A Washingtonian Wedding: Smile—Some Good Advice on Photos

Emily uses old school ties to save money on a photographer—and learns how to get the pictures she wants.

After work, I’m jumping on the $25 bus bound for my NYC bachelorette party. My girlfriends have the weekend pretty much under wraps, but I’ll give you all the juicy details in a post next week!

This past weekend, Drew and I drove down to Virginia Beach for a sunny July Fourth to visit a friend, Charlotte, who is also our wedding’s singer and scripture reader. We had a great time catching up with her and her family, playing in the pool, zooming on the Jet Ski, and swimming in the ocean, though we did get sunburned, stung by jellyfish, and bitten by horseflies. Note to self: No crazy adventuring right before the wedding unless we’re okay with lobster-colored (maybe peeling) skin and red welts in the wedding pics.

Last week I mentioned scheduling a meeting with our wedding photographer. As anyone who has planned a wedding knows, photographers are très cher. In our online search of Nashville photographers, we found many who charged $4,000-plus for just a few hours, which would not include rights, prints, or an album.

We didn’t foresee spending almost a fourth of the wedding budget on photos, so we needed a plan B. My mom, like Drew and me a graduate of the University of Missouri, had the idea of calling the journalism school’s photo department and seeing if there were any photography graduates in the Nashville area. And just like that we found our photographer. He’s just a couple of years out of school and has shot a few weddings, but he’s charging us a lot less and giving us a lot more time. He’s agreed to shoot our rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception and will give us the rights to the photos. Album and prints aren’t included, but I’m a DIY bride anyway, so that doesn’t matter at all. Sweeeeeeet!

In my wedding-photography research, it seems that building a “prioritized shot list” is a must, and that means writing out a list of the different moments we want captured, in order of importance. One picture that might be high on the list is our kiss at the ceremony. If that conflicts with another shot on the list—for instance, a candid of our wedding guests—we’d like the kiss to trump the guests.

Another tip is to designate a neutral organizer who can help with photography direction, round everyone up, and make sure the photographer is capturing photos of both sides of the family.

More good advice: Think out some spontaneous and fun shots beforehand, which of course defeats the point of “spontaneous,” but if inspiration to be silly doesn’t come quickly in the craziness of the wedding day, it’d be good to have some fallback funny shots on hand.

Off to the bachelorette weekend!

Emily, a Washington bride-to-be, writes every Friday about planning her wedding, which will be in Nashville this fall. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.

To read the latest Bridal Party blog posts, click here.