and out of their wedding.  And each and every couple deserves an inspired performance from all their wedding vendors, right?  But sometimes—surely unwittingly—brides and grooms can get in their own way of making that happen.  I want to be delicate about this, but also truthful.  Nearly all of my clients are so thoughtful and considerate of us that it hurts my heart (really!) … but small considerations (or—gasp!—mistakes) can really make an impact, whether or not the client is really aware of it in the end.

(Okay, let me back up and be clear on this: the term “vendor” does kind of make me gag.  I’m used to it, after eleven years, but not happy with it.  Meg over at A Practical Wedding has kindly suggested a reconsideration of the terminology, maybe wedding elves.  It’ll do.  It at least describes the work ethic and energy most of my colleagues and I put forth at weddings.  But you could just call us artists. If you want to.)

I. The most important thing is TRUST.  Hire artists you truly trust, and then trust them to do their jobs with excellence.

Hire artists you trust, and then trust them. Nothing is more morale-busting or inspiration-deflating than micromanagement.  You want artists who share your vision, obviously, but keep in mind that they’ll do their jobs how they do their jobs and not how you’d do their jobs.   Listen to your wedding elves; we promise to listen to you.  We want to get you what you want (and then some!)—whether or not you know exactly what that is and whether or not you can articulate it—and we know how to do that.  The adage “expectations are premeditated resentments” fully applies, though.  Allow yourself to be surprised and delighted with our interpretations of your secret hopes and wishes.  We work so hard and consider our efforts a labor of love.  We are soulful about what we do.  I think there are probably folks out there who aren’t, but you don’t need to hire them, right?

II.  Give them what they need to do their jobs with excellence (e.g., time, space, resources).

This is a huge and, unfortunately, very common mistake we see.  For instance, so many weddings run behind because of hair and makeup (despite our often-repeated and LOUDEST advice for folks to pad the hair and makeup schedule).  I’ve previously always held an ill-founded vendetta against stylists themselves, but now that I have produced a short film (since I don’t have enough to do during wedding season), I can see how the makeup artists might feel flustered or set up to fail.  That’s not a good way to go into a job.  I know I can get flustered when folks step in and try to tell me how and how fast to work.

And I can’t tell you how disappointing it is when I have clients claim that portraits are so very important to them, how they’re envisioning all these set ups, lots of variety, and then they schedule fifteen minutes or less for portraits of themselves. Photographs are actually moments in time.  So we need time to make them.  Other artists need other things to do their jobs well.  Producing a wedding and producing a film are probably not all that different in the end.  You might want to think of yourself as a “producer.” On a film set, the producers (who put out all that money) make certain that everybody there—all the artists, all the talent, and all the so-called help—has what they need to do the best work possible.

III. Keep your artists, vendors, wedding elves performance-ready: well-fed, well-hydrated, and as rested as possible.

These considerations are of course much-expanded with a destination wedding, but the same principles apply to one-day local weddings.  My suspicion is that people can sometimes forget how really human we are.  I have heard this complaint voiced most often by the wedding planners themselves. We need nourishment, water, and a little appreciation (see below).  Keep in mind that you want your planner and photographers and videographers to be working their best all day long and after dinner, too – if you give them a crummy meal, not only does it literally leave a bad taste in their mouths, they’ll be running on empty and their growling tummies will be begrudgingly ticking off time until they can leave and get some real food … if that’s even possible.

  1. Maintain a human pace to the day.  Your vendors will have a good sense about what’s realistic.  You want your day to be humane for you, too.  Harried and joyful might actually be mutually exclusive.
  2. Keep water and other non-alcoholic beverages accessible throughout the day.  In California, with all our 100+ degree weddings, heat stroke is a real and serious concern.
  3. A good vendor meal is nourishing, timely, balanced, and absolutely necessary.  A few years ago, I kept hearing people say, “a vendor meal is a courtesy, not a requirement.” Seriously?  We know catered food is costly and we aren’t saying you have to give us the filet mignon unless you want to (!), but remember that we are human: we can’t run on empty and we can’t go anywhere else.  You don’t want us to. It’s one thing to be a band member  and come at five o’clock (hence the ubiquitous bandwich), but for those of us who have already been running around for eight or ten hours before dinnertime with twenty five pounds of gear swinging around our necks, it’s nonsensical.  On my contract, I say “feed us whenever you eat,¹ and feed us well.  Warm, nourishing food is a good idea. Wedding photography is a lot like marathon running.”  And so it is.  I have to prep for my job with running, hiking, and lots of pull-ups.
  4. Respect dietary restrictions.  There are a lot of reasons people eat the way they do, whether out of religious or ethical belief, allergy, or preference, but it is always personal.  I, for one, am allergic to the United States of America.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate sitting down to a meal I can actually digest.  It’s a matter of consideration and respect at the most basic level.
  5. Some things don’t count as real meals: pasta with no meat, salad with nothing in it, sandwiches with dried nasty chicken, just to name a few.  Think nourishing, timely, and balanced: protein, grain, and something that would feel good in your tummy.  Our favorite vendor meals are always from the folks at Lucques but we’ve had lots of good same-as-the-guests meals, too.  Lucques gives us a complete meal.  My last one was a beautiful, tasty, and nutrient-packed nicoise salad; my husband had a giant holy pilgrim sandwich with lovely thick slices of roasted turkey; we also both had an apple, a dessert (chocolate-covered honeycomb for me, chocolate chip cookie for him), and homemade sweet potato chips (still dreaming about those and Matt swears he’d give up Doritos if I could offer him a steady supply of them).  I know I’m going on and on about food.  But it’s important.  All of this is to say: be sure you know exactly what your caterer is feeding the vendors, whether it’s the same food as your guests are being served or not; don’t assume the caterer will just get it right.  You may be charged the full meal rate while your vendors are eating terrible cold sandwiches.  Not that good cold sandwiches don’t exist.  Your caterer might be trying to feed ham to folks who keep a kosher diet. Eeps! There are no hard and fast rules here, just a gentle call to attention to detail.  A good meal is a good meal.
IV. In the same way that actors perform better with a little applause, your vendors will perform better with a little appreciation.

I’m not talking about gratuity; I’m talking about gratitude.  We’ll do our jobs either way (with gratitude or without), but we’ll do it better if we know you’re thankful for our efforts and creativity.  We’re human.  We’ll work to our own high standards for anyone, but we can’t help but go that extra mile for the couples who love us.


That’s me! With my Leica! On a (rare) bathroom break!

¹ If you feed us when you eat, all that you’ll “miss out on” are photographs of folks eating.  Which you don’t want anyway.  Feed us later on, and we’ll be missing the real moments.  You might need to make this point to your caterers if they are providing the vendor meals.  Sometimes they won’t feed the vendor-folk until after the dinner service is completely completed.  This seems counter-productive because we’ll be eating when things are getting going again …

photos: Gia Canali