What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Guest blogger Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Hsu Closet, is sharing the ins and outs of planning a New York City wedding, picking the perfect venue, crafting a day-of beauty look and finding inspiration in the strangest of places.
When it comes to wedding regrets, one thing I heard a lot from my friends is that they weren't thrilled with their wedding day photography. So when it came time to hire my own wedding photographer, I chose carefully. Luckily, I ended up being thrilled with my choice. Here's how I found the perfect photographer, and got the beautiful wedding photos I wanted.
Know Your Style
Knowing your favorite style is key to finding a photographer who can shoot images you'll love. Do you like pictures that look romantic and ethereal, or more like a fashion editorial? Do you prefer formal staged shots or candids? Do you gravitate toward unusual, artsy photos...or away from them?
I wanted something that looked like a cross between a luxury ad and fashion reportage. I loved the idea of documenting my wedding day in a natural, photojournalistic way, but wanted all my candid shots to look glamorous. And most of all, I wanted my photos to be bright and vibrant, not vintage-looking, overprocessed, or filtered. Knowing what you like best and applying that criteria to your search is the first step in finding (and eliminating!) photographers.
Photo: Christian Oth
Go With Your Gut Feeling
Consider every recommendation you receive, but ultimately, let the photos do the talking. One night while on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this image by Christian Oth and was hooked. I couldn't look away! Soon I was clicking through every photo on his studio website and loving each one more than the last. Since the photos will be the biggest keepsakes from your wedding day, finding the perfect photographer isn't something to be rushed. Take your time and keep looking until you find someone whose work you absolutely love.
Don't Be Shy
If you pick the right photographer, you should already trust their skill, aesthetic, professionalism, and vision. Since I already had so much admiration for my photographer's work, I felt confident letting him shoot the way he wanted to on my wedding day. To help you get to that level of trust with your photographer, there are a few things I recommend:
1. Have an in-person meeting. This is key because the way you describe or envision something may not be how your photographer understands it. If you can point out photos that you love (or don't), this will help your photographer better understand your vision and how best to capture your day.
2. Ask for what you want. We all have our "good side," body parts we love, and body parts we don't. Let your photographer know if you want him to shoot from a specific angle or avoid something altogether. It's better to give clear direction upfront than be disappointed later because you were too shy to communicate something.
3. Book an engagement session. Initially, I was reluctant to have an engagement shoot, but in retrospect, I'm so glad I did! My husband and I both got to experience what it was like being in front of our photographer's camera—and let me tell you, getting those perfect shots (walking! kissing! looking lovingly into each other's eyes!) takes practice. It also gives you a chance to see what you two look like in the photos—so you can tweak things on the big day.
4. Ask for your photographer's opinion. Ask your photographer for his thoughts on things like venue décor or your dress, because those things can have a big impact on your photos. I had two questions I wanted my photographer to weigh in on: Which room at my venue to use for my ceremony should it rain (luckily, I didn't have to go there); and should I add a belt to my wedding dress (yes). I'm glad I got his opinion, because in the end, I was really happy with how everything looked in the pictures.
Photo: Christian Oth
Make Photos a Priority
I was all about maximizing photo opportunities throughout the day, from the first look to the last dance. To do this, I opted to take portraits before the ceremony so we'd have more time to get the shots we wanted. I also wanted to get a variety of photos with different backdrops that captured the feel of New York City. We shot in the gorgeous roof terrace of the hotel where we had our first look, in front of the New York Public Library, outside Grand Central, and finally in the garden and throughout our venue.
If you also want to incorporate a variety of backgrounds for your photos, factor in some time to take photos in different places. An experienced photographer should have some go-to locations in mind. And if traveling around the city before your ceremony isn't feasible, then consider getting ready or having your first look at a venue that offers a few different backdrops, such as a rooftop, balcony, garden, or other private space. Looking back, those photos added unique character and personality to my wedding album.