Wedding Resources - HHawkinsPhotography

In my experience with couples, I get asked a lot of questions related to wedding planning.  Its my hope to always be able to help out which has lead me to create this section on my website! If you have a question that you think many brides are asking, shoot me an email and I'll see if I can write something up about it!  

The question I get asked most often is, "Do you have a videographer that you work with?  Or can you recommend a DJ?"  You'll see the link to that page just below this paragraph right in the middle.  

As for blog posts, there are currently  five articles below, Tips on What to Look for in a Wedding Photographer,  The Ideal Wedding Day Timeline,  The Photo Gift Registry, Feeding Your Photographers, and What to Expect Before and After the Wedding.  Click on the links directly below to read them!   Also check out my blog for more information!

Once you're done on our Resources page, jump on over to the Investment tab for further info.

Tips on What to Look for in a Wedding Photographer

It’s finally happening!... you’ve got the engagement ring, you’re narrowing down wedding dresses, you’ve got some colors picked out and I KNOW you’ve already been all over Pinterest and that your Wedding Board has exploded with pins. You probably have an idea of whether you want a country rustic feel or chic and elegant for your day which has helped you narrow down venues for your ceremony and reception. Now you’re faced with the task of choosing a photographer which can be super overwhelming. After asking hundreds of brides, “Do you know what you’re looking for in a photographer? In your experience with them? In what they offer?” 99% of brides answer something like this, “Well, I’m not really sure… I know I want good pictures.” So based on my experience as a wedding photographer AND as I was a bride myself, these are some guidelines to keep in mind as you look around for someone to capture one of the most important events of your life. Ask yourself:

1. What is Their Style of Photography?

2. What is Their Personality and Customer Service like?

3. What Products Do They Offer?

Let’s break these down into more tangible ideas.

1. What is Their Style of Photography?

Ok before I talk about different styles of photography, stop reading for a second and go pull up your Pinterest Board or your wedding binder and look at the images that you’ve pinned. What type of pictures have you put together? Do all your pictures have common themes such as soft and sweet or do they all have bold colors? Are your pictures particularly staged and posed? Or are they candid and in the moment? Ok now let’s jump in to the different styles I’ve observed:

A. Traditional – This is exactly what it sounds like and is probably the style you’ll find in your parent’s wedding album. Everyone is standing in a line, the tallest person in the back, “everyone look at the camera please, no blinking and smile!” We also call these types of pictures “Camera Aware” because the subject in the person is usually aware of the camera and looking right at it. The traditional style is all about posing. Traditional shots are great for Family Formal pictures and are usually the shots that end up on the mantel in your parent’s house. So ask yourself, are the majority of my pictures traditional, camera aware shots?

Traditional, Posed, Camera Aware

  • Romantic Moment | Sackets Harbor NY

Fashion, Editorial, Glamour

B. Fashion – also called Glamour or Editorial. This style is a relatively new style to the world of photography and has its roots in magazine spreads and fashion shoots. Often the subjects in these pictures are posed though usually not camera aware and have a very serious look on their faces. Capturing a few of these pictures during your wedding day really takes advantage of the fact that not only are you in a beautiful gown but you’ve had your hair and makeup professionally done and you’re looking your very best. These photos can add a very high end feel to your album. Fashion photography doesn’t match everyone’s personality and style and not everyone is comfortable posing like a model.

C. Candid – also called Photojournalistic. This style has its beginnings from photographers who would document events for the newspapers. Often these photographers will be a step back from the events of the day and capture natural moments just as they are. They aren’t obtrusive, always interrupting but observing relationships and interactions to capture pictures that “feel real”. A photographer with a candid style will not only capture moments such as your reaction to the Best Man’s joke during his toast but also conduct your portraits this way. If the photographer is getting pictures of you and your bridesmaids, she will get you all interacting as friends having fun, then step back and start snapping! If she’s working on getting pictures of you and your groom, she’ll get the two of you interacting naturally and capture memories as such. As opposed to give specific directions on where and how to stand, these pictures look natural, organic, unstaged and highlight the subject’s personalities.

Candid, Photojournalistic, Unposed

Also do you prefer pictures that are black and white? Have clean backgrounds? Use bold colors? Warm colors? Use sunlight? Are soft and airy? Portraits that are up close on people’s faces? Portraits that incorporate the landscape?

Now, I’m going to mess with you a bit. Most photographers use a MIX of these three styles. But what you need to do when you figure out which style you prefer most, is pay attention to each portfolio that you look at to discern which style the MAJORITY of images are. Talk with the photographer and ask them to describe their style. Ask them what they love about photography and what they love about wedding photography. This will give you a good idea of their style of photography so you can see if it matches your own.

2. What is Their Personality and Customer Service like?

Ok, this is a big one that many don’t consider. Equally as important as a photographer’s portfolio is their personality. Think about it, out of all the people you hire for your wedding, you are going to spend the most time with your photographer. You won’t be with the florist, the baker, the caterer, the priest, the DJ or even the wedding coordinator for 10 straight hours like you will be with your photographer.

On that day, you’ll want someone who is friendly and polite to your mother and your guests and won’t push people out of the way to “just get the job done”.

You’ll want someone who is socially aware who knows when to add to the excitement of your day but also knows when to step back and let a moment happen.

You’ll want someone who is confident who can efficiently organize your huge extended family for pictures.

You’ll want someone who clearly communicates with you from the day that you make initial contact. Do they call you back in a timely manner? Will they walk with you throughout your wedding planning process and answer your questions and offer helpful tips?

You’ll want someone who is organized, who has a contract, knows the timeline of your wedding day forward and backwards, knows what family pictures that you’d like, who backs up the backups of your wedding images that night before she goes to bed, and the list goes on.

You’ll want someone with experience who has shot so many weddings that they know when and where to anticipate moments and be ready for them when they happen. You’ll also want someone with experience so you aren't worried that they’re not going to get the right shot or not give you any direction during your portraits.

Lastly, you'll want someone you’re comfortable with, someone whose personality clicks with yours. A wedding can be a very emotional, intimate day and if you’re not comfortable or don’t trust your photographer, it can lead to more tension on the wedding day. On the other hand, if you are very comfortable with your photographer and perhaps have even begun a friendship with them, then you feel comfortable really being yourself and expressing your emotions freely. And let me tell you now, this will make the BEST pictures.

So when looking for a wedding photographer, don’t look only at their work, but set aside some time to sit down in person and meet. Chat with them, get to know their personality and ask them as many questions as you want. So if you want great pictures, hire a photographer that you can trust.

3. What Products Do They Offer?

Lastly, find out what type of products you’d like to walk away from your wedding with. Are you looking for a beautiful album that tells the story of your day? Would you like a Cluster of Wall Art to display in your living room? Did you want an Engagement Photos Guest Signing Book so all your guests can see your engagement pictures? Does your mom want a parent album? Maybe you are hoping your photographer makes custom Thank You cards so you don’t have worry about handwriting 100 cards when you get back from your honeymoon! Make sure you look for a photographer that offers tangible products and not just a USB of pictures. And if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, my best suggestion is to attend a Bridal Show, walk around, meet all the photographers, ask them what and why they offer the things they do. And really, if you find a photographer that you’ve just fallen in love with but maybe aren’t offering exactly what you were hoping for, ask them if they’ll do something custom for you!

So as you look around for someone to capture the memories of your day, keep these three guidelines in mind:

1. What is Their Style of Photography?

2. What is Their Personality and Customer Service like?

3. What Products Do They Offer?

Hopefully this will give you some good ideas of what to look for and lead you to just the right person for you! And if after reading this you have more questions, feel free to jump on over to my Contact page and write me an email! I’d love to hear from you.

The Ideal Wedding Day Timeline

Planning the timeline of your wedding day can be a daunting task as you consider trying to fit in all the important events of your day, make sure you have time to visit with all your guests and still have a little downtime for yourself to actually enjoy your day. This can be overwhelming because, well… you’ve never done this before! Now let me tell you, in all my experience as a wedding photographer, I’ve seen timelines run wonderfully smooth and I’ve seen timelines run… well… not so smoothly. And I’ve learned that one of my main jobs pre-wedding is to help my customers build a solid yet flexible timeline for their day.  Before we jump into timeline details, lets hit a couple of tips that have been very helpful for my couples to know and implement into their timelines. 

Tip #1 –Build in extra time to serve as buffers throughout your day. You can have your day planned perfectly but more often than not, unexpected things will crop up and cut into your time causing you to have to shorten certain aspects of your day. The best way to prevent losing out is to plan for these events by building buffers into your schedule. If you think it’ll only take you 10 minutes to travel from Point A to Point B, then plan 15 or 20. One thing that brides classically almost always underestimate is the time it’s going to take her to get into her wedding dress. Plan extra time to do up those laces in the back and adjust the slip!

Tip #2 – Communicate clearly and ahead of time with your bridal party and your family when you want them ready and where you want them to be for pictures. If you need them by 1:30, tell them to be there at 1:15 and then you’ll know no one will be late. When it comes time to do pictures with the bridal party, the last thing you want is your bridesmaids scurrying away to clean out the room they got ready in because they didn’t know they had to be out by 2pm! Or trying to track down Uncle Bob who went off to cocktail hour because he didn’t know you wanted him for Family Formal pictures after the ceremony!

The First Look

Now, let me mention something that often couples are have an opinion on either one way or another… should the groom to see the bride before the wedding ceremony? Is it bad luck if he catches a glimpse of her? There are many traditions that surround a wedding and this one is no exception. This practice actually originated back when marriages were arranged by a bride’s parents as a business transaction (romantic, right?!). The couple arranged to be married were not even allowed to meet at all before the day of the wedding in case the groom were to change his mind, call off the transaction and cast shame on the bride and her parents. In fact, that is the very reason that brides wore heavy veils over their faces as they walked down the aisle was to keep the groom from finding out what she looked like until the very last minute possible when it was too late to change his mind! I know, crazy! Still today, some couples prefer not to see each other before the ceremony as they feel it’ll add excitement and make the day more memorable, and I totally get that. On the other hand, there are a number of reasons why I believe that having a First Look is the best option for your day.

It Creates an Atmosphere of Intimacy - Being able to see each other for the first time in a private setting where you can truly express all the emotions you’re feeling and say all the things you want to say adds much more intimacy than in a setting where you’ll be standing in front of everyone that you know when you likely will be much more guarded in your reactions.

It Gives you a Chance to Connect One on One - Having a First Look also gives you an opportunity to connect with each other before the craziness of the day takes over. If you don’t have a chance to talk with the most important person of your day before the wedding, you’ll see each other during the ceremony but then you’ll be swept away by the celebration and joy of your friends and family for the rest of the day.

It Dissolves Pre-Wedding Anxiety - In all my experience, every couple experiences some level of anxiety the day of the wedding. After all, your dreaming, planning and preparation have led to this day. Taking a few quiet moments with your best friend, to talk, hug and connect will help dissolve your anxiety so that by the time you walk down the aisle, you’ll be relaxed and feel free to be yourself.

It Allows for More Creative, Relaxed Pictures - Once you've seen each other for the first time and you’ve had a few moments alone, that’s when we’ll do the pictures of the two of you while your hair and makeup is still fresh. This will give you even more time to be with each other, to really take one other in. It will also give us more time to get more creative, natural, relaxed pictures.

Sample Timelines

Now this is only a suggested timeline to start with as I don’t know the specific events or cultural traditions that you may have planned for the day. The other thing to keep in mind when planning your timeline is light (what time the sun sets) and travel time between venues (if any). Now let’s say you’re getting married in August, the sun sets about 8pm and you only have one venue so there’s no need to include travel time.

Timeline #1 

1:30 – First Look and Bride and Groom Portraits

2:15 – Bridal Party

2:45 – Family Formals

3:15 – Down time and chance to freshen up

4 - Ceremony

4:30-5:30 – Cocktail Hour

5:45 – Announcements, First Dance and Toasts

6 – Dinner

7:30 – Parent Dances (and other special dances) open dancing

8 – Sunset Pictures

For this timeline, you’ll see that we’ve gotten ALL your portrait pictures out of the way before the ceremony! When you do this, the only thing left to do after the ceremony is head to cocktail hour and enjoy the rest of your party! I will say though that most couples do choose to escape for a few more moments during the sunset hour to get a few more creative pictures to add to their album. This timeline is a great option for those who have their wedding and reception at the same venue and don’t want their guests to have to wait a long time before the reception starts.

Timeline #2

A second option for those who want to include their large extended families in their Family Formals but who may not be able to arrive before the ceremony starts, looks similar to the first timeline:

1:30 – First Look and Bride and Groom Portraits

2:15 – Bridal Party

2:45 – Down time and chance to freshen up

3:30 - Ceremony

4:15-5 – Family Formals (Immediately Following Ceremony)

(4:15-5:15) – Cocktail Hour

5:30 – Announcements, First Dance and Toasts

6 – Dinner

7 – Parent Dances (and other special dances) open dancing

8 – Sunset Pictures

Timeline #3

A third option if you have your heart set on not seeing each other before the ceremony could look like this:


1:30 Portraits of Bride and Bridesmaids and Portraits of Groom and Groomsmen Separately

2:30 – Ceremony

3:15 – Family Formals (Immediately Following Ceremony)

4:00 – Bridal Party Pictures

4:30 Bride and Groom Portraits

5:15 – Lined up ready for announcements

5:30 – Announcements, First Dance and Toasts

6 – Dinner

7 – Parent Dances (and other special dances) open dancing

8 – Sunset Pictures

As you can see, your pictures are split up all throughout your wedding day with this third timeline option. It’s much more busy and full and you're not really able to attend cocktail hour. If I could have my wish for you, it’d be that you were able to do your photos all in one shot and then have the rest of your day feel like an actual wedding as opposed to a day of pictures.

Now all that to say, this is your wedding day and you can certainly choose whatever timeline you’re most comfortable with. I just want you to be aware of all your options and their implications on your day. Hopefully this blog will give you some tools with which to build your timeline! As always, if you have specific questions, please feel free to shoot me an email!

Feeding Your Photographers

I often get questions from wedding clients on the etiquette behind feeding your vendors and specifically your photographers. There are SO many intricate little details involved in planning your wedding, and if you don’t have a wedding planner, the only guidance you’re likely to get is from the catering manager at your venue. In this post, I thought I’d share some tips and a few of my thoughts on feeding your photographers.

Hours of Coverage/Which Meals?

Normally when we show up on your wedding day, its either late morning or very early afternoon and we usually cover about 10 hours in a wedding day ending late in the evening. Depending on how your timeline is set up, we’ll always pack a light lunch and eat it quickly in between moments but we do ask the client to provide an evening meal. It’s also always a good idea to ask your photographer how many people will be on the team for your wedding. For us, it’ll almost always be two. By the time dinner rolls around, we will usually have been working for 7 or 8 hours without a break and are pretty low on energy.

Guest or Vendor Meal

What we see most often is that your venue or caterer will just make a few extra "guest" meals for your vendors while a few have a separate option for sandwiches or a different meal.  Whatever you decide for your vendors is completely fine, because at this point of the reception, we are thankful for ANY food but sometimes a hot meal really hits the spot after being on our feet all day.

When

One of the first things we do when we get to the reception is check in with the catering manager about where and when we’ll be eating and the answer is usually something like “after all the guests are served and in a room down the hall”. The catering manager has it set up this way because the guests are more important than the photographer, and I couldn’t agree more! Logistically though, if we start eating after the guests are done being served, we won’t have time to eat. You and your bridal party will be finished eating, you’ll be mingling and getting ready to start up the events of your reception and we’ll need to be up and ready to continue shooting. Now I have to tell you, that if faced with a decision of eating or capturing all the events of your reception, I will choose the latter and go without food… I’ve done it before. I’ll certainly survive, but I won’t be able to perform to my best ability. Andrew will tell you how I get when I’m hungry!

Where

Finally the last thing to consider is where your photographer will be placed during the reception. Again, your reception venue usually sets up a table in a completely separate room where we have no line of sight into your reception room. This becomes a problem for us because we definitely don’t want to miss capturing any important part of your evening and if we can’t see or hear what’s going on, we won’t know if anything important is happening. The best solution then is just to make sure we have a seat somewhere inside the reception room. So one thing you can do to ensure that we don’t miss capturing any part of your reception is to ask the catering manager to serve us at the beginning of the meal at a location inside your reception room, perhaps on a corner of the ballroom floor where we can jump up easily and start snapping if we need to!

What to Expect Before and After the Wedding

As you think about all your wedding planning and juggling many things in the days leading up to your big day, you’re probably wondering what to expect from your photographer and how to plan it all out! Let’s say that while you were looking for a photographer, you came across my site, gave me a call, found out I was available on your day and we set up a meeting! From here on out, this is an idea of what you could expect working with me.

Our First Meeting

For our first meeting, we’ll likely meet at a local coffee shop (because I LOVE coffee) where we can sit and chat in a casual atmosphere. Most couples or brides bring along a handful of questions as well as some ideas of what they’re looking for in their photographer and pictures and I will bring some samples of my art for you to see as well. I’ll hear about all your wedding plans from your colors to your shoes to your venue. We’ll also sketch out a rough timeline of what your day will look like so you have an idea of what you want covered and how long you’d like us to be there for. I’ll show you my suggested packages and from there, we’ll come up with a custom package for you. Now let’s say that you’ve fallen in love with the art, you love my work and my personality and decide to book! Normally what I’ll do is go home, make out a custom contract and email it to you. You’ll print it off, fill it out, mail it back to me and I’ll scan and email you back a signed copy for your records.

When You Book

Now when you book, you’ll notice that the second page of the contract has a table of information for you to fill in that contains things like your and your groom’s name, mailing address, phone numbers and email addresses as well as wedding day information such as where you’ll be getting ready, ceremony and reception location and what time they will start. As best as you can right now, be sure to fill those in entirely so I can be sure to get information to you in a timely manner! Then you and your fiancé will sign the second to last page on the contract and mail it back to me with your booking fee! Now your wedding date is on my calendar in permanent marker! So now what? You may still have questions for me and wonder how you’ll get your information to me. Sit back, relax… I’ve done this a few times. In the months leading up to your wedding communication is going to be key.

From Booking Date – 1 Month Before Wedding

In this time span I often will drop my brides random emails throughout just to say hi and ask how your plans are going. Often this will open up discussion or remind you of a question you had for me. Even if your question isn’t specifically photography related, ask away! I’ve been asked things from, “can we get a big family picture at the reception?” to “when should I start tanning before the wedding?” So feel free to ask whatever! As you plan, things will change such as the schedule, location of where you’ll get ready, etc. throughout the months from the time you book with me so this is also a good time to mention them to me.


The other thing you'll want to do is to look me up on Social Media! If you like my business page on Facebook and follow me on Instagram and Twitter you'll be able to see all the fun sneak peaks that I'll be posting after your session and/or wedding! Tell your friends and family to follow me as well! Even better, if you personally friend me on Facebook, I'll actually be able to tag you in your photos so then all your friends and family will be bound to see your photos!! You can click on the social media tabs on the left side of this page right below the main menu or find me at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HHawkinsPhotography

Instagram: https://instagram.com/#HHawkinsPhoto

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HHawkinsPhoto

And, when your session and/or wedding is complete, keep an eye out for your blog post on my website and be ready to share it with friends and family!

From 1 Month – Wedding Day

At the month mark before your wedding, I will email you a Wedding Details Questionnaire. This contains things like:

 - First person and emergency person I should contact the day of the wedding

 - Names of your family and bridal party - so I don’t have to yell “Hey Mom!” during Family Formals

- Important People to Bride and Groom - like your Grandmother or close cousin that may not be in the bridal party or immediate family but that you definitely want pictures of

- Post Wedding Address – so I know where to send your art!

- Ceremony Rules – so I don’t upset your officiant

- Any “sticky” family situations or things I should know – just so I can avoid offending anyone

-Number of Guests

- Other Wedding Vendors

-A list of Formal Family pictures you’d like taken

- A list of any additional pictures you’d like

If you fill this out and send it back to me right away, I can have lots of time to plan for your day! About 2 weeks from the wedding we’ll schedule another face to face meeting (or Skype/Facetime if you’re not in town). I’ll bring your questionnaire and we’ll talk through it and other details of your day and we’ll also finalize your timeline. The reason I don’t meet with your too much earlier than two weeks out is that again, details and things will change as you go along. This way we won’t have to be doing extra back and forth about changes.

The day before your wedding I’ll be busy prepping my equipment, pouring over your details and shot list again and packing everything up. If you’re getting ready in a hotel room, you’ll want to shoot me a text the night before or day of with your room number so I’ll know where to find you. When the wedding day rolls around, we often arrive a bit early to scout out the location and then its game out! Let’s get married!!!

1 Week After Your Wedding

Usually within one week of your wedding while you’re still on your honeymoon I will post a handful of Sneak Peaks of your wedding either on Facebook and/or on my Blog. These are for you enjoy, change your profile and cover picture to and share around with your friends and family!

About 3 Months From Wedding Day

In the months following your wedding, I will be working very hard on building your album, designing your wall art and editing your images. One hard thing about being a wedding photographer in New York is that the wedding season is such a short amount of time due to the fact that we only have a few warm months during the year! This means that if I have 25 weddings booked for the year, likely they are all going to be scheduled within a 5 month period of time. This makes my summers very busy and my workflow high but rest assured that the latest you’ll receive your proofs will be three months after your wedding. Many times once a couple has received their proofs, they will decide to order more pages for their album, more wall art or a parent album. We often will set up a time to come to your home, especially if you’re ordering more wall art, to look around your living space and figure out where you’d like art to hang and what pictures would look best there so it is customized exactly to your needs! We take care of you and make sure you have everything you need. It’s not at all uncommon for us to stay in touch with our couples and I have been known to stop in the produce section of Wegmans to catch up with a bride and shoot her a text to set up a dinner or coffee date. It’s always so fun for us when the bride call us a few years later to tell us she’s expecting and would like maternity and newborn pictures! Friendships... it’s one of my favorite things about what I do!

As you’ve read through this section, I hope you have a much clear picture of what to expect working with Andrew and I! Like I always say, if you have questions send me an email!

Phone: 315-209-9083 Syracuse, NY Email: Hannah@HHawkinsPhotography.com