Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Suggestions

Online Vendor Reviews

If your vendors had your more upset than bad weather on your wedding day, let others know.

Have you ever been out to a restaurant, only to leave so upset about the food quality, or service that you rushed right to your computer to give a them a bad review on sites like Yelp.com, Metromix.com or Citysearch.com?

While it may be little consolation after having a bad wedding experience, some of these sites actually go beyond eating & drinking establishments and your bad or rave reviews for a vendor may just help sway another unsuspecting couple towards a great vendor as much as it could save them from a bad one. Not to mention give you a little more satisfaction than ranting on Facebook or Twitter.

As a home owner I’m a big user of Angie’s List (a subscriber based rating service). While the site got some hype last year when they started doing medical reviews, I never knew until an issue of their monthly magazine did an article on wedding disasters, that vendors from caterers to photographers are also listed.

So don’t forget after the wedding, post up your own thoughts on everything from your wedding vendors to your reception hall rental. You never know, some vendors check these site frequently and may even be grateful enough to give you a discount on future services (say maybe a photographer throwing in some 8×10’s for free).

Also, if you’re still in the planning stages, don’t overlook using these sites for yourself, or to check on vendors you may already have booked to head off any possible issues that may arise.

On a final note; be wary of what you do put in writing. Especially if you had a particularly bad experience. Stick to the facts and try to keep any emotion out of it. The internet isn’t as wild as it use to be, and liable cases are popping up all over the country. While a vendor might not win a case against you, they could ruin your honeymoon too, if you need to spend money on a lawyer to defend yourself in a liable case. And God forbid if you have to take the vendor to court for breach of contract. If that’s the case, it might be best not to say anything till the trial is over.

facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp

Save $$$ on Your Wedding, the Easy Way: Part 1

As someone who was married with in the last decade, I can tell you without a doubt the best way my wife & I could have saved a few hundred dollars, would have been by not spending $15 each on a handful of magazines and putting those $30 or $50 fancy wedding planner style trapper keepers/scrap books back on the shelf at Borders.

A lot if not most of the info in there can easily be found on internet wedding sites, by bloggers and know-it-alls like me. Also, we forget sometimes the best resources are right in front of us. Chances are you know at least a couple of people who have been married in the last few years. Especially if you are younger. If you don’t know any, chance are some one you know does.

While the popping up of sites like Yelp.com, Angieslist.com & the old tried and true Better Business Bureau BBB.org, are all great tools, nothing beats hearing it from people you know and can trust as opposed to possible fake reviews, or overly picky brides.

Be sure to ask “Would you use them again?” instead of  just “Did you like them?”, as some couples might have a different budget, different taste and hidden factors like their parents might have been paying some of the bills.

Also, if you are at a wedding take mental notes on how the vendors & their services were. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a couple wedding video or album, most will gladly show them off, but don’t assume if they don’t have it yet it’s the vendors fault. I routinely have couples who take between 4-10 months to get back to me on their albums.

In defense of magazines & planning books, they are way better organized than the vast wedding based internet. Lets face it, there’s a reason we say “It reads like a book”. If you really want your books & magazines, look for freebees. Vendors, Bridal Shows and other places have been know to give them away for free to potential clients (aka the Bride & Groom).

facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp

Congratulations Gwen & Jeff, July 4th, 2010

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

I’m a big believer in serendipity when it comes to my photos. Not saying I don’t plan things out, but if you’ve ever sat down with me while I talked about my philosophy & style, “serendipity” will no doubt have come up at some point. Gwen & Jeff, might have referred to some things that happened on their wedding day as good luck; Chicago’s July 3rd fireworks show being moved to the 4th, getting extra space at their reception venue, or bumping into Ronnie Woo-Woo while posing for pictures in front of Wrigley Field.

We went to Wrigley to get a photo, since this was the place Gwen & Jeff first met (please correct me if I’m wrong), and just happened to bump into Ronnie Woo-Woo and he was kind enough to jump into a photo with them.

Chicago wedding photography Cubs Wrigley field

While I love serendipity, I’ll also say that luck is all about how you position yourself. Gwen & Jeff picked the 4th of July and the Signature Room at the John Hancock building, because they knew at least Navy Pier would be doing fireworks.Congratulations again, you planned a beautiful wedding day.

wedding John Hancock building Chicago photography

See more photos on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


What’s more important the photographer or the photographs?


If you think about how your wedding day will unfold, you’ll realize that out of all the people you’ll be spending time with, almost no one, including your soon to be spouse, will be with you more than the photographer.

Often when I’m contacted by a couple about my services, I often hear about how they like my photos, but later I’ve been told a big reason why a couple chose me, is that during our face to face meeting I made them feel very comfortable.

This is something that took me a year or two to realize, that it was part of the services I had to offer and not just my ability to dress well & smile.

In the past I’ve talked about important things to think about when choosing your location, ways to make sure your photographer has a the opportunity to get good photos and ways to get a good photographer if you’re on a tight budget, but I’ve never actually talked about getting a photographer you’d like.

While I can’t tell you what you should personally like in a photographer, I can tell you that no matter how good the portfolio, package prices or options offered, you should actually like the photographer you’ll be working with as much as you like their products.

A few good examples of when having a likable photographer is nice are;
-when the bride and bridal party are getting dressed & ready
-in the extra small waiting rooms before the ceremony
-those intimate moments when the couple are alone, away from everybody after the ceremony
-and interacting with your guests

Still not quite sure what to look for in a photographer? Here are some good starting points.

1. Do they sound like they enjoy shooting weddings, or is this just a 9-5?

Wedding photography is a job, but while the responsibility of taking photos on one of the greatest days of a couples life is intense, if they’re not into it, it will show up in the photos as well as possibly being disruptive the day of.

2. Do they talk about bad weddings & bridezillas more than happy brides & beautiful ceremonies?
I’ll admit I’ve talked at length before about wedding mishaps and bridezillas, but I usually try to focus it on how a future couple can avoid pitfalls, as opposed to just an all out rant. Stories about how to make your wedding better are often a sign a photographer cares about your experience as much as your business.

3. Do you actually get to meet them and are they guaranteed to be your photographer?
Studios often have a sales person you meet with to discus packages, albums & prints. While you might have a choice based on portfolio, meeting the photographer is often a day of the ceremony occasion. Also, be sure to ask up front what your photographer’s switching policies are? Even small independent photographers have been know to double book a date and substitute a second photographer or assistant photographer in place of themselves.
Above all, follow your gut and not your wallet. If you get a recommendation for a photographer, ask your friends about their personality as well as their professionalism.


The 3 Most Important Things You Will Choose

Every couple I ever sit down with I tell them about the three most important things you will choose for your wedding in order.

1. The Dress

2. The Location
Chicago Skyline wedding photo

3. The Photographer

Explanation;
The Dress
– Honestly if the bride doesn’t fell like the most beautiful/important woman at her own wedding, people will know. It will show up in photos, videos and the bride sets the tone for how the guests behave and in general whether or not everybody is having a good time.

Brides, this does not mean you need a $50,000 D&G one of a kind dress. It just means you need to be happy and comfortable with what you’re wearing. If you have somebody with you whose opinion you value, take stock in what they think, but go with your gut whether it’s the first, or 20th dress you’ve tried on.

About half the brides I shot in 2008 got their dresses at David’s Bridal (unpaid plug). And I’ve seen everything from designer dresses to individual one of a kinds ( OnlyJangMi.com shameless plug for my wife’s web site), but once the dress goes on and brides see themselves in a mirror, they know why this is number 1.

The Location – I’ve seen backyard weddings that are beautiful and Luxury Hotel Receptions that are awfully tacky or bland. While renting out Millennium Park in downtown Chicago might not be an option for most of us, intimate or unique locales also set a tone for your wedding.

In a sense your wedding is as much about the day as it is about remembering the day. Is your location something that people will be talking about? Do you feel that it’s a perfect setting for your perfect day? Or is it more of a place of convenience?

Finally, will it add to, detract from, or be a non-factor in your wedding photos? Which brings us to the third most important thing.

The Photographer – Yes, I do seem a little biased on this third most important factor, but honestly it’s true. Your wedding photos will live on long after you do. Family tree albums, anniversaries. Wedding photos of deceased grandparents have been displayed at many welcome tables at weddings. The only other thing that last as long if not longer than your photos are the rings.

Not everybody you want will be able to attend your wedding, they will however want to see images from that day. You will of course want to see images from that day too, but often some of my couples’ favorite photos take place before the ceremony, or in the little moments between. Having the day documented and also having formal group photos to go along with that is the key to why photography is #3 on the list.

If you think of your wedding as just a “Day” event, then food and band selection might be more important to you, but if you realize that a wedding actually will come to symbolize so much more than just one day, you’ll make decisions based your feelings in the future.