Should you do a first look?  

Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

We are big proponents of first looks - Why, you ask?  

Photo by:  Elizabeth Irvin

Photo by: Elizabeth Irvin

  • The first look is a really special and intimate moment where you and your soon-to-be–hubby can spend some quality time together before the chaos ensues.

  • Seeing your love before the ceremony allows for you to enjoy cocktail hour fully and maximize the time you have to take meaningful portraits that you will enjoy for years to come.   

  • It sets the tone for a more relaxed wedding day schedule.  

  • Many couples prefer to share this moment in an intimate setting before stepping in front of the crowd - as can be one of the emotional parts of your day.

  • The first time you walk down the aisle will still feel special to you both, we promise. A first look actually helps get rid of some of those pre-ceremony jitters.

Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Wedding Registry - What To Register For And What You Don’t Actually Need

Yes, please!

  • Blender 

From soups, to smoothies, and dips, make sure to register for a one-size-fits all blender that has many functions.

  • Coffee machine

Because first, coffee.

  • Invest in a Dutch oven

It’s one of the most versatile kitchen appliances.

  • Napkins

Register for nice yet machine washable everyday napkins to replace your paper napkins and paper towels you are currently using.

Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

  • Flatware and china that coordinates and works well together from a utilitarian standpoint

There is nothing worse than forks and knives that constantly fall off your coupe china when clearing the table. Give your table settings a test run to make sure they gel together.

Photo by  Marni Rothschild
  • Extra wine glasses

They will break often!

Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Photo by: Jeremy Harwell

  • A cordless drill

Probably more useful than most kitchen pieces.

  • Luggage

A registry item you will never regret. Make sure to do extensive research, however, on the best brands available for you and your fiancé.

  • Picture frames

Select some nice picture frames to display your wedding photos in.

  • A carving set

A set of great and effective knives should definitely be on your wedding registry list. Knives are one of those things that you will not want to buy yourself but will use every day.

  • Basic cookware set 

Again, basic kitchen needs are always a yes.

Maybe we don’t need..

  • Skip the fine china

Pick out really unique yet practical china that you will actually use everyday.  We have heard from countless brides (including ourselves) that they wished the had asked for more everyday pieces than fancy china.

Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

  • Reconsider the juicer

Most take up a lot of space and are very cumbersome to clean.

  • Don’t get too excited by the fancy panini maker or crepe machine

While they seem fun, you won’t use them enough to warrant space in your cabinets.

  • Specialty glasses

Unless you’re constantly entertaining, how many margarita and specialty beer glasses do you actually need?

Photo by  Heather Waraksa

Questions Your Guests Will Ask - & How to Answer Them

1. “Congrats! When’s the wedding? I want to put it on my calendar." 

This is always an awkward question, as the reality is that not everyone can attend your wedding. Kindly mention that you have not yet solidified your plans but are thinking it will be an intimate affair.

2. Where should we stay?

The more information provided the better. Refer them to your wedding website or invitation suite for more details on wedding blocks and/or recommended accommodations in the area.

Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

3. Can they bring a plus one?

Try to have a hard answer for this that every guest will consistently hear (i.e no ring, no bring).

4. Are children allowed?

If not, kindly mention that you are not allowing children at the wedding itself but would be happy to assist with local childcare options.

Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

5. What’s the dress code?

You can either include this detail on your invitation or within your wedding website so that your guests are clear on what to wear and won’t bother you with their attire questions.

Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

6. Is transportation provided?

Be sure to include transportation details within your invitation suite, wedding website, and day-of paperie, so guests know how they will get around.

7. Was their gift received?

Make sure to write your thank you notes in a timely manner so guests are not wondering if their gift made it to you safely.

12 Questions You Should Be Ready For When Hiring a Tenting Company By Tenting Professional, Sarah Copeland

Photo by:  Verdi  

Photo by: Verdi 

1) Is the tent allowed to be installed at the reception site?  

2)Is there a preferred/exclusive vendor list?

3) Do you have a preference on the style of tenting--ie Sailcloth, Frame, Open Air with a Frame? A venue date will help to possibly drive the type of tent as you would not want to install a clear frame tent during the summer months due to the heat factor.

4) How many people do you wish to accommodate and in what configuration?  All seated at tables, partial seating, cocktail party setting?

Photo by:  Verdi  

Photo by: Verdi 

5) What other items would you like to have under the tent? Food tables, bar, cake table, dance floor, stage etc?

6) How much space do you have? What are the dimensions of the tent site?

7) What time of day will your event take place?  Will you need lights and/or heat or AC?

Photo by:  Iris Photography

Photo by: Iris Photography

8) Is there a power source at the site? 

9) Do you wish to enclose any portion of the tent with siding or doors?

10) Will you need accessory tents for caterers prep, band, vendors?

Photo by: Raquel Reis Photography

Photo by: Raquel Reis Photography

11) Will leveled flooring be needed?  

12) On what kind of surface will the tent be placed?  Grass, concrete, asphalt, wood deck?
**This is very important to confirm as this will be the driving force for costs.  Can our team stake the tent into grass for anchoring?  If not we would have to look into alternative anchoring options like water barrels, concrete anchors etc that could drive the costs up and not to mention alter the look of the tent.  

How to Keep Your Bridesmaids Happy

Your bridesmaids are your right-hand-ladies. They'll have your back throughout this wedding process, so it's important to have theirs too. 

Photo by:  Kati Rosado

Photo by: Kati Rosado

1. Allow them to select their own dress.  

Buying a dress that you may never wear again is that much more aggravating when it's one that doesn't match your style in the slightest. Choosing a general color scheme or giving the girls lots of options to choose from is a great way to compromise here. 

Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

2. Don’t start hair and makeup at 7:00am. 

The girls will more-than-likely be recovering from the night before and probably don't want to get up at 6am, let alone sit around dolled up for the next zillion hours. This will also lessen the chances of having to do re-touches later on. 

3. Gift them something that they can actually wear on your wedding day like earrings or a purse. 

Keeping your gift useful, practical, and simple is a good way to ensure everyone is happy. 

4. If your wedding is destination, don’t choose a destination bachelorette location. 

Your girls are already raking up a lot of dough to be able to make all of your wedding celebrations a success. If you can, try to minimize their traveling expenses, their bank accounts will thank you.

Photo by:  Jane Shauck

Photo by: Jane Shauck

5. Allow them to bring a plus one.

This is another little "thank you" gesture that your maids will absolutely appreciate. 

6. Have fun!

Don’t get too lost in the logistics and forget why you asked them to share in your special day. Celebrate together and enjoy the journey! 

Photo by:  Christian Oth

Photo by: Christian Oth

Unique Wedding Rings We Are Loving

Wedding rings/bands have come a long way since a single solitaire! Today, there are so many unique rings to reflect your personality and personal style. Here are a few we are currently swooning over... 

1. Catbird 

We love Catbird rings for their feminine and dainty details. They have a mix-and-match approach which makes for super easy pairings with lots of style. We adore this classic pairing for it's rose gold detail and aysemtrical design.

Engagement Ring 

Wedding Band

Photography by:  Catbird

Photography by: Catbird

2. Everett

We found Everett on Instagram (they have a feed that is totally worth checking out) and fell in love. They carry a wide variety of engagement ring and band combinations that are to die for. A few of our faves: 

Engagement Ring 

Wedding Band 

Wedding Band

Photography by:  Everett

Photography by: Everett

3. Ken and Dana

Ken and Dana are well known in the engagement ring community for their variety of styles and cuts. They cover everything from classic, to nature inspired, to sleek modern rings. We adore these pieces found among their vintage collection. Talk about unique! 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Photography by:  Ken and Dana

Photography by: Ken and Dana

4. Ashley Zhang Jewelry

We have long been eying the beautiful design of Ashley Zhang. This New York company creates gorgeous handmade fine jewelry and vintage and bespoke rings. We love this simple yet stunning diamond and pearl engagement ring with a diamond wedding band to add a bit of sparkle. 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Photography by:  Ashley Zhang Jewelry

Photography by: Ashley Zhang Jewelry

5. Kasia Jewelry 

We really love the hand-crafted vibe and unique style of Kasia Jewelry. I mean who doesn't think a black diamond is a total stunner? We adore her dramatic yet elegant designs. 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Wedding Band

Photography by:  Kasia Jewelry  

Photography by: Kasia Jewelry 

6. Consider the Wildflowers 

We are crazy about this combination because of it's simplicity and delicacy. We love Wildflowers collection of "one-of-a-kind" rings where you can find gorgeous, custom made pieces like this one: 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Why We Love Garden Weddings

We love garden weddings, as they never go out of style and are both beautiful and unique. I mean who wouldn't want to be surrounded by a lush landscape full of fragrant flowers? Here are some reasons why we can't get enough of these organic and romantic weddings... 

  • You’re surrounded by beautiful and fragrant flowers, so you don’t have to bring much décor in, saving on time and money.   

Photo by:  Lucy Cuneo

Photo by: Lucy Cuneo

  • A garden wedding often takes place during the day, which will also keep costs down (no lighting needed, menu costs are lower, etc).

Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

  • It's more eco friendly- instead of having to throw out your florals following your wedding day, the flowers are already supplied and will continue to thrive post-celebration.
  • You can keep it hyper-local! Your menu can be dictated by the herbs surrounding you, again cost effective and eco friendly. 

  • Some venues allow you to cut bouquets straight from the garden. 

Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

Where To Start Fresh Before Your Wedding

Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Make a new email address for the wedding

    This keeps you organized and will save you from hours of inbox sifting. 

  • Come up with a unique hashtag to use throughout the weekend

    This has become an increasingly popular wedding trend and, believe it or not, is a great way to find some "hidden gem" photos taken by guests that you may have otherwise missed. 

Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Setup a wedding website  

    Wedding websites are a great way to provide your guests with any information they might need from hotel and transportation details to restaurant recommendations. Believe us, it makes your life much easier having everything they need to know in one place. 

    *Click here to see some of our favorite Riley & Gray website layouts!
  • Get a rewards credit card to reap the benefits of all of your wedding expenses

    We're talking honeymoon miles! We recommend signing up for a rewards program with a larger airline like Delta or United to ensure your honeymoon destination is on their map. 

  • Keep your passport as is, though make sure it is not expired

    Not quite a fresh start, but it's important to know that you’ll want to keep your passport in your old name until you have time to change your name formally. 

  • Create a list of priorities with your fiancé 

    This will get you both on the same page, help you prioritize what’s most important to you, and help you decide where to splurge.  

Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Buy a wedding planning book

         We love Mindy Weiss’, The Wedding Book.

  • Get the inside scoop

    Talk to other married couples to see what they loved most about their wedding and what they regret not doing.
Photography by  Kati Rosado

Photography by Kati Rosado

Why You Won’t Regret Hiring a Videographer

Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Photo by: Jeremy Harwell

1. You will remember those tear jerking toasts for years to come

2. The only way to truly capture the overall emotion of that day is through video

3. You will notice moments in the video that you didn’t even know happened on the actual wedding day

4. You can someday share the magic of your special day with your kids

Video by: Reeling Films

5. You can sit back and be a fly on the wall at your own wedding

Thinking Outside Flowers: Creative Centerpiece Ideas That are Far From Traditional

Photo by:  Iris Photography

1. Fruit is a great alternative (and more cost effective route) to wedding florals. Lemons, berries, plums, pears, and pomegranate can add pops of color, texture, and uniqueness to any tablescape. 

2. Beachy elements like coral or shells make for a natural centerpiece that will be sure to wow your guests! 

Photo by:  Leigh Miller

Photo by: Leigh Miller

3. Bringing in a colorful variety of candles is a great way to fill the table without sacrificing on style. 

4. Herbs! Not only will your tables smell delicious but herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme add an unexpected yet natural element to your overall design. 

5. Branches are simple and organic without the fussiness of a large floral display. 

6. Stones or rocks are a great way to give your tablescape a more organic feel that compliments an outdoor rustic setting. 

Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

7. Lanterns will bring some light and depth to your dinner tables while also adding a rustic vibe.

Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

8. Family-style plates are great for bringing the table design and your guests together. 

Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Photo by: Jeremy Harwell

9. A bouquet of delicate feathers can add a rustic and natural vibe to your tables while bringing in lots of color and texture. 

10.  Vintage books lining your tables are a warm and inviting design element that tells you and your fiance's story through words.

Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

D&I Custom Wedding Calendar Checklist

Many of you have been asking what a wedding calendar checklist looks like from D&I and how it differs from the downloadable versions you can find online, so, today, we are going to share a sneak peak into the level of detail and customization you will receive when you          purchase a checklist directly from our site. Keep in mind this is just a small sampling of the comprehensive checklist you will receive broken down into the months and weeks leading up to your wedding. 

Once your purchase is made, a D&I consultant will be in touch within 24-48 business hours to setup a phone consultation so we can better understand the ins and outs of your wedding and how to best keep you on track throughout the planning process.

After speaking with one of our dedicated planners/designers, your consultant will create a customized checklist including wedding to-do's that specifically apply to your wedding. If you find you need more planning assistance than what the checklist provides, D&I can recommend vendors in your area, provide a detailed budget, or create custom floorplans to both keep you on track and offer expertise wherever you need it. 

* Two revisions are included with your purchase. Any additional revision is $50. 

Happy planning!


D&I Wedding Checklist- for blog and IG_Page_2.jpg

Minimalist Wedding - How to Keep Things Simple

Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado


The Dress

You will be the focus of your big day no matter what. A sleek white dress will keep your aesthetic cohesive and clean. 

Photography by Lucy Cuneo 

Photography by Lucy Cuneo 



Simple can still be impactful. Choose an invite that allows for a lot of white space, so you can keep the text and design minimal. 

Photography by  Jeremy Harwell

Photography by Jeremy Harwell



Florals are an easy place to get carried away with color and texture, however, you don’t want to take away from your dress or the overall design. 

Photography by  Jeremy Harwell  

Photography by Jeremy Harwell 


Wedding Cake 

There are so many beautiful ways to dress up a basic white cake. With a little bit of texture or some subtle florals, your cake can be the perfect element to tie together every detail of your minimalist wedding.

Photo by  Verdi

Photo by Verdi

Ceremony decor 

When you're up at the altar, guests eyes should be on you and your hubby.  

Photography by  Kim Stockwell

Photography by Kim Stockwell


Table Decor

Right or left justify your centerpieces allowing for clean open space within your tablescape. An artfully designed table can be very elegant and timeless and also stretch your budget further (yay!)

Photography by  Jeremy Harwell  

Photography by Jeremy Harwell 

Table Numbers 

A crisp, clear table number is easy to read and allows for the centerpieces to speak for themselves.

Photography by  Verdi

Photography by Verdi


Wedding Photos

Choose a backdrop that is clean and minimal, so you and your love can be the showstoppers.

Photography by  Leigh Miller

Photography by Leigh Miller

How to Maximize your Budget

1. Choose a venue that speaks for itself, so you don’t have to bring in much decor to work against ugly carpeting and draping. 

2. Avoid a tented wedding. Tents are not inexpensive and you will end up incurring many costs (bathroom trailer, generator, flooring, etc.) that you wouldn’t at a venue.

3. When it comes to stationery, the sky is the limit as far as budget goes. Try to focus on a unique design versus paper quality, as guests will remember the initial design and not whether or not the paper stock was thick. 

4. Don’t break the bank on your wedding dress that you will only wear once. Once Wed is a great resource for gently used designer gowns. You can also buy a super chic white gown that isn’t a wedding dress per se at places like Saks, Net a Porter, or Shopbop

Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

5. Cut out the non-essentials. Does anyone really need favors and welcome goodies anyway?

6. Think beyond the florals. Florals can be costly due to seasonality. Try to incorporate other design elements like rocks, candles, coral, sea glass, etc. to your tablescape. 

Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

7. Embrace the minimal yet chic trend. Don’t overdue it with decor. Simple can be super chic if done well.  

Photo by:  Verdi

Photo by: Verdi

8. Go with a DJ over a band. Not hiring a full band is a huge cost savings and the benefit of hiring a DJ is that you get to dance to the real singers versus cover songs.

9. Choose a venue that does not require transport. Pick an event space that is located close to the guests hotels, so you are not obligated to provide transport to and from the ceremony and reception.

10. Consider hiring a newbie photographer that has a great collection of styled work but just needs the right clients to build his/her portfolio. 

How to make the most of your outdoor wedding (and what to be prepared for)

Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado

1. Spray for bugs! You don’t want any uninvited pesky guests to crash your wedding. 

2. Always have a backup rain plan. If you don’t like the indoor spaces available, plan on renting a tent in the case of inclement weather. A deposit is required to hold the tent though the balance is only due if the tent is utilized. 

Photo by  Jane Shauck

Photo by Jane Shauck

3. Work with the landscape, not against it. If your backdrop is rustic and on the water, maybe a clear tent with white carpeting is not the best fit. 

Photo by  Leigh Miller

Photo by Leigh Miller

4. Make sure the ground is level. Nobody wants to sit in a chair that is leaning sideways during dinner. 

Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado

5. Are restrooms easily accessible? If not, plan on renting a bathroom trailer that is conveniently located right next to your reception tables. 

6. You never know what the weather has in store for us. Make sure your linens are securely held down and candles contained, as gusty winds can always make an appearance when you least expect it. 

Photo by  Leigh Miller

Photo by Leigh Miller

7. Make sure your guests are comfortable. Provide plenty of bug spray, suntan lotion, and shade for your friends and family (or blankets if its cool out). 

8. The band, lighting, caterers etc. all require ample power. Make sure the venue has enough power to supply all of your vendors or plan on bringing in a generator for extra cushion. 

9. Getting married on grass? Not a bad idea to provide heel protectors for all the ladies. Their stilettos will thank you!

Photo by  Jane Shauck

Photo by Jane Shauck

10. Planning a wedding in a large outdoor space? Make it easy for your guests to get to and from each event. You don’t want them to feel like animals being herded through a farm. 

Photo by  Katie Rosado

Photo by Katie Rosado

What to Ask While Interviewing Bands

There are so many fantastic bands out there and the search for the perfect fit can be a bit overwhelming. It's important to know what questions you should ask during the interviewing process to ensure you find the best fit. Below are our top ten questions you should put on your radar: 

Photo credit:  Christian Oth  &  Heather Waraksa

1. Do you play continual dance music, and if so, for how long? 

2. What are your on-site requirements (i.e. hot meals, greenroom, specific stage size, etc)? 

Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

3. Is the band I am seeing online, the band I will be getting on my wedding day?

4. Can you learn songs not in your repertoire? 

5. What are your overtime fees? 

Photography by  Ira Lippke Studios

Photography by Ira Lippke Studios

6. What are your travel costs (most bands are populated in major cities)? 

7. Can we add pieces to the band?  

8. What genres are you best at covering? 


9. Can you play during ceremony and cocktails well? If so, how will we ensure a seamless transition from event to event? 

10. Can we see you play live before our wedding day?

Questions to Ask When Considering a Resort for Your Wedding Venue

Having a resort wedding can be romantic and tons of fun for your out-of-town guests, however, it's important to understand all the moving parts before diving in. Our wedding pros put together a list of questions to ask the resort to prepare you for the perfect destination wedding! 

Questions to ask (1).jpg

1. Do they provide transportation and if so, is it included in your contract?

Transportation details can be tricky. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the resort means if they tell you that transportation is included. Does this mean for the bride and groom? the wedding party? all guests?

Photo by  Virgil Bunao

Photo by Virgil Bunao

2. Do they offer a discount to block hotel rooms at their property via a courtesy block or are you financially responsible for any rooms not reserved?

If you are reserving rooms, it’s extremely important to understand if you will need to front the bill or if you guests can pay directly. 

3. What time does the wedding need to end by?

The party has to wind down at some point! Check in with the resort on their policies. 

Photo by  Heather Waraksa

4. Do you have access to all event spaces for the entire day?

Resorts often book multiple weddings in one weekend. To ensure that you have enough time to prep your space for the wedding, ask if you can be granted primary access for the entire day. 

5. Do they offer discounts when booking your rehearsal dinner or brunch on-site?

It's worth their while to keep you and your guests in the resort for as much of the weekend as possible (it also happens to be less planning on your part), so this is definitely worth asking if you are awarded a discount for booking other wedding related events through their property.

Photo by  Jeremy Harwell

6. If handling catering in-house, how can they accommodate special dietary requests (i.e. Kosher, vegetarian, or nut allergies)?

The last thing you'll want to worry about when food is being placed on the dinner table is what your dairy-free cousin is going to eat. Make sure that all guests dietary needs can be met before moving forward with in-house catering. 

Photo by  Jose Villa

Photo by Jose Villa

7. Are there activities available to your guests on-site (canoeing, biking, etc) and if so, how do they go about booking them?

Most often, there is a single point person or a department of people in charge of resort activities. Find out who to talk to and what the booking process might entail. 

Photo by  Kim Stockwell

Photo by Kim Stockwell

8. When on your wedding day does the venue close to the public?

Nobody likes a wedding crasher, even if it's accidental. Make sure that the resort will plan to close specific areas off from the public before any of your events begin. 

Photo by  Kim Stockwell

Photo by Kim Stockwell

9. Do they regularly spray for bugs?

If this isn't something that they do, ask if it's possible to bring in a third party to address any bug concerns. 

10. What rain plan options are available to you?

Mother nature likes to surprise us sometimes. Make sure the resort has an alternate location  for your events in case of rain and... more importantly, make sure you like Plan B just as much.

Why Tented Weddings Ain't Cheap!

We love a tented wedding because tents are blank canvases ready for your customization! That said, a "casual backyard tented wedding" can quickly add up and it's important to know your costs going into the planning process. 

Credits:   Photography by Verdi  (left and top right)  Iris Photography  (bottom right)


Photography by Verdi (left and top right)
Iris Photography (bottom right)

Why are they so expensive? 

1. You have to have a Plan B in the case of inclement weather and this can often mean more tents, marquees, flooring etc. 

2. Full flooring ain't cheap! Depending on the material (i.e. turf, carpet, hardwood) full flooring can cost up to $20k to cover the entire tent! 

3. Depending on your guest count, plumbing and availability can be an issue with indoor restrooms, in which case, you may need to provide bathroom trailers located near the tent, which, again, will drive your overall budget up!

4. Hosting a wedding in the middle of summer or winter? You may need AC and heat and these additions can cost up to $16k. 

5. Keep in mind permitting, equipment, and staff are additional costs on top of the flooring and tent costs mentioned above. 

How to Personalize Your Wedding

Let's face it... your friends have been invited to so many fabulous weddings across the globe at this point. How do you ensure your wedding stands out and represents you as a couple? Here are a few of our tried-and-true suggestions for personalizing your wedding. 

1. Incorporate family recipes wherever possible. Whether it's a cake that has been shared within your family for generations or a spin on the classic Manhattan cocktail, share some of your family's best kept secrets with your guests as part of your menu. 

Photography by  Heather Waraksa  

Photography by Heather Waraksa 

2. Switch things up. Ditch the traditional sit down dinner and bring in food trucks and/or catering vendors that specialize in cuisine that you share as a couple. Because how much fun would it be to offer your guests an international sampling of you and your partner's favorite dishes?

3. Offer unique music throughout the night for your guests to experience. From a piano bar vibe to a latin trio to a silent disco (if you haven't tried this, you must!), incorporate unique music offerings throughout your wedding to surprise your guests and ensure they will forever remember your special day.

Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

4. Don't take anything too seriously. Why not bring in a magician during the cocktail hour or a caricature artists during the reception? Wedding guests love anything novelty and off the beaten path. Even if it initially seems cheesy, trust us, your guests will love it! 

Photography by  Heather Warkasa

Photography by Heather Warkasa

5. Set the tone for your wedding with a creative save the date that incorporates different things that you share as a couple. If you make it clear from the beginning that fun is the priority, your guests will be sure to have a blast all night long. 

6. Give your bridal party unconventional gifts that make an appearance in the wedding itself. How cool are these white Jordans the bridesmaids all wore once the dancing started?

Photography by  Heather Waraksa

Photography by Heather Waraksa

7. Arrive in style on a boat, which is sure to wow your guests and feel super glam! 

Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

8. Forget the florals. Incorporate something unique into your tablescapes that will be sure to stand apart. Think rocks, coral, and organic elements you can find in nature! 

Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

What Every Couple Should Know When Searching for a Wedding Photographer

Our friend and colleague (and uber talented), photographer Kati Rosado, recently wrote an informative blog post on the things every couple should know when searching for their wedding photographer. Given that she has a unique perspective, we thought we would share her insight with you here today... 

All photos seen here are by Kati Rosado

1. Decide what style of photography you like. You may be perusing Instagram and see that there are SO many different types of wedding photography. I shy away from putting labels on different styles, but you need to review various types and decide which one makes you feel the happiest. I, for example, am a fine art wedding photographer. To dive into this topic would be a whole blog post (or multi-volume collection of books), but essentially we usually photograph with primarily film and some of us, like myself, also shoot digital. If this floats your boat- awesome! If not, that is totally okay and I am not offended one bit. If you want a more “dark and moody” style photographer, great! Do what makes you happy. But the first step in choosing a photographer is deciding which style you like best.

2. Be future minded when it comes to your wedding photos. What is trendy now may get old in just a few years. For me personally, it is a goal of mine to make my images “timeless.” Yes of course they have a modern flair, but I try not do any thing that will date the images and make my clients regret hiring me in 10 years. I want you to happy with your wedding photos, now, tomorrow, and forever.



3. Ask to see a full gallery (or two). If the only images you see on someone’s Instagram are styled shoots in perfect lighting, ask to see a few full galleries so you can see what their reception photos are like as well. Being a wedding photographer means having to be extremely flexible and versatile and it is important that you trust that your photographer can handle any lighting situation. These qualities usually come about through experience so don’t be afraid to ask how long the photographer has been shooting weddings as well.

4. Please let us know if you have chosen another photographer. If you inquire with us, we see you not as dollar signs, but as real people, and we are real people as well. If you have shared a little about yourself, we are already envisioning who you are and what your wedding will be like. If you “ghost us” (aka just never emailing us back) then it disappoints us far more than if you send us a polite email letting us know you chose another photographer. I promise, we are not that disappointed (I mean yes a little but then we move on!) We get these emails all the time. Please do the courteous thing and let us know if you hired someone else, or if you just are not interested, so we can move on as well with no hard feelings, and we won’t feel bad giving away your date to someone else.


5. Ask photographers you inquire with how they backup their photos. This may sounds silly but I have heard of countless horror stories of photographers losing wedding photos. To err is human and everyone makes mistakes, and yes there are occasionally times when freak occurrences do happen, but just asking the photographer what their backup method is will give you a better understanding and peace of mind. Same goes for film photographers, ask them what they do to ensure the safety of the film. When my brides ask me, I inform them that my film is stored in cool, dry locations and mailed via priority shipping straight to the lab in a well secured box; my digitals are shot on dual cards for automatic backup and when I get home I back them up 3 (yes, THREE) times. You can ever be too careful when you are talking about someone’s wedding photos!


6. Please make photography a priority! I know I am obviously biased, but truly… of all your wedding day details, photography is the only thing that increases in value over time. Flowers die, the dress gets dirty and hung up in a closet, the food is eaten within an hour, but your photos are FOREVER. They are truly a part of your legacy. Southern Weddings encourages couples to make photography 10-20% of their budget. The average wedding in America is somewhere around $35,000. So 10-20% of that is $3,500-7,000, which is generally the average cost of a wedding photographer.

7. Understand that our prices are usually non-negotiable. We are professional photographers and this is not only our passion but our livelihood. Our prices need to not only account for business expenses but our living expenses as well. Our package prices are created accounting for every expense we have using a specific algorithm that we have developed through the years. If you find someone who is quick to offer a discount, I would be very skeptical. We are happy to discuss your needs and wants and offer suggestions on ways we can get closer to your budget, but we won’t just give $1,000 off with no reason. Most of us would be happy to chat about how we can remove items from packages or shift some things around to get closer to your budget, though! It is all about how you ask.


8. Pretty please fill out the contact form. I understand you are probably emailing a lot of vendors, but please take just a few minutes to fill out the form so I can get to know a little about you, have your contact info, etc. This all gets logged into your profile which will be so helpful once you do book!

9. When we set up a time to discuss packages, please understand we are “interviewing” you just as much as you are interviewing us. It is not like when you buy a car and you want to appear unimpressed and see what the best deal is the seller can give you. We are usually on the look out for what we call “red flags.” An example of a red flag would be asking us to lower our prices without a cause, wanting to change large portions of the contract, or if you just don’t seem very excited about working with us. We always want to work with someone who is excited to work with us!


10. You get what you pay for. I hate to be the one to say it but it could not be more true in this situation. I am not saying everyone needs take out a loan to pay for wedding photography. But what I am saying is to educate yourself, make an informed decision, and then no matter what your decision is, have appropriately correlating expectations. Don’t expect the world if you only want to pay a little. If wedding photography is a priority, please make it a priority in the budget. Because the old saying is so true, and in a world when anyone can pick up a camera and be a photographer, it has never been more true!