“One of the most exciting + frustrating parts of planning was picking a photographer.” | By Jessica, Real Bride Bloggista

Hey you guys, happy Wednesday to your collective faces!  Hope you’re having a nice start to your day.  As you can see, Jessica’s back with us today, and she’s sharing a MAJOR UPDATE OF PROPORTIONS THAT ARE SIGNIFICANT.  That’s right, I already told you in the title so it’s kind of no big deal now but still I’m gonna build it up…… she chose her wedding photographer!  Her latest story is coming shortly, below.  Now, since we’re about to be on the topic, I’ll note here that I’m a big proponent of allowing yourself to blow your budget on your wedding photographer.  It’s just something I believe in; you don’t have to agree with it.  It’s how I’m approaching my own wedding this year, and I’ll probably be telling my grandkids to do it until the day I die.  (… While I force them to scroll through my wedding album and look at how young and supple their grandma used to be… thanks IN LARGE PART to the expert photographer(s) she was so lucky to have snapping her picture.  You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?  FYI, I have more to say on this at the very bottom of this post.  I hope you’ll read it.)  But aside from the issue of budget busting, Jessica addresses some pretty important factors in making your decision, and she makes some very salient points regarding the search, regardless of who anyone chooses in the end.  So if you’re on the search for your own photographer right now, I really suggest you pay attention. :)

Now, as always, I have something to slip in here before we get to the main course.  Some of you may remember; I used to make it a sort of habit here on the blog to share snippets from my in-real-life conversations with Honey, because their typical oddness is outdone only by their inherent typicalness.  If that makes sense.  So anyway, I’m bringin’ ‘em back, Gmail Chat style.  Because I think my own personal weird moments shouldn’t be wasted and forgotten; instead, they should serve the higher purpose of showing all of you that “It Happens to the Best of Us.”  (That’s the working title of when I share my private conversations here on the blog going forward, fyi.  Let’s not worry about the title for now actually.  It’s not important.)

Today in… It Happens to the Best of Us:

HONEY: “wait. whe–when’s our, what’s the date of our anniversary again?  I’m seriously blanking!  Julyy…. Julllyyyy……”

ME: “It’s J– UHHHHHHH…. it’s Juulllyyyy….”

HONEY: “… Julyyyyyyyyyyyyy……”

ME: “it’s July twuh– twen—it’s Julyyyy… 29!  ?  Or 26th!!  wait…”

HONEY: “I’m just gonna make the reservations during the week of those dates, sound good babe?”

ME: “awesome.”

So, see?  That s**t happens to the best of us.  Or we’re a terrible couple that doesn’t try hard enough to remember the dates of all milestones in our relationship.  It’s one of those two. ;)

Also, I need to work on that title STAT, because I think it might be saying that I consider myself one of, or among, “the best of us.”  And that’s just too arrogant, even for me.  To say OUT LOUD, at least.

Okie dokie, it’s time for Jessica to talk!  Take it away, Jess…

So, how was everybody’s Easter? (those who celebrate Easter, we mostly celebrate the ham and chocolate part) Seriously, I ate WAY too much nitrate enriched pork products. Bacon for breakfast, kielbasa for lunch and Ham x2 for dinner(s). For those of you not in the know about kielbasa it is a magical tube meat that makes the world a happy place.

My wedding is still homeless. I’m working on it. In the meantime I will distract myself with happy thoughts…. like kielbasa and wedding photography. I have to say that one of the most exciting and frustrating parts of planning was picking a photographer. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the artsy fartsy variety and tend to judge photography with a critical eye. I dare say I’m a fairly good shot myself. But it seems like ever since digital cameras and photoshop took over… things like composition, color and even proper lighting seem to be afterthoughts to certain photogs. Sure, they’re great tools and if it wasn’t for digital cameras I wouldn’t have a single decent picture of my kids (drooling, stupid look, pooping face, etc.), but they can’t replace a good eye. I’ve seen so many over-processed photos with unnatural color and not so subtle effects. When all you need to take an impact-full photo is a great eye and the right moment.

I had a few in mind whose work I had been admiring….. but experienced some sticker shock. And I’m sure they’re worth every penny, but 3-5 G’s is just a lil rich for my blood. So once again, I’ve got champagne taste on a Pabst Blue Ribbon budget. But PBR has its charm… and not to fear with due diligence and a lot of googeling you can come across a gem or two if you’re lucky. What you don’t want to skimp on is time…. make sure you buy plenty of that. A second shooter is nice too, almost essential really. But above all else make sure you like them….. seriously, you do not want to spend your wedding day with an unsavory character. Personalities must vvvvv-i-b-e, develop a little crush even, it helps.

I found Amber (a very savory character, totally crush-worthy), of ADG photography. I was first drawn in by her stripped down vintage vibe. Her photos seemed less glossy and more real, yeah I said “real,” than the rest. There is this sexy awkwardness that she captures, a la Brook Shields in “The Blue Lagoon”…. are you with me? I was psyched to discover someone channeling my aesthetic and relieved to see she was completely reasonable in her pricing. Amber’s biz is a fairly young one at 2yrs old, and while it’s not necessarily the best idea to hire someone newer to the business – because it can often result in more problems and disappointment than you’d imagine possible – Amber already has approximately 25-30 weddings (both as a main photographer and second shooter) under her belt. She has certainly developed a style her own that she describes as romance with an edge. Sold.

In her own words: “My favorite type of shoot is something that is fashion inspired, but that showcases my subject’s personality. I love photographing women, particularly those who are closest to me! *(She often uses her sisters as her models, good genes.)
Inspiration is all things vintage – from clothing, to old furniture, to pin-ups. I also find myself inspired by a few periods of art history – art nouveau, art deco, romantic and baroque.”

So you can see the crush developing nicely here. Some eye candy:

What’s that? Oh you want more? Ok, ok! Here is some more goodies of mixed variety……………

So………………WHA-DA TINK? Do you luv it?! I do! I’m so super psyched!!! So psyched in fact……. I simply can’t wait for my wedding day, and were planning an engagement/family/supersexy/posinginthewoodsfornoreason shoot, some time soon!!!! Exciting stuff.

Tell me, has finding your wedding photographer been an *interesting* experience?  I’d love to hear your stories/thoughts/feelings!

xoxoxox, Jessica

Alison here again!  Jessica is one of our fabulous Real Bride Bloggistas, and she’s planning her Fall 2012 vintage wedding.  Jessica is the coolest, and if you dig her half as much as I do, you can also check her out over at The SoupChic on Facebook.  Note: thoughts expressed in guest posts are not necessarily the opinion of The Knotty Bride.  Simply put, we encourage free speech. :)

Ok, NOW.  Here’s that ‘I have more to say on the topic’ part of the post I mentioned up top. It’s on the topic of wedding photography, obvs……

I’m about to share perhaps the most important bit of advice I have gained over the years I’ve been working in this industry.  It has to do with the fact that the most important thing – aside from your beautiful marriage, and the fun you’re all going to have – is the photographs you take away from that day.  So keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve saved on your photographer if, in the end, you’re dissatisfied with your images.  And believe you me, I’ve heard and read some of THE WORST HORROR STORIES YOU CAN IMAGINE, from countless brides who thought they’d try and save money by hiring a newbie photographer, only to find that a) they hated their pictures or, even worse, b) they never even got them back.

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that, under U.S. Copyright Law, a photographer’s images are his/her own, and typically you won’t find a photographer who will permit you to take the images to someone else who you want to design an album for you.  Certainly none of the photographers I’m considering for my own wedding would allow me to just up and do that, nor would I expect them to.  It’s sort of like, imagine you create a beautiful drawing that takes you hours, and then someone finds it, takes it and reprints it in a book for profit, without payment or your permission.  That would SUCK, right?  Great photographers work SO HARD to give you what you want, and you really WOULD. NOT. BELIEVE. the effort and emotion they pour into the work they do for you.

So, like I always say, a photographer who has a track record of making their clients absolutely overtaken with satisfaction on how their images came out… well that’s just priceless.  Worth every penny, if you ask me.

Now, of course, not every couple can afford exactly what every couple wants.  If it was the case that we could, then I’d currently be planning a wedding with solid gold seating at every table. (Chairs are an issue for me; I don’t like them, or how they look, in weddings.  It’s a problem.)  So, in the case that you as a couple fall deeply in love with a great photographer, but absolutely cannot afford to buy the entire package you’ve got your heart set on right at the moment, taaaaalk to your photographer; the one you really want.  The photographer you’ve fallen in love with.  Because you’d be surprised… they’re often really nice people. :)  Now, to be clear, I’m NOT recommending aggressively bargaining down a photographer – it’s a tactic I don’t believe in, and will never consider appropriate.  The work they do is worth the rates they charge, trust me.  What I *am* saying, is that if you’re not confident that you can pay for the package you may want, but you’ve got your heart set on the photographer who’s offering it, start the conversation with him or her, and it’s *possible* that that photographer will work something out with you, like letting you wait to make your album a bit later down the road since you don’t have the funds to do it all right now.

Regardless of how you feel on this topic, what I want you to walk away knowing, is that it is worth it to try to get the photographer you truly want to shoot your wedding day.  You are worth it, and your photos are worth it.

Lots of love…


Lead image by Lauren Elise, one of our lovely DIY project contributors, who writes her own blog as well.  Original DIY can be found here.

Label(s): The Bloggistas

Love all of this...


  1. Anni on April 11, 2012

    Jessica, I’m so glad you found a great photographer! I spent a huge portion of our budget on photography before I even went into it myself (like you, I dabbled in it for a long time) because it was so tough to find someone I loved within what I expected to spend. This also may have to do with the fact that Jonas Peterson was my dream wedding photographer, and flying someone to Chicago from Australia is expensive enough as it is!

    One thing I will say for those brides who haven’t found their photographer yet — definitely don’t settle. Sometimes it takes a lot of looking, but there are people out there who are a good match. And personality matters so much, too. When I was first starting out, I wanted any and every job I could take. But after awhile, you realize that it’s really worth it to be picky on both sides. I seriously love every single one of my clients I have lined up right now, and that ease definitely translates through on the wedding day.

  2. Cassandra Eldridge on April 11, 2012

    Loved this post – and now I’m officially obsessed with ADG. Cannot wait to see the turnout of your wedding, Jessica!

  3. Kate on April 11, 2012

    Oh, how fitting, it’s such a important choice to make :) The best photographer will be the wrong choice for you if you don’t get along perfectly well.

    I am a wedding photographer and spend multiple hours on thinking about how to choose the best photographer. The result was a blog post this morning, with a 5-step-guide to choosing :)

    Cheers and congratz to finding a photographer!

  4. Rachel on April 11, 2012

    Jessica, so glad you found a photographer within your budget that didn’t make you compromise on taste and style. Those pictures were stunning. I actually just booked my photographer yesterday and I couldn’t be happier with our decision! I too, I guess you could say, have developed a crush. They make me smile and I get butterflies (real life). They take amazingly stunning pictures but they mostly got booked on personality and the level of comfort I felt around them. You both just made me feel normal in a world of people making me think I was crazy because of how important it was to me to actually like my photographer. Now, they are a little more expensive than I had budgeted for but since the pictures are the only thing I have to take away from the wedding, I don’t mind spending the extra money. I’ll handwrite my invitations on 3×5 index cards if I have to, but will spare no expense when it comes to photographers! (they also offer a sexy boudouir shoot when you bring lingerie and your veil-and booze- and they take sexy pics of you and make an album they give to your fiancé the dat of the wedding–this I will be doing for sure!) thank you both or this post because it summed up the last month for me and made me happy remembering how happy I was yesterday!

  5. Jen Lauren Grant on April 11, 2012

    Big, HUGE congrats on finding your photographer! It was one of the most important decisions for my wedding too. I printed invitations off my computer, did the flowers myself, and didn’t even hire a coordinator (bad move btw), but I had an awesome photographer and LOVE my pictures. The day was so surreal almost – parts of it felt like I was having an out-of-body experience from how much adrenaline and excitement and everything else going on, that I was waiting to see the pictures to have any idea what the day actually looked like! The experience of having your wedding is so intense that you’ll miss a lot of what’s going on around you. So, it’s such a treasure to have beautiful photos that capture the day not only as you remember it, but also as your guests experienced it. Once I had my photos and could see it from that point of you, that’s when I felt like the wedding experience was officially completed for me.

  6. Amber Danese Grandfield on April 11, 2012

    I am seriously SO excited to photograph Jessica’s wedding. As soon as I got the first e-mail from her, I felt like it was meant to be! Gotta love being blessed with amazing clients like her.

    Also – from a bride’s perspective, I will agree with everyone above and say that a photographer is of the greatest importance. in fact, I picked my wedding day based on my photographer’s schedule! Perhaps that’s because I am one myself…who knows! But I do know that pictures are worth way more than a thousand words and will help you to remember your wedding day for the rest of your life.

    oh and Alison – your blog is amazing. it’s one of the only wedding blogs I’m not bored with right now!

  7. jessica on April 11, 2012

    Thanks guys, I’m so glad I found Amber too! I think its important to feel inspired by your photographer and want to make “art”(get your mind outa da gutter) with them. Otherwise you can end up with default poses… you know the ones.

    I have to agree with Alison(and the rest of yous), if there is one thing to blow the budget on it is absolutely the pics 100%. Because, besides a hubby, its all you walk away with! If it weren’t for me stumbling upon someone who fit both bills, I would have had a hard decision to make. Of course my situation is a lil different than most ala two kidos.

    Ultimately its about finding a style and a vibe that works for you. Yeah..Amber can’t wait!

  8. kirby on April 11, 2012

    Love it Jess! Your blogs are fun to read and ADG rocks! Cant wait to see your pics

  9. Joco Foto on April 11, 2012

    I always tell people to pick the top three things you cant live without at your wedding and invest your money in those and you can skimp on the rest.

  10. Ashley on April 11, 2012

    Hey jess waiting to see your pix.

  11. bridal girl on April 12, 2012

    Glad that you found your own photographer too. Hope you will have a great time on your wedding.

  12. Ilana on April 16, 2012

    We also had some serious sticker-shock when looking for a photographer. Our wedding budget is approx $6K (including a beach house rental for 4 days) and there was no way were going to spend approx $3-5K on a photographer. La Solution: We’re getting married in Charleston, SC. I contacted the Art Institute school of Photography and emailed a few of the professors to inquire about recent graduates with wedding photography experience. One of the girls did some knock-out work. She has photographed beach weddings before and I am in love with her style and eye, lighting…everything. We were able to negotiate a really reasonable price (to the tune of $1,000) and she has been great about communication and sending us examples of her work. She’s even willing to work with our crazy schedule which has the ceremony in the morning and the part in the afternoon. I’m crossing my fingers she works out well!

  13. Leo Gozbekian on May 4, 2012

    Good tips. As a long time wedding photographer I have always been amazed at the money spent on things that after the wedding will never be remembered. The range of costs for a photographer varies dramatically, and always has.


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