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The Kiddo Quandary: Inviting children to your wedding and reception – Pros and Cons

14 Aug

As a wedding photographer’s assistant to (and one-time wedding planner with) Roberto of Roberto Farren Photography, I’ve seen a ton of different approaches to the wedding day. Some are more serious, faith-based ceremonies, some are itching to get the drinks poured and the music blasting, and some are relaxed, laughter-filled events focused on friends and family.

Kids are, at minimum, a part of most extended families (hey, we were all there at some point) but it’s not always clear if it’s appropriate to include them in your wedding celebrations. Here are some pros and cons to think of if you’re considering this question for your own wedding.

Pros of including kids:

  • Cuteness: Who doesn’t love watching a tiny flower girl and ring bearer toddle down the aisle? Stick a flower crown on a niece and a bow tie on the nephew, and you’ve got great wedding photos at the ready!
Cambridge Harvard wedding photography

These two cuties led the way to the party after Caitlin and Aaron’s Harvard wedding ceremony.

  • They’re usually hysterical: Whether they’re sprinting down the aisle or asking questions at full volume at the ceremony, kids keep it real. If your ceremony is relaxed and not overly formal, these funny interruptions just add to the laid back, family-focused feel.
  • They get the dancing going: If you’ve ever been to a wedding with kids, you know that they’re usually the first ones on the dance floor. Kids love dancing, and definitely break the ice for adults to join them.

Cons of including kids:

  • Unpredictability: Even the most well behaved munchkin is prone to freaking out when they’re in constricting clothes, with 100 people looking at them and they’re supposed to sit still for an hour.
  • Catering: You’ll probably have to accommodate for younger palates when planning your menu, and this might incur an extra cost. Talk to your caterer or event planner for options.
  • Early departures: Members of your family will most likely be drawn away from your reception early in order to get little ones washed up and into bed at a reasonable hour.
London wedding photographer

Claire’s two nieces wrote and read the sweetest note to Joe and Claire at their recent London wedding.

Tips:

  • The Kids’ table: Don’t separate super young (or anxious) kids from their parents, but designate a kids-centered area where more independent kids can hang out.
  • Plan activities: Keep them occupied! Depending on the various ages that may be attending, plan some activities for the kids. Things like games, coloring books and little toys, will keep them happy when they get bored with a three-course meal, and they always love a photobooth!
  • Hire a sitter: Make sure you include the parents when making this decision, but getting outside help to look after kids can be a great help. Ensure everyone is clear on the guidelines (what times the sitter is around, responsibilities, location, etc) but this takes some of the pressure off of parents and lets them relax a bit more while they celebrate your wedding with you.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be realistic about what you want on your wedding day, plan accordingly, and communicate clearly. People would rather know ahead of time what’s expected of them and their families. They’ll appreciate knowing what the plan is, and the ability to prepare their little ones will help the day run smoothly for both of you.

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Don’t forget to ‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook.

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Wedding Music – More First Dance Songs

13 Aug

I enjoy writing these music posts… as a photographer’s assistant for Roberto Farren Photography, I’m often involved in logistics, people, and details.  However it’s the speeches and the music that are often what really sets the tone for the celebration, makes people slow down, and more often than not, tear up. Here are a few more of my ever-growing list of top first dance songs:

  • For once in my life, Stevie Wonder – There are easily a dozen Stevie Wonder songs that could have made this list, but this one is my fave, partly because it was my sister’s first dance song, but also because it’s happy, it’s fun, and it’s easy to dance to. This song reminds me of someone that feels like they absolutely won first prize when they met their partner, and is totally unashamed of shouting it out.
  • She’s got a way, Billy Joel – Every once in a while, you get a couple that decides that one will choose the first dance song and surprise the other. If it’s a bride being surprised, this is a classic. From Billy Joel’s first album, ‘She’s got a way’ is a less peppy but very honest and loving song, and it’s a wonderful dedication to your partner as a first dance.
  • Make you feel my love, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Adele, Garth Brooks, Shawn Colvin, Neil Diamond, etc – A song that works for any couple, regardless of what type of music you like! Not everyone is a fan of Bob Dylan’s singing voice, but it is undeniable that he is one of the best songwriters ever, and gosh, does he nail it with this song. This song isn’t about standing on the roof shouting, it’s about sitting together, holding hands, and looking into each other’s eyes. The lyrics reflect traditional wedding vows, and detail all the ways you would be there for each other as you enter your marriage.  And if you aren’t a fan of the gravelly rasp in Dylan’s later tunes, you’ve got a whole host of alternatives to check out!

And now that those three are up, three more have popped into my head… more to come!

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Don’t forget to ‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook.

Pets and animals at weddings – tips

25 Jul

To many people, pets are an important part of the family.  In addition to being fun to play with and cute to look at, they have awesome side effects like lowering blood pressure, lowering risk for depression and even lowering cholesterol.

It’s no wonder that couples often incorporate family pets into their wedding day. Whether the family pooch is serving as the ring bearer or a member of the wedding party, getting your pet involved is a great way to personalize your wedding day, and you’ll get some great wedding photos as well!  Here are some tips and things to consider if you’re thinking about incorporating your pet in your wedding ceremony or celebration:

  1. Practice. Humans practice at weddings, and the same should go for any animals involved. Allow them to be familiar with the path they’ll be taking, and make sure they’re responsive to any commands that you’ll be using on the day.
  2. Don’t forget that pets, dogs especially, are little emotion barometers. Darwin knew it, you shouldn’t forget it. If you’re nervous, sad or scared, your pet may pick up on it, and react accordingly. Know your pet, and be mindful of how they’ll act and react in certain situations.
  3. Be realistic about your pet’s “bolt factor” before trusting them with anything that’s critical to the ceremony (like a reading) or expensive (like a ring).
  4. Get to the groomer. You’re looking your best, make sure Fido gets spiffed up as well! In addition to having them look dapper, this will hopefully also minimize a bunch of shedding on dark suits or muddy paws on white dresses.
  5. If you have an overly rambunctious pet, or a breed that some people might consider intimidating, don’t forget to consider your guests, especially little ones.

A number of cultures also incorporate animals that aren’t pets into their wedding ceremonies and celebrations.  Here are some of my favorites:

Elephant – The elephant is a large (har har) part of the groom’s procession, or baraat, in North Indian and Pakistani culture.  If you’ve got the budget and space for this, renting an elephant is a tremendous way to make an entrance!

White Horse – If you don’t have an elephant hanging around, a white horse is also a traditional conveyance for a groom. A female white horse is symbolic of pureness, practicality, and love.

Doves – Doves are a symbol of peace and eternal love, and you sometimes see them released during the wedding ceremony.

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Don’t forget to ‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook!

Forget Pinterest and Remember What Really Matters.

15 Jul

Your wedding is most likely going to be one of the biggest days of your life.  Other things might trump it (college graduations, your first child’s birth, finally standing in Julia Child’s perfectly replicated kitchen), but it’ll be up there as one of the flashbulb memories of your life.  It’s a celebration of you and your partner’s love for each other, and the commitment that you plan to share for the rest of your life.  Also, even if you’re only inviting a few people, it is still probably going to be an event that will take a fair amount of planning.  Special location, special clothes, rings, flowers, officiant – there are lots of parts of your wedding day that you’ll probably be arranging even if it’s just the two of you.  Add parents, friends, families, pets, children and other assorted guests, and I hate to break this to you, but you’ve got yourself an event.

Even if you revel in event planning and love getting all the details just right, planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Sorting out the logistics for two or tens or hundreds of people takes patience and no small amount of effort.  Add to that the increasing pressure to match the napkin rings to the shoelaces of your flower girls, and your “to-do” list just blew up.

As a wedding photographer’s assistant, let me tell you a little secret: The stuff doesn’t really matter.  Ask a friend about the best wedding they ever attended, and I can guarantee that they won’t mention the font on the invitations, the subtle hue of the chair sashes, or the style of the bridesmaids’ shoes.  They’re going to talk about the sweet vows that you shared with your spouse during the ceremony, the song that played while you danced with your father, the hilarious speech that the best man gave, and the great time they had dancing into the night.

Roberto Farren Photography

I don’t remember the meal or the name cards, but I do remember getting fairly weepy during the beautiful vows Emily and Carlos shared at their recent Boston wedding.

Weddings are about the people that make up your life, and those people you want around you while you pledge your love and commit your life to your partner.  Keep that in mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed about the wedding planning, and up to your neck in Pinterest, and don’t forget about your marriage while you’re planning your wedding.

One last thing: Here’s a wonderful article featured on Boston.com about a couple that completely changed their wedding plans in order to share their special day with someone who meant the world to them.  Kudos to the staff at Emerson Hospital for going above and beyond to make such a special memory for this family:

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/concord/2013/07/couple_weds_at_emerson_hospital_so_dying_grandfather_can_att.html

Thanks for reading,

Erin

‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook.

More songs for your first dance: Now with more ‘Bens’!

3 Jul

I quite liked writing my recent post on alternatives to traditional first dance songs for your wedding.  I was staying with my parents for the weekend, so aside from my mom being confused as to why I was tearing up at my computer early on a Saturday morning (damn you Conor Oberst), it was a fun and easy post to write.  Seconds after I posted, I started to think of loads of awesome wedding songs that I had left off, and I got annoyed with myself, and had to go back into the post and add “more to come” so that I could carry on with my day.   That said, here are my next 3 songs, in no particular order.

  • Such Great Heights, The Postal Service – I’m a little bit partial to this one as it is kind of our song, ever since I put it on the first mix tape I made for Bob when we started dating (look it up kids: cassette tape).  At the very last minute it didn’t end up being our first dance song when we were married.  Both Roberto and I are hands-down-amazing dancers, but it’s a high tempo song with a long intro and it’s a little bit difficult to dance to and unfortunately we didn’t have time to work it out.  However if you practice and pull it off, it’s an awesome, upbeat song that will definitely fill up the dance floor half way through!
Roberto Farren Photography

Lorrie and John steal a quiet moment during their recent Boston wedding.

  • Forever, Ben Harper – A really slow, quiet song – Just Ben and his guitar.  But the lyrics are lovely, and if you’re not award winning ballroom dancers, it’s definitely the kind of song you can just sort of sway to together.
Roberto Farren Photography

Colleen and Emmet’s recent Boston engagement photography session.

  • The Luckiest, Ben Folds – If you’ve got the kind of story where, like me, meeting your spouse was 98% down to happy chance, then this might be your song.  It’s super sweet, and it’s one of those songs where the lyrics manage to say exactly what you want to say.

Again, definitely more on this to come…

But for now, thanks for reading!

Erin

Roberto Farren Photography

And now it’s time for a love story.

30 Jun

When I’m helping my husband Roberto of Roberto Farren Photography shoot engagement sessions, one of my favorite things is when he asks the couple how they met and how they fell in love.  Not only is it a great icebreaker, but it always makes the couple super smiley and giggly which lends itself well to having their portraits taken.

The couples that we’ve photographed have some really sweet stories about how they met.  Some of them are pretty epic, and some of them are the stories of normal friendships evolving into something else, but all of the stories end the same way: with two people deciding that they can’t live without each other.

My all time favorite love story, however, doesn’t belong to any of the couples that we’ve photographed.  They’ve definitely got some good ones, but the prize belongs to Roberto’s parents, whose paths crossed by chance one night in Portugal.  Bob’s father, Peter, was born and raised in London.  He worked for the railway, and soon after he turned 30, he and his father (Bob’s granddad) took a road trip through Europe.

On their last night on the mainland before returning to the UK, they decided to check into a Pousada, a chain of rustic hotels found throughout Portugal.  This one happened to be in Santa Clara-a-Velha, a small village about 3 hours south of Lisbon and 90 minutes north of Faro.  As Peter checked in, a lovely lady caught his eye.  This was his first meeting with Lena.  Lena lived in Santa Clara and worked at the Pousada, but her shift was over.  She was waiting for her friend, who was working at the front desk and checking in Peter and his father, to finish her shift.  There was just one problem… Peter didn’t speak Portuguese.  Lena didn’t speak English.

Image from http://www.hotfrog.pt/Empresas/Pousada-de-Santa-Clara-a-Velha-Santa-Clara

Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha

But this didn’t stop Peter, who was so taken with the lovely Lena, that he tracked down the hotel manager and through him, asked her on a date.  The three of them – oh yes, the hotel manager joined them and became their conduit – enjoyed dinner together that evening.

The next day, Peter and his father flew back to the UK.  Peter went back to work and life in London, but he couldn’t get Lena off of his mind.  So he did what any smitten Brit would do.  He enrolled in a Portuguese Linguaphone course and saved his money for a ticket back to Portugal.  He continued this for months, traveling to Santa Clara to visit every chance he could, even for trips where he spent more time on planes and in a car than actually with Lena, and picking up enough Portuguese so that they could speak to each other without the help of the hotel manager.  Their relationship continued to develop, and within a year, Peter proposed to Lena.

They were married soon after in Portugal and moved to London together, where Roberto joined their family, followed shortly by Maria and Filipe.  And around 25 years after that, I officially became part of the family when I married Roberto, and we celebrated our wedding at the Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha, where Bob’s parents had met.  Nice little full circle, huh?

Roberto Farren Photography

The amazing view from the Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha

This story illustrates a few maybe obvious but definitely important lessons about love:

  1. Whatever the obstacles, always find a way to communicate.
  2. Love happens when you least expect it.
  3. When the aforementioned love happens, don’t let it pass you by.

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Roberto Farren Photography

Your first dance: Awesome songs that aren’t “that song from Armageddon”

29 Jun

I had a long drive yesterday, which meant a long time alone with my radio.  Just short of the hour mark, one of my favorite non-traditional wedding songs came on the radio, and as I bopped happily along, I started thinking of some of the best first dance songs I’ve heard at weddings while working with Roberto Farren Photography.  Here are three of my faves…

  • A Thousand Years, Christina Perri – If you’re not a 14-year-old girl, you might not recognize this as a song from the Twilight saga, but it is.  However there is actually some amazing music (Radiohead, Muse, Iron & Wine) on these soundtracks, so I feel like it’s still acceptable, and this is a really lovely song which is perfect for your first slow dance with your new spouse.  Side note: During Will and Christine’s wedding, Christine surprised Will by singing and playing piano in an AMAZING version of this song for her new husband.  Roberto captured the replay of this moment at their East Coast celebration in Boston.  I would have helped, but I was in the corner bawling my eyes out.
Roberto Farren Photography

Cassandra and Sean spin their way through their first dance as a married couple at their recent Boston wedding.

  • This is the First Day of My Life, Bright Eyes – Some of my favorite lyrics over a tinkling, happy melody, this song is about admitting that your love has swept over you so ferociously, that it’s hard to remember what came before it.  Reader challenge: Check out the awesome video for this sweet song. If you don’t find yourself grinning or tearing up 1.) you’re probably lying and 2.) have a look at this smiling baby goat, because you need to have your heart thawed out a bit.
Roberto Farren Photography

Lynn and Joe burned up the floor during their first dance at their wedding in Maine.

  • Into my Arms, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – One you don’t hear very often at weddings, but Nick Cave’s voice is melted butter.  The lyrics are irreverent and revering at the same time, and something about his voice and his serious, dark eyes makes you realize that this love is no joke.  Definitely one of those songs that can make the breath catch in your chest, and a show-stopper for the right couple’s first dance.

Definitely more on this topic to come, but for now I’m signing off.  Have a great weekend and…

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Roberto Farren Photography