Don’t Let That Weather Get You Down

Most people dream of a partially cloudy, 70 degree day for their wedding. Some would prefer 90 degrees and a beach, others want a winter wonderland. Whatever you desire, nine times out of ten it isn’t rain. I’ll be the first to admit I hate rain, and I will be praying with you for a clear day. However, if these are the cards we are dealt, it’s best to embrace the situation.

A couple years ago, I was guest at my friends wedding. It was in Aspen, Colorado- a beautiful location to begin with but the weather wasn’t looking great. Since it was a smaller wedding, they postponed the ceremony for about twenty minutes to see if the rain was going to hold off. It lightened up a bit so they decided to chance it. About seven minutes into the ceremony it started to rain a little harder and the sun peaked out behind the mountains. Everyone huddled under umbrellas and the extremely talented photographers made sure to capture the entire story- the ceremony, the guests, and well, the weather. Like most brides, the last thing Autumn wanted on her wedding day was rain, but they embraced it and came away with some incredible photos that they would not have gotten if it did not rain.

Yes, this is a bit of an extreme circumstance and we don’t have mountains in Ohio but rain and other weather conditions can make the standard wedding photos a little more exciting and different. You might cuddle up a little closer because you’re cold or laugh because of how ridiculous it might be to hang out in the pouring rain. In fact, in 2016, it rained during all outdoor wedding and it became one of my favorites that year. Thanks to my eight clear umbrellas that I keep in my car at all times and the great attitudes from everyone we made some amazing images and had a ton of fun doing it. Jenny, the bride noticed her dress was getting a little dirty and she said she didn’t mind because it was another way to remember her wedding day.

Of course, things will go wrong on your wedding day. I expect it and prepare as much as possible for things to go wrong. As long as you take things in stride and make adjustments as needed you’ll still have the best day of your life, whether it rains or not.

PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR RAIN

  • Hire a photographer that carries eight clear umbrellas in their car at all times 😉
  • Discuss with your photographer the week of the wedding about potential rain backups. If it’s an unpredictable time of year, try to plan out a rain location sooner rather than later.
  • Prepare yourself mentally that it might rain
  • Remember that at the end of the day you still get to marry your person
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Creative Headshots with Abby at The Cleveland Museum of Art

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Family Photo Woes

One of the biggest stressors of a wedding day is usually the people closest to you, your family. These stressors can develop in a variety of ways, a lot of times it revolves around the family photos. I want to share a few practical tips to help make family photos a breeze!

Tip #1

Decide who you want in your family photos. I send a sample list to my couples but it can be customized to fit your wishes. Are you super close with your extended family? Are you not super close with your extended family but want them in photos anyway? What about Aunt Sally who is not really your aunt? Think about who is important is your life that you’d want a formal photo with. If you aren’t totally sure or don’t really care, ask your parents, they’ll already have an idea.

Tip #2

Tell your family they are in the photos. Sounds silly but this is often a detail that is forgotten. Couples tend to assume that their family will know they are going to be in a photo but a lot of times, especially with your extended family they don’t know that’s the case. It’s important not only to tell them, but to tell them again and again. Send an email, talk about it at the rehearsal dinner, have your parents tell them, put a note in their invitation, etc, etc. Pick three and do those.  

Tip #3

Have your officiant make an announcement at the end of the ceremony that whoever was previously told they are in photos to stay put. Instruct them to not leave until they have been dismissed. It sounds strict but we have a short window for formal photos after the ceremony. The longer we spend tracking down Cousin Billy who ran off, the less time we’ll have for important things, like hanging out with your guests, or couple’s portraits. My family list is very efficient but sometimes I jump back and forth between groups so it’s important that no one leaves until they are dismissed.

Tip #4

Delegate a family member or close friend from each side to wrangle people if we lose them or the missed the memo. Delegate this person ahead of time and make sure they are comfortable in this role. I don’t know all of your family members so this really helps me to know if someone is missing.

Tip #5

Recess and hide! If you hang out while we are getting set up for photos, everyone will talk to you. It’s not ideal to have an accidental receiving line when we had other things planned. Think of hiding as 5-10 minutes you have totally alone right after the ceremony! You get to take in all that just happened with just the two of you.

Tip #6

Share with me your family dynamics. Do you come from a blended family? Are your parents going through a divorce? Any passings? This helps me to make a plan before the day to avoid stress and any awkward situations. We can discuss if mom will get offended if we do photos of dad and your stepmom first, if your parents should be in a photo together at all. My parents got divorced when I was very little. I get it, don’t feel embarrassed to tell me. We will figure out the best solution for everyone.

Tip #7

Plan and let go. With all planning it’s important to do work beforehand and then on the day of, let the plan play out. If the plan doesn’t play out, go with the flow. No matter how much prep work we put into this, something will usually still go wrong. I know this, that’s why I put in an extra 15 minutes every time I shoot family formals. I tell you all of this to be mentally prepared, because I already know what to expect. My tips seem very strict and rigid but if we seriously have to chase down Cousin Billy, it’s not the end of the world.

Tip #8

You really don’t have to apologize. After every family formal session the couple apologizes for their crazy family. Apologies are rarely warranted. Like I said, I’m used to this, I too have a crazy family. I appreciate the thought, but it’s not needed, promise. Even though our families are crazy, we love them, and that’s why we do this.

Bonus Tip from a MSP Bride!

“I come from an incredibly blended family (blended to the point that people need a map to understand). As much as I love my family members, there are numerous dynamics in play and that added to the stress of my day. I had thought about organization of family members, photos, seating, etc from early on in the planning process and it was such a relief to have a basis from Maria regarding compilations for pictures. As much as wedding days are for other family members too—coming together and celebrating—it helped me and my stress to think about what my husband and I *wanted* and not everyone else. That’s not to say that I dismissed everyone, but I thought about what we wanted and would want to cherish in pictures. And that’s what we did. Sure, did it upset a family member that we didn’t include someone estranged? Yupp. Do I regret it? Nope. Having a list of people decided ahead of time and being able to partly blame it on Maria helped though. And talking about it was family members ahead of time—-get all the hurt feelings out before the big day!”

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