Planning a wedding in era of coronavirus

Livermore wedding photographer - Purple Orchid Inn - photo 17

The world around us has taken a long pause due to the Covid-19 Virus and has resulted with most of us are sheltering in place and practicing social distancing. While the essential business are still operating, the wedding industry has stopped in it’s tracks. All events have been cancelled or postponed to near… or far future…? The couples who spent months navigating the wedding planning process are now facing a new set of challenges. All small business owners who cater the wedding industry like photographers, florists, caterers, hair and make-up artists are without work for possibly months. 

When the shelter in place order gets lifted the returning to normal process will likely start opening in stages and eventually some gatherings will be allowed.

Below are few ways on how to make your wedding safer for you and your guests. 

  1. Keep it small.

Looking back at the last couple months, events over 50 people were the first to be cancelled so it is likely the return to normal will follow a similar path.   Keeping the guest list small will likely help to make it happen as it will be safer for everyone and as a side benefit in these uncertain times it will be cheaper too. I know, you tried to keep that guest list small from the beginning but at the current situation I think everyone will be much more understanding.

If you are local to San Francisco Bay Area have you considered getting married at San Francisco City Hall?

  1. Keep it local and minimize travel.

Even without pandemic, planning a destination wedding offers it’s own set of challenges but risking getting sick on a plane or getting stuck somewhere is not fun at all. 

  1. Keep it outdoors.

The chance of catching a virus at the open space is much smaller then at an indoor space so take advantage of the beauty of our nature and get married outside! Vineyards, parks, backyards, and beaches are all great options.

  1. Streaming event.

One of the ways to keeping the most venerable guests safe is life streaming your wedding.

It could be just ceremony, or more key events like first dance, cake cutting or speeches. 

Hiring videographer to document is a great idea as well.

  1. Avoid buffet or family style served meals. 

Using the same serving spoon by all your guests is probably not the best idea in these times so if you decide to have a buffet make sure that all food is served by catering staff.

  1. Offer hand sanitizer and reusable face mask with fun designs on them for your guest.

I know that hand sanitizer is gold right now, but there is a lot of skilled people who started to make cute masks for sale and donating them to help the with global face mask shortage and they would be happy to help you.

We are sheltering in place to flatten the curve but after few months sitting at home we will go back to our “normal life” whatever that means. It will take time to recover and it might look different than before but world will start spinning again and people will start getting together and celebrating.  No matter how scary things are right now the most important things are that we have our health and the people we love are close, if this continues than we are winning. 

Written by Anna Hogan

Baker Beach Wedding, San Francisco

Check out this beautiful California beach wedding!

Jade and Daniel got married on a beautiful October day on a popular beach in San Francisco, right in front of Golden Gate Bridge. Can you imagine a better backdrop for this intimate ceremony?

Should I Hire Two Photographers for my Wedding Day?

I heard that if a couple can survive wedding planning and a house remodel they can survive anything! Planning even a small and casual wedding can be overwhelming, couples are faced with lots of decisions, how many guest, which venue, which photographer, flowers, catering, cake or cupcakes, or maybe donuts?

A lot of times they reach out to their married friends or a wedding planner for advice which is great, but let’s not forget that every wedding is different.
A lot of times when couples inquire about the wedding packages they already know how many photographers they will need, sometimes it’s based on their budget or on higher/smaller guest count, but there is much more logistics to the wedding photography than that.
My first few years of photographing weddings I was usually the only photographer. Some weddings were harder than others, but eventually it taught me how to photograph efficiently and quickly but sometimes it is impossible to be in two places at the same time.
I’m not gonna list pros and cons of having two photographers because the only cons is a little higher cost. What I’m gonna do is list you reasons why you might want to hire two photographers and scenarios when having one is just enough.

Should I hire two photographers for my wedding?

Getting ready
Brides’ getting ready photos take much longer than the grooms’.  Even if we are photographing just the last stages of putting on make up and getting hair done, there are still all the pretty little things that brides like to have photographed (like dress, shoes, jewelry, etc), candid moments while getting ready, toasting, or photos in bathrobes…… What about the groom? He is not having any less fun time than girls. Fixing every piece of their hair in front of the mirror for 20 min, Ironing shirts… by the way this might be the only proof of them ever doing it! Trying to figure out with his closest 5 friends how to tie a bowtie using youtube and failing tremendously. If you are not into all the silly stuff you would definitely enjoy the JCrew style photos while putting on the suit and cufflinks.
With two photographers:
– Bride and Groom can get ready at two different locations, I have had the bride and grooms get ready in two different cities which definitely required a second photographer.
– Groomsmen can get ready at the same time as Bridesmaids instead of guys waiting their turn to get ready so they can be photographed
– Time reserved for getting ready photos is closer to hour and a half instead of two and half so the one photographer get cover both locations.
Extra set of eyes during the ceremony
While all eyes are set on you, having two photographers allows capturing the emotions of your guests that you would never see, all those smiles, tears and holding hands. Primary photographer can do both, but their main focus will always be on the couple.
Uncle with a camera – With a rise of amateur photographers almost every wedding has one person who is acting like they are going to build their wedding portfolio on your big day by photographing everything and everyone. Sometimes they are so focused on their photos that they will walk in/jump in into professional photographers frame and ruin the photo that a couple is paying a lot of money for. With two photographers chances of that happening to both photographers are super slim.
Decorations and Cocktail Hour – Couples put a lot of work into making their wedding look as beautiful as possible, and they would like to have photos of all the things they spend their money on. Since most of the time reception decor is finalized during cocktail hour while primary photographer is busy photographing family, wedding party, bride and groom sunset photos he/she doesn’t have much time to photograph the decor before all your guests are invited inside. If you have two photographers, one of them can photograph the decor plus your guests enjoying the cocktail hour. Let me add that candid moments from cocktail hour are some of my favorites. People catching up with their favorite people some of which they have not seen in a long time.
Second Perspective
I’m sure that the main reason why you hired your wedding photographer was their photography style. Most likely their second photographers will have a style similar to theirs, but bringing a second photographer to your wedding offers a different perspective on capturing events, second photographers don’t carry all the pleasure of delivering photos from “the list” so they tend to have a little more creative freedom.
Back up
I always work with two cameras, mainly because it allows me to capture the same moment in two different ways in a short period of time (without need to change the lens), but there is also a back up factor to it. Most of my second photographers also cary two cameras at the same time, which means additional backups of those precious moments.

When ONE Photographer is just enough?

           To those of you that are planning wedding under 50 people at one location, and a very small wedding party. No problem!  And to those that have a slightly bigger party check out the tips on how to arrange the timeline to allow one photographer cover as much as possible.
– Getting ready –
Schedule groom to get ready first, he can always take off his jacket and relax in a room when the photos are completed. Brides on the other hand prefer not to sit in their wedding dresses too long before the ceremony because they don’t want to create the wrinkles, plus hair and make up will be much fresher if she gets ready last.
– Ceremony –
Make sure that your ceremony is longer then 10 min. It will allow photographer get a bigger variety of photos of your guests and you during the ceremony, 20 to 30 min is ideal.
Make sure that there is a clear path on the outside of the seats where the photographer can walk and not to be a distraction to your guests while trying to cover events from both perspectives (bride and groom), also be prepared that photographer might stay in the middle isle for a lot of photos to not miss anything.
 – Uncle with a camera –
Have an unplugged wedding ceremony.
Make a sign by the entrance to the ceremony area or have your officiant make an announcement not to use electronic devices during ceremony. It might not eliminate it completely, but it will for sure minimize the risk of someone jumping in front of professional photographer’s camera.
– Decorations and Cocktail Hour –
Have a “First Look” as it will allow the photographer to do majority of the Bride & Groom and wedding party portraits before the ceremony. That way there will be enough time to do family photos and with enough time remaining to capture decor at the reception hall and few candid photos from the cocktail hour.
If you prefer to NOT to see each other before the ceremony you should talk to the wedding venue coordinator about completing the reception hall decor before the ceremony starts so it can be photographed then.
The key to getting photos you are hoping for is communicating your expectations and be able to roll with whatever your wedding day throws at you.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are getting married to your best friend…


Wedding at Marine’s Memorial Club and Hotel, San Francisco

I had a pleasure photographing both Brittany and Michael’s wedding…yes, two :)

Their weddings were exactly 1 year apart, both on December 29. Thats how you make sure you remember your wedding anniversary! Their first one was at San Francisco City Hall, and they looked amazing so I wasn’t quite sure how are they gonna out-do themselves, but they sure did.

The whole time I felt like I was a part of a Disney movie, about a beautiful lovely girl and her prince charming. They were so in love…. but the highlight of the evening for me was cake cutting with a sword! Yes, a SWORD, look though reception photos to check it out. 

Since the couple decided to do a two hour “cocktail hour” after family and wedding party photographs we were able to drive to Palace of Fine Arts and Grace Cathedral for additional photos of bride and groom. 

Straus Home Ranch Wedding, Marshall CA

I love wedding fusions and when people bring the wedding traditions from different countries together. Sometimes it might be as big as doing two different ceremonies, or doing a tea ceremony in a morning and have mariachi playing at your reception, but sometimes it might be smaller things.

Well the traditions that Hannah and John picked were just perfect.

Since Hannah’s family is from Norway, couple decided to replace a regular wedding cake with a traditional 18 layer Norwegian tower cake called Kransekake. 

Instead of cake cutting couple picks up the top ring and breaks it together.

The rest of the cake is broken into pieces and served to everyone.

The other tradition comes from the groom’s Swedish side. During the reception when the bride leaves the room all men line up to kiss the groom. And when the groom leaves the room all women get up and kiss the the bride. That part was so much fun! Everyone running to bride or groom to get their kiss before their spouse comes back, but women weren’t to sneaky because they left bunch a lipstick marks all over John’s face which looked priceless.

When Hannah and Jon told me that they are getting married at Straus Home Ranch I was very happy to revisit the venue, because I photographed there a very intimate wedding few years ago. This time the wedding was supposed to be much bigger and to accommodate weddings this size owner converted an old red barn to a reception hall. 

Seeing the previous condition of that barn I have to say I was quite skeptical, but oh may I was surprised. Check it out for your self!