Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Engagement Photos Are In!

Well, things could certainly have turned out much worse.

One of the first pictures. The photographer said, "Well, why don't you maybe possibly sort of walk toward me and we'll see what happens." (OK, not those exact words, but with that little conviction.) I was smiling out of sheer nervousness.

This one is cute, if you can see that Eric is looking at me with his cute "oh yeah?" look and not with some other strange look. Plus, you can't tell what that thing behind us is (it's the lines of a parking space; we were up on a hill along the side of the road that runs through the park).

The requisite ring shot. Too bad it was the only ring pose he did -- I don't particularly like it all that much.

Another gripe: The photographer suggested we shoot in Cherokee Park, but wasn't really that familiar with what the park had to offer. I was the one to suggest "that fountain thing at the next intersection," which turned out to be a stone dragon boat fountain. I have no idea why it's in the park, but we have a similar photo from our Hong Kong trip two years ago, which is kind of funny:

The more I look at this photo, the more I like it. Eric's totally gangster.

We're pretty hot here, I have to admit. And my hair actually looks nice for once (you'd think that would make me want to do my hair more often, but no).

We were the ones who decided to run. Out of a lack of direction from the photographer, and being tired of just walking toward him or away from him.

I like the setting of this shot -- it's really pretty. And we're far away enough from the camera that any weird faces we're making don't ruin the shot :)

We look pretty silly when we kiss. Good thing people don't see us do it that often. Well, except for that one after the officiant says, "You may now kiss the bride." Crap -- am I really going to be nervous about that for the next 18 months now?

You can see the rest of the photos here.

Overall, I can't complain, since we didn't pay anything for the photos. And there are a few good photos, which should have been worth a small fee if we had paid it. But the reason the whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth was because the photographer did not take control of the photo shoot and seemed so nervous himself. He's weird on the phone, too, so I think his "nervousness" is just his personality, but it totally rubs me the wrong way. I've read reports from other brides who say that "getting along" with your vendors is so important, and I never really believed it. As long as the product is good, what does personality matter, especially if you're on a budget, right? Well, now I know that I need to find a better balance, because if I had to work with someone like this guy again, I would have a nervous breakdown. That's part of my personality -- if I'm not 100% confident that someone else can take charge, then I feel like I need to take charge, and there's no way I have any authority or expertise to be taking charge of photo shoots, so I'd rather pay someone else to do it.

You know what would have made the whole experience a million times better? If he had just taken two minutes at the beginning of the process to say, "Most of my shots are going to be candid, so I want you to pretend I'm not here unless I ask you to look at the camera. Just act like the two of you are spending the day in the park, and ignore me. I might ask you to turn a certain way or make certain actions, but let me know if you're not comfortable with any of them and we'll try something else." And then during the process he should have said, "OK, now sit on that bench," not "Hmm, do you maybe want to sit on the bench?" Argh.

Anyway, the final product is here, and it's not a total loss, and I didn't pay anything, so I'll stop complaining now. He even gave us a set of proofs of all the shots, which wasn't part of the original deal, and that was really nice. Watch for these to reappear on save the dates or Christmas cards next year or something like that.

(I haven't mentioned our photographer's name on purpose. Since we didn't pay for the session or photos, I don't feel it would be fair to name him. The guy is trying to make a living, and I think his photos are pretty good, so it's possible he'll adjust his demeanor as he works with more clients.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A book for him

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've had wedding magazines for a few years now. Back in early 2004, when my friend Karen got married, my other friend Marjorie and I (both bridesmaids) were in charge of favors for her bridal shower (thankfully, her mother recognized that we could not afford to throw even the most modest of showers, so just put us in charge of the favors). We decided to meet in Hartford, Conn., one day -- me driving up from Philadelphia and she taking a bus down from Boston -- for a bridal show. It was a pretty fun day -- we wandered around to the various vendors, answering the question that every vendor asked us, "So, who's the bride?" with a sad, "Neither of us, actually...", looking for fun decoration and favor ideas. We actually ended up finding two projects for inspiration, one of which had us grabbing a phone book and driving to every Michaels craft store in the greater Hartford area searching for clearance Valentine's Day cookie cutters, as well as calling everyone we knew and sending them to all of their nearest Michaels to find the same clearance cookie cutters. I told you: I'm really good at bargain shopping.

Anyway, I digress. I also entered a sweepstakes drawing for something or other -- a honeymoon, probably -- and ended up winning a one-year subscription to Modern Bride magazine. And while the magazines caused some raised eyebrows from my friends (remember, this was three years ago, when there was no ring on my finger), I justified their presence in two ways: 1) I was getting ideas for my friend's (and future friends') wedding, 2) they were free. I marked some pages for future reference, and saved all those issues. But when the subscription ran out, I didn't renew (aren't you proud?).

But the day after we got engaged, I made a point to walk over to Borders and buy all the magazines I wanted -- A Modern Bride, Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Louisville Wedding. After all, why not? I had to figure out which one(s) I might want a subscription to, right? Well, I ended up getting a joint subscription to Modern Bride and Brides (they're really the same magazine, published by the same company, in alternating months) for a really good price, but decided against MS Wedding. It's just too expensive for so few pages, I think. Although the craft ideas are really, really good. Maybe if I find myself with some extra cash after the holidays...

I've been pretty happy with my magazines. There isn't a whole lot of substance in them, but I'm more likely to go to the gym if I have one to read, so that's a good thing in my mind. I also read a few wedding blogs, including Weddingbee. And on Weddingbee a few weeks ago, I read a post from a contributer who recommended this book:

Well Groomed: A Wedding Planner for What's-His-Name (And His Bride)

And I immediately put it on my online library request list (which, by the way, is the best thing in the world, especially for an under-funded library system that doesn't carry all books at all locations). I got it last week and immediately started reading it -- and immediately started laughing. I read the whole thing in just a few days, and have convinced Eric to read it as well -- and believe me, it didn't require much convincing, because it's that funny.

Basically, it's a wedding how-to for the groom, but it's completely irreverent. Well, much to my surprise, the first chapter hit surprisingly close to home:

Chapter 1: How can a magazine cost $12.95 and not have pictures of naked people in it? An introduction to bridal magazines

Immediately after you become engaged, and in some cases as you are putting the ring on her finger, your brand-new fiancee will celebrate the commitment you have just made to her by leaving you alone at home while she goes off to buy bridal magazines. This isn't to suggest that she doesn't already own several bridal magazines. She does. But she's hidden them, just like you've hidden your porn. Now that she's officially engaged, though, it's time for a new crop of magazines that can be proudly displayed in public. (Your porn, however, should still remain hidden.)

... [Your] new bride-to-be ... will proceed to buy every bridal magazine in the store, for a total cost of $409.83. Even if your bride isn't particularly interested in bridal magazines, this is her one big chance to buy them and she feels obliged to do so. Not getting them would be like going all the way to Egypt and then skipping the pyramids because you decide it's too hot outside.

The chapter ends with a comparison between wedding magazines and porn. Surprisingly accurate, I might add.

Well, it could have been worse. I spent much less than $409.83 and only bought 4 magazines -- there are a lot more on the rack at Borders, including British ones that are very, VERY expensive. I haven't been tempted to buy any of those yet, probably mostly because I don't have much free time (thankfully!). But I was still pretty amused that what I thought was a fairly unique reflex to getting engaged is, in fact, a universal one.

But I highly recommend this book. If you are engaged or have been married in the last five years or so, you would get a pretty big kick out of it. Besides, if you read it yourself, I won't have to risk plagiarism issues for copying the whole thing into this blog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Top 10 Most Daring Wedding Gowns

As determined by The Knot via MSN.

Top 10 Most Daring Wedding Gowns

Most of them are way out there and definitely not for me, but one in particular caught my eye:

Oh purple Vera Wang, how I love thee. The perfect color, a beautiful silhouette... and yes, it's apparently a wedding dress and not a bridesmaid dress.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Talk about bad photos...

I guess I can't be too nervous about our engagement photos, because I'm pretty sure there were no situations that would set themselves up for anything like these:

Wedding Photos We'll All Remember (Part 1)

Yes, it will be worth it for you to open up another tab and look at those pictures. You'll laugh. I promise.

Please, if you own a red flowered hat, do not wear it to my wedding.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Engagement Photos

We had an engagement photo session today. About a week after we got engaged, I was browsing around on Craigslist (the Louisville site is MUCH smaller and less active than the Philly one, but it's gotten more active over the last couple years) and noticed an ad for a photographer willing to provide free engagement and wedding photography. He said he was just getting into the business and needed to beef up his portfolio, so in exchange for signing a model release, he would do an engagement session and give us the digital images on CD for free. If we want him to print any images for us, he'll charge us for them, or we can take our files somewhere else. Good deal, right?

Well, I haven't seen the pictures yet, but after that experience, I'm glad we didn't pay any money for the photo session. He was a nice guy and all, but he's definitely a novice when it comes to directing models and suggesting poses or actions. We met at Cherokee Park, and it started off badly when he couldn't suggest a good place to park and start the session. At one point, we were driving about a quarter-mile behind him as he sort of looked out the window to see if any of the landscapes struck his fancy. I was a little surprised, because he told me he and his wife had their engagement photos taken at Cherokee Park, so I thought he would have been a little more familiar with the location, or maybe would have scouted it out ahead of time. He was also very vague when it came to suggesting what we do. "Um, I'm just trying to remember what we did at our engagement session." I would have thought that to prepare for a new experience (we're his first engagement photos), he might have looked over his own photos for inspiration. I guess not. So there was a lot of us standing around, sort of with our arms around each other, sort of looking at each other and trying not to crack up, and a lot of wondering what we were supposed to be doing.

But, I don't mean to be mean. He was a nice guy, and I've seen some of his other photos and they're pretty good, so there's still hope. He just needed to be a little more in-charge of the session. And he said he had wanted his wife to be present to help with posing, and she couldn't come. Oh well. I'll post photos when we get them, assuming any of them turn out well (and that would be the fault of the goofy-looking models, not the photographer :)