Cristy + Julian Crestmore Manor Wedding

There is nothing more exciting than photographing a wedding of family and close friends. Making sure to give them 200% on the day of the wedding and making sure that they get the best photos which they will cherish for many, many years! Also, having the possibility to truly convey to me what it is they want, what they're looking for, and how I can best serve them without holding back because they know - I've got them covered.  

I am so honored at the opportunity to share this wedding with you all.  It was filled with fun, laughter, love, and many sweet details all throughout.

Cristy + Julian:  Thank you so much for confiding and honoring me with your big day! I am so happy that everything worked out great and I was able to both share and capture special moments all through out the day.  Love you guys and I wish you all the happiness in the world!!!

Location: Crestmore Manor, Riverside, CA   //  Day of Coordinator: Events by Ari  (super recommend her!) //  Florals & Decor: DIY by the bride and her awesome team of bridesmaids, family, and friends  //  MUA: Make up by Row (@oh_dollface on insta)  // DJ: Heart Sound Ent. // Amazing Second Photographer: Mayra Ariza

Jessica + Joel Chihuahua Destination Wedding

Seriously, this couple is the sweetest.  So in love with each other and very devoted to one another!  It was sweet to watch them on their special day.  Especially when it started pouring rain and we had to change venues, Jessica kept her cool and we were able to make some very beautiful and unique images at the new location.  

I'm so excited to share these with you guys! I loved seeing this family and group of friends again! 

Jessica + Joel:  Thank you so much for having me on your special day! It was great to see the profound love you two have for each other and I wish you nothing but happiness!!!

Ideal Wedding Day Photography Time Line

Hey brides!  After choosing your photographer, you will most likely work alongside them to create the best timeline for photos on your big day.  This is really important because it will help the photographer to get an idea of where to be, what time the major events are happening through out the day, and carve out the best time for the portraits of you and your love!  It also helps us photographers with knowing where the light will be and how we have to adjust in case we need to take photos in bright noon sunlight or during sunset at the beach.  

I'm going to outline some of the more important photography moments that should be worked into your timeline.  However, take note that it all depends on how long you contracted your photographer for, where you are getting married, and other factors. 

Getting Ready 

Ah, the getting ready shots!  These are my favorite to start the day with.  If they can be worked in, I highly recommend it!  If you're pressed for time, shave off an hour of the reception coverage for these, trust me, you will not regret it!  It's a quiet time when you and your girls or perhaps just you are getting ready and can really soak in the day.  At this time, I usually take advantage of photographing the dress, shoes, jewelry,  and any other important detail the bride has chosen for her day.

I also love to get candid shots of the bride with her family and friends and allow things to flow and just happen.  Sometimes we get the best emotional photos out of these moments.  

This time also allows me to get photos of just the bride alone right after she's done getting ready.  It's such a special time to just breath and take a look in the mirror  and get excited! I love being with brides during this time.

Oh, sometimes we get shots of the grooms getting ready too ;)

Bride & Groom Portraits / First Look

I love to do have the bride and groom do a first look after the Getting Ready shots.  It makes for a more impactful surprise and during this time there are guests around which makes it truly special for the couple.  They are alone, together, for the first time the entire day.  After the portraits, the couple is surrounded by people the rest of the day.  So, I love it when we carve out enough time to take the portraits.  If your timeline allows you to do this before your ceremony, I recommend it! You'll also look fresh and excited.  

However, sometimes the bride and groom opt to see each other after the wedding ceremony, which is totally ok too! Just make sure you have enough time and a location away from your guests and bridal party so that you can have that time alone!

bridegroomportrait

Ceremony

This one is obvious! You must and should have at least 15 - 20 minutes buffer before your ceremony to relax, touch up make up, and allow your photographer to get the ceremony location with out anyone in it.  

All of the decor has to be photographed because it was chosen by you! And that makes it extra special.

Bridal Party / Family Formals

These are great to get done right after the ceremony when everyone is present and no one has disappeared to the cocktail hour yet. Also, I like to do these at the same time or one right before the other.  The reason being is because most of the time, the bridal party is made up of family! So rather than have two separate times, we do it all together.  You might not like the idea of having family wait for formals or vice versa, but it takes all about 30 minutes to get these out of the way.  

These are also when I take a more formal approach to the photos and allow different combinations to occur.  It all depends on how big or small your bridal party and families are!  

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Sunset Photos / Cocktail Hour

These can be done at the same time or scheduled so that you can enjoy the cocktail hour and then slip away for a bit for beautiful sunset photos.  These photos really offer beautiful golden light during one of the most sought after times for photography! 

If your photographer has an assistant photographer, they usually will have them taking candid photos of the cocktail hour and your guests.  This way you don't miss out on capturing some great moments of your guests :).

Party / Reception

This part of the day is usually more relaxed for us photographers.  I like to make sure I get to the reception venue a little early to get all the details of the decor, just like the ceremony.  Depending on how many hours you have your photographer for, make sure they get your grand entrance, if nothing else.  

I don't really have a set a timeline as most of the major events are announced by the DJ.  I do try and work with the DJ so that we're on the same page and he knows who I am and we'll check in with each other during the reception so we're both ready and don't miss anything important.  

The main events during the reception include: Grand Entrance, First Dance, Mother / Son and Father / Daughter dances, cake cutting, toasts, garter and bouquet toss, and lots of dancing!

Grand Exit

If you have a Grand Exit in mind make sure you speak to your photographer about the time and if you have anything special planned!  We'll need to be set up and ready to go before you actually exit and make sure we're in a good position so that people don't crowd us or we don't miss where you're going to be walking through.  And if there are sparklers, we love sparklers, we'll need to set up for that too! 

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How to hire the right wedding photographer

Hiring a wedding photographer doesn't have to be stressful, as long as you make sure to do it with enough time.  From varying styles to dates available all of this is important when you begin your search.  This post is here to help you take all the guess work out of the process and really get the photographer and photographs that you are going to love for years and years!

1.  What is your personal style?

The first step before you even start searching for a photographer is to look at your own style.  Are you draw to fashion and like the glitz and glamour? Striking colors and lots of contrast? Or are you more of an ethereal, I like soft tones and brightness?  It could be that you like a particular decade like pin-up or vintage styled clothing.  What your style is, that is what you'll be drawn to in your photographs.  

I've often heard of clashing styles because the bride hired a photographer whose style is completely the opposite.  So make sure you check with your personal style first before looking for a photographer, it'll make you happy later when you see the photos!

2.  Tools to narrow down search - avoid Google!

Google is so vast and never ending that a quick search can quickly overwhelm and might even stress you out.  Unless it's something really specific like "Wedding photographer in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" I don't suggest using Google at all.

Instead use tools like The Knot or Wedding Wire and if you're in Mexico, Bodas.  These resources have a list of vendors that have been reviewed and can attest that you'll find someone that will be perfect for your wedding day.  You can view their portfolios, check out their websites, and contact them directly.  You might have to create an account, but it's something that can be deleted later.

3.  Photographer's Style

Every photographer has a style.  Especially if they've been photographing for a long time.  Some photographers have more than one lead photographer and can provide you with options in style.  

It is very important to note that a photographer's style is like their signature, and it's very difficult for a photographer to change styles for a particular event.  For example, I shoot primarily classic, romantic, and traditional photos, I won't do vintage style photographs.  It's hard for me to change my style since I've worked for 10 years photographing a certain way.  Same goes for other photographers.

Sometimes you'll have photographers that can do classic, traditional with a mixture of photojournalism (like me) or perhaps more fashion style with lights and mix in a little romance.  Make sure you look through their website/portfolio and you can even ask to see a full event gallery (I always send links to full events!) so you can see from start to finish the real work that is handed over to brides and grooms.  

Just to add, Pinterest is a fascinating tool to help organize and plan your wedding, however, don't go to a photographer asking them to shoot exactly like the ones you pin, unless you're hiring the photographer who made the photo.  This cramps our style and makes it difficult for you to be happy with the photos later on.  

4.  What to consider when meeting with the photographer.

There are various lists of what you should ask your photographer, and I'm here to tell you to stay away from them.  Ask what you really want to know and not what you think you should know.  

For example, don't ask about equipment if you know nothing about photography equipment.  Instead, ask if the photos will be able to be printed x size and if there are albums available.  Don't ask for the copyright if you don't know about copyright laws.  Instead, ask about receiving the images and how the photographer goes about it.  

The list goes on and on but you get the idea.  Ask what you REALLY want to know and what you really want from the photographer.  Write the questions down before hand and if any come up during the meeting, then ask away.

During the meeting, make sure you feel out the photographer's personality.  This person will be helping you and guiding you from the book date until well after the wedding.  You want to know that you can get along with this person and have great communication with them.  You might even become friends after! Happens all the time :).

5.  How soon should we hire our photographer?

The whirlwind of getting engaged is such a special time so you should definitely enjoy it! Take at least a couple of weeks to enjoy the flutter of being engaged before you start the planning process.  I know that this helped me and my husband and allowed us to just soak it all in before making any decisions on style, theme, colors, etc.

That being said, hiring your photographer along with booking your venue and church, should be one of the first things to get crossed off your list!  Why? Because wedding dates book fast and some photographers allow for up to one year in advanced to reserve the dates.  

I recommend that you book your photographer 9 months to a year in advanced to avoid issues with booked dates.  If the person you really, really wanted has your date booked, consider moving it.  Your photos are the only thing that you will have after your wedding, don't skimp on the chance to have the ones you're going love!

6. Other important things to consider:

  • Contracts: Ask to see a copy of the contract and make sure you read it fully.
  • Payment schedule and if the photographer offers payment plans (I do and my clients find it a huge stress reducer)
  • Additional fees: Like travel fees, extra coverage, hourly fees, session fees, etc.
  • Ask to see products like albums, prints, and their price lists so you can get an idea.
  • Ask yourself: Are you dealing with a professional or a hobbyist? This has nothing to do with equipment, it's all about experience!

Am I missing anything? I hope you find these helpful as you start your search for the right photographer! If you need any additional advice, comment below and ask me! I'd love to help you in any way possible so you have the best photographs of your wedding day.  

Jessica + Jordan Puerto Vallarta Mexican Destination Wedding

Wow, where to begin with this beautiful wedding? Jessica and Jordan were referred to me by Wendy, the coordinator at Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta.  We emailed a few times and Jessica was just on it, booked right away.  We meant to "meet" via Facetime or Skype but could never get to it.  Needless to say, with the emails and constant contact, I felt like we knew each other from the start! Both Jessica and Jordan are the sweetest couple!! Very nice and wear their hearts on their sleeves.  I couldn't have had a more endearing couple full of love and family and just sheer happiness.  

Their entire wedding consisted of less than 50 people and each person was the nicest and most beautiful soul.  I don't think Jessica and Jordan could have had a more special wedding than the one they lived that day in beautiful Puerto Vallarta. 

Jessica + Jordan: I humbly thank you for trusting me with your photographs on such a special day! Each and every member of your family, as well as you, made me feel like I was also a part of it.  Each moment was special and I am thankful you allowed me to live the day along side you!! Here is a sneak preview and the rest are on their way soon!! Love you guys very much!!!

If you'd like to contact Wendy at Sunset Plaza Resort in Puerto Vallarta for your destination wedding, please email her at weddings@sunsetplaza.com.mx and she will make sure your day is amazing!! 

 

Why every bride should consider having a Day After Session | Tips for Brides

It's more often than not, that I have brides who ask if I photograph trash the dress sessions.  I usually try and answer this by offering them a Day After session instead.  I believe every bride, especially brides who decide to have a destination wedding, should considering having a session like this.  So, I'm going to explain why and what the differences are between the two types of sessions.  

What is a Day After session?

A day after session is one of my favorites! They were known as Bridal Portraits and it is a session where you put on your wedding attire, choose a beautiful and breath taking location, and take your time creating some really beautiful photography of you and your hubby.  Usually, I like to do this one or two days after a wedding and choose a lighter, relaxed look - which is especially nice for destination weddings! That way you don't have to really worry about the portraits on the day of the wedding and can enjoy the party.  

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

Sometimes, it just so happens that the time line of the wedding day doesn't fit into the perfect time for portraits.  Like the wedding of Cristy + Eduardo, who's wedding took place in the early afternoon, which was bright and sunny.  Not to mention during that hot and humid weather in Cancun.  The ideal time was 6:30am, when the sun rises behind the beautiful waters.  Which is what we decided to do a couple days following the wedding.  

Why do I love Day After sessions?

I love Day After Sessions because of the more relaxed look of the bride and groom.  We can take our time creating something really unique and all of the emotions from being recently married are still present.  We have giggles, flirtation, deep kisses, and emotional hugs.  We have your beautiful dress and his suit to tie in the session with your wedding.  We can create wall print worthy photographs and so that you can relive all of the emotions of your wedding!   It's a session where you can even go for a different look than on your wedding day - maybe going for hair down and more dramatic makeup.   

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

What is Trash the Dress?

Trash the dress is a session where you put on your wedding dress back on and either alone or with your husband, go out and essentially "trash" your wardrobe.  This could mean rolling around in the water at the beach or a lake, I've even seen people do this in rivers, or throw paint at each other, or perhaps just go out to a field and get dirty in the mud.  

 feel like Trash the Dress sessions are really forced and not all that natural.  Plus, since most of my clients are destination weddings, lugging a wet or dirty dress on the airplane is just a pain in the butt.  

Really, it comes down to having some really beautiful, unique, authentic and real photographs of the two of you and not something forced into a theme or weird shot of you floating in the water (like a dead fish).  I know, I know, there are some really rad photographs taken under water and there are some photographers who really nail it.  For me, it's a matter of preferring the natural and beauty in wedding photos rather than "trashing" them.


What do you think? Would you rather have a Day After Session or a trash the dress?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Why you should have a destination wedding | Mexico Destination Wedding Photographer

According to Wedding Wire: 

Approximately 14% of U.S. couples have a destination wedding - of those, 11% have a wedding at a destination within the U.S. and 3% travel internationally..."

I believe that the reason Destination Weddings account for such a small percentage is because of the lack of information couples receive about having their wedding outside of their home country.  

Personally, I had a destination wedding and couldn't have been happier with the outcome as I whole heartedly remember my day to have been one of the most beautiful and meaningful days of my life. 

So, the question is: Should you have a destination wedding?  Below I outline 5 reasons as to why you should have a wedding at a beautiful destination outside of your home town.  

1.  COST EFFECTIVE 

Not sure if many of you know this, but a large number of all-inclusive resorts gift the couple the basic wedding collection if they reach a certain number of rooms booked.  So in other words, if you are going to have 50 guests book around 30 rooms, you can get your wedding for little or no cost to you! How awesome is that?! 

In addition to the great collections that most resorts offer, you will also be able to take advantage of hiring local vendors that for example, here in Mexico, have more affordable collections as the exchange rate is usually better for those who spend in U.S. dollars.  

2.  VACATION FOR ALL

A destination wedding is the perfect excuse for people to get away from their day to day.  They will be traveling to attend your beautiful beach front wedding as well as enjoy all the resort and location has to offer.  Here in the Riviera Nayarit, there are all-inclusive resorts that offer tours to nearby attractions, surfing, and the sunsets are just breathtaking.  Not only will they enjoy your wedding, but they can also enjoy as a family, couple, or individual, a nice beach vacation.

3.  FULL SERVICE COORDINATION

Many resorts are equipped with a wedding coordination team that makes sure your day goes smoothly and according to plan!  They will also help you choose local vendors, help with getting all of the details set, and all from the confort of email and telephone.  You get to make all the decisions without having the hassle of going from place to place.

On your wedding day, the wedding coordinator and team are on site and ready to handle every important detail of your day.  This makes for a less stressful day and a more enjoyable wedding! 

4.  EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE

The biggest advantage of having a destination wedding is that you will be able to enjoy your wedding all at one place.  Your ceremony will be beachfront with the sun setting behind you as you say "I do." Your reception will be accompanied by the fresh ocean breeze as you dance the night away with your guests!  

Having all of the major events in one location and not having to deal with moving guests around, makes your event run smoothly and effortlessly.  And if that isn't enough, your on site coordinator will always be close by to help.

5.  WHAT IF MY GUESTS WON'T BE ABLE TO GO?

It is a common misconception that if you have a destination wedding, people will not travel to your wedding.  However, most guests love the idea of having a vacation and enjoy the sites and sounds of a new place where they can relax and rejuvenate.  

I once photographed a wedding that had 150 guests travel more than 1000 miles to attend the wedding.  Another had 100 guests.  When you invite your guests to attend your one-of-a-kind destination wedding, they will most certainly make arrangements and be excited to get away.  Just make sure that you give your guests all of the information with enough time ahead.


Here are two resorts that I have loved working with.  There are so many more that offer destination weddings, especially here in Puerto Vallarta.

Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
weddings@plazapelicanos.com.mx

Moon Palace Resort
Cancun, Mexico
weddings@palaceresorts.com


Having a destination wedding is all together less stressful, more enjoyable, and definitely a one-of-a-kind event!  I hope these tips were helpful and I would love to hear any additional tips you might have in the comments below!  

Would you have a destination wedding?

Day After Mayan Riviera | Session Cristy + Eduardo

*español abajo*

I absolutely love Day After Sessions.  They are perfect for destination weddings as it is most likely that we have little or no time to capture the bride and groom alone.  When you have family and friends coming from near and far to attend your wedding, all the time spent with them is precious.  Which is why sometimes, we don't get a whole lot of time for the bride and groom.  

Therefore, we do the session a day or two after the wedding! The couple is relaxed, so in love, and alone.  We take advantage of the beautiful location and choose the best time for the portraits, without feeling rushed.

Cristy and Eduardo wanted the best possible light for their day after session - which meant waking up at 6am! In Cancun, the sun rises behind the ocean, which is so breathtaking, but also really early.  And so.damn.worth.it!!! 

Cristy + Eduardo: Gracias, gracias, gracias por confiar en nosotros como amigos y como fotógrafos para capturar tu día tan especial! Les deseamos lo mejor del mundo y que siempre sean felices como en su maravillosa boda! Fuertes abrazos y los dos!

Las sesiones que se llaman Día Después, ¡son unas de mis sesiones favoritas!  ¿Que es una sesión del Día Después? Son sesiones que se programan uno o dos días después del evento para que los novios, ya mas relajados y aun con toda la emoción de la boda se toman las fotos formales.  Es perfecto para bodas en playa porque muchas veces, tanto como los novios y los invitados, quieren pasar tiempo juntos ya que viajaron lejos para el evento.  Así que es mejor realizar las fotos formales en otro día donde los novios pueden disfrutar y estar mas relajados, mas enamorados,  sin preocupación de tiempo o iluminación y tomar toda ventaja de la locación de la boda - ¡el mar!  

Cristy y Eduardo querían aprovechar de la mejor luz del día, que son a las 6am de la mañana, la hora en que sale el sol detrás del mar. ¡Una vista sumamente maravillosa!  Y como pueden ver, ¡¡¡valió toda la pena!!!

 

Abril + Daniel | Mexico Destination Wedding

Ever since the very first meeting with Abril, I wanted to photograph her wedding.  Her sweet soul poured into the details of her dream wedding and I just wanted to be a part of it.  During the next 8 months, we would talk, plan out the details, and get excited!  When we photographed their engagement session, it was such a dream to see how Abril's soul would touch Daniel's.  They are a match made perfect.

The day began with lots of emotions and a great team that created the most perfect day for Abril and Daniel.  Each detail was a part of their love story, a part of their soul.  I can't believe it came and went so quickly!  Luckily, we have amazing photos to relive such a beautiful and love filled day!

This is just a sneak preview, there are so many more great moments that I can't wait to share with Abril and Daniel!

A+D:  Thank you so much for having me be a part of your beautiful and wonderful day!  There is nothing more beautiful than to see two people so in love with each other.  I wish you many happy days and for your love to continue growing! 

Quality Photography is an Investment | Tips for Brides

Many brides don't know how much a quality photographer actually costs until they begin the planning process.  They also don't know that wedding photography is an investment.  As far as pricing goes, most quality photographers range between $3000 - $7000.  Of course there are photographers who are worth investing much more and there are those who will offer for less.  

Pricing is not the be all end all when it comes to quality photography.  As an investment, there are many other factors to consider when looking for your wedding photographer like experience, style, passion, client base, What they are like? Do you get along with them? 

Here I have outlined a few reasons as to why hiring that really great photographer you loved, but is just a tad bit over your budget, is totally worth investing in. 


1. NO DO OVERS

Your wedding is one day.  One.  You don't get do-overs.  You won't have a chance to hire another photographer because the one you spent little on didn't know what they were doing or didn't know how to anticipate moments. Your day will be over in the blink of an eye and soon it'll be two days as husband and wife.  A quality photographer will make sure that they've made quality photos so that you can relive your day again and again.  

2.  LONG TERM INVESTMENT 

Ever cringe at that photo that your cousin posted when you were two naked in the sink? Photos last forever.  They last years, decades, and even after we're gone, they are the only memory of our legacy.  Your wedding is the first event of your legacy.  Invest in quality photography so that you don't have to cringe or hide the photographs later but rather be in awe of them and remember those one of kind moments.  

Don't you want your children to see and feel what your wedding day was like? How the love just pours from the album of your beautiful day?  I know I do.

3.  QUALITY 

Investing in a qualified professional wedding photographer who takes quality photographs will ensure that you get only the best out there.  You won't have to worry about enlarging a photo and having it be pixelated.  You know that the photos in your album will be of the highest quality. 

It is more than just a "good camera." A quality photographer will make sure that your day is stress free, will help with the schedule of events, will go above and beyond for you on your day.  Why? Because they love their jobs.  Because they have experience.  Because they know how to anticipate moments.  Experienced photographers know their equipment and know how to make your day as beautiful as you remember it.  

Not having to worry about your photos and knowing that your investment in a qualified and quality photographer is going to take the best photos ever is worth more than gold.  You as the bride already have enough to worry about. 

4.  INVESTMENT PROTECTION

When you invest in something, you want to know that it's going to be protected.  A quality photographer will do just that.  They will have your event backed up, they will know how to care for your images and even give you options for creating one of kind products so that you can relive your day over and over again.  You can safely say that your investment in quality photography is protected.  Can you say that about any other purchase for your wedding?

Ensuring that your photographs are safe and will be of the best quality can only come from a quality photographer.  Get the 5 Star Photographer and get 5 Star treatment.  

5. TRUST IN YOUR INVESTMENT

Not all photographers are created equal.  It is nice to see that more and more people are becoming passionate with photography and allowing their creativity to flow.  That being said, it is important to find a quality photographer who will take your ONE DAY and treat it as if it were their own day.  Not all photographers are passionate about their work.  Not all photographers have the same level of experience, style, or even pricing.  We are all different and it is important to trust in your investment.   Not all photographers will know how to work a wedding and vibe with you and your family.  

Make sure that when you do invest in a quality photographer that you trust said photographer with your legacy.  Like I mentioned before, there are no do-overs.  Take the time to seek a great photographer who will make sure that your day is remembered forever just the way you want. 


What are you thoughts? Do you think photography is an investment?  

Let me know what you think about this post in the comments below! I'd love to hear your thoughts!