Tips for the Perfect Engagement Photos

Tips for the Perfect Engagement Photos

Many couples opt to take formal engagement photos, and we highly encourage this practice!  Not only does it provide you with great everyday photos for your home, but it also give you an opporutnity to practice being in front of the camera.  We always recommend that you have your wedding photographer take these, it helps you to get to know each other, which will make you feel more comfortable on the wedding day.  

One of our favorite photographers, Brian Weitzel from BTW Photography, shared some of his tips for perfecting your engagement session.  Take a read, and post your enagement photos in the Collective for us all to see! 

  1. Wait until mid-to-late May before you schedule your engagement session.

If you are from Michigan, you could argue there are several signs spring has officially started: Tiger’s Opening Day, Oberon is launched, or the temperature breaks 50 degrees and we all run outside wearing shorts in March! Trust me, I feel your excitement. However, from a photographic standpoint, you want to wait until mid-to-late May before you schedule your engagement session, for several reasons. First, you want the ground to be dry. Whether the bride wants to wear heels or maybe there would be a great romantic shot of you and your fiancé laying down somewhere, doing so on soggy ground isn’t an option. Secondly, May’s weather is perfect for various wardrobe choices. Think dresses, sport coat, jeans, light sweaters, and layers. You can’t pull off some of these looks in the middle of the summer. Lastly, by the time mid-to-late May rolls around, the trees are in full bloom and the yellow hue to nature has turned to lush greens, offering us a variety of beautiful backdrops. On the flipside of the calendar, I try to squeeze in all of my “nature” engagement sessions by the second week of October, while colors are in their peak. Couples need to be flexible in October as sporadic rains can cause shoots to be rescheduled. If you are shooting in the city, couples can still shoot comfortably into November.

5 Engagement Planning Tips Detroit

 

  1. Know what you are going to do with the photos.

Are you looking for a few photos to keep for yourselves and use one for save the dates? Perfect, all you need is one location, one outfit, and about 30 minutes for your engagement session. Are you looking to use the images in a Signature Guest Book or as part of your wedding day décor? Sounds good; plan on two or three locations, outfit changes, and two hours of shooting. Not sure how you will be using them? No problem; do something in between and talk to your photographer beforehand so they can explain some of your options. Knowing how you plan on using your engagement photos is critical in planning your engagement session. Too little time paired up with too big of plans could lead to a lack of options when it comes to fulfilling your plans. Keep reading for more engagement planning tips.

5 Engagement Planning Tips Ann Arbor

 

  1. Your location should reflect your relationship.

The first question I ask a couple when planning their engagement session is, “What do you like to do in your free time?” followed by “What are you envisioning for your engagement session?” The answers to these questions do two things: it opens up lines of communication to allow us to collaborate on the planning of the engagement session and it gives me about 80% of everything I need to plan or suggest locations for your engagement session.

Are you huge sports fans? Let throw you in some Red Wings jerseys and take a few shots in front of the Joe (so sad this was our last season there.) Notice though, I said a “few” shots. As much as you love hockey, you also want to capture some of those classic, timeless portraits.

5 Engagement Planning Tips

I would say the most common combination of locations I photograph on an engagement session is part city-part nature. This gives couples two distinctly different looks and allows them to plan outfit changes appropriately. Speaking of which…

 

  1. Dress stylish, appropriately, but not trendy.

I could write a whole blog on what to wear to an engagement session.  In short, everyone’s style is different; however, there are some general rules to help you pick outfits that photograph well.  Here is a link

  • Too complicated patterns are distracting.
  • Don’t match colors. Compliment! Nothing looks worse or more dated than matching white and khaki outfits. (The fact that I am even typing this is making me cringe.)
  • Be stylish but not trendy. Don’t believe me? Anyone want to look at their awkward teenage years photos? Me neither. Fashion changes and trends change even faster. There are some classics that are both stylish and timeless: jeans with dress shoes, a tailored sport coat with a button down and pocket square for guys; a dress with heels, jeans with boots, a skirt and blouse for women.
  • Add a touch of style with accessories. A rancher hat, chunky necklace, scarf, sweater, or jacket give an outfit a whole new look without having to change the entire wardrobe. It also gives you an opportunity to make your look modern. Again, just don’t overdo it. Only incorporate those accessories in a few of your engagement photos.
  • Match your outfit with the location. Don’t show up to a nature shoot wearing a shirt and tie. That looks silly and out of place. How many people do you know walk in the woods wearing a shirt and tie or skirt and blouse? Me neither.

5 Engagement Planning Tips DIA

BTW Photography specializes in engagement planning tips. 

  1. Get awkward. Get cozy. Get comfortable.

If you are anything like me, I am not a huge fan of having my picture taken. What I am a fan of though is hanging out with fiancée. There isn’t anything that makes me as happy as making her laugh. During our engagement session, I focused more on the experience and less about my picture being taken. And you know what? I loved the photos!

5 Engagement Planning Tips 1

When I work with clients on their engagement session, we try to plan something fun and active into part of the engagement session; something that allows couples to focus their attention on the moment and less on the images being created. We have planned picnics, champagne toasts with macrons treats, ball games, boat rides, even ski trips. The more unique and “you” your engagement session is, the more comfortable you will be and the more you will love your images.  Keep reading for more engagement planning tips.

 

Bonus: Consider connecting your vacation or proposal to your engagement session.  This is the best engagement planning tip I can offer. 

Maybe it is because I am still relishing in my latest Paris vacation, but photographing your engagement session while on vacation could be a great idea. There were so many gorgeous and unique locations for beautiful and intimate portraits while I was in Paris. Whether it was the Lovre at night in formal wear or quietly sipping a coffee in a café, my mind was seeing potential for portrait, engagement, and wedding images everywhere! You don’t have to go to Paris either for your engagement session; there are plenty of unique locations within a day trip or quick plane ride from Detroit.

Engagement session in Paris

 

So there you go! From a photographer’s point of view, these are the things I consider when helping my couples plan their engagement session. The more “you” and the more fun the engagement session is, the more you will love not only the photos, but the entire experience.

Wedding Vendor Tipping and Day of Final Payments

Wedding Vendor Tipping and Day of Final Payments

One of the most common questions we get as our clients wedding day gets closer is what wedding vendors should we tip.  While there are many different variables that can come into play, I wanted to share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities.  

First, there are of course some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff, and most often this is written into your contract and added to the final balance.  These vendors usually include your caterer or reception venue, transportation, and beauty team.  Make sure to check your contracts with these vendors to see if your gratuity has already been included, or if there is a required amount you are responsible for. Outside of that, gratuities should be considered for those vendors who have helped you make your day special.  The most general summary I can share, is that if the vendor is working for someone else (for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company), it is more common to give them a gratuity.  If they are the owner of the company, it is less common to give them a gratuity.  My personal opinion, if you’re grateful for that persons role in your big day, it’s never a bad thing to show your appreciation!  If you have had issues or concerns, don’t feel the need to give them a gratuity.

Expected

Catering/Bartenders/Wait staff

Hair & Makeup

Transportation

Officiant/Church

Ceremony Musician

Optional

Photo/Video

DJ/Band

Planner

Baker

Florist

Photobooth/Entertainers

Rental Companies

Venue Coordinator  

Now, how much do you tip?  The only real “protocol” would be the standard 15-20% that you would consider in the rest of the hospitality world.  However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they are definitely not expecting a $600-800 gratuity.  What I typically recommend is to consider how much this vendor assisted you throughout the planning, and anywhere between $50-200 would be appropriate.  Your budget might not allow for you to tip all the vendors you would like to, so as an alternative you can consider a different thank you to show your appreciation.  If you know your DJ loves a certain kind of beer, or your photographer loves a good glass of wine, pick up a case or bottle as a thank you for them.  Pair this with a nice thank you card and review of their services online, and they will be very grateful!  

One other note to make while we’re talking about vendors and wedding day payments is about any final payments that you might need to make.  While most of your vendors will require final payment in full well before the wedding day, some will allow you to make these last payments on the day of.  I strongly recommend that you take care of these payments beforehand anyway, most won’t have an issue with this.  The reason is, if you or whoever has been designated to pass out the gratuities gets distracted and forgets, it’s not uncommon to mail them to the vendors after the wedding.  Final payments, however, are required, and it’s no fun for anyone to have a limo driver or DJ ask you in front of your wedding party or guests for money.  It’s much easier to just take care of it beforehand to avoid any inconvenient or embarrassing moments on the wedding day.

What Wedding Vendors do you Need

What Wedding Vendors do you Need

Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about which wedding vendors you would like to hire that will make your big day unforgettable.  So how do you determine what vendors you need?  Most couples will have the following “core”members in addition to their venue:

Wedding Officiant – If you are not holding your wedding at a church, synagogue, or other religious institution, you will most likely need to hire an officiant to perform the actual wedding ceremony.

Caterer – If your reception venue does not offer onsite catering, you will need to work with an outside catering team to provide the food and bar services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you must work with, while others give you free reign to bring in anyone you’d like

Music (ceremony and reception) – Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJwhen they think about music, but make sure you don’t forget about the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide additional speakers and set ups for this, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!

Photographer – This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!

Florist – Even if you’re not planning on having floral centerpieces, it’s always a good idea to bring in a professional florist to take care of the personal flowers (bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, etc.).  If you have big dreams of doing your own fresh floral, please keep in mind that because of the nature of the living flowers, these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is typically the time where most of our couples have family coming into town, have final beauty appointments, or are wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  

Baker – Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

Hair & Makeup – Most brides will choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will have this done (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need either or both services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

Stationer (invites and other paper products) – What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

 

There are several other categories of vendors that many couples will also include, but are optional for others.  I would highly recommend that you consider having the following wedding professionals on your team:

Wedding planner – I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly do believe that having a profesisonal wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  Many of our full service clients come to us AFTER booking their venue, and are already locked into pricing that may or may not work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will definitely save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

”Day Of” coordinator – While nothing beats the personal attention and help that you will get from a full service planner, I highly recommend considering a “Day Of Coordinator” at the very least.  The name is quite decieving though, as no true professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute the event seemlessly.  Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two out, and will sit down with their couples a few times before the wedding date.  They will be able to go through your wedding details, and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the behind the scenes details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

  • NOTE: Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators, but do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day, but will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.  Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  

Videographer – I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand the need to stick to a budget, there’s nothing like being able to hear your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversaries to come!  Hiring a professional videographer is definitely an investment, but please do make sure to give it some consideration, and try to work things around in the budget, if possible.  

A quick side note of caution that I would pass along to all of my clients.  Just like most categories in wedding vendors, videographers can vary wildly in the quality of their scope and work, and though it can be tempting to be attracted to a good deal, keep in mind that phrase “is it too good to be true”?  If you are working on a tight budget, but would like a video of the wedding, see if you can find an option for raw footage of the key moments, like the ceremony, toasts, and first dance.  Much of the cost is in the editing, and if you can limit that, you can find a lower priced package.  Make sure to review samples of the videographers work, and check out their references too.  Cutting corners by hiring a cheap videographer (or photographer, for that matter) can often result in a less than desirable end product.  

Transportation – This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  If your ceremony and reception are in different locations, or if you want to take photos at on offsite location, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  If you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  If you’re looking to save money on transportation, see if you can find a hotel that offers complimentary shuttle services to/from your venue.  Make sure to ask if it’s a shuttle dedicated to your guests only, or if it will be shared with other hotel guests.  Also clarify the time that it runs through to make sure that it’s still avaialble at the end of the wedding to pick your guests up.  

Rentals – This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates (LINK), lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  Often companies will offer items outside of what they are known for (for example, a linen company will ofter also rent chairs), so make sure to ask them about these products before booking with multiple vendors! 

Lighting – The most common wedding lighting used is the dance floor lighting that most often comes with the DJ or band that has been reserved.  Make sure to clarify that they will provide this, as a dark dance floor is never fun!  Uplighting is the next most common, and that is when lights are placed around the perimeter of the room flushing the walls with colored light.  The most popular shade is “amber”, which is a soft candlelight color that gives most rooms a romantic glow.  If you’d like something more vibrant, you can use uplighting to bring in pinks, purples, blues, or any other color you’d like. 

If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge differents.  While dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common, chat with your lighting company about additional options, if this is your goal.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact in the look of the venue, and can be a great addition, if budget allows! 

Photo booth – Photo booths started to become popular about 10 years ago, and are changing every season to remain on trend.  While the traditional booths are still popular, many companies offer “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media and colleting the digital images for the couple to enjoy after the wedding.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

 

Signature Drink- Caramel Apple Mimosa

Signature Drink- Caramel Apple Mimosa

Start A Fall Wedding Morning Off Right!
This drink is sure to wake you up! Who’s thinking of some themed names?

 Recipe from- Delish, Carmel Apple Mimosa

2 tbsp. Caramel

2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

1 c. apple cider

8 oz. caramel vodka

1 bottle champagne

Apple slices, for garnish

 

Instruction for the Caramel Apple Sangria:

1.In a small dish, pour caramel. In another small dish, pour cinnamon sugar. Dip champagne flutes into caramel to rim glass, then dip in cinnamon sugar.

2.Pour 1/4 cup apple cider and 2 ounces caramel vodka into each flute and top with champagne.

3.Garnish with an apple slice and serve.

Looking for a kick morning drink for a Fall wedding to get the day started? Well the Caramel Apple Mimosa couldn’t be more perfect! This is a signature drink you could enjoy with your bridal party while you’re getting your hair and makeup done before the best day of your life officially begins! Everyone knows and loves that signature taste of Fall and it all begins and ends with a Caramel Apple Mimosa! Say goodbye to the traditional mimosa.

There really is no question if wedding day falls on a Fall day to give your mimosa a twist with this drink! Give it a cute themed name to go with your day or have it just for fun for you and your girls! There are no rules on your wedding day except to have fun and drink good drinks of course. Wink, wink! This is your one day to go all out with a theme so do it right and start popping that champagne! Wedding day is the ultimate treat yourself day! It’s all about you! Oh and your soon to be hubby of course. Make it a great day and have a drink that will be sure to set the mood!

 

Signature Drink- Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria

Signature Drink- Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria

Fall into Wedding Day with A Crisp Drink!

Who can think of a fun name for this Fall drink?

 

Recipe from : Flavour & Savour– Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria

1 750 ml bottle red wine

3 cups soft apple cider (non-alcoholic)

1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice

1/2 cup Triple Sec or other orange liqueur

1/2 cup honey* (or 1/2 cup simple syrup made by heating equal parts of sugar and water over medium heat until dissolved)

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

sparkling water to top off

1 cup freshly diced red and/or green apple cubes

cinnamon sticks for garnish

 

Instruction for the Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria:

1.Combine red wine, apple cider (or pure apple juice) cranberry juice, orange liqueur and honey (or simple syrup) in a large pitcher.

2.Add cranberries and diced unpeeled apples.

3.Serve over ice, if desired, filling glasses 3/4 full and topping off with some sparkling water.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a straw.

Having a beautiful Fall wedding? Well you need a signature Fall drink, so look no further! What screams Fall drink more than a Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria? Nothing of course! This is a classy and fun drink for a Fall themed wedding. Everyone knows that a Fall season isn’t complete without the taste of Fall, which of course is an apple cider! So why not take it up a notch with a more fun fruity kick!

Fall weddings are absolutely breathtaking with the leaves changing, the crisp breeze, and that signature taste and smell. Go all out for your Fall wedding and give everyone that experience of the Fall season that we all know and love. Make this a day that you and your guests won’t forget! Create the day with memories and tastes that will have you thinking back on the day as much as possible. It’s your day!