Friday, May 26, 2017

choosing wedding vendors who will self-manage

You know the binder I'm talking about... 

It has thick white pages with embossed edges, bound with a gold spiral and a cover that makes you so excited about your upcoming wedding. It starts out so clean and empty, but after the first few months there are magazine clippings and post its with mysterious phone numbers peeking out between the pages. 

And at the very back, under a page that's titled "BUDGET NOTES," you've created a chart where you are comparing at least 2 vendors in each category. Wedding planner, photographer, hair, makeup, florals...the list goes on. 

Maybe you're a decisive bride who knew right away who she wanted to work with. If that's the case, then you've already crushed this blog post and I'll let you head back over to Pinterest, which is where I know you want to be. 

But in case you're not, and in the event that you're sick of looking at your own cost-analysis spreadsheets, I wanted to share a few tips for choosing vendors that will add value to the experience of your wedding day. That's right, these are people who should be doing more than simply performing the task they were hired to do. They should be improving your entire bridal experience. And I'll tell you how. 

First of all, let's identify two different types of wedding vendors. There are people who are just really good at performing a service or creating a product, and then there are business owners. Take for example, your cousin who does an awesome smokey eye and has a Facebook page but no website, versus a professional makeup artist who operates full time, while also writing educational content on her makeup blog, teaching workshops, and dreaming of creating her own line of cosmetics.

The business owner also has to be really good at doing bridal makeup, but she can't stop there. She's running a successful business and her reputation is on the line.  

Both of these vendors will make you look magazine-ready on the big day, but only one of them will answer your last minute emails during the weeks leading up to your wedding. Only one of these people will go out of their way to educate you about the products they use, or double/triple/quadruple check that you were so happy with your makeup trial. 

And when you compared these two vendors in your chart, we all know who charged a little bit more.

When a business owner values their time, as in, they actually quantify how much they believe they should be paid for hours worked, they are also factoring in time responding to emails, offering additional assistance to certain clients who might need more help, hiring assistants, and building relationships in their industry.

When something goes wrong on the wedding day, I want the vendor who believes it's in her job description to help me. Not the one who is only there to apply the makeup.

When a bride asks me for vendor recommendations I do my best to explain that the people I'm recommending are self-managers. These are people who I know my brides can rely on when it comes to a) booking their wedding, b) communicating throughout the entire planning process, c) fulfilling their service/delivering their product on time or ahead of schedule, and d) managing their own process. 

When you hire business owners who can self-manage, you won't have to spend time managing them.

A really good example of this is the part of the wedding day where family photos are taken. Someone who is really good at taking photos will follow along on a shot list that you've created. The professional photographer on the other hand, will run the show. When they click the shutter, they already know the next formation and who is needed. And not only that, but they can call everyone by name and make them feel like a VIP. And if Aunt Susan is nowhere to be found, the professional knows which bridesmaid to task with the job of hunting her down. 

For a professional photographer, a problem is never the bride's problem. And when you're hiring a professional photographer, you're hiring someone who considers it their job to find a solution.

And as a first time bride, it's difficult to understand the value of that experience when you're 14 months away from your wedding day. 

But maybe you've been a guest or a bridesmaid in a wedding where the family members were herded like cattle. Maybe you know there needs to be a different way. Or maybe you can picture what it would be like to have your nose in a 4-page shot list, and you've decided you'd rather be sipping champagne and laughing with your maid of honour. 

Trust me when I say, you'll have a whole lot more fun and be way less stressed if you're treated like a Queen by a top notch group of people. 

When you think of creating your list of vendors, think of these people as your teammates. These are people who are there to serve you and your wedding day. These are people you're going to want to rely on.

At the end of it all, when it comes time to make a decision between two vendors on your budgeting chart, my best advice is to go with the person who you feel will come through for you no matter what. Who gives you that feeling of total and complete trust, where you can sign a contract and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you made the right choice. 

I'm always thrilled when a couple loves their wedding photos, but what fills my heart with joy is the moment when they tell me that I was the best decision they made when planning their wedding. 

This post featured behind the scenes photos from the stunning minimalist & monochrome european inspired styled shoot that was recently featured on Ruffled

Click here to see the full shoot!


Styling and Coordination: TOAST Events
Hair: Topknot
Makeup: Klava Zykova
Florals: Floralia 
Menswear: L'HEXAGONE
Invitation Suite and Live Painting: LaFabère
Cake & Sweets: OSSO Sweet
Videography: Up North Wedding Films
Models: Savanah and Kyle from Angie's Models

Thursday, May 25, 2017

alexandria + stephen | sunset engagement in kanata

I love when people say they've never had professional photos taken before and then this happens...

It's like finding a boyfriend with no bad habits. A clean slate for me to teach a few tricks that make your love look real without being cheesy.  

Plus when we have stunning sunset light on a giant open field, magic can be made. Allow me to introduce you to Alexandria and Stephen, one of my newest couples for a 2017 wedding. They'll be making it official at City Hall this Summer, with some portraits to follow.  

And now that they're photo pros, I can't wait to hang out with them again for a fancier version of this:

Obsessed with this ring!! 

And the way Alexandria's hair moved in the wind. 

It was so great to finally meet you guys in person! Countdown to August starts now <3


braddock giguere family | lifestyle family photos in orleans

Whenever I post something other than a wedding or engagement, my email gets flooded with "ahh! I didn't know you did family photos!" emails. I happen to think that's pretty awesome, and while I wish I could do sessions like this all the darn time, I know that limitations are good. 

There was a time in the early days of my business where I was photographing 21 shoots a week. While my client base was exploding and my work was getting better and better, I also lost a bit of the fire that I believe needs to be with me for every single shoot. Bigger is not always better, folks. 

So a balance was struck: lifestyle family photos on a referral basis. 

It allows me to accept only a handful of sessions that really feel like a good fit for me. I still have time to dedicate to my wedding and engagement clients, while also capturing some beautiful moments for my friends and their growing families.  

Today I'm sharing a few favourites from Rachael's adorable family: two kids, one baby bump, her husband, brother, and parents. We all know that family photos are the best gift ever, and baby announcements make them even cuter!! 

These two are going to be the cutest big brothers!!

A happy mix of candids and a ton of direction. The photos in between usually end up being my favourites. 

A little snack time in the middle of the session never hurt anybody...

One day there will be 3 babies here! Rach...are you ready though!

The original crew. I think all "big kids" need updated family photos with their parents! 

If you're interested in a lifestyle family session, here's how you can get in touch!  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

meaghan + chris | surprise wedding at a cottage in wakefield

When you're 27 and a wedding photographer, your girlfriends are ALWAYS looking for the latest scoop when it comes to anything wedding related. I excitedly told the girls that I booked something totally and completely different...a wedding where no-one except the bride, the groom, and the bride's brother knew it was a wedding. 

That's right, a SURPRISE WEDDING was on the calendar for 2017 and coming faster than a freight train. They were dying when I couldn't tell them who it was for, but I felt it was my duty to keep as tight-lipped as possible! 

And now that the surprise is out of the bag, I am SO excited to share the story with you today!! 

This beautiful card was mailed out to Meaghan and Chris' closest family and friends, inviting them to an engagement party at a cottage in Wakefield. When I asked Meaghan how they would know to dress up a little, she assured me everyone would be in cocktail attire. And I know what you're all thinking after that episode of HBO's Girls, what if someone wore white?! Meaghan assured me that would be hilarious and she secretly hoped it would happen. 

Only a handful of times have I seen a bride and groom get ready together. It was so sweet to see them laughing and hanging out like a regular weekend morning, except with suits and ties and wedding gowns. 

Seriously so fun to style the his & hers side by side -- I never get to do that!

This bouquet by Blumenstudio was perfectly tailored to match the "wedding" invitation.

We decided to do the portrait session before the guests would arrive, so that they could have more time to enjoy the reception.  


I remember these few minutes so clearly. We were braving the tiny bit of rain (they seriously couldn't care less...) and watching the time carefully because it was possible that guests could arrive at any point. Between camera clicks we listened for tires on the gravel road. 

And then I asked them to run for a photo... 

Which turned into actually hearing a car driving down the road. They BOOKED IT for the backdoor of the cottage and made it in there without getting caught. If anyone had spotted them dressed like a bride and groom, the whole surprise would have been over!

Meaghan said this is her new favourite photo. 

Up in the master bedroom, Meaghan and I waited for text updates from Chris downstairs. He was keeping us informed of guests as they arrived, telling Meaghan that people were starting to wonder where she was. She ran the shower, then the blowdryer, weaving a web of lies that made us laugh while we drank cider and tried to be super hush-hush.

Meaghan and Chris had asked Andries and Dana to be in their wedding party, for a wedding that they thought would happen in August of 2018. This little surprise moment was so fun :) 

And Dana called Meaghan out for lying to her for months! 

A quick shot before the big reveal. Dana and Andries walked downstairs and no one was the wiser. When Dana grabbed her bouquet, the first guest did a double take... 

A few glances over by the stairs, followed by a couple shrieks, some hand-over-mouth surprised faces, and within 30 seconds everyone was caught up. 

That look of it all being so worth it... 

Meaghan and Chris exchanged rings and said their vows, and before everyone knew it they were holding up a glass of champagne and toasting the newlyweds!

And the cake that once said "engaged.."

Was replaced with a fitting new topper that was handmade by the bride herself...

Some of the happiest portraits ever coming at you. Something about the surprise made everyone just so stress-free. 

After a catered dinner and a few more drinks, Meaghan and Chris had their first dance as husband and wife. 

This day was magical and memorable and highly entertaining. It was an honour to be in on the surprise and to witness something different after all these years. Meaghan & Chris -- I am so excited that you can FINALLY let the secret out and celebrate your marriage! All my love guys! <3 


Makeup: Erin Best
Florals: BlumenStudio
Bride's Dress: BCBG from Encore Bridal
Bridal Accessories: Sarah Walsh Bridal
Menswear: Jiash Wu
Venue: AirBnB in Wakefield, QC