Tag Archives: Bride

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.

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.

DIY Weddings or “How I Singed Off My Fingerprints in the Name of Love”

25 Jun

Weddings, by their nature, are beautiful events, but there is something particularly lovely about the touches that are made by hand.  Whether it’s the bride- and groom-to-be, their mothers, the bridesmaids, or some combination thereof, some people have the gift of craftiness.  Invitations, name cards and favors are common DIY items at weddings, but as a photographer’s assistant with Roberto Farren Photography, we’ve seen some spectacular shows of skill.

Roberto Farren Photography

For the year before their London wedding, Claire, Joe and their friends folded over a thousand paper cranes to decorate their ceremony. According to Japanese legend this granted them one wish, which they shared on their wedding day.

Don’t think you’re one of those Martha Stewart-esque DIY brides that can make a to-scale copy of the Eiffel Tower (with functioning elevator) out of organic, locally sourced crudités?  No worries.  You’d be surprised what you can pull off before your wedding if you’ve got the time, patience and willingness.

There are certainly amazing things that you can do, and there may be wonderful aspirations that you have, but my first tip is to be realistic and honest with yourself.  And I mean realistic and honest with yourself.  Know your strengths and (more importantly) know your weaknesses.  Not the most patient puppy?  Maybe don’t select a project where you have to paint, stamp and pin 350 petals per hand-made hydrangea.  Have no spatial awareness, nor a steady hand?  Maybe don’t try to address all of the invites in Merovingian script.

Another good thing to remember: If they’re invites, favors, or place cards, you are probably going to be creating these lovely, delicate tokens by the hundreds.  Start early and pace yourself!  You don’t want to end up ostracizing all of your friends before the wedding, or worse, end up on first name terms with the graveyard shift at your local Michael’s (shudder).

However you stretch out the task, at some point you will probably hit all of the following stages.  Be prepared, be patient, and know when to give yourself a break and step away from the grommet press.

  • Once you figure out the 1st one, you’ll be ecstatic (“Look how nice they’re coming out! This is going to be AWESOME!”)
  • By the 8th one, you’re hitting your stride and turning your living room into an assembly line, and starting to spew out pure insanity like: “Alright people, we’re gonna trace, cut, fold, glue, fold again, embossing powder, heat dryer, then you just need to carefully wrap, ribbon and tie on the hand-calligraphied labels!”
  • By the 42nd one, you’re half cut on glue fumes and glitter and running an operation that should probably be reported to the Department of Labor.
  • By the 87th one, you’re starting to question whether marriage is actually worth this and accidentally (on purpose) glue some of your hair to your grandmother’s place card.
  • (Time lapse.)

Time lapse

  • Instead of a clear memory of completing the last item, you’ll probably wake up from an origami induced blackout, surrounded by tiny scraps of colored paper that you’ll still be finding years later.  Congratulations!  You made it!  You’re ready for your wedding, where family and friends will “ooh” and “ahh” over the lovely DIY accents you’ve created for your celebration.
  • NOW: Go bandage those papercuts and get a manicure.  And you should probably make sure that your friends/sweat shop workers are still speaking to you…
Roberto Farren Photography

Mike’s unique boutonnière was handmade by his new wife Denise for their recent Cambridge wedding.

Finally, just a reminder to give your wedding photographer the details of the special items that you created (see my post on creating your shot list) so they can be sure to photograph them for you.

One last tip: Beware the Pinterest.  More on this to come…

Thanks for reading,

Erin

‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook

Very Hungry Caterpillars and Old Lace: The personal touches that really make a wedding

21 Jun

Today will be the first of what will almost certainly be a number of blogs about some of my favorite personal touches that couples include in their weddings.  Weddings, for the most part, follow the same overall story arc: Ceremony, vows, party.  There are special clothes, food, drinks, flowers, family, friends, outpourings of love and affection and usually some very animated dancing.  However, it is usually the smallest of details that makes your wedding YOUR wedding.  Here are a few of my favorites from some of the recent weddings that I have helped to cover with Roberto Farren Photography in New England.

  • At Erin and Randy’s autumn wedding at The Stone House in Little Compton, RI,  Randy’s son and groomsman carried the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt.  Not only was this a nod to a favorite pastime of the couple, but it was also a touching way to involve 3 generations of Randy’s family in their sweet, personal ceremony.
Roberto Farren Photography

Randy’s son presents the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt at a recent New England wedding.

  • Mike and Denise’s recent wedding at Dante Restaurant in Cambridge, MA was full of small details with big meaning for the couple.  Denise, a children’s librarian, used some amazing origami skills to create all of the bouquets and boutineers from up-cycled book pages.  If that sounds impressive, you don’t know the half of it… she also created the table centerpieces and other decorations for their reception in the same way!
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s bridal bouquet, handmade from the up-cycled pages of children’s books

  • Another sweet touch from this same wedding: Denise’s mom and grandmother wore the same wedding dress.  Denise continued the tradition by having her wedding dress made, and asking the tailor to incorporate the gorgeous, hand-stitched lace from her mother and grandmother’s dress into her new dress.  The result was wonderful.  An absolutely beautiful dress that suited Denise perfectly, with which she carried on a lovely family tradition.
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s gorgeous wedding dress, made by hand and incorporating the lace from her grandmother’s dress.

One last thing: Like I said in my post about creating your shot list, give your wedding photographer a heads up about these special details.  Unless they’re part of the ceremony or speeches, it’s possible that they could go unnoticed by those that aren’t in the know.  These are the moments in your wedding that you’ve put the most thought into, make sure that you give the photographer the opportunity to capture them for you.

Thanks for reading,

Erin

Roberto Farren Photography

Shot lists and the Art of Squirrel Wrangling

19 Jun
Roberto Farren Photography

The complete bridal party at Cassandra and Sean’s recent wedding in Boston.

Oh, the shot list.  As a wedding photographer’s assistant, the shot list can be either my best friend or my worthy adversary.  This list of all the portraits and photos that the newly married couple want with specific groups and sub-groups of family and friends is often… how can I put this… logistically challenging.

Imagine trying to organize 45 excitable squirrels for their Squirrel family portrait.  Then add an open bar…or acorns, maybe acorns work better with this metaphor… and now you’re getting closer.

Before each wedding, I usually spend 30-45 minutes with the photographer carefully reorganizing the list of family portraits in order to move as seamlessly from one shot to the next.  A well-organized and well-executed shot list is my white whale, something I am always striving to reach, but rarely manage without tired feet and surprisingly ink-smudged hands.  We always get there in the end, but not without sacrificing a few sailors.

As it usually overlaps with cocktail hour, this is where I get my cardio workout in, as I’m shuttling continuously between the bar and the couple.  There is a lot of this: “Brother Squirrel, you are on deck, Brother Squirrel’s girlfriend, you are on double deck.  Then you are both stepping back out for a moment, but please don’t go too far, and we are going to add Parents of the Groom Squirrel… Does anyone know if Uncle Squirrel has headed back to the bar?”

And a lot of this: “Pardon me, Hi Uncle Squirrel… I’m assisting the photographer today.  The Bride and Groom have requested that you join them for a few family portraits… May I show you the way?  Yes, I’ll wait while you get a refill…”

It is always important to get the wedding shot list to your photographer in advance, and if possible, talk through the list together.  While your original list might be hundreds of photographs long, be realistic about time and about what shots are truly important to capture for you and your new spouse.

For example: A photograph with your aging grandmother, who helped to raise you and encouraged you throughout your education and career = KEEPER.  Photographs with each of your 27 third cousins (twice removed) who you met once in 1987 at a barbecue = Maybe worth considering as a group shot?

Some additional tips on creating the shot list for your wedding:
– Remember, YOU want to join the cocktail hour as well.  Plan accordingly, and think about shooting some of your family/friend photographs before the ceremony, after the meal, etc. Make sure you communicate this to your wedding photographer in advance.
– If you have the option, plan ahead and arrange for a waiter to bring a couple of beverages and a small selection of whatever yummy treats are being passed around for the newly-wedded couple.  Hungry people are not typically happy people.  Keep yourself happy, and it will shine through in your wedding photos.
– Give people a heads up if they’ll be involved in the group wedding photographs.  It allows them to reapply lipstick if needed, and also makes them easier to find for the photographer’s assistant.
– Ask a friend or relative to help point out relevant folks to the photographer’s assistant.  The assistant should always do the chasing, organizing, and arranging for portraits, but it expedites the process if they know who to chase, organize, arrange.
– Allot AT LEAST 5 minutes per shot.  That sounds like an abundance of minutes for a quick snap… but when you factor in rounding up everyone (including the cousin who has disappeared to the restroom, the father of the bride who has gone to the bar to entertain a work friend, and the aunt who has wandered away to take in the lovely view) you’d be surprised how quickly those 5 minutes will slip by.  Plus, let’s be honest… weddings are usually running a little bit late… Allotting a bit of extra time here will allow you to complete the required photographs, and might even let you catch up to your original schedule!
– Any uncomfortable family situations?  Hey, it happens.  If possible, give the photographer a subtle heads up in advance.  This day is about you, and you should surround yourself with people that you love.  Every so often, however, there might be a little bit of awkwardness to navigate.  Reduce your own stress by allowing the wedding photographer to subtly keep exes and tiffs away from each other and you whenever possible!

– The shot list should also include any must-have photos for your wedding day that are outside the obvious pictures that your photographer will be looking for.  Some of my favorite examples for the team at Roberto Farren Photography have covered some amazing moments, including a saber arch presented by the US Marine Corps brothers of the bride, a surprise serenade from the bride to her new husband, a wedding portrait at the historic bridge where the groom proposed, detail shots of the chuppah that was made from one of the groom’s grandmother’s only retained possessions when she fled Poland during World War II, and portraits of the newlyweds with their rascally (but much beloved) dogs.  (Sorry, it turns out I’ve got lots of favorites…)

Roberto Farren Photography

The bride’s US Marine Corps brothers & friends salute the newlyweds with a Saber Arch.

FINALLY: Don’t forget about the 2 most important people of the day!  Don’t overdo the group shots and lose out on shots of the newlyweds.  Be sure to arrange times for some portraits of the bride and groom, whether it is as a Sneak Peek, directly after the ceremony, or while your guests are enjoying the wedding meal.  In addition to these being some of the most important photographs of the day, it also gives you a few minutes of down time to connect in what is always a crazy, busy and wonderfully hectic day.

In the end, approach your shot list with the same mindset that you should approach anything in your wedding.  Ask for what you want, be honest and upfront about what is a “must-have”, but be realistic about what is doable given the time, the setting, and the squirrels involved.

Thanks for reading,

Erin