posing for the perfect shot: expert tips

We’ve been talking a lot lately about various aspects of your wedding planning, from setting your budget, finding the dress, invitations, and more. We have no doubt that your big day will be one of the best days of your life, which is exactly why we think it’s so important for you to absolutely love your wedding photos. So we thought we’d do a few posts dedicated to wedding photography. We started by interviewing our friend and beyond-talented Bay Area photographer, Meg Perotti, who shared some great insight to help make sure your wedding photos are exactly what you hoped for. Meg’s style is soft and uber romantic, but even if you’re looking for a totally different look and feel, these tips will help you get the results you’re looking for.

How should we prepare for our wedding portraits?

Do an engagement session! It’s important to feel comfortable with your photographer and an engagement session helps you to experience how he/she works behind the camera and what they expect out of you as subjects.

What if we see something that our photographer had done with other couples and we want to have the same look?

In my humble opinion, trying to direct the photographer never ends well. Poses are almost always site specific and an approach to a couple is different every time I shoot. For example, I had a more-dapper-than-most groom casually place his hand in his pocket and look off to the left … as I clicked the shutter I knew he had gotten it right on. He looked like something out of GQ magazine … trying to recreate that look with another groom is almost impossible. Different couples fit together in different ways and every shoot yields new and unexpected beauty. Of course, if there is something specific you have been picturing for days, most photographers will definitely want to know these things because ultimately your happiness is the most important thing- but try to remember that you hired your photographer because you love their work and trust their talent.

What if we’re not very comfortable with our photo being taken?

9 out of 10 of my clients tell me they are terrible in front of the camera and 10 out of 10 of my clients love at LEAST a handful of their final images. Remember, your wedding day is not about taking photos, it is about celebrating your love, making you look good in your photos is the job of a great photographer …  if you focus on your love you are sure to look radiantly happy in your photos.

What if not everyone in our group shots is cooperating or comfortable with the pose?

I can’t say I’ve experienced this but my honest opinion would be to tell them to suck it up. I’ve definitely had complaining bridesmaids but for the most part the brides trusts me and just gives her bridal party a nudge and we get through the session quickly. Make sure to tell your bridal party and family ahead of time what is expected of them. If there is something off-color about the pose and you, as the bride, aren’t comfortable with it- all you need to do is say the word and we’ll move on. Your happiness is most important!

What are your thoughts on themed or styled shoots (with props)?

Styled/Themed shoots can be fun but they are also a lot of work and tend to create stress between the bride and groom if they are trying to arrange it themselves. I recommend working with a coordinator/designer to help you pull together a shoot so you can focus on enjoying the experience. I love it when my clients bring props like bikes or balloons, but it’s also completely fine and just as romantic to just bring yourself and your love for each other.

I’m not really into very traditional/pose-y photos. How do we make sure they look candid and interesting?

A few traditional, heads together, smile at the camera shots are always necessary whether you like them or not. A good photographer knows that these are the images that the mother of the bride is going to look for and gets them out of the way quickly.  The most important part of getting the images you want is hiring the right photographer for YOU. If you prefer candid playful images, in order to make sure you get these, you should hire a photographer whose work reflects that. My images tend to be quiet, romantic, soft… and that’s what I am hired to create. Find a photographer that fits your individual style and vision of your wedding photos and you are guaranteed to love the final product!

Do you recommend having a first look, and why?

Either way is fine by me and my recommendation is don’t decide until you have a timeline! Having a first look can sometimes be very beneficial for your timeline, especially if you are getting married during the time of year when the sun sets early in the day. If your ceremony is starting late and you don’t anticipate having much time for photos before the sun sets, a first look can allow you to get all of the necessary shots out of the way so you can enjoy cocktail hour. It can sometimes be a controversial decision if you are a more traditional couple and I always recommend that couples think about their wedding day as a whole before deciding. If you simply cannot imagine seeing each other before you walk down that long Cathedral aisle- then definitely do not do a first look. I encourage my clients to communicate their feelings about how they want their day to go so we can make a joint decision about what is best for the general outcome of the final product.

I’m worried I’ll be overwhelmed on my wedding day. How do I look relaxed even if all I can think about is all the wedding details and making sure I talk to all my guests?

My first word of advice is to hire a wedding coordinator. You really should not be worrying about any details by the time your wedding day comes around and if something goes wrong on the day of you want someone there to fix the problem without you even knowing there was one! Nerves on a wedding day can actually photograph beautifully- the moment before the bride walks down the aisle, the groom going over his vows, the bride wringing her hands together while her bridesmaids put her veil on … embrace your wedding day for the day that it is. It will be what it will be and no matter what happens it is still the day you married the love of your life. Let go and enjoy all your months of planning and hard work!

What are your favorite types of venues to shoot? What types of venues do you think work best?

I realize that people choose venues for all sorts of reasons and can understand and appreciate that, but personally, I think my photography style lends itself well to outdoor natural light ceremonies and receptions. Late summer nights in Napa or Carmel … vineyards, fields, courtyards… locations that incorporate nature photograph really well. If I had my choice, I would never photograph another hotel banquet hall wedding. 😉

How do you like to get to know the couple before they let you in on their big day?

If a client opts out of an engagement session then I usually insist that we at least go out for dinner to get to know each other. I take a limited amount of bookings a year so that I can focus my attention on my clients. There is nothing worse than showing up to a wedding having not met the bride/groom yet! Unlike your florist or cake artist, your photographer is by your side the entire wedding day- take the time and invest in that relationship and you’ll find the experience to be delightful!


Thank you, Meg, for sharing your talent and expertise with us!

(Since we’re on the topic of beautiful portraits, here’s a snap of the lovely Meg herself)

Brooke + Damon Tie The Knot at Beaulieu Garden

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes and last May was no exception! Katherine Oliver with Cherries Flowers delivered us a wedding full of peonies, garden roses, sweet peas and blooming clematis in beautiful color palette of white, cream, blush and accents of pale peach. We especially love the moss details on the chandeliers provided by Got Light hung over the dinner tables.

And how adorable is the library card catalog, where guests found his or her name on a library card directing them to their dinner table. Once guests arrived to their tables they found a french baguette with their name tied with bakers twine. We hope you enjoy the wedding of Brooke and Damon as much as we do.

Wedding Photography: Joe Mikos Photographers / Wedding Coordinator: Stacy McCain Event Planning / Venue & Caterer: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering / Flowers: Cherries Flowers / Cake: Perfect Endings / Music: Pop Rocks / Lighting: Got Light / Hair: Kerrie Urban / Make-up: Yvette Beebe Cosmetics / Linens & Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Classic Car: Classic Convertible Wine Tours / Lounge Furniture: Archive Vintage Rentals / Paper Pieces: Paisley Quill

The Art of Addressing Invitations

A couple weeks ago, we talked to you about the etiquette of invitations, so you now know everything about timing and who to invite and how. Then, we featured the lovely ladies from A Day In May Design in our Vendor Spotlight, as they shared their beautiful work. And earlier this week, our friends over at Wedding Paper Divas offered our readers a very special deal. So maybe you’ve just chosen your invitations, or perhaps you’re about to get them back from the printers and are ready to send those suckers out. But wait! What about addressing the envelopes? Gotta make sure you get that part right, and we’re here to show you how.

One common question we always get is, “Do we have to hand-write every single one of those addresses??” The short answer is yes, although the “rules” have become more relaxed, if you’re going to follow proper etiquette, the envelope that your invitation arrives in should be hand-addressed (plus, that’s more personal!) Brides often breathe a sigh of relief when we tell them that they don’t actually have to do it themselves. You can hire a calligrapher who will do a beautiful job making the outside of your envelope look just as lovely as what’s inside! (Michele Papineau Calligraphy graciously shared the samples in this post with us.)

You’d have to provide your calligrapher with a well-organized list of names with proper titles and full addresses.

Proper titles?? Yes, you read that right. If you’re inviting a single guest, write “and Guest” after the person’s name. Our recommendation is if you know who they will be bringing, actually write their full name, on a separate line. What do you do if guests have professional titles, like Dr.? What about when a married couple has different last names? And what if you’re inviting children? Check out these, and other, nuances here.

If you’re going to include inner envelopes and outer envelopes, here’s a good guide to help you address each appropriately.

What about the return address? Well, for this, since the address will always be the same, we say it would be fine if you gave your hand a break and used either a stamp or printed on the envelope.

And we know we already covered this in a previous post, but when you’re ready to assemble that invitation, make sure you do it right. 

For those of you that are still at the invitations step and need some help with wording, see these tips from Martha, or this wording wizard.

We understand that this part of the wedding planning process might be frustrating/tedious/perplexing/[insert lip-biting emotion here], so we’re here to answer any of your questions. Please ask away- we’re here to help! And if you’re so excited by how your invitations/envelopes came out, please do share them with us- we’d love to see!!

{All images above from Gertrude and Mabel Photography. Envelopes addressed by Michele Papineau Calligraphy.}

Special Offer from Wedding Paper Divas!

We’re very excited to announce that we’re partnering with Wedding Paper Divas who have a very special treat exclusively for our readers. Today through June 1, enjoy a generous 25% discount at Wedding Paper Divas. (See bottom of post for fine print.) Who are Wedding Paper Divas? Read on to learn more and check out their beautiful work.

About Us:

Wedding Paper Divas is a stationery haven with an affinity for beautiful paper and fresh design. Today, Wedding Paper Divas is a member of the Shutterfly family of brands, which also includes Shutterfly, Tiny Prints and Treat.

We stand for high-quality stationery products and provide an abundance of exclusive beautiful designs that reflect a couple’s unique aesthetic. With a team of etiquette experts on-hand, Wedding Paper Divas offers advice and tips for all occasions, ensuring that the message is touching and tasteful every time.

What’s the concept behind Wedding Paper Divas?
Laura Ching co-founded Wedding Paper Divas in 2006. A more than frustrating experience trying to find her perfect wedding stationary in an antiquated stationery store in San Francisco inspired a marriage between her and two close friends in hopes of finding a more convenient, stylish and enjoyable way to shop for wedding stationery online. In her current role as VP of Merchandising and Chief Design Officer for Wedding Paper Divas, Laura’s mission is to bring fresh designs and style to customers through both the products and the overall look and feel of the website.  She brings fresh designs, etiquette advice, and style to customers through both the products and the website whether you’re planning your wedding “today” or “someday.” She looks to fashion, fabrics, interior design, travel and international cultures for inspiration, every day.

What sets you apart from other companies?

Unlike many other stationery companies, which simply provide an extensive, something-for-anyone offering, Wedding Paper Divas works with talented artists all over the country to translate the hottest new trends into perfectly unique products. We are proud to offer products from both seasoned veterans in the industry, as well as younger, fabulously talented designers. We have 60 different designers we work with at Wedding Paper Divas. Many of these up-and-coming designers are even making their debuts into online boutiques with us! Our designers have created stationery for many celebrity customers. We currently offer over 750 wedding invites.
– Created by top designers, every design is exclusive and cannot be found elsewhere
– Each product allows for extensive personalization, including wording, layout, font, size and color
– Continually releases new designs and collections – sometimes as many as 100 each month
– Process orders in as little as 2-3 business days
– More than invitations – including save-the-dates, place cards, menus, thank you cards and more
– Every order is reviewed and proofread by a client specialist, created a retouched by an in-house designer, and    reviewed by the quality assurance team, offering a true white-glove experience

How does the process work, start to finish?
We have a very easy personalization and preview process. It’s important to us that you get the chance to personalize and preview your invitations before ordering. You can let our suggested wording and layout guide you, or you can create a card entirely from scratch with the font types, sizes and colors of your choice. Either way, we’ll make sure your invitations are flawless, and you’ll be able to preview and approve the exact look prior to placing your order. With our powerful and easy-to-use tools, we’ve managed to make the personalization process just as carefree as it is convenient.

Social stationery can and should reflect your personal taste, so it may take a little time and effort for a discriminating customer to find the right design. We are committed to ensuring that you have all the information and support needed to help you pick the perfect design. That’s why so many of our products include professional photography, design descriptions and all of the intricate details you need to know about our luxurious, high quality paper.

{Image Details: Kraft Arrow/Marigold/Designed by Petite Alma; Signature White Textured Wedding Invitations/Floral Watercolor/Raspberry/Designed by Lady Jae; Signature Ecru Wedding Invitations/All the Roads/Black/Designed by Sycamore Street Press; Signature Ecru Wedding Invitations/Dappled Glade/Spring Green/Designed by: Lady Jae;
Signature White Textured Wedding Invitations/Indian Summer/Sunny Yellow/Designed by: Petite Alma}

Special Offer Details:  To redeem the exclusive 25% discount, please email Stacy@stacymccain.com for the code. This offer excludes letterpress, thermography and 3rd party products (i.e. custom stamps, embossers, photo books, gift certificates and calendars).  There is no minimum purchase required. Cannot be combined with any other offers. One time use per customer. Offer expires June 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM.