Posts Tagged 'wedding tips'

February 09, 2013
Many of our brides and wedding vendor friends have shared wedding planning ideas with us over the years. It’s always fun for us to compare notes with them so we can pass along what we have learned to you! Here are some of the proven wedding planning secrets we agree with the most in 11 years of professional wedding photography in Pittsburgh.
1. Consider Hiring A Planner. You may think that planners are expensive. But quite often they will save you more than they will bill you. They are the ultimate wedding insiders. They leverage their connections and experience to get you deals you cannot get for yourself. If you have any doubt about planning your wedding on your own, at least go and meet with one of the top local planners like Trends to Traditions. You may be very glad you did.
2. Bridal Magazines Are Dangerous. When you read the advice in bridal magazines, keep in mind who the magazine is being published for. It’s not being published as a service to you, the bride. It’s a service to the advertisers. So everything they write is slanted to favor their specific advertisers and the wedding industry in general. That is who makes a profit for the magazine–not the people who buy it. So unfortunately, you have to read those magazines with caution. Take all that bridal magazine advice with a grain of salt. It may be good advice. Or it may be designed solely not to offend any of their advertisers.
3. Budget Twice What You Had Planned For Your Photography. We are photographers, so of course we would say that! But here it is from an impartial source (The book BRIDAL BARGAINS by Denise and Alan Fields): “Photography is typically high on everyone’s priority list and it is no wonder–the pictures are all you have left after the wedding. Trying to save money here is temping but we must say resist the urge.” That advice is from a 300 page book on how to save money on your wedding! Take it from the experts, saving money on wedding photography is risky. In wedding photography, you do indeed get what you pay for. Equally important, and here is where the RISK comes in, you don’t get what you don’t pay for.
4. Plan in Phases. Some wedding services are one-of-a-kind. As soon as you get engaged and settle on an approximate date for getting hitched, book the one-of-a-kind services immediately. This includes your church or ceremony venue, your reception venue, your photographer and possibly your band or DJ. These wedding vendors can only do one wedding on your date. If you want them to do YOUR wedding instead of someone else’s, call them first thing! What about the rest–florist, cake, limo, dress, video, tuxedo, etc.? They can all wait. All those vendors will do a minimum of 5-10 weddings on your date. The chances that you can still get the one you want on your wedding day are excellent no matter when you call them.
5. Spread Out The Planning. Most people in this area get engaged a year or more before they get married. Make sure something gets done every month after you have set a date. Book the one-of-a-kind services immediately and then relax a bit. The next month you can launch into invitations, engagement photography and save-the-date cards. Then take a break. Each month after that, pick one thing you WANT to do and one that you think will be less fun–and make sure to do them both. By the time your wedding is 4 months away, nothing but details will remain to be settled and you will feel completely in control. Perfect! (this “secret” is straight from one of the brides whose wedding we photographed!).
bridal party standing in front of a sunset
February 05, 2013
One more batch of bold savings tips from previous Ovation Images brides and grooms…
7. Accessorize Carefully. All those accessories add up. Your bridal shop will parade a whole lineup of “necessary” accessories in front of you after you have selected your gown. And maybe some of them are necessary. But that shop is unlikely to have the best prices on them. Shop around.
8. Skip The Favors. The guests who take them home often throw them in a drawer and they are never seen again until the yard sale. Look around at the end of any weddings you attend as a guest and notice the number of favors left sitting on the empty tables.  Unless your favors are incredibly useful or delicious, it’s a good bet you can skip them as an overpriced table decoration.
9. Consign Your Dress. Many of you reading this will HATE this one…. As soon as possible after your wedding, take your dress to a consignment shop and pocket the cash from the sale. GASP! NO! My daughter will wear that dress! As one of our brides succinctly put it “Get real–no she won’t!” What are the chances that it will fit her? Or still be anything close to in-style? Or that it will still be in good enough condition to be worn 27 years from now?  If you want to save your dress and preserve the memory of how you felt wearing it that day, tell your photographer that you want to allocate extra time to get lots of pictures that feature you in your dress! Or better yet — schedule a pre-wedding or post-wedding “Bridal Session” with your photographer to capture you in all of your finery–hair and make-up–the works. Your photographer will use that session to create timeless images that your daughter and your daughter’s daughter will definitely want to hang on their walls.  That is the very best way to “save your dress” for her!
This concludes the Ovation Images blog post series on Saving Wedding Dollars. We hope you have found these suggestions from our past couples helpful!
bride standing in front of a large stained glass window
February 04, 2013
More savings tips from Ovation Images brides and grooms…
4. DJ or Band Tip: If you book through an agency or service, they will have a rate schedule and they will stick to it. Instead, locate your desired DJ or band on the web and contact them directly. If they have your date open, ask for a discount. The DJ or band leader is often empowered to give discounts that the booking agency cannot or will not give.
5. Limo Tip: (Sit Down Before Reading This One!!) Call a funeral home! Funeral homes have limos sitting around unused on many Saturdays and they hire them out at rates that a limo service cannot match. It may take some nerve to call. But it could save you hundreds of dollars on your limo.
6. Wedding Bands: This should be obvious. Don’t let a jeweler sell you on 24 karat gold or premium platinum. Get 14K gold wedding bands or go for one of the new gorgeous modern metals available like tungsten or cobalt, they hold their shine virtually forever and save you money.
Coming in Part 3: The Savings Is In The Details
bridal party toasting in limo
February 02, 2013

In 11+ years, Ovation Images has photographed over 400 weddings. We are lucky enough to get to know our couples quite well through our meetings and engagement session, plus the wedding and all the follow-up!  Many of our brides from five years ago keep in touch with us through facebook. That is part of what makes our work so rewarding. So it should come as no surprise that we’ve had a thousand discussions with our couples about how they’ve saved money on their wedding–or how they’ve tried to save, or how they didn’t-save-and-wished-they-had! Let us pass along some of the wedding dollars saving ideas we have heard….

Part 1: The Three Big Ticket Items
Discuss saving money on wedding expenses with almost anyone who has been there, and three common threads will definitely come up….
1. Number of Guests. The biggest single impact you can have on the cost of your wedding is controlling your guest list. Unfortunately, many couples consider this to be out of their control. Others booked smaller venues specifically so they could tell uninvited guests that the guest list had to be severely constrained to fit the venue. If you can get away with a strict guest limit, your wedding will cost less–that is guaranteed savings.
2. Non-Saturday Wedding: Every wedding vendor offers discounts for non-Saturday weddings. Even posh downtown reception venues will have a 33% or more discount on their event service for non-Saturday weddings. Memorial Day and Labor Day Fridays and Sundays are surefire dates that will leave more money in your bank account.
3. Know Your Priorities. Get any wedding planner book you want, review the services listed and rank them 1-2-3-4-etc. Be prepared to spend more than you planned on 1, 2 and 3 and be equally prepared to eliminate 9, 10 and 11 to pay for the increase. Sticking to a budget only works if you have your priorities clearly in focus (Ovation Images’ obligatory photography pun!).
Coming in Part 2: Wedding Savings You can Count On!
photo of the pennsylvanian set up for a large wedding, by Ovation Images, Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers
January 28, 2013

Have clear goals for your wedding day schedule–and then time things accordingly. Do you want more time for fun with your bridal party? A special photography location? More time alone with Mr. Right? At Ovation Images, we can’t tell you how to plan your day. But we can tell you four common time traps you can avoid!

1. Don’t Start Too Early. Sure it’s heard to sleep in on such a day! But start slowly. Once the day gets going, it will sweep you up in a mind-spinning wedding whirlwind that ends in a haze of last dance euphoria. And you are wearing brand new heels and a dress that feels like it weighs 15 pounds. It WILL be exciting–and exhausting. Conserve your energy.
2. Don’t Allocate Too Much Time For Family Reunion Pictures. Mom wants all the uncles on this side, then that side, then all the nephews and nieces, then…..and YOU have to be in every picture. This is called the “how to miss your own wedding” trap. If Mom has a big family reunion photography agenda, get one of the new breed of “Open Air Photo Booth” where a live photographer takes the pictures and any size group can be accommodated (as offered by Ovation images). Have the DJ tell everyone to be sure and get their picture taken at the Photo Booth. Mission accomplished with no time lost. And everyone will have big fun with it!
3. Don’t Shortchange Your Limo Time. You have smartly allocated extra time for photography at the park or the pillars or your favorite spot in between your wedding and reception. But when that time comes, your limo driver says “well, if we do that, we’re going to run over time and I will have to charge you $175.” Don’t lose your precious photography for want of a ride. Make sure you have enough limo time reserved to accommodate your favorite location photography between your wedding and reception.
4. Don’t Schedule Reception Events Too Late: Don’t put off the dances, garter and bouquet, bridal dance, anniversary dance and any special reception events until late in the evening. People will start to lose focus and leave. At Ovation Images, our recommended reception schedule is: Grand Entrance, cake cutting, first dance (interchangeable), followed by toasts, blessing and dinner. After dinner, do your parent dances, anniversary dance and any events involving the old folks (grandparents dance, memorial dance, etc.).  Now have an open dance floor for 40 minutes. After that, do all your remaining events: garter/bouquet, bridal dance, and so on. Finally, now let your DJ or band open the dance floor for the night. Par-tee!! This is a schedule that ALWAYS works for all your guests–young and old.
bride and groom kissing after outdoor wedding ceremony
January 05, 2013

You definitely DO want two photographers for your wedding. That way one can focus on you while the other one can capture all the things around you that might otherwise go unappreciated–saving those moments for you to enjoy later.

There are dozens of examples of why you want two photographers. Let’s look at your Grand Entrance. One photographer will have to be locked on your and your bridal party coming into the room. But a second photographer will capture your parents cheering wildly, your bridal party sharing the joy, your Aunts hugging and crying–and all the wedding reception mayhem that goes by in one brilliant, white-light flash. If you want well-done, candid story-telling of your day, then you want two photographers.

Two photographers also provide built-in backup for one another. In the case of Ovation Images, we believe that TWO is the magic number for your wedding. So the two of us, both full time wedding professionals, travel in separate cars, each carrying a full set of backup equipment, both fully insured, and both exceptionally well-trained and experienced. We work together hand-in-glove. But in an emergency, either one can act alone to ensure that you have everything you want from your big day. This is what “two photographers” means to us.
Be sure your wedding photography passes the Two Photographer Test. “One photographer and an assistant” will not get the same results as two trained pros. Two photographers traveling in the same car is a risk–what happens if the car breaks down on the way to your wedding? And finally, are both photographers insured? Most insurance policies do not cover anything when only one photographer has insurance. Be sure to ask your wedding photographer what “two photographers” means to them.
pittsburgh wedding photography
January 04, 2013

Your wedding hair stylist has a dirty little scheduling secret. She told you to come in at 8:30 AM so she could focus on you and your girls and you could bring some snacks and drinks and make an event out of it! Wow! What fun! Well, not exactly.  This is what she really meant to say “I want you to come in at 8:30 AM because that won’t interfere with my prime time schedule from 11-2. My goal is to get you into an early time slot that none of my other clients want and that way your wedding won’t conflict with my regular schedule.” So what happens? You get your hair done at 9:30AM for your 4PM wedding. It starts to fall out before anyone even sees you! And you have to walk around on tippy-toes all day to take care of your hair. By the time your DJ gets the dance floor jumping at at 10PM, your hair has been in for over 12 hours–and looks like it!  Well, that’s a worse case scenario for sure.  But don’t be fooled.  Be sure to set the time that best suits you and let your hair stylist plan around that. For a 4PM wedding, noon is the right time to get your hair done. For a 2PM wedding, 10AM is about right–later if you can swing it. It will still be a fun event with your girls. Only now it will be on your schedule instead of someone else’s.


bride getting her hair done before her wedding black and white photo candid moment

January 02, 2013

Planning your wedding? As you know by now, the devil lurks in the details. Your wedding florist may need some guidance to avoid flowering foolishness. Here are four problems that we want to help you avoid. At Ovation Images, we have unfortunately seen all of these issues dozens of times.

1. Delivery: “All flowers go to the church” does not work if you want pictures with your girls before your ceremony. In that case, you will need the girls bouquets and yours with you wherever you are getting ready. Insist on it.
2. Arrangement Choices: A florist that specializes in weddings and events will have a MUCH larger selection of arrangements and options than a regular neighborhood florist. Talk with your local specialist and you will immediately notice the difference.
3. Boutineer Whoops: Who pins on the boutineers? If your florist won’t be there, make sure they train someone in advance to correctly pin on the boutineers SO THAT THEY STAY PUT. Thee is nothing worse than stepping onto the dance floor with your new husband and realizing that he is dancing with you with his boutineer hanging upside down!
4. No Head Table Vases. Flowers have to lay down on the head table, not stand tall. Anything standing tall in front of you will interfere with your guests seeing your reactions to your toasts, seeing you kissing when they tap their glasses, and those tall vases will ruin all your pictures at the head table. You do not want any floral vases at your head table.
flower bouquets with peacock feathers
October 08, 2012

Every Ovation Images couple has engagement photography included as part of their wedding photography package. The things you can do with your engagement pictures are only limited by your imagination. Here is one example–our straight-up classy Reception Guest Book.. Have a look at this gorgeous wedding day option!

Your Ovation Images Reception Guest Book is big–10 inches square–so the pictures are big and bold! The spine and back cover are genuine top-grain cowhide leather in your choice of 12 colors. You pick the images that go inside the book and one special image for the front cover. We lay out a book design with lots of white space around each image for guest signatures and best wishes. The overall look of the book is stunning.

Beyond the wonderful pictures inside, another reason our Reception Guest Book is so impressive is that the build-quality is superb. The cover image and leather just sparkle, and have excellent durability. The page binding is extra-strength–and yet the book will lay flat for signing! The cover image is glossy-finish, while the pages are matte-finish. Each thick, matte-board page can be signed with any ball-point pen.

Your Guest Book is a work of art that will stand proudly on its own–or be a delightful companion to your wedding album!. Your Guests will truly enjoy paging through this artistic look at your engagement pictures!  Ask us for more ideas about how to use your engagement photography around your home and on your wedding day!

personalized wedding guestbook featuring the couples engagement photo on the cover of the book.

personalized wedding guestbook featuring the couples engagement photo on the cover of the book.

Pages opened on a personalized wedding guestbook featuring the couples engagement photo on the interior pages.

Pages opened on a personalized wedding guestbook featuring the couples engagement photo on the interior pages.

Pages opened on a personalized wedding guestbook featuring the couples engagement photo on the interior pages.

May 16, 2012

Table numbers are a necessity at any wedding, but who says they just have to be plain old numbers? Intrigue  your guests with this enchanting table number ideas:

  • Place of photo of each of you, where your age in the photo corresponds with the table number, on each table. You’re guests will get to see cute, and maybe even embarrassing, photos of you two at every age. Be aware though this might prompt the age old question…. “So when are you having kids?”
  • Instead of numbers, give each table a name. Customize the words to the theme of your wedding: trees and flowers for a country wedding, rock stars and band names for a hip urban wedding, street names from your hometown, or even places that you two have visited together!
  • Enjoy vino? We do! Chances are your guests will too. Make custom labels for wine bottles that display the table number. Then, put multiple types of wine (all with the same table number) on each table for your guests to enjoy!
  • If you want to use numbers, jazz it up by giving the number a meaning! Under each number write a fact about you and your fiance that relates to that number. For example,  “Table 4: the date in April that we met”,  or “Table 10: the number of dates we went on before we said ‘I love you’”
  • Use photos from your engagement session with each table number. It is a great way to show off your engagement photography!

August 27, 2011
At Ovation Images, Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers, we love a good party!! If you want to make sure that you can keep your party going follow these simple tips:
  • Many venues have a limit on how late they can stay open due to city ordinances. If you have a late-afternoon wedding and are planning a late reception, make sure you know when it has to end.
  • Likewise, talk with your vendors in advance to see how much it would cost to extend the time they are providing services. Knowing the cost in advance will make the decision simpler. Also ask if you can extend one hour at a time in case you need more than one extension!

pittsburgh bride dancing, wedding reception, ovation images, party

Wedding planning can be tough, but stay stress free with these tips from Ovation Images, Pittsburgh’s Premier Wedding Photographer

  • When choosing your wedding date remember to consider likely weather conditions, and choose a date that you and your fiancé are comfortable with.
  • Have some fun online, and create a wedding website! Include information such as how you both met, your proposal story, engagement pictures, pictures and info about your bridal party and families, and any helpful information about the wedding registry, the shower, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, or reception.  The following are some great places you can use to create a website:,, and  You can let your guests know about your site on your save the date cards and by linking the site to your facebook page.


close up, smile, engagment