Friday, September 18, 2009

Tips For Getting Great Wedding Photographs

Wedding photography is one of those things that should not be left to chance. The pictures taken that day will last a lifetime, being seen by your children, your grandchildren, and even future generations. They are special moments in time that you will look back on fondly in the years to come. As a result, you will want to make sure that you hire the right person to take your wedding photographs. The following are some tips to consider when looking at finding the perfect photographer for your wedding:

Tip #1:
Research your wedding photographer ahead of time. Get references, check their portfolio, and ask to see a complete example of a wedding he or she covered.

Tip #2:
Look at wedding photos of friends and acquaintances. When you see ones you like, ask for the photographer's contact information.

Tip #3:
Make sure that you meet with the photographer who will be covering your wedding. You want to ensure that there is a good connection there as you will spend a lot of time with this person on your wedding day.

Tip #4:
Sit down as a couple ahead of time and decide what photograph shots are important to the two of you. Your photographer may have some ideas of their own that you may want to consider. Create a list and include the list as part of your contract.

Tip #5:
Make sure you know ahead of time what is included in the photographer's package. It would be criminal to pay to get the photos taken, but not have the funds to get them developed or placed in an album.

Tip #6:
Particularly if you're doing a destination wedding on the beach and choose to use the resort photographer that is included as part of the wedding package, take a quick surveillance of the beach to ensure that there aren't any unwanted guests who may appear as part of your wedding photos.

Tip #7:
Be sure to include your photographer (and their assistant) in the total number of guests that you give to your reception venue. After all, they deserve a meal too after their hard work throughout the day.

Tip #8:
When you receive the DVD with your digital prints, make a copy and leave it with a close relative or friend. In case of flood or fire, you will at least be comforted by the fact that your wedding photos haven't been lost completely.

There are a lot of details to consider when planning a wedding. Start working on finding your photographer shortly after finalizing your date and venues. The effort you put into finding the right person to take your wedding photos will be worth every minute you invest. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. A great photo is worth much more!


Cathy MacRae is a certified wedding and event planner, and owner of Creative Weddings and Occasions and Del Sol Destination Weddings. Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, she plans wedding for couples in and around the Calgary and Banff area. She is also a destination wedding and honeymoon travel specialist helping couples plan their weddings in paradise all around the world. For more information about planning your own wedding or for advice from Cathy, please contact her at

Friday, September 4, 2009

Welcome Bags For Your Wedding Guests

Choosing to have a destination wedding means asking family and friends to travel great distances in order to join you on your special day. One way to show your appreciation is to provide a welcome gift that your guests will receive upon their arrival. A bag filled with an assortment of goodies that will hint at and prepare them for the fun that awaits is the perfect way to kick-off your wedding celebration and show your guests how excited you are that they have decided to join you.

As part of the package, you should include relevant information about the wedding and the location. Be sure to include the itinerary of planned events, maps and guides of the area, and perhaps information about activities that may interest them. Your guests will appreciate the gesture, especially if they accidentally left their invitations and itinerary at home. Ideally, you want your gifts to be meaningful, maybe even giving a hint of some of the activities planned for the week. Keep in mind that the quality of items included is more important than the quantity. A couple of thoughtful items will mean more to your guests than a bunch of junky souvenirs.

Here are some ideas of items that could be included:

  • Custom-labelled bottles of water
  • Sunscreen
  • T-shirt
  • Hats
  • Luggage tags
  • Local map of the area / guidebook
  • Locally made rum (Jamaica) or tequila (Mexico)
  • Macademia nuts or cookies (Hawaii)
  • Postcards
  • Beach towel
  • Spanish-English dictionary
  • CD of local music
  • Flip flops monogrammed with the couples’ names and wedding date

Keep in mind that the items you choose should be non-perishable and don’t require refrigeration, as hotel rooms can make it tricky to keep things cool. Also remember that guests have limited rooms in their suitcases, so items should be easy to pack and compact.

Although decorative baskets look nice, they are bulky and next to impossible to take home. Instead, choose something with a local flair, like a woven bag in bright colors from a Mexican market or a monogrammed beach bag. Other alternatives if you’re on a tight budget may include using cellophane and ribbon, or purchase simple gift bags from your local dollar store. Maybe even include tissue paper in the same shades as your wedding colors.

Think of how excited your guests will be to check into their hotel after a long flight and transfers from the airports and find your gift waiting for them. The excitement and energy your welcome bag will generate will immediately get everyone in the mood to enjoy the celebration, while also letting your guests know how much you appreciate them and the fact that they have chosen to join you for this special occasion.

Cathy MacRae is a certified wedding and event planner, and owner of Creative Weddings and Occasions and Del Sol Destination Weddings. Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, she plans wedding for couples in and around the Calgary and Banff area. She is also a destination wedding and honeymoon travel specialist helping couples plan their weddings in paradise all around the world. For more information about planning your own wedding or for advice from Cathy, please contact her at info@creativeweddingsandoccasions.

Words From A Wedding Graduate

(Editor's Note: This is a fantastic blog by Meg, originally published at It gives great ideas for brides-to-be on how to stay in control of their wedding and how to enjoy the experience.)

Before I start telling you small stories about our wedding, I wanted to give you my wedding graduate post. This is, simply, my best wedding advice. I'm sure I'll chatter about these subjects more at some point, but there is something to be said for boiling advice down to its essence.

These are the the tips I'd give any friend who asked. I hope it makes a few of you feel a little more free, or a little more sane:

  • When people ask you if "you might regret such and such a choice..." say no. And move on. Because if you make a choice that is authentic to who you and your partner are, I can emphatically tell you that you won't regret it. Period.

  • Gut-check. By the week before the wedding, I was making all my decisions by instantaneous gut-check, "What seems right for us? Ok, done," no second guessing. It's easy to loose track of this during the planning process, but if you're not sure about something, check your gut, and then go with it. I think your gut is where your heart lives.

  • Keeping people on a need-to-know basis is fine sometimes. It's not just that it's easier to apologize than to ask permission, but that people will be so caught up in the joy of your wedding day that little things that might worry them before hand won't bother them at all on the day of.

  • Learn how to kindly but firmly say no. If you know deep down that something is just not right for you, be kind but firm, it will save you endless heartache in the end. Maybe you learn this in wedding planning because its the single best preparation for adult life that there is.

  • It's ok to cry. I wasn't always explicit about this on the blog, but I found wedding planning to be a difficult at times. It was also one of the great learning experiences of my life, but frankly, learning sort of blows sometimes. The thing about weddings is they are this complex mix of families, friendship, faith, values, aesthetics, cultural assumptions, other peoples expectations, and oh yeah, love. So while weddings often bring out the best in people, sometimes they bring out the worst. I can admit now that I spent more than one night in the planning process crying myself to sleep. And I wasn't crying because my flowers didn't match my linens, I was crying because of Big Life Issues the wedding brought up. So if Big Life Issues come up when your planning, let yourself cry and work through them. Its not silly, it means that you're grappling with important things in a major life transition.

  • Share it with your partner. Saying, "It's your partner's day too," has become cliche in progressive wedding circles, but it's true. But let me say this: your partner might not care about or think about the wedding in the same way you do, and that's a good thing. This is probably one of the first really huge projects you take on with your partner, so work on modeling the same collaboration and respect that you'd like to see when you take on other projects together, like say, raising children or buying a house. And yes, if you are fiery like we are, you'll yell at each other a bit too, which is So. Normal.

  • Find a way to keep yourself grounded. One of the things I wish I'd realized going into wedding weekend is that your wedding is not a totally free pass. Family tensions will still be family tensions, someone will get stressed and yell, and that person who always acts a little weird at parties may act a little weird. But the bottom line is, for one weekend none of it is your problem. Let it go, move on, stay grounded. For me this was one biggest challenges of the weekend, but also the most spiritually rewarding.

  • Focus on the Ceremony. Sometimes the ceremony gets lost in the shuffle, because it's not pretty, or because it's emotionally complicated. But this is why everyone is there, this is how it all starts, and this is what changes you forever. No matter how traditional or non-traditional you want your ceremony to be, think about it, talk about it, and make sure it feels like it's yours. Make sure you both feel like you can live inside it, as your truest selves.

  • Show Up. When the ceremony starts, you need to be THERE. Even if it makes you sob, even if it makes you laugh, even if someone just yelled at you, even if something major just went wrong. Be fully present, because you only get to live this once.

  • Lead your guests by your example. (This is the single best piece of wedding advice I have): When you're planning, you spend a lot of time worrying about which choices will matter, and which choices will not. Well, it turns out that the thing that will shape your wedding day the most is free: your attitude. If you are joyful, present, and relaxed your guests will follow your lead.

  • Get. A. Wedding. Stage Manager. You can't be in charge the day of the wedding, no, no, no. Get someone else to be in charge of the organizational details, even if they just take your cell phone from you as you walk up the courthouse steps. Lots of people will tell you that this means you need to hire someone to run the day of, but you don't. Having a friend manage our weekend made us able to bliss out, and it filled the day with a depth of care and joy that we could never have bought.

  • Honeymoon (right after the wedding), if you can. By honeymoon, I mean find a way to get away from your regular life for a bit, which could mean a staycation or a big trip. I firmly believe that a inexpensive honeymoon right away is more important then saving for something lavish later. Honeymoons are magic things, and you have the rest of your lives for great vacations. Honeymoons give you and your partner some time to absorb the enormity of what happened, to replenish yourself, and to just be in a giddy bubble of joy together. And do what you want. We went on a big adventure, when everyone thought we should lie on the beach. Trust me, you'll be able to bliss out *anywhere* afterwards.

  • And finally, remember the FUN. About 80% of wedding media, both online and in print focuses on aesthetics. And caring about aesthetics is great, up to a point. Make things authentic, make sure they feel like you... and then think about having fun. No one has ever left a wedding saying, "That party was so fun! Did you see the hand lettering on the favors??" No. At a great party, no one even notices the favors because they are so busy dancing/drinking/chatting/catching up/feeling overjoyed for the wedding couple/laughing/eating/telling stories/making memories. And remember, having fun isn't complicated (We're playing twister! We're doing a scavenger hunt!) It's easy. It's good people, good conversation, maybe some good food and wine, maybe some music, and two people who love each other joining their lives together. I know our wedding was successful because I keep accidentally referring to our reception as 'the party.' Remember when we danced to that song at the party? Remember that joke someone made at the party? And you know what? It was the best party I've ever been to.

And, finally, the one thing I can tell you from the other side: the party will be wonderful, it will be joyful, it will be what you need it to be. But the real secret? The other side is better. The other side is something you've never quite felt before. The other side is worth it.


Special thanks to Meg from A Practical Wedding ( for being a guest blogger and sharing her words of wisdom with future brides.