8 Ways To Obtain Stress-Free "Getting Ready" Wedding Photos


8 Ways To Obtain Stress-Free "Getting Ready" Wedding Photos

8 Ways To Obtain Stress-Free
"Getting Ready" Wedding Photos

Written By  Kelly Barry-Miller
Phoenix Memories Executive Creative Director & Photographer

The Pre-Ceremony or "getting-ready" phase of your wedding day, should be a joyous time, as you relax and get pampered in preparation for your milestone day.  Unfortunately we have seen quite a few bridal couples become unnecessarily stressed beyond-measure during this phase of the wedding day,  so we wanted to share a few great tips -- based on the 100's of weddings we've covered -- that will provide less stress and more peace to you. 


When considering your getting-ready location, keep in mind that in order to obtain beautiful images, your photographer will need quite a bit of natural light.  It doesn't have to be an expensive space, as even some homes have great light coming through the windows.  However, overhead lighting from lightbulbs or fluorescent lights will cause images to have a yellow/orange vibe which isn't always pretty for skin tones.  The less camera-flash needed, and more natural light there is, the more your images will be light and vibrant, with colors that pop!


It is so much fun getting ready with your bridesmaids or groomsmen; being able to laugh and goof around, to make the atmosphere light and cheery, as you make great memories together and prepare for the day. We want that for you!  Something to consider is the amount of space you will need to have a comfortable environment for everyone.  If you have 5 Bridesmaids, 2 makeup/hair professionals, two photographers and a videographer, as well as different family members coming in and out . . . it can get kind of tricky.  We covered a wedding recently which had 15 people all packed into a tiny hotel room, and we weren't able to get many pictures, due to the lack of space, and the Bride became so overwhelmed that it caused her to have a melt-down, and she started crying.  This breaks my heart, because we want our brides to be at total peace during the getting-ready phase, so that they exude joy as their walking down the aisle. Our recommendation is to have a limited amount of people in the space at one time (if you don't have a large space to get ready in).  If not, then plan for a larger space that will accommodate everyone.  


It is so important to have someone you can rely on to carry out miscellaneous errands, especially during this pre-ceremony time.  If you forget something in the car, or in another room of the venue, or you need drinks/food and a note sent to the groom or groomsmen, this person will be a beneficial help.  We recommend a friend or family member who isn't in your immediate bridal party.  Although we absolutely LOVE to assist our bridal couples, and help make their day run smoother, many times we find ourselves being the "go-to" errand-person between the bride and groom (especially when they choose not to see one another before the ceremony), because we are going back and forth between rooms for pictures.  Unfortunately, this keeps us from being able to do the one duty we were paid to do, which is capturing beautiful images of your day.  Our focus needs to be on you and the detailed images, and the assistant can help with the rest ;-)


Chances are everyone is in a hurry, trying to get ready, so they will end up taking everything out of their suitcases or duffel bags and placing them all over the getting-ready room.  This can make for a cluttered and messy space, which produces less-than-pretty pre-ceremony photos and video.  Have a designated space (preferably a closet or room on the side which will contain everyone's personal belongings, and which can easily be accessed). This will promote a streamlined environment for your makeup/hair and photo/video teams to come in and out of the room easily, without having to take the time out to de-clutter for you, and then have missed images.  We don't mind helping out at all, and are more than happy to, but the less cleaning our professionals have to do, the more beautiful images we can capture for your wedding album.


It's a hot summer day and you are ready for your long-awaited "first-look" with your beloved, and even though you spent hours getting ready . . . the heat is taking its toll on your makeup and it is now starting to melt or run down your face and into your eyes.  Your hair has also wilted and gone from a beautiful fresh look to a sweaty limp helmet, lolol. This is probably what is going to happen if you choose to do your own hair and makeup.  Sadly we won't be able to "fix it in editing."  To safeguard your look and make sure you are wedding day/photo ready, it is important to hire/invest in professional Hair/Makeup Artists.  We have award winning artists who will come right to your getting ready location, take great care of you, and help you to feel pampered and camera ready in the getting-ready hours.  Check out our preferred Hair & Makeup Artistsection for more details.


It was a month ago, and we traveled for 3 hours to cover a wedding in northern Minnesota.  When we arrived at the Bride's pre-ceremony location, her "go to" person already had the bridesmaids dresses hanging together on personalized hangers over the window, and the bride's dress un-bagged and hanging as well.  All the shoes were lined up below the dresses, as well as the accessories.  Within 20 minutes we were able to produce gorgeous images that contained the details of the dresses and accessories.  Normally it would take an hour just to get those shots, because we would have to trip over all the items laying on the floor, and sidestep people who are getting ready for the day, along with saying 20 "excuse me's, and I'm so sorry's" for being in people's way while trying to find the dresses and items needed for each shot. One time we spent over 45 minutes just trying to find the bridesmaids dresses because they were in different people's cars and in different places within the venue.  This is not to complain, or try to make our job easier at all . . .  but rather to shed light on how important the details are in order to maximize the use of your professionals time. Beautiful imagery is captured when everything is where it should be.  The bride's and groom's who know this, have people in place who will fine-tune the details, so that they can receive more wedding day images than they ever imagined, in a stress-free getting-ready environment.  


It's half-way through the formal photos and you are starting to feel light-headed and nauseous.  You realized you forgot to eat and drink anything, because you were so focused on getting ready.  This is not an uncommon occurrence for most wedding couples.  There have been several times we have had to stop formal photos or even ceremonies because the Bride or Groom felt like they were going to faint, due to lack of hydration and nutrition.  Make sure and have a veggie or fruit tray with sandwiches (or any food you can snack on throughout the getting-ready phase) and lots of bottled water on hand.  Have your "Go-To" person, Best Man or Maid of Honor bring food to you as needed.  This will give you the energy you need to have a fantastic and fun-filled day. 


Everything is going so fast!  Take a few moments and breathe . . . in and out . . . and allow your mind to go to and stay in a place of peace.  Be in the moment, and not anxious.  You've worked hard for this day, and have planned for a long time.  Now is the time to really relax and cherish the people who are surrounding you, and the support you have.  If there is anyone who is causing you undue stress . . . it is okay to ask them to kindly leave the room.  This is YOUR moment, and your time to be pampered.  Play your favorite music in the room, and realize THIS IS THE DAY, the day you have been waiting for to marry your beloved, and no one can be allowed to mess with your sacred space of peace.  Breathe . . . and know you are LOVED :-)

View Other Phoenix Memories Featured Articles


MEET CHELSEA LAWRENCE - Phoenix Memories' newest Twin Cities Photographer


MEET CHELSEA LAWRENCE - Phoenix Memories' newest Twin Cities Photographer

Chelsea Lawrence is not only a seasoned veteran in the modeling industry, but she is also Phoenix Memories' - Minneapolis | St. Paul -  newest photographer, who specializes in Weddings & Engagements, Newborns, Families, Seniors, Fashion, Modeling, V.I.P Live Events & Corporate Photography.  Learn more about her journey in our latest article.  www.phoenixmemories.net


Spotlight Interview With Minnesota Wedding Photographer & Videographer Sherri Dahl


Spotlight Interview With Minnesota Wedding Photographer & Videographer Sherri Dahl

If you haven't had the chance to meet Phoenix Memories Associate Photographer | Videographer & Editor, Sherri Dahl, you are truly missing out.  This is her 2nd year on our team of professionals, but it is definitely not her 2nd year of artistry. In fact, she has been studying film and photography for many years, so we wanted to take some time out and delve into her past, and find out what made her into the hard-working, passionate and inspiring woman she is.  Let's take a deeper look.

Sherri is a Minnesota native, who grew up north of the Twin Cities in Ham Lake.  She has always loved the great outdoors, and any chance she could to explore them -- whether it was fishing, hiking, archery, hunting or camping -- and it was her passion for nature, which ultimately led to her passion for photography and cinematography through a very interesting conduit called the Girl Scouts of America.

Sherri shared with me about her journey in the Girl Scouts. "I was able to do a lot of what I love through the Girl Scouts of America. I was a GS for 13 years all the way from Kindergarten to my Senior year in high school, and during my 10th grade year, my troop took a free class at our local television station. We learned how to use the camera equipment and I enjoyed every moment of it. Then, during my senior year I worked with the same television station to earn my Girl Scout Gold Award [equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Award], by creating a video about why it was cool to be a Senior Girl Scout. At the end of the year the station gave me a gold trophy man for 'Rookie of the Year' at their awards ceremony. So I have my Girl Scout leader, Debbie, to thank for introducing me to my industry and guiding me through the Gold Award."

Needless to say, when the time came for Sherri to decide which major in college she wanted to pursue, she had a hard choice between following her heart or following what others wanted her to do. 

To know how to choose a path with heart is to learn how to follow intuitive feeling. Logic can tell you superficially where a path might lead to, but it cannot judge whether your heart will be in it.
— Jean Shinoda Bolen

Sherri shares, "When I was first deciding on my degree I was dead set on photography but a confidant kept telling me that there wasn't any money to be made in photography and that I would end up a starving artist. Their suggestion was computers. 'Get a degree in Computer Telecommunications and I'd be set for life.' So I listened, followed that counsel, hated it and failed out of many classes my first year. Then I took a semester off to figure out what it was I wanted to do. Photography, I just knew in my heart that was what I wanted to do more than anything. As I was sitting on my bedroom floor watching 'The Price is Right' I saw an ad for Minnesota School of Business. This was perfect! It included computers and a form of photography. I barely researched any further before I enrolled and began classes. After graduation I awarded myself with a DSLR because it was the trend video camera that students raved about before I graduated. It was then that I began using it for photography and further educated myself so I could do photo and video."

That one choice to truly follow her heart regarding work, also ultimately led to her finding true love as well.  "I met Mitch Heil in college during the bachelor's program. Mitch and his friend and business partner were easily the most talented students at MSB at the time, (Not to mention THE BEST LOOKING), and this made me very intimidated by both of them. Then I had a class at a different campus with JUST Mitch, which made it so much easier to get to him. We actually began talking through chat in an app called 'Words with Friends' before talking like human beings in person. A little over a year of dating, getting to know one another and graduating college, we decided to buy our first home, and add our puppy (Sterling) to our family!! We also built a photography & videography studio with a white cyc wall, where we do a lot of our work together."

Mitch and Sherri have many of the same passions in life. Along with their mutual love for the great outdoors & photography and videography, they also enjoy camping, fishing and kayaking together, as well as taking Sterling to the dog park. And, because they live here in MN -- with 9 months of winter -- they also enjoy going to the gym every morning and catching up on their favorite TV shows at night.

Sherri also shares something new and exciting with our Phoenix Memories clients, "Just this last January,  Mitch [finally] proposed to me!! I have a large magnetic Scrabble board that I made, and have it hanging in the dining room. He used the Scrabble letters to spell, 'Will you marry me,' on the board. It was THE perfect 360 degree connection to the beginning of our relationship -- going from being simply 'Words With Friends' to now entering marriage through 'Scrabble!"'

So now she finds herself being able to relate in a new way to her wedding clients, as a soon-to-be bride herself, who will have to be in front of the camera, instead of behind it [like she is used to] capturing others memories.   She knows exactly what you are going through, especially in dealing with the myriad of vendors and wedding planning. She adds, "After we decided on our wedding date [June 24, 2017], the very first thing I wanted to do was find a venue , and book my fellow Phoenix Memories photographers,' because I knew how quickly they booked up. I felt nothing else could fall into place without those initial things being secured.  Our theme is going to be outdoorsy and fishing. The colors are light blue and light beige -- for that earthy feel -- and we'll be using a lot of birch bark!  

Even though she may be newer at being a Bride, Sherri is not new at taking care of her Bridal clients on their wedding day, as a photographer or videographer. She cherishes being able to take her time to really listen to the clients needs and wants. "I want to see the type of photos they love, so I can really cater to their specific needs and wants while working within my style. I have always liked creating art. Photography is more than clicking the shutter and taking an image. It's creating an image and planning every aspect from angles, colors, composition, perspective and more. But most importantly, I love the reaction people have when they see the finished work and it is such a good feeling knowing I was truly able to made them happy."

Interview By:
Kelly Barry-Miller
Executive Creative Director  
Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography

Samples of Sherri's Wedding Photography:

Sample's of Sherri's Wedding Videography Style:

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Spotlight Interview With Minnesota's Rising-Star Photographer | Videographer | Editor & Filmmaker - MJ Johnson


Spotlight Interview With Minnesota's Rising-Star Photographer | Videographer | Editor & Filmmaker - MJ Johnson

Native Minnesotan and Phoenix Memories Founder, MJ Johnson, is becoming a highly sought-after photographer, cinematographer & editor in the Twin Cities, with a growing wait-list of clients vying for available spots on the calendar, up to a year in advance. Yet he is one of the most un-assuming and humble people you will ever meet.  Contrary to his popularity on the film scene and with Twin Cities professionals and clients, he doesn't like to be in the spotlight at all.  In fact, he wasn't thrilled with being interviewed for this article, because he would much rather stay on the down-low, than have people herald his praises and work. MJ is simply a passionate,  knowledgable and thoughtful artist who is grateful to be able to do what he loves full-time. Having said that, and because we know this will make him squirm even more while being dragged into the spotlight . . .  we will be delving into his past -- and I mean, way back --  in the hopes you will be able to get to know this elusive artist better, and understand why his popularity is continuing to rise here in the Twin Cities.  

MJ has a deep appreciation of life's beauty through the lens of his camera,  however, the early stages of his life were less than beautiful and filled with a strange mix of adversity, poverty and neglect, with a tiny bit of surprising privilege. This juxtaposition of two opposing  worlds is what made him who he is today, but also had him questioning quite a bit about why he was really here at all. 

At the early age of 6 mos. MJ was adopted through Catholic Charities (closed adoption), and never had the pleasure of meeting his biological parents.  The only knowledge he has been given is that they were young teenagers who fell in love -- his biological Dad a football player, and his Mom a cheerleader -- and were forced to give him up.   He was born somewhere near Hibbing, MN in a town over-run with poverty. His adoptive parents divorced when he was 7 years old, and as a result, he had a rather tumultuous relationship with, and rarely saw his adoptive father.  However, the times he was able to fly out to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to visit with his father, were the times that filmmaking became implanted in his soul, and the desire to become a filmmaker began. Mj's father was a financier in Hollywood at the time, so as a young boy, MJ loved attending world film premieres at Mann's Chinese Theatre, in L.A. with him, as well as running around on key film sets talking to the celebrities and actors.  His favorite experience as a young boy, was being on the set of "Any Which Way But Loose" with Clint Eastwood & Jeffrey Lewis, talking to the cinematographers and camera guys.  He loved seeing them work, and took every opportunity he could to ask questions.  MJ felt more at home on a film set, then in any real-life home.

Back in Minnesota, inspired by the film set life experienced, he quickly picked up a camera of his own, and started capturing everything around him.  Even though life with Mom was completely different -- wrought with poverty, far away from the bright lights and entitlement of Hollywood that his Dad pursued -- MJ took the time to learn as much as he could about filmmaking and photography, and began making independent movies of his own. His area of interest was Avant Garde cinema.  He appreciated the raw experience of independent filmmaking.  In his early 20's he set out to get to know others who had the same passion in filmmaking, as well as enrolling at the University of Minnesota to gain a higher education.  Ultimately this drew him directly into the horror film industry, which was quite prevalent in Minnesota at the time.  Getting to know different people with different backgrounds was intriguing to MJ, and many of the people he met were great, and very welcoming.  However, he learned through time that working in this particular genre of film may have inspired creativity, but it ended up taking something very precious from him, which he thought he could never get back . . . inner peace and solace!  So he went on a quest to find it, in a different way.

I felt it envelope me . . . this light side inner peace and love beyond understanding that I had never experienced before, and I knew at that moment, the answers to all of my questions, and what I was truly called to do in life.
— MJ Johnson

 The years passed, and life brought MJ two beautiful children, a multitude of film credits, more than 500 live events and weddings under his belt, as well as a quantifiable network of film industry connections and VIP invitations to events . . . but the other side of his life was mixed with a tremendous amount of personal turmoil, so MJ found himself at yet another crossroads, with the same quest to find truth, inner peace and hope regarding the direction he was supposed to go.

One summer evening he got in the car and headed to Long Lake, in Mounds View, MN, with his camera. He walked the lakeside trail, enjoying the beauty of nature, and looking for the perfect spot to settle in and capture his beloved sunset photos. As the sun was going down, and glistening beautifully on the water, he began to ask his Creator a few important questions, because he was very confused about where life had taken him. It was then, something profound happened! "I felt it envelope me . . . this light, this inner peace and love beyond understanding that I had never experienced before, and I knew at that moment the answers to all of my questions, and what I was truly called to do in life. I felt whole and complete, with a deeper resolve to use my talent with photography & filmmaking to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and not just mine." So he began to depart the horror film industry and started focusing more clearly on capturing the purity of love and light. His core priority was to be a positive influence on his children and produce work which reflected those values.  Even though Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography had been well-established up to this point, he made an even greater effort to make it the best imagery company he could, by investing in and implementing a staff of incredible talent, who have the same level of passion to create meaningful life-giving imagery, as he does.  He knew this team effort would ultimately take Phoenix Memories to the next stage of client care and professionalism.     

Because of the last few years of perseverance in taking the company and his personal life toward a more positive direction, there has been a significant rise in client bookings, and 5 star reviews.  Wedding couples know right away, as soon as they meet MJ and the PM staff that they are in the best hands, and are taken care of with great integrity.  People often wonder why the company is called Phoenix Memories when it is clearly located in Minnesota.  The answer is this . . . just as the mythical Phoenix bird rose bravely and courageously out of the ashes of destruction into new life, so too has MJ.  It is his hope that clients will value the imagery he and the team capture, and understand what it has taken to get to this place.  That they will understand he is not a hobby photographer|Videographer|Editor, nor just a guy with a camera, but a seasoned professional who understands his life's call to capture their memories with care, precision, love and purity . . . which will last through the generations, and remind each one of the beauty that life has to offer through the lens. He also wants to be an encouragement to all the creatives who have a talent and want to share it with the world . . . he wants them to know that if you ever feel like giving up, just remember how the Phoenix Bird made it through the fire and soared into victory.  Keep moving ahead, keep soaring, and keep knowing your calling . . . and above all may the force be with you!

If you enjoyed this interview, please feel free to share with others.  Thank you!

A Few Samples of MJ's Photography:

An Extended Wedding Highlight Video - MJ Johnson Videography | Editing Example 

Interview | Article written by:
 Kelly Barry-Miller
 Executive Creative Director
 Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography
All content copyright 2016 by Phoenix Memories.  All rights reserved

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Phoenix Memories NEW 2016 Referral & Awards Program


Phoenix Memories NEW 2016 Referral & Awards Program


Is Pleased To Announce





Here Is How It Works:

1. SPREAD THE GOOD WORD: Whether you have been one of our clients, or have seen our work, you can spread the good word, by referring us to your friends & family. Every time we receive a new client booking, and they tell us you referred them, then YOU earn credits toward your own photo or video session with Phoenix Memories.

2. Be AWARDED points along the way: Points are awarded in the form of $$ credits off your session, for the following referrals:

 on any 8 hour wedding day referrals
on any corporate or commercial event referrals

all other photo-sessions or services

per Facebook post share from our Poenix Memories FB page (one per day).  
Come on over To Our FACEBOOK page and click LIKE

Note: we will be paying close attention to "shares" on FB and will note accordingly :-)

3. SET A GOAL & THEN BOOK YOUR SESSION WITH US:  Once you've acquired the credit and awards you have set your goals for, and referring parties have booked and paid for their sessions, then contact us to book your next session.



Terms & Conditions


In order to receive full credit, your referring party must mention you by full name when booking their session; the referred party must book, pay for and complete a session before you are eligible to redeem your benefits. We keep track of all referrals and will notify you when rewards are available; Rewards can only be applied to a future session, they have no cash value and cannot be exchanged; credit must be used within 1 year of the referral date. If referring party books a session with us and then cancels, rewards are then deducted from your credit.  Terms and conditions are subject to change.


What To Expect When Hiring A Professional Photographer For Your Wedding


What To Expect When Hiring A Professional Photographer For Your Wedding


Kelly Barry-Miller
Executive Creative Director | Master Photographer
Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography

What To Expect
When Hiring A Professional Photographer For Your Wedding


Let's face it . . . planning a wedding can be completely overwhelming, even for the most organized and proactive Bride & Groom.  With a sea of vendors to choose from, and not enough hours in the day to meet with -- or do the research on -- each one, it is important to take a breather, relax, and really think about the vision you have for your day, and the investment you are willing to make, before proceeding . . . then tackle each area one-by-one.

One area we can definitely help you with is how to choose a wedding photographer, that fits your needs & vision, and what to expect along the way. Let's break it down in steps, as we sit with a cup of tea, cozy blanket, talking together as friends. This is the same advice I would give to an out-of-state friend, who may need to look at other photographers in her local market, because I couldn't be there to cover her wedding. This is from an objective standpoint of helping our community make wise choices regarding the best wedding photographer fit for their needs.

Determine Budget.jpg

Determine Your budget

When planning to hire a wedding photographer, it is first and foremost vital to understand what you will be getting, based on your budget.  Many people think they will be able to get a high quality photographer, by paying very little money -- because, hey . . . . everyone has a camera, right? They are everywhere, so it shouldn't cost much to get someone to take pictures of us on our wedding day?!  But the truth is . . . if you want a professional with experience, who will give you the images that stand the test of time, you need one that understands and can quickly adapt to the numerous challenges that a wedding day can bring.  Here is what you will need to budget, for the "kind" of photographer you are looking for (which should include their time, experience, talent, client consultations, and post-production editing).

High Quality & Experienced (Master) Photographer
Budget between $2500.00 - $5000.00

Mid-Level Quality & Newer (Associate) Photographer
Budget between $1500.00 - $2000.00

Lower Quality & Brand New (Apprentice) Photographer
Budget between $800.00 - $1000.00

The Higher Quality & Experienced (Master) Photographers should also be able to include/offer private password-protected online galleries (for friends and family to view and order digitals/prints after the wedding); custom-designed wedding albums, boutique packaging of prints, and custom print ordering (for additional pricing).  Many will also include a complimentary engagement session or second photographer (not standard, but a wonderful thing to have). The Mid-Level, Newer (Associate) Photographers may or may not offer online galleries, and you will probably have to pay extra for your engagement session, as well as a 2nd photographer. They also may offer printing services, but plan on finding your own print lab (unless the Associate's are part of an agency like ours who offer custom printing). Lower Quality & Brand New (Apprentice) Photographer's - unless they are  apprenticing with an established photography company, the photographer probably won't have any special add-ons and perks, since they are still learning.



Look Closely At Their Portfolio

A truly professional wedding photographer won't be afraid to show you their portfolio, as well as REAL weddings they have completed.  Don't be afraid to ask to see their samples, as well as a few of their online galleries.  Every photographer has a signature style, which shows an undeniable consistency in how they create  their imagery.  It is important you look closely at the continuity of their portfolio to determine if this style of imagery is what you are envisioning for your day.  If a photographer declines to show you a sample of a REAL wedding then there is a strong possibility they either do not have a quality "real" wedding to show you, or they are still building their portfolio. 

Schedule An In-Person Meeting

The photographer you choose will be with you all day long, so it is highly recommended that you meet them face-to-face, to determine if their personality and style of photography is a good fit for you and your beloved.  It also helps the professional to get to know you better, find out what you are envisioning for your day, as well as assisting you both in custom-designing a package that will fit your needs/budget. It is at this meeting you will be able to view any contracts, and ask the photographer questions.  If you decide you really like this photographer, their portfolio, and want to book them for your wedding date, then you will need to pay a "retainer fee" to reserve  them (more about that below).  It is standard practice for a professional photographer to require a signed contract & non-refundable retainer fee, paid in advance, in order to complete your booking process and to reserve your wedding date. 

Contracts & Retainer Fees

It is also common business practice for all professional photographers to have contracts for you (the client) to review and sign, as part of the booking process. This contract is meant to protect you, as the client, as well as the photographer and promotes a positive accountability and commitment for both. The photographer agrees to provide specific services (with integrity) requested by the client on the contract, and the client agrees to receive and pay for those services in a timely manner, according to the contract.  Review & read the contract very carefully, before signing, as it is a legally binding document.  If you have any questions, in the process, feel free to talk candidly with your photographer, and/or allow your lawyer to go over the document with you, prior to signing. Specific information that should be in the contract is as follows (will vary based on company):

  1. Client & professionals contact information (addresses, emails,phone numbers, etc)
  2.  Listing of services chosen and the details regarding those services.
  3.  Hours of coverage, pricing, locations for photography and schedule of wedding day. (wedding day timeline can be confirmed closer to wedding date, so is not a necessity, but always good to include.) 
  4. Terms and conditions explained in detail regarding all services. 
  5. Signatures of both client and professionals, and signing date.
  6. Copies should be provided for both the client and professional, for their records.

The non-refundable RETAINER FEE is much like a deposit, in that the amount you pay ahead of time should be deducted from the balance due. However, it is different in the fact that it is non-refundable (thus labeled as a retainer fee, rather than a deposit).  It lets your photographer know that you are serious about booking them for your wedding day, and shows your committment to them. In return, your photographer is showing they are committed because they are willing to reserve that day specifically for you (even years in advance), and no one else, even to the point of forsaking their own family memories which could occur on that same day.  A great example of this was when I received a family wedding invitation in the mail, which had the same date as a wedding I was already contracted/retained for a year in advance, and which I declined attendance.   Because I was committed to following through with my end of the contract, and staying true to our client, I had to miss my family wedding and all the memories it held.  THAT is how loyal a professional should be, in capturing their clients' memories, and the retainer fee lets them know you have the same level of dedication in booking and reserving their time/services.

Our company, Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography,  requires a 25% retainer fee, payed at the same time as the signing of the contract, in order to book your wedding day (note: different photography companies may require more).  For example, if the total cost of photography services for your wedding is worth $3,500.00, then you can expect to pay $875.00 as a retainer to hold your wedding date and chosen professional. This is non-refundable, and deducted from your balance due.  Which means if you cancel the wedding you do not receive the monies previously paid for the retainer fee back (unless certain situations are acceptable, which should be stated in your contract). 

Please be aware, that professional photographers may receive multiple requests/inquiries for booking on the same wedding date, so it is important that you (as the client) sign the contract and submit your retainer fee as soon as possible, if you want to be able to retain the highest quality photographer/videographer for your date.

Post Production Importance

Remember the professional photographer that you hired for 8-10 hours to cover your wedding day?  Well that same photographer will end up providing over 120 hours of service by the time you receive your final image delivery.  If you've ever wondered why wedding photography is so expensive, then this is why.  The majority of work that goes into your images, doesn't simply happen on your wedding day for only 8-10 hrs, but for many hours before (pre-wedding consultations, paperwork, phone calls); 2-3 weeks after, in what we call the "Post-Production" phase of editing your images (color-correction, blemish control, retouching, etc.), as well as the wedding day itself.  All contracts show what level of editing you will be receiving, and should be included in the terms and conditions. Some photographer's may charge a fee for re-edits.

Many clients think that they can save money by requesting the RAW and un-edited images of their day, but if you are truly working with  a professional they will not give you the RAW images, because it is like asking for an artist to hand over their prized painting before it is completed.  A RAW image is exactly what it says, it is raw, unfinished and not a depiction of a completed work.  An image doesn't always come straight out of the camera, ready to be handed to the client.  The care and attention to detail in the post-production phase is what gives the image that glorious high-quality, professional look that clients deserve, and which separates the experienced photographer from just any person with a camera. 

Here are a few examples of the immense value of post-production editing, and showcases the difference between the before (RAW image) and after (EDITED image). As you can see, there is a BIG difference in the images, so choosing a professional who is experienced in editing, is KEY, especially for a wedding day, because there are immense lighting variables regarding this live event, which the photographer has to quickly be able to adapt to, in a moments notice, and editing is simply part of having an overall completed look to the photos during the post-wedding phase. 


Delivery Of Images

You can expect approximately 30-60 days for your wedding images to be delivered, and a bit more time on top of that if you have ordered a custom-designed wedding album.  This is normal.  The majority of professionals prefer to deliver well before the contracted time frame, however, it is best to be patient and let them complete their artistry in the time frame allotted on the contract.  Believe me when I say they need this time.  An average work-day for me, during wedding season, is 14-16 hours (7 days a week), so every single hour/day after the wedding is needed, in order to deliver those breathtaking images you deserve.  

Format of Delivery is important, as well.  Decide on HOW you want your images delivered.  Higher end photographers will offer choices regarding this: custom designed wedding albums, proof boxes, custom prints,  online password-protected galleries for viewing, sharing and ordering, and personalized USB's.  Medium range photographers will probably provide a USB only, and lower range photographers may give you a USB or deliver images via Dropbox. If your photographer hasn't clarified how they plan to deliver your images, make sure you have that information before signing any contracts.

In the end, I hope that this information gives you a great sense of what to expect, when looking for a professional wedding photographer.  We have a motto here at Phoenix Memories, regarding our clients and how they should be treated . . . "This is YOUR journey, YOUR love story, and YOUR milestone day . . . and it should be captured with great care."  Choose the professionals that you feel confident will honor who you are and provide the highest quality imagery, which will last for generations to come, and plan on budgeting accordingly.  Your wedding images will be the only thing lasting (other than the ring) long after your wedding day is over. 

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Cassandra + Rob's Wabasha Caves Wedding


Cassandra + Rob's Wabasha Caves Wedding


As we sat in Caribou Coffee getting to know Rob & Cassandra (Cassie), and hearing the vision that they had for their wedding day, we couldn't help but absolutely fall in love with them! They were so easy to talk to, and we were  excited to hear they were planning a Wabasha Caves Autumn wedding.  We also found out that Rob is an avid John Lennon fan, so wanted to add some of his lyric quotes in their wedding blog, as a celebration of this truly loving couple.

Oh my love for the first time in my life
My eyes are wide open
Oh my lover for the first time in my life
My eyes can see . . .
— John Lennon


Cassie's gorgeous wedding dress is a full-length fitted modified Mermaid/A-Line style, with a beautiful open back, and sweetheart neckline; accessorized with an elegant jeweled backdrop necklace. Both purchased at The Wedding Shoppe, on Grand Avenue, St. Paul.  Hair is by Patty Crawford, and earrings/hair-brooch by Che Bella, on Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Makeup by Chia Xyooj of Sephora. 


She chose an absolutely beautiful, one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted bridal bouquet from Brooch Brilliance, which can be handed down from generation to generation.


An added bonus was that Cassie and her Father decided to have a Father/Daughter First Look, added into their wedding day timeline.  This is a wonderful option for our brides, if you don't plan on seeing your groom before the ceremony, and one that truly provides a priceless private moment together.


Rob's suit is from Macy's & his Groomsmen's attire is from Savvi Formalwear.


Rob & Cassie's First Look, formal, and bridal party pictures were held at Indian Mounds Park, which gives a sweeping overlook of downtown St. Paul skyline.

I see the wind, oh I see the trees
Everything is clear in my heart
I see the clouds, oh I see the sky
Everything is clear in our world . . .
— John Lennon
Oh my love for the first time in my life
My mind is wide open
Oh my lover for the first time in my life
My mind can feel . . .
— John Lennon

On to the 2nd formals location, and this time it is just the Bride and Groom alone, at Mears Park - near one of their favorite Hang-out spots, the Bulldog Lowertown. where the Bridal party took a break from formal photos.

I feel sorrow, oh I feel dreams
Everything is clear in my heart
I feel life, oh I feel love
Everything is clear in our world
— Oh My Love, by John Lennon


The Wabasha Street Caves is a uniquely 150 year old historical venue, filled with an enchanting atmosphere like no other.  Within it's sandstone labyrinth of caverns, lay legendary tales of Mobster activity, as well as ghost-sightings. After the beautiful ceremony, wedding guests were given the option of touring the caves, with a hostess (pictured below) that brought the tour to life.


The Decor

Each table was beautifully and artfully decorated with vintage pieces hand-chosen by the Bride and her mother, from various Twin Cities thrift shops and family heirlooms.


Rob & Cassie utilized the entire space within the bar area of the caves, by placing thematic tables of their favorites foods around the perimeter, including a nacho bar, slider bar, freshly made quesadilla bar (with chef), and plenty of other delicacies. Their Catering Company of choice was Prom Catering. Another unique area was set up specifically for their wedding pies.  Instead of a traditional cake, the Bride and Groom chose hand-made pies from Sara's Tipsy Pies.  

Rob and Cassie ended the evening with a live band, and dancing the night away, with family & friends, in this unique and mysterious place called The Wabasha Caves, where intrigue and love surround.

To know, know, know her
is to love, love, love her
ev’ryone said there’ll come a day
when i, i walk along side of her.
Yeah! Just to know, know, know her
is to love, love, love her.
You know that i do,
you know that i do,
yeah, i do, oh, i do.
— John Lennon

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All photos and content on this blog copyrighted 2016, by Phoenix Memories Photography & Videography.  All right reserved.



Sarah + Ryan's Como Park Conservatory Wedding


Sarah + Ryan's Como Park Conservatory Wedding


Sarah & Ryan's Wedding Highlights


Their ceremony was held at the beautiful Como Park Conservatory, in St. Paul, MN with reception at Mancini's Char House. Sarah & Ryan's wedding is a wonderful way to show fellow Bridal couples how to have a winter wedding in style.

Photography by Phoenix Memories  - MJ Johnson

 Sarah's beautiful wedding dress is by  David's Bridal , and her shoes were hand decorated and designed by her.

Sarah's beautiful wedding dress is by David's Bridal, and her shoes were hand decorated and designed by her.

 The Bride adorned her  up-swepped hair with an elegant jeweled hairpiece, and her Bridesmaids chose different styles to fit their personalities, Cassandra (pictured above), chose a braided up-do with sweet white flowers embedded.  Hair & Makeup by Katie Klett . Flowers by  Wisteria Design Studio

The Bride adorned her  up-swepped hair with an elegant jeweled hairpiece, and her Bridesmaids chose different styles to fit their personalities, Cassandra (pictured above), chose a braided up-do with sweet white flowers embedded.  Hair & Makeup by Katie Klett . Flowers by Wisteria Design Studio

 Brides are beginning to see that details such as a hand-painted sign for the ring bearer to carry down the aisle, are just as meaningful and special.

Brides are beginning to see that details such as a hand-painted sign for the ring bearer to carry down the aisle, are just as meaningful and special.

 Sarah is ready to walk down the aisle with her completed bridal look from head to toe, with pearl necklace and earrings, jewel patterned bodice, pearl bracelet, and her gorgeous ring from  Shane Co. Jewelers.

Sarah is ready to walk down the aisle with her completed bridal look from head to toe, with pearl necklace and earrings, jewel patterned bodice, pearl bracelet, and her gorgeous ring from Shane Co. Jewelers.

 Sarah's Bridesmaids (Christina, Cassandra & Kelly) were simply gorgeous, in beautiful Navy dresses from  Bella Bridal Boutique .  Hair/Makeup by Katie Klett. 

Sarah's Bridesmaids (Christina, Cassandra & Kelly) were simply gorgeous, in beautiful Navy dresses from Bella Bridal Boutique.  Hair/Makeup by Katie Klett. 

 The Handsome Groom was ready and waiting at the  Como Park Conservatory Sunken Garden  for his Bride. It may have been a cold December day outside, but hearts were warmed by this stunning venue, filled with Christmas florals.

The Handsome Groom was ready and waiting at the Como Park Conservatory Sunken Garden for his Bride. It may have been a cold December day outside, but hearts were warmed by this stunning venue, filled with Christmas florals.

 The Groom and his Groomsmen celebrated in style, wearing their  Savvi Formalwear  attire, and shoes.  The Reception was held at  Mancini's Char House , in St. Paul.

The Groom and his Groomsmen celebrated in style, wearing their Savvi Formalwear attire, and shoes.  The Reception was held at Mancini's Char House, in St. Paul.

CONGRATULATIONS Sarah & Ryan!! Thank you for choosing Phoenix Memories, to capture your milestone day.


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Kayla + Dominic's Country-Inspired, Country Club Wedding


Kayla + Dominic's Country-Inspired, Country Club Wedding


Photography by MJ Johnson & Kelly Barry-Miller

Kayla & Dominic's Wedding Highlights

 Kayla & Dominic are a photographer's DREAM to work with, because they are so much fun, and allowed us the freedom to capture them authentically, without being intimidated in front of the camera. They weren't afraid to be silly, or show real emotions.  That is the key to really enjoying your wedding day - allowing the very real moments to happen, without being overly conscious of the cameras.   Because of this . . . we are so excited to share some of their beautiful Dellwood Country Club wedding highlights with you.

This is what happens when the Bridesmaids take their duties seriously, and decide to steal the Groom away, so that he cannot sneak a peek at his beautiful Bride, before the ceremony :-)

This gorgeous bride and her bridesmaids added a sophisticated country touch, to the country club vibe, by mixing cowboy boots, and leather knotted belts, with their cropped navy dresses.  The outfits were a perfect combination of classy upscale and darling country, for the Bridesmaids to enjoy long after the wedding day, and worn for other events - GENUIS!  

Bridal parties who are willing to be silly together, stay friends forever.  Did we mention how fun this group was to work with?!  LOVE THEM!

The tenderness and love between Kayla & Dominic simply took our breath away. 

Kayla & her Mom have a special bond, and the pictures below are representative of that.

There is so much more to share about the beauty of this wedding, but unfortunately our blog isn't big enough to contain it all.  We want to end, by giving credit where credit is due.  Thank you to both Kayla & Dominic, their families and loved ones, for allowing our Phoenix Memories photographers' to share in this milestone day.  We are forever grateful.


Photographers/Editor:  MJ Johnson & Kelly Barry-Miller
Bride & Groom:  Kayla & Dominic Forliti
Venue:  Dellwood Country Club, Dellwood, MN
Flowers: Rachel Bohn
Hair: Chelsea Bergaus
Makeup: Kayla Forlitti
Bride's/Bridesmaid Dresses:  David's Bridal
Groom/Groomsmen Suits: Savvi Formalwear
Wedding Rings: Kay Jewelers



The Gift Of Photography


The Gift Of Photography


 Phoenix Memories
- NEW FOR 2016 -

Bridal Registry For Photography & Videography

We absolutely LOVE our Brides & Grooms and provide the services they desire, as well as the finest in client care.  Professional photography can be costly, for wedding couples, so now Phoenix Memories is offering a premiere Bridal Registry, where friends, family and wedding guests can give the gift that will never fade, and which is a legacy for generations to come - STUNNING IMAGERY!

Now our wedding couples can order that beautiful custom-designed wedding album, prints, canvases, and creative editing of film, or use your gift toward deferring the cost of their photography & videography services for their day.  They will be sure to remember YOU, and the unique gift you have given them, every time they look at the images and film they've received, long after the wedding day.

Pink flowers.jpg
Thank you Kelly & MJ, for capturing our loved ones and our love, on our special wedding day. You both made it so easy to relax and be ourselves, even in front of the cameras. Your fun personalities, as well as caring hearts are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
— Lilli & Matt (Bride & Groom)

Make sure and link us at www.phoenixmemories.net on your gift registry websites or social media, and send your guests to our Bridal Registry page, where we will take care of the rest for you. All of our 2016 Brides are already listed, so it is easy for guests to find you.

Your journey, your love story, YOUR day . . .  and we are honored to be chosen to capture it, with love and care      -- Your Phoenix Memories Team Of Artists

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