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The truth about wedding details: do they matter?

Whenever you see a wedding professional give wedding advice, you need to look at the content in perspective. What do they have to gain from writing it? Most wedding professionals are business people, they are not going to write something that is going to hurt their business. It is for that very reason, that when it comes to MOST wedding blogs and articles on details, you will only hear one thing: “details matter”.

I’m writing this post with no real selfish reason. It’s been pressing on my heart as my boyfriend and I debate about the importance of our relationship and the 50+ years of marriage and relationship building that come AFTER the big day. This is something that I think is very, very important for the people I care about to hear: Your love matters first. Worry about details after that. Details have a functional and personal purpose, but they don’t make your wedding.

What are wedding details?

It is all the stuff that stresses people out and make planning take so long. The colors of your wedding. Whether you want to have a “theme”. From the design of the invitation, to the design of flowers, to how you wish to personalize your attire, accessories, to how you want the flow of the day to happen, to what kind of favors you will pass out… the list goes on!

Why does most of the wedding industry care about details?

1. It makes them money. Customization is where the money lies. Any printer can print a thousand pages of one single page of text. Now, add different names, colors, embossing, thermal heat-printing-doo-dah, stay environmentally friendly, inner envelope, and you’re racking up the charges. Since weddings are personal, you have to pay for the personalization and the perfection it requires.

2. It leads to better-looking photos, ah yes, the dirty truth we photographers don’t really say but all think. A thoughtfully designed wedding with beautiful style will result in a more consistent set of photographs. And face it, it’s very hard to go wrong with a pretty venue with lots of trees, shaded areas for broad lighting, pops of color in a bouquet, and a flowy veil. On a photographer’s selfish side, weddings with more design, frankly, are more likely to be published in magazines and blogs, which photographers like because it gets them recognition and exposure.

This is one of my most top-pinned images on Pinterest. I think people like it because it’s a very clean, elegant design with very relatable colors (navy and white work great for anything ranging from an outdoor seashore wedding to an indoor affair)

Boston wedding photography

3. It’s what people like you – the brides and grooms to be – look for when planning a wedding. Wedding blogs make money when you visit them and click (or are exposed to) their ads. Wedding magazines count on high circulation to charge advertising dollars to other wedding vendors. And when you buy a magazine or go to a blog, you guys aren’t necessarily interested in reading about people’s love stories. You’re looking for pretty inspiration and ideas on how to execute and plan probably the biggest event you’ll ever plan in your life with no experience (which is why I tell everyone – get a wedding planner! It’s completely in your budget!)

But here’s the rub… at least for photographers…

When do people ever hire me because, “oh wow you shoot a really great set of rings?” When people look at me as a potential wedding photographer, they’re looking for something that they can relate to. Love is the single emotion that allows weddings to happen, and it is the only thing all of my clients have in common. If I became detail-focused like the rest of the wedding machine, it takes my attention away from the people who matter the most – the couple getting married. It is my responsibility to provide a record of the day that is treasured and cherished for many years to come.

When do details matter?

1. When they mean something personal to you. What does that mean? For example, details that come with your religious and cultural background are awesome – it’s a great way to introduce your wedding guests to something that means a lot to your background, or for them to try a new experience. If either of the two of you have a particular hobby or passion, it makes sense to have details that highlight your love story (such as table numbers named after places you’ve traveled to… or frisbees as wedding favors because you play on a frisbee team together).

This wedding served up delicious items such as Thanksgiving turkey (the bride’s favorite food) and stuffed quahogs, a New England seaside classic

2. When they have a functional purpose. Escort cards or seating displays tell your guests where to sit, preventing mass confusion when people entire a giant room and don’t know where to sit. Programs inform people of the passing of the events so that the day remains orderly, and menus help highlight especially for people with food sensitivities and allergies what dishes to look out for. Having boutonnieres and corsages for members of your family helps vendors and guests alike identify the VIPs quickly.

3. When they actually are helping you remain in budget or help your wedding remain eco-friendly. I do think there’s a really creative place for decor that is sustainable, or reused or recycled / upcycled items. I think it’s really cool to make a dress or bouquet wrapping using material from your mother’s gown. I think it’s awesome if you decided to line your envelopes with old newspaper instead of new paper. I think it’s really creative when instead of cut flowers, centerpieces are made out of plants that can be placed in a garden.

This wedding used terraniums for centerpieces, moss for the escort card table display, and the bride’s bouquet of succulents could be replanted

What do I care about?

When I first started out, I couldn’t tell you how much I wanted to photograph just the perfect wedding, at the most spectacular venue, with the prettiest bride, and prettiest decor, and get published in a magazine. Well, I’m lucky that I’ve probably done all of that, but I don’t remember those things quite as much as the wedding where the dad’s speech had me doubled over laughing, or where the bride was not afraid to walk in front of me wearing no underwear, or the many couples who remain in touch with me years afterwards and I have the pleasure and honor of hearing about new jobs, moves, exciting achievements, and babies.

These days, I just want to make sure that I have a lot of fun working with clients who truly love each other, aren’t afraid to share that love story with me, and have fun. Does any of that have anything to do with wedding details? Not really! I do care about a day that runs relatively smoothly, which is why I mention having a Day of Coordinator (DOC) or wedding planner, because I want the bride and groom to always remember this day fondly as a day where they got married, not as the day where they had to run around painting signs and tying bows.

And more than that, I want to become a friend. I want to know the personalities of my clients, their family relationships, who are the crazies, who are the shy ones, and how I can work that into finding those moments.

You don’t plan for dancing moments like these. They just happen

You’re not always going to be able to share a tearful dance with your daddy

Remember that moment when you said your vows and your husband wiped away a tear?

I photograph love. Pure love

So focus on your relationship. Make sure that in your engaged time, you are still going out on dates, learning and growing with each other, and thinking critically about what it means to commit to spending the rest of your lives together. Let the details have their functional place, but honestly, don’t let them overtake your time to shine.

 

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Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
she takes photographs of celebrations of love and life
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only

June 28, 2012 - 1:59 pm

Marlana Thanks for sharing that. It is so hard to remember sometimes what is most important.

June 29, 2012 - 8:07 am

Ted Duude, Shang, way to take the mystique out of weddings! In all seriousness, I am glad you wrote this! Moments >>> details.

July 25, 2012 - 2:59 pm

Jannie Made me tear up. Thanks for reminding folks, dear :)

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