One thing I’ve learned while blogging is that people get themselves worked up over the strangest things. One of the most popular posts here at SuperNoVABride is "Asking your guests not to take wedding photos? Are you crazy?" that I wrote in response to a few blog posts I had read. Talk about controversial!

A recent commenter, who agreed that guests should be allowed to take pictures at weddings, pointed out something that was also an issue at our wedding.

So, I’m about to backpedal a little bit. I do have one exception to my argument that you should allow guests to take photos at your wedding.

Do not allow guests to take photos during formal portraits. For some couples, this won’t be an issue. They’re whisked off to a different location to have their portraits taken in between the wedding and the ceremony. While we had our own bride and groom portraits taken before the wedding ceremony, we set aside about 15 minutes after the ceremony to take family portraits.

The location where we had our portraits taken was set back about 20 feet from the path that guided guests from the ceremony location to the reception location. A few overly eager family members tried to take their own photographs while the professional photographers were taking theirs.

Why was this problematic? Well, it only mostly happened with photos with the ring bearer and flower girl, was that they were getting a bit thrown off by all the different cameras and ended up sometimes looking into the wrong camera. In fact, this even prompted our photographer to say in a playful voice, "Hey, look at my camera, don’t look at them," while trying to get the attention of our two-year old flower girl.

So there. I admit there is an exception to my sweeping statement that you should never forbid your guests from taking photographs.

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An absolutely amazing photographer.

I looked long and hard for a great photographer. And we found one. And I am still on an absolute high after receiving our wedding photos about two weeks ago. They are stunning.

An amazing photographer can make even a simple, inexpensive wedding look like a million bucks. Conversely, if you spend all your money on food, decor, a wedding dress, etc., and then skimp on a photographer, your wedding can look cheap, regardless of how much money you spent to make it look amazing.

Our photographer was our biggest wedding expense of $3210 – more than we spent on food, and more than we spent on our venue. And now, we have these incredible photos to last us a lifetime. Much, much longer than any food or decoration!

Something unique and fun

For us, this expense was board games. Yes, we had board games at our wedding. Why? Well, a few reasons. 1) Prior to taking dance lessons, Ken and I never liked to dance. That made weddings, especially ones where we didn’t know many people, very awkward for us when we were guests. We wanted to make sure everyone had fun at our wedding, even if a guest didn’t like to dance or didn’t know anyone else at the wedding! 2) Of the 147 people that RSVPed to our wedding, 33 were kids! We wanted to make sure they had fun at the wedding too! So, we bought about $300 in board games, decks of cards, and poker sets. We also had LED frisbees and small Nerf footballs. (We wanted to rent a moonbounce too, but our venue wouldn’t allow it). As I look through our wedding photos, I practically cry with joy seeing how much fun people were having playing those games. Grownups, kids, teenagers … they were all having a blast playing games. And seriously, how often do you see a teenager having fun at a wedding? This was a great expense, and made the wedding memorable for our guests! 

So, pick something fun and unique and trust me, it will be a worthwhile expense!

A few, high-impact decor pieces.

As brides, we tend to get weighed down with the “details.” And how can we help it. All those shots of “details” on Style Me Pretty and in Martha Stewart Weddings! But … details are damn expensive! So, instead of individually wrapping all your silverware sets with twine, or tracking down the best prices on striped straws to and mason jars for your signature lemonade cocktail, just focus on a few big impact decorations. Perhaps huge pieces of muslin fabric draping your ceiling. Or an amazing lighting scheme. Focus on the big picture items, and the details won’t matter!


What was your most important expense for your wedding?


Our Wedding Photos are Late :(

by Melissa on January 10, 2012

Tomorrow will be our two month anniversary … and we’re still wedding photo-less. If you recall, an amazing photographer was our top priority for the wedding. Our photographer, a professional (read: member of WPJA, expensive-$3500, and reputable. This wasn’t some budget Craigslist photographer) had originally told us it would take 4-6 weeks to get our photos. About 5 weeks into that timeframe, she sent us an e-mail saying she had been very sick, and was going to have surgery the next day, but that it was nothing life threatening. She was going to be late getting our photos back to us.

I felt bad for her. She has a young son and it was the week before Christmas. It must be awful to have something like that happen around the holidays. Admittedly, I was also kind of disappointed that our photographs would be late, but understood that these things happen. When I was 24, I was hospitalized very unexpectedly with an infected gallbladder and was out of commission for about a week after my surgery. Not to mention that I was feeling like crap for nearly a week before I dragged myself to the ER when the pain got unbearable.

We e-mailed her back, told her that we hoped she felt better soon, and just asked if our photos were safe and sound. I started having visions that this was some excuse that she was giving, and that somehow all of our photos had been lost in a hard drive crash or something and she was just waiting to see if the photos could be recovered (seriously, like very detailed scenarios were playing out in my head). What can I say, I’m a cynic. She e-mailed us back (abeit three days later) and said our photos were safe and sound.

I should point out that she returned our engagement photos back to us two weeks early! She had told us it would take about four weeks, but we got them back in like two weeks. And they were amazing photos.

Last week, on New Year’s Day, we e-mailed her to wish her a Happy New Year and to say that we hoped she was feeling better. We also asked if she had an estimated timeframe for returning our photos. She e-mailed us back two days later, saying she was feeling better and was hoping to get our photos back to us next week (meaning this week now). She was very apologetic, saying that this has never happened before, and that it was literally giving her nightmares.

It’s Tuesday, and I’m trying not to be impatient. But it’s tough. I don’t want to keep e-mailing her, because I don’t want her to rush through our photos either. I want to make sure they get all of her creative attention. To further complicate matters, we were hoping to include one of our professional wedding photos on our thank you cards, so now we’re very late sending those out.

Any advice? Should we apply more pressure to get our photos back more quickly? Should we ask for a partial refund? Or would that put us in the real jerk category?

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I’ve seen quite a few mentions on blog posts and on Twitter in the past few months about couples  asking guests not to take photographs at their wedding.  Why?  Well, a few reasons.  First, professional photographers claim they can no longer capture emotion on guests’ faces because guests’ faces are either blankly staring at an LCD screen, or their head is looking down at the LCD screen to inspect the photo they just took.  And the lights from guests’ cameras can affect the photographs that the professional takes.


Here goes.  Asking guests not to take photographs at your wedding, in my opinion, is not only a terrible idea, but insanely rude.  Did you ever stop to think that guests want to capture their own memories of your day?  From their own perspective?

I mentioned a few months ago that we actually purchased ten digital cameras to have on hand for our guests at the wedding because we want all of them to take pictures.  My fiancé and I are huge photography fans (albeit amateurs), and we love photos.  The more photos, the merrier!  In fact, I get really disappointed when I’m not allowed to take pictures.  I almost walked right out of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona last year  when I found out I couldn’t take pictures inside.  If I can’t take pictures, what’s the point?  So, I would have a similar reaction if someone told me I couldn’t take pictures at their wedding.  (*side note* Of course I did end up going through the Picasso Museum to see the art, but I’m still pissed that I couldn’t take pictures)

Contrary to popular belief, your wedding is not just about you.  It’s also about your guests.  As Meg from A Practical Wedding says “Your wedding day is not just your day, it’s the day of everyone who loves you.”  It’s about thanking them for being there to celebrate your big day.  And, if they bring their camera, it’s because they want memories of being there with you to celebrate!

And no, it’s not the same if you promise your guests that you’ll send them the link to your wedding photos.  For those of us that love taking pictures, we want the photos to be from our perspectives, not someone else’s perspective.  How we experienced the wedding, or whatever event, not how someone else experienced or viewed it.

So, you don’t want your wedding photos to be full of your guests taking their own wedding photos?  Get over it!  Photography evolves continuously.  If you got married 75 years ago, you maybe would have one formal wedding portrait, if you were lucky.  If you got married 40 years ago, your wedding photos would probably be yellowed and discolored from age and the poor color processing that was used at the time.  Until very recently “photojournalistic” style wedding photography was rare, so your pictures would have consisted of formal, posed photos.  So, with a few exceptions, there wasn’t much “capturing emotion” in those photos either.  During your father daughter dance, you were told to turn and smile for the camera during the dance.  Not much emotion in that!

And until very recently, you were lucky to end up with any more than, say, 100 or so photos (like from my sister’s wedding in 1997), because professional photographers were much more careful and selective about the shots they took because film and was very expensive.  And getting prints of your wedding was also very expensive.  Be thankful, not resentful, that you have so many people taking photos on your wedding day!

So, what I have to say is, get over it.  You should feel lucky that you have so many people who want  to capture memories of your big day.  Professionals and non-professionals.

As a final anecdotal note, I question how much of a problem this really is.  At the last two weddings I attended, sure, there were folks taking pictures.  But maybe only about 10% of the guests.  There are plenty of others who will be there for your professional photographer to capture their emotions.


Saturday Randomness

by Melissa on May 14, 2011

A few thoughts, none of which warrant an entire blog post, but just feel like sharing:

  • Two weeks ago, I went to the Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides in Washington, DC.  I went at 6pm.  There were still a ton of wedding dresses left on the racks.  A TON.  Glad I didn’t wake up with the crazies and hoard dresses.  Only a few caught my eye.  I tried on five.  I can, without a doubt, say that I do not like any sort of bridal-looking wedding dress.

Filene's Basement Running of the Brides 1 in DC

Photo 1


  • On the upside, a week before the Running of the Brides, I tried on some dresses from a designer that had caught my eye on the internet.  Her designs are only carried by one shop in the DC area.  I tried on several from the same designer, Saja.  The one I thought I would love, I still liked a lot, but I definitely liked a different one better.  The issue?  The one I liked better is $400 more than the other one.  Not sure if it’s worth it.  Now I just need my parents and sister to come visit for a day so I can take them to see the dresses. Which one do you like better?  (Images from




  • I am working on the ultimate Wedding Playlist.  The most pressing problem is that it’s a bit heavy on fun, faster music, and a bit light on slower dance music.  I can’t help it!  I like fun, upbeat music!


  • I think we’re going to continue with our dance lessons.  We’re having a lot of fun, it gives us an excuse to get out of the house, since we always seem to be working on projects at home, and we’re both learning something together from scratch.  I am so proud of my fiance and how well he is learning how to foxtrot and waltz!  But neither of us like the Club Swing or Single Swing.  It’s just a very awkward feeling dance.


  • We still haven’t had our November 2011 wedding date confirmed yet by our venue.  The application period closed on May 1, so we should hear something any day now (it’s a National Park site, so the application process is kinda complicated).  If we don’t hear something by Monday, I’ll call.  I’m doing a good job of not obsessing about it, I’m just worried that the vendors we like will get booked before we hear back from the venue.


  • We had our engagement photos taken.  Well, they were actually taken in two parts.  We were supposed to meet our photographer at our picture location at 3pm last Friday.  The location closed at 5pm, so we would be able to get in our full two hours that the price included  (the photographer preferred to meet as late as possible to get the best light).  Well, the photographer was 30 minutes late.  Our session was rushed, she hadn’t scoped it out for the best picture locations (my fiance and I had been there before, but how are we supposed to know the best places for portraits?) and so we were running around like crazy.  So, I asked, and she agreed to do a second shoot at a different location just a few days later.  Even though she was only late by 30 minutes, the extra shoot went an hour.  I’m happy she was so accommodating, but, seriously, she was 30 minutes late!  We sat in the same traffic she did, and we were still there on time because we know how traffic is in this city and how long it takes to get places.  She assured us she wouldn’t be late for the wedding day.  She was super nice, but I just can’t seem to shrug the initial disappointment.  She’s a professional (read: expensive, and this is her full-time job, since photography is our top priority), so I’m hoping it was just a fluke.  I guess we’ll wait to see how the pictures turn out.


  • I’m a cheapskate, and hate how much it costs to get a haircut.  So, for years, I’ve been trimming my own hair and have never had a disaster.  Well, three days before our engagement photo session, I trimmed my bangs, just like I had done a hundred times before.  Well, I managed to cut off WAY too much. And rather than making it even, I decided to just leave it alone so that I wouldn’t end up with all short bangs (the shortest part was in the middle).  I have a fear of extremely short bangs after an unfortunate haircut in middle school that made me look like a little boy with a bowl cut.  So I figured, uneven was better than too short. For the next three days, I tugged on my bangs, massaged my scalp, and ingested many vitamins in an attempt to get my hair to grow back.  (not that I actually expected that to work).  Well, the day of the photos I think I managed to conceal it well and just kept rubbing down my bangs in between photos in an attempt to make them look longer.  This is an important lesson learned for my hair trim before the wedding!


  • We started our registry on  The Gear for Your Kitchen book has been invaluable.  So many useful tips and tools that I would have never thought of.  Now that I’ve cleared some of the usual registry items, I’m trying to think of other things to register for.


  • We bought 10 digital cameras to put on tables at the wedding.  Yes.  Ten.  They were refurbished Kodak point-and-shoots for $49 each from an Ebay seller.  We figure we can sell them after the wedding.  Now we just need some SD cards for them, and we’re all set!  I think this is actually a very reasonable price.  Disposable cameras used to be in the $10 each range, but then of course getting all those photos developed was very expensive.  I think this will come out to be about the same price.


Happy Saturday!


    My fiancé and I have begun the process of looking for a photographer.  I had my eye on one photographer for a really long time.  Although I didn’t know her in college, she and I had some mutual friends and when I would see those friends comment on her photos on Facebook, I would be so jealous!  She was the first photographer I e-mailed.  Unfortunately, even though photography is our top priority, her photography service prices were really much more than what we wanted to spend.

    While I’m not running to Craigslist to find a “budget” student photographer, I knew there had to be other options out there.  So, in my search, I’ve developed the following criteria for wedding photographers:


    The photographer must have a blog that they use to post many pictures (at least 15-20) from each of their recent weddings and other photo shoots.  Anyone can have a website that has a slide show of their 20 most amazing photos.  I want a photographer who consistently publishes their recent work to demonstrate their photojournalist skills.

    Social Networking

    Must be on Facebook and/or Twitter and have more than 50 fans or followers.  I could probably sign up a photography page and get 50 of my friends to “like” my page.  But I want someone who has an established following.  I think that heavy Twitter and Facebook usage also shows that the photographer is tech savvy and forward thinking.  You can tell a lot about a person’s personality from their tweets!


    Yes, I understand that it’s not just about the equipment, but wedding photography is no place for an entry-level SLR and kit lenses.  Therefore, our photographer must use a full-frame digital camera (although a mix of digital and film is okay too).  The photographer must also bring at least two camera bodies with them to the wedding.  You never know when something might break!

    Style and Skill

    They should have a mix of candid and posed shots of their recent events on their blog. There was one photographer’s blog I was looking at and was really falling in love with the images from one of their recent weddings.  Then I realized they were almost all posed shots.  Only two candid shots from the entire wedding were posted.  I like to see a good mix of posed and candid photographs that demonstrate they have the skill to take both types.  I also explore their blog to see examples of their night-time photography, since we’re having an autumn outdoor ceremony and reception and it will get dark early.  **Update!  Must also be willing to provide use with .TIFF files (not JPEGs) and must shoot in raw!


    Must be willing to provide non-watermarked high-resolution digital copies of images.  I do not want to always have to go back to the original photographer if I want a printed copy.


    Photos can’t be overly processed or have that weird faded yellow thing going on. I don’t know why I’ve been seeing this trend in a lot of wedding photographs but I hate it.  I only hope that there is an original version of those photos somewhere so that in 10 years, when the couple decides they don’t want that weird coloration, that they can see the original beauty of their photos.


    Must take credit cards.  I’m not trying to be cynical, but let’s face it, no matter how many reference checks we do, any vendor, including a photographer, can totally screw us.  A credit card gives us an option to dispute charges if services aren’t rendered.  If we pay by cash or check, there’s no recourse except a long drawn-out legal process.  My fiancé doesn’t necessarily agree with this credit card criteria, arguing that perhaps we can even negotiate a lower price by offering cash, but it makes me very nervous.

    Business Model

    Must be an independent photographer and not part of some major chain.  I like the idea of supporting independent photographers and small businesses, and worry that some big wedding photo studio company would provide their most amateur, lowest-paid photographer for our event.  One of the downsides of dealing with an independent photographer is that I worry what will happen if they have a family emergency or end up with appendicitis the day before the wedding.  I’ll ask what their worst-case-scenarios are and if they have contingency plans.

    What are your wedding photographer criteria?