ShootAnyAngle.com Wedding Photography Blog

What story will your photos tell? We're a husband and wife photography team, and we want to capture your special day so you can relive it every time you look at your photographs! On this blog, you'll find all things wedding to inspire you for your big day! Check back often for posts on photography, DIY, dresses, decorations, and more!


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Wedding Day Timelines

I’ve seen that one area of difficulty for a planning bride is how to create a timeline and what comes when.  It varies from religion to religion and culture to culture, but here are the basics so you can create your timeline!

Let’s start at noon:

12:00-3:00pmSet-up

  • This will depend on your decorum and your rental company, but some need 3 hours to set up all tables, chairs, lighting, and decorations.  Talk with your rental company (or venue, if they are handling it) about how much time they need.

3:00-4:00pmGetting Ready

  • An hour may seem like a lot, but if you need hair and make-up and to get in your dress, an hour is a good idea.  Plus, you’ll be followed by your photographers during this time as well as your bridesmaids as they get ready.  If you just need to get in your dress, you can cut down this time.  If you want posed photos or a “First Look” prior to the ceremony, add an hour after getting ready for that.

4:00-4:30pmCeremony

  • Ceremony lengths vary.  We’ve seen 5 minutes, we’ve seen half an hour, and we’ve seen a full hour-long mass.  For the purposes of this timeline, we’ll assign it to half an hour.

4:30-5:30pmCocktail Hours and PhotosEJ17WM

  • It’s always a good idea to allow an hour for posed photos.  This will (hopefully) take you away from your guests, so this hour is a good time for them to mingle, grab appetizers and a drink, and sign your guestbook.  We recommend having the cocktail hour in a separate location from where you are taking your photographs.  Otherwise, you’ll get curious guests mingling around you and potentially disrupting the photos.

5:30pmAnnouncement of Couple and First Dance

  • Once you finish with your photos, it’s time to greet your guests as husband and wife.  Generally, your DJ or a bridesmaid/groomsman will announce you so you can enter the party formally.  Many couples follow this announcement with their first dance and then go straight into dinner.  Others choose to hold off on the first dance until after dinner.

5:30-6:30pmDinner & Toasts

  • Even with the appetizers, your guests will be hungry – though probably not nearly as hungry as the two of you will be!  So, this is a good time for dinner.  Toasts can happen before dinner or towards the tail end of everyone eating.

6:00-7:00pmGolden HourJAH_6882WM

  • This is just an estimate, but if you want to shoot at Golden Hour (the hour just before sunset when the sun is low and there is a golden glow over everything), then check to see when sunset is, and schedule the photos for the hour approaching sunset.  These photos are best if it is just the two of you.  Everyone else can finish up dinner, while you take some shots in this magical glow.

6:30/7:00pmFirst Dances

  • If you haven’t had your first dance yet, have it now.  That’s followed by the Father-Daughter Dance.  If you wish to have a Mother-Groom Dance, you can do that with the Father-Daughter or just after.  My personal feeling is that each dance should be kept separate in order to give each couple their own special time.  If you wish to do a Money Dance, this is a good last dance of the “First Dances” because it can lead into everyone dancing.  After the first dances, it’s a good idea to ask your DJ to announce free-for-all dancing.

7:30-8:30pmDancing

  • Dance the night away!

8:30-9:00pmBouquet, Garter, Cake Cutting

  • About an hour into dancing, it’s a good idea to switch gears to the bouquet toss and garter toss (if you are having this event).  For our wedding, we used the song “Single Ladies” as a transition and had it announced that all the single ladies come to the dance floor for the bouquet toss.  Then, you can go straight from that to cake cutting.  You don’t want to wait too late to cut the cake because some guests will want to retire early.  Once that’s done, start the music again, and let the party continue!

9:30-10:30Dancing

  • More dancing!

10:30-12:30Breakdown

  • This may need to be longer, so again, talk with your rental company or venue.

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Photography by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography


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Behind the Shot: Camping Styled Shoot

Since James and I love camping, and had such a trip already planned, we decided to take advantage of our time in the outdoors by doing a camping themed photoshoot!  It was a lot of fun, and our two models, Jenn and Chris, were such great sports (and it wasn’t an easy shoot).  They needed to pose out in the lake and even have a water fight.  On another night, we kept them up until midnight to get nighttime photos!  They were more than willing to try everything, and they seemed to have a lot of fun too.  We know we did!

We love the way the final pictures came out (here’s a sneak peek), but we also loved what when on behind the scenes.  Take a look!

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http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

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Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Wedding Day “Hacks”

There are lots of small things to think about on the big day, and those often slip through the cracks while you’re busy dealing with flowers and caterers.  Here are some simple hacks to help deal with those little things you may have forgotten!

1.  Tuck a handkerchief in the back of your bouquet.  

This way, you’ll have something to dab your eyes with when you inevitably get emotional because you’re so happy to be marrying the love of your life.  If you tuck it in, it will blend with the rest of the flowers.

2.  Stash a bag under your table at dinner.

By that time, you may be needing some touch-ups.  You can keep make-up in there, bandaids in case those cute shoes start to hurt, oil blotting papers for your face, hair pins, etc.

3.  Bring an “emergency” kit.

I never go to a wedding without one, even if I’m the photographer or just a guest.  My kit always includes a sewing kit (with thread colors that match the outfits of the bridesmaids, groom, groomsmen, and bride), floss (both for getting food out of your teeth and for extra strong thread in case of a big sewing emergency), oil blotting papers, deodorant, hair spray, lint roller, static cling spray, and mints.  I use the travel section of Target to re-stock it.  For the most part, you can keep this in the “getting ready” room or in the car in case it’s needed.

4.  Use an Anti-Chafing Stick between your thighs and/or wear Spanx.

You are going to be sweating under that dress (ah the joys of Polyester!), so make sure your thighs can’t chafe.  It puts a damper on things when each step is painful.

5.  Choose a garter that can’t ride or roll up.

If the garter can roll up and scratch your thighs, it will create the same problem as above.  Make sure to choose wisely.

6.  Get a travel cup with a straw for getting ready.

Most of us don’t want to eat or drink before the wedding for various reasons, but if you get dehydrated, that can lead to serious problems.  One of my bridesmaids assigned herself the job of “watering the bride.”  So, she made me a cute travel mason jar mug that said “Bride” on it, and filled it with water.  Even if you don’t want to, push yourself to take little sips periodically to ensure you’re hydrated.  Using a straw will help keep your lipstick intact.

7.  Eat smart the day before.

We all want to eat lavishly at our rehearsal dinner, but if you eat something too rich, you could be sick the next day.  This is especially true of anyone who is lactose intolerant or has IBS.  Thus, you have to be smart about what you eat the day before.  Make sure it’s not too fatty or particularly large.  If you’ve had problems with a certain kind of food, avoid that at all costs the day before and the day of your wedding.

8.  Assign a bridesmaid to grab you an appetizer plate for in between photographs.

You probably won’t eat a lot prior to the wedding, so having a plate of appetizers to eat in between taking photographs is wonderful.  Just make sure she checks your teeth before you jump back in for another photograph!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

9.  Pack an “after the wedding” to-go dinner.

Most brides and grooms find they can’t eat much at the reception (tight dress, talking with guests, nerves, etc), so you may find yourself starving later that night.  Ask for a to-go dinner that you two can enjoy later that night.  We did this for after our wedding, and food has never tasted as good as it did then!

10.  “Contact anyone on the day of the wedding, except the bride!”

The day of your wedding, you should not be having to answer any calls.  So, create a contact list for your wedding party with the names and phone numbers of who they should contact for specific issues.  Make sure to include your vendor contacts as well.

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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How to Change Your Name After Marriage: Step-by-Step (What You’ll Need, and the Costs)

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shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Changing your name after marriage is a bit of a complicated process.  The main thing is knowing what to expect and, specifically, knowing what order to change it in.  It took me quite awhile to change everything over (actually, I’m still finding areas that I haven’t changed yet), but as long as you have the time (no big international trips coming up), it’ll be fine and relatively stress-free. Get the major ones done first, and then the rest can be changed as needed.

Also, make sure to change your name after the honeymoon.  Otherwise, you probably won’t have everything ready in time!

(Note: the below prices are based on what I encountered while changing my name in the state of California late 2014 to early 2015.  Also, note that I’m not an expert on the topic, just a fellow bride who has gone through the process.)

Step One: Get your Marriage Certificate

In the California county I was married in, it cost me $15 per certificate.  I bought three just in case.  It’s usually ready about a week or so after the wedding.  Call in first if you want to make sure.  You don’t need an appointment.

What You’ll Need:

     ID

Cost: $15 each

Step Two: Change Name with the Social Security Agency

You’ll need to go into your local SS branch with your old card and the marriage certificate. They’ll have you fill out some paperwork. You don’t need an appointment.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     Original SSN card

Cost: Free

Step Three: Change Name at the DMV

I made an appointment, but it’s really hit and miss as to if that helps or not.  They’ll take a new picture of you, so look your best!  They require you to fill out a form that must be done on-site.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     New SSN card

Cost: $27

Step Four: Change Name at the Bank

I was told I could have done this prior to the DMV, but then when vendors ask to see your ID to verify you are the cardholder, it wouldn’t match.  So, I did it after I received the new license.

What You’ll Need:

     Marriage Certificate

     New SSN card

     New Driver’s License or Interim license (may be optional for some banks)

Cost: Free

Note: this is an area I am STILL struggling with. For some reason, my bank can’t figure out how to send me the new cards and checks in my new name. Also, my bank only allows 21 characters on the cards/checks. My legal name is over that, so if that’s the case, the bank will work with you to find a way to represent your name.

Step Five:  Passport

The application can be filled out online (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html), but you’ll have to mail in the documents.

What You’ll Need:

     Application form

     Recent Passport photo

     Fee

     Most recent passport

     Marriage Certificate

Cost: $110

Step Six: Other

This list will change per person, but here are the common areas where name changes are needed:

—HR at work (sending them a quick email should do it, but each company will probably be different)

—Mortgage

—Car Registration (If you have AAA, just visit your local branch)

—Medical (If you have health insurance from your company, the HR department will have to handle this for you. If you take care of your own insurance, contact them directly.)

—Library cards (handled at the local branch)

—Membership cards

—Pet tags

—Subscriptions

—Insurance

—Utilities and bills

—Loans/leases/contracts

—Voter Registration

—PayPal (You’ll need to send a picture of your new license and marriage certificate.)

—Email addresses and signatures

—Voice mail message

—Social media and other online accounts

—Organization/Clubs

Good luck!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Our Bohemian Sunset Inspirational Styled Shoot

We had the pleasure of getting to photograph a blonde beauty on the side of a stunning hill at sunset: ingredients for a great shoot! Of course, there’s a lot of work that goes into the planning and styling, but it was all a blast to do. Here are some behind the scenes shots and a sneak peek at the finished photos. For more, visit our portfolio!

Fun with the flowers!  It’s always good to take a moment to smell the roses!  We created the floral creations from flowers found at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  They were so bright!

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We started at the parking lot of Russian Ridge, and hiked up the hill to our location.  Our model, Erin, was such a trooper.  She hiked up in the dress and changed shoes whenever we stopped to shoot!

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I wanted the dress to be unique, so I cut appliqués from lace and sewed them on by hand to create the effect.  What do you think?

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Even when being goofy, she’s still stunning!

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Smiles at the end of the shoot!

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And, here’s a sneak peek of the final photos:

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Wedding Guest Attire Rules: Brides Tell Us What Rules They Do and Don’t Care About

A well-dressed pair!  http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

A well-dressed pair, and such a good-looking couple!
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I don’t know about you, but I’m personally utterly confused about the rules of wedding guest attire. Some rules are easy to understand (i.e. don’t wear white), but it’s the gray area that always confuses me. What about a print that includes white? And do all these rules really matter anymore? Personally, at our wedding, all I noticed was that everyone looked so nice! I didn’t have a single negative thought about anyone’s attire. Likewise, all the images you see here are examples of very classy and appropriate wedding guest attire that we love!  Still, we wondered what rules are still in effect, so we talked to brides of all ages (past and present) to learn their thoughts.  We found out this list is actually more of “guidelines than actual rules” (to quote Pirates of the Caribbean).  Here’s what they told us!

We love this well-dressed (and handsome) pair! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

We love this well-dressed (and handsome) pair!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

     Rule 1: Don’t Wear White     

100% Agree!

A full white dress is inappropriate to wear to a wedding (that color is reserved for the bride) as are outfits that are mainly a cream/beige/ivory color (and I’d go a step further and say avoid very, very light colors that could be misinterpreted as white). It seems everyone we talked to was in agreement on this point, but they also said that dresses that included white were okay as long as it wasn’t the main color. A print on a white background? White and blue stripes? All the past brides we talked to were fine with it! And men can certainly wear white dress shirts.

     Rule 2: Don’t wear black unless it is an evening wedding     

70% Disagree!

Most of the brides we talked to said black was just fine, though a few agreed that it should be more for an evening wedding. Of course, what exactly is considered an “evening wedding” is a whole other issue entirely! It was very hard to find a set answer on this point, but the majority of my findings point to a start time of 6pm (though some say that’s for the ceremony start time and some say that’s for the reception start time). I’ve also heard as early as 4pm if the reception goes through to the night.  A couple also pointed out that whether or not a particular dress would be acceptable depended on its style. If it was a fun type of dress (such as a floral print on a black background), that would be acceptable. I personally love black dresses (it looks good on just about everyone), and I’d be fine with guests wearing that color to my own wedding.  Those who agreed with the rule felt it was an important rule to follow, though, so it’s possible that other guests won’t agree with the color choice. I will note that wedding photographers typically wear all black when photographing a wedding.

Great dresses for wedding guests! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Great dresses for wedding guests!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

     Rule 3: Don’t wear red     

57% Disagree, but it was a close call.

This was a close one, but the majority disagreed with this point. However, we did have a few who pointed out that they personally wouldn’t feel comfortable in the color as a guest just because it draws too much attention to themselves, and they have a point there. Red does draw the eye, so it suggests that the wearer wanted the attention. So, it may be best to stay away from it if it’s “fire engine red.”  Maroon and other shades are great to wear though!

     Rule 4: Don’t wear the same color as the bridesmaids     

85% Disagree…

…but they would avoid it if they had been informed of the color ahead of time. Still, they agreed that wearing the same color was fine as long as the dress wasn’t a perfect match. Plus, it’s likely to happen on accident.

A very dapper gentleman! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

A very dapper grandfather-of-the-groom!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

     Rule 5: Don’t wear something skimpy     

100% Agree.

The issue becomes what is considered skimpy and what is not. When I asked this question, the answer I got the most was that it was skimpy if too much of the lady’s breasts were showing, but that’s certainly not the only way a dress could be considered skimpy.  I think one bride described it best, “Rule of thumb… if you go tight, don’t go short. Show off legs or cleavage, not both. Backless can be elegant if done tastefully…. Lastly, if it’s going to ride up or fall out while dancing, just don’t wear it!”

     Rule 6: Don’t wear casual clothes     

100% Agree.

Across the board, brides (and their guests) agreed with this one – especially the “no jeans” rule. Brides work very hard on their invitations to give the guest a general feeling for what their wedding will be like. Use that as a guide, but casual, everyday clothes aren’t appropriate.

     Rule 7: Don’t overdress     

100% Agree.

Again, brides seemed to be very adamant that guests should stick to the style detailed or dictated by their invitation. You should always look nice, of course, but leave that tailed tuxedo or full ball gown at home unless the wedding calls for it.

     Rule 8: Don’t wear an old bridesmaid dress     

85% Disagree.

Overall, the brides disagreed with this one on the condition that the dress wasn’t obviously a bridesmaid dress. In talking with them though, it sounds like they were more concerned that the guest would be uncomfortable and feel out of place rather than a bride having an issue with it. Plus, if you re-make the bridesmaid dress to disguise its original purpose, a wedding would be a fine place to show it off.

     Rule 9: Don’t wear too much bling     

A beautiful looking pair of wedding guests. http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

A beautiful looking pair of wedding guests.
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

60% Disagreed, if done well.

Brides are okay with you wearing your finest jewels, but several did tell me they’d prefer to see a fancy statement necklace only, or fancy earrings only. So, it’s okay to go big in one area, but not in all. And they did say “no tiaras” across the board, unless the bride asks you to wear one, of course!

     Rule 10: Don’t wear office wear     

90% Disagreed (if it was done right).

There are lots of ways to dress up your office wear with a statement necklace or little strap heels. There is something so completely classy about a nice pantsuit. Overall, brides were fine with that idea. As someone pointed out, “If a man wears a suit, that’s considered office wear and wedding attire!”

     Rule 11: Don’t wear a loud tie     

80% Disagreed.

You can probably tell the bride and groom’s opinion on this one based on their personality and the feel of the wedding. If it’s a classy black tie event, a loud tie may not be the best. If it’s more casual and the bride and groom are laid back and fun-loving people, it’s probably fine if you are comfortable wearing it. Personally, one of my favorite attires at our wedding was my cousin’s outfit. He wore a bright yellow button up shirt, a bright purple tie, and matching purple sneakers with his black dress pants. I absolutely LOVED it, and so did my other guests!

     Rule 12: Don’t wear sequins     

100% Disagree (if done tastefully).

Brides all said that wearing some sequins were fine. Again, it should fit the style of the wedding. A full sequin dress to a casual wedding wouldn’t be appropriate. So, use your best judgment as to how much is too much based on the invitation and what you know about the couple and the wedding.

What a beautifully dressed grandmother-of-the-bride! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

What a beautifully dressed grandmother-of-the-bride!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

     Rule 13: Use a clutch purse, not your everyday purse     

70% Agreed.

This seemed to be more of a personal preference rather than a rule that a bride would feel the need for. A bigger bag can be a nuisance to carry around all night, and it would probably be left unattended at some point. Thus, those we spoke with felt it was easier on guests to have smaller clutches or cross-sling purses for convenience.

     Rule 14: Don’t wear inappropriate shoes     

100% Agreed (80% say “no flip flops”).

Stilettos aren’t appropriate if the guest will be walking on sand or grass, and flip-flops aren’t appropriate for a fancy wedding. Guests should always pick their shoes based on the venue and their outfit, but avoiding flip-flops is a good idea.

     Rule 15: Don’t wear tulle     

65% Disagreed.

Tulle is really back in nowadays, and it can be done quite tastefully. That being said, they felt a tulle dress should look classy and not like you’re an adult flower girl. So, it’s a judgment call based on the dress itself.

Such a cute couple, and so well-dressed! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Such a cute couple, and so well-dressed!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Overall, these rules (whether relevant or not) were created in order to keep guests from upstaging the bride. As long as you look nice but don’t take any attention away from her, then you’re all set. If in doubt, it’s best to ask a friend or one of the bridesmaids. The bride has enough to worry about as her big day approaches, so it’s best to leave your outfit off of her list.  Funny enough, it seems these brides didn’t care so much about what people wore to their own weddings but more about what they would deem appropriate or not appropriate to wear as a wedding guest themselves.  Hopefully, these notes will help you pick great attire for the next wedding – or will provide a quick link to send to guests when asked what to wear to your own upcoming wedding!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography (all photos of well-dressed guests!).

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How to Pose for Photos

They say the camera adds 10 pounds, so let’s figure out how to lose those 10 and then some! While at my Bachelorette Party at Disneyland, the girls and I were constantly trying to correct our poses to look the best we could. It was Dapper Day, and since we were dressed up to the nines, we wanted these pictures to turn out the best they could. I remember having a conversation with my cousin about it, and we agreed to help pose each other. In truth, posing is not easy, and it takes lots of practice to finally be able to do it without thinking. However, if you know some basic tips, you can start posing better right away!  The tips below work for either gender (with the exception of a few), but it’s mostly geared towards women.

Posing is not natural, and it can be uncomfortable.

It’s not natural at all. I’ve often joked that if a pose feels really awkward and painful, it probably looks great. Now, that’s not always true, but it can be true more often than not. Posing is an exaggerated form of your natural stances, so it requires you to pay attention to your body more and twist and turn and arch in ways that sometimes feel awkward.

Don’t slouch.

Yes, the lesson your mother has been teaching you since childhood applies here too. Slouching looks bad – and not just on camera!

Relax your forehead muscles.

If you aren’t going for a goofy photo (I love goofy photos, personally, but there is a time and place for them), then relax your eyebrows and forehead. Otherwise, the wrinkles will be obvious.

Bring your face forward.

This is a big way to make your photos look better. Bring your head, as a whole, closer to the camera. Your chin should still be level with the ground, so it’s your neck that is doing all the work. From the side, you’ll probably look like a turtle, but straight on (so, for the camera), it’ll look great. Plus, this gets rid of the dreaded “double chin” look. You can also try tilting your head slightly. This lets your hair hang more freely (if you have long hair).

Leave space around your waist.

You want to emphasize your waist in photographs and the best way to do this is to leave space between your arms and the waist. Putting your hands on your hips is a good way to do this. Or, you can just lift your arms away from the waist slightly as they hang down. Space should be left on both sides.  If you have your arms against your side, your body loses its shape.  This is true for men too.

Twist your waist, but not your chest (as much).

It kind of sounds like we’re becoming contortionists here, huh? If you can twist at the waist so your bottom half is at an angle (so, the camera sees a 45 degree angle of the bottom half) and keep the chest relatively straight on (but not perfectly), your waist and legs will look thinner.

Rotate the shoulders and relax them.

This may sound impossible, but it is doable. This is why your chest shouldn’t be perfectly straight on. Having your shoulders twisted slightly will make them look more shapely, but if they are stressed and raised, your neck will be shortened. So, twist and lower your shoulders into a relaxed state even though it may not feel relaxed at all!

Lean forward slightly from your waist.

This technique will make your legs smaller and be more engaging if a full body shot, and more engaging if it’s a close-up headshot.  However, if you do it too much, or if you already have broad shoulders, it won’t look great. Try some pictures leaning forward and some without to see which works best for your body.  This technique will also make men look like they have a slightly larger chest.

Put one leg just in front of the other, but close together.

Think of a ballerina’s stance. This makes your legs and thighs appear to be thinner. And point the toes towards the camera. If they point out to the side, they can look like clown shoes.  This technique is more for women than for men, but they can still do this pose in a wider stance.

Arch your back.

If you’re sitting in a chair or have your arm around someone, arch your back. I’m the first to admit that this is not the most comfortable position, but it looks better for the camera. I’ve used this technique at our wedding while posing in wooden sunglasses, and it worked great.  This is primarily a pose for women.

Keep your nose on your face.

At least, as the camera sees it. This may take the photographer guiding you or just practice in the mirror, but you shouldn’t turn your head so much to the side that your nose’s shape is clearly defined since it’s outlined by the background. To put it another way, the nose shouldn’t be at a 90 degree angle from the camera. When you look at the resulting image, the nose should be completely surrounded by your face, not by the background.

For the bouquet shot, lower the bouquet.

For the classic shot of your bouquet, the photographers tend to photograph you straight on. Make sure your bouquet is not held right up to your bust, but rather have your hands below your natural waistline. This will allow the photo to show details of the dress, and it will keep your arms looking more natural (instead of showing off pointy elbows like when the bouquet is held higher). Again, make sure there is space between your arm and your waistline on both sides.

For the ring shot, relax the hands.

Think of it like posing for a Dove soap commercial. Your hands should be slightly limp, and fingers should be mostly straight (but relaxed). This will make your fingers, nails, and (of course) the rings better.  Men can do a more firm stance with their hands (such as being the one to wrap their hand around the lady’s), but a relaxed look is great too.

I understand that learning to pose properly can sound daunting (and uncomfortable), but with a little bit of practice, it is possible to pick it up quickly. Try each tip individually prior to combining them. That way, it’ll be less complex. Also, these are just guidelines.  I’ve seen plenty of photos that I found to be spectacular that were not the epitome of perfect posing.  That’s why it’s good to play around with these tips and see what works for your body and what doesn’t.  That way, you’ll know the perfect pose for your own body.  And, most importantly, have fun!  A person having a good time is the most photographic of all!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Tips From an Ex-Bridal/Bridesmaid Consultant

Always check the sample rack, you may just find the one! http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Always check the sample rack, you may just find the one!
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

I had the privilege of getting to attend (and photograph!) a new bride’s wedding dress appointment. She tried on several dresses and looked stunning in all of them! She did end up saying “yes” to the dress, but I won’t be posting any of those photos (in order to keep them from her fiancé’s prying eyes!). The experience reminded me of my days working as a Bridal and Bridesmaid Consultant. Now, this bride’s appointment went very smoothly, but that’s not always the case in my experience in the business. So, I have some tips for when it’s your turn to go dress shopping.

1.  Most women go in knowing basically what they want, and most end up choosing the exact opposite.

It’s EXTREMELY common to go in with one type of dress in mind and come out with the opposite. I’m not entirely sure why this happens so frequently. Perhaps we’re drawn to the body type we don’t have. Whatever the reason, I saw this constantly both at the bridal store and when I was working in a theatre costume shop. So, my advice is feel free to go in with ideas you like, but be open to the fact that you may change your mind once you see how that style looks on you. I did the same thing when I went shopping for my dress. I told the consultant I wanted a sheath lace dress that had some sort of lacey straps on it, but I gave her full permission to pick out something completely opposite if I wasn’t loving the style. Sure enough, I didn’t love the style. So, what did I end up with? A poofy, strapless ball gown with not a bit of lace on it! And I loved it!

 2.  Wear the appropriate undergarments.

Part of my job was measuring brides and bridesmaids for their dresses. I’d ask the woman to undress down to bra and underwear, and then I’d come in to measure. One day, I asked the woman if she was ready, she said she was, and I came in to find her completely naked! I was shocked to say the least. I quickly looked away and told her she needed to put on undergarments before I could proceed.

Now, odds are you wouldn’t get naked, but you should bring undergarments that you feel comfortable in. The consultant will see you in these, so thongs are not the best option. The bra should also be a strapless of sorts so you can see how the dresses are supposed to look. They may also offer you a low-back corset, which is great for trying on dresses.

3.  Never, ever, ever order a smaller size because you’re hoping to lose weight before the big day. Just don’t do it.

I cannot tell you how many times people would refuse my recommendation on size because they were planning on losing weight before the wedding (or would suck in as I measured them – they fooled no one). Most of the time, I was able to talk them out of it. The ladies I couldn’t talk out of it always ended up with a dress that was much too small for them. The truth of the matter is that it takes a lot to lose inches off your measurements, but you can always take in a dress. It’s very hard (sometimes impossible) to let it out. I understand people want to lose weight, but if someone orders a dress that ends up being too small, the only thing they’ll succeed in doing is drawing attention to their weight on the big day because the dress will be obviously too tight (if it zips up at all). There’s enough to worry about without worrying about if the dress will fit.  So, just order the correct size.  If you feel you are in between sizes, it’s usually best to size up (if it’s a corset back, you have a bit more wiggle room).  Talk to your consultant. They want to help you look your best, so they’ll be happy to help.

4.  Your size may be larger than you expected. That’s okay!

Many bridal/bridesmaid dresses are in European sizes, so it’s about 2 sizes higher than the US size. So, if you are usually a 6, you would be a 10 (the sizes are even numbers: 2,4,6,8…). Many women were furious at me when I told them their suggested size, so I had to explain this several times. My advice? Just cut off the tag. No one will know, and you’ll forget too.

5.  Be nice. Yes, it’s your day, but you need to live with these people afterwards!

Yes, being nice goes a long way. Now, sure, you should be nice to your consultant, but that’s not actually where I saw the sparks fly. Where I saw the most heated arguments were between the bride and mother of the bride. One day particularly stands out. A mother of the bride came into the store already close to tears. My co-workers informed me that they had witnessed the bride chewing out her mother the day before because the mother wanted to wear an outfit that the bride didn’t approve of. The mother had come back in to pick one of the frumpy outfits her daughter had demanded she wear. I felt horrible for her, so I took the time to sit her down and have a nice talk with her. I was shocked the treatment she had received all because the woman was trying to look nice. The outfit she had chosen was very lovely, conservative, a muted color, and it even went with the bride’s color choices and what she had originally told the mother that she wanted. I ended up advising her to pick the outfit she (the mother) wanted. I told her that even though it was her daughter’s big day, it was a big day for her too, and she needed to feel beautiful as well. After all, the parents get a lot of attention that day too. She left with the dress she loved and a smile on her face.

The lesson? Don’t drive your mother (or bridesmaids) to therapy. Yes, it is your big day, but pick and choose your battles.

6.  “Three’s a crowd.”

Three is actually fine, but the saying is suitable for this next piece of advice. If you’ve ever seen Say Yes To The Dress, you’ll know what I’m talking about.   Bringing a small group with you is fine, but I’ve seen girls bring six or more people with them, and that’s a bit much. They always regretted it. In a group atmosphere when people are asked for their opinions, they tend to be more outspoken. This could be because they want their opinion to be heard or simply because the excitement gets the better of them. Regardless of the reason, if you bring a large group, be prepared for a lot of opinions – a lot of conflicting opinions. This is a big decision, and it’s very hard to do with a lot of different voices.

Now, this is also dependent on who you bring. If the people are generally introverted or calm, then you probably won’t have an issue. If you bring people that are loud and opinionated, you probably will have an issue. Basically, pick your company wisely, but less is more.

7.  Don’t spend money on the veil unless you want something really fancy.

A veil is just tulle. That fabric is very cheap at fabric stores, and you can just sew it onto a comb (I did this for our wedding, and it only cost me 3 dollars!). If you want to add lace, you can buy those appliqués and sew them on too. This will be a lot less expensive than buying it. Now, if you have something really intricate in mind or something that is more complex to do on your own (piping can be tricky), then you may have no choice but to buy it. If not, make it yourself.

8.  Shop well in advance.

Dresses can take 6-8 months to come into the store once ordered. Make sure you have enough time! If you don’t have this time, check the rack or non-bridal stores online.

9.  Don’t forget to check the rack.

Many stores have the option to buy off the rack. These are usually sample dresses priced at a great discount. Not only could you save money, but you could also take home the dress that day!  Even though I tried on a bunch of dresses that were order-only, my dress was eventually found off the rack, and it cost the same my mother’s dress had cost 30 years prior!  Score!

10.  Take pictures, and have fun.

This is a once in a lifetime event. Enjoy it. Twirl on the pedestal like a princess. Smile and thank those that compliment you. Soak it in!

You’re going to look gorgeous!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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Congratulations, You’re Engaged! What’s Next?

Our proposal in Disneyland.  James had hidden cameras on tripods to capture the moment.   http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Our proposal in Disneyland. James had hidden cameras on tripods to capture the moment.
http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/

Congratulations! You’re engaged! You’re grinning ear to ear, and you’re distracted by your sparkler all the time (stop looking at it while you’re driving!). It’s a very exciting (and tiring) time in your life, but now it all the sudden dawns on you that you have to plan a wedding, and that’s no simple task.

When James and I got engaged in Disneyland (yes, he proposed in front of the castle – he did good!), we were immediately overwhelmed by all the “congratulations” and attention we were getting. Actually, at one point, a Disneyland cast member came up to us to offer his congratulations (we were wearing the Mickey and Minnie Bridal Ears, so we were easy to spot). Though he was actually saying intelligent and clear words, we both heard the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher coming out of this guy’s mouth! We just stared at him dumbfounded until he repeated himself. We were just so tired from all the emotional excitement that our brains had completely shut down. This became especially difficult when we were immediately asked questions that we couldn’t possibly know yet – like when and where the wedding would be. Yes, you just got engaged and yet people are going to ask. So, here is a quick set of guidelines to help start the process (after you take a nap and eat some food, that is!).

Step 1: Set your budget.

Now, when I say “set your budget,” I don’t just mean your overall budget, though that’s also necessary. You need to also set your budgets for each aspect of the wedding. There’s a basic breakdown at The Knot: http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-budget/articles/wedding-budget-101-establishing-your-budget.aspx?MsdVisit=1.

Going along with setting your budget, make sure you and your fiancé know what is most important to you. For me, it was 1, photography; 2, details; and 3, location. Each of you should have your top three important aspects chosen, so you can adjust your budget accordingly. Setting a budget now also helps pull in the reigns on your spending. My first few trips to Michael’s, I was tempted to buy all of their bridal pieces. I ended up buying some that I never used, so hold back on the spending until you know how much you can spend and on what.

Step 2: Set a basic time for your wedding.

Not the actual date, of course. That would depend on your chosen venue’s availability, but choose a basic time when you’ll be tying the knot. It can be something as simple as “in about a year” or more specific like “spring” or even a specific month, but something. This is mostly so you have something to tell people when they ask, and so you can start the preliminary planning.

Step 3: Determine where you’ll get married.

This generally happens awhile after the proposal (as opposed to the first two steps, which should be completed soon after), and that’s just fine. Talk with your fiancé, and write down a list of areas you both like (or specific venues, if you know of any). At this stage, you should also be thinking about who you’re going to invite (more on that next), and who you really want there. This is important because if you really want “Aunt Nancy” to be there (and she’s in a wheelchair), then that venue that your guests have to hike up a volcano to get to (though impressive and a bit terrifying) is probably not the best option. On the flip side of that, if you want to cut down on the guest list, having a destination wedding can be the way to go.

Step 4: Determine your basic guest list.

Every bride is going to have a massive headache over her guest list, so stock up on the Advil now. I also advise creating a “Relax” playlist that is ready to go whenever the stress becomes too much. Though it is your wedding, those around you also believe they have a say in who attends, and they will verbalize it. The sooner you know your list, the better prepared you’ll be for those moments. Think of it this way, if the venue only allows 75 people, and you already have 90 on your list, you simply cannot accommodate other invite requests. That being said, you need to also pick and choose your battles. Inviting a cousin’s new boyfriend is a small price to pay if it means you can get out of inviting the parent’s nosey and obnoxious co-worker.

Step 5: Determine what you do and don’t want.

If it’s really important that you be married in a Church, let people know early on. That way, you won’t have people suggesting that you get married elsewhere. If it’s really important to you that children are not invited, express that as well. Basically, figure out what battles you will fight for. That way, you’ll know what other areas you can compromise on. I also suggest that when telling others your feelings on these topics, that you make it clear that the decisions are final – but in a polite way. If you’re not clear on that point, people will try to change your mind.

Of course, there are a lot more steps involved in planning a wedding, but these first tips should help you get the ball rolling. Being organized and knowing what you want in the beginning will make everything go a lot smoother!

And, of course, congratulations from ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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How to Plan an Inexpensive Wedding: Lots of Tips to Save Over $20,000 and What Is Worth the Money (Part Three of Three)

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Parts One and Two.

Band/DJ

We decided against having a band or DJ. Instead, we used our pre-existing collection of AirPlay speakers and created the sound system with those. Then, we created our own playlists for each part of the wedding. We did a lot of tests of the system and even had backup plans just in case. We trained a friend to work the system, and it all worked seamlessly!

By using our own equipment and playlists, we saved around $3,900.

 

Tuxedos

This was an interesting learning experience. When we started our search for the groom and groomsmen’s apparel, our first stop was naturally a well-known tux rental chain. The prices were way higher than I had anticipated. We just couldn’t pull the trigger and ask the boys to do the same. Then, my husband’s aunt suggested Nordstrom Rack. We went and found that to buy one of their suits was CHEAPER than renting one – and they each got to keep it in the end!!  Plus, their sales brought prices down even more. There would be no rushing down to the store the next day to return the suit!  So, it was a no brainer.

By going this route, my husband (and each groomsman) saved around $50 each, and they got to keep their suit.

 

Photographer

Yes, this is one of the places I’m going to suggest you spend the money on. That may sound biased, but I felt that long before I became a wedding photographer myself. The reason behind this is simple: the flowers will die, the wedding dress will be trashed or stored away, the food will be digested, the silverware will be put away, the alcohol will be ingested (and hopefully not regurgitated), the bridesmaid dresses will be donated, and the leftover cake will go stale…. So, besides the marriage and the rings you wear, only one thing will last from that day – the photography. That’s why this is an area I do feel is worth the money. That doesn’t mean you should spend an arm and a leg though. Do your homework! For example, we offer prices for those on a budget, and that’s the kind of thing to look for. We used our own side-shooters for our wedding, and to give a more realistic estimate of savings, I’ll calculate it as if we had hired ourselves to shoot the wedding.

If we had used the second of our ShootAnyAngle packages, we would have saved $800 (and gotten an engagement shoot and canvas print out of the deal). Okay, enough of the self-promotion – onto the rings!

 

Rings

Ah, yes, the big purchase that starts the whole thing – the rings! This is also an area I feel it’s okay to spend more. That being said, you need to do your homework. There is a lot of jewelry out there that is WAY too overpriced. The big name stores will charge you more for their name to be attached to it, so avoid that route if possible. On the flip side of that, don’t be stingy. These rings need to last a lifetime. Buy the best materials to ensure they will. That may cost a little extra, but it’s worth it. I’ve seen both sides of this coin. I’ve seen a groom spend more money on his ring than both my husbands’ and my rings combined! I’ve also seen a couple pick the most inexpensive ring they could find, and the bride still hates it to this day. So, do your homework, and get the right rings.

To the men out there, now I’m talking to you. Part of doing your homework is talking to your bride-to-be. Find out what she likes. James actually came to me six months prior to proposing and asked me to give him a list of rings I liked and the reasons why. The ring I liked best was a unique antique-looking ring that I had seen at a hole-in-the-wall shop. I actually kept going back to “visit” the ring. I just loved it so much – and that’s the ring I got! He did it perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with my ring.  Not only did he get me my favorite ring, but he also had it already sized by the time he got down on one knee.  So, plan ahead!

As for the wedding bands, that took even more research. My engagement ring is a unique shape and design, and I didn’t know where we’d find a wedding band to match it – but I’m not afraid to do a little work. We ended up finding the perfect match to my ring online. It looks as if it was designed for it!  Then, to make sure we weren’t swindled, we took it to a jeweler to confirm that it was indeed gold and diamonds (it was!). We liked the ring so much that we ended up getting my husband’s band from them too. He’s an adventurer, so he wanted a very strong metal – Tungsten Carbide to be exact. The great thing about those rings? They are inexpensive! We’re talking around $20 even. Mark my words, as that metal becomes more and more popular (and it’s already getting there), then the price will go up, up, up. For now, though, it’s a great deal. Now, these bands cannot be resized, but since the price is so low, we just got him some back-ups in different sizes for down the road. I’ll probably even get a thin Tungsten band for myself to wear in place of my real rings for those adventures that are a bit too dangerous for my beautiful rings.

By doing our homework, and using the strategies above, we saved around $5,900.

 

Rentals

For the most part, if you need rentals, they are going to cost a pretty penny. Again, always do your homework, and find the most inexpensive rental place you can. We lucked out by choosing William’s Rentals (located in the Bay Area, CA). They helped us out every step of the way, and I can’t recommend them enough! Since our venue didn’t provide tables, chairs, etc, we did have to rent it all, but we saved money in our choices. Yes, the silverware may mean a lot to you, but your guests are more interested in the food. Choose a more inexpensive setting. When in doubt, do something basic. If it’s not unique, odds are it won’t be noticed – and it probably won’t be noticed even if it is unique. Another option for a more eclectic wedding is to buy mismatched silverware from thrift stores. You can do the same with plates and bring the look together with plastic charger plates that you can find at craft stores or dollar stores. When it comes to linens, basic colors are just fine (and they cost less). To bring in some flare, put the money towards fancy runners rather than the tablecloth itself. You’ll save money, and it will look nice. Where the money should go to are the chairs and some unique pieces. We splurged to get a Farm Table for our cake stand. We only got one, but it looked really nice.

By going with the cheaper rental options, we saved around $1,000.

To recap, the areas where I personally advise spending the money are the venue, the dress, the photography, and the rings – but this all depends on what is most important to you. By following the tips in these blogs (and by finding other routes on your own!), you can have your dream wedding without spending your life savings.

And, what was the grand total saved by all these tips, you may ask? The total my husband and I saved off the 2013 national averages by using these strategies was $21,840!!  Which, by the way, is way more money than we spent on the entire wedding and honeymoon combined!!

Best of luck!

2013 averages from http://www.weddingstats.org/

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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