Click the button below to view some invaluable tips that we learned throughout the past 8 years of photographing destination weddings all over the country.
The location you choose for bridal preparation during your wedding in Bend Oregon has the potential to have a huge impact on your wedding photos, as well as your entire wedding day schedule. Many brides often overlook the value of the location they choose to get ready at, often choosing to get ready in extremely tight, dark, cluttered spaces that can result in frustration and limited photo opportunities.
The first step in choosing a bridal prep location is to ask yourself how many people will be getting ready with me. Do you want a small, intimate experience of getting ready on your big day, or do you want to be with the whole family? A very important question to ask the wedding venue manager or event coordinator at your wedding venue is whether or not they provide a bridal suite for you to change in, and if they provide a suite for the groom and his groomsmen as well.
Getting ready at your venue is a massive benefit and stress-reliever, as it eliminates the need for traveling to your venue and the time restrictions that this creates. When at all possible, choose a bridal prep location that is uncluttered and photogenic. Not only will you not have to worry about your bridesmaids tripping over each other, but the experience of getting ready in a beautiful mountain wedding venue will create a relaxing situation for you and a very photogenic situation for your photographer to take stunning photos of you and your closest friends during the last moments of your time as a bachlorette. While it's not always possible to find a venue with a bridal prep suite or a getting ready location that is spacious, it's always a good idea to appoint one of your bridesmaids to make sure that the spot is kept free and uncluttered by purses, luggage and other items that can become real eyesores in your bridal prep photos.
Last but not least, when choosing a location to start your bridal preparations at, always consider the lighting. As a wedding photographer, i'm keenly aware of the value of good lighting. So you have to ask yourself: does the location have lots of available light or attractive artificial light? Is there a large window or light source that I can get ready in front of? This will not only make your photographer super stoked, but will be a huge help to your make up artist, as well. Locations that are light and airy are always a great option. If you do get ready in a hotel room, have your make-up done in front of the balcony or nearest large window instead of a mirror. The large window will act like a giant softbox light diffuser, and will help to create very flattering photos.
Hair and Make-up are one of those often overlooked parts of your wedding day that have one of the largest, if not the largest, impact on your wedding timeline. A good hair stylist and wedding make-up artist will arrive on time and have you finished up, looking absolutely gorgeous, exactly on time. This is a part of your mountain wedding day that can really derail your itinerary if your stylists don't show up on time or finish on time. I've seen several hours unnecessarily added onto a wedding because the stylists either failed to show up on time, or didn't finish in the allotted time provided. The result of this is that it cuts into the time you can spend with your family and friends, as well as the time set aside for things like a First Look, Bridal Portraits, Bride & Groom Creative Photos, Family Photos and even activities planned during your reception.
Always hire the very best stylists you can afford, and always add in at least 45 minutes of extra time should things run past the allotted time. There's a saying floating around that says something to the effect of "digital cameras can remove several layers of make-up." This is absolutely true, and the reason TV personalities wear so much make-up. Today's professional digital cameras can resolve insane amounts of detail. This isn't to say that you need to really cake it on, but rather, make a point of choosing a make-up artist that is experienced in applying make-up for photography and video applications. The results will look perfectly natural, and absolutely stunning.
More and more brides these days are opting to have their wedding and elopement ceremonies held outdoors in beautiful Oregon wedding locations such as Tetherow, Pronghorn Resort, or Brasada Ranch. The challenge with having an outdoor Bend wedding ceremony is that natural lighting can be very harsh and unflattering depending on the time of day. It's always best to schedule your outdoor ceremony 2-3 hours before sunset, trying to get as close to the 'golden hour' as possible.
As a wedding photographer that works with natural light for a living, I highly recommend late afternoon, and early evening lighting because it is the most flattering, as the shadows are much softer, objects take on a more three-dimensional look, colors are drawn out and become much more vibrant--glowing even. The lighting is more consistent in the late afternoon; so you won't have harsh beams of light on the groom, and the bride's face in shadow or vice-versa. If you do have to have your ceremony early afternoon under overhead sunlight, seek out a venue that has tree cover over the ceremony site. The trees will break up the harsh sunlight and soften it, often creating a beautiful pattern of dappled light. Natural shade from a nearby building, or even a canopy over the spot that you and your fiancé will be standing on, are also options to deal with harsh lighting. Another issue to consider for outdoor mountain weddings is that you will lose daylight faster due to the mountains blocking the sunlight during the later parts of the day.. Schedule your ceremony 30 minutes to 1 hour before the time you would normally schedule it. This will help to ensure there is sufficient lighting during the ceremony, as well as enough time for creative bride and groom photos during the sunset.
Before you book your Bend church wedding ceremony, make sure to speak with the minister officiating your ceremony to see if he or she has any restrictions against photography. As a Boulder Wedding Photographer with years of experience in the matter, I emphasize that you speak directly with the minister that will be at your wedding, because church officiants often have their own personal rules for what they are and are not comfortable with regarding photography at the ceremony, and this often differs from the official policies that your local contact person at the church may tell you. Ask them where they will allow the photographer during the ceremony, as well as if you are allowed to take pictures in the church AFTER the ceremony.
I've been to several weddings where the church refused to allow the couple to take family photos inside the church after the wedding, and this was their local parish that they attended every Sunday. If your church is highly restrictive to photography and only allows the photographer to stand at the last pew, consider the quality of images that you will receive as a result. While we can always rent telephoto lenses to get closer to the action, the great distance, combined with the restricted angles from the back of the church, means that intimate, emotional photos of the bride and groom during the ceremony are not likely. Always be sure to ask the church about any special lighting they may use during ceremonies, as well as what their policies are with photographers using flash during the ceremonies. I've been to more than a few church ceremonies where the bride was spotlighted, while the groom's face was in shadow. Always make sure to stand in the area where you will be getting married and pay attention to the lighting. Is it well-lit? Is the lighting even? What type of lighting is it? Fluorescent lighting will create a green cast over people's skin that isn't flattering.
The decision to bring your furry friend(s) to your wedding is a big one, but one that I whole-heartedly recommend. There's nothing more spontaneous and cute than a dog being a dog, regardless of the circumstances. With that in mind, you do have to approach things with an open mind and with the mindset of a dog lover. Dogs will be dogs. It's never a bad idea to appoint a member of the bridal party as the official 'dog wrangler' for your big day. This makes a huge difference and really helps to keep things flowing smoothly and removes any worry of having to watch over your pooches on your big day. Granted, having a dog at your wedding is not for everyone.
If you're the type-A personality type and have trouble allowing for spontaneity or risk, then I'd advise you to leave your dogs at home. Dogs make for awesome photos, emotional photos, and adorable photos. They add an unexpected level of spontaneity and can really help you loosen up and let down your guard, especially if you or your fiance are camera shy.One of my most memorable weddings involved a bride that chose to spend the last few minutres of her single life hanging out with her dogs (instead of her bridesmaids doing last minute bridal prep). The photos we got from this opportunity are utterly priceless, and really serve to highlight the indescribable bond we share with our furry friends. Bottomline, when in doubt, bring your furry friends!
It's always a good idea to have your photographer ride with you on the way to the ceremony, and on the way to your reception. This ensures that photographic opportunities are not missed due to traffic, as he will be right at your side. This also allows you to capture some surprisingly cool photos during the trip. If for whatever reason there isn't room for the photographer, make sure to add him to the guest list at the ceremony and reception sites, as well as at any hotels you may be getting ready at. If you're getting ready at several spots, especially in urban areas, make sure that there is parking, or have him meet you at home and drive over to your hair salon with you and your bridesmaids.
If you're planning an Oregon mountain wedding at one of many wedding venues at Mt Hood and want to wow your guests with a scenic ride up the Magic Mile Chairlift to Silcox Hut at 7,000ft, then make sure to find out what time the lift stops running, as well as any restrictions they may have in place during that particular day. It's also a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather forecast when you're planning a mountain top wedding ceremony in Oregon, as high winds and spring thunderstorms can have a huge influence on how you'll be able to access your mountain wedding ceremony site.
Creative portraits are one of the most important parts of your wedding day schedule. This is where yours truly, your Boulder wedding photographer, will capture deeply emotional, visually stunning images of the bride and groom. The focus is on intimacy between you and your beloved, allowing you time to catch your breath and simply soak in the presence of each other. Creative portraits are a huge part of the visual legacy of your wedding day, and are an opportunity to capture your personalities at a very specific moment in time--moments of intensity that may never be replaced. Factor in at least an hour for creative portraits, and more time if you'd like to travel to a few nearby scenic locations with your photographer. Always consider the photogenic quality of the area surrounding your venue, as well as the venue itself, as this will dictate the photographic opportunities available to you.
Many of my brides choose to do a First Look and see their significant other before the ceremony. This has the benefit of allowing you the time to be alone with your bride and step aside from the hectic schedule for time to focus just on each other. Another overlooked benefit is that being open to seeing each other before the ceremony allows great flexibility and more time for creative portraits. Since you're no long restricted to taking your creative bride and groom portraits after the ceremony, often with the daylight fading away, the possibilities for these photos are endless. While it's always amazing to see the reaction of the bride as she sees the groom for the first time as she walks down the isle, having a First Look affords you an added level of intimacy and extends that moment when you see each other for the first time for the rest of your lives.
The best time for family and group photos is right after the reception. Make sure to tell your coordinator to dismiss the rest of the guests to the cocktail hour, as a receiving line situation of all of the guests greeting the bride and groom can easily eat up over an hour of time. Family photos can be taken in as little as 15-30mins max. For larger group photos of guests, create a item on your timeline for your DJ to announce a giant group photo during the reception.
The more lighting you can bring, the better. Uplighting, candles, lanterns, sparkly chandeliers and white bulb lighting all help to create a beautiful, photogenic ambience at your wedding. Bonus points for having a spotlight on you during your first dance. A word of caution about magenta uplighting: digital cameras have an extremely difficult time holding detail in objects lit by magenta. Human skin tones have large amounts of red and magenta in them, as well. While we love the look of magenta uplights, make sure that there is sufficient distance from your table and/or speeches so that you don't end up looking like a glowing pink orb, unless you're feeling very extra terrestrial and like glowing pink orbs--in which case, rock on!
If you're having your wedding reception outdoors, under the stars, don't expect the starry night sky to provide sufficient illumination of the festivities. I suggest adding strings of twinkle lights, lanterns and even stringing up small chandeliers. The colorful glow of these extra lights will add warmth to your reception photos.
I LOVE tent receptions, as the giant white ceilings cater extremely well to the way I use lighting at receptions. It enables me to create soft, flattering lighting that looks three-dimensional. Photos of your party-hearty guests will literally JUMP off the pages of your wedding album at you! The more interesting lighting you can bring to the tents, the better. Sparkly chandeliers, lanterns and twinkly white bulb lights create a beautiful, glowing ambience at wedding receptions in tents.