I often say that weddings are like a theatrical show. You have two lead actors, supporting cast, costumes, a set, and an audience. If you’re a bride currently planning a wedding, you understand the pressure that comes from family, tradition, and social media. You “have to do it this way” is still said, even though the wedding market has changed drastically. It’s 2020. We don’t “have to do” anything.

You might be receiving pressure from family to have a big wedding. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to invite every cousin you have, even the ones you’ve never met. Especially if you’re paying for the wedding yourself. Gone are the days of the bride’s family paying the entire wedding bill and therefore calling the shots. My mother didn’t want a big wedding, but my grandmother insisted. The cake was a ridiculous monstrosity with multiple tiers, plastic bridges, and a built-in fountain. My mom said, “I didn’t want all that, but my parents were paying so my mother threw this huge wedding and ordered this ridiculous cake.” Most couples getting married in this day and age are footing the bill themselves. So if you’re paying yourself, why should you be forced to invite people you don’t know or like? When someone is being pushy, tell them, “If you insist on inviting them, you can pay for them to be there.”

When it comes to this issue, the only thing you can really do is firmly explain that this is YOUR day, and no one else’s. Because it is. Your wedding day belongs to YOU, not your family or friends. They are your guests, so of course they’re included, but that’s what they are: guests. They are there to watch you get married and celebrate with you. That is their only job. Their job isn’t to boss you around and make you spend money you don’t have.

Gone are the days of the bride’s family paying the entire wedding bill and therefore calling the shots.

There are a lot of drawbacks to having a large wedding. Of course there is the expense, which is hovering over $40,000 in the US. The Wedding Report listed it at approximately $33,000, but that number includes data from elopements, which totally skews the numbers. Many of my Yosemite elopement clients saved their money to buy a house and start a family.

When you have a big wedding, you don’t get to enjoy it the same way as you would an intimate wedding. Big weddings are dictated by timelines and venue coordinators tapping their watches and saying, “We have resting meat, are you done with photos yet?” There is no wiggle room to be flexible with time or events. You’re busy being pulled in a million directions, dealing with details, traditions, and bridal party. You’re busy with Uncle Bob, who you don’t even know, following you around with his camera, getting in the professional photographer’s way.

With an intimate wedding, you get to spend time with your loved ones. You get to talk to each person, dance with them, and celebrate. It’s so much easier to connect to other humans when you’re not like “SQUIRREL!”¬†Your wedding day should be enjoyable, not hectic and stressful.

Why do we only shoot intimate weddings?

An intimate wedding is a photographer’s dream. Fewer people, smaller bridal parties, and smaller venues make the day much more simple and easy, and the bride and groom have a much more enjoyable time.

I’m able to connect with the couple in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Maybe being friends with your wedding photographer doesn’t sound important to you, but it should. I’m not saying you should be besties and hang out every weekend. I like to get to know my clients well enough to capture their personalities on film. I want to know if she’s a little shy but giggles when he imitates Michael from The Office. I want to know what will make them laugh together. I want them to be so comfortable with me that they show their soft underbellies to my camera on their wedding day. The more connected I am with the couple, the better their photos turn out. Every time I’ve worked with a couple who wouldn’t open up, their photos didn’t have enough soul.

We have more time for photos!

I really fell in love with shooting intimate weddings when my Yosemite business took off. Spending the day with just the bride and groom, and meeting a handful of family for the ceremony, was a completely different experience for me. I didn’t have bridal party asking, “Can we do this Pinterest picture? Can we do that Pinterest picture?” I didn’t have guests drinking too much or fighting with each other. I realized how much more I could connect with a couple and how much more fun it was. As I looked at my work and how authentic it became, I wanted more of that. I wanted all that emotion in my photos all the time. I wanted to do only intimate weddings outside of Yosemite as well.

When I used to do large weddings, it was typical to only get twenty minutes to photograph the bride and groom alone, especially if there’s a large bridal party. Think of it this way… On your wedding day, you wear a gorgeous, expensive dress. You pay for professional hair and makeup. Your groom looks his absolute best in a suit you picked out for him. Then you run around making everyone else happy, and you only get a handful of portraits of yourself and your groom. If you’re spending that kind of time and money on your look, don’t you want to have as many gorgeous portraits as possible? Intimate weddings are ideal, especially when there is a First Look and we can spend 45 minutes doing bride and groom portraits before the ceremony. You’ll get better, more creative images because you’ll have enough time.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~ Maya Angelou

I’m able to give much better customer service.

In my business, customer service is number one, above quality of work. I built my business on the backbone of superior customer service, which got me a lot of referrals. Most of my testimonials mention how easy it was to work with me, how fast I respond, and how helpful I am. In general, I go above and beyond in any way I can. I’ve gone as far as calling a client’s hotel to make sure they were comfortable because there was a power outage. I could take the most gorgeous photos in the world, but if your experience with me is terrible, that’s all you will remember. You won’t be happy. On the other hand, if I deliver decent photos, but give the best customer service of your life, you’ll be thrilled and in love with your photos.

What do you think about wedding traditions and big weddings? If you could have any size wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be? Tell us by commenting below!