I love Grand Rapids. I’m not a city person. Grand Rapids is one of the few cities I like to visit and have fun in. I briefly considered moving their, but ultimately ended up staying in Clare.
In 2018 I had a great wedding in Grand Rapids in a little Lutheran church near Calvin College. I showed up early. During the consultations we had decided to do some group shots prior to the wedding ceremony. We left plenty of time for getting ready shots as well as these group shots. Some of these images included the groom, his family, and groomsmen. We shot all of these and were about to start photographing the bride, her family, and bridesmaids. Then someone pointed out that the guys had forgot to put their boutonnieres on. Because we planned to have plenty of time prior to the ceremony for group shots, we were able to reshoot all of the guys images with boutineers on with time to spare.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with tons of great and fascinating clients. I regularly get clients who don’t live locally. A few times I’ve even had clients from other countries, who spoke very little English.
The first instance of this was back in 2016. I was shooting a wedding in Farwell, Michigan. The clients had family fly in from all over. The bride had family coming in from down South as well as Detroit. The groom had family coming in from Puerto Rico. About half of the groom’s family didn’t speak much English. This made the group shots very difficult to coordinate.
Anytime I come across a difficulty during a wedding I try to find ways to solve it in the future. Since 2016 I’ve added a lengthy wedding worksheet that I go thru with clients prior to the wedding. I do this to figure out as much as possible about the wedding and clients before the wedding day. I also make a detailed list of the group shots.
In 2018 I got to work with some of the best wedding clients I’ve ever had. During early August I got to work with David and Rebecca who met while studying abroad in the Netherlands. Rebecca was from Au Gres, Michigan. David was from Germany. David’s family flew over from Germany to Michigan for the wedding. Despite the language barrier the wedding went great. We used non verbal communication, and plenty of prep work, to guarantee that the group shots, as well as other images requiring more communication, worked out great.
One of the funniest wedding stories comes from a wedding in 2014 in my hometown of Clare. The couple wanted to take two fish and poor them into one bowl showing unity during the wedding ceremony. While getting ready the fish died. One of the groomsmen had to run to a local pet store and buy two new fish. This is one of the reasons I recommend having someone to contact on the wedding day to take care of little issues like this.
I’m a strong believer in lifelong learning. Especially with photography you learn a lot by doing. Graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2013 wasn’t the end of my photographic education, but just the beginning.
With wedding photography especially you learn a lot by the problems that arise on the wedding day. During the first wedding I did with my new second shooter, Nikki, we had beautiful weather during the rehearsal. The sun was out. The location looked gorgeous. During the wedding itself the weather changed to the complete opposite. The rain was horrible. From scouting the location the day before it was easy to move the group shots and first look inside and still get great shots. This shows how important the prep work is when going into a wedding. I have all my clients fill out a wedding worksheet with the details of the day. I also go to the rehearsal for all of the weddings I shoot. This gives me a good understanding of the location I’ll be shooting as well as the flow for the day. Do to this prep work, we still got great shots during the day despite the weather.
One of my 2019 wedding clients recently posted about a really cool unique way to get donations for your honeymoon. Instead of getting a ton of kitchen appliances or gag gifts you’ll never use, guests can donate right into a fund for your honeymoon via honeyfund. A great wedding gift idea!
Learn more at honeyfund.com
Dressing appropriately for the situation is part of having good manners.
During every wedding consultation I ask the potential clients what the dress code is for their wedding. They usually respond with a weird look. I explain to them that I try to blend in during the wedding and want to dress like a guest. This allows me to get better candids during their big day.
When it comes to how you should dress for a wedding the first thing to keep in mind is the formality of the wedding. Most weddings I go to the dress ranges from khakis and polo shirts to suits for the men. On occasion I’ve been to very informal weddings where dressing down was appropriate. It is important not to outdress the groom. Their wedding is all about them and not you. Also keep in mind the time of year. Browns and other earth tones are more fitting for fall whereas lighter colors are more appropriate for spring and summer. I usually wear dress pants, dress shoes, dress shirt, blazer, tie, and pocket square to most weddings I photograph. Black oxford or brown derbies are safe options shoe wise. Grey or khaki dress pants are a reliable choice. A navy blazer is a versatile standard. Staying with light blue or white dress shirts is always a safe bet. A white pocket square with a simple presidential fold is always classy. Sticking with simple classic ties instead of gimmicky novelty ties is good choice. Feel free to go crazy with socks as long as they aren’t white.
Dressing well doesn’t require a large budget but it can require patience. Most of the dress cloth I own come from eBay or second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. I would highly recommend Real Men Real Style and the Gentleman’s Gazette as resources for learning about classic men’s style.
It has been a standard in the photography industry for wedding photographers to wear black to weddings. I only do this if the bride and groom request it. I typically only wear black to funerals.
Weddings are a happy occasion and I like to dress accordingly.
During every wedding consultation I always ask the bride and groom what the dress code will be for the wedding. During the wedding day I want to blend in and look like a fellow guest. This allows me to get better candids. I usually wear a blazer or sport coat with dress pants, tie, and pocket square. For more casual weddings I’ll dress down.
Find this article helpful? Buy Ryan a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/rywatkinsphotos
This is a list of mid-Michigan wedding vendors I have worked with and would highly recommend.
For more information about planning your big day read my e-book Planning Your Central Michigan Wedding which is available for free when you sign up for my monthly newsletter.
The Venue at 501
DJs and Bands:
Wedding Invitations, Save the Date Cards, etc:
Certified Nutritionist/Personal Trainer/Health Coach
Body Works By Lacey
Body Works By Lacey Facebook Group
3 Wishes Floral and Design Studio
Maxwell’s Flowers and Gifts
Make Up Artists:
Make Up Distributers:
Dan Tuma Media
Miss Lily Photo
Newborn and Maternity Photographers:
Miss Lily Photo
Marta Manning Photography
A current trend amongst brides and grooms are having unplugged weddings. An unplugged wedding is where guests, with the exception of the hired photographer and second shooters, aren’t allowed to bring phones, iPads or other cameras to the wedding. I personally think this is a great idea and will go thru some of the pros and cons of having an unplugged wedding.
The biggest reason I like the idea of an unplugged wedding is this makes it less likely that guests will photobomb images. If guests don’t have cameras, flashes, phones, or worst of all iPads it makes it harder for them to ruin important photos during the ceremony or reception. During the ceremony and cake cutting many of the guests can inadvertently get in the way or the professional photographer by stepping in the aisle to take a photo or by holding their phones or iPads in front of the photographers view. This recent Huffington Post article has examples of what I’m talking about.
Second, all the images taken during your wedding day will be by the professional photographer. They’re won’t be any unflattering or blurry images up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter of your special day. Essentially this prevents any bad images from your wedding ending up on social media.
The biggest disadvantage to having an unplugged wedding is if something happens to the wedding photographer’s images all the photos of the wedding are lost. Granted this unlikely, but it is plausible. The first thing I do after a wedding or sometimes even during the reception is I start backing up the images from the wedding day. By the next morning I usually have three or more copies of the wedding.
There are advantages to allowing guests to take images during the wedding day to. You get far more images and from different view points that the photographer and second shooter couldn’t realistically get to. There are also apps that allow you and your guests to view and share guest images more easily. Check out this article for more info on wedding photo sharing apps. You can also have guests tag all of their Instagram photos and tweets with a specific hashtag or even get 35mm disposable cameras from guests to shoot with.
Here is another great more contemporary article about the subject of the pros and cons of unplugged weddings.