Robin + Alex - Wedding at Terrain at Styers

Another of one of my favorites from last year was Robin and Alex's wedding at Terrain at Stylers, which was beautifully captured by The More We See Photography and featured in Style Me Pretty. Some of the most unforgettable moments I've ever experienced at a client's wedding, I experienced that day.  One of those moments was when Robin sang a very sweet version of "Can't Help Falling In Love" at her ceremony (a surprise to the groom), and the second was her father's emotional speech at the reception which literally shut the house down. Robin is such a sweetheart and it was a pleasure working with her in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Robin and Alex's wedding day was beautiful and I wish them many many more beautiful years ahead.  For more photos of this wedding, go to The More We See Photography. [Brava Weddings Day of Coordination]

Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
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Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
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Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
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Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
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Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex
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Terrain at Styers Wedding - Robin and Alex

Design Your Wedding for Great Photography Results

I love great wedding photography and so do many of my clients. But great wedding photography does not stop at hiring a really good photographer. You can help improve the outcome of your wedding photos by incorporating these ten tips into your wedding planning.

Photo by Hoffer Photography. Rose Hall Great House, Jamaica

Photo by Hoffer Photography. Rose Hall Great House, Jamaica

1. Choose An Interesting Room to Get Dressed In

Splurge on a beautiful spacious light-filled corner room. Look for large windows on more than one wall. A room with high ceilings would be idea as it makes the room look grand. If you are getting ready in a chain hotel, try to negotiate the use of the best suite. To ensure you have access to the best rooms available, book your getting-ready suite right after you book your venue. If you don't have a good getting ready room, improvise by finding an appropriate room for the bridal party to hang out and shoot in after getting dressed.

2. Keep The Room You Get Dressed Neat And Uncluttered

Put away plastic bags, luggage, and paper cups. Clutter means the photographer has fewer options. Clutter in the background can ruin a great candid shot. To cut down on clutter, try not to have more than one other person staying with you the night before. You might be tempted to help your bridesmaids save money by having them stay in your room the night before the wedding. But the more people stay with you, the more clutter there will be to manage. Consider subsidizing your bridesmaid's hotel rooms. Make it a part of your wedding budget. It is a wonderful gift to give your bridesmaids and it makes your wedding day go much more smoothly.

3. Use A Separate Room For Hair And Makeup

With stylists’ equipment, food trays, the bridal party and family members walking in and out, it is difficult to keep your hotel room or dressing room neat and fresh and the energy calming. With hair and makeup in another room, the photographer can shoot your dress and shoes in your room without bumping into others or having to wait for the room to be cleared. Best of all, you get to come back to a zen bridal suite to relax just before putting on your dress. 

4. Schedule Enough Time For Photography

Wedding photography today takes a lot more time than it used to. Couples now expect more scenery changes and a larger number of shots. Don’t be fooled by those relaxed candid portrait shots you see on your photographer’s website. They often require time to set up as well as time for you to relax into the shot. 

A misconception that couples often have about wedding photography is that by choosing a “photojournalistic” photographer they won't spend much time posing for photos because the photographer will stand in the background shooting almost the entire time.

The truth is weddings are, by design, part photojournalistic (for example the ceremony) and part posed or photographer directed (for example, the formal family shots, the bride and groom's portraits, and the bridal party portraits). Often the photos that we think are candid, were skillfully directed by the photographer to look natural and unposed. I have observed that the posed part of the photography takes about the same amount of time regardless of the style or experience of the photographer. 

If you have less time for photography than the photographer requires or don’t want to spend a lot of time taking photographs, then reduce the number of photos you take and the number of locations you will shoot in.

5. To Stay On Schedule, Create A Realistic Time

A timeline is a well thought out plan of how the day is going to flow. Your timing will be more accurate if you align your timeline with the time requirements of your key vendors. It is important that your timing is realistic because it is usually the photographer’s time that is shortened when you are running late. If the photographer has less time to shoot, it could reduce the number of great shots, or it could mean you don’t get some of the shots that you wanted.  If you start off with a realistic timeline, you will have wiggle room to make changes if the day does not go as planned. 

6. Avoid the Getting-Ready Time Busters

These time busters can eat into your getting-ready time, so eliminate them and save your buffer time for the real emergencies. Here are my top three easily avoidable getting-ready time busters.

Not having your dress and accessories ready before the photographer arrives. The night before, be sure to gather your shoes, jewelry, and other items like stationery that you want the photographer to shoot so that you are not gathering everything when the photographer arrives. Make sure your wedding dress is out of the bag and on an attractive hanger, ready to shoot.

Not having the mothers and bridesmaids get dressed before you. It takes more time to get dressed together and the risk of delays are higher.

Not organizing the bride’s purse beforehand. Have the bridal party gather your things (purse with makeup, toiletries, and cell phone) and their things before you put your dress on. That way everyone will be ready to leave right after you put your wedding dress on.

7. Communication Is Key

It only takes one person who didn't know where they were supposed to be or when, to hold up the entire wedding party, keep guests waiting, or shorten your photographer's shooting time. I find it is most effective to communicate in writing and verbally to all your bridal party, parents, those in the formal family portraits, and any other non-professional wedding helpers before the wedding day.

8. Coordinate The Post Ceremony Formal Family Portraits Effectively

When it comes to taking formal family photos, the goal is to be organized, efficient, and quick. The moments right after the ceremony can be very chaotic if not properly organized. This is because, after the ceremony, everyone is in celebration mode, everyone wants to rush to the parents (not just the newlyweds) to offer congratulations. Immediate family members may not know where the photographer wants them or may even forget they’re supposed to be taking pictures and wonder off to the cocktail hour. Trying to gather folks can eat up a lot of unnecessary time. So how do you avoid it?

Always create a list of family members you would like to be present for formal shots after the ceremony.

Be sure to communicate to family members that they will be included in the formal shots after the ceremony. In fact, include this in your rehearsal the day before.

Keep your list of family members for formal shots to a manageable size. If possible, keep it to immediate family (parents, grandparents, bride and groom’s siblings and their families). Larger groups become difficult to manage and take a longer time to shoot. Of course, if it is very important to you to have an uncle or aunt in the shots, then, by all means, do it, but understand that there is a trade-off...more pictures with family may mean less time for you to take portraits of you and your groom.

9. Consider Unplugging Your Ceremony

Unplugging means no electronic devices—no cameras of any kind, smartphones, games, or other personal electronic devices. Even if you don’t mind the distraction of having guests focusing on their cameras and electronic devices instead of you, sometimes guests with cameras can get in the way of the photographer. Photographers generally don’t tell you to go unplugged because they feel it is not their right, but more and more brides are catching on to the importance of this and more ceremony officiants are speaking up about it even before I mention it.

10.  Add Accent Lighting Effectively to Create Ambiance

If you have a formal wedding in a traditional venue, I strongly recommend using a professional event lighting company to pin-spot the centerpiece flowers. Pin-spotting is to centerpieces what mascara is to the eyes. It creates the pop, it creates the drama. Without pin-spotting, the room looks and photographs "flat" and your flowers are not as noticeable once the light is dimmed. If you have a limited budget for event lighting, then skip wrapping the room in up-lights, and spend money on pin-spotting first, then if, there is more money in the budget, choose to uplight just the focal points in the room. 

Barns or rustic venues tend to be dark with poor overhead lighting. String lights installed overhead photograph very nicely in these spaces.  Terrain at Styers barn near Philadelphia is a great example of effective use of overhead string lighting.

Incorporate candles generously into your guest table decor. Lots of candles can make a room instantly more dreamy not only in real life but in photos. It also helps to light guests’ faces at the table. The best way to use candles is to incorporate at least two different heights. For example, a formula I use on round tables is six votives and three taller candles.

Beautiful Barn Wedding in Northern PA

For Melinda, a VP at an investment bank in Brazil and her fiancé Otavio, their intimate wedding was all about food, family, friends...and a special donkey named Honeybun.  Melinda wanted colorful wild flowers with a focus on sunflowers and food that was was made from scratch with the freshest in-season ingredients. Also important was a nod to both their cultures - his being Brazilian and her's being Greek. Both cultures were well represented with sweets. Guests were treated to a special display of incredibly delicious traditional Brazilian truffles and pastries called Bem Casados and Brigadeiros, as well as Greek desserts, including authentic Greek yogurt with traditional toppings. (I may never eat Dannon yogurt again.)  I certainly miss the many conversations we had from her home in Brazil to my home in PA. Wishing Melinda and her wonderful husband Otavio all the best for their future together. Thank you to the amazing Elizabeth Lloyd for the beautiful pictures! (Brava Weddings Full Planning)

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Honeybun came to us from Young's Funny Farm, and organization that adopts and trains donkeys for animal therapy. The organization generously offers their services free of charge because of their passion for animals and helping others.  If you would like to learn more about Young's Funny Farm or support this wonderful organization, please go to their website at

A Magical Re-do of Our Jamaica Beach Condo

I can't believe how far we've come!! A couple weeks ago I took a quick trip to Montego Bay to help my mother put the final decor touches on her beach condo. After all our hard work re-freshing and staging, it is now time to put it on the market and say good-bye!  Special thanks to my friend Suki McDonald, an accomplished real estate and wedding photographer, for taking the first picture of the living room that captures the beautiful sea view from the living room.

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Below are some of the decor items and fabrics I bought to take down. Couldn't believe I found that blue plate that matched the stripped fabric so well!

Sarah and Cliff's Farm Wedding

Trying to play catchup on some of the wonderful weddings from last year. One of my favorites was Sarah and Cliff's wedding last July. I remember it as a relaxed, warm and happy celebration. Even though there were over 100 people, it felt as intimate as a family thanksgiving dinner. Sarah wanted to keep things simple, but special. Cocktail hour included an oyster bar and dinner was focused around a gourmet burger bar with every imaginable fixing, courtesy of the always fabulous Epicurean Delight. On display were old photos of both parents and the wedding gowns worn by Sarah's and Cliff's grandmothers. As a little surprise, Sarah's father, a musician, took to the stage to play a couple songs with the wedding band. I think one of the most adorable guests and member of the bridal party was Sarah and Cliff's dog who sort of played the role of ring bearer. He was clearly very excited to be there. When it came his turn to go down the aisle, it was not like we rehearsed.  Instead of walking calmly, he was more like a wild horse! Then when he got to the beginning of the aisle he stopped to sniff around like he was on a morning walk. It was so funny. Sarah and Cliff choose the talented documentary photographer Daniel Lanton of Darker Shades of Brown to shoot their wedding. I am so happy to finally get this post out so I can share these gorgeous photos from her wedding day with you!

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