How to Plan a Cruise Wedding – Our Experience
A little bit about us
My fiance and I are wedding photographers based in Atlanta, GA. This is how we planned our cruise wedding. This article will continue to be updated as we navigate through this experience together.
At the time of writing this article (September 2018), we have been engaged for almost 2 years. We have put off planning our wedding time and time again due to a variety of reasons including personal finances, family health problems, and the paradox of choice that comes with having too many options available to you. With my dad’s cancer now in remission, and our finances in a better place, there never seemed a better time to start planning for our wedding!
Why plan a cruise wedding?
We started brainstorming all of the possibilities. Being active professionals in the local wedding community in Atlanta for the past 10 years, we knew we always wanted to plan a destination wedding. We had initially thrown ideas around like an intimate wedding in Vegas, or an all inclusive resort in Mexico, etc. With all of our ideas floating around, we knew we wanted our wedding to be affordable for family and friends to attend, and we wanted to provide an amazing experience for those who chose to come out.
It came to me in a dream one night! Of all the places to find wedding inspiration! The next morning I contemplated the logistics of planning a cruise wedding. It seemed to check off all of our boxes.
- Cool destination? Check.
- Affordability? It’s possible depending on the cruise line, check.
- Non traditional & non cookie cutter? Check.
- Does it provide a unique & awesome experience for our guests? Check.
How to choose the best cruise lines for weddings
Ideally we were looking to plan a shorter cruise over a weekend. Weekday cruises & longer cruises are less affordable, and would require our guests to take off more vacation time from work. We also wanted to choose a port that was close enough to drive to if our family and friends preferred not to fly.
We chose our cruise line and port based on availability. When we started looking at the nearest ports within driving distance, we were limited to just 3 (Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa). When we looked at the cruise lines available at these ports that offered 3&4 night cruises, we also realized we only had a couple of options available to us. Between Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean, we personally had the best experiences with Royal Caribbean in the past.
We looked at the Royal Caribbean cruises available at the time of year we wanted to get married that matched our criteria (3 or 4 night cruise, over a weekend, and cool locations!). With only 2 or 3 cruises available, there was clearly one winner with the best cruise itinerary that covered 2 islands in the Bahamas within 3 nights.
Cruise wedding reviews : Should I get married on a cruise?
Once we had a fairly good idea of the cruise we wanted to get married on, we started to research Royal Caribbean Wedding reviews, and just cruise wedding reviews in general – we wanted to cover all of our bases. What we found was a very mixed bag.
There were absolute nightmare horror stories posted online highlighting terrible experiences with various cruise lines that dropped the ball when planning weddings & terrible customer support stories. There were also equally great experiences and stories highlighted. After reading as many cruise wedding reviews as we could find, we came to a consensus.
The most disappointed brides seemed to be the ones with the highest expectations. As wedding professionals, we know all too well that anything that can go wrong will go wrong on a wedding day. Wedding professionals do the best they can to prepare for mishaps in advance, but sometimes there are circumstances beyond anyones control that can influence how a wedding day might unfold. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t let those things ruin our day and ruin our precious memories. We would take it in stride & focus on what’s most important to us. We would focus on enjoying our day and creating amazing memories & experiences with the ones we love.
Another thing we read about in the various cruise wedding reviews we stumbled upon is that cruise weddings are not for everyone. Many wedding packages with cruise lines are fairly restrictive in nature – including the times and dates available for ceremonies, the legality of the ceremonies, the vendors available, etc. This is both a blessing and a curse. For the super laid back bride who doesn’t want to plan anything, this is ideal. For the more type a bride looking for a higher level of control and more options for customization, cruise weddings might not provide the best experience.
When we contacted Royal Caribbean’s wedding team, we were prepared for anything! We received a copy of their wedding packages & deliberated on the one that might work best for us.
To be continued!
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Sunflower Farms in Georgia
If you’re looking for a great outdoor location idea for your engagement session, family session, or any type of photography session with a gorgeous outdoor backdrop, consider one of the beautiful sunflower farms in Georgia! Here is a round up of some Sunflower farms to check out –
Anderson’s Sunflower Farms
Located in Cumming, Georgia, Anderson’s Sunflower Farms is a farm that focuses solely on sunflowers! For business hours and sunflower season, check out their website.
3360 Shiloh Road
Cumming, GA 30040
Copper Creek Farm
Copper Creek Farm, located in in Calhoun, Ga is a great family friendly venue run by David and Sabrina. Not only does this farm offer gorgeous sunflowers during sunflower season, they also do corn mazes, haunted houses, class field trips, and even weddings! Find out more info on their website here.
1514 Reeves Station Rd SW
Calhoun, GA 30701
Perhaps one of the best know Sunflower farms in Georgia, Fausett Farms is a family run business that’s been around for 60+ years! Originally a poultry farm, they made a change in 2011, and now offer 30ish acres of beautiful sunflower fields! Check out their website for parking information, photography permits, and sunflower season.
11336 Hwy 136 West
Dawsonville, GA 30534
Prospect Farms, located at 1839 Prospect Road, in Lawrenceville, Georgia offers beautiful sunflower gardens during sunflower season – typically a 2 week window in June! You can check out their facebook page or instagram (@prospectfarms) for up to date photography permit information and the exact dates of the current sunflower season!
In addition to sunflower fields, Prospect Farms also offers daffodil fields in April, wild flower fields in May, pumpkin patches in the fall, and christmas trees in the winter. Scottish highland cows also graze the farm if you’re looking for a super southern, country style photo session!
Current photo permit rates at the time of writing this article (Fall 2018) –
$30/ 30 minutes
$60/ 60 minutes
$120/ 2 hours
$195/ 4 hours
$395/ 8 hours
*rates likely to change – check with the establishment to get current rates!
1839 Prospect Road
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043
Phone: 678-687-2597 OR 404-409-6685
William L. Brown Farm Market (Montezuma Location)
While not the center of attraction, you can find sunflowers at the William L. Brown Farm Market if you go at the right time of year. They typically have them in June, but call ahead to make sure they’re in bloom before heading down! Check out their website for more info.
4334 GA Highway 49 North
Montezuma, GA 31063
Looking for more Georgia Sunflower Farms?
Did we leave out a farm? Are any of the farms we listed out of date? Please post a comment below, and we’re happy to update our information!
Atlanta Photography Group
Photography Groups to Join
Are you an up and coming photographer brand new to the Atlanta scene? Are you looking for a new Atlanta photography group to connect with? Are you browsing through the first page of google to email photographers to offer your second shooting services to them so you can get your Atlanta portfolio started?
If you’re new to starting wedding photography in the Atlanta area and looking to connect with photographers to network or second shoot with, my team and I have put a list together of some facebook groups, monthly meetings, and educational resources you HAVE to check out. You can meet other professionals and work with a TON of photographers throughout the city. They’re all pretty nice too. 😉 I recommend you join the facebook groups that interest you & introduce yourself! Go to monthly meetings, meet the photographers in the Atlanta scene, & network!
Facebook Groups for Online Networking
Facebook Groups for Networking & Meet Ups
- Trigger Happy – Meet up once a month for inspirational lectures, food, and occasionally shoots/ headshot swaps. Great for networking and meeting other photographers in the Atlanta area.
- Tuesdays Together – This one is really good for networking with other entrepreneurs or other vendors in the wedding industry. They meet once a month on a Tuesday. Good for networking with other vendors, and talking about business topics.
- Styled Shoots by Rick+Anna Photography – If you’re looking to grow your wedding portfolio, this is a monthly styled shoot group. It will usually cost a little $$ to cover the cost of models, professional hair & makeup, and a wedding venue location, but it’s an excellent way to build your portfolio from the ground up.
- Rick+Anna: Business Coaching For Photographers – Atlanta-based Facebook group run by Rick+Anna Photography offering business advice to photographers.
- CreativeLive – High production live video education platform – Good for catching live workshops taught by industry leaders on photography, business, or anything entrepreneurial. Free to watch, $$ for purchasing workshops for anytime access.
- Aperturent – This is the “Atlanta-based” rental place is located in Sandy Springs off Roswell Road. They rent out camera bodies, lenses, lighting, etc. You can have them deliver equipment rentals to you, or you can go in & pick up your order.
Good luck in your future endeavors! Hope you find an Atlanta Photography Group for you.
How to Define Your Photography Style
Why is having a consistent photography style important? Because brand identity.
Having a consistent style allows your biggest fans to identify your work anywhere in the world and gives your overall portfolio a unified look. When you can achieve that specific outcome every single time, it gives your clients confidence in the level of quality they can expect when they hire you.
But where do you begin? How does one even start to develop a photography style? Look for inspiration, and ask others for feedback!
Finding your style in photography through Inspiration
When you’re trying to find your photography style, starting with inspiration is a safe place to start.
Check out photographer portfolios you admire. Which images do you strongly resonate with? If you collected all the images that inspired you the most, what common factors link them all together?
Are there certain colors that stand out to you? Do most of the images have a very certain look and appeal to them? What are the people in the photos consistently doing or feeling? Are there specific locations you seem drawn to? What is the overall lighting quality like from photo to photo?
Whatever those common bonds are that tie your favorite images together – those links should represent the ideals you strive to capture with each and every photograph you take.
How to describe photography style by asking others
Although slightly more adventurous, but equally as rewarding – ask your clients for their opinion on your photography style! Don’t have clients? Do a couple of free photo shoots, and ask your friends for their opinions. It might seem a little scary, but the results are worth it!
A major shift happened in our wedding photography branding this past year. In an attempt to put a promo video together for our photography business, we started interviewing our couples for testimonials after working with them on their photo shoots. Then, something magical happened.
We started to learn what our actual clients thought about our brand & what it was like to work with us.
Prior to starting this project, I thought I had a strong idea as to what our brand represented. However, THINKING you know where your brand is vs KNOWING where your brand actually is are two entirely different things.
By interviewing our couples, we realized what we thought we were projecting out into the world was different than how our clients perceived us. We learned where we really shined and where we might have fallen flat. We took what we could, and we ran with it.
When most of our clients told us the same thing over and over again, we realized we’d created a consistent experience across the board. We took the words they used to describe us and infused them into our website & our overall brand. These words acted as a magnifying glass to help us focus on the things our clients loved us for and let us know the direction we should grow in.
Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran photographer, if you find yourself having an identity crises and asking yourself, “what is my photography style?” look for inspiration & ask others around you. 😉
4 Tips to Save Time on Your Wedding Day
Wedding days can be LONG – as the one vendor who arrives while you are getting ready in the morning and doesn’t leave until after you leave, we, as wedding photographers, probably know this more than most!
As you start to plan out your special day, you might soon realize just how long that day becomes.
If the Wedding Photography Collection you purchased comes with a limited number of hours, you might be debating whether it’s worth it to add on more time with your photographers, or if there are things you can cut from your wedding day timeline to make it work with the number of hours you’ve purchased.
While this decision is entirely personal and might be based on a number of other factors, we’ve put together a couple of sneaky tips and tricks to help save you time on your wedding day!
1) Streamline & Prioritize the Getting Ready Photos
What moments during your getting ready process do you want captured? On the wedding day, our wedding photography studio tends to photograph ANYTHING and EVERYTHING as it unfolds. But when pinched for time – are there unique and specific moments you’d like to prioritize over others?
If considering cutting back hours, we encourage our brides to prioritize and focus on the moments that matter the most to them.
The wedding day is a combination of stylized portraiture (both candid & posed in nature) as well as unique and special moments that tell the story of your day. Our advice is to prioritize the key portraits and moments that are the most important to you, and to cut back mercilessly on the lackluster moments that may be devoid of emotion or meaning. These are incredibly personal decisions to make – and decisions that only you have to be happy with at the end of the day.
2) Limit the number of Wedding Day Locations
Another factor to consider in shrinking back a photography timeline is to reduce the number of locations used on a wedding day. With fewer locations, come fewer opportunities to travel and fewer opportunities to get stuck in traffic. Every time a new location is used, time is required to break down and pack up gear, lug said gear into a vehicle, drive to the next location and maybe get stuck in traffic along the way, get to the next location, find a parking spot/ pay to park, unpack said gear, and get gear set up and established before photos can be taken again.
By limiting the number of locations used on your wedding day, the less time will be spent in travel & re-establishing gear again.
Fewer locations = less travel time & more photo time!
3) Group reception activities together
There are two ways to schedule your reception events (ie: first dances, cake cutting, toasts, bouquet/ garter toss, etc) – You can spread them out throughout the evening or schedule them back to back.
This decision might very well depend on the amount of time you have allotted for this portion of the day. After cocktail hour (1 hour) & dinner (1 hour) is done, how much actual reception time do you have left?
If you have 3 or 4+ hours left after cocktail hour & dinner, you have a longer reception! Spreading out your events throughout the evening is a nice way to break up your time. Rather than having 4+ hours of endless dancing, you have an event to look forward to every hour or so.
On the other hand, if you have 1-2 hours left after cocktail hour & dinner is said and done, spreading out your events throughout this 2 hour window will result in a break every 10-30 minutes. You’ll have just enough time to start a conversation with a friend before being whisked away for the next event.
If you find yourself with 1-2 hours left for your reception, we highly recommend scheduling your events back to back (where it makes sense). This ensures you’ll have at least an hour – hour and a half of uninterrupted dancing time, and uninterrupted time to mingle with the family and friends who came to your wedding.
Examples of grouping like events together would mean that your first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance happen back to back. If you held off until scheduling these dances for after dinner, you could also add in the cake cutting & toasts immediately after. As an added bonus, you & your guests would also get to eat dinner immediately after cocktail hour.
4) Stage an early send off/ No send off
The last tip we have for you to save time on your wedding day is to stage an early send off or go without one.
If you don’t care much for send off photos, you can cut your photographers’ coverage at some point during the evening once enough reception photos have been covered.
If you would prefer to have these send off photos, you also have the option of staging a send off earlier in the evening.
During a typical reception, the crowd tend to thin out as families and elderly guests start to leave. Staging an early send off will often act as a cue for these people to leave at that time, leaving the fun party animals behind to dance the night away!
If you have a smaller guest count to begin with (less than 100), staging an early send off will ensure there are more people to see you go & you’ll have send off photos with the majority of your guests.
At the end of the day, you always have the option to add on more time with your wedding photographers. However, if you would like to stay within your purchased number of hours, you have several options available to you if you’re looking to save time on your wedding day.
- You can streamline & prioritize the photos taken during the getting ready portion of the day.
- You can limit the number of locations to reduce travel time.
- You can schedule your reception events back to back.
- You can stage an early send off, or cut it all together.
I hope these tips and tricks help!
Lightroom Not Opening Raw Files?
Having problems with Lightroom not opening raw files? Whether they’re CR2 files, NEF files, or some other unsupported file type, there’s a simple solution in most cases.
We’re Nikon photographers! Occasionally we work with Canon photographers as second shooters. This past weekend we worked with a photographer who used one of the latest Canon cameras. As soon as we came home to import the images into Adobe Lightroom, the images weren’t registering with the software. We couldn’t see previews, and the images couldn’t import.
When we tried to open a preview of any of the files, this is the error message we got.
When we tried to import the images into Lightroom, this was the preview we saw –
At first, we tried to import the files anyway, and saw this error message after –
Our next logical step was to check for updates. So we did.
Low and behold, our (desktop) version of Lightroom was current….. Puzzled, we did a quick internet search and found the solution!
Step 1: Check your current version of Adobe Camera Raw. From the “Lightroom” Menu, select “About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom XXX”.
It should bring up the version of your Adobe Lightroom as well as your version of Adobe Camera raw.
In the upper right hand corner, we can see we have Camera Raw 8.7.1.
Step 2: Visit Adobe’s Camera Raw Installer website & follow the instructions. It will have you download the newest version for Adobe Camera Raw & install it.
Once you download the zip file, it will walk you through the on screen instructions.
TIP: If you have any problems with this step (we ran into a compatibility issue with our current version of our Mac operating software), try updating your operating system first, and then run through the Install Camera Raw steps. If you update your operating system like we did, but you STILL have a compatibility issue, you can try installing an older version of Adobe Camera Raw. At the time of this writing the current version of Adobe Camera Raw is version 10.3. When you’re on the download page (link above), you can scroll down further to see the previous version to download and install & then run through the Install Camera Raw prompts.
Step 3: Open Lightroom! If all of the updates are compatible, you should now be able to open your raw files. Ta daaaaaa.
TIP: If you still can’t view or edit your
lightroom not opening raw files
lightroom not opening cr2 files
lightroom cannot import cr2
lightroom cannot import nef