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Wedding Advice from a Photographer

Written By Samantha ritchie 11 Apr 2020
bride and groom outdoors
We thought it would be fun to create a new series on the blog where we interview wedding professionals! This will be a really fun way for our brides to get more tips and advice from other vendors in the wedding industry!
And who better to start with than one of our favorite photography teams: Cathy and Jeff West with UnPosed Photography!
This power duo is based out of Galena, IL. Cathy started UnPosed Photography about 15 years ago, just photographing friends that were just getting married, fresh out of college. According to Cathy, "the first couple of weddings went really well. The word got out and now here we are!". Jeff joined the team as an assistant about 10 years ago, then they started dating and got married 5 years ago. They love everything about being a husband and wife photography team!
Enjoy the rest of this blog post, where we ask Cathy and Jeff a few questions about their business and we even ask them for some of their top tips for brides!
What’s your favorite thing about being a wedding professional?
We LOVE everything about weddings!!!  It's so much fun to work with couples as they plan one of the biggest celebrations they'll have in their lives.  We love helping our couples work through challenges they have in planning, we love seeing all their visions come together, and our greatest joy is to document the real moments that happen during a wedding day between our UnPosed Couples and the people that mean so much to them. 
What’s your biggest tip for a bride and groom during the wedding planning process?
From a photography standpoint, the best advice we can give you is to let your photographer dictate your timeline for the day.  Your photographer will know how much time they need to create the kind of images that inspired you to hire them in the first place.  They'll also have insight into where to add some buffer time in case things run behind (which they always do).  Having that buffer time is crucial so you don't lose valuable photo time if and when something runs a little behind. 
The other biggest piece of advice we can give you is to trust your photographer's vision.  You hired them because you liked the quality of the work you saw from them (hopefully!). Allow them to document your day freely instead of asking them to copy photos you saw on Pinterest or from someone else's wedding.  Your day is unique and should be documented in a way no other wedding day would be.  Recreating images on Pinterest is fine, but it takes all the creativity out of your photographer, and you hired them for their creativity.  Let them run with their vision and I promise you'll love the photos because they'll be unique to your day and your love story!
What is a fun fact about you and/or your business?
A very fun thing about what we do is that we get to follow most of our UnPosed Couples throughout their lives even after the wedding day. It's been the best part of our business journey to have our UnPosed Couples come back to us for maternity, baby, and family photos in the years that follow.  We have some families that we've been documenting for over 10 years! That is incredibly special to us! Oh, and of course we think the best part of our studio space is the fact that our dog, Cody, is the official greeter. He's an 11-year-old Australian Shepherd that loves welcoming clients to the studio! :)
What’s your favorite color scheme and style for weddings right now?
It's soooo hard for us to pick a favorite wedding style or color scheme because we think every wedding is so unique and beautiful.  But if we had to choose, we absolutely love weddings that are classic with a modern twist.  Navy suits, A-line wedding dresses, long bridesmaid dresses, flowers with a pop of color, outdoor ceremonies with arches draped in florals, and receptions with a mix of rectangle and round tables with romantic colors.  Those weddings always make our hearts flutter! 
Tell us about YOUR wedding day and what you would do differently (if anything!) looking back.
Our wedding day was amazing!!! Our favorite part of the day was our first look which we actually did on the front porch of our house, the first house we owned together.  We loved spending over an hour traveling around Galena and taking photos before our ceremony. Our wedding party consisted of only our brothers, our niece as the flower girl, and our dog as the "Best Dog". We held our wedding out in the country and it was gorgeous. Our theme had lots of colors and a subtle hint of the Pixar movie "UP" which is our favorite movie. We asked our photographers to take a lot of what we call "grip and grin" photos, quick cute photos of us with a majority of our guests. We adore those photos because so many of our friends came from far away and while we keep in touch, we haven't been able to see them in person since our wedding day. It down poured in the middle of our outdoor ceremony so we all had to run under the tent to finish the ceremony and that turned out to be one of our favorite memories of the day. It all depends on your perspective. If you keep a positive attitude, some rain can't ruin your day. We got some of our favorite photos of the day just as the rain was coming down and it's an aspect of our day we'll never forget.
The only thing we would change (and we tell this to all of our couples!) is that we wish we had video recordings of the speeches and toasts because neither of us remembers them. Our photos from our wedding day are INCREDIBLE and of course, we put a majority of our budget to securing photographers we adored. However, we also wish we had someone with a GoPro or even a cell phone recording those speeches for us. The only other advice I give to our UnPosed Couples is to not plan any part of your day specifically for or because of someone else's opinion. We made that mistake and it ended up causing some strife that we could have avoided if we had just planned it exactly the way we wanted. You may have people that are critical of your day in some way, so you might as well do things exactly as you want and let the naysayers sit in their own negativity. Don't take their negativity onto yourself. That's all on them.
Oh! And make sure you take a moment just for the two of you during the reception to step away from it all and look at all the people you love enjoying themselves. It's the only day in your life when every person that you love the most is in the same space together.  Be sure to soak that in because that's magical!
Wow... how fun was that?! Cathy and Jeff are the best and we've been so honored to work with them on multiple projects!
While you're here, check out their website HERE, their Facebook page HERE, and their Instagram page HERE. They're the best!
Let us know if you have any requests or questions you'd like to ask the next wedding professional we interview!