Broke-Ass Tag: wedding photographers


It’s time for me to narrow the list and select a wedding photographer! These are exciting times. There’s just one small issue: There are so many photographers in this world! Photographers that are my friends, photographers that I have worked with in the past, photographer referrals from past brides and I only need one. 

I made a list of four photographers to review for our big day. I reached out to each of them, gathered quotes and called all four armed with my checklist to discuss their services.

After countless hours of conversations, we made a decision. A decision that would change the course of all of my planning and the theme for our wedding. The photographer asked me one simple question that sealed the deal: “What is your love story?”

Our love story, yes that’s it! The lightbulb came on. Now all of the Pinterest ideas can come to life in a very special budget-friendly way. 

Let’s start with the engagement photoshoot: 

The Preparation: Travis and I sat down and discussed what matters most to us as a couple. I made a list and sent it to my photographer. In a nutshell: service, authenticity, travel and relationships.  

Preparation Part 2, Getting Ready: scheduled my wedding day makeup trial, a win win (plus, I planned to attend a gala on the same day, so my makeup was a triple-whammy). I didn’t do anything fancy with my hair, just went to my normal hair appointment the night before and ensured that we picked a style that would look good all day.   

Real Bride Ciji's Wedding Day Makeup Trial

Makeup Artist: rayaroxmakeup

The Big (Engagement Photoshoot) Day: 

9:00am: meet Rayna Wooden of Rayna Wooden Photography at our first location.

  • First location: place of our first kiss

Real Bride Ciji''s Engagement Photoshoot

Reenactment of the First Kiss! Photo Credit: Rayna Wooden Photography

9:45 a.m.: outfit change and off to the second location

  • Second location: Michigan + Texas = Atlanta

Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Photoshoot2

Home is where the heart is. Photo Credit: Rayna Wooden Photography

10:45 a.m.: outfit change and head over to the third location

  • Third location: We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us

Real Bride Ciji's Fiance poses for the camera

Travis poses for the camera!

11:30am: Last change and last spot

  • Fourth location: The fondest memories are made around the table.

Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Shoot 3

We love a great meal with friends & family in Atlanta’s “Little Italy”

Ended the day with a group selfie, a glass of wine and a great meal at our favorite restaurant. 

Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Photoshoot crew

The crew!

The Aftermath: what in the world are we going to do with all of these pictures? 

Lessons learned:

  • Select a wedding photographer who includes the engagement photoshoot in the package. We had a wonderful time getting to know Rayna and are excited to continue the love story at our wedding! 
  • Schedule your wedding makeup trial for the engagement photoshoot. I don’t wear a lot of makeup so it was good to get a visual and I got to see if my makeup would last all day and in outdoor conditions. 
  • I love a great theme and I was struggling to make all of my Pinterest ideas come to life. Kicking off “our love story” theme has made so many aspects of the wedding planning process a no brainer and I am so excited to watch the vision become a reality.

I can’t wait to see our pictures!

How did you decide on a wedding photographer? What were your main factors?

  • 4/26

    Real Bride Julie: Staying Plugged InSo right around the time I was getting married, a photographer’s post about why couples should opt for unplugged weddings went viral. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “unplugged,” it refers to a couple requesting their guests refrain from the use of cellphones and other devices during the wedding. Sometimes they ask them not to use devices during the ceremony and other times they ask them to keep devices out of the whole wedding. The photographer’s post showed a groom whose view of the bride walking down the aisle was obscured by all the guests trying to snap photos of the moment on their smartphones. This stirred up a lot of conversation on other wedding blogs, Facebook pages, etc., and I won’t lie, it did give me momentary pause in our wedding planning. Was this something we wanted to consider for our wedding? Most couples and photographers alike joining in on the conversation seemed to think it was an absolute must and acted like it was impossible to get worthwhile professional pictures with a plugged-in wedding. I looked at it a little bit differently.

    I’ll be honest, I was really afraid of was that all of my careful planning would be for naught because of smartphones. I had a pretty big crew of people coming to the wedding who were under 21 and one of my major nightmares was that they’d all spend the wedding with their faces glued to iPhone screens instead of enjoying the day. While I was really worried about this, I decided to set my fears aside. I really didn’t want to dictate how my guests could spend their day because I felt like it would put a damper on the party for some people. Telling people they couldn’t use their phone because I felt like they were going to use it in a way that was rude or inconsiderate could signal to them (especially those who hadn’t gone through the wedding process themselves recently) that I didn’t trust them to be able to behave themselves and had to make decisions for them. To me, it had the potential to start a fight where there didn’t have to be one. I just had to have faith that my guests would be engaged in the wedding because of all the good times I had packed it with, and they would be too involved in what was happening to get in the way of the photographer in the first place. I also didn’t want to have to police (or ask anyone else to) something like this over the course of the day when I had so much else going on.

    I also really wanted photos from my wedding that weren’t of the professional variety. Don’t get me wrong: I adored my photographer. She was amazing and accommodating, especially considering I think we hired her about a month prior to the wedding. I’m looking forward to doing a maternity shoot with her and when the baby comes along, I’ll probably also hire her for any professional photos we do of the baby. She was wonderful. In fact, it took me so long to decide to go with her (not at all because of her portfolio, but because I wasn’t sure we could afford ANY photography) that she was busy the morning of the wedding and couldn’t be available until the the start of the reception. Instead she sent along a professional partner she worked with to photograph the ceremony and met us at the reception. We had our family members take the “getting ready” photos. She and her partner worked  through the end of the reception. That means she worked a super long day the day of my wedding, and she still knocked every single picture she took out of the park completely. But … there is something to be said of photos that are taken by the people that are intimately associated with your life and are taken out of the pure joy of seeing two people they love joining their lives together. There’s something to be said of the pictures people are taking while you’re off getting your professional pictures taken or when you’re otherwise preoccupied. Hell, there’s something to be said for selfies friends try to take with you while you’re in the middle of walking down the aisle.

    12240331_10207983004036248_9153086613803760192_oI was actually elated when I found this one under our hashtag.

    I also like the immediacy of friends and family members photos. Photos of family and friends might’ve hit the web before I could say “I do.” Some people might object to that, but honestly, I was too busy getting married to really care. Lots of people have very valid reasons for not wanting their stuff to be out there on the internet before they can check it out, but for me that just wasn’t a concern and I looked forward to what had been posted and tagged with our hashtag at the end of the night. For my professional photos, we wouldn’t see our sneak peaks until about two weeks later and the full album until about a month after that. That’s really not that long for the work that goes into editing a wedding photo album, but for impatient me who really just wanted to see myself in a pretty dress and to see all the smiling faces of the people I love, I couldn’t get them soon enough. {Eds. Note: This is a very real thing. Photos seem to take forever, whether that’s a true thin that’s happening or not.}

    The day of the wedding nobody blocked my view of Matt. People might’ve had cameras out as I walked down the aisle, but I had no idea because my sole focus was that he was on the other end of it. I didn’t turn back during the ceremony to make sure nobody was texting. None of my professional photos (that I’m aware of) were ruined because somebody stepped in my photographer’s way, or a rogue flash went off. If it did happen and I don’t know it, my photographer must’ve taken a picture to make up for it, because she didn’t miss a moment. During the reception, Matt and I got celebrity treatment. EVERYBODY wanted selfies with us. Matt would have them take the selfie with their phone and then say “Why not step aside and let the professionals handle this?” and we’d then have our professional photographer step in and take a much better version of the selfie. 

    12273632_707770929360492_8287570462074855475_oNot quite a selfie, but a picture before we “had the professionals handle it.” For the record, I love it in this form too!


    The professional version, with a few people added into the mix. Photo by SK Photography

    Some of the pictures our guests got were absolutely amazing, too. Many were of other guests and it was nice to see what everyone was up to while I was busy running around the hall. The guests themselves were able to capture all the moments I missed out on. 

    12255199_937297652983403_1703089509_oOne of my cousins grabbed this picture as we were headed back in from getting professional photos against the gorgeous skyline. 

    Oh and all those kids I was afraid would be too tuned in to their devices during the wedding? They were out on the dance floor having a ball most of the night, while half the adults tried to figure out how to watch the Patriot’s game on their phones.

    I do regret not talking to my photographer ahead of time about having a plugged-in wedding. I know it’s my wedding decision, but I also think it’s important to give her the courtesy to discuss it with her and do my best to respect her feelings on the matter. I think where it’s becoming such a contentious thing these days for some photographers is that one of the things a bride SHOULD think about is how their feelings gel with their photographers on something like this. I think my photographer was okay with how we handled things, but I wish I had been more respectful of her position as a professional by discussing this specific topic with her before the wedding.

    The bottom line for me was that having a plugged-in wedding didn’t take away from my wedding and only enhanced my experience. I have thousands of pictures from my wedding, professional and otherwise, and almost all of them make me smile. Some of the photos my nieces took with me were lost to Snapchat, but the memory of being swarmed for photos alone is worth it. I’m glad I made the decision to let everyone stay plugged in. 


  • 2/13

    Photo: Chasing Glimpses Weddings are complicated creatures. There are a  there a lot of things about your wedding  that you can extrapolate from real life, and a lot of that you can find out by asking obvious questions. But there are also the unknown unknowns, the stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know.  And you don’t -- or wouldn’t -- know, because you haven’t…

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    No matter how you break down your wedding day schedge, there's almost definitely going to be some time that is solely dedicated to photography. For some camera-shy people, this is a nightmare, but a necessity if you want to have a Christmas present for Grandmammy this year.  For other people, posing for photos is a fun side adventure on the wedding day where you can…

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    We had so many beautiful, adorable, clever and sweet entries for the free photography contest with Suthi Picotte.... narrowing it down to just 5 was really challenging! While we wish we could put all of the entries to vote, (and in no particular order) these are the five couples we'd like to introduce! (you can click on the images to enlarge) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ First up, we…

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    What happens when you mix two colorful actors with personalities as big as their hearts, and a photographer with style unique enough to fit?  You get these kick ass pictures, people. We're talking unique, delightful,  drool inducing photos... saturated with color, charm, and creative spirit... and shot by one of our faves, Kelty at Steep Street. I speak from experience when I say that Kelty…

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    Last week we had the oppurtunity to party with 40 other Wedding Bees in Vegas. One of the bees, who was most certainly at the head of the party train, was Kat of Persimmon Images. Kat is a blast, and while I know she brings the fun to Vegas, I can see from the images she shoots that she brings the fun to all of…

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    THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU!Everyone wants beautiful pictures of their wedding. But how beautiful do you want them to be? How about, “I just ripped this photo out of a magazine because I want to buy every item of clothing off of those models, visit where ever they are posing and experience whatever chemistry is going on between the two of them,” type…

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    THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU!Brides, put your "party hats" on - teehee! Its time for a sexy prize package to heat up giveaway #2.....Jordana Hazel at Hazelnut Photography is one of my very favorite wedding photographers! I met her at Chris Austin's Trash the Dress bash just about a year ago, and we had such a good time shooting, I immediately had an…

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