In May we were graced with the opportunity to shoot with model, Emily Paige! Since first meeting her 5 years ago, Emily has become a work of art: not only has she graced her body with many beautiful tattoos, covering herself in some truly gorgeous art, but she’s also modeled for magazines, clothing companies, and fashion photographers over the years- literally embodying art itself!
We styled a shoot around Emily’s look to showcase a different kind of bridal fashion. We’ve found that so many brides select such a traditional look for their bridal portraits and/or wedding day- the hair, the makeup, the dress, the flowers, the backdrop… In an effort to achieve “bridal” beauty, so many brides prematurely discount truly beautiful elements of fashion that can translate on-camera as absolutely stunning. We dressed Emily in a sheer-bodice, corset-top, ballroom wedding gown, picked the setting of parking garages around uptown Charlotte, and gave Ribald Farms Nursery & Florist the artistic license to create some unique and unexpected pieces.
While shooting with Emily, we noticed one very major difference between her and most other brides we’ve taken bridal portraits of: Emily was the picture of confidence! Walking into her bridal portrait session, most brides cannot say they have the professional modeling experience to have earned the confidence that Emily was rocking the day of our shoot with her. Confidence is key to achieving images that truly capture the essence of the subject’s personality, so we asked Emily to give us a few easy modeling tips for future brides to prepare for their bridal portrait sessions!
You heard her, brides! As much effort as you are putting into looking beautiful for pictures, put just as much effort into turning your bridal portrait session into a fun, relaxed environment so that your personality can shine through and take center-stage! If confidence is key, don’t discount any potential element of bridal fashion that will make you feel as beautiful as you look! It’s a given that you’ll be beautiful, so definitely BE YOU!
Unity sand is a ceremonial wedding ordinance symbolizing unity. It typically begins with three glass containers: one larger empty container, and two smaller ones; each of the smaller ones holds a different color of sand (representing the bride and groom as individuals). The pouring of sand from two single containers into the larger one represents the bride and groom each emptying themselves of their “single” lives and intermingling their lives together in a way that cannot be taken apart or reversed (think of divorce like trying to separate two colors of sand, grain by grain back into two separate containers). The larger container, once full of the two colors of sand, represents the couple as a married unit- each individual is still unique, but each part of something bigger than themselves. Some couples incorporate a third color, either at the bottom of the large container to represent God as the foundation of their marriage, or along with the two other colors to represent God’s presence in their marriage.
Although this ordinance is beautiful and symbolic, there are occasions when, like at OUR OWN wedding, a snafu or 2 occur during the sand ceremony that kind of dampen its meaning. Here are a few tips to ensure that your sand is poured without any glitches, that the meaning behind the ordinance is left intact, and that you’ll have a beautiful unity piece to adorn your mantel for years to come:
–Think for the Future! If you and your spouse are going to have this unity sand displayed in your home for forever, keep that in mind when picking out your unity glassware, as well as the colors of your sand! If your wedding colors are bright or trendy, consider buying sand in more muted tones of those same hues. Your taste in color-schemes and decor will change over and over again throughout the years as you grow older together, and you’re going to want this unity sand to compliment your home-decor for a very long time! Also, select glassware in a classic, timeless style that comes with a lid that you can glue/seal on! Some friends of ours accidentally spilled their unity while moving into their new home just days after returning from their honeymoon! Even though no one would’ve been the wiser if they probably had just found a similar container and re-poured the same color of sand, it was still a bummer for them that they would never have the “original” thing from their wedding ceremony to display on their mantel.
–Take the Extra Measure! Before the wedding day, measure out how much of each color of sand you will need to fill your unity glass AND also leave both single glasses empty! At our wedding, the person who filled our individual glasses with sand filled Melissa’s glass too full. Once our unity glass was full, I had poured out all of my sand but Melissa still had plenty of sand left in her glass. It wasn’t really a big deal- our guests giggled watching us try to figure out how to squeeze as much sand as possible into the unity glass. We do joke now though that “Melissa’s not completely married, because she left some of her sand in her ‘singleness’ jar.” Haha! Still, it’s something we would change if we could go back.
–Practice Makes Perfect! Melissa and I got extra supplies and practiced pouring our sand before the wedding day. A stroke of genius on my part ; ) Seriously! We knew that we had to, because our different colors of sand had different consistencies; Melissa’s was purple craft sand from Hobby Lobby, and my sand was taken from the beach in Charleston where I first told her I love her. We’re so glad we practiced, because each of our sands poured very differently. Melissa’s sand poured more smoothly filled up the glass quicker, while I had to consistently and steadily shake my glass to get the sand to keep pouring out. Once we got a rhythm down, we figured out how to make a pattern that looked best. I mean, if the thing is going to sit on your mantel for the entirety of your marriage, you may as well make it pretty to look at.
-Let Us See! During your wedding, when your minister introduces your sand ceremony and you move to your sand table (usually placed near the altar), make sure you each stand at an angle where you’re not blocking the pouring of the sand. Lots of couples stand directly in front of the table as they pour, impairing the audience’s view. Each of you can stand on opposite sides of the table, or both of you could walk around and stand behind the table, facing the audience. That way, your guests can see the whole ordinance, and your photographers can have a straight shot at some photos of the sand-pouring!
–Put Your Top Man On It! If you do not have a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you should definitely assign a responsible person in your family or wedding party to measure out your sand, make sure the glassware is arranged the way you want it at at the altar, and to make sure the unity sand is sealed and stored somewhere safe once the ceremony is over. We’ve seen couples whose sand and glassware were still sitting off to the side of the ceremony space AS the minister began introducing the sand ceremony! We’ve also heard of unity sand getting left in the church where the ceremony took place, and by the time anyone realized it had been left, the church was locked, someone from the church had put the sand in storage or thrown it away etc… So make sure you’ve assigned someone to take care of all of these things for you!
The portion of your wedding day that has the most potential to drag out longer than you want is probably the family portrait segment. It usually takes place right after the wedding ceremony, when all of your family members are emotional and overwhelmed with joy for you. At this time, your family is not in an efficient, “let’s get this done” mode. They’re talking to one another, clobbering you through their tears for hugs. The last thing most families want to do is sit quietly and wait their turn for your photographer to call their name for a photo. However, that is kind of what needs to happen in order for you to get to your reception in a timely manner. Here are a few things you can do ahead of time to ensure your family session goes as quickly as possible! (And what blog-post would be complete without a photo? Our new 4″x6″ card is in!)
TIP #5: Make Lists! Make a list of every different combination of family members and loved ones you want a picture with. If you do not make your own specific list, your photographer might have a short list of standard family shots that they will use. Your photographer’s standard list may not include some combinations that you really want, and you will not want to have to think on the fly about extra shots you want taken on the wedding day.
TIP #6: Ask Around! Also ask your parents and grandparents ahead of time if they have any special requests for photos during this time- family members often think of special requests for photos during the family segment, and when we fulfill one family member’s special request in addition to your list, others will begin asking for more and more special photos which could probably be taken later on at the reception. This can extend the family segment dramatically.
TIP #7: Send the Memo! Notify all of these family members ahead of time of where they’ll need to be for the family segment, and let them know that they can hug, congratulate and cry with you all they want at the reception. But during the time your photographer is trying to get through your list of family shots, ask your family members to try to stay seated, listen for their name to be called, and be ready to step in and out of pictures quickly.
TIP #8: Keep the Paparazzi to a Minimum! It is not uncommon for families of the bride and groom to be snapping photos for themselves throughout the wedding day. However, if there were one time for them to stop taking their own pictures, it is during the family segment. When your photographer is trying to take a nice family shot of you with your new spouse and your parents at the alter, and your aunt or grandmother is standing behind your photographer trying to capture the same shot with their own camera, no one is entirely sure which camera to look at. It takes a large amount of time that we simply do not have to cut and paste faces into family photos so that it appears that everyone in the shot is looking at our camera. When we notice family members trying take photos over our shoulders during this time, we will simply stop photographing and wait until everyone else is done. This can make your family session take a lot longer than it could, so talk with your family members ahead of time and ask them not to take photos over your photographer’s shoulder- have them wait until your photographer is done, or tell them to just leave their cameras behind during the family segment and give them prints of the professional family photos later.
As a side-note, this is an excellent time to comment on a specific scenario that we have been dealing with often- brides and aspiring photographers, pay close attention! When wedding guests and friends of the bride or groom bring their DSLR cameras and shoot over our shoulders, this is not cool! In the early stages of our business, we attended a wedding or two and snapped some candid photos that we used as part of our early wedding portfolio. The difference in our case is that each of those brides specifically asked us to do so. Since becoming much more established in the industry, we have experienced how distracting and frustrating it is to deal with amateur photographers at our weddings, and we now make it a point to simply attend the weddings we have not been asked to photograph, so as not to step on another photographer’s toes. Here are some things to consider on this matter: When a photographer poses a shot, that is his/her artistic property. It is considered plagiarism for one to photograph a shot that another photographer has posed or arranged. It is also distracting for the subjects of the photos to know which camera to look at. Lastly, it simply does not reflect well on the amateur photographer! Brides, if you foresee any of your guests trying to use your wedding as a platform to expand their own photography portfolios, please discourage this ahead of time. Remind your guest that if he/she one day become professional wedding photographers, they will regret not having enjoyed themselves at weddings where they actually had to opportunity to celebrate and relax. Aspiring photographers, if you are in the habit of attending your friends weddings with DSLR in hand, please reconsider for the future. It can make you appear desperate, and hinder your appearance of integrity and professionalism.