Hey friends! Phew, I’ve been blogging like crazy for a minute, and I thought it would be fun (and a good idea) to create one centralized resource page with all of my favorite FREE blog posts for couples who are planning their weddings.
I’ve been blogging about wedding planning and wedding photography for a few years now. It started as a way of answering FAQ’s and informing clients how to get the most out of their big day. There was way too much that I had to tell my clients – and no time in which to do it.
My blog library has turned into the major driver of traffic and referrals to my business (beating any other traffic source by at least 10 times, actually!) and I know that by this point, I have much to say that has proven itself to be super valuable.
Whether or not you are one of my clients or are just looking for generally helpful wedding photography/ planning information, I got ya! You can still find a TON of helpful wedding planning resources linked right here, whomever you choose as your photographer!
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite posts from the last couple years! Want even more? View the full blog archive at the button below. Yes, there’s even more at these links 👇🏾:
I very much hope these wedding planning resources are helpful for you planning your wedding! To find out more about my photography services, check out my homepage and ALL the details you need to know in one place here.
Advance planning – what kind of wedding to have?
Choosing the kind of wedding you would like to have is so important. This is where it all starts. While I’m no wedding planner, I do have some thoughts for you on some aspects of weddings that you might want to consider!
I was tooting the horn for intimate weddings before they were cool and basically the only kind of wedding we were allowed to have 😉
You maybe think a small wedding is small wedding. Not that much to it, right? In this article, I’ll share why a small wedding has unique and beautiful benefits that you will simply not get with a larger, more lavish affair. If you think smaller means settling for less, you need to read this! 🤯
Ah, yes, ethical weddings! Now more than ever, couples are seeing their wedding days as a chance to do good. This means the basics are covered such as recycling more and (even better) not using disposables or one-time use items that generate waste.
Ethical weddings also mean making sure your flowers and leftover food go to a good home afterwards. They mean being mindful of what organization or vendor is benefitting from your wedding dollars. And most of all, ethical weddings mean honoring your values as you step into your new chapter.
In this collaboration with a well-known Southern California wedding planner, we put to rights exactly WHY the world (aka YOU!) need a wedding planner even though your wedding is ‘just a small wedding’!
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that. Boo, for an intimate wedding there is no script. There is no formula. Yet there is just as much wedding! That means you are stuck doing EVERYTHING yourself, stressing out at every last thing because you actually just made yourself the fire putter-outer!
I have a whole library dedicated solely to SF City Hall weddings (it’s right here) but I figured might as well put it here. Maybe you aren’t familiar with this architectural marvel yet? The building where hundreds of couples are pronounced married each week, where grand stories and quiet journeys come together.
My guide takes you through it all in quite eye-watering detail. Step, by step, by step. I’m able to offer this resource as an expert in photographing (and therefore, planning!) SF City Hall weddings. Being a keen observer and a curious question-asker, I was able to put together a cheat sheet that tells you everything that the City itself will never, ever tell you.
Planning your engagement photos
OK so first things first. Before we dive too deeply into weddings there is your engagement session to consider! An engagement shoot is still a relatively new thing and many couples are unsure about how to get the best out of it.
Or even why to have an engagement session, how that helps to prepare for your wedding day, and what to do with your photos! Here’s my favorite posts about engagement shoots! And don’t forget, if you want to check out ALL my shoots, go to this link and you’ll see every engagement blog post I’ve ever created!
So you’re engaged and your photographer immediately starts hittin’ you with ‘soooo, you want an engagement shoot?!’. Um, what the hecc is that?? I feel you. This is a practical guide that will help you navigate the unchartered waters of preparing for engagement pictures with your wedding photographer.
Getting your ring cleaned – check! Picking out outfits that look cute together – YEP! Wondering what time of day to shoot and how long all of this is going to take? I gotchu!
OK more on that picking-out-outfits-that-look-cute-and-not-like-twins. Your outfits should compliment but not match. And they should also be a good fit for your surroundings, whatever your location!
It’s a special and rather cool time of your life when you’ve just gotten engaged! An engagement shoot is a time to celebrate that and a time to just look and feel like, well, you.
In this informative post, I bring you my 10 favorite San Francisco locations! Many are broken down into smaller sections, such as my 5 favorite exact spots to get a Golden Gate Bridge view, and 5 other spots in the Golden Gate Park!
You’ll find a ton of inspiration here for your San Francisco wedding or engagement shoot, with examples of every location so you can truly imagine yourselves there!
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the perfect location in our beautiful city, so make sure you get the insider perspective – don’t overlook the many hidden gems that San Francisco has to offer!
Have you ever really stopped and considered the Mission District for your engagement photos? This is an area of San Francisco that really has it all. Stunning, traditional Victorian houses that give you that iconic SF vibe. A pretty park with incredible views over the entire city.
Street art and murals galore with plenty of color and diversity. Oh, and if you like tacos there are so many brilliant mom and pop Mexican restaurants and eateries! Seriously, this neighborhood is my home and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I did however manage to pull together my 10 favorite location – in exacting detail!
Choosing your photographer
If you’ve done any amount of wedding planning you will have noticed there are a ton of wedding photographers around. My resources will help you hone in on what’s most important to you and ultimately to decide whom to choose as your wedding photographer!
I want you to choose who’s right for you – my aim is not to scoop up as many clients as I can. It’s to serve the right clients who really like what I do and whose vision for their day aligns with what I provide as a photographer.
Oh boy! Where to even begin – I’d say right here! It is daunting hiring a wedding photographer because it is tough to know exactly what’s what. Like, do you own the photos? How many photos should a photographer provide? How long does it take?
In this detailed article from early on in my business, I try to break everything down in very simple terms so you can understand exactly what’s included and what to expect. Though this is what works for my business, many photographers work in a similar manner.
With 7,000 photographers listed on Yelp in our local area of the Bay Area, you’re gonna need a little bit of help. I share with you 10 game-changing tips that will eliminate overwhelm and help you find the photographer you’ve been looking for.
From where to actually LOOK for a photographer, through to what red flags to avoid and how to approach a discussion with them, I will show you the best ways of choosing the one who you mesh with.
Following on from the previous article on this list are the 36 questions you really should ask your potential wedding photographer! OK, maybe don’t ask all 36, but certainly use this list as a starting point to figure out anything you’re unsure on.
Most photographers will provide extensive resources to make sure everyone’s on the same page, but there will always be small matters that can turn into big issues if you don’t ask the right questions!
From gauging their *actual* level of experience, through understanding style, deliverables, what they offer in the run-up to the wedding, and how they work on the day, there’s plenty here that I guarantee you will not have considered!
Did you know that hiring your photographer’s associate photographer can be a GREAT way of saving money? It’s true! Having an associate (a lead photographer that works under the business owner) is a way that the business owner can essentially split themselves into two!
The associate shoots weddings at the same time as the main guy, so the result is you can save money and have a better selection of photographers to choose from on your wedding day. Ask if your wedding photographer provides this!
This article was a real joy to write as there were so many things I wanted to get out there. And it was many years in the making. I wrote it after being certified as a LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding professional by Equally Wed Pro. I am the first to admit that serving my LGBTQ+ couples has been a learning experience, and I’ve made mistakes on the way.
So let me just lay it on the line and be honest and vulnerable about some things I’m still learning about. I outline some of the things I’ve learned both from my couples and from the course, and the ways that I’ll honor all love. Ultimately, I hope to contribute to a more inclusive wedding world. That all starts with serving my LGBTQ+ Bay Area wedding couples the best way I can, without prejudice, expectation or tokenism.
Getting the most out of your photography and your wedding
This section is also called ‘everything I wish I could personally tell you because it’s really important secret tips and stuff, but if I did our phone call would last about 12 hours’. It’s the inside scoop on how to make the most of this significant investment you’re making into your wedding images.
Because sure, you could just turn up and hope you look the way you want to look, everything was perfect, and all your insecurities disappeared. But wouldn’t it be great if somebody recognized that having your photos taken is WEIRD, no-one knows what to do, and everyone has things about themselves they don’t love? Oh wait…
Family photos! The most fun you can ever have on your wedding day, am I right?? Seriously though, with the advice on my list we can get those photos done ASAP and get you guys back to the party.
I wrote this post as delicately and tactfully as I could because the truth is, I’ve been to way too many weddings in which everyone’s patience was zapped by posting for 487 photos. I will let you in on my own personal system for creating your family photo list – with realistic estimates for how long it all takes and, oh yeah, how to actually have some fun with it!
The age-old question – to have a second shooter or not? 🤔 Well, far from it being an elaborate ploy to earn a few more bucks per wedding, a second shooter is one of the most economical and elegant solutions for upping the quality, range and even the variety of photography styles from your wedding.
Two really is better than one (you know that, right?) and the same goes for photographers. You’ll gain more angles, different shooting perspectives, two creative brains, more moments, and seemingly a photographer that can time-travel. You’ll also get a happier and much less stressed lead photographer!
And to boot, for a little more in the moolah department, you’ll get MUCH more in the photography department 😉
This was one of my most highly-awaited posts. Almost every couple I ever work with tells me at some point, ‘but we are so awkward when we have our photo taken. No, seriously, I will pull a silly face, I actually can’t help it’.
It may surprise you to learn that everyone has the same insecurities when it comes to having a camera thrust in their face for 8 hours straight. (Okay I’m exaggerating …. a little). In this post I share 5 ACTUAL things that I do (and how I do them) to make you feel less awkward.
I also give you 5 actionable tips for what you can do to feel more like yourselves. But don’t worry, this isn’t meant to be homework for you. It’s really on your photographer to get the best out of you, our subjects, but I get so many questions about how to relax in front of the camera, I thought I’d better share some of them!
Candid wedding photos are a WHOLE vibe! I love everything about candid wedding photography – that’s why I chose to build my business around capturing moments and people just being their authentic selves – no play pretending for the camera.
So, if you’re just doing you, what is there to brush up on before the wedding? Well, quite a lot, it turns out! I mean, HOW do you ignore the camera? What factors really enable you to savor the moment? How do you let go of that stress that, let’s face it, can sometimes happen at weddings?
My 7 easily-digestible tips will definitely help you get the most increds candids, just like what you see in my portfolio! I would be happy to share my recent client galleries with you too. If you have any questions about how I got certain shots or how couples achieved what you see in the photos, I’d be happy to share everything with you!
I wouldn’t say I have really had any weddings with a lot of drama. But I do think it’s partly because my couples are SO chill and they put a lot of emphasis on planning and preparing themselves in every way they can.
But one article I thought was missing from all my research into wedding planning resources was this one. What should you do ON the wedding day to make sure you are ready to rock?
Read this one the day before your wedding day for the super specific tips like what to pack for your emergency kit, what to tell your officiant before you get going with the ceremony, and the best position for toastees to stand!
Were you a gold star student? Some of my couples are SO sweet, they have asked me what they can do to make my job EASIER! I know, I know, I’m spoilt rotten by my amazing clients.
I’ve put together just a few things that would really spread the love on your loveliest day! Not saying that everyone should do all these things (I haven’t got enough gold stars for that), but sometimes there are little things you can do that you may not realize actually make the WORLD of difference to your wedding photographer! I mean things like sending me the wedding invitation in advance, having a timeline with some buffer time, or tidying up the getting-ready room!
All about MONEY!
Many photographers being so creative don’t like talking about money but it’s one of my favorite subjects. I always encourage having open and honest chats about what is a very significant investment in your images.
I am upfront about what you pay, and I don’t believe in needless upsells. That’s one reason why I don’t have any wedding photography packages and instead you pay for what you actually need and use. That said, I will give you the best price I can I love to throw in little extras wherever I can to sweeten the deal and help you feel good about spending on photography!
Some clients do not want my images of them to be shown publicly. Of course, I respect and honor that. However, to have restrictions placed on my work, I choose to charge a fee to offset the loss of marketing opportunities. Again, just being fully transparent about the reality of being in business and the importance of your wedding images in my marketing and ability to attract new clients.
This isn’t a very sexy topic but I do encourage you to have a read. Far from me wanting to push this extra fee, I actually have a list of ways you can AVOID the fee, while still having some control over my usage of my photos – such as by not using your real names.
I wrote this article due to how many couples would contact me asking for ‘just a couple of hours of photography as it’s a short wedding’. I realized there was a misalignment between couples’ expectations and the reality of small business economics when dealing with a very limited resource – Saturdays during wedding season.
As much as I love intimate weddings (which are frequently also ‘short’ weddings), there are things I need to tell you about – in the kindest way possible – in this article that will make you rethink how many hours of photography are possible (depending on your date), and how many actually make sense as a prudent minimum.
An opinion piece in which I dive into a topic that interests me greatly, using both the facts and anecdotal field experience. There is not much independent research out there already that goes into detail about the topic of wedding photography prices in San Francisco.
I created this resource so that couples who – let’s face it – don’t know anything about wedding photography pricing going in, get a sense of what’s average, what’s a higher price and what’s below market value. My spin on the topic is making it hyper-localized because the San Francisco Bay Area market that I serve is a WHOLE different beast compared to the US as a whole and even other major metropolises.
Wedding budgets easily get out of control! So reign in your spending and take a 30,000 foot view of your wedding budget – it may surprise you to learn that you don’t actually need to spend on things that are just not that important to you. Couples often believe that guests will ‘notice’ or judge if there is no cake or the decor doesn’t look a certain way. But in reality, the best way of approaching your wedding budget is to make what you spend on a reflection of you as a couple. Your values, your priorities, should be reflected in what you spend on.
For some that means plenty of live music but no fresh florals. For others that means spending on amazing food but wearing an inexpensive dress and forgoing favors. Read this is you want to find innovative ways to save so your budget will stretch further on the things you value (like your wedding photography!)
Another educational piece (and not defensive in any way!) addressing an often-misunderstood topic – the wedding tax. Slap the word ‘wedding’ on a simple event, and suddenly the price tag shoots up, right?
I take a deep dive into the reality of wedding economics, with 13 compelling reasons that you never considered before – why wedding vendors charge so much! By the end of this read, I guarantee you will be sold on the surprising idea that wedding vendors SHOULD indeed charge a high premium for servicing your wedding. Go on, I dare you.
OK so I’m just going to pull back the curtain and show you everything! Many couples are curious as they begin the search for a professional photographer for the first time in their lives. They are, frankly, shocked at exactly how much wedding photography costs!
I’ll guide you through some of the things you may not have been aware of when it comes to being in business as a professional photographer trying to make ends meet. The costs we encounter may not be the same as your other wedding vendors (who need to but wholesale flowers, cake ingredients and food for the catering), but the costs are disappointingly huge, just like any other small business. With 90% of all small businesses failing, you’ll hopefully learn a bit about what it takes for us wedding photographers to stand even a small chance of staying afloat.
What are the pros and cons of hiring a photography that falls on the cheaper side of the pricing spectrum that we discussed earlier? Well, rather than trying to sell you on buying into expensive photography services, I will give you an unbiased look into the times it actually may make sense to hire someone more affordable.
We will look at how and why a photography might be able to sell their services in the marketplace cheaper than the going rate. We’ll take an honest peek into what you might actually get when you hire someone either just starting out or doing photography as a side-hustle, or working for a large wedding photography factory. And yes, there are times when the cheap photography may suit you just fine. Read what those situations might be in this article.
So you’ve found the photographer you want but there’s one teeny problem. You don’t want to pay their high prices. So, what do you do? Find out how and whether you should negotiate with your wedding photographer. Learn the do’s and don’ts and what is and isn’t acceptable if you want to practice your negotiation skills!
The most important takeaway of this piece is understanding the crucial difference between negotiation and asking for a discount. While the latter may work great when purchasing a second hand car, sadly it will not when dealing with someone’s time, a limited number of dates that weddings take place, and the craft, skills and artistry they have spent their lifetime honing.
Tipping! Is it required for your shutterbugs? Learn whether it’s expected and how often it happens – from an actual wedding photographer who has shot many weddings at SO many different price points!
Whether to tip or not depends on whether your photographer is working for a larger company or is the business owner. It also depends in a large part on your own personal sensibility as there is no cut and dried answer when it comes to tipping your wedding photographer.
Editing, image delivery & post-wedding
When you’re booking your photographer, you may not be thinking ahead to that day when you finally receive that email in your inbox with your gallery link. What do you get out of your wedding photography when all’s said and done?
These posts deal with what happens after the wedding when the donuts are munched, the flowers have wilted and the embarrassing speeches have been done. Yes, you will be kicking back on your minimoon but we photographers will be just beginning our work!
To edit a full wedding can take anything up to 40 hours depending on the number of photographers, hours present and whether or not the photographer outsources the editing or does it themselves. There is much time and skill that goes into post-production so your patience is appreciated!
For anyone that’s curious, this will give you the basics of my basic editing workflow. Many other wedding photographers will follow something similar at a fundamental level. The first step is always to import the photos to a hard drive. Then we cull the images, which requires a dedicated software that whizzes through them and allows us to mark the keepers. I have been known to cull down from 9,000 images to the 750 or so that are delivered for a full wedding.
After the culling comes the actual tweaks on each and every photo using Adobe Lightroom. When that’s done, apply some Photoshop for those fine-image tweaks, zapping fire alarms and rando’s in the background. But there is still the sorting, uploading, delivering and preparing your store to attend to. Find out what happens!
While it’s very flattering to hear from clients, ‘we can’t wait to see the finished images!!!’ it always gives me a little anxiety. I know it’s likely just a figure of speech – and they’re not really asking me to hurry the heck up – but it really does take a while for me to know I’ve done the job correctly. Yes, even now after years in business. I want to truly do justice to the images that you’ll be looking at hopefully for the rest of your lives.
I go into the reasons – including the real business reasons – why it takes so long to get your images to you. Contrary to popular belief, the photographer rarely just comes home and starts working on your wedding images immediately! What no other photographer will tell you is that the tasks associated with running a business and particularly marketing and procuring new clients HAS to take precedence. 😬 Ouch, I’ve said it. Small business economics, baby!
I used to get this question a lot when I was starting out in my photography business. Clients would ask if they would be able to ‘get’ the RAW files or the unedited jpegs. And I would not fault them, because it seems like a perfectly reasonable request. After all, those files are just sitting on a hard drive somewhere gathering dust.
How do you know if the photographer really did choose the best ones? Might be there’s some absolute gems just sitting there. They might not be masterpieces but you’d love to have them for posterity! Without setting the world to rights, I do lay out a few of the reasons why photographers in fact don’t make these available for purchase. There are compelling reasons both business and artistic why this is a definite no-no.
How does time of day affect your images? Does it matter if you get married at midday or sunset if you want warm, glowing light? How can you maximize your time for the best possible wedding photos?
I know you have a lot of questions trying to envisage how your wedding photos will look based on the seemingly infinite number of factors that went into the reality of what your wedding day actually is. Hopefully, in this piece written in layman’s terms, you’ll get a sense of what to expect based on time of day, weather, lighting, venue type, editing and photography style and a host of other factors.
I firmly believe that printed wedding albums should be the culmination of your wedding photography experience. And the lasting legacy of your wedding day.
That’s why I make it easy for you to order an album. The entire album selection, ordering, design and proofing process is available all online. Start here if you’re wondering how this whole thing works – choosing your images, collaborating together, and picking a color and fabric style.
Because I think albums should be accessible to all, my albums are pretty affordable! The type of album available to you will be dictated by the specifics of your wedding, taking your photography budget into mind. What does this mean? You’ll be presented with the choice of album that’s right for you, not too extravagant or too basic. You can always ask about other types if you’re curious (though this can be a little confusing when you’re dealing with more than the one suggested type!)
Here’s what you need to know when using your own dedicated print store (available directly through your finished wedding gallery). Your final images are delivered in a 2:3 crop ratio – but when you order prints, different aspect ratios are available. These include 5:7, 4:5 and even 1:1 (square).
A little intro to composition and cropping is definitely helpful so that you can choose the right aspect ratio. My print store is completely automated, so I really recommend you spend a little time understanding cropping so that you are not left with prints that have undesirable cropping.
TL;DR: If in doubt, always choose an aspect ratio for your prints that’s 2:3, such as 8 X 12, 10 X 15, 12 X 18 and 16 X 24. This way you will never need to select a crop for your prints – the entire image will be printed!
From backing up your images through printing them out or making an album, you want to make sure that you’re preserving the treasured photos! There will be a time when you really need to access your photos and I will not be in business forever!
Lots of ideas here for how and where exactly to back up, putting them online, creating thank-you cards, wall art and beginning the album process. One thing you DON’T want is your wedding photos languishing on your hard drive forever, and then one day the computer breaks down or you can’t open the files.
So spend some time NOW to make sure you’re futureproofing your wedding photography for the rest of your lives and beyond.
I’ve said it many times but COVID has changed the wedding world forever. Not wanting to be alarmist in any way, but there will be changes in the way people want to get married for a long time to come. Planning has changed – couples now hold their plans loosely.
Wedding guest count has cropped dramatically, as folks are not too sure if the big wedding they had envisaged can even happen if restrictions are imposed again.
I understand all of this, and I am working my darnedest to be as flexible, understanding and accommodating as I can in the face of an uncertain wedding world. So here’s inspiration and tangible help for couples planning a wedding in the midst of a global pandemic.
What happens if your wedding needs to be rescheduled? How does that work if you’ve already paid a reservation fee, and signed a contract? Is there a fee for reschedulings within a certain timeframe of the wedding? These questions and many others are what I try to give my best and most honest answer in this post.
There are tough questions we are all grapping with as wedding photographers that are used to doing things in a certain way. COVID has upended everything that we’re used to doing, so I just wanted to give every assurance I can that I am aware of the absolute need to work with my couples as you are dealing with moving targets and situations beyond anyone’s control.
Now for something a little more fun – stuff you NEED for your downsized wedding! Many couples are going along the lines of a DIY wedding with a very small guest count, doing it all themselves. So you need a buyer’s guide to everything from attire to dinner plates, coolers to lighting solutions, decor to tablecloths! Trust me, there are SO many things that can help your day run smoothly or really take your photos to the next level, and truly elevate your guest experience.
I’ve kept the stuff on this list pretty dang affordable, and honed in on items that you can repurpose after the wedding so you’re not buying without purpose. I *think* I’ve thought of pretty much everything – I promise you’ll find items here that you will never have even considered before!
I’ve been shooting intimate weddings since 2016. In that time I’ve seen it all and have gotten to know a thing or two about what makes for a relaxed but still well-optimized timeline for your small wedding.
So drawing from that wealth of experience, I also throw into the mix my knowledge of COVID weddings and bring you a complete guide for creating your intimate wedding timeline. I have a detailed breakdown of how long to allow for each wedding day activity plus the importance of buffer time. You will learn what actually happens at weddings with very few guests and how to maximize the time you’ve allocated to your photography without making it feel rushed.
A selection of 5 very different Bay Area pandemic weddings that I shot in 2020! Get some inspiration and planning insights from five couples that opted to get married in 2020. From backyards to beaches, and elopements to big wedding parties!
You can still infuse your wedding with personality and your own values as a couple. Stay safe and take a peek at what other couples have made happen for their very special 2020 weddings in our beautiful Bay Area!