Tips For Planning A Wedding From A Photographer

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Some people ask if I get ideas for my own future wedding (if I decide to have a future wedding) from seeing so many and the answer is YES. I see what tends to work well and not so well, and I learn a lot about what would be important to me on the day of.

This guide is completely my own opinion based on personal taste. It is primarily based off what I have observed through photographing weddings for the last 5 years.

1. Get an event planner.  This is one of the BEST investments you can make for your wedding! Planning and executing a large party is not easy and there are so many little things to remember.  You might be organized but it’s the last thing you want to be thinking of on your wedding day.  That day is supposed to be an enjoyable (right?) so let someone else handle the logistics so you and your friends can HAVE FUN!

One of my favorite planners based in LA, Amber Events.  Photo by Troadec Photography.


2. Plan your wedding with the guests in mind.  This rule applies when throwing even the smallest dinner party.  Guests should NEVER be uncomfortable and that includes waiting around for long periods of time, being hungry, thirsty, too hot, or too cold. To avoid this:

-Start to serve drinks and apps before the ceremony.  Too often, guests will rush to the bar as soon as the ceremony is over.  After they get their drink and some food, then they start to relax and enjoy themselves.  Why not have them feel that way from the start? :)

-Think about the weather.  If you have an outdoor wedding and it might get chilly at night, you can provide heat lamps and pashminas for the ladies.  If the weather could be very hot, providing parasols could make it a lot more comfortable during the day time.


3. Keep it small. People are different. Cultures are different. But what I hear 99% of brides say when asked if they could do anything differently about their wedding is have a smaller one.  They want to spend more than 2 minutes with each guest.  They want quality.  They would have whittled down the invite list.

Possible alternative: Have a smaller (destination?) wedding, and then have a casual, larger dinner reception back home afterward for everyone else who wasn’t able to partake in the intimate wedding ceremony.


4. Clump the formal activities together. Example: If you are planning to do formal dances, a cake cutting, slideshow, bouquet/garter toss, etc. at your reception, try to do it all at once, one after another. That way you:

-Have everyone’s attention
-It all gets done so that you can relax and get back to hanging out with your guests instead of constantly getting interrupted by someone saying, “It’s time to do this now….”
-You have efficient photography/videography coverage of everything


5. End it on a high note. If most of the guests have gone home when there is technically still 2-3 hours left to party, it brings the energy down.  An hour for dinner and a couple hours of dancing is a good amount of time.  I’d rather have guests say, “Aw man, the night has to come to an end!” than yawn and say, “Can we go home yet?.” It’s nice when people leave a party feeling good.  The hard core party animals can always go out to a bar after.


I’m sure there are some other little things but of the top of my head, these are the main things I would take into consideration.  I guess I’ll REALLY think about it when I need to. ;)


How to Get Started in Drone Photography

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As experienced photographers, we’ve spent years honing our craft. Acquiring the knowledge and skill to produce amazing photos is something we’re proud of, and a skill that – for many of us – has turned into a career. So how to get started in drone photography?

Both professionals and experienced hobbyists should commit to continuing education and expanding their horizons wherever possible. Technology improves and changes, and it’s important to keep on top of these changes if you want to remain at the top of your photography game.



The Bride & Her Bouquet

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There are so many personal touches you can put into a wedding.  One of my favorite things to see is what kind of flowers the bride chooses.  Not just flowers, but nowadays you can use anything to make your bouquet!

Some bouquets of my past brides.  It’s fun to see them side by side.  Each one definitely reflects the bride. :)


Engage11 Luxury Wedding Conference – Grand del Mar, San Diego

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I just got back from the Engage11 Conference and it was the most amazing work conference I have ever attended!  Last night I was finally able to catch up with 12 hours of much needed sleep.

If you are in the wedding industry I would highly recommend attending the next one (which is in the Cayman Islands in November).  They have the conference twice per year and I will definitely be attending whenever possible.

Not sure where to exactly start regarding my experience.  I managed to take a few photos but thank goodness Mel&Co was there as the official photographer to snap amazing shots for everyone!  The pictures I’m using in this post are a mix of ours.

Some of the highlights:

Celebrity Cake-maker Sylvia Weinstock and her husband of over 60 years.  They have the cutest interaction.  Can you imagine…over 60 years?!

Elizabeth Messina with Diann Valentine.  Elizabeth is one of my photographer idols.  I went looking for her like a stalker from the minute I arrived.  A lot of people ask, “So who is going to shoot your future wedding?.”  Well, it would be Elizabeth (if I can get her).  🙂  Photo by Mel& Co.


FINALLY got to meet this girl – Jasmine Star.  I’ve been meaning to introduce myself to her at previous conferences but she beat me to it.  I think I had just taken a huge bite of a slider when I turned around and she said, “Hi I’m Jasmine!.”  I paused for a couple seconds.  Anyone who reads her blog probably agrees that seeing her is like seeing a celebrity because you feel like you already know her.  She’s exactly how I imagined her to be (funny, friendly, awesome), and I also got to hear her speak for the first time.  EXCELLENT speaker, VERY inspiring.

Monique Lhuillier, who is as cute as a basket of kittens.

I could do an entire blog about the food but I will spare everyone with just a few pictures.  This is an example of the coffee breaks they had every couple hours.  Every COUPLE HOURS…each time a different theme with different treats.  My rings are fitting a little tighter than usual.  :/

Fruit bar.

Crepes…sigh.  I love crepes.

This cinnamon sugar doughnut station is the death of me!  I went back 3 times!

Ok, ok, this is the last food pic.  The pineapple one was delicious.

Elan Artists provided most of the entertainment which blew the roof off.  One of the bands on the first night was the Earth Harp ensemble which included a giant harp strung from the ground to the top of the hotel (100ft-200ft strings).  I love this picture (by Mel&Co) of William with Sylvia.  William is the one who invented the Earth Harp and performs at his space – ‘Revival‘ in Venice Beach – every Tuesday and Friday.  Talented, handsome, and right down the street?  Yeah, um, I think I’ll go to Revival tonight to see him perform again.


The Infusion Experience – a 3D DJ.  Those drums….you can’t help but dance.


Lunch and cake decorating demonstration with Sylvia Weinstock.  Jessica Claire on the right taking pics. :)


Details, details, details.  Most of the stationary was by Lehr&Black.  Yes, those gems are hand glued on and they made 250 of them.  And this is only a lunch menu!


The colors of the conference were black, white, and red, with a good chunk of the decor involving stripes.  Black and white stripes are one of my favorite things on this planet.


Talking about details, the service at the Grand del Mar hotel is no joke.  I love the little things, like providing a new tube of tooth paste when they see that yours is low.  How thoughtful!  No comments about my mangled up toothbrush btw.  The important thing is that I do brush my teeth, at least twice per day.


Mindy Weiss speaking.  I took a picture of this slide for inspiration.  It was for Nicole Richie’s wedding and I LOVE the wall of mirrors (kinda hard to see, sorry).  Thinking about doing it for my place!


This industry is full of people who have great style and taste.  Very inspiring.  I love being around it!  Angel Swanson from Love & Splendor.  Too cute.


Nothing beats a well dressed girl except a well dressed guy.  Elan from I Do Films.


Catherine of CBS Weddings. She matches the decor.  Hee hee.

Bonding and new friendships.  This makes me laugh.  Kelli (Adeux: Bespoke Bridal Paper) at 8:00am, day two.  The days can be long (I’m talking 7:30am to 2:00am) so yes – Coffee, please.

Leila Khalil of Be Inspired PR and Susan Moynihan, Editor-in-Chief of Destination Wedding Magazine.  Look out for upcoming issues.  Amy & Jay’s wedding might be in it. ;)

Todd Fiscus and our attempt to look like lovers.  He was my favorite speaker!  I love gay guys, they crack me up!  He said that whenever a bride starts freaking out about something on her wedding day, he says, “You look like shit, now get up, and let’s go!”

If riding in an elevator isn’t awkward enough, how about taking a picture of everyone in it?

The closing gala.  Photo by Mel&Co.

Kathryn Arce and Rebecca Grinnals of Engaging Concepts who produce this amazing conference every 6 months.  They met while working at the Walt Disney company and Rebecca is the founder of Disney Fairytale Weddings, which basically makes her my hero.  They are amazing.

West Coast Music.  JERSEY BOYS set!  Omg. (Remaining pics by Mel&Co).


Gotta love photos where people pose and you look all awkward in the back.  Better than a still image of dancing awkward I suppose, which I WILL NOT post for everyone’s sake (there were a few in the bunch).

If anyone wants to see more from the conference, here is a video done by Cloud Nine Creative or there are a ton of detail shots on StyleMePretty!

Back to work!  I’ll be hibernating in my cave for the next week, catching up on editing. :)


Laguna Beach Backyard Wedding: Chandra & Tony

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Fact: It was I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E to take a bad picture at Chandra & Tony’s wedding! Everything looked like it exploded out of an Anthropologie catalog. Picture perfect.

Thanks to Style Me Pretty for doing a feature. 🙂 You can check out the article here.


Chandra was her own florist (Chandra Abel Designs)!   It’s crystal clear that she puts 110% into what she does.  I love witnessing PASSION and CREATIVITY.

Very efficient, these ladies.

Why are suspenders so cute?!


Loading up the big balloons to head to the first-look!


It’s always funny watching the guys wait around.


Tony was so happy to finally see her.  I was a little worried for Chandra because I thought she might get pummeled!  He was REALLY excited, and his reaction made us all cry.

This photo cracks me up.


Watching guests arrive.




They played Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” as she walked down the aisle. Wah!

Shannon from All You Need Is Love Events.  They did an AMAZING job!  Great team that day.

First dance.

The food was yummy.  Can you tell?  Catering by Jock of Stalker’s Fine Foods.

You know that feeling when everything just clicks?  That was this day.


Bay Area Engagement: Lyon Street Steps & Pacific Heights

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I was asking Natalie about how her and Tommy met, when, how he proposed, etc..  She told it in a way that implied it all happened kind of quick but we both agreed that – you know when you know.  🙂  By the look on her face, she definitely knows, and the camera does not lie!



One of the great things about SF –  You’re in a neighborhood one minute and then all of the sudden, a majestic forest.


Don’t try this at home, kids.


Ojai Valley Inn Wedding Photos: Catherine Kresge & Peter Kang

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Some photos from Catherine & Peter’s gorgeous wedding at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

Catherine wore her mother’s wedding dress!

Writing her vows.

Gift to his bride.  Good job Peter! ;)

Best BFF speech ever!  Christmas music came on and he recreated the famous scene from one of Catherine’s favorite films – Love Actually.  He kept dropping the posters.  We were all in tears!


Chicken skewers were the biggest problem they encountered during wedding planning.  He wanted them.  She didn’t.  You win this one Peter Kang!!


Cat surprised Peter with the cutest song!


On their 4th date, Catherine mentioned how cool it would be to have fireworks at a wedding.  Peter remembered and surprised her at the end of THEIR wedding with a huge fireworks show!


Event Coordinator:  All You Need Is Love Events

Venue/Catering:  Ojai Valley Inn

Rentals & Lighting:  Town & Country

Floral:  Twig & Twine

Hair & Make-up:  Mariah Nicole


Season Greeting

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When did you realize Santa Claus wasn’t real?  My mom had me fooled until I was 9 or 10.  Yes, 9 or 10.  Either she was really good or my sister and I were plain old dumb.

The first year we decided to leave milk and cookies out, ‘Santa’ ate some (more like threw a couple away and poured half the glass of milk down the sink – my mom doesn’t drink milk) and responded to the letter we left.  It was my mom’s handwriting.  My sister and I said, “Mom, you wrote this, didn’t you?.”  She smiled really big and said “Yes, you got me.”

Here’s the best part.  We didn’t put two and two together that maybe she left the presents too.  Mom felt bad that Santa didn’t eat the cookies so she did that for us, but he DID bring the presents!  All right!!

Gawd we were dumb.

So the next year rolled around and this is when we officially figured out mom was Santa.  I reached for the first present and the gift tag was printed from a computer.  The tag said “Season Greeting.”

SEANSON GREETING!  Santa has computers at the North Pole but Santa is NOT ESL.  MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM?!


Twitter-Users: Contest for Free Photoshoot

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I’m feeling a little dangerous and unpredictable.  Know what that means?  It’s the perfect time to offer a FREE photoshoot!

All you have to do is use Twitter and:

1. Retweet about this contest


2. Mention this contest with my Twitter handle (@cchangphoto) and a link to this page.

This contest is for Twitter users only so if you don’t have an account but want to enter, sign up for one! :)

The photos can be of you and loved ones, kids, pets, or some sexy solo shots.  Some photos below for inspiration.  You can see more of my work in my other blog entries, or on my website.

Winner will be chosen on March 15, 2011 and announced here on my blog and also on Twitter!

More info:

Photoshoot is limited to a “sitting” of 4 people

Photoshoot must take place by December 31, 2011

Winner will be chosen at random.  I am based in Los Angeles but this contest is for ANYONE, ANYWHERE.  I travel world-wide for work and did I mention that I’m feeling a little crazy?

Photoshoot will last 1-2 hours and include 50 high resolution photos on CD