Vintage Wedding Love

I am a big fan of anything with a vintage appeal. 

I collect vinyls of my favorite musicians rather than CDs, I collect vintage fashion and old nicknacks like compasses reading glasses and old photographs, and of course I have a collection of old cameras, including my favorite, my brass and cherry wood large format camera shown below, the same type of camera that was used during the 19th Century.

When I was planning my own wedding, I wanted to incorporate my vintage taste into the decor. My husband is a writer, and I’m a photographer, so I wanted to put a little bit of ourselves into the decor. We displayed a family heirloom, a black Royal typewriter, circa 1940’s, which we used for our guestbook, and I found some typewriter keys to spread around the table. I brought my beloved brass and cherry wood camera, as well, and if my collection of old cameras was more impressive back then, I would have brought more to add to our table settings.

I really like making things, so for our wedding favors, I taught myself how to do a photo screen print. I made a design via Photoshop - a silhouette of my husband and I with floral accents and our initials, and I screen printed them onto an old supply of handkerchiefs, which were then folded and tied with ribbon. (Photographs supplied by my wedding photographer, the amazing Ashley O’Dell)

All of these details were integrated into a beautiful setting at the Lanam Club, a mansion built in 1916 with intricate hand-carved wood, white accented ceilings and dark wood and leather furniture throughout. 

With my love for the vintage aesthetic, it’s easy to say that my favorite weddings to shoot are for those who also swoon over those same old-timey details as I. And, though I absolutely love what I created for my own wedding, now that I’ve been in the wedding biz for a while, there are so many cool ideas that I wish I had discovered back then.

That’s why I put together a collection of inspiration boards, for all of you likeminded couples that are searching for those perfect, personalized details for your wedding. I love finding interesting ideas of all kinds, from dress, to decor, to gift ideas for your wedding party.  Even more, I like to see what my couples come up with for their wedding day!

Angie + Christian

I traveled to Kissimmee, Florida a couple weeks ago to photograph and attend one of my oldest and dearest friend’s wedding. Angie & Christian decided to have an intimate elopement, and I was so very happy that I was able to be a part of it! This cute and casual fall wedding took place at the beautiful and historic, Osceola County Courthouse, followed by a nice lunch for friends and family, and a visit to Angie’s grandparents beautifully decorated home, for a family gathering.

Advice from a Photographer: 11 Insider Tips for Your Wedding Day

Planning a wedding is completely new territory for most couples. There are so many variables that lead up to this one special day, and often times, we have to navigate them with little to no experience, making it difficult to achieve our vision without knowing the logistics to make it happen. 

I know for me, the most important thing I wanted for my wedding, was to enjoy an autumn day with my husband, friends and family, and to have amazing pictures to remember the day by. I knew then how lucky we were to have an amazing photographer, and an amazing venue for her to work in, but now I know that there are so many other details that play a part in the look and feel of your wedding photos. 

So, I’m taking what I have learned and sharing it with you, so that your wedding photo dreams can become a reality!

1.  Have Realistic Expectations for Your  Wedding Day

No matter how much time you spend planning your wedding, things rarely go 100% according to plan. The day goes by so much faster than you can ever imagine, and those carefully planned details sometimes aren’t fully realized. But, that’s okay! 

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate as expected, but rainy weather can be beautiful for photos. Sometimes, the flowers aren’t exactly how you’ve imagined they would be, but nobody will ever know except for you. Sometimes, traffic keeps us from the reception longer than we had hoped - but, while we don’t want to keep our guests waiting, the party isn’t going to start without you! Relax, and have fun. This is your day!

Things would be boring if there were no surprises. I had a best man who had forgotten his white pocket square - instead, he folded a piece of tissue paper in his pocket. The guests never knew the difference, and it became a funny story between the wedding party that would surely be  remembered. These details can add to your day!

If, however, you want to minimize these “surprises” as much as possible, I highly recommend a wedding planner. The amount of stress that they are able to lift off your shoulders is drastic, and the last thing you want to do is to be stressing over last minute details the day-of, instead of enjoying one of the most special days of your life!

2.  Consider the Pros and Cons of the Seasons

Every season has its pros and cons. The summer is nice, because the sun sets later in the evening and the nights are pleasant, but on the other hand, I’ve also had couples cut photo shoots short mid-day in August, because the bride and groom are drenched in sweat and exhausted. In that case, perhaps plan on less walking time for our shooting location, and lots of water on-hand to keep the wedding party hydrated. 

Outdoor weddings are a favorite of mine, and I love tented weddings. I have attended non-air conditioned tented weddings in mid-summer, however, where the guests appeared rather uncomfortable. Creating some extra cool cocktails to quench the thirst of your guests is a creative way to keep everyone cool, or perhaps supplying some handheld fans for your guests as wedding favors would be a cute and practical detail. 

Winter weddings are lovely, as well - and I love photographing snow! Just make sure you layer up to keep yourself warm, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a pair of boots for the bride, so that her feet don’t get soaked frozen. The wedding party will be braving the cold for pictures, also. Perhaps engraved hand warmers would be a pleasant gift for your wedding party, even! 

3.  Be Mindful of the Sun’s Bedtime

Usually, the bride and groom photo session takes place right before or after the ceremony, and you want to make sure you have nice light to work in. I prefer to have at least an hour during this time for photos. 

If you are getting married in the Fall or Winter, you may want to keep in mind that the sun sets earlier. If you have a 5:00pm ceremony in or after September, you’ll be cutting it real close, in regards to your couple photos. You probably want to avoid being stuck in the dark when it’s time for your “money shot” photos to be taken, and lean towards an early afternoon ceremony. If you are unable to push the ceremony up, planning on a First Look would be smart!

Conversely, in the summer time, noon emits the harshest light possible. If you are going for something nice and soft, you’d probably want to aim for a late afternoon ceremony, so that we can soak up the softer light in the evening.

4.  Rain is Okay!

Guess, what? If it rains on your wedding day, don’t let it put a damper on your day! Rainy weather is actually quite lovely to shoot in - and 9 times out of 10, the skies will be courteous enough to give us a break for some picture taking in the beautifully soft light that those rain clouds have provided.

5.  Know and Love Your Photographer’s Style

Choose your photographer because you absolutely love their work! If you are into natural photojournalistic  wedding photos, then choose a photographer that specializes in that style. If you are into something fun and a little goofy, pick a photographer that you know can give you what you want! 

Photo references are great for ideas, but handing over 10 “must have” images is a bit much. The day will go by so fast, and realistically, unless you want to compromise other parts of the day, you may have time for 2 or 3. Instead, planning on letting the day unfold naturally is not always a bad plan.

6.  Understanding Pricing and What You Are Paying For

Photography is expensive. For many, it is difficult to understand what it is, exactly, that you are paying for. It may seem that you are paying an outrageous fee for only one day of work, but keep in mind that there is so much pre/post work that goes into the cost. 

As far as wedding photography is concerned, you are paying for pre-planning and consultation, anywhere from 5 to 20 hours of editing images, image gallery hosting, album design and cost, usage rights, prints and packaging materials; business expenses, including at least $10,000 worth of equipment, hefty maintenance and repair fees, business insurance, and of course, the cost has to cover living expenses. (Basically, it costs a small fortune just to be in business!) 

In addition, the photographer, more often than not, ends up taking the lead in managing the entire day when a wedding planner isn’t present. Corralling large groups of people for photos, keeping everyone on schedule, as well as working with other vendors to keep the day on track, and making sure everything is done with ease and minimal stress for the couple is a ton of work, even on its own. 

7.  Understanding Photo Usage and Copyrights

Sometimes it’s difficult for one to understand copyrights. After all, you are paying all of this money, and you want to make sure that you can do whatever you want with your photos, right?

Sometimes couples may mistake a photographer for being “stingy,” rather than fully understanding usage rights. 

According to federal law, the photographer always holds the rights for their work. This does not necessarily mean that you can’t post, print and share your photos how you wish. Every photographer has different usage rules. Some may limit your printing rights, because they rely on their print sales for a large portion of their income. A photographer doesn’t get paid on a daily/hourly basis, and this often helps to keep the money flowing during off-seasons. 

Others may focus more on the wedding day for their income, permitting more open usage rights to their clients - perhaps only preventing images to be used commercially without permission. Basically, this usually means that you cannot sell or give your wedding photos away to another vendor for advertising purposes, as this would allow other businesses to profit from the photographer’s work without fair compensation.

Signing over images to the client means that the photographer is signing over their legal rights to use images for self promotion. Your beautiful images serve the same purpose as those images that lead you to choosing your photographer, in the first place. They are essential for keeping the finding new clients and keeping a fresh reputation, and thus must remain the property of the photographer’s for them to keep a sustainable business. 

It’s pretty safe to say that if any reputable photographer offers to sign away their rights to their clients, you can expect to pay at least triple their normal rate for those exclusive rights. 

8.  Photography and Venues

One thing to keep in mind, is that your photographer is always at the mercy of the lighting environment of the space. 

For some, getting married at their church is super important. What some couples aren’t always aware of, is that churches are often dimly lit, and many congregations have rules against flash photography. If your church is special to you, you should absolutely incorporate it into your day!! Just know what to expect ahead of time, as far as your pictures are concerned, so that you don’t end up being disappointed with the photographs when it’s all said and done. Having a conversation with the officiant helps to clarify what the situation will be like for your photographer.

As far as a reception venue goes, just keep in mind that whatever lighting colors are in the room, will sometimes reflect onto you and your guests. My favorite venues are those with lots of natural light and romantic, warm lighting come sundown. But, if you have bright green LED lights, you may have bright green skin tones, too - which can be kinda cool, you never know!

9. Thinking About Travel Time

The more travel time in between locations, the less precious time you have for photographs. 

Having a different location for the ceremony and reception is one thing, but when 3 photo-op locations in downtown Chicago are thrown in, just be aware that the travel time really cuts into the amount of photographs you have. More than once, I have been stuck in traffic for 45 minutes trying to get those sought after urban shots, and left with less than 10 minutes to photograph the bride and groom before we had to head back to the reception. 

If you know that you are absolutely dying for that downtown city scape shot with your bridal party, let’s do it! But, let’s make sure to prioritize our list of stops, and to also double check that there isn’t a coinciding Taylor Swift concert monopolizing the flow of traffic on that particular day.

10. Coordinate With Aunt Flo.

This tip is less about photography, and more about personal comfort and enjoyment for the ladies. Make sure “shark week” doesn’t land on your wedding day. It’s the biggest bummer to feel bloated and uncomfortable on your wedding day - and it might put a bit of a damper on the wedding night, as well.

11. Timing Your Honeymoon.

This tip is 100% just from my own experience having been married, but I think it’s worth noting. I was mid-semester in grad school when we got hitched, so we couldn’t take our honeymoon right after. We did, however, plan a nice weekend getaway. It was lovely, but in all honesty, we basically spent 2 days almost exclusively in the hotel recovering from our wedding day, with the occasional food outing. We didn’t see much. We were completely exhausted!! I couldn’t imagine having to get on a plane for a Euro backpacking trip the day after! I would especially avoid the possible hangover + traveling combo, that I’m sure some couples end up having to experience.

So there you have it! I hope these tips serve you well in helping you to avert any unpleasant surprises along the way, and to assist in making your wedding day everything that you want it to be!

Happy Planning!

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