Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On that day I will only be the Bride :)

It has admittedly been much longer than one week since my last post in this series, but that’s what happens when life happens.

Since my last post in here Jason has left his previous company, we have moved AND two of our wonderful friends were married, so much has kept me away from blogging. And while I’ve done very little planning for my own wedding, I’ve received the blessing of gaining an even deeper appreciation for a very important aspect of being a bride…

Jason was the best man in, his good friend, John’s wedding this past weekend and being in attendance was a blessing in more ways than one. John and his new wife Courtney are an example of a couple that you know God made exactly for each other. Their differences have humbled each other into truly wonderful people, and when they are in each other’s presence their love and adoration for each other shines. It was such a beautiful wedding to see and be a close part of only months before Jason and I say “I do.”

I also had the IMMENSE blessing of being able to see a wedding take place in the same chapel Jason and I will be married in this November. John and Courtney’s wedding went off without a single hitch (other than Jason fumbling for the rings in his coat pocket – which only he noticed) and I was more than happy to take notes on all of their successes.

From their example this weekend, I learned first-hand the immense help a day-of planner is on your wedding day. John and Courtney’s wedding embodied the ideal mix of relaxation and joy – and this was greatly due to neither one of them (or their families) needing to worry about the wedding day logistics while trying to get ready and enjoy this beautiful day. When Courtney’s hair took an hour longer than expected, no one had to run around to make sure everything else wouldn't be thrown off of schedule. All of this was already being taken care of by their designated coordinator.

From first thought I “knew” I wouldn't be needing any help with the logistics of my wedding day – I was born to coordinate and plan. But the rise in DIY brides has transformed the wedding-planning industry into hundreds of niches of support and help 100% flexible to exactly what your unique needs are as a bride.

So whether it is a pricey, experienced, professional wedding planner or a type-A, organized, long-time family friend who knows how you would like things to be done (which Jason and I are opting for), putting the day-of logistics in someone else’s hands can be the make or break decision that determines whether you get to experience your wedding day as a bride and groom, or as two party hosts feeling the pressure of an event you’ve been planning for the past year. 

As a planner it is hard to put one of the biggest days of my life into another’s hands, but on November 2nd I will not be Kelly Hoyt master planner and coordinator – all I want to be on that day is the Bride :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why Hiring a Professional Photographer Is Worth It!

I am excited this week to rely on the knowledge of a good friend for Week Three of “Why Hiring a ____________ is Important!” Alyson Gardner, soon to be Alyson Jarvis, of Alyson Jarvis Photography has been a good friend of mine since high school. Unsurprisingly, she continued the artistic passion that was evident while we were growing up into her twenties, even incorporating this into her career field as an Art Education teacher at Morris Brandon Elementary School here in Atlanta.

Alyson, along with another friend of ours, and I are hoping over the next 12 – 18 months to incorporate our mutual love for all things creative and wedding into a joint-venture wedding-planning group, so I thought this would be a great way for some of my friends outside of our circle to start getting to know her. Both as a future bride and a photographer, Alyson has offered her top tips for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to wedding photography below. I know that finding the right photographer was a huge relief for Jason and I, and hopefully with Alyson’s from below you will be able to have a similar experience when it comes to your big day, whatever that may be!

Alyson Gardner - 

As long as I can remember, photography was an important factor in my life. I remember “hamming it up” in front of the camera and running around family functions with a toy camera in hand when I was little. It doesn’t come as a surprise that, today, after many years of camera love, I am in the process of starting my own photography company. And even more shocking, when planning my own wedding, photography topped my list of “most important items”. So for you, the savvy bride, here are some tips and tricks when shopping for your big day photographer and why, in some cases, it pays to bend the budget for the photographer.

First, before anything else, define your wedding style. This is much easier said than done. Your style is not just dependant on you and your fiancé’s personalities but also on your date, venue, time, and season of your wedding. For instance, when Greg and I began talking about our wedding, I realized how polar opposite our styles were. He wanted a traditional and elegant wedding, I wanted nontraditional and casual. He wanted winter, I wanted spring, etc, etc. Once we met in the middle, I started looking at photographer’s portfolios for inspiration and direction.

Tip number one: unlike wedding dress shopping, don’t stop looking, even after you’ve booked your photographer!! I looked at hundreds of portfolios. I learned so much from each one and I’m still learning. I hated some, and loved others. There are so many photographers out there with just as many different styles. Never worry about offending a photographer. If you don’t like their style, you don’t like their style and that is okay! Trust me. Just move on until you find one you like. However, here are a few things you need to be on the lookout for in their portfolios, regardless of style.

·         A variety of poses.
o   If you find a photographer who has very similar poses, run away! If something goes wrong or off script on wedding day, you need someone who can work through it.
·         A variety of indoor/outdoor photos
o   Light is key to any good photographer. Outdoor photography is simple in comparison to indoor. A good photographer will know how to work the camera indoors and use what little light they have, even if it means using a flash.
·         Similar style to your wedding
o   If you are having a traditional or conservative wedding, super artsy photographers might not be right for you.
·         Not just the portraits
o   A good photographer will have a variety of details they’ve photographed in their portfolio too. This included ring, flowers, food, etc. You are hiring this photographer to remember your day. They need to be able to capture all of it!

Now let’s pretend that you have narrowed down your selection to your top contenders. Contact them. When reaching out to a photographer and keep it simple! They don’t need to know your entire wedding day plan at this point. Tell them the date of your wedding and ask them for a copy of their contract. Finally, ask if it would be possible to meet up with them in person.

When they respond, print out the contract and read over it. Not skimming over it, reading. All photographers charge differently and request different things too. Here’s what you need to pay attention to

·         Pricing or investment.
o   I have some photographer friends who charge a base fee for shooting during the day of but that doesn’t cover any of the actual pictures you get. You have to pay an extra $5 per photo in some cases. The photographer may seem affordable but when you factor in all the pictures you want, it triples the price.
·         Digital editing time
o   How long is it going to take for you pictures to get back to you? I had a friend who didn’t have this in her contract. It took almost five months for her to get her pictures back.
·         Shooting time
o   How long will your photographer be with you? When Greg and I were looking, this was a huge issue. We are having a Catholic ceremony with an awkward gap of time between the ceremony and the reception. Our photographer is with us for 12 hours and this takes care of it! Some photographers only work for 4 hours or so. You don’t want only half of your wedding on camera.
·         Copyright/Promotion
o   Even though they are “your” photos, they really aren’t. You are only given a limited copyright of the photos your photographer takes of you. Make sure you see if this part is covered on the contract. Do you have the right to post photos online? Print photos? Give the photos to family and friends? Usually your photographer will use your photos for promotion and advertising. Is that alright with you?
·         Any extras
o   Generally these are little requests. In my contract I request a meal and non alcohol drinks. Make sure they are reasonable to you.

If your dream photographer gives you their contract and there are items that seriously concern you, do not cancel your meet and greet. Contracts can be explained, and at times rewritten. However, do not assume the photographer will automatically change something in the contract just for you. Remember, this is their job. You don’t change parts of your job for random people just because it inconvenient for them. But there are usually some items that can be negotiated.

If the photographer of your dreams refuses to change anything about their contract/rates/etc, you are now in a tricky situation: Bend the budget or walk away? My advice is this, if its only bending the budget a bit, do it. Regardless of whether you are a photo junky or not, these pictures are going to be timeless. Everyone in your family will want them, including your possible future children and grandchildren. You spend months planning this day and when it comes, it will be over so quickly. These photos are going to be your reminder of the people who supported you and the day in general. That’s why, for the love of God, do not skimp on your photographer. Hire someone who knows what they are doing!!


Check out Alyson's photography website at AlysonJarvis.com!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why hiring a Design Service for your save the dates is worth it!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve chosen custom save the dates for the first week of my “Why Hiring A  ________  is Worth It” series. 

Sure, it helps promote my services, but the great response I received from my own personalized save the dates was a large inspiration for offering my design service to others to begin with.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating Jason and my save the date insert, giving a reader’s digest version of our relationship to those we sent ours to, but I never anticipated the amazing response I received from them. And what was really fantastic about the response, was that we spent less than $2 a piece for our save the dates (inserts and magnets). So even more than being excited about how affordable they were to have made, I appreciated their affect more than I knew I would.

I could go on and on about why having your stationery custom made is worth it, so I chose the top 3 reasons why I came to see that spending money on our personalized save the dates was a worthy expense:

1.) Connecting with those guests who may not be well-acquainted with you and your fiancée: Weddings are often a chance for family and friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time to reconnect and celebrate together, which means that it is natural for many people on your guest list to not know how you and your fiancée got together. Even if your love story is simple and sweet, providing all guests with a snapshot of who you are as a couple is a great way for them to feel included and excited about your wedding day, even if they haven’t been there every step of the way leading up to it.

2.) Setting the mood: Using something custom allows you to set the mood and tone for your wedding months before your actual big day. Showing guests your style, theme and/or colors can help build their excitement and anticipation of coming. If they know you’re going for a festive Paris theme, they may get to enjoy the excitement of it all by going out and getting an outfit that’ll go with your night.

3.) Being Queen for the day: Who hasn’t dreamed of having someone walk into their closet and magically provide every piece of clothing you’ve ever wanted? Having custom stationery done provides that same exciting experience. If you wish you would’ve worn a different color dress for your engagement session photos, with the magic of Photoshop your stationery designer can turn that hot pink into a creamy peach. Or if you really like how a certain script appears on your save the date, but the “F” in your beau’s name just looks weird, your designer can offer upwards of 20 different F’s that can be substituted. Your wish is their command.

One of the most fantastic things about having something done custom is you are more-likely to be able to find something you love that you can actually afford, rather than having to settle for what’s already available within your price range. Designers are constantly ordering products from printing companies, which typically leads them to getting special discounts and deals that they can happily use for a client’s order. They’re also familiar with the infinite options of paper, envelopes and other coordinating products you might never have known you could afford!

And having your save the date be something special and personal allows it to be more than a quick post-it note to have people put your wedding date in their calendar. It’s an opportunity to excite, entice and share with those you’re hoping to be there for your big day.