Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Plan a Destination Wedding on a Budget

So I wrote a post about 'Why you should have a destination Wedding' & now I think it's time to talk about how to do it. Most times when we think about destination weddings the word, "expensive" comes to mind. But if you really think about all the ways to save & get down to it, it's totally possible to have one & keep your first born son. So tell him to stop hiding, its safe to come out from under the table.

I'll also note that for some, money isn't an issue, which is awesome & again make sure to send me an email & hire me for that fabulous Wedding you're planning. But even still there are your guests to consider. Make sure as you plan the Wedding that it is feasible for important people to attend.

There are so many beautiful locations & options when planning a destination Wedding. Start by making a list & narrowing down some places you've always want to go or maybe somewhere you've been that you loved & want to revisit.  The hardest & one of the most important things after deciding on a place is picking the date. When you have your Wedding can really impact your day. I have lots of Bride's who book in Aug & Sept I swear one of us is going to pass out from heat stroke every Wedding Im just waiting for it. Make sure you pay attention to what the weather like wherever it is you're wanting to go. For example...if it's monsoon season that might put a damper on your Wedding, pun intended. So without further ado get to planning & here's some

Tips for Guests:

1. Consider the time of year you plan your wedding  

Let's call it their 'fiscal calendar'. If you plan a Wedding just before Christmas or back to school shopping you might find a lot of people are unable to attend. Back to school shopping with multiple children can get expensive & Christmas is Christmas so you already know what's going on there. Try to pick a time of the year when people have more time & money to get away. Feb-May are usually the most inexpensive times to travel both because people have less expenses during these times but also because costs of travel are usually more affordable during the Spring.

2. Guests can't get time off or don't have the money

Give guests as much notice as possible so they have plenty of time to plan & make accommodations. I really don't know what would be appropriate here but someday when I have my Wedding in Mexico...I already know how some of my friend's are so I plan on giving everyone about a year & a month notice. That might be overkill but I feel like if they just took their yearly vacation when I tell them...they'll have a whole other year before my wedding, so they will have plenty of vacation time by then!

Tips for You:

1. If you're driving

Photo by Jose Villa
Download any of the hundreds of gas price apps to plan your stops. There's lots that will find the best gas prices & then plan your gas stops for you, which over a long drive can save you tons of money. Also make sure your car is getting the best gas mileage. There's some inexpensive things you can do to get better gas mileage like changing your filters out. Ask the hubster-to-be to get it done for you before you take off. Also whoever doesn't have the lead foot or dreams of Nascar should probably be the one to do most of the driving but that goes without saying right? Lastly, if you know you're going to be driving try to pick a time of year when gas prices aren't the same as gold. Summer would not be ideal for example since gas prices seem to double.

2. If your flying:

There's lots of little things you can do too. One is to start hoarding away frequent flyer or reward points towards your tickets. You can put a lot of your Wedding expenses on the card & then make sure whatever you spend you have the cash to pay it back off immediately! I used to be a credit counselor so I have to throw that in. Don't rack up credit card debt for your Wedding please. A $10,000 Wedding? I can only imagine what interest could end up like on that. But I regress....

So next is to do your homework. We all know about the trip comparison sites but most of us will only check one & then click the links from there & be done. Check out a few though before deciding. used to be one of the best ones for me everytime but lately I've found the best prices through  I don't really understand how that all works but think of ot this way....they are a third party site generating leads for actual ticket sellers like Orbitz & Expedia. Then the actual airline has to get paid too! That's lots of hands grabbing money from that ticket sale. Last time I booked my flight to Vegas for example... I bought my ticket at the counter from the actual airline versus online & my ticket ended up about $100 less than my friend's just from that. This isn't the case with every airline but just try pricing it a few different ways to see what works.

Another huge saver on airline prices is where you take off & land from. Alot of people know this but I don't think realize how much of a difference it can make on the price. Pasco which is my closest airport is often much more expensive than flying out of Seattle or Portland which are 2 1/2 hours away. It's not always feasible to fly OUT of a major airport if you don't have someone to drop you off or somewhere to park your car but landing IS. Changing the airport you land in is much easier.  Mexico for example. I never fly into Manzanillo which doubles my ticket price & cost for a rental car when I get there. I always fly into Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta which are large cities & then consider it my pre-funk. I'll land there & stay a night or rent a car & drive to Barra which is only a couple hours away. If you aren't renting a car bus tickets are super cheap but the ride will be much longer.

3. Be flexible with your dates when flying

Tues & Wed afternoon are usually the best times to shop for plane tickets. Prices are constantly fluctuating every week & day. Tues & Wed afternoon is when airlines typically discount tickets the most, maybe it's because people don't buy tickets as much during this time, I don't really know but I was told this by someone who worked for an airline & it does work. Flying red eye of course is another option we have all heard of  but also consider the day not just the time you fly. Flying mid week can save you lots of money too.  Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday are the best days to fly in & out of most places. Or head to your destination on the plane everyone just headed home in. The airline will want to fill those seats on the plane as it heads back so you can usually get tickets much cheaper. A great example of this is Vegas. Everyone fly's out Fri & comes back Sun.

Lastly on the airline tips is to sign up for email notices. AirfareWatchdog is one you can sign up with to get notices when prices drop & also a lot of the sites that compare prices will ask you if you want email notices when prices change for your destinations, say yes.

4. Book your wedding off season

It doesn't have to be off season for you but maybe it's the venues down time. Mexico is really slow in
Oct & Nov for example but it's a perfect time for your Wedding. It's getting cold most places here during that time & guests will be happy to get out of the states & enjoy some warm weather! If you're thinking of a Mountain Wedding book it at a Ski Resort during the summer. Since the winter season is their money making time they are more flexible in the summer with pricing & packages. Not all resorts stay open in the summer but many of them do for hikers & camping so check a few different places.

5. Get off the tourist trail 

Don't book a resort in Cancun or a cabin in Aspen & expect a deal. Find inspiring places that not many people know about. My best friend is getting married this coming summer on the coast. He found this tiny little town with the cutest church right on the beach. Since it's not a touristy town it was really easy to find good deals on beach houses to rent & negotiate pricing with the vendors. When we go we will literally take over the town I can't wait! How much more fun is that then getting lost in a big city?

Mexico has so many great little spots too, like Barra De Navidad, Jalisco where I grew up. It's a small town on the beach & it's tiny. You can rent a room there for $300 for a month if you wanted to & everything is super negotiable. It's also close to other large cities so you can go into the city for things to do with your guests if you wanted to.

6. Remember to pin & share if you liked the article. Email me about my special destination wedding rates! And comment if you have any tips or advice to add. 

Why You Should Have a Destination Wedding

Well lets start with the most obvious reason & that is that you're going to hire me someday to photograph your wedding & lets face it...we both would rather be on a beach somewhere! If that's not a good enough reason for you, it's ok because there's lot's more.  I'll start by admitting rather shamefully, that I have been engaged for 9 years. Yes. I know. Please don't tell you Catholic grandmother. It's not that I don't love my fiance with all my heart because I do. Id compare it to working at a Bakery & never wanting to see another pastry or being a Photographer like me who takes pictures of everyone else & doesn't have a single family photo's despicable really, I know. So I've been shooting Weddings for a few years now & I guess I just got jaded at some point. I have seen $500 Weddings & I've seen $20,000 Weddings & it's the same thing almost always....there's something they wish they'd done different. Sometimes it's small things like cupcakes instead of a huge cake or the time of year etc sometimes they want to get rid of the's a joke.

But on a serious note, I have seen so many times where people spend $30+ on a plate of food to feed people they invite to their weddings who can't even bother to watch them walk down the aisle or pay attention to the first dance. I have gotten pretty good at angling the camera to hide the fact that most people aren't paying attention in the pictures. You have the bride beaming & in love & the guests are facebooking on their phones or too involved in their cake to pay attention. It's not that they don't care, they came to your wedding & you have some sort of relationship or you wouldn't have invited them but here's what I'm saying...."why not save hundreds of dollars & have a more fun & meaningful wedding?"

A pastor once said to me that he has couples come in for a few meetings leading up to the wedding & he is always noting the same in couples....

Photo by Jose Villa
Meeting 1: (they just decided to get married at this point) couples are swooning, they can't stop staring into each other's eyes..."hey keep your hands away from eachother you in the house of god!"...that sort of thing you know....& then later they meet again & its Meeting 2: (4 months out) they are in love but seem a bit distracted, trying to figure out all the things that they need to still get done, things are a little stressful but we are excited. And then it's the final meeting before the meeting, let's call it Meeting 3: (1 month out)  they aren't sitting by each other, he asks how are things & the bride says "he isn't helping with anything, I feel like I'm doing everything & it's been so stressful trying to get everything finished before the wedding. He says she's crazy, the wedding is getting way more expensive than they'd planned.....yata yata

And the pastor tells me, "I'm not complaining.....Weddings are a beautiful way to celebrate your love but at some point couples get so wrapped up in the 'Wedding' that they forget it's a Wedding. It turns into a money eating machine & they are so worried about the guests & entertaining everyone it's forgotten that it's just really about you loving someone with all your heart & commiting to be with them.

I had to agree with him. And a part of that scares me away from planning my own wedding. I often joke with bride's when we are sitting down to talk that the main reason I haven't gotten married is I'm afraid it'll end up like the end of Carrie where I'm blocking the exit & commanding them to stay & dance. Im afraid Ill spend all this money in search of some perfect wedding & end up disappointed.

So that's why I say get away. Go somewhere far far away lol. If your friends & family can't afford to go far then don't. Have a mountain wedding & camp or rent out a few large cabins to split between everyone. Theres lots of great sites where you can rent large houses for the week or weekend & then split the cost. Try AirBnb for starters. For my Wedding I want to go to Mexico. I grew up there & there's the most beautiful hotel I always snuck into to swim & that's where it has to be I just feel it : ) Unfortunately it's like $200 a person to have a wedding there with music, cocktails & dinner.

So in noting how ridiculously expensive a Wedding can be, let's think about the biggest money saver of it're basically having your Wedding & Honeymoon in one. Instead of spending $10,000 on a Wedding & then another $3000 to go on vacation you will already be somewhere amazing so you are basically cutting your expenses in half.

If the thought of being surrounded by people the whole time scares you try this. Plan the wedding so that guests are gone the last few days of your trip so you both have time alone. Also consider if there's anywhere close by you can escape too when you pick a destination for your Wedding.  In Mexico where I want to get married there's tons of beaches & cities close by we can always take off too & they are all under a two hour drive.

The second huge money saver will be on decor & venue. Local venues are often not the nicest unless you can afford to book the really nice places in your area. You'll usually pay a pretty penny just to book somewhere that's mediocre. By the time you get done spending money on decor to make it look nice, you have spent a few thousands dollars between the venue & decor. Why not go somewhere thats already beautiful & doesn't require tons of decor to make it look better?  Tropical places, the coast, the mountains...they are already stunning the way god made them so you won't have to do much to make it perfect.

The last reason doesn't involve money, it's about the experience. Bride's spend the whole day on a schedule. A tight one. Sometimes there's not time to hug & say hi to people. The dance is where they can finally start to relax & have a fun time, so it's really the most important part for guests to attend. Unfortunately, I've seen so many Wedding's where guests start leaving almost right after dinner. Maybe they have kids they have to get home to or work to do, who knows. But it sucks because I see Bride's get so disappointed. If you go somewhere for your Wedding then the people that attend are there & are all yours. They have taken the time off from work & life & their mind is in a place to have fun & be there to celebrate with you. So now that you're convinced & you sent me an email to book me for your Wedding Photography go ahead & check out this next post for Planning a Destination Wedding on a Budget.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Natural Light Maternity Shoot | Jessica

These days Photographers are making there way back to film shooting & natural light & its easy to see why. I have been learning lighting for a few years now & while I love using my lights to create some really beautiful depth in my images, natural light just can't be beat at times. When you want something soft & timeless you have to shoot natural light or be good enough with your  lighting you never know it was there. 

This first image almost reminds me of something I could have shot had I been alive in the 70's. Edgy & sensual & celebrating a woman's beauty in motherhood. She had a few other images she brought along of things she wanted to try too, so we did some pinup style ones as well. Its not something Id typically shoot but it was fun to push the boundaries & explore the possibilities. I think the few we got turned out awesome. 

The last images we shot, Jessicas son came along. This kid. He put up with a three hour long shoot & then didn't even need much direction when it came to posing. He was such a ham & would do so good in modeling. Some of those images are my favorites. It was so sweet seeing him snuggle with mom & be excited about his sister that's on the way. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why Your Colors Change When Editing In Photoshop from Lightroom

It all began once upon a time in a far-away office. There was a tired photographer trying to get through piles of photo editing when the Lightroom gods decided to throw a big branch in the only road out of town, her is her story........

It began as any normal day. She sat down & was editing in Lightroom. Lightroom, the friendly sidekick to anyone wanting a quicker edit. It does almost anything you ask it to. But unfortunately it isn't perfect. Should you need to perfect something with a brush or do a little shaping here & there it cannot. That's when you must ask Photoshop, its mentor & big brother. So you right click the image after editing in Lightroom to take it to Photoshop's house & you get to Photoshop & you edit. When you get back to Lightroom you notice your picture looks sad. The colors look darkened & flat, with large color shifts. What happened? Here's the original photo:

The image below is the way it was sending the image back to Lightroom after editing in Photoshop. You can see it's yellow & icky. It didn't make it back from the journey unharmed.  

So I did what any human being with fingers & an internet connection would do when they have an unanswered question & I went to google's mega mansion up on the hill to get some damn answers. Many people suggested the color profiles didn't match up between the two places so I changed the color profile settings in both programs to RGB & still had the same problem. Being there is always 1000 answers & factors to consider for one question, I put together this checklist for you in case you are having the same problem as I did. What fixed it for me was switching to ProPhoto & 16 bit in both but there are several things that could be causing this so in case yours is that or something here's what to do:

1.  When your in Lightroom & right click the image, select edit in & then edit in Photoshop. It will pop up a window asking either two ways & the way to answer is either "Render using Lightroom" or 'Edit a copy with Lightroom Adjustments". If this option window doesn't show up you have previoously clicked "do not show again" sometime in the past & here's how to get it back....The Lightroom Queen "Resetting Your Preferences"

2.  Make sure the your color profiles are set up as Prophoto & 16 bit in both Lightroom & Photoshop. To do this go into Preferences in Lightroom (on a mac click Lightroom at the top of your screen & you'll see preferences & on a PC I believe you click File). In the preferences window  in Lightroom click where it says External Editing & make sure color space is ProPhoto & bit depth is 16 bits. In Photoshop you go to Edit & then click Color settings. 

3.  Note that if you use Lightrooms radial gradients or brushes to lighten areas of the picture before editing in Photoshop that when you bring it back the brush or radial edits will have to be re-applied. It doesn't save this part of your edit for some reason. If you know how to change this let me know maybe Im missing something.

4.  Make sure you have the latest camera raw plugin. Click this link to go to adobes site. Scroll down & click Proceed to download.

Hopefully this helps you guys! I know how frustrating some of the weird idiosyncrasies with these programs can be (like if you accidentally hit the caps lock button on your keyboard while in Photoshop the brush outline will disappear!) & how long I will spend sometimes trying to figure it out so hopefully this will save you a some time. 
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