Raleigh Wedding Photographer FAQ’s

Having worked as Raleigh Wedding Photographer since 2005,  I’ve been asked, and answered a LOT of different questions. I’ve written down the most popular ones and answered them below to help you plan your wedding and learn more about me. I’m constantly updating this page so if I missed something, let me know!

Should we do formal photography before or after the wedding?

bride and groom posing outside their duke chapel wedding

We discuss this at length during during our wedding consultations. There’s 4 elements that we need to take into account (and discussed below) so you can make a better decision:

1 – Did you want to see your bride/groom beforehand?
2 – Can we get everyone to the location early enough?
3 – The weather – is it snowing? raining? So hot the grass is melting?
4 – Do you want to be at your cocktail hour?

#1 – Superstition holds that seeing the bride/groom beforehand is bad luck. However, many of my couples aren’t superstitious and we will photograph the formals beforehand so everyone can get to the reception quickly and start the party. If you do choose to have the formals beforehand, then we stage an “unveiling” of sorts where the bride & groom can lay eyes on each other, for the first time and have a private moment together. This moment makes for great photography and I’m always honored to be there with the happy couple.

#1a – Many times we photograph brides with family, bridesmaids, etc along with grooms, their family and groomsmen separate from each other so we get a large portion of that photography complete while maintaining the separation of the wedding couple.  This does save some time after the wedding ceremony but not as much as option 1.

#2 – Wedding guests usually begin arriving up to 45 minutes before the wedding is scheduled to begin. With this in mind, we need to have everyone ready for formal photography well before that time. Depending on the amount of groups we have, formals before the event will need to begin at least an hour before the ceremony so we can be sure to finish the photography before the wedding guests arrive.

#3 is probably the most concrete of all the above elements. If you want outside photographs, this will definitely determine how feasible that really is. After all, I don’t want anything to happen to your perfectly applied makeup, beautiful wedding dress & tux, those wonderful shoes or any other clothing. If you want to do the formal photography inside, then we can disregard this and #2 will be our biggest consideration.

#4 is pretty straightforward. When there is no first look there are only two good times to photograph the formals and the couples portraits. Either during a break in the day (common with Catholic ceremonies) or during the cocktail hour. So if you have a lot of people coming in from out of town and want more time with them, a first look may be for you.

Should I get ready at the church/venue or another location?

Mother helping the bride get ready for her wedding ceremony at the highgrove

Speaking from a wedding photography perspective, I want to document your wedding in meaningful locations. Most churches don’t have very elaborate or elegant facilities to get ready in, but if its meaningful, then it’s better then a blank hotel room. With that being said, I would much rather have a comfortable and happy couple to work with than having them being stressed about losing time driving from one location to the next. I’ve photographed wedding couples getting ready in closets (yes, a closet), hotel rooms, salons, and even bathrooms. You being comfortable and happy is of utmost importance on your wedding day so base your decision on that first. Your wedding photography will be that much better when you are happy!

Help!!! I need an (insert vendor here) for my wedding day!

One thing I really enjoy about being a wedding photographer is working alongside some of the, in my opinion, most talented, kindest and giving people anywhere in the wedding industry!  If you’re having a wedding in or around Raleigh, NC then I can certainly recommend a few wedding vendors to help you with whatever you need.  The networking events I attend on a keep me in touch with many of the top wedding providers in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area and am always happy to recommend them to you based on my experiences with them. I do not accept requests to be placed on my list – I consider each vendor I recommend to have my name & reputation attached to, so I only refer, IMO, the best wedding vendors in the area.

Are you really this nice in person?

Yes. I prefer charming and funny, but nice will do.

Dramatic wedding exits

The days of throwing rice are far behind us…  Well, #1 because it could (and has) been hurled with major league velocity but, also, because it’s very harmful to birds.  So what’s in style these days?

Bubbles are low cost and beautiful in photography.  The downside to them are windy days make it near impossible to have them stay in one place, if one gets in your eye then you might miss the car door all together because you can’t see and lastly, if the surface you’re walking on is at all slick (like marble floors), putting soapy water on it could be a disaster.

Rose Petals
Rose petals are a higher cost but make for a beautiful wedding exit.  They don’t sting or cause any danger, but there is the cleanup afterwords and, in my experience, you may be picking rose petals out of your clothing and hair for a bit.

bridge and groom exiting their wedding thru sparklers

Wedding Sparklers
I love sparklers!  Of course, you have the obvious hazard of open flames to light them as well as the hot embers jumping off the rods.  They do put off a wonderfully soft glowing light that lends itself well to photography.  A couple of notes if you get sparklers.
– Check with your venue – some do not allow it because of insurance reasons.
– Make sure and get long sparklers because it does take some time to get them all lit, and you don’t want the first ones lit to go out before you walk thru them.
– Make sure and have a sand bucket nearby to dispose of the spent sparklers to avoid any fire hazards
– Do you research on wedding sparklers before purchasing.
– I wrote a blog post about Wedding Sparkler Exits which goes over most of the common questions & concerns. We certainly don’t want anything to happen to your wedding dress, or your wedding photographer (again) for that matter (yes, that is me) so I definitely recommend checking that post out.

Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are gaining popularity and look really cool in photos. As long as your exit is in the evening (and it’s dark outside), the glow sticks will really pop in your wedding photos. With that being said, please take into account the “type” of friends you have an how likely a “waving” glow stick will turn into a “thrown” glow stick. Yes, they can leave a mark.

Cutting the wedding cake

The way I see your cake cutting is it’s your cake, cut it however you like!  With that being said however, almost all couples will cut the bottom layer first. This minimizes the chance of a tall wedding cake toppling over or cutting too far.  I like to set up my couples before they cut it to maximize both the photograph as well as all of your friends and family’s view of it. The whole idea of cutting the wedding cake centers around the first “task” a married couple has… there is no judgement (ok, may be a little) on how well or poorly you do – as long as it’s something you do together!

Cake smash?   Well, that’s up to you and your partner. I can tell you every venue has an assortment of napkins and soda water to treat any errant smashed pastries. I take no responsibility for the smash, I’m just there to capture it.  🙂

First Dance

Some couples, upon arriving at the reception, go immediately into their first dance.  Others wait until after they eat. Some will even group dance first, eat, then dance with their parents after dinner. There really is no right or wrong way to schedule these.  I do want you to remember that first dances tend to get emotional, especially if you’re dancing with your parents, so keep that in mind when planning.

I do, however, recommend you dance before cutting the wedding cake.  After the cake is cut (and eaten) some of your wedding guests tend to depart for the drive back home.

bridesmaid catching the bouquet during hte bouquet tossBouquet & Garter Toss

I love this element of your wedding day.  They are almost always fun and, without going into details, I’ve seen my share of scrapping for the bouquet and garter amongst friends.  This is another element that I will help setup to make sure everyone has a fair chance of catching and or watching it.  Whether you choose to have this at your wedding reception or not is completely up to you.  I’ve seen it both ways and, honestly, both ways were totally appropriate for the personality of the couple and their friends,  family and wedding guests.

Ladies – I do recommend you put some thought into how high the garter is placed.  He will, after all, have to reach up and get it.  Also, while I try to ensure you are placed, when throwing it, where there is no chandelier or other obstacle, you may want to take a glance to make sure you have a clear path to toss it. The garter generally goes on the left leg but I have never heard a hard and fast rule on this, so it’s totally at your discretion.

Guys – Garters are not aerodynamically tested so you may want to stand a little closer than you think is necessary.  I like a big football pileup as much as anyone else when they all run for the wedding garter, but keep that in mind if your 10-year-old cousin is in the line.

You know that last answer really didn’t help me decide?


Should I have a camera on the tables or will you be offended?

I’ll be honest here, the first time I got asked this very question I kinda chuckled. Having cameras on the tables are a wonderful way to get unexpected candids of things that you had no idea happened at your wedding reception. I will give you a suggestion though. Number the cameras and also have a collection box for people to drop them into as they leave. The downside with having cameras on tables is they can be misplaced, accidentally carried out, and, basically, never seen again. Having them numbered will help you identify which one is missing and having a central deposit for them helps remind people to drop them off at the end. A word of warning, if there is alcohol at the wedding be prepared for the types of photos you may receive.

I know you’re a Raleigh Wedding Photographer – do you travel?

My “home” area is in or around Raleigh, Durham, Cary & Chapel Hill North Carolina. However, I do travel frequently for destination wedding photography  (Asheville, Washington, DC, Cancun, St. Thomas & Charleston, SC to name a few) anywhere in the US or overseas.

How would you define your photography style for weddings?

I get questions like this a lot, and it’s a very good one!  I classify myself as a portrait-journalist wedding photographer. This style allows me to stage those shots which greatly benefit from it (rings, details, portraits, etc) while still capturing the true emotion of the day. Whether you want formally posed shots or unobtrusive coverage, this style allows me the flexibility to capture all the emotions from your wedding day and more edgy & dramatic photos. With my background in magazine photography, I really enjoy using off-camera lighting to help add a dramatic flair to my work.

What forms of payment do you accept?

I accept cash, check, and all major credit cards (except Discover).

I love your work! How do I book you for my wedding photography?

Well, I love you too! :) To book your wedding day, I require both a signed contract and a $750 retainer to hold the day.

first dance taking place after the wedding at teh Angus Barn Pavilion in RaleighWhat photography equipment do you bring to the wedding?

I always bring a minimum of three camera bodies, multiple lenses, a minimum of three flashes, multiple batteries (for camera and flash), multiple flashcards, and other miscellaneous items (lighting, tripod, lenses, etc). I want to make absolutely certain that any equipment failure on my part does not result in missed photography for you. I even bring a spare “me”. As much as I wish it was a true “mini-me”, technology is hampering my efforts. However my 2nd photographers are ALWAYS “primary” wedding photographers so should something happen to me, they can immediately take over. I also understand how much time, effort, and money you’ve spent into making your wedding ceremony and reception look amazing, so all of our gear is hidden and any flashes we need take up very little space and we work very hard to hide them.

My venue requires photographers to have proof of insurance, do you have any?

Actually, this is a great question! Wedding photography can be very unforgiving as it’s a one-time event. I maintain three different types of insurance just in case the unforeseeable does happen. One is a general liability policy that covers any type of accident or misfortune which can be attributed to my presence (ex. someone trips over my light stand) Most venues require this of all vendors. The 2nd covers my equipment so if the day before your wedding, I have some equipment failure/loss I can immediately get replacement gear. The third is called errors and omissions. This covers me & you in the event of your photos were lost to some technical complication (ex. card failure or stolen camera).

Do you photograph in both black and white and color?

Yes, I take all my shots in color then convert to black and white after the wedding day. This gives me full control over the processing decisions and how best to bring out the “feel” in each shot. I use a customized B&W conversion process which gives my B&W photographs a very unique look and feel.

How far in advance should I book my wedding photography?

While it can vary depending on the couple, I typically get inquiries for wedding photography about a year or more from the scheduled date.

Do you offer wedding photography albums?

Yes, I do. I work with an amazing company based in the US that specializes in high end, hand-bound custom wedding albums. They have developed a line of albums exclusively for our clients. We work together throughout the wedding album design process to ensure your final album is of the highest quality. We believe in having a printed product from your wedding so strongly that EVERY wedding package we offer comes with one of these amazing albums.

What type of clothing should be worn for our engagement photography?

I feel it’s best to keep your engagement photography about you rather than what you’re wearing. I do advise my clients to stay away from clothing with busy patterns or words. Solid colors work well, especially with black and white photography.

Do you have a good place for our engagement photos?

I get asked this one quite a bit. One thing i’ve learned is the location should truly be secondary to you feeling comfortable. So the first question I often ask is “are you more of an Urban or Rural person?”. This helps narrow down the areas to choose from. Most important to me is having a place my clients can interact with. While shooting in a hayfield can be lovely, it’s pretty single threaded when it comes to diversity. I personally love photographing in the downtown areas (like Downtown Raleigh) because most have a very wide range of diversity to bring in more natural elements as well as parts of the city.

screenshot of our wedding gallery systemWhen do we get our proofs and/or photos back from the wedding?

Your photos will be available for viewing no later than 12 weeks after your wedding date. Most of the time I am well in advance of that timeframe but I can get a bit backlogged in the busy seasons.

When should I schedule my engagement and bridal portrait photography sitting?

Engagement sittings are typically booked 6-9 months before your wedding date. Bridal portrait photography sittings are typically booked 1-2 months before your wedding date. Of course, this is just a rough guideline and the season or overall feel you want generally is most important.

When should I send my save the date cards?

According to the most popular etiquette sites, six months is plenty of time to send your save-the-date card for a domestic wedding.  If you are asking a lot of people to travel to the wedding location, especially for a destination wedding out of the country, eight months is recommended.

Is your engagement and bridal portrait photography done in a studio or on location?

I feel both sessions should be in a location that is indicative of your personalities, special to you (like where you met, first date, etc) or just a place that is cool. I have done these things in a studio but it’s really hard to interact with each other in a sterile photography studio.

What do I need to prepare for my bridal portrait photography?

One of the first things you will need to do is contact your florist to order a bridal portrait bouquet for the day of your sitting. You should also decide on the location for your portrait; I would be happy to help you with this decision. I’ve found that bringing plenty of a fan, water, straws, good friends or family and extra powder and lipstick will help! Wearing your actual wedding shoes can be a tough choice. If the ground is the least bit damp then it’s possible your shoes will get stained. For this reason, I recommend bringing two pairs of shoes. Most wedding dresses are floor-length so we won’t see the shoes anyway so you can walk around in comfort.

Do you offer framing?

I maintain a selection of standard frame sizes in my gallery as well as work with a wholesale framer to offer a wide variety of both standard and custom frame sizes.

Do you include digital files with your wedding photography packages?

All wedding packages come standard with our custom album and all packages do receive the digital files. We want to ensure you have a quality printed product of some type from your wedding so please chat with me about getting a showcase piece for your home.

How can my friends and family see the wedding, bridal, or engagement photography?

As part of my service, I post images onto a Wedding Photography Gallery for your review. Your friends & family can view these photos with a password (provided to you) as well as place an order if they like.

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