December 18, 2019
Fun fact: November – February is the most common part of the year to get engaged because of the holidays! It’s even when I got engaged! Almost every time I go on Facebook or Instagram, there’s someone new sharing their proposal story and their beautiful ring and I love it! With so many newly-engaged, or soon-to-be engaged ladies, I decided I should make a Wedding Wednesday post all about what it looks like to be a Summer Alisabeth Bride, or SA Bride!
1. I don’t just want to be my bride’s photographer, but also her friend. Every time I receive a new inquiry in my inbox, I do a little happy dance. Literally! I always text my husband, “Babe, another bride is interested! It’s on *this date* and at *this venue* and she seems so sweet and kind, I want to talk to her more!” I always respond to inquiries within 24 hours, and this is when I first tell them a little bit about my husband and I, how I love to serve my couples, and I also share my pricing guide full of even more specific information about my wedding packages! In the very first email, I hope they understand my heart behind what I do: that this is the most special day of their life, and they deserve to have a FRIEND capturing their love story, not a stranger. I ask questions about how they got engaged, how long they’ve been together, what moments on their wedding day are most important to them, what design and style they envision for their special day, and more, in hopes of getting to know them better! I want my brides to feel welcomed, loved, and that their wedding day is important to me.
2. It’s so important to me that brides make sure they find a photographer that they know can capture their wedding day the way they’ve always dreamed. And if I’m not that person for them, I truly want them to find the photographer that is. It’s important to make sure I’m the right photographer for them, which is why I love either meeting in person for coffee or FaceTiming together! I don’t require each bride to talk in person, but I am always available if they would be more comfortable meeting than through email! It’s amazing to me how much more I can learn about someone when I can actually talk to them in person!
3. Usually by the first initial emails and by talking in person or over the phone, each bride will know what she wants. If she and her fiancé are completely on board and know that I am the perfect fit for them, it’s time to make them a SA Couple! When they’re ready, I’ll send a booking proposal to their email: this includes specifics about what’s included in the wedding package they chose, specifics about additional items they can add to their package (such as additional hours, wedding album, etc.), a payment plan, and a contract. Each bride can then sign the contract and pay the retainer online (no printing and mailing so it’s super easy!)!
4. Once everything is official, we begin planning their engagement session! I ask them to brainstorm possible date options, location ideas that might be special to them, and outfit inspiration! 1-2 weeks before the engagement session, I’ll check in with them to double check the date, time, and location, as well as send a bunch of tips and tricks to help them prepare!
5. The engagement session is one of my favorite parts of getting to know a new couple! Up until this point, I’ve *mostly* talked with the bride, and this is my chance to get to know the bride AND the groom before the wedding day! Seeing the dynamic in their relationship and what kind of poses they love/don’t love is super important when I’m capturing a love story – hence why I always recommend an engagement session! It’s always a ton of fun capturing beautiful images, but even more so when THEY are having fun together! Getting each couple to relax, getting them comfortable in front of the camera, and giving them confidence is my JAM! The full engagement gallery is usually delivered back within 3 weeks, but their blog post always comes much sooner than that!
6. About 3 months before the wedding day, I create an online questionnaire for each couple and send it to them! I do this to gather more information about their wedding day that I need in order to photograph the day the way they envision it! I love when my brides are detailed, creative, and thorough when answering each question because when they do that, it means I can eventually serve them better. This questionnaire covers everything from location addresses, times, family portrait combinations, family member’s names, order of events, vendor information, ceremony details, phone numbers, and so much more! I’ll create a rough draft wedding timeline for them based on their answers, send it to them for feedback, then work to tweak it until it’s perfect for them!
7. Then it’s the wedding day!!! The day that everyone has been looking forward to since…well forever! This is the day that I, along with every other vendor, work hard to make sure it’s utterly perfect for the couple. We are there to celebrate their love, the start of their marriage, and to capture the fun! We’ll bring them water, food, tissues, an emergency sewing kit, comfy shoes, a warm coat, or a fan, and anything else they may need to enjoy every minute of their day – it goes by so fast!
8. The following Tuesday after each wedding, I share each couple’s very own blog post of about 150-200 images (sometimes more!) from their entire wedding day! When Lavon and I got married, we looooooooooved seeing our wedding photos so soon after our wedding, even if it wasn’t the full gallery. We were so anxious to see them, and this made those images even more special than they already were. Because I remember what it’s like to anxiously wait for photos, it’s so important to me to do this for my brides too! I HATE making them wait, so come Tuesday afternoon, their very own blog post is up featuring and celebrating their love!
9. Since the blog post is one giant sneak peek, the full wedding gallery is soon to follow! It’s usually delivered within 4 weeks of the wedding day! After I send the link, I always suggest to my couples to make a date night out of it: make a fancy dinner, pop some champagne, and relive their wedding day by scrolling through 1,200 – 1,500 photos together! It’s a special night! Once they’ve had the chance to scroll through their photos a couple times, I send a custom album design within two weeks! From there, they can make note of any changes they would like me to do, and once they’re ready, I’ll place the order! Each couple is not required to invest in an heirloom album, but I have four different options available if they wish to do so! Lavon and I look at our wedding album all the time, and there’s something so much more special about looking through memories holding a physical item than simply looking at them on our phone! A wedding album is something that we can share with friends and family that visit, our children, and someday grandchildren! I always highly recommend investing in something like this because I know they won’t regret it!
10. Last but certainly not least, my favorite thing to do is spoil my couples with extra surprises they don’t know about it! These surprises come at different points of the planning process (booking, engagement session, Christmas, etc.!), and I’ll tell you now: it’s something to look forward to. The greatest way to serve others is to make them feel special and not forgotten – they’re an important part of my life, and I want to make sure they know that!
Photos by my own wedding photographer and friend, Seneca Epley!