Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Posts tagged “weddings

Congratulations; Morgan & Ryan, June 21st, 2013

Into Everyone’s Life A Little Rain Must Fall. So Have A Plan B

First Dance by Vincent Johnson

“First Dance” – This photo has become one of my all-time first dance images.

Over the years, the couples I have photographed on their wedding day have been somewhat fortunate when it comes to rain. As in I can think of only two weddings in nine years that have had to move inside for the ceremony. While the rain did let up during the ceremony for Morgan & Ryan, it wasn’t soon enough for the flowers and other decorations to be setup, so things got moved inside at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, Illinois.

Like all couples should, Morgan & Ryan had a plan B. Of course they weren’t happy with the weather, non-the-less they shrugged it off and got on with what was a beautiful & fun event. They even took advantage of the chairs that had been setup already outside, to do a quick couple of portraits, of how the view that might have been.

Morgan & Ryan, might have had a little more practice at things not going according to their original plans too. During our pre-wedding meeting, I ended up driving the couple to pick up an extra set of keys when they became locked out of their house (add chauffeur to my title). Not to mention a mutual friend of ours asked me to step in as their photographer just a few weeks before, as job requirements would have limited his time photographing the wedding.

Like all weddings I shoot, I enjoyed my time with the couple and look forward to keeping in touch with them as they start their new life together. So once again, congratulations Morgan & Ryan.

Dad giving away the bride.

 

Don’t forget to like or follow me Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


I’ll Photograph Your Wedding With an iPhone

 

I could shoot a wedding with an iPhone if you wanted me to.

Here’s my offer; I’ll show up at your wedding and take pictures with an iPhone for $150. Email me your wedding date & ceremony time and I’ll let you know if I’m available.

Don’t think it can be done. Well check out these images taken at the Olympics by from fellow photojournalist Dan Chung  , or the portraits of the New York Yankees shot using the Instagram app that are licensed by Getty Images.  The iPhone is being used in amazing ways and I know several professional wedding photographers, including myself, who take a handful of cell phone photos at weddings. It’s really more of an experiment, or a chance to be arty, but it could be and I’m sure it has been done already a way to shoot an entire wedding. So why not your wedding?

Ok, I’m not really expecting to have any takers on this offer and if there are please know I don’t have an iPhone and that isn’t a real offer. The reason I made that offer is to show an extreme of what a lot of people are thinking these days. That just having a good camera is what you really need from a photographer.

The reason those iPhone photos are so amazing is because the photographers using them are not just professionals, but craftsman at what they do and they could make great wedding photos with a disposable camera from Walgreens.

The best advice I can give for finding a photographer who truly is great at their craft is:

  • Ask to see at least 100 images from a single wedding.
  • look at their non-wedding work
  • go for someone with at least 5 years of professional experience
  • look for a background with formal training, basically more than just “self taught”
  • Ask if they shoot film and if you can see samples
Now, this isn’t a perfect metric and I will say there are great self-taught photographer and lousy professionals with 5 years of experience, but this is where I start when I’m looking for photographic talent.
And if you really want me to show up and shoot your wedding with an iPhone, I will add it in to my normal package for free. Just mention this blog post.

 

Find Vincent David Johnson on Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


15 Questions for a Wedding Photographer #7; Deposits

090620_Angela-Tony-3255

15 Questions Brides Want to Know About Wedding Photography #7

One of the interesting parts of being a professional in a field for a while is you get requests from the media for comment on events, or topics relevant to that field. Recently I was asked to answer some questions for an upcoming book geared towards future brides.

I was one of several professionals who were asked questions specifically for wedding photography, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything by revealing my answers, since I’m sure they’ll use others for some of the 15 answers, plus I wasn’t asked anything about catering, or how to preform a traditional religious ceremony.

I’ll be sure to post up link when the book is published, but for now I’ll be spreading the questions and my answers (plus maybe a little extra) out over the next 15 days.

 

Question #7

What is the customary deposit to put down, to reserve a photographer for a date?  When is the balance typically due?

Customary deposits can range from 25% to 50% of the total balance. Since a lot of what can be included in my larger packages is album pre-pays I like to limit my deposit totals around 50%, or the amount I’d be losing if the wedding was canceled at my lowest package rate. It is a deposit and I have certain criteria where it may be returned, so the smaller the number is the less I have to worry about covering if I need to do a refund.

Balances are typically due at, or around the signing of a contract. If the wedding is over 6 months away, I typically ask for a deposit within 2 months from the date the couple signed the contract. The final payment in almost all cases is due the on or before the wedding day, with some exceptions to albums & print options.

I’m pretty laid back and I don’t want to stress out a couple with deposit dates. As long as we stay in contact and I know what’s going on, I’m not going to book another wedding on that day, but I’m not every photographer. Not paying your deposit by the due date could open you up to losing that photographer and on a popular date like 6/7/08, you might have a hard time  finding a talented replacement.

A deposit should be enough to cover any material charges a vendor has ahead of the wedding, as well as enough to ensure if you back out they aren't out completely for that day.

 

Coming up tomorrow

Question #8

Why is there such a large price range among different wedding photographers?

 

Previous Questions

#6  What types of wedding packages do photographers typically offer?

 

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


15 Questions for a Wedding Photographer #6; Packages offered

Screen shot 2012-03-02 at 3.09.47 PM

15 Questions Brides Want to Know About Wedding Photography #6

One of the interesting parts of being a professional in a field for a while is you get requests from the media for comment on events, or topics relevant to that field. Recently I was asked to answer some questions for an upcoming book geared towards future brides.

I was one of several professionals who were asked questions specifically for wedding photography, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything by revealing my answers, since I’m sure they’ll use others for some of the 15 answers, plus I wasn’t asked anything about catering, or how to preform a traditional religious ceremony.

I’ll be sure to post up link when the book is published, but for now I’ll be spreading the questions and my answers (plus maybe a little extra) out over the next 15 days.

 

Question #6

What types of wedding packages do photographers typically offer?

Typical packages range from a build your own approach, to tiered packages that have added savings as you increase in price. Most packages start with a single photographer and a set maximum hour and build on the number of photographers, album options, and usage rights for digital prints (getting a CD of images). Some can even go as far as including the videographer, or charges for destination weddings.

Want to see what’s offered in my wedding packages as compared to photographers you’re looking at VJ Wedding Packages 2012 link

 

Coming up tomorrow

Question #7

What is the customary deposit to put down, to reserve a photographer for a date?  When is the balance typically due?

 

Previous Questions

#5 What are the pros and cons of hiring two wedding photographers to take pictures at a wedding, as compared to only having one photographer taking Pictures?

 

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


15 Questions for a wedding photographer #5; 2nd Photographers

110709_Bengela-7763

15 Questions Brides Want to Know About Wedding Photography #2

One of the interesting parts of being a professional in a field for a while is you get requests from the media for comment on events, or topics relevant to that field. Recently I was asked to answer some questions for an upcoming book geared towards future brides.

I was one of several professionals who were asked questions specifically for wedding photography, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything by revealing my answers, since I’m sure they’ll use others for some of the 15 answers, plus I wasn’t asked anything about catering, or how to preform a traditional religious ceremony.

I’ll be sure to post up link when the book is published, but for now I’ll be spreading the questions and my answers (plus maybe a little extra) out over the next 15 days.

 

Question #5

What are the pros and cons of hiring two wedding photographers to take pictures at a wedding, as compared to only having one photographer taking Pictures?

First, don’t hire photographers from 2 separate companies. Chances are they will only be stepping on each others toes to get the same shot and it might actually cost you more. The pros are, if done correctly, you’ll have more images of the groom and guests, as well as multiple angles for key moments like the kiss, the bride entering the ceremony, garter & bouquet tosses and so on. If you are concerned about your main photographer getting sick, or worse, dying on your wedding day, a second photographer is an automatic backup.

The cons are; all to often a second photographer isn’t a second photographer and is really just an assistant, or apprentice learning the ropes so they can shoot weddings on their own for the studio in a year or two. Especially when you’re dealing with large studios who have multiple photographers, make sure you get to see the first & second photographer’s portfolio before you commit to a contract. Photography is an art, and talent and style differ greatly from photographer.

When you get a second photographer, are you paying for a seasoned professional, or an assistant?

 

Coming up tomorrow

Question #6

What types of wedding packages do photographers typically offer?

Previous Questions

#4 What is a proof and what are the advantages of the different types of Proofing?

 

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


15 Questions for a wedding photographer. #1

15 Questions Brides Want to Know About Wedding Photography

One of the interesting parts of being a professional in a field for a while is you get requests from the media for comment on events, or topics relevant to that field. Recently I was asked to answer some questions for an upcoming book geared towards future brides.

I was one of several professionals who were asked questions specifically for wedding photography, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything by revealing my answers, since I’m sure they’ll use others for some of the 15 answers, plus I wasn’t asked anything about catering, or how to preform a traditional religious ceremony.

I’ll be sure to post up link when the book is published, but for now I’ll be spreading the questions and my answers (plus maybe a little extra) out over the next 15 days.

Question #1

What are the advantages of hiring a professional wedding photographer as opposed to having a friend or family member take the pictures?

I think the advantages really come down to how the couple values photos. My biggest job when I first meet some couples is convincing them that the images from their wedding day are not just for them, but for their family and possibly future children. There’s a huge difference between a cousin who can take 4 or 5 good shots out of 100, compared to a talented professional who can take 80-90 great shots out of 100. A truly talented professional photographer isn’t just some one with a good camera who knows how to pick the best place for a couple to stand. They’re going to know how to tell a story of that very special day with each click of the shutter. Simply put, a normal person takes photos, a photographer makes images.

 

Your wedding photos aren’t just for you, but for future generations of your new family.

Coming tomorrow

Question #2

Why do wedding photographers copyright the pictures they take at weddings? Is this common?

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com

 


Good Luck & Happy New Year

May You Catch That Bouquet in 2012

Here’s to all you women (and little girls) out there who haven’t caught a bouquet yet. May 2012 be your year.

Here are some of my favorite bouquet catching moments.

Just a little bit over thrown.

Notice the flower pedals everywhere?


Narrow Your Guest List

 

Tips to Narrow Your Guest List

Lets face it, most couples want to invite just about every person they know to their wedding. And why not? Its suppose to be a grand celebration and a giant party, but budgets and time constraints often bring things down a notch. I mean if you did invite 500 people, at 30 seconds a person, it would take you over 4 hours to thank them all.

So, I’m going to share a little tip I usually give to couples who I meet, early on in their wedding planning, to help sort out a more manageable list. (By the way, it helps to do this on a computer file, since there may be a lot of writing).

 

First; go hog wile and make a list of every person you & your future spouse would invite.

Second; make a list of who you absolutely have to invite.

Third; with exception to the “must invite” eliminate people you haven’t seen in person in over a year, or people you haven’t even talked to on the phone in the last 6 months.

 

Now obviously this will not give you your final list, but it will give you a very good starting point. Some family & friends my not make that cut due to geographical difference, but you’ll still invite them and this does leave open the door for a few people, mainly co-workers, or fellow students in some cases, so if that’s something you have to decide on your own. Also, if parents are paying for part, or all of your wedding day, don’t forget they’ll have a list too.

The real reason of this method isn’t to give you an absolute list, but more of a way to help you determine if inviting the kid who lived on your block in 8th grade is really necessary.

I think using the phone and in person conversation is far more relevant than the use of say Facebook.

No matter what you do, good luck and just remember. Don’t worry about who might be mad if you don’t invite them. Worry about who you really want there to celebrate your special day with.

 

 

facebooktweet tweetflickrVincent David Johnson blogyelp


Image Friendly Wedding Tip #5; Dress To Impress. Grooms.

Picture 048

Image Friendly Wedding Tip #5; 10 Things Grooms Should Be Thinking About When It Comes To Attire

wedding tux for men
#8 Make it personal. My wife loves Audrey Hepburn, so if you’ve ever seen Sabrina, you’ll recognize this white Tux jacket. If you’re wondering why the odd look on my face, I was just told the DJ couldn’t find the processional music.

Gentlemen, I know its not easy. For months the focus seems to be on your bride-to-be, but when it comes to your clothing choice for the day, don’t just mail it in.

Sure you got her to agree to marry you, but that doesn’t mean you can just hit cruise control. People will be looking at you and feeling so-so about what you’re wearing shows up in photos. Here’s a top 10 list of things you should be thinking about when it comes to looking for your attire.

1. Put some thought into it. First are you even going to go with a tux, or will you be wearing a suit? Bow tie, or normal tie? Black, white or gray? If you’re getting married for the second time, or are doing a small low-key wedding, going with a suit might be an option. Getting married in Texas and want to show your inner-cowboy off, maybe you go with a bolo tie. Tuxes don’t just come in black, but as with all of these choices, talk with your bride-to-be the more adventurous you get. You want to look better than some schmo who picked something off a rack, not overshadow her.

2. Rent or buy? Just about every bride keeps their dress and just about every groom rents his tux, but it should be the other way around since, you’ll be far more likely to wear your tux again after the wedding. So you have to ask yourself, what are the chances I might need to rent a Tux again soon. The benefits to owning your own tux are limitless, but being 100% sure it fits perfectly is all you need to worry about now. Look for stores like Filene’s Basement, or other outlet stores that sell suits. I managed to find a tux for about $75 more than what I rented my wedding tux at. Even if I don’t find a black tie charity event to wear it at, I’m always solid on Halloween as James Bond.

3. Don’t just go with the first Tux the guy at the mall tux rental shop shows you. This goes back to my main point, you can’t just mail this in. It might be the one you go for in the end, but don’t just do what they say is the in style this year.

4. Do some research This goes back to the last point. Maybe read up on a few blogs and see if there is any advice for tuxes based on body type. Maybe do a few searches on the internet and see what the new trend is out there, or even better, don’t end up like those who got married in the 1970′s with baby blue ruffled shirts & cumber-buns, find something that is classic and will stand up to your children’s ridicule. Your hair style may be a different problem.

5. Try and find a store use to adult rentals, AKA not the mall. Not that being in a mall makes a bad rental store, but sometimes these places can be staffed with people who are use to dealing with a majority prom crowd.  This could lead to your fitting, or order not getting the full attention it needed because there were 150 other people renting tuxes that week. There are usually a few tux rental shops in downtown areas of larger cities. Try one of these places out. Chances are they’re use to dealing with adults who need the occasional tux for a black tie event and aren’t going to be over run during prom season. No matter where you go, its always a good idea to ask what their peak season is, so you can make arrangements not to get fitted then.

6. Read Reviews. Wedding web sites and consumer web sites like Yelp, are full of reviews on local businesses. Just because the tux you rented from a national chain for your friends wedding in New York was good, doesn’t mean their store in your home town is on point.

7. Stand out from the groomsmen. I did a white jacket while my groomsmen did black jackets. You can switch it up in several different ways. Vest color, tie color. I’ve even seen the groom wear a bow tie while his groomsmen went with a regular tie. What ever you do, make sure your groomsmen all stick with the same plan. Nothing looks worse than two guys wearing bow ties and two guys with normal ties. Dads, ushers and other tux wearing non-groomsmen have a little more leeway. While I’m not against groomsmen matching the bridesmaids color scheme, don’t make them wear teal green, purple, or some other less than flattering color. Black, grey, silver and other neutral colors won’t clash with the girls and the fact you’re putting some thought into it might help convince your bride-to-be not to put your buddies in pink bow ties.

#7 Going with a white jacket is a nice way to stand out from the groomsmen. It can also be as simple as switching up yoru vest or tie color.

8. Make it personal if you can. Did your dad and grandfather both have tails on their tuxes? Go with that if you can find the right style. My wife is a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and if you’ve ever seen the movie Sabrina you may recognize my white jacket. Custom cufflinks with a message or theme are another way to go.

9. Cuff Links. Yes Please. Two things I’ll say right now about cuff links, while they might not have always been the most popular, they have never gone out of style, or made someone wearing them look dated. Sure most rental places will give you standard cuff links, but why not go with something a little more stylish, or take a cue from tip #8 and make it personal. On top of adding just a little more style to your look, cuff links also make a great groomsmen gift. As a groom think about getting your own french cuffed shirt for your wedding day. Rental shirts have cheap cuffs, don’t always fit properly and you can always have your shirt tailored to fit you like a glove so it’s one less thing to worry about on the day of your wedding.

#9 Cuff Links Yes! At a recent wedding each groomsman had custom cuff links with an image of something that made them happy.

10. Make Sure You Feel You Look Good. I always say one of the top 3 most important things at a wedding is the dress. Why? Because if the bride doesn’t feel she looks like the most amazing person in the room, its going to show up in the photos. The same thing can be said about the groom. If you feel like you’re tux fit is to baggy, or to tight best, its going to show. Do you feel like it isn’t for you and was something you went with to make her happy.  Let her know long before the wedding so you can work it out. Either way, loving what you’re wearing makes all the difference in the world.

 

#1 Put some thought into it. Shoes are another way to showoff some of your own style.

If you are a former groom and have some dressing advice for future grooms, post in the comments section, or on my Facebook page.

facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp


Preview of Posts to Come

lightning wedding reception
lightning wedding reception

Things got a little stormy at the end of Kate & Alex's wedding this summer, but they managed to miss bad weather. My advice & tips might not be able to stop storm clouds, but it could help you avoid disasters at your wedding.

It was a busy wedding season and I haven’t been posting as many tips and advice for couples about to get married, but there are a bunch of things lined up.

•Things to look out for with group photos

•Google for weddings

•Why you have a better eye for photos than your photographer

•Tips for the Groom

Plus ways to make your wedding more image friendly.

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com
facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp


Wedding Stories; Great Speeches, Angela & Ben

wedding toast speeches from the bride

An Amazing Wedding Speech

wedding toast speeches from the bride

[Angela, please correct me if I've gotten any part of this story wrong]

It’s no secret, weddings are extremely joyous & emotional events. Especially for the friends and family that are involved with the couple.

You’ve got a quivering bottom lip from the father of the bride as he walks his darling little girl down the aisle, a stuttering groom as he recites his vows and of course what wedding is complete with out tears from the mother of the groom and crying bridesmaids.

groom bride speech

Seeing over a dozen or more weddings a year I don’t often get choked up, so I tend to remember the one, or two times it does happen. I find it a little funny, as earlier in the day I had mentioned this fact to Angela (the bride), and thinking about it now, I can picture her saying in the back of her mind “Oh. I’ve got something for you later”. That is assuming she knew how emotional the room would be.

Angela was the last to give a speech that night and the story she would tell would be set up perfectly by her father, whom had mentioned in his speech about Angela’s issue of not being noticed by, or being able to find the right kind of man.

Angela, continued on with this story as she took the mic. Explaining that she was depressed about not finding that one true love. So one night she sat down and started writing love letters/poems to this yet unknown man who she was sure was out there, in hopes of one day being able to give them to him.

Admitting that the whole idea sounded like something a crazy person would do, she then produced one of the poems and read it aloud  in front of everybody and to Ben, for the first time.

As Angela, read her poem, she cried and sniffled through quite a bit of it, but finished strong in a giant embrace with her new soul mate.


To say there were very few dry eyes in the house would be an understatement. My own eyes were filled partially with tears and I had that dry feeling in the back of my throat. It was a wonderful moment and I was glad they allowed me to be the person to photograph it all.

facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp


Congratulations Meredith & Joe; June 26th, 2011

Wedding Lehman Mansion

A Midsummer Night’s Wedding

Wedding Lehman Mansion

Meredith and Joe, were married at the Millburn Church in Lake Villa and celebrated afterwords at the Lehman Mansion. Both beautiful locations that played along nicely with the theme of a Midsummer’s Night.

Accessories for the bridal and flower girl.

bride getting readyGetting ready.

bride & fatherMilburn Church Lake VillaWalking down the aisle with dad. The view from the balcony. Meredith & Joe walking down the aisle as husband and wife.

Meredith’s dress was beautiful with hundreds of flower pedal like fabric attached, her dress seemed to float when ever she moved about.

The introduction of Meredith & Joe.

Dancing under the stars and spot lights outdoors at the Lehman Mansion.

To see more images from this wedding visit my Facebook page.

facebook tweet tweet flickr Vincent David Johnson blog yelp

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

Image Friendly Wedding Tips #4; Classic Car

In this case the groom owned the Mini.

When most of us think of the bride & groom driving away from a wedding, it’s either in a limo, or in their own car (cans on strings from the bumper are optional).

I don’t have anything against limos, or your car, but let’s face it, limos make up for style with size and personal cars in most cases are something most have been hanging onto through college, not really great for photos.

So why not add a little charm and go with a vintage ride?

If you would prefer for the least amount of leg work, go professional. There are companies who rent out vintage cars with drivers, for everything from filming movies to driving around brides & grooms and they usually have several car options to choose from. If you’re in a rural or small urban area, as opposed to a New York or Chicago, you may need to go with this next idea.

If a car rental agency isn’t an option, or you’re on a budget, be sure to check out local car clubs. You might not have a choice of a 1937 Rolls Royce in 3 different colors, but finding classic cars from the 1950’s & 60’s shouldn’t be a problem.

Because this isn’t a full time business, some car owners may not have an exact idea of what to charge, or what will be required of them & their car.

Not that I want you low balling people, but a good dollar amount to start at is between around$100 for an hour or two. Owners who maybe have done this once or twice before may already have a price in mind.

Make sure you specify when & where you’d like the car to be used and who will be in it. Since the purpose of this post is about making better pictures, I’d suggest making sure the owner knows you’d like to be using it as a prop after the ceremony. Make sure you mention everything you have planned. Nothing will sour your mood more than finding out you can’t sit on the top of the rear seat of a convertible as you’re leaving the ceremony.

A few last tips:

  • Ask for the car to be at least washed and maybe waxed the day of or before the wedding
  • Ask the driver to dress accordingly and in a solid color (preferably black)

Want to see how cool a vintage car can make your wedding photos? Just Google for photos from the recent Royal Wedding where Prince William & Kate Middleton left in an Aston Martin convertible.


Image Friendly Wedding Tips #2; Dress Code

Dress Code? Or Dress Theme?

I will say this tip isn’t for everybody, but requiring, or suggesting a dress code isn’t as far fetched as you think.

There are two main reasons why you may want to have a dress code; First, either the you, or the reception venue want to maintain an appearance fitting for the location. Second, you feel there may be some confusion by your guests about how they should dress.

Black Tie & Jacket Required

Although not very frequent, there are still Black Tie & Ultra Formal weddings. Also, some country clubs & high end hotel venues may also have a “Jacket Required” policy. And while most venues might not stipulate that the policy be in effect for your guests, your guests eventually will have to enter, or leave the reception area and could end up feeling out of place, so a suggestion, or request to dress appropriately should appear on your invitations.

General Wedding Attire

Let be honest, in most cases, women are pretty clear on what to wear to a wedding, us men on the other hand can fail miserably. A personal shameful incident came while I was in college and after asking to be invited to a cousin’s wedding reception at a fancy country club, I showed up in mock turtle neck & a bad multi-colored sweater vest. I looked like the offspring of Steve Jobs & Bill Cosby, while everyone else was in suits & ties.

The point of that story is, even though I was well intentioned, I wasn’t aware at the time that most men wear suits & ties to weddings. Especially if you’re a young couple, you will most likely have guests who are at their first wedding where their mothers aren’t dressing them. Once again a suggestion on your invitation will help insure you don’t have any photos of you rolling your eyes when you see a friend in a work polo, or your cousin in a club attire.

Weather & Locations

The two examples above are both related to how you & the venue you might want the guests to dress, but what about how the guests themselves would like to dress? If you’re getting married outside in the summer, especially if the reception is outdoors as well, you might want to seriously think about letting guests know if you’re ok with dressy casual attire, so nobody shows up in a dark suit & tie for a beach wedding and women aren’t in high heals on the beach.

Themed Weddings

I’m not talking costume party here, but on occasion some couples like to have a theme, or style to their wedding. Often it sticks to decorations and the venue, but I have seen it incorporated into the guests attire. Last summer, Jinnel & Randy (pictured above) had a 40′s style swing theme to their wedding. While many of their friends showed up dressed to play along, it wasn’t a mandatory thing, but enough guests played along so that combined with the swing band & the ball room at the Mayslake Peabody Estates, the wedding took on the vibe they were going for.

Above all make sure your guests know they can come to you, or your wedding planner with questions about how they should be expected to dress.

Remember, keep it simple if you do a dress code. There may be one or two people annoyed by it, but best scenario it stops a few people who would only RSVP for the open bar from coming. Although chances are you still won’t be able to stop uncle Charles from wearing the fish tie.

Did you include a dress requirement for your wedding, or did you have any wedding attire nightmares? I’d love to hear about them, post in the comments section.

For a breakdown of wedding dress codes, check out this post from the You Look Fab blog
http://youlookfab.com/2006/05/15/the-wedding-dress-code-primer/

Doing an homage to your love for Star Wars as part of your first dance… Cool & funny.

Making your grandma dress up like a Jawa… Not cool.

VincentDaivdJohnson.com


Go Beyond the Top 3 Search Results

Searching for wedding vendors

Searching for wedding vendors

Finding a wedding vendor that stands out from the background noise isn’t as easy as locating the bride in this photo.

One of my main reason for doing this blog is to help couples plan out the best possible wedding day that they can. For most of us, this is our first (and hopefully only) time we’ll be getting married and even if we’ve recently had a friend or family member who tied the knot, coming across information, or tips from seasoned professionals isn’t always easy to do.

While the internet has put information at a bride’s finger tips, it’s also littered with disinformation as well and companies looking to game the system as much as they possibly can. Especially when it comes to the billion dollar wedding industry.

The tip I have today is basically look past the first page or two of results when looking for a wedding vendor. This stands true for search engine results from the likes of Google, Yahoo, or Bing. As well as vendor lists on sites like The Knot.com, Weddingwire.com & Brides.com. Common sense tells us that in most cases the companies listed at the top are the best, but unless you’ve done some internet marking yourself, you may not realize that all of these vendors are paying and paying big time to get in front of your wedding day eyes. Sites like The Knot can charge close to $4,000 a year just to be listed. Some of the bets photographers I know & don’t know in the wedding business aren’t even listed there.

If you devote a little more time to your search, you’re more likely to find vendors that aren’t paying to be number 1, and are using less of their money on advertising and more on the quality of their product, or staff used for the service part. These vendors aren’t usually high volume and will sometimes be willing to work out a sweeter deal to fill empty calendar dates.

As always, do your due diligence. Read reviews, or testimonials & ask for references from past couples.

VincentDaivdJohnson.com


Congratulations Emily & Matt; Oct. 23rd, 2010

Milwaukee wedding photography

Milwaukee wedding photography It had been two years since I had shot a wedding in Milwaukee, and it was nice to be back. Ironically the last wedding I photographed was the sister of the bride, and just like I had two years ago, my day started off in the town of Wauwatosa, a cute little burb of Milwaukee, nestled along the banks of the Menomonee River. What wasn’t so cute was that after having one of the most perfect Octobers ever weather wise, the forecast for the day was for serious rain.

Luckily for the both of them the weather man was wrong and the most of the rain came before the end of the ceremony. Emily & Matt had picked out a bunch of great locations outdoors for some bridal party photos, so the weather cleared at just the right time and we were even lucky enough to get some great late afternoon sun.

The reception at the Milwaukee Yacht Club had some fantastic views of the city as well as Lake Michigan and capped off a very classy wedding.

For more photos from this wedding please visit my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to click like).

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Suzi & Dave; Aug. 28th, 2010

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photography

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photographyBeing a city person, I hardly get out to the suburbs unless it’s on assignment, or for a wedding. However, there is one place myself & most wedding photographers who work around the Wheaton area know all to well and that is Cantigny.  I know that almost sounds like I’m rolling my eyes when I say it, but there’s a reason why this place is so popular with brides & Photographers. It’s beautiful and you’d have to photograph 2 dozen weddings there before you’d run out of new places to take pictures at and that’s not including different seasons.

While I’ve shot bridal parties inside the park before, Suzi & Dave, were my first couple who were actually having their ceremony at the park half of Cantigny. Complete with our own golf cart & driver we made our way around the park and got some great photos.

The peacefulness of the park really lent itself nicely as a back drop beyond posed photos once the ceremony started.

Cantigy Wheaton Illinois wedding photography

See more photos from this wedding on my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to like me)

vincentdavidjohnson.com


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


Congratulations Adrianna & James, June 19th, 2010

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

I photograph a dozen or more weddings each year and 99% of the time I feel that I’ve formed a very good relationship with the couples I’m working with and while I’ve never had any disasters, forming a bond with the wedding party & close family doesn’t always happen as easily. With Adrianna & Jame’s wedding that was not the case.

Tagging along side of the bridemaids & groomsmen was a blast. I even have to make special mention of the bride’s sister Marika, who was a blast to be around. Just look at some of the photos from the reception which was held at the Walter Payton Round House in Aurora, and I think you’ll see how lively this group was.

Walter Payton round house wedding reception

On another note, I’ve had a few weddings where the groom, or bride had served, or was serving in the military, but Adrianna & James, was actually the first wedding I’ve ever shot where the groom was dressed in uniform. While a uniform isn’t an option for every groom, it a great reminder that you don’t need to stick with just the same old tux or suit. My personal favorite, mostly because it’s what I wore, is a white dinner jacket instead of a black tux jacket. This works great for summer & spring weddings.

wedding photography Wheaton Warrenville

See more photos from Adrianna & James’ wedding on my Facebook page (don’t forget to click like)

vincentdavidjohnson.com



Congratulations Jinnel & Randy

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

I often get calls from couples who are looking for a photographer who isn’t a traditional wedding photographer and one of the main reasons for this search is because the couple feels  that they’re style, or ceremony is going to be different from the norm.

I mostly just nod in agreement and smile as couples explain exactly how different things will be from any “normal” weddings I’ve photographed and the reason I do this is, as a photographer in a major urban area I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many diverse and unique weddings, and even then, everything that can be done, has been done, unless you’re going for some Guinness World record.

Wedding photography mayslake peabody estate

The reason I bring this all up is not because Jinnel & Randy told me their wedding was going to be “so different”, but the fact that while they may have done a few things outside of the norm, it was the overall style & vibe of their wedding that truly made it feel different and unique. The Peabody Estate, had a charm & warmth, that made it feel more like you were at the summer home of a wealthy family, and the band who was hired to play swing & jazz standards was a perfect touch. Which just added to the vintage charm of Jinnel & Randy’s wedding attire, as well as most of their guests, who for lack of a better term, played dress up to go along with a swing theme.

If I can say one thing to couples looking to break out of the wedding mold, work on doing something that really speaks to who you are and not just something that nobody else is doing.

See more photos on from this wedding on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Delia & Eric, April 23rd, 2010

Chicago wedding photography

Chicago wedding photography

I shot Delia & Eric’s wedding on what was looking to be a very gloomy April day. Luckily for them the rain only came down while they were inside of one of Chicago’s most famous churches, Holy Name Cathedral.

While the sky didn’t open up and bath us in sun, they were fortunate enough to see the rain stop and streak of light come though in the late afternoon, giving us this beautiful shot (above) as we walked around Millenium Park downtown.

For more images from their wedding you can visit my Facebook page.

VincentDavidJohnson.com


Amy & Mark April 16th, 2010

Congratulations Amy & Mark

I shot Amy & Mark’s wedding back in April. It was my first wedding of the year and the weather turned out to be better than what we just had this weekend in June.

While some couples are locationally or time challenged to find an outdoor location for posed & group photos, Amy & Mark did a little pre-planning and found a great spot at a local farmstead with a river & a big red barn.

Given the fact that we were in the South Wilmington/Gardner are in central Illinois, far from where I live, leaving an outdoor location up to me might not have work out as good as this. Which goes to show you, a little bit of leg work can help make your images even better, regardless of who your photographer is.

Congratulations again to Amy & Mark.
To see some more of my favorite photos from their wedding visit my Facebook page

WANTED; Wedding photog, $500 or Less, Students Welcome Part 1


I don’t read a lot of Wedding or Bridal Magazines. Ok, I don’t read any, but I do know that there are articles on the topic of “Budget Weddings” & “Fantastic Weddings on a Shoe String Budget” and so on. With the current economic outlook, I’m sure there will be more of these articles popping up in magazines and web sites like theKnot.com.

In regards to photography though, somewhere the myth of the student photographer shooting a wedding took off, but unlike Unicorns, there are actually college students who take good weddings photos. But there is a huge difference from finding someone to shoot your wedding for cheap and finding someone to shoot it cheap and good. If you are one of those people looking for that, read this before making you post on Craig’s List.

As a couple, the 3 most important things you will choose for your wedding in order are; The Dress, The location & The photographer. (see my previous blog post The 3 most Important Things). Those stories you’ve heard about someone having a student, or a friend shoot their wedding and they got the most amazing pictures back… well they are real, but are few and far between.

If you want a great way to save a few bucks, start by not spending $15 each on a handful of magazines. Now before I get to far off topic, the reason of this post is about my arch enemy… The student photographer.

Well not really, I like student photographers and think any chance they can get for real world experience they should take it. I think a student photographer isn’t something that every bride wants, as much as I think that paying a lot for a bad photographer is something every bride wants to avoid.

All to often people look at photography as something they themselves can do and in turn are astounded by the cost of hiring a professional. While most people understand that taking 1 great photo out of 100 does not make them Ansel Adams, thinking someone who has a little bit of schooling will definitely be better at it than you is a sound thought, but thinking they may someday be the next Ansel Adams isn’t exactly on the mark. Consider this fact, only 7% of people with a degree in the arts go on to make it a career.

First; Most people who’ve had luck with a student usually knew the photographer and were already impressed with their work before hand. If your cousin isn’t studying photography at an art school, or you don’t have a friend who’s roommate freelances for the local paper, chances are you aren’t one of the lucky few who can save money while still getting great results.

You should probably then be looking at getting a profession who’s work you like and who’s price you can afford.

Try getting someone who doesn’t require an album to be purchased, or if you want to buy the digital copies of the photos, see if you have an option to buy them after the wedding. Try putting off as much as you can till after the wedding.

While most vendors will want some type of payment (be careful when vendors want full payment up front), deposits that aren’t due at signing help in making a budget spread out.

But if you’re still hell bent on going this route here are a few suggestions.

See Part 2