A few things to consider while planning your big day...
These are some things I've picked up over the years from attending dozens of weddings. I'm sharing these with you to help you plan for things you might not have taken into consideration.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD "DJ"
THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS AN EXCERPT FROM RYAN BRADSHAW, OWNER OF RMF ENTERTAINMENT. WE HAVE WORKED WITH RMF MANY TIMES IN THE PAST AND WE'VE ALSO WORKED WITH A LOT OF DJ's WHO ONLY SHOW UP AND PLAY A SONG LIST. WE CAN ATTEST TO EVERYTHING RYAN SAYS BELOW; AN EXPERIENCED DJ COMPANY IS ESSENTIAL TO MAKING YOUR BIG DAY A SUCCESS.
THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DJ AND A WEDDING ENTERTAINMENT PROFESSIONAL. A DJ IS SOMEONE WHO HAS A LIBRARY OF SONGS AND A LOUD SPEAKER SYSTEM (MY POINT IS THAT ANYONE CAN DO THIS). A WEDDING ENTERTAINMENT PROFESSIONAL IS SOMEONE WHO PROVIDES MUCH MORE THAN PLAYING MUSIC. RYAN SAYS, "Being a DJ is just a small part of what we do at a wedding or big corporate event. We provide so much more then just “playing music.” The term “DJ” does not adequately encompass the diverse services that we are able to offer. We take on many additional roles that add up to your event’s overall success such as:
*Planning and music editing
*Leadership and help with layout
*Announcements and day of coordination.
The most important aspect though is we serve as your Master of Ceremonies the entire night to assure your wedding flows smoothly without a single hitch. Our Wedding Planning Form on our site is perfect for organization and helps us run a wedding flawlessly."
MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE SETTLING ON A COMPANY TO PROVIDE THE ENTERTAINMENT FOR YOUR BIG DAY. WE RECOMMEND DOING THE FOLLOWING:
1. READ ALL OF THE COMPANIES PAST REVIEWS THAT YOU CAN (IF THEY DON'T HAVE REVIEWS AVAILABLE THIS SHOULD BE A RED FLAG)
2. TALK TO OTHER WEDDING PROFESSIONALS, CHANCES ARE THEY WILL HAVE VALUABLE INSIGHTS FOR YOU.
TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE... THAT IS THE QUESTION.
If you are not against seeing each other before the ceremony, then we highly recommend getting the majority of your desired photos done beforehand. This allows you to join your guests almost immediately following the ceremony and in our experience keeps the stress level down several notches.
If you do not want to see each other before the ceremony, then we recommend having both sides of the family available for photos beforehand. We will get each side, bride's and groom's, finished separately to cut down on photo time after the ceremony. We also recommend giving yourselves at least an hour and a half after the ceremony to be able to get all the photos you want, after all, isn't that why you hired us? :) This means that your guests will need to be entertained during this time, so ensure there are plenty of hors d'oeuvres (what a weird word) and drinks to hold them over until you get back for dinner.
THIS MIGHT SEEM LIKE A NO-BRAINER, BUT BELIEVE US IT'S NOT. WE CAN'T COUNT HOW MANY TIMES WE SHOW UP TO A VENUE (OR BACKYARD) WHERE THE BRIGHT BLUE OR GREEN PORTA-POTTIES ARE PLACED RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN, COMPLETELY VISIBLE FROM THE CEREMONY AND/OR RECEPTION LOCATION. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I WOULDN'T WANT THESE COMPLETELY NECESSARY, BUT TOTALLY HIDEOUS OBJECTS IN THE BACKGROUND OF ALL MY PHOTOGRAPHS. MAKE SURE YOU PICK A PLACE WHERE THESE THINGS WILL BE HIDDEN FROM PLAIN SIGHT. IF THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE WHERE YOU ARE HOLDING THE WEDDING, THEN BUILD A SIMPLE FRAME THAT YOU CAN HANG SOME WHITE LINENS ON TO HIDE THEM (TRUST US, THIS WILL BE WELL WORTH IT).
THE LITTLE THINGS
There are many times, especially when weddings and receptions are held at personal dwellings, that things like bright blue coolers are left sitting on a table or behind the bar. Again, these are necessary items, but they don't need to be in plain sight. If you are having someone serve drinks, place the coolers on the floor behind the bar area so they won't end up as the background in photos. If the coolers are sitting out for everyone to help themselves, then simply wrapping them in some kind of linen will dress them up enough to not impose on the decor. You should consider hiding or "dressing up" any item that doesn't fit in with your decor and theme.
Before you hire a photography company. . .
1. Do Your Homework
Start your search by reading reviews from past clients. Carefully review potential photographers' websites to check out photos of other weddings they've shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also have clues about the photographer's personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook and Instagram pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive?
2. Set Up Interviews
This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their site—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they're available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up an in-person meetings to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, wedding style and what you envision for your photos.
3. Review Albums With a Critical Eye
When reviewing a photographer's album, look for crispness of images, (the focal point of the image should be crystal clear), thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that's the style you're after). It's also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people's emotions; make sure the photographer's subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are, of course, important, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.
4. Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh
Don't underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn't irritate you in any way. Remember: They'll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don't want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
5. Confirm Your Shooter(s)
Many larger companies have more than one photographer on staff, and unless you specify it in your contract, the lead photographer may not be the one shooting your day. Since every professional has a different style, technique and personality, you need to make sure the one you interview and "click" with will be the same one who works your wedding. Also, include specific stipulations in the contract about who will cover for the photographer should something happen on the actual day. Check whether the photographer will bring any assistants to your wedding, and if so, how many. If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a second shooter. Many top-notch photographers include a second shooter in the contract, but if this isn't a part of the deal, you may want to ask about the possibility. The main benefit to having two shooters is, of course, you get twice as much coverage. For example, during your formal photo session, one photographer can capture the formal photos, while the second one can get behind-the-scenes, photojournalistic photos, like your guests mingling. If you're having a larger wedding (250 guests or more), you might even want to ask about having three shooters so your photography team can be sure to capture the event from all angles.
6. Compare Packages
Packages can range from $2,500 all the way up to $8,000-plus on the higher end of the spectrum. When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer's standard "shooting fee" and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you'll want and the amount of coverage you're hoping to book them for (day of, full weekend). It's important to find out what's included in the standard package, plus the basic range for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage, so you can compare rates. In particular, find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from preceremony events (getting ready with your bridesmaids or first-look photos) to the end of the reception. It's usually better to pay for more coverage if there's a chance you'll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). Also consider whether you'll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend (the guys' golf outing, the bridesmaid lunch).
7. Ask About Your Rights
Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even place them in ads). That also means you can't just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you'll have to buy the rights to the images.
8. Get the Postproduction Details
It usually takes at least a month to get all those images back from your photographer. Why? Your photographer is shooting enormous raw files far bigger than your typical JPG. Shooting raw files gives your photographer greater ability to correct the photo, but it also takes a longer time to upload, process and edit all those files (in order to correct color levels and so on). It varies, but many photographers say they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can take up to six to eight weeks (or longer, depending on the photographer and how busy they are) to get images back. Here's what to ask: How many images should I expect? Will they be high resolution or low resolution? Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images? Will the images I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Speaking of retouching, ask about retouching options and special effects (which can range from simple white balancing to beauty retouching and stylized art effects like super-saturated colors) and the additional cost for both.