We booked a photographer!

Awhile back, I decided that I wanted to work with a photographer who sponsored A Practical Wedding. A lot of people advised me to consider reducing the budget for a photographer and look around for a student to do the job, but I wasn't confident in my ability to find someone who would be experienced and reliable enough for big events like weddings. It's doable, I'm sure, but I figured it would take a lot of effort (since no one popped out from our small network of friends and family to volunteer, basically) and even then I knew I would still worry about it. I decided photography is a high priority because it's the only tangible thing we'll have after all the work going into throwing the one-day event (I don't count the marriage itself as tangible :)).

A sponsor of A Practical Wedding would definitely be a pro and also pretty much pre-screened not to be a WIC-style pressure giver. And, I sort of just wanted to give back a bit to a resource that I've gotten so much from. The minimum requirements were a decent number of hours of coverage and getting the negatives, with the option to order prints and other extra down the line. An engagement session and the rest would be a plus but not absolutely necessary.

We met with Keira Lemonis first, way back in February, but for whatever reason I didn't really feel like we clicked and that there was something else I was looking for that didn't align with her style. She checked in the other day because another couple contacted her about one of the potential dates we'd given to her and was actually nice enough to respond with a thanks after I told her we'd decided to book someone else (I hate this part of researching different vendors, I feel like somehow I can't get out of disappointing some of the really nice and supportive people I've talked to because we can only hire one in that category). +1 for classiness.

Then, we got a quote from LeahAndMark.com from the amazing, amazing special they're running (until the end of April!) for APW readers: 20% off all packages and no travel fee for weddings east of the Mississippi. Based on my email correspondence with Mark, his Twitter feed, and the new email newsletter of photography tips they recently started, he seems really awesome and just like my kind of person (chill and funny-geeky, more or less). I love, love their photos:

They really love photography, they are Photographers and have an eye for lighting and composition that speaks to me. I'm also a total sucker for that vintage-y style of image color processing.

Then, a couple weeks ago (the day before Easter, actually), Dan and I drove to CT to meet with Kelly Prizel, who had Amy's highest stamp of approval of the list of potential photographers I'd emailed her. Of course, I Twitter/Facebook/blog-stalked her beforehand. Some of my favorite tweets:
I will not eat all the cheese at this client meeting. I will not eat all the cheese.

You know what makes clients happy? Bunnies. Yup, they love meeting and petting my rabbits after discussing wedding packages.
She did not, in fact, eat all the cheese at our meeting, I helped quite a bit on that front. And her bunnies are indeed adorable, though the massive fur they were shedding when I petted them at the end of our meeting made Dan really wary.

In person, Kelly is really sweet and energetic and I believe her when she says that she just loves weddings and feeds off the energy of the day--I suspect some photographers who aren't truly into it saying these sorts of lines just to get the business, and should it really matter to me whether the photographer is just doing this to pay the bills or loves it for its own sake too? Probably not, but I don't mind letting it factor into my decisions anyway.

Her wife Natalie was also at the meeting and if we didn't already have Mama G as our Captain of the Day (official title TBD), I would seriously consider hiring her as our day-of coordinator because she's totally on top of all the details.

The thing that really swayed it in the end was the engagement session that's included in Kelly's Package I and that she's local. While LeahAndMark.com were my personal leading choice based on style of photography, I think the fact that both Dan and I are introverts and have never been particularly comfortable in front of a camera means that we do need someone we can have the opportunity to get to know more before the high stress of the day.

So, hooray, we have a photographer! We signed the contract a few days after meeting Kelly and Natalie and sent over the deposit last week (biggest wedding check thus far) and I am excited about it, but I do occasionally get slight tinges of anxiety over not hiring LeahAndMark.com, especially as I see their rates go up. I think they particularly excel at family and children portraits, though, so maybe one day :) It's something that I should just move on from because it's not a good use of energy, so I'm working on that. Looking at Kelly's portfolio all over again helps, for sure:

(Georgetown engagement session w/ Vespa)

(Ying and Pat at Montpelier Mansion)
(love this wedding)

(Howard and Jessica at Howard County Conservatory)

I think it's a really good sign that when I went to look for my favorite examples of Kelly's work, I could picture the photos in my mind. I'll get over the faint self-doubt about whether we made the right decision soon, I always have that, but hey! Ticking down "the big three": venue, check, photographer, check, caterer, almost check (we've decided but haven't officially signed a contract yet). We're planning on doing the engagement session in the afternoon on 9/11 this year, because it's the one weekend in September that Kelly's not booked, it should still be warm enough for me to wear a dress, and there will still be green things alive in the park in Hoboken along the Hudson.

Next up should probably be figuring out who will marry us, since a Catholic priest is basically out of the question (won't do it outside of a church, I think I'd be uncomfortable with people possibly thinking I'm posing/being disrespectful), and then settling down to the overall vision of the visual aesthetic to pull it together and deciding on which projects I actually want to do. Oh, and sketching out a bit more whether we want other things around the wedding weekend, like a welcome picnic or a Sunday brunch or the Chinese family dinner post-reception, etc. I think at that point I should print out Meg's words and paste it somewhere really visible:
From here on out, I will not worry about things unless they are meaningful, fun, or really useful.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Big doins! I confess, my ears perked up when you said CT, I might have to copy you in the photographer department haha.

KWu said...

Thanks! When's your wedding date? If you're into Kelly's style you should definitely reach out to her soon, she said all of sudden she's getting booked up really quickly but if she's busy on your date she can refer you to photographer friends of hers with similar attitudes/styles.

Angie said...

Yay! Now THIS is a reason to celebrate- not only b/c you found a photographer, but because you did what felt right for you and your partner. (And you even did a little twitter stalking!) Cheers to both! Based on Kelly's work above, your photos are going to look great! So happy for you!

Mark said...

Hey Katherine! Feel no stress about it! You chose an awesome wedding photographer! Thanks for being our friend too!

... I'm working on getting some bunnies now ;-)

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