A Choice to Make Memories Last a Lifetime
| 2016 Q2 | story by TARA TRENARY
When it comes to planning the perfect wedding, there are many important decisions a bride and groom must make: What unique venue expresses the couple’s style? What is the ideal type of cuisine to keep guests happy? Has the bride chosen the perfect dress? Does the cake not only look but also taste decadent? Will the flowers go well with the décor? How much will all of this cost?
The ninth annual The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study, the largest report of its kind that surveyed nearly 18,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2015 on spending habits and trends of American weddings, found weddings continue to be one of the most important and expensive events in couples’ lives. The average wedding cost has increased by more than $5,500 in the last five years, with couples averaging approximately $33,000. And spending has increased in all reception categories, including catering costs, cake, music, flowers, entertainment, as well as in photography.
With wedding photography costs ranging from $2,300 on the lower end to $15,000-plus depending on location, package chosen, hours, special services and possible overtime hours, choosing the right photographer may well be one of the most important decisions a bride and groom has to make.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen or heard of these nightmare tales of people trying to save money on the photographer, only to have wedding images that were horrible, blurry or lost entirely,” says Melissa Sigler, of Melissa Sigler Photography, who had a home office on Massachusetts Street, in Lawrence, from 2011 until just recently, when she moved it to Lenexa. “There are plenty of ways to save on a wedding, and the photography should be the last thing to cut.”
When it comes to wedding details, couples these days have become more focused on creating a meaningful and memorable experience for themselves and their guests. Therefore, they are willing to spend more money, adding personal touches and making sure the guest experience is ideal. “Since we’re so plugged in to technology and imagery with the Internet, people get very excited about their portraits and want images that tell a story rather than are just evidence of a wedding that took place,” she explains.
So how do you know who’s the right photographer for your dream wedding?
Wedding photographers come in many shapes and sizes, and with just as many different styles. Traditional and timeless, informal and reality-based, edgy and dramatic: Being in touch with your personal style is essential when choosing a photographer for the special day.
“Knowing the photographer’s style is one of the biggest components in choosing a wedding photographer,” says Jerry Wang, of Jerry Wang Photography, Lawrence. “I always relate a photographer’s style to how someone tells a story. You want to choose someone that fits your vision and can create the images to match the mood.”
Ailecia Ruscin agrees. “Couples should spend some time looking at a photographer’s portfolio to get an idea of what types of images the photographer likes to make. But also, they should look at an entire wedding to get an idea of what the full day looks like from that photographer’s perspective,” says the owner of Lawrence’s Oh Snap! Photography, who has a studio on Massachusetts Street. “Beyond style, a final point worth considering is how the photographer’s personality fits with you. They will be spending one of the most exciting days of your life with you. Are they the type of person you want to spend that special day with?”
An important new trend couples must also consider when seeking out that perfect photographer is whether they want to include videography on their wedding day. According to The Knot study, one in three couples hires a professional videographer to capture their ceremony and reception. But, not all wedding photographers offer videography as a service.
“We started offering wedding videography in January of 2015,” says Dustin Brown, photographer with The Larken Photo and Video Co., Lawrence. “The market for videography has exploded in the last two years. We went from never getting a video inquiry in 2013 and 2014, to expecting 80 percent of weddings to do photo and video for the 2017 season.”
Videography isn’t the only new wedding photography trend these days. Other new trends coming of age, according to The Knot report, include shooting the proposal as well as engagement and day-after photos, incorporating social media, Brady Bunch-style and stop-motion photography, bridal portraits, casual family photos, overhead and backlit shots, as well as selfies. Dreamy film images, father-daughter first looks and displaying family photos (such as old family wedding photos) at the wedding are also becoming popular.
Photo booths are one of the most popular new trends these days. According to the Thumbtack Wedding Trends Report 2016, 97 percent of people want physical photo prints available to their guests. Couples find creative ways to personalize their booths, including using their wedding colors or theme in the backdrop, creating custom props to match their theme, using photo-booth photos for their guest book and asking guests to include a photo-booth photo alongside their note, according to the report. Couples also personalize their photo-booth photos with their wedding logos and make the photo a keepsake for guests.
So if you want to follow suit with the trends of the day, be sure you choose a photographer who is willing and able to meet all of the wants on your wedding wish list.
As for what’s hot in weddings in a college town like Lawrence: “Tacos and food trucks, naked cakes, cupcakes, get-hitched/give-back efforts and handmade details are all big trends in Lawrence weddings,” Oh Snap!’s Ruscin explains. “Rustic and rural venues are quite popular, as are unique spaces like renovated old theaters and industrial buildings. This affects the wedding photography immensely.”
“I think the opening of venues like the Cider Gallery is bringing a lot of that urban-chic style into Lawrence, which is popular right now,” Sigler continues. She says the University of Kansas also plays a big part in Lawrence weddings. “A lot of couples who get married here graduated from KU and bring that fandom into the wedding details and/or get married right on campus.”
Compared to larger U.S. cities, Lawrence definitely has its own vibe. “In my experience, weddings in Lawrence are a lot more laid back than weddings in big cities. We like that,” says Brian Goodman, of Brian Goodman Photography, a husband and wife team based in Lawrence.
Sigler agrees: “The fact that there are so many unique choices in a small proximity makes it special. For instance, you can have a barn wedding just minutes away from a more ‘urban’ wedding downtown, and travel to many places in a short amount of time for portraits.”
Not only is the town of Lawrence unique, but so are its residents.
“I have found that many of my Lawrence wedding clients are intensely artistic and interested in supporting small-scale artisans of many varieties in curating the perfect details for their wedding day,” Ruscin says. “My clients will hire an esteemed caterer who serves farm-to-table unique food creations; they will hire a local baker to make cupcakes in a variety of flavors; they will hire local artists to create their programs and centerpieces; they will work with a local farm to buy flowers to create their own bouquets.” She explains that in Lawrence, do-it-yourself and artisan-made goodies are trendier than buying mass-produced decorations, prompting many brides to make their own flowers and bouquets from paper or comic books, or even vintage brooches.
When considering photographers for your wedding, remember that there are things to consider other than photographer style and price. May, June, September and October are the busy months for weddings, so book early to save the date (many photographers hope to book out at least a year), especially if you hope to get married during the busy season. Expect to pay a down payment dependent on the total cost of the booking, and if you cancel, don’t expect to get it back. And be prepared to sign a contract so photographers can save your date. “We will refund everything but the deposit, because if we save a date, that means we’re turning down everyone else who inquires about that same date,” Goodman explains.
With all the important choices that go into a wedding, choosing the right photographer means that the memories you and your family and friends make on your day will forever be preserved. So it’s important you choose the right photographer for you, because it’s an important job that must be done right.
“When everything else goes wrong, the photographer still needs to deliver,” Wang says. “I view it as my responsibility to help the couple remember this day on a good note. So no matter how tired I feel at the end of working a 12-hour wedding day, I keep in mind that my job is to help tell this happy story. It’s amazing to think that the images we create this year will be remembered 10, 20, 50, even 100 years down the road. They are the roots of a new family, and it’s an honor to be a part of the memories.”
Melissa Sigler Photography
Melissa Sigler, photographer
The Larken Photo & Video Co.
Dustin Brown, Travis Moore, photographers
Cameron Philgreen, photographer
Business Name: Brian Goodman Photography
Phone Number: 785-424-3579
Brian Goodman, Jenna Goodman, photographers
Oh Snap! Photography
Ailecia Ruscin, photographer
Jerry Wang Photography
Jerry Wang, photographer