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6 Myths that Brides + Grooms need to forget when it comes to your photography

There are a lot of things that go into planning a wedding, and when you have your bride- or groom-blinders on, it can sometimes be hard to see things without your wedding-tinted glasses making you freak out about seemingly insignificant details. I know, I did the same thing when we were planning our wedding! I got really worked up about the cake flavor, like somehow choosing Chocolate Mousse Bliss for the middle layer instead of Strawberry Delight was going to mean our wedding was a colossal failure. There are some things worth stressing out over when it comes to your wedding, these next 6 bullet points just aren’t one of them. Read on!

Myth #1: More = better. This can be broken down into a hundred different facets, but we’ll narrow it down for the sake of brevity. Americans have been conditioned to believe that receiving MORE of something means they’re receiving a better product, a better deal. And I get it- everyone wants to relive their wedding day through the images, so having a photo from every second of the day is good, right?

Nope. In my experience, the higher the number of images delivered over a certain threshold, the less likely my clients are to print their wedding pictures. Why? Because they are, plain and simple, overwhelmed. Who wants to sit in front of their computer and go through 1500+ images to choose which 15-30 to print for their parents? It’s a daunting task, and you’ll end up putting it off for weeks, then months, then years. And then you’ll find yourself with kids of your own, asking where YOUR wedding photos are!

Instead, I as the photographer take it as my responsibility to cull down your wedding images into a selection of the BEST- images that show the events of the day and the tender moments in between, but also the images that are exposed properly, the ones that are in focus, photographs that are corrected for white balance, and images where everyone’s looking at the camera. So the final batch of images you’re receiving from me is one that’s been carefully curated to show your wedding in the best possible light, while still allowing you to experience it without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer mass of JPGs in your PASS gallery.

6 Photography Myths about weddings- Abby Grace

Myth #2: You NEED a second shooter. Do I almost always shoot with a second? Yep! Do I always NEED that second shooter? Nope! Sometimes, if the wedding is a small enough affair, the photography package withOUT a second shooter is your best bet. Don’t let The Knot make you feel anxious if you’re going with your favorite photographer and decided not to add on an additional photographer for the sake of your budget.

As a caveat to that, DO consider a second shooter if your wedding is going to have more than 100ish guests, or if there will be activities/ceremonial traditions occurring in rapid fire sequence throughout the evening. Your photographer is a person too, and while we do our best to capture everything that goes on at a wedding, if you know it’s going to be unusually busy, consider booking that second shooter to make sure your photographer’s not totally swamped.

Myth #3: It is essential to have the photographer answer every question on that list from The Knot. Yeah, I sort of have beef with TK. They’re an incredible resource, but they’re also really good at inducing paranoia in brides when there’s often no need for anxiety. The List, and I’m pretty sure you know which one I’m talk about, has been circulating around the interwebs for a few years now. It has 15+ questions for the photographer about everything from the equipment that they shoot with to the clothes they’ll be wearing on the wedding day. Questions that, if we’re being honest, the bride probably doesn’t really care about the answer to- she’s usually just asking because she thinks she’s supposed to do so.

It’s not that averse to answering those questions, it’s that I’d rather spend that time asking YOU about your love story, learning what the first thing was that you noticed about your fiancé. If you’ve hired a true professional for the wedding, don’t sweat about what they and their second will wear on your big day- they’ll be just fine.

6 Photography Myths about weddings- Abby Grace

Myth #4: If you don’t purchase “[fill in the blank with some sort of add-on to any vendor's services]” your wedding will pretty much be a failure. Wedding vendors are business people, and we just happen to be in the business of the biggest emotional day of our clients’ lives thus far. And I think there’s a tendency to overdo it with the scare tactics sometimes: if you don’t hire a Photo Booth, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. If you don’t purchase a wedding album, your kids will never see your photos and your marriage might fall apart. Yada yada.

Do vendors have good reasons for wanting to sell you their products? Of course! I genuinely want my couples to have wedding albums because I know THEY will want one, but if they don’t order one, that’s ok too. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a decision about whether or not to hire a food truck is going to have a lasting impact on your marriage.

Myth #5: You HAVE to do “(fill in the blank with some standard wedding tradition that means absolutely nothing to you).” If the thought of having your new husband remove an undergarment from beneath your dress and throw it into a crowd of single men makes your skin crawl, skip the garter toss. If neither of you like being the center of attention, cut your cake quietly in the corner without having the DJ announce it. If you don’t give a rat’s patootie about something old, new, borrowed or blue, do your thing and SKIP IT.

Myth #6: This is the only time I’m going to have all of the people I love together in one place, so I need to get as MANY photos with everyone in attendance as possible. There’s some wisdom to that sentiment, but here’s the thing: as your photographer, I want to capture your wedding day, and as someone who loves you, I want to capture you ENJOYING your wedding day. I don’t want you to spend your entire reception hunting down your Great Aunt Bertha, + Uncle Albert, + all 47 cousins so that you can get an individual shot with each of them, thus missing out on dancing to that awesome band you hired.

Your wedding is not a photo shoot- get out on that dance floor and enjoy yourself! Please, please don’t get so caught up in capturing images for later that you forget to make memories for yourself right here and now. You’ll be glad for it, your family members will be grateful, and when you look back on that image of you crumping with Great Aunt Bertha, you’re going to love it so much more than a photo of the two of you looking at the camera.

Pastel Charlottesville wedding at the University of Virginia- Abby Grace Photography

Sydni Jackson - June 16, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Thank you!! I have regretted that I completely FORGOT to do the ol’ “something borrowed, blue, old, new” shazam. Thank you for relieving me of my guilt!! Also, we didn’t have dancing at our wedding because neither of us like dancing at other people’s weddings! Why would we want to feel pressured and obligated at our own wedding? No thank you!

Lauren (Jolly) Thomas - June 13, 2014 - 10:25 pm

What a great post! I love every bit of this!! Thanks for putting this out there :)

Emilia Jane - June 13, 2014 - 10:12 pm

PREACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lindsay - June 13, 2014 - 11:07 am

Yes!!! I could not agree with this more!!

Regan Carter - June 13, 2014 - 10:52 am

This is amazing. LOVE everything you shared!! Amen aaaand amen.

Alex Hinders - June 13, 2014 - 10:06 am

LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Spot on :)

Zack & Ashleigh- a sweet summer wedding at Williamsburg Winery

The word that comes to mind when I think of these two is “joy.” Sheer, blissful, all-encompassing joy. It’s evident on their faces, in their movements, in the manner they speak to one another. Just bliss.

There’s a happy little sigh that escapes her every time he kisses her- a “there’s-nowhere-I’d-rather-be-than-here-with-you” sort of thing. And the way his entire face lights up when she nears him, it’s like he’s won the lottery. Every time he looks at her. Their joy in inescapable, and I am in love with these two.

Zack & Ashleigh, where to begin? Your wedding was just the first day of what I know will be years and years of happy sighs and eye-crinkling smiles. It was truly an honor to have been the one chosen to document your love, and I’m so grateful to know you both!! Lots of love to you!

Williamsburg Winery wedding- Abby Grace Photography

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ASHLEIGH - June 18, 2014 - 10:15 pm

Ahhhhhh, you are so fantastic Abby! It’s impossible to choose a favorite! Thank you for such BEAUTIFUL wedding photographs!

sheila smith - June 17, 2014 - 10:23 pm

Wonderful in every way, the bride was a perfect picture with a very handsome groom. The wedding was really most beautiful, I shall treasure the photos. Thank you for sending them to us.Sheila

Mary - June 13, 2014 - 7:50 pm

Gahhhhh! The sunlight in the vineyard!!! (Though every bit of this is lovely!!) Gorgeous work, pretty lady!! xo

Kathryn Grace - June 12, 2014 - 4:45 pm

So lovely!

Lindsay - June 12, 2014 - 3:15 pm

So elegant and joyful! I love this Abby!

Jean - June 12, 2014 - 1:21 pm

Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous wedding and you did a wonderful job of documenting it. My favorite is the one with the gate, but all are beautiful.

Monday Mash-Up

Monday. We meet again.

Normally, I LOVE Mondays. But I’m still currently trying to recover from this past weekend’s wedding hangover, and all I really want to do is watch Harry Potter movies and nurse a cup of English Breakfast. But this week is a doozy, so it’s back to work I go!

This past weekend’s wedding brought me to New Haven, CT for Dan & Liz’s gorgeous Yale affair. It was absolutely STUNNING, I can’t wait to share it with y’all! Coral charm peonies, Vera Wang, Yale’s castle-like campus, it was beautiful from start to finish. Totally worth the 15+ hours I ended up in my car in transit to and from.

As always, lessons learned/things that transpired over the past week:

  • Matt asked if he could practice driving my car last week in a Reston Town Center parking garage (it’s stick shift, and his is an automatic). Good idea in theory, but then we ended up stalling out three times in front of a group of teenagers, who then proceeded to ask if we needed help. We laughed and explained the situation, and as we were leaving, one of the kids gave us some sage advice: “Stay pure!”
  • There’s nothing more freeing than driving on the highway with the windows down and sunroof open, admiring the gorgeous blue skies and warm sun on your skin. Each different season has its own merit, and to me? This is what makes summer special.
  • I started eating Paleo about a week and a half ago, and so far, so good! I don’t typically weigh myself so I have no idea if I’ve actually shed any pounds, but I FEEL good and my clothes definitely fit better! And now I’ve got Matt hooked, too :). We’ll keep you posted!
  • I’ve recently become hooked on watching videos of baby goats. And I don’t know why.
  • Also recently: I kind of want to move out to the country and buy a farm. But I have a feeling that’s a result of visiting Big Spring Farm last week. I dare you to see Buddy & Jill’s home and not want the same thing!
  • I’m so fancy. < That song’s been stuck in my head for days! And I don’t hate it.

So, I don’t usually pull out the 24mm for anything other than dancing shots, but Yale’s campus demands anything but the ordinary. So beautiful!

New England wedding at Yale University- Abby Grace Photography

Sydni Jackson - June 16, 2014 - 7:29 pm

So it’s not just me then?? I felt THE SAME WAY after going to Emily & Joe’s wedding at Big Spring a few weekends ago. To make it worse, my brother-in-law got married at Veritas Winery in Afton a few weeks prior. Maaaan I wanna live in southwest VA!!

Evangeline Graham - June 12, 2014 - 10:42 pm

Hi Abby
I was a guest at Liz and dan’s wedding and in between dancing and meeting with everyone, you were everywhere!You were up on chairs, snooping in corners, and even up front and center just to get the right shots! Well done! I cant wait to see more pics from the Liz and Dan wedding!
Thank you.
Mrs Graham

Lorin - June 12, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Hilarious driving story! My hubby is teaching me to drive his stick shift right now & we’re definitely made a few kids/parents who happened to be in almost-empty school parking lot a little nervous with all the circles I drove.

Speaking of baby goats, this video is too adorable! A dear friend of mine from church is crazy in love with them & we watched this a couple weeks ago:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/frostie-baby-goat-wheelchair-photos-video_n_5368083.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000023

Sarah Bradshaw - June 9, 2014 - 1:33 pm

STUNNING.

Jean - June 9, 2014 - 10:17 am

Beautiful photos! I think you would love living in the country! Have a great week!

Michael & Mary- an Annapolis, MD anniversary session on film

Mary. She’s one of those rare jewels, the kind of person whose zeal for life and everything it’s brought her so far just draws you in- the most dazzling of smiles, an infectious laugh, and the ability to speak the truth with more love than most everyone around her. She encouraging, life-giving, and and oh so impossibly sweet. Any one of those things alone would have been enough to draw Michael her way, and all of them together are enough to give explanation for the way he looks at her. The tender way his arms wraps around her, and the sweet way his eyes crinkle into a smile when she kisses him. There’s so much joy between the both of them.

Michael & Mary, spending the evening with you was reviving down to my soul! It’s so easy to see why you two are perfect together, and photographing your love while hearing your stories of living life together was my every idea of the perfect evening. Thank you so very, very much for the opportunity to capture this time in your lives! Your session and the purpose behind it is the embodiment of why I love anniversary sessions so much- it was such an honor!

Also, Mary’s one heck of a photographer. You should go check out her work :).

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[…] narrowing it down to just these haha!), be sure to see the entire post on Abby’s blog, here. […]

jamie - June 6, 2014 - 8:21 am

loved how you captured these two and their love. i love the one of Mary holding on to Michael’s arm leaning in and he is in focus. these two are pretty special!

Rachel Wells - June 6, 2014 - 12:10 am

Oh wow- I LOVE this session!!…and that skirt!! I need it in my life! :)

Jean - June 5, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Beautiful photographs, Abby. What a gorgeous couple!

Jaclyn - June 5, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Love this, beautiful as always!

Danielle - June 5, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Beautiful images of a beautiful lady and her man! I love the light, compositions, and glittery skirt.

Chelsea Anderson - June 5, 2014 - 3:30 pm

I am so incredibly in love with this. So much, images like these are why I do what I do. The love conveyed in each one is so incredibly. Maybe one day we’ll have to do one of these as well :)

Emilia Jane - June 5, 2014 - 3:02 pm

LOVE THESE!!! SO beautiful.

Michael and Carina - June 5, 2014 - 1:18 pm

Such a lovely session!!!!!

Hannah - June 5, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Love, love, love! Incredible work… although, it’s not too difficult with Michael & Mary in front of the camera!

Tara - June 5, 2014 - 12:13 pm

LOVE this session. So gorgeous Abby. And that skirt!!

Natalie - June 5, 2014 - 11:59 am

Oh my goodness, Abby.. This is beautiful!

Mary - June 5, 2014 - 10:19 am

Abby. Beyond, beyond, beyond words. Tears are streaming as I write this!!! So incredibly blessed by you and these amazing images!!! Much, much love!!! xoxo!

Avoiding the dreaded “Wedding Hangover”

If you’re a wedding photographer, you know exactly what I’m talking about: you’ve spent the entire day before on your feet, running around photographing a gorgeous wedding day, and then morning comes. You open your eyes, wondering why on earth your spine feels like you slept with a barbell on your back. Sitting up, rubbing your bleary, sleepy eyes, you find that there’s a dull throbbing coming from your brain. And then, as you swing your legs over the side of the bed and stand up, the soles of your feet cry out in protest as pain shoots up your calves.

We’ve all been there, amIright? You know I am.

Over the past three-four years of shooting weddings, I’ve found recipes for assured success, and recipes for undoubted disaster. In order to avoid feeling like you played a football game with a bunch of 350-lb linebackers the morning after a wedding, I suggest considering some of the following tips:

1) Hydrate. Yep, super simple, but so helpful! This past year Matt started packing ice-filled coolers for me to bring to weddings, stocked with several Gatorades and several water bottles. Part of my second shooter’s job throughout the day is to run back to the car to grab liquids for us both so that we’re both making sure to stay hydrated.

2) Make sure you eat! Also in that cooler that Matt packs are several Luna bars. I typically eat two of those throughout the day in addition to dinner during the reception. Typically I begin shooting around 12 or 1 in the afternoon, and if I’ve left my house an hour or two prior to that, I most likely didn’t eat lunch. In order to stay on my game, I have to have SOMETHING in my stomach. Avoid the hangries at all costs.

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3) Footwear matters! Rule of thumb that’s absolutely essential in finding proper wedding day footwear: if it’s even slightly uncomfortable in the store, it’s going to be downright painful by the time the ceremony rolls around. I’ve plunked down a lot of money over the years on footwear and the best thing I can tell you is DO NOT SKIMP on cheap shoes- you’ll end up replacing them multiple times over the course of wedding season!

3b) Change shoes after the reception gets started. I typically start in a low wedge and will wear those through the ceremony + family formals, but as soon as the bride & groom have made their entrance into the reception, I switch to flats. Last year, that was a pair of neutral gray TOMS, this year it’s a pair of nude suede flats from DSW. Whatever your fancy, this will absolutely save your feet from that end-of-wedding throb!

4) Pop some Ibuprofen when you get to the reception. My lower back tends to start hurting after a full day on my feet, often with my 5-10 lb camera bag on my shoulder. I usually take two Advil with dinner to allow me to enjoy shooting the rest of the reception without back pain.

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5) Put your bag down while you’re shooting, if possible. That’s what kills my back, carrying 10lbs of equipment in a bag slung across one shoulder- the uneven distribution of weight through a 9-hour day? No thank you. I try to put my bag down during pretty much any opportunity, and if I can’t put it down, I take out anything I don’t immediately need to save myself the pain later on in the day.

6) If you’re starting to feel sleepy, grab some coffee after the cake is cut and served! It’s just a little pick-me-up for that last hour or two of dancing and can put some pep back in your step :).

I’d love to hear your tricks to avoiding feeling like you were hit by a Mack truck the day after a wedding! Care to share?

Sarah (Danaher) Bradshaw - June 5, 2014 - 8:59 am

Great tips! Additionally— start a good workout routine during off-season, and keep it up during wedding season. Make sure it includes upper body and core strengthening exercises! Being in shape makes a WORLD of difference!

Urška Majer - June 5, 2014 - 4:00 am

These are some great tips :) We actually started using ear plugs at the end of the last season and i have to say that starting this year’s season last saturday that we feel less tired the next day because of them, since you don’t have to listen to loud music for the whole reception :)

Cassady Adams - June 4, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Thanks for posting this! It seems so simple, but I’m really going to be more intentional on hydrating and eating. I would highly suggest Dr. Scholl’s inserts for your shoes, my feet and legs don’t even hurt the next day.

Sarah Street - June 4, 2014 - 5:57 pm

Great tips! I have found that putting my bag down, especially during the reception is KEY! I don’t have near the back pain or foot ache at the end of the night as I use to and have more energy near the end of the night.

Maria Grace - June 4, 2014 - 2:44 pm

Love these tips, thank you! One thing that works for me is to get some Naked juice (or a similar brand) that will hydrate me and give me the best nutrients to get through the day. Doesn’t hurt that it tastes delicious :)

Amanda - June 4, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Such a good post! It took me a couple years to learn these and now I have found they help immensely!

Natalie Gibbs - June 4, 2014 - 1:39 pm

All of these tips are great!
I’ve started stashing a Pepsi in the caterer’s fridge or a cooler in my car so I can have something to pick me up as soon as the wedding ends. And I agree that the change of shoes works wonders.

Jean - June 4, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Great advice, especially the shoes and keeping hydrated!

Shalese - June 4, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Love this!! I’ve recently started switching shoes at the reception, too . . . even if you’re going from flats to different flats, it helps! I’ve also bought little footies (the kind you can’t see even with flats on) with padding in the heel and balls of your feet. It’s simple, but they seem to help a LOT! :)

Kat - June 4, 2014 - 12:22 pm

LOVE these tips, Abby!!! Thanks girl!!

Katie - June 4, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Thank you, Abby!! These are such great tips! I”m just beginning my career in wedding photography (second shooting for the first time this Saturday! EEK!) and I can use all the advice I can get. :)