One of the benefits of having photographed Weddings and Receptions for over 25 years is being able to witness firsthand what makes a successful Reception. Unfortunately, it seems that very little information is available to the Bride who is looking for helpful Reception Tips and Suggestions in planning the second half of her Big Day.
If you find you could use a little "coaching", then read on - this post is for you! Here is a quick list of considerations which we think you'll find useful:
1. Arrive on Time!
We've all attended Receptions where the Bride and Groom have arrived an hour - or more - late to their Reception. Most figure the Photographer to be the culprit. More often than not, the delay can be attributed to something more basic: A failure to follow a well-defined "game plan" for the day. Remember, your Food Preparers will be anxious to dazzle you and your guests with their best efforts. By arriving on time, you'll help ensure that your dinner will be as good as you envisioned.
Solution: Subdivide your Wedding Day into subparts, complete with "fudge factors" (built-in vacant time intervals which will help you get back on track, should the inevitable unplanned situation arise). Your Photographer should be instrumental in designing a Schedule of Photography which will guarantee that you arrive to your Reception within 10 minutes of its designated Start Time making everybody happy.
With a well-planned agenda, you should know when you'll arrive at your Reception within 10 minutes!
2. Before you enter your Reception, decide when you will be cutting your Cake.
Frequently, Reception Halls and Caterers will encourage the Bridal Couple to cut their Cake immediately upon their arrival to "get it out of the way". Perhaps I'm a purist, but the "Cutting of the Cake" (the desert) prior to dinner is woefully nonsequitur and, in my opinion, diminishes the symbolism involved in the event.
Although I understand there are times when efficiency may trump symbolism, you'll have to decide for yourselves which works best for you.
3. Be sure your DJ is capable of doing more than loading a CD tray
Most Brides assume their DJ (or band) will be acting as a Master of Ceremonies by offering much needed structure throughout the night. Sadly, more often than not, we've found this is not the case. Much of the success of your Reception rests in the hands of your DJ, so if at all possible, be sure to see your DJ in action prior to your event to get a feel for his/her abilities.
Do you want a DJ who will recede into the background, or would you rather have someone who actively "gets the crowd going"? It's actually a matter of preference. Just remember, your Reception spans almost half of your Wedding Day!
Over the years, we've worked with literally hundreds of DJ's and bands, and the Best of the Best include:
Many inexperienced DJ's place the throwing of the Bouquet and Garter toward the end of the Reception, only to find that a vast majority of possible participants have already left. Throw the Bouquet and Garter early-on while the level of enthusiasm is highest!
5. Avoid the dreaded "Dollar Dance"
Dollar Dances have fallen out of favor in recent years - and for good reason. They offer limited participation (two people at a time) and sometimes drag on for up to a half hour, dropping the crowd's energy level, and sending people to the exits. Just a suggestion, but you may want to nix the Dollar Dance altogether.
In over 25 years of photographing Weddings, I've met a variety of different Brides.
Some are very Sanguine, effervescent, and exude an "Energizer Bunny" level of non-stop energy. Others are more reserved, with a quiter spirit.
Still others who are very "left-brained" and approach their big day with a meticulous precission, orchestrating and finessing the finest nuanced details in order to create the "perfect" day. If you find yourself identifying with this third group of Brides, read-on: This instalment is for you!
If you relish overseeing every aspect of your Wedding Day, because you want to make sure every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted, you are in a special class of Brides. You've probably discussed ad infinitum every possiblity and contingency which may arise - and have back-up plans for your back-up plans. You've also probably arrived at your first Wedding Photography consultation with a fully tabulated notebook, replete with questions, lists, and pictures you've cut out from your favorite wedding magazines.
If any of this sounds familiar, let me give you a piece of advice which will make your Wedding Day everything you dreamed it would be: Wedding Tips and Suggestions #14: On your Wedding Day, Delegate the oversight of the details to a trusted friend.
Why? On your Wedding Day, you need to "change hats" from that of "Wedding Planner" to that of "Bride".
Sure, by the end of the day you may have a check mark next to every single item on the Wedding Day Checklist that you've created. And sure, you may ultimately arrive at the end of the day, with a well-deserved smile of satisfaction, knowing you "pulled-off" the biggest, most complicated day you've ever planned without a hitch. But, if you do, you will not have enjoyed the day as a Bride!
This is the 2nd in a two part series of memorable weddings from 2011.
When Kori, her Mother Patti, and younger sister Katie, stopped by the Studio for a consultation late last year, they mentioned that having the best Wedding Photography was of paramount importance.
This isn't always the case. When photographing weddings for another studio years ago, I recall one Groom intimating to me, "I don't know what they told you at the studio, but we just want to get the reception and open a keg!!" Needless to say, creating great wedding memories was not foremost in their minds.
As we discussed her Wedding plans, Kori told me that her older sister had gotten married the year before, and they weren't at all pleased with the results. I was told how her sister's photographer had approached the family just after the Toasts were given, saying, "My battery died. I guess I'm going home." And the photographer left! No cake cutting pictures. No First Dance pictures. No Bouquet and Garter Pictures - or other festivity-pictures spanning the next 4 hours of Reception.
I shook my head in disbelief.
I felt bad for their experience, knowing that in today's digital world, there are a great many undertrained photo "enthusiasts" offering their services who all too frequently offer disappointing results. I reassured her that, having photographed Weddings since 1978 - including "top tier" weddings in the Detroit area for over 12 years - I looked forward to the opportunity of being on her team and creating some absolutely beautiful wedding images for her!
On her June 25th Wedding Day, Kori looked resplendent! Out of the hundreds captured, some of her photos include:
Kori - at the Opera House Gazebo - with the first images of the day!
With her Bridesmaids ... and new husband Nathan
After a long day, Kori and Nathan had one last dance
What I remembered most from Kori's wedding was her sister Katie's gratitude at the end of the day. After being asked to use her "point and shoot" pocket camera to finish covering her sister's Reception the year before, sister Katie was so relieved that Kori had been in good hands during the 14 hours of her Wedding Day.
Kori's Mother was gracious in later writing,
"My Daughter was Married this June and Robert Charles was amazing to work with! He is truly a Professional - the creativity in his photography is wonderful! Robert also makes everyone @ ease on a very busy and special day. I highly encourage everyone to use Robert for any event - especially a Wedding."
This is the 1st in a 2 part series on memorable weddings in 2011.
When Catrice and Jonathan scheduled their wedding for August 14th, they had no idea what they were in store for. Their Wedding and Reception were held at the Grand Ledge Opera House, a site with unique charm - and one of my favoirite locations.
When I suggested to Catrice that we work together to create some incredible Wedding Images, she was 100% on board. That is not always the case. Too often, wedding photography today has devolved into a collection of haphazard snapshots collected throughout the day, resembling something similar to a family gettogether or backyard BBQ. I've always believed that you, the Bride and Groom, have a lot to contribute by working together to create awe-inspiring images which will be remembered for a lifetime.
OK, by now you've probably realized I'm a romantic at heart. I admit it. (And I also watch "chick flicks" - just don't tell anyone!)
Prior to their wedding, I had the opportunity to get to know Catrice and Jonathan by way of an Engagement Session from February. Here is one of their images:
Now, on to their Wedding:
Despite some foreboding skies and a threatening weather report, I was anxious to create some incredible images. We started with Catrice outdoors, under heavily clouded skies.
My Wedding Philosophy is simple: If a Bride has spent $800-1200 - or substantially more - on a Dress which will be used for a single event, her pictures should show an amount of Refinement and Craftsmanship which will stand the test of time. Sure, there will be opportunities throughout the day to collect images as the day unfolds, but I encourage Brides not to shortchange themselves by settling for "snapshots". My suggestion: Make sure your Photographer plans on setting aside time to Createsome incredible images! Fewer and fewer do today.
Although these images are memorable, it was what happened during the Ceremony which I will never forget!
After a number of breif "rain delays", Catrice and Jonathan agreed to forge ahead with their outdoor Ceremony. The rain briefly abated and Catrice descended the huge staircase to the outdoor patio, making her way to the end of the aisle. At this point, the skies opened up with a downpour not seen since Noah built his ark!
Rain speckles the camera lens ... but Catrice and Jonathan, much to their credit, decide to soldier-on.
Umbrellas in full array, Catrice and Jonathan share a First Kiss
What I remembered most about this Wedding: Sometimes a "perfect wedding day" is remembered more for the feelings and emotions exchanged between two people than the weather conditions!
Planning a Wedding is a big undertaking! With numerous decisions, both big and small, staying on top of things can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming. We understand!
So to help you with your planning, we've compiled a list of Tips and Suggestions (a.k.a. "10 Common Pitfalls to Avoid") into a Handout which each Bride receives at our Studio. These are now available on line:
12. Hot Summer Days and Fresh Flowers If you're planning your wedding for the warm Summer months of June, July or August and plan on using fresh flowers, then take steps to keep them looking fresh and crisp throughout the day! Bring along a large cooler and empty a bag of ice into the bottom. Then place a couple newspaper sections on top of the ice. Bingo! You've got a portable "refrigerator" which will pay huge dividends in having your Bouquet look great all day long.
13. Wedding Dress - Delivery Date Even though you've ordered your dress well in advance of your Wedding Day, it is common for dress retailers to set a delivery date just prior to the date of your Ceremony. To avoid unnecessary worries over its timely arrival, sizing concerns, and possible alterations which may still need to be made as you come down the "home stretch", set a delivery date at least one month prior to your Ceremony date. You are going to have a lot of last minute concerns; a great looking/great fitting dress doesn't need to be one of them!
We're here to help you put it all together! If you have any questions, we can help. Call us - we're here for you 517-394-2192.
Many of our Brides-to-Be ask about Engagement Photography when they make their initial inquiry about our services. Of course Robert Charles Photography provides Engagement Photography with most of our Packages - and for good reason!
First, we see our Engagement Sessions as an opportunity to get to know our Couples. Some are gregarious, extroverted, outgoing in nature; others more reserved. When we spend 45 minutes to an hour with a couple, we have an opportunity to get to know them on a personal level and know what they will most appreciate when they receive their wedding images.
Also, we look forward to displaying their finished Wall Portrait of our couple on a 5' floor-standing easel at their reception for attendees to see them in a more casual setting. Ranging from 11x14" to 20x24" in size, these Wall Portraits become a touchstone in their lives, as they think back and reminisce about their lives together just prior to their Wedding Day.
Last weekend we photographed Theresa and Tony at one of the local parks, taking in all the Fall colors. Here are just a few of their many images from for their Engagement Session:
What could be more treasured than the genuine feelings shared together by a couple during their Engagement?
Autumn in Michigan - spectacular!
We're looking forward to their March 10th Wedding!
Spring is here, and with Spring comes ... Wedding Season!
The end of April marks the official kick-off of the Wedding Season for Robert Charles Photography. (You Southerners have to realize that the temps are still only in the mid-30's as I write!) But what do you do when our featured couple has requested outdoor Engagement Photography and the ground is still ... white?
I suggested we make use of our city landmark - The State Capitol - and do something a little light-hearted. Carolyn and Brent were quickly "on board", so we set a Saturday date (around noon), warmed the car up and headed downtown.
Anytime we get the "green light" to do something different and "color outside the lines", we're usually pleasantly rewarded. Here is the image they chose for display and our "Animated Images!*" from that Engagement session in March.
Robert Charles Photography provides Classic, Timeless, Elegant Wedding Photography, by combining the craftsmanship found in Traditional styles, mixed with the best in modern Photojournalism. Unlimited time and locations for those seeking to preserve their memories for years to come.
Package pricing starts at just $995 for our Introductory Package. Our Signature Package is an investment of just over $3,000, including multiple Albums, Wall Portraits, numerous enlargements - and more!