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Top Wedding Photography Planning Tips | Bella Vita Creative | Skagit Valley Wedding Photographer

Top Wedding Photography Planning Tips | Bella Vita Creative | Skagit Valley Wedding Photographer

Recently, I was asked by the lovely Amber Peterson to share my top tips for couples planning their wedding photography. Amber happens to own Cheers Wedding & Event Planningand she was kind enough to share my answers on her own blog. If you're looking for a wedding or event planner, I highly recommend Amber! You can check out her blog here.

Honestly, when I first looked at the list of questions, my mind went blank! (Only because there was so much I could say.)

Finally, I distilled my thoughts into my top tips, below. If you are planning a wedding, please take them into consideration. More importantly, if you would like more information, or would simply like to leave a comment about your own experience planning a wedding, please feel free to comment below. I welcome the feedback!

What common mistakes do you see couples making when planning for wedding photography?

Well, there are two things that come to mind immediately:

1. Trying to save money by not allotting enough time for photos, cutting the second photographer, or skimping on the photography budget.

In order to ensure that your wedding photography stands the test of time, you must plan time on your wedding day for the photos you want, with a photographer who has the skill level to take the photos. It's a temptation to book a photographer who does it all inexpensively, but most of the time, you're looking at someone who doesn't have the experience, gear, insurance, or manpower to do the job well. Over and over again, surveys show that a number one regret of brides is that they didn't place enough importance on their wedding photography.

It's become a rather hackneyed phrase, but it's true that your photos will be the only thing preserved after your wedding day. The flowers will wilt and die, the cake will be eaten, the band or DJ will go home at the end of the reception, but your photos will live on.

It may seem self-serving to say this, but I sincerely and passionately want to help couples pass their legacy on to their children, grandchildren--or, at the very least, the family dog <grin>.

When I was growing up, I would flip through my mom and dad's album more times than I can remember, usually while asking questions about how they met, what happened on their wedding day, and on and on. It boggled my mind to think of them as young people and their photos helped me to see them as more than just my mom and dad.

I'm on something of a mission to help people preserve those bonding times with their children, and even their grandchildren. I want to help couples create the best memories possible and preserve their family legacy with the respect and care it deserves.

2. Not printing their photos.

Get those photos off of that DVD, USB, or computer hard drive!

Although I offer the edited digital files with every wedding collection, I encourage couples to create a wedding album. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to who have hundreds and hundreds of images on their hard drives, but no tangible photos in their home.

Children will not remember that you had thousands of prints sitting on your hard drive. They will forever keep in their hearts the one image you had on the wall or the moments you spent with them browsing an album. It's worth it.

When you walk up your staircase on the way to bed, wouldn't you like to steal a glance at your wedding photo hanging on the wall—and remember that incredible and significant day? As you grab your keys to rush out of the house in the morning, wouldn't you like your last look to be the framed family photo in the hallway?

I have to chuckle about the couple I met who have a beautiful extra-large wedding photo hanging over their fireplace mantle. The husband told me, “I think every married couple should have a wedding photo like this in their living room. Every time I look at it, I think of how much in love we were on that day--and I fall in love with her all over again.”

Doesn't get much better than that!

What's the best photography tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?

Pad your time line ahead of the ceremony so that you have plenty of time for the creative photos you want.

Almost every wedding I've photographed has run behind schedule at the beginning of the day, usually due to the getting ready portion taking longer than planned. I like to tell people to actually double the amount of time they think they will need for that portion. That way, we will have plenty of time to shoot some amazing and creative photos for the first look, bride and groom, and wedding party portion of the day—and have fun!

What don't couples know about wedding photography that they need to know?

Honestly, a lot of couples don't realize how much time goes into creating beautiful wedding photography and, therefore, they aren't aware of the cost (until they start contacting photographers).

Besides the time the photographer spends with you on the wedding day, many hours go into editing the photos, as well as travel, emails, and time spent creating albums and other products. Most wedding photographers carry several thousands of dollars of equipment, not to mention insurance, taxes, marketing, software, and many other expenses added to that.

The package price may seem high at first, but when you break down the time spent into an hourly rate, it's actually quite modest, usually less than minimum wage (at least for the first several years of business).

What questions should couples be asking potential photographers that they don't know to ask?

There are quite a few things a couple should ask:

For example, it's important that the photographer is licensed and insured.

Also, the photographer should have back-up gear because, trust me, it's not unusual for a light or even a camera to malfunction. If the photographer is prepared with back-up gear, the situation can be smoothed out pretty quickly.

You should love the photographer's style of photography, but perhaps more importantly, you should enjoy your photographer as a person. It's important that you're both a good “fit.”

Also, ask to see an entire wedding shoot, not just the highlight photos on their website.

What is your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?

For the wedding planning: Make your wedding photography a priority. Start contacting photographers early, as we sometimes book a year in advance.

For the wedding day: Relax and enjoy your day! No matter what happens, it will all work out. Keep your sense of humor, go with the flow, and focus on the love you share with your beloved and the family and friends who are there to celebrate with you.

What's the most unusual wedding you have ever done?

I'm not sure this is all that unusual, but it was for me. My very first wedding was held at a casino at Christmas time—at night.

Although the decorations were quite lovely, it was very challenging to shoot in such low light at night time. I figured if I could rise to meet that challenge on my very first wedding, other situations would be less challenging. For the most part, that has remained true.

What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?

That's a hard one to answer because, honestly, every single wedding is memorable to me. I've photographed in a variety of venues...from a church in a warehouse... to a an Orthodox church with icons and incense.

Every wedding is beautiful in its own way. I am truly blessed to do what I love.

I suppose the last wedding I photographed qualifies as memorable because it was rather unique. The bride was a farm girl who wore a beautiful wedding dress with red cowboy boots (which were gorgeous, by the way). The groom was from Mexico, lived on a ranch, and wore a stylish, black cowboy hat.

The bride was surprised with a horse-drawn carriage ride by her sister, who was her maid of honor. And they had a mariachi band at the reception, which was a lot of fun.

Note the well-posed cows.Oh, and the couple really wanted cows in their wedding photos, so we turned off the electric fence around the pasture and tried to coax the cows over with some grain. We did get the cows into some of the photos, although they weren't much interested in hanging around for long. I guess posing cows is just one more skill to add to my portfolio!

To view more Bella Vita Creative photos, please visit my website at

Interested in obtaining more information about wedding photography with Bella Vita Creative? Please email me at:

I am happy to chat with you about your vision for your wedding and offer a free, no-commitment consultation!

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