Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.

Parents paying for weddings

This is a challenge and dilemma some couples face. In the past, it was more customary for parents to pay for their childrens’ weddings, which I feel mixed about. I think these days, couples want to step away from the norm and even certain traditions. Like the cringeworthy garter and bouquet tosses. Parents don’t always have the means to pay for weddings, and many couples are just taking care of business themselves. Parents paying for weddings or helping couples pay can be a lovely assist, or an invitation of trouble and control. A lot depends on the relationship.

farm wedding Nashville

Most couples I meet don’t want a huge wedding with hundreds of guests. They value personal connections with those in attendance, rather than guest collecting. Also, once they explore venues and available space, costs, smart couples know managing their guest list is smart budgeting. Whether paying for the wedding themselves or receiving assistance from parents. The truth of the matter is this:

When parents pay, they have a say –

It starts with a realistic couple having the event they can afford. I don’t think most expect a large ballroom event with 300 guests. The median guest count for most of my weddings is maybe 125. If the couple has a sensible vision and wants to personalize their event so they enjoy it, and have personal connections with each guest, that’s great! That’s how it should be in my opinion. If the parents see and respect that vision, but offer guidance when needed, that’s a healthy balance. If part of that involves a financial contribution, great! When it becomes an aggressive takeover that they feel entitled to do because they paid, it may not be in the interest of the couple to accept their help. The latter scenario is not ok.

champagne toast

I’m not suggesting parents should feel obligated to pay and give their kids their way. But I’ve heard of cases where the parents paying for weddings changed the complete vision and wishes of the couple, usually to the more upscale side, when the couple wanted a smaller farm wedding. Then the parents invite their friends who the couple barely even knows. They pick colors and decor, they have a say in anything and everything. What the hell is that about? In a case like that, that’s helicopter parenting, and I’d rather pay myself. That way Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have a different taste.

sparkler exit

Conclusion about parents paying for weddings –

Do what is right for you, have the event and experience you want. At no point of the process should you begrudge your own wedding. The best way to prepare for paying for the wedding yourself (if that’s the best or only option) is to create a realistic guest list, provide a fun and comfortable experience for all, and pick your splurge items. Other things you can skip or do cheaper options.

Intimate backyard wedding | Nashville wedding photographers | Marty and Marilyn

I got a call from Marty, a groom to be in just 9 days from the call, about photographing their intimate backyard wedding. I don’t do many weddings in July or August, I think because people want to avoid the heat, which is smart. Marty told me it will be small and simple, with only the closest family and friends, under their covered patio.

Nashville intimate wedding

small wedding Nashville

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Marty had the good folks at Nashville Event Design screen in the back patio and provide decorations, tables and chairs, settings, etc. He had fans and portable air conditioners which did help. Tennessee in August can be very hot, but this was really nice. A candid photo of Marty enjoying a cold bottled water helps document the weather. Which true storytelling is what documentary wedding photography is about.

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Marty and Marilyn met through Marilyn’s Uncle, and they’ve been together for 11 remarkable years! They decided it was time to make it forever!

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

Nashville intimate wedding

This is the second marriage for both of them. You can see the real emotion and interaction between them which was heartwarming for sure. Those real emotions and moments of real love are also what documentary wedding photography is about. You can’t pose the real thing.

Nashville intimate wedding

The couple enjoyed a first dance, I love how they’re so happy and in love, it’s inspiring.

nashville wedding photographers

nashville wedding photographers

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

A father daughter dance with Marilyn and a very emotional father of the bride. I’m never one to rapid fire shoot, but my eyes never left them. Watching first is how the best moments are documented.  My friend Chris Wheeler was the videographer for this event.

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

To finish up, the couple enjoyed the cake cutting. The cake had to be moved inside to ensure its safety. But this was a perfect and beautiful occasion packed with happiness, human emotion, and love.  Which is what wedding photography is to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this sweet intimate backyard wedding. Great photos can be had at a patio wedding like this, a farm wedding venue, or a fancy ballroom, with the proper skill.  Thanks Marty and Marilyn for allowing me to tell your story and I wish you a brilliant future together!

small wedding Nashville

small wedding Nashville

Pixellu Smart Albums review

As seen in my past article about Pixellu’s sister program, Smart Slides, this is my Pixellu Smart Albums review. What is Smart Albums?  It’s brilliant, that’s all you need to know, lol. It’s a program that enables wedding photographers, and even portrait / lifestyle photographers to easily design their own albums. My first thought when being told about it, I’m a photographer, not a designer at all. Like, as in, I have no idea where to start designing my own albums, at all. Well, Smart Albums changed the game for me.

smart albums

I buy my albums from Kiss Books. I was having their designers do design for me, and I request revisions. Mainly because I could stick to what I do best, and leave the design to someone used to doing it. It cost me $49.00 a pop which isn’t bad. But it took me more time to ask them to not crop an image oddly or anything else that wasn’t to my liking. I could view the design and make comments, and that process helped me know what I wanted and what I didn’t in an album design. I tried Smart Albums, but I had no doubts that I’d find it saved me time. My very first one, I designed in less than an hour. Even after playing with all the different combinations or spread design.

Pixellu Smart Albums review

These are screen caps from a client album design. I used to make album photo suggestions by making a dedicated folder online and letting the client review, and request substitutions. Which in reality, is not a difficult process if they take time to look. But seeing the photos I suggest in form of an album design, it helps couples visualize the final result. Within the link the client views, there’s cloud proofing where they can make comments. In this design, the customer requested two photos be removed, and I picked a couple different ones to add. They approved the design. Easy peasy. Smart Albums gives me the control I need for my brand, and saves me time and money in the end. Nothing negative to add. They also have a Facebook users group.

Once the client approves the design, I export the spreads and upload them to the album company. The program knows the bleed lines of each album company, you select that and size when you begin the project. My only worry was that clients would nitpick the design. I want them to focus on photo content. Mainly because of bleed lines, and page utilization, I have to use my best judgment and use an effective amount of photos per spread average. I explain this going in and it’s all good. Bravo Pixellu! I hope this Pixellu Smart Albums review has been helpful. Comment or ask if there is anything to ask or add.

Pixellu Smart Slides review

While at the Fujifilm conference in Bath, UK, I learned about the Smart Slides program, for easy to make digital photo slideshows. I’ve been using iPhotos app on my Mac which also works. But the problem I always ran into, what music works for what wedding? I’d spend what seemed like an hour searching iTunes for the right song to buy. Then it seemed my slideshows were too long. I like a good selection of highlights of the event that tell a collective story, not to the point of redundancy however. I had only been offering digital slideshows for maybe two years, and my skills have improved some. But I was looking for other solutions. Now a month into using Smart Slides, I will provide my Pixellu Smart Slides review. Take it for what it’s worth. Here’s a sample slideshow from a recent wedding.

One thing about the Smart Slides program, it’s easy to use, and support is helpful. There is even a users group on Facebook.  I’ve found that helpful. The other SUPER cool thing is music beat matching! If you watch the above slideshow, and follow the beat of the music, the photo transitions into the next at every other beat. The kicker is, you must use a specific amount of photos to enable beat matching with each song. Some have options of faster or slower tempo depending on the song. That’s my favorite thing about the program! Plus, 2-3 minutes is perfect. My previous 5 minute slideshows are harder to keep viewers’ attention. They host your slideshows and you can download them as well. Here’a another short and sweet slideshow from a recent lifestyle photoshoot, turned surprise proposal!

Overall synopsis of my Pixellu Smart Slides review-

I love it! My only complain, which the staff and ownership know about, they need better music selection. I’m confident they will be addressing this, as it’s a commonly discussed topic in the users group. Any questions or comments, ask away.

Lifestyle couples photoshoot | Gaylord Opryland Resort

I was emailed by Lisa about doing a lifestyle couples photoshoot at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, and I learned some of their story. Part of the process is learning about the couple, whether with wedding photography, engagement, or lifestyle and proposal photography. Forming relationships is as equally rewarding as making great photos, it’s a symbiotic relationship between the two.

lifestyle couples photoshoot

lifestyle couples

lifestyle couples

Don and Lisa met on Zoosk, a dating website, and they’ve been together for one year. Ready for the kicker? They had a private ceremony at their home church earlier in the day of this photoshoot! They made the drive to Nashville to stay at the Gaylord and enjoy a weekend together, as an immediate mini honeymoon. As with any of my lifestyle photoshoots, they were not directed. You just couldn’t NOT document the love they have for each other.

gaylord hotel

opryland hotel

One interesting hurdle, the day I did this shoot, I had broken my toe a couple days before, so I was hobbling along. I wasn’t moving around like a teenager. But when I texted Lisa later that week to let her know the online gallery was up, I told her they looked like teenagers and so connected! It was my job to watch for the magical moments and capture the natural love and sweet human interaction between them.

romantic photoshoot opryland

documentary photographer

opryland hotel couple

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lovely lifestyle couples photoshoot at the Gaylord Opryland resort. Congratulations Don and Lisa!!

lifestyle couples photos

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