I've been photographing kids and families for 7 years. I've narrowly escaped photographing full-scale weddings more times than I can count. For years, I’ve gifted friends photographic coverage of their wedding day before their photographer is contracted to arrive. I’ve photographed a court house wedding on a Friday afternoon that had a guest list of 15 (Shout out to Jenna and Zach!). I’ve photographed a wedding with two attendants that took place in the basement of a restaurant (Shout out to Angie and Adam!). While these weddings have been public declarations of a couple’s commitment to one another and the legal binding of two individuals that I hold near and dear, a photographer’s tasks, the technicalities, and their artistic expression are much different than a full-scale wedding with a large bridal party, guest list and venue. The “job” is different.
I dipped my toes a little deeper in the wedding waters earlier this summer when I second shot for the wedding of a volleyball friend. It didn’t make me want to run the other way (Thanks for being awesome, Autumn, Kelli and Scott)! Then there’s Sarah and Paul…
I’ve played volleyball with Sarah and Paul for much of the time I’ve lived in the Twin Cities (10 years and counting). They began twisting my arm to photograph their wedding the first time I saw them after their romantic, rose-petal and candle-light-filled proposal that was complete with a big red ring pop :)
I’d already begun considering shooting weddings more seriously for a few reasons:
1) Equipment. I now have the two lenses that are critical for a wedding photographer to have in their arsenal. I’ve used them enough in my kids and family sessions to be comfortable with how to make them perform for me. I’m also more comfortable with the lighting equipment to illuminate dark receptions.
2) Confidence. Every wedding photographer owes it to their brides and grooms to just know that they won’t botch an important shot at an important moment (e.g. the first kiss, which can’t be redone). I’ve been a photographer for long enough now that I can provide this confidence to brides and grooms. I still fear a memory card failing, but that’s a risk that even the big dogs face. Thank goodness my camera has dual card slots to help mitigate that risk! Frequent back-ups and switching cards out helps me feel more confident too.
3) The people. This is probably the most important one. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m a photographer. While people hire me to produce art, the experience I provide and the emotions and moments I capture are really all about the people. Spreading joy to people is my mission, and photography is the perfect way for me to live this out. People have been inquiring with me about weddings for years, regardless of the fact that there are NO wedding photos in my portfolio and no wedding packages listed on my website (and this is still the case). I just gratefully sent those people along to my favorite wedding photographer friends. But, more and more inquiries were coming from couples that I know and really really care about, and I started feeling really drawn to capture their special day.
Paul and Sarah were originally planning a September 16 wedding, but I told them I wouldn’t be able to photograph that weekend since it was my sister’s bridal shower in Iowa. They didn’t let me off the hook that easy—they just changed their wedding date to September 23.
So, the stars and planets finally aligned for me to photograph a full-scale wedding as the lead/solo photographer. We made it all official with a prep meeting, a lawyer-drafted contract run-through and signing, a shot list, and schedule coordination. Without further ado... Drum roll please!!!...
Sarah and Paul’s outdoor wedding was held on a beautiful private property just outside of Chatfield, MN that is lovingly known as Bucksnort. They absolutely transformed this rustic, picturesque setting (complete with a dam!) into a charming party-perfect property. The details, you guys! Seriously! Paul and Sarah thought of everything, and they had great people to help them execute!
Paul designed and made this sign to hang on the barn they'd transformed into a bar. The sign even illuminated!
Sarah and Paul’s first look was precious! Sarah approached with a tissue in hand...
and Paul laughed when he could hear Sarah “already crying” before the ceremony.
Their wedding party was so very kind, FUN and thoughtful—a perfect reflection of Sarah and Paul. (I play volleyball with a few of these guys too. It was fun to see them all cleaned up!)
Their families were too sweet!
Sarah credits her grandma’s prayers for the beautiful 89 degree late-September day we had. There were tears of gratitude and joy! Thanks, Grandma!
And thanks to Sarah and Paul for being so persistent and insistent, and being confident in me before I was in myself. I owe you, and love you! I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect first full-scale wedding to photograph all by myself (well, I could have done without those nice blue port-a-potties that kept photobombing us, BUT, they did make for some fun shots too)!
Be sure to like my Facebook page to see more of Sarah and Paul’s special celebration!
And, if you're wondering if I'll photograph your wedding, the answer has officially become "MAYBE." I’m not diving into the deep end of the ocean here, but let’s talk.
P.S. Have I mentioned that I’m still exploring a shift in my editing style? Sarah and Paul's photos are edited with a bit different effect than what you’ve seen in my previous work. I figured since I was already out on a limb shooting a wedding, I might as well stay out there when editing too ;)