Tips for a COVID-19 Wedding

Lets face it, everyone’s wedding has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to cancel everything! Whether or not you decide to go ahead with your wedding date or reschedule for a future date is a big decision, and either decision requires a lot of planning.

For those who have decided to keep their wedding date, here are a few tips to help you replan your wedding during this time of social distancing.

  1. Keep an open mind!
    • No, this will not be the dream wedding you’ve been envisioning since you got engaged. But that’s okay!
    • Remember, the most important elements will still be there. You will still have your family and friends to support you.
    • You can still have the flowers and cake…just at a much smaller scale (and you can still help support local businesses that are currently struggling during this time)
  2. Contact your venue and vendors ASAP!
    • For those brides who booked their vendors prior to the quarantine, review your contracts and see what accommodations your venue/vendors can make. Not all vendors are providing refunds for the retainer, but most vendors are trying to come to a compromise/arrangement with their clients.
  3. Immediate family only
    • Those closest to you are probably already in contact with you on a regular basis, so invite them over. This doesn’t mean you need to invite all your cousins, but why not your parents and siblings? Just make sure to follow CDC guidelines regarding gatherings.
    • The rest of your friends and family can join in virtually using Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live
  4. Virtual consultations
    • You may not be able to do a hair trial through Skype, but you can have virtual consultations with many other vendors. (Second Summer Bride has put a lot of effort into helping brides find their dream dress virtually.) Unlike a phone consultation, you can still view samples of a vendors work through Zoom or FaceTime.
  5. Dress up!
    • It’s okay to wear your wedding dress in your living room/backyard ceremony. Or choose a more casual dress that makes you feel good.
      • The groom can still wear a suit too!
  6. Downsize
    • You may have no need for a three tier cake or a hall full of roses, but you can still have a miniature cake and bouquet. Places like Megan’s Bake Shop create beautiful 4″ cakes that can feed anywhere between 4-7 people. And Flowers by Jordan Marie still has supplies available to create bouquets. Need a wedding officiant? Have a close family member get certified online and perform your ceremony. You can even have a certified wedding officiant perform your ceremony through Zoom. Cindy Wilding is an awesome wedding officiant who provides customized/personalized wedding ceremonies.
      • So pop the champagne, cut the cake, and toss your bouquet to your single sister!
      • And remember, you can always have a large reception when things start to settle down!
Fall wedding at the Vizcaya in Sacramento, Calif. (photo by Ashley Nicole Baeza – Ashley Nicole photography – wedding photographer)

Top 3 Tips to Find Your Wedding Photographer

With so many wedding photographers ready to photograph your big day, how do you find the one right for you? Here are my top three tips to finding the right wedding photographer for your big day.

Wedgewood Sterling Hotel – Sacramento, Calif.

1) Pick a style that fits you!

There are several types of photographers. Most common are traditional, classic, and photo journalistic. 

A traditional photographer is going to base their shots on a composed list and will spend a lot of time posing people. 

A classic photographer will have a balance of posed and candid shots.

A photo journalistic photographer will still take posed photos, but a majority of their shots will be natural, candid shots. Due to my initial training as an Air Force public affairs photojournalist I tend to fall more in this category. 

There are still several other types of styles, but these are probably the three major ones. However, if you get a photographer who says they are a natural light photographer, but your wedding will be inside (especially low lit), then don’t be afraid to ask if they have photos of indoor weddings they have done. 

2) Get an idea of what your budget is!

Prices for wedding photographers can range drastically depending on the area you live in, their experience, the equipment they own and how established their business is. Even if photography is a priority for you, if your budget is $5,000 for your entire wedding, then you may not want to hire a photographer who is going to charge you $3000. However, if you get a price quote that seems too good to be true, then chances are it is. The reason wedding photographers charge so much has a lot to do with the weeks that are spent editing the photos in combination with the cost to run their business (i.e. business insurance, software subscriptions, equipment…etc). If someone is only charging you $50 an hour then the quality of your images are likely to suffer. That’s not to discourage those on a small budget. I’m sure if you were to really go on a search there are several brides and grooms who would be able to find an up-and-coming photographer who is just trying to build their portfolio. You may be able to find a student photographer with basic camera gear looking to get their feet wet in the wedding industry. Just don’t expect the same quality photos you would get from someone who has been doing weddings for several years and who charges $2000-$4000 a wedding. Make sure to look at their portfolios!

3) Find the person who fits your personality!

Don’t just look at the photographer websites on the first page of Google! There are a lot of great photographers in your area who just don’t have the time and money to boost their websites SEO. I once had a client book me and when I asked how she found me she said she found me on Google. I was extremely surprised because I am probably on page 20 of Google and therefore most clients hire me through Wedding Wire. 

But look past the website! Don’t pick someone because they have a pretty website. Like I mentioned, many photographers, especially those just getting their own business established, are not web designers and/or cannot hire a web designer. Really look at their photos and get to know them! Every photographer has their own style of shooting and editing. Not only do I shoot for my own photography business, but I get subcontracted by others. When I am subcontracted I do not do the editing. If you were to look at the photos that I edit and the photos provided by one of the other businesses I have worked for you would think the photos were from two different photographers. 

Read their about page and set a one-on-one consultation! The style of their photos is just as important as their personality. The wedding photographer will be spending all day with you! And if you’re a bride hiring a female photographer then that photographer is likely going to see you half naked while you get your dress on. Make sure you hire someone who you are comfortable around and are at ease when talking with because this person is going to have a camera all up in your face for several hours (not really…we also shoot at a distance, but you get what I’m saying). 

Tips for Choosing an Outdoor Wedding Location

Over the past few years I have photographed several outdoor weddings and although they have all been beautiful weddings, there have been some situations the bride and groom may have wanted to consider. These considerations are not only meant to make everyone more comfortable, but also to provide the bride and groom with beautifully lit images.

1) Keep Cool

Lets face it. California can get pretty hot at the end of spring and throughout the summer. If you plan to have an outdoor wedding ceremony at high noon in the middle of July be kind to your guests. Look for a wedding venue that provides lots of shade. Also avoid sitting your guests over a concrete surface. A concrete surface being hit with direct sunlight will reflect and create a hotter experience for your guests. This applies to the bride and groom. I know it may seem romantic having your ceremony on a stage for everyone to see, but maybe not with the sun directly above. No need for the bride and groom to start sweating heavily at the beginning of the day. Especially if you plan to have your formal photos directly after the ceremony. No need to have sweaty face in your wedding portraits. If you are dead set on having your ceremony in open sunlight, in the middle of the day, ask your photographer if he/she will retouch the photos. If retouching is not included in the wedding package you have chosen make sure to ask how much the additional charge would be.

2) Direct Sun vs. Shade

Unless you plan to have your wedding ceremony at the end of the day, consider how your photos will look if you plan to stand in direct sunlight versus standing in the shade. We have already discussed using shady areas to keep cool, but shade will also be your friend in providing visually pleasing photos. When the sun is located straight above (noon) it will simultaneously create harsh shadows and highlights on the subjects. However, placing the subject in the shade will help create beautiful, even lighting. Take a look at the difference between these to photos below.

Wedding ceremony in direct sunlight
Formal wedding photo in the shade

Although the first image has been edited, you can still see that parts of the face are highlighted while other parts are covered in shade. The second image was taken in the shade and required less editing due to the even lighting. Having constant, even lighting throughout your wedding not only helps in creating consistent imagery, but it also helps in reducing the amount of editing required for each image so that your photographer can deliver your photos faster.

3) Best Time

Best time for any ceremony and to take photos are the last two hours before sunset. This is what photographers call the “Golden Hour”. Not only will the weather be cooler, but it will not matter if the ceremony and guests are placed in direct sunlight or the shade. The weather will feel comfortable and all the photos will have an even golden light. Also, if timed correctly, sunset/formal photos can be taken immediately after the ceremony. If planning to have sunset photos, this will help with the wedding timeline. Instead of taking formal photos after the ceremony and then leaving the reception for sunset photos, all photos can be done at once. Take a look at the below photos that were taken one to two hours before sunset.

Tannenbaum Event Center – Reno, NV
Alta Sierra Country Club – Grass Valley, Calif.