Tag Archives: Relationships

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.


  • 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,


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,


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,


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:


Thanks for reading,


‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook.

Don’t Eat All the Chickens in the Village – Top Tips for a Destination Wedding

20 Jun

Are you totally over the buffet choices at your local Marriott Hotel?  Destination weddings can be an exciting, exotic choice when planning your big day. Who wouldn’t want to be married on a beautiful tropical beach or a pristine, snowy mountain?  BUT. There is a lot more to consider than the backdrop for your wedding photographs.

When Roberto (of Roberto Farren Photography) and I became engaged, we were already guaranteed a destination wedding for at least 2/3’s of our attendees. I’m from New England in the US.

Roberto Farren Photography

Boston, MA skyline at sunrise.

Bob was born and raised in London, to an English father and Portuguese mother.

Roberto Farren Photography

Moody skies over the Queen’s House, Greenwich, London

We were living in London at the time, but spent a lot of time visiting my family in New Hampshire and Boston and Bob’s mother’s family in Portugal.

Copyright Joe D'Cruz Photography

Santa Clara a Velha, Portugal

While it didn’t take us too long to decide to hold our wedding in Portugal, it wasn’t a decision we  rushed, and it certainly wasn’t one that we made alone. I discussed the decision with my parents and my close friends, who were the ones who would be traveling furthest if we celebrated our wedding anywhere but New England.  I knew that the length and cost of the flight would unfortunately mean that some aunts, uncles and cousins, and most notably, grandparents, would not be able to attend.  This applied to Bob as well, who had family and friends that weren’t able to join us in Portugal, even though the distance and the cost was a little less overwhelming.  What we did know was that, for those that were able to sacrifice the time and money to join us in Santa Clara-a-Velha (the small Portuguese village where Bob’s mom was born and lived until she married his dad and moved to London with him) it would be not only a wedding, but a trip that they’d never forget.

My immediate family was able to make the trip, as were most of my closest friends and some of my extended family.  Bob speaks fluent Portuguese, and was able to make great arrangements for accommodation for all of our non-Portuguese attendees, which was a massive help.  I learned enough nouns and colors to get through most of the rest of the planning, and we were also extremely lucky that we were both able to take sabbaticals from our jobs, get to Portugal a month early, and work out the final details in person.

We took a lot of different factors into our decision and planning… here are some of the important ones, including some we learned along the way, and a couple that we wished we’d learned earlier:

Some tips as you make the decision to hold a destination wedding:

  • If you, like us, have family and friends all over the world, talk to people.  Get feedback from parents (especially if they are helping to pay for your wedding) and close friends, and work with them to make the best decision for your core group of people.  On your wedding day, your marriage is more about the people that surround you than the place you’re standing.
  • Consider other guests as well: Will they need passports or visas? Do they HAVE passports? How long are flights? How much will flights and accommodations cost them? Will older guests be able to travel the distance comfortably and safely? Will there be a language barrier?  Know the answers, plan ahead, and provide people with as much info as possible.
  • Speaking of info, don’t forget the following: currency; customs; key words, if you’re going to a country with a different language; cultural differences, especially cultural no-nos; weather; electrics (will they need power adapters to charge/use electronics?); driving (which side of the road, etc) and the list goes on.
  • Don’t forget the budget: Given 3 equal piles of money, what you can do in London is different than what you can do in New England is different than what you can do in rural Portugal.
  • If you’re going somewhere off the beaten path, give a heads up to the locals as applicable.  This was particularly needed in our case… we let the local bar, cafe and gas station know that about 40 Brits and Americans would be descending on the village.  While they were able to order enough beer and wine to keep us jolly for the week, we managed to eat all of the chickens in the village by day 4.  I’m not even joking.
  • Unless you are going to a resort that specializes in destination weddings, be aware that things you’ve come to expect might not be  the norm in other places.  Things like wedding favors, make-up artists, and vegetarian meals don’t exist in the small village of Santa Clara (“Yes, this is vegetable meal… it only has bacon and a little bit of chorizo.”).   Think ahead, make lists and double check.
  • Do your homework.  Do you need a marriage license from where you live before you are married abroad?  Do you need to file paperwork, show birth certificates, or produce proof of your first communion to priests or city officials?  We did.  Go ask Google what you’ll need.
  • Amazon Prime has not quite reached every last corner of the world… hold on to your good attitude, and if wake up on your wedding day to find out that you need to pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike, then go pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike.  It’s a wedding, it’s a marriage and it’ll be a great story!
  • Think about having a low-key gathering closer to home following your destination wedding.  Roberto and I traveled back to New England a few months after our Portugal wedding for a cookout at my parent’s house.  All of my family and friends that hadn’t made it out to Portugal were able to attend and we had a great time celebrating and sharing the memories of our Portuguese wedding.

Once you think you’ve covered all your bases and make your decision, enjoy the process!  Destination weddings are an adventure for all involved.  Don’t get too stressed about the details (who cares that the ribbon on your bouquet is a shade lighter than the ribbon on your flower girl’s basket? NO ONE!) and enjoy the location for the reason you chose it.

Copyright of Joe D'Cruz Photography

Making our escape from the village in a second hand Land Rover. TO ADVENTURE!

Thanks for reading,