wedding planning

Aug 11

Minted’s Inspiration Boards

I’m obsessed with for offering affordable, designer-quality paper products.  I just discovered their wedding inspiration boards, which are equally amazing.  Enjoy!

Jan 11

Happy Crafty Friday

Delightful – a book described by  Glamour magazine as “Martha Stewart on crack—with a healthy dose of Xanax.”  Sign me up please.  It includes directions on how to complete 50 fabulous crafts for your wedding including timelines to keep DIY-ers in check.  Head on over to amazon to buy your copy.

Here are some examples of the beautiful creations you could end up with for your big day.

Jun 10

Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer

I am so excited to have Heather McKay from McKay’s Photography as a guest blogger today!  Heather is a super talented photojournalistic photographer, who shares my belief in the importance of personality and a strong relationship while working with your wedding vendors.  She also photographed this amazing wedding. I read about many real weddings on blogs each week, and this is one of those I just wish I was involved with!  Don’t you just feel like you were at that wedding?  That’s the power of awesome wedding photography.  Enjoy the following post!  Pay special attention to questions you should be asking your potential photographer and the differences between a professional and your friend with a camera.

Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer by Heather McKay, 585.244.4866,,

This post was found on the Professional Photographers of America website, and I’ve decided to answer their questions….. My answers are in blue.

Sure, today’s affordable digital cameras can make anyone seem like a good photographer. But there’s a lot more to getting the wedding photos you want and deserve than just pointing and shooting. After this most important and special of days, it will be your wedding albums and pictures that you turn to time and again to remember and cherish those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Choose your photographer as carefully as you’ve planned every other detail of your wedding, and you’ll still be enjoying those images years from now.

To help, we’ve put together a list of ten critical aspects of wedding photography you should know and understand, along with some of the most important questions you should ask prospective photographers to help you make your final decision.

#10    Professional Fees: What are your fees? Do you charge a flat rate for the day, or do you charge by the hour? What about travel time, overtime, and editing rounds? Are there other potential costs I should know about?

I charge a flat fee for up to 8 hours, because I have found that is the proper amount of coverage needed for about 90% of weddings. Additional hours are available. My fee covers myself as your main Photographer, a press-printed proof book with all images, a personalized web gallery for viewing/ordering as well as high level customer service and wedding planning brainstorming. Occasionally, I will bring another photographer, depending upon the wedding dynamics. Travel outside of Monroe County is typically $50/hour for driving. I edit all images after the wedding, during my initial round and only do retouching on purchased images.

#9    Format: Do you shoot with film, or capture digital images? Tell me why you choose one over the other.  If you capture digital images, what steps do you take to preserve the digital files for the long-term?  How soon after the images are taken are the media cards backed-up. What steps do you take to protect against data loss?

I shoot completely professional grade Nikon and Fuji cameras and lenses. I used to love the simplicity of film, however now I love the challenge and creativity with digital. Digital is not ‘free’ as I often hear from amateurs that are out there shooting weddings for friends. I spend a LOT more money now that I have gone digital. I need new cameras and computers and hard drives every 3 years at best. Last year, I spent $1000 just on a hard drive backup device. This is pretty cool though! If a drive in it fails, then I can just get a new drive and the device will automatically figure out what needs to be repaired and replaced. No lost data and no lost time sorting out ‘what was on that drive?’.

My workflow after the wedding is this: I get home, open a beer, open Aperture (my editing software), import the first media card into Aperture and the original files get copied directly to my HD backup device. While they are importing, I can go through the thumbnails to see exactly how the images came out and start to visualize what I’ll do with them. Also, while they are importing I lay down on my yoga log to put my back into a straight line again! When the first card is finished importing/saving to drive, then I back those images up onto a DVD. Repeat process for all cards. I usually go to bed around 1 AM… but you know, even though nothing could happen to the cards while I’m sleeping, I really can’t go to bed first and do this in the morning.

#8    Equipment: What kind of camera do you use?  Do you use any equipment that requires flashes or special arrangements for lighting?  Are you able to provide equipment for black and white, or special effects?

I find this question a little silly, if asking someone who does this for a living. Obviously I use all professional grade camera gear, have backup gear, many different lenses, flashes, etc. Only the ‘friend with a good camera’ needs this question. The real issue is that this is just a tool to get the job done. I could take your friend’s lesser camera and get great shots with it because you are hiring ME and my experience and my style of shooting and seeing light, as well as my ability to handle all the personalities and posing issues at a wedding. As for flashes and lighting.. the same applies. As a professional, I am constantly playing with fancy lighting techniques, learning classical portraiture, etc. Also, some locations are different than others. I shoot available light as much as possible. You should be able to see this in the Photographer’s work immediately as a consumer. That being said, I don’t do selective color (where the image is B&W, except one thing), and I do provide a LOT of B&W images.

Here are perfect examples of the concept that the camera does NOT matter!

I took these to illustrate the difference between knowing lighting and posing and being too candid or amateur…. In the first image, we can see Anna as she is normally: she HATES getting her photo taken and always makes this face! (um, Anna… this is why your photos look silly… stop making that face!). Anyway, the second image shows what happens when you hire a professional photographer… A tiny amount of posing on my part and placing her in great light and viola! GORGEOUS ANNA, the way her friends and family really see her! Same girl, same day, same camera… even the same photographer (just to prove a point to you and her)…. the third image is a candid that tells a story…

#7    Collaboration: Will I be working with you or someone else on your staff? Do you work with an assistant? Can we work together to make sure you get all the shots I want? What is the process for reviewing, selecting, and editing the final images for the album, enlargements, and print sets?

I will be your Photographer. If I bring a second Photographer with me, they will be someone of similar level of skill and quality (other professional photographers). I do not use traditional assistants because I find them highly distracting. You are hiring me for my skill and image quality, so bringing a hobbyist that wants to learn how to do weddings is my paying them for their education. That being said, I am always on the lookout for a good assistant…. I just prefer they carry my lights, tripod, etc.

People don’t hire me for my formals. Anyone can group a few people together and get them to look at the camera. You are hiring me for my disarming personality and for my ability to capture personalities in great light. If you let me do my job, then I will be more creative, more fresh, more productive. This is also the difference between someone with years of experience and a newbie. I already know what the ‘must have’ shots are and know what challenges there are to capturing them. I also know which images end up purchased or in an album and which ones aren’t important the day after your wedding. I also have a great sense of who you are and what is important to YOU, not some bridal magazine. I work for you… or rather, I work with you to create great images that last. Collaboration is a great word. Without you, I would have nothing.

#6    Deliverables: In what format do you deliver the proofs? Do you provide an album, CD, and prints as final products? How many and what size? What packages do you offer, and what will I pay for additional items not included? Are negatives or image rights included in your costs?

I find that most couples are completely overwhelmed with the process because there are so many options and all Photographers are different. Honestly, you have no idea what you actually want yet. The bridal websites tell you what you think you need, but really each couple is different. The only people who really need the digital files are graphic designers. Even they never actually get around to producing their own wedding album! My designer still hasn’t done hers! The Digital Negatives (DNG) are available for purchase at any time, however almost every couple earns this from me. If you order an album during the winter for $1000 or more, I will give you the files upon completion of the album. What I have found is that couples really just want the files for posterity, a random printing of a 4×6 here and there and also because they are told to want them. Photographers don’t value these enough either. If I charge $600 for a DVD of 800 images, then that is only $0.75 per image! Surely the editing and backing up alone is worth more than that.

#5    Time: What is the maximum amount of time I will wait to see proofs? Once I’ve selected my pictures, how long will it take for final delivery of all printed products?

Typically I have my weddings finished and delivered a month after your wedding, however my favorite highlights of the day are on my BLOG and Facebook a day or two after.. as a teaser!

Prints are delivered two weeks after ordering. Albums can take up to three months, however I am usually the one waiting on you with regard to albums…

#4    Quality: Do you develop or print the final pictures in-house, or do you work with a professional lab? If in-house, what kind of equipment do you use? What do you do to make sure my pictures don’t fade?

I do all of my own editing and post-production, then I have a professional photo lab print it for me. My experience working at a photo lab for over 10 years has given me extremely high standards for quality and I take this very seriously on your behalf. These images are not just for you, today. They are also for your kids, your grandkids and that distant cousin, the genealogist. Also, all orders come to me and are inspected before they are shipped to you.

#3    Style: What is your artistic style? Do you shoot traditional poses, or have a more photojournalistic approach, or, is it mixed? Do you like to shoot in the studio, as well as on the wedding day? If you stage shots or group portraits, how do you manage distracted or uncooperative subjects or guests?  Can I see examples of an entire wedding day shoot to see how you might tell a wedding day “story”?

Hopefully you can see my style from my web galleries and my BLOG posts. I keep two words in mind when picking images for my website: fun and photojournalistic! Photojournalism is talking about capturing “moments,” “emotion,” “storytelling” and candids. At the top of my BLOG there is a link for all active galleries where you can see entire sessions and weddings. I will be happy to send you one that is similar to your day. As for the posed group shots, you will learn that I have a TON of tricks up my sleeve that ‘handle’ difficult participants or guests… that gets back to the experience that I was talking about earlier. The more important perspective to have is that they are your guests and this is their day too. If I was a guest at a friend’s wedding, I would want to be able to get a great image of the B&G for myself too.

#2    Experience: How long have you been photographing weddings?  How long have you been in business? Can you provide references? Can I view some of your albums? Tell me about the worst wedding photography nightmare you’ve experienced, and how you got through it.

I have been a Photographer since I was in Junior High School, went to the Rochester Institute of Technology, worked at a photo lab for 10+ years and have been professionally photographing weddings since 2002. If you want to see what my past clients think of me and my work, check out my Facebook Page! My clients are very active there and you can contact any of them for a referral.

The worst wedding nightmare for me was my first “real” wedding (first one that found me through advertising and not a friend). It was the hardest day of my life and really taught me how to ’swim’ so to speak. After that, I realized exactly what I still needed to learn about myself, weddings, posing, gear, etc. It was a great learning experience and taught me that I am very calm in a crisis. The B&G had NO idea about all of the problems that day and the images came out amazing. I have learned since that many ‘problems’ are usually blessings in disguise.

And perhaps the most important thing you need to discuss with your photographer …

# 1    Assurances: How do you ensure my satisfaction? What are your backup plans in the event you’re late or called away by an emergency?  What happens if there’s an equipment failure, or some other unforeseen issue? Do you carry liability insurance? Can I get all of the points we’ve covered in a written contractual agreement?

This is again where being a professional and being part of professional organizations is imperative! I am very connected to the Rochester Photographic community and have a number of close friends I could call on if needed. That being said, it would take A LOT for me to not be there at all. I’m too much of a control freak and also, even if someone died (other than me), what would I be able to do about it?? As for gear, same applies. I’m friendly with a camera shop in town and I know in a pinch he would bring something to me if needed, or I could call a photog friend. I’ve done this for people too. I believe in sharing… skill, etc.  Also, I do have liability insurance and the PPA has all sorts of support for you and I in case something goes terribly wrong.

Do not take “no” for an answer to that last question! A written contract signed by all parties protects you and the photographer, and does more to ensure your wedding photo bliss than any other action or decision you can make.

See the Difference

Professional photographers have unique skills and training in the artistry, as well as the technology, of creating beautiful wedding images that reflect exactly the image you want to portray.  And wonderful wedding photography goes beyond the actual shoot itself to the products you’ll want to own.  Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure your photographer is well-versed in creating and delivering the total package that will make you happy long after your big day is over.

We recommend interviewing multiple photographers—and don’t forget, chemistry is important as well.  Your photographer will spend this most important day in very close contact with you, your wedding party and your guests, so make sure you interview several photographers and after you’re satisfied that all of the above is in order, pick someone who you will want to share in your wedding day.

This is true, however it is not just the day! You and I will be working together for two whole years, if not more! Keep this in mind when looking at personality as well as price. You may have some magical budget that you pulled out of thin air, but I have done the math on how much time and energy I spend on getting you as a client, keeping you happy and supported during the wedding planning process, as well as after the wedding until the delivery of the album. Not to mention the fact that I then become your family photographer! There is no surprise (to me) that almost all of my friends were clients of mine first! Ask all of the other Photographers how many they keep in touch with. I know you are not shopping for a friend, but it shows the level of customer service and sheer respect that I have for you, your money and your investment in my business.

Here is an image to illustrate this post:

This is really cool! I photographed Jodi & Jeremy’s Wedding, Jodi’s pregnancy, her Trash the Dress and Little Mason at one year old!! I know that I will continue to work with Jodi through the years, even though her father is an excellent Photographer as well. We are working on building these heirloom canvas images of their growing family. I know they are trying to have a second child and Jodi has already told me that I will be scheduled to be there for the birth too. I LOVE this part of my job. Each year, her and I get better and better images together…. (I’m an idiot though, as her pregnancy canvas here is sideways, derr!). These were a surprise gift for Mother’s Day from Jeremy and Jodi cried…

Thanks, Heather!

Jan 10

Update on How to Plan Your Wedding Without Losing Your Mind

It’s not too late to sign up for “How to Plan Your Wedding Without Losing Your Mind,” a three hour summary course including tips and tricks on DIY planning.  The course will occur on Thursday, Feb. 25th from 6:30-9:30.  The cost is $45 for a couple (bride and mother/marrying couple/any one marrying person plus a family member). For information on signing up, please visit Rush-Henrietta’s Continuing Education on the web.  The course number is YF 5014. There was a typo with the instructor name, so rest assured I will be there!

I’ll also be offering this course on Thursday, April 29th 6:30-9:30, so look out for that in Rush-Henrietta’s Spring bulletin.

Oct 09

Au Revoir Modern Bride and Elegant Bride

Sad news for us wedding magazine junkies out there.  The N.Y.Times reported this morning that Conde Nast is closing Modern Bride and Elegant Bride because of low profits and dwindling ad sales.  Too bad!  Elegant Bride has always been one of my favorites!  I’ll have to take comfort in my stack of Bride and Blooms. 

Sep 09

A Great Wedding Resource: WeddingWire! And Some Good Words,Too!

I came across earlier this year, and I absolutely love it. It is a great resource to wedding planners, vendors, and couples because of its review feature. Vendors can endorse each other, and couples can review vendors, which is beyond helpful when trying to pick from a huge selection of professionals for your wedding. It’s also free for all vendors to sign up, so users get to sample from a large pool of wedding professionals.

I am happy to report that I’m the recipient of some great reviews and endorsements, which makes me feel so excited and proud of the work I’m doing at Better Together Events. Thanks to all my phenomenal clients, encouraging, kind, and talented fellow wedding vendors, and amazing brides for the good words!

Here’s a sample of one of my reviews:

out of 5.0
Quality of Service: 5.0 out of 5.0 (5.0/5.0)
Responsiveness: 5.0 out of 5.0 (5.0/5.0)
Professionalism: 5.0 out of 5.0 (5.0/5.0)
Value For Cost: 5.0 out of 5.0 (5.0/5.0)
Flexibility: 5.0 out of 5.0 (5.0/5.0)

Laura assisted with the day-of-coordination of my August 2009 wedding. Prior to the wedding, Laura was accessible, detail-oriented, and informative. No matter what issue I was dealing with, I always felt better after speaking with her. On the day of the wedding, Laura was on time, professional, effective, and fun! Without a doubt, the only reason I was able to relax and enjoy the day was because I knew I had Laura on my team and that she simply would not let anything go wrong. When small issues did arise (and they always do), Laura had an immediate solution. I distinctly remember thinking on that day: “I am so glad that she is here.” Her intelligence, problem-solving skills, and sense of humor make her truly great at what she does. I had a phenomenal experience with Laura, and I can guarantee she will be a stellar addition to your special day.

Because of the number of positive reviews I received this year, I am “Wedding Wire Rated” for 2009.

Happy Friday!

Sep 09

Figuring Out This Twitter Thing…

I recently joined the Twitter community. I still don’t completely understand it, but I’m trying to embrace it all the same. Click here to follow us on Twitter and/or become a Facebook fan.

Sep 09

Better Together Events Joins The Knot Community!

Back when I became a business owner, my friend Carrie bought my a subscription to Inc. magazine. This magazine fast became my favorite (don’t worry Bride and Bloom, you’re a close second) because of its great tips for small business success. One of these great tips was to set challenging, yet attainable yearly goals. One of my first was my “The Knot” goal. I promised myself that if I booked a certain number of 2010 clients, I would join The Knot community. Happily, I reached that goal sooner rather than later! It’s been a great first official wedding season for Better Together Events (and it’s not over yet!). Not only have I watched my business grow and develop in a positive direction, I continually get to assist couples during one of the most special times of their lives in a memorable way. I hands down have the best job in the world!

Visit us on The Knot, Wedding Channel, and Party Spot!

Aug 09

Lauren and Mike 8.22.09 Teasers

Lauren and Mike got married this weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. The ceremony was at the beautiful Heinz Chapel and the reception followed at the Sheraton Station Square overlooking the river. Lauren and Mike are dear friends, two of the nicest people I know, and perfect for each other. Their wedding was amazing, beautiful, and filled with warmth, love, and tons of personality. Guests danced the night away right along with the gorgeous bride and groom. Here are some teaser shots to enjoy before the professional shots come back! I was lucky enough to
assist and coordinate during the photo
shoots, and they are going to be phenomenal! I’ll include vendor information as well as a link to Lauren and Mike’s fabulous florist in a future post.

Lauren was simply stunning and her smile glowed all day, and Mike could not stop looking at his gorgeous bride!

Her dress was a show stopper with a sweetheart neck and lace details.

Congrats, Lauren and Mike! It was my honor to help out in a meaningful way during your perfect day!

Jul 09

Adventures in Marketing: New Brochures!

So as many of you know, my background is in social science, NOT business, so while I understand the people part of my job very well, I’m still learning the business side. Case in point? My brochures. I started to realize something was wrong when colleagues and friends shared similar lackluster reactions to it. Then I knew something was wrong when they kindly started sharing the name of their brochure person. Here is a picture of my old brochure attached to a straw fan, my way of standing out at bridal shows and showcasing my love of crafts and unique details.

There were no pictures, just tons of writing, and it was just blah. I didn’t think it was THAT bad, but I realize now from a marketing standpoint that people need pictures and text/content to get to the point.
Voila my new sassy brochure – all homemade of course in the spirit of my focuses on the individual, uniqueness, personal touches, creativity, and inspiring do-it-yourself projects! There are tons of pictures on the inside as well, and it just has a lot more pizazz and pop, in my humble opinion of course.

By the way, my consultation room is in the middle of a decorating project and the photography took place on its brand new couch. Yea for having a fabulous new space to get down to business and to warmly welcome my fabulous clients!