Bride-to-Be Blogger Danielle: Lifelong Investments (Our Pictures!)

Ironically, most brides — myself included — spend the majority of our time planning the wedding details that don’t last after the day is done. Food is eaten, flowers wilt and die, your dress is worn only once, and the music stops when the party ends. When I’m feeling pragmatic, I like to say that at your wedding you only make three long-term investments: your spouse, your rings and your photographs. All the other details — while important at that time — are fleeting, but these three things will (hopefully) remain with you for the rest of your life. And, they are the only items that will maintain or gain value over time.

Some couples really love their wedding videos, and they would throw videos into this same category. I, however, work in public relations and have been scarred by way too many on-camera experiences. (Most notably, the time a client made me run a child-sized obstacle course on live TV after only three hours of sleep the night before. Picture bags under my eyes and my adult-sized rear end getting stuck halfway down the little slide at the end of the course.) I know there is no way I could ever relax with a video camera hanging around during my vows or first dance. Thankfully, my dear fiancé agreed with me and we decided to forego the videographer.

Without video, photography became a very high priority for us. Since we’re spending so much time planning the details of the wedding (those delightful, beautiful fleeting details!), we really want to be certain that they’re captured in photos to be remembered for the rest of our lives. We started the search for our wedding photographer pretty early, fearful that our high standards coupled with our significantly lower budget would make it difficult to find someone who fell into that “sweet spot” of affordable and awesome. Every time I saw some photos I liked, I’d share the link with Tim, and vice versa. Sadly, some of the photographers we liked were out of our price range — we just don’t have $7,500 to spend on our photos — and honestly, most of those in our budget made me cringe.

But then we got lucky. Back when I was just starting to plan, a friend contacted me asking about my wedding. She had been in a friend’s wedding at the Delaware shore last fall, and offered to introduce me to the bride so I could ask her questions about venues. As luck would have it, the friend was married at one of the places I was considering, and was unbelievably helpful to Tim and me in our venue quest. But to make the introduction even sweeter, she was a photographer who had just launched her own business, Jenna Walcott Photography.

I poked around on her Flickr page and newly-launched website, and I could not stop looking at her photos: There were no cheesy posed shots. The angles were all flattering. The colors, lighting and details were amazing. Her engagement photos, taken all over Philadelphia and its suburbs, juxtaposed couples against all sorts of interesting and often familiar backgrounds. I IMed Tim in a flurry that I loved, loved, loved her work. He agreed.

In addition to being kind, helpful, and venue-savvy, it turns out Jenna is incredibly talented. She originally apprenticed with a National Geographic photographer, so her approach is documentary in style. And, having been a bride herself, she is sensitive about capturing the sweet, soft moments that her couples shared with each other and their family members before, during and after the ceremony.

Tim was as excited as I was, so we started talking business with Jenna. She was shockingly affordable for being so amazing, and her pricing packages are straightforward. They include rights to all photos, retouched and on disk. She helps with album layout. She will break up the hours in her packages for rehearsal dinner or extras like “trash the dress” sessions. She includes a 90-minute engagement session. Tim and I were in love … with a photographer. So with that, we hired her right away, considering it a very worthy long-term investment.

With that huge decision behind us, I suppose we have to start working on all those fleeting details that we want Jenna to capture perfectly for us to view for the rest of our lives.

Which wedding details are you making a priority?  Did you opt to use a videographer?  What considerations helped you choose your photographer?

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