Trevor Allen Photography | Halifax Wedding, Family & Destination Photographer
902.220.3822 | email@example.com
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Is a Destination Wedding for you? I know exactly what you're envisioning – a gossamer white veil blowing gently in the wind, the scent of tropical flowers and coconut oil wafting through the air, your guests smiling sweetly as you float effortlessly down the sandy aisle towards your future husband. I know because I WAS a Destination Wedding bride, and I had the very same vision! Since my own wedding, I have been lucky enough to send a lot of happy couples away to tie the knot in tropical destinations. My experience has taught me that there are a few need-to-know points that could help you understand whether or not a wedding away is truly for you.
Here are some typical bride personality types and the various concerns they may face:
The “Control Freak”: Now I don’t mean this as an insult because I AM ONE! Not in a bad way, but in that “I don’t want any surprises and please don’t mess with my vision” kind of way. Aren’t we all? The issue with being a CF and choosing a destination wedding is that you truly DO have to let go of the reins a bit and trust that both your travel agent and the wedding coordinators on site are going to do everything possible to make your day perfect. And for those of us who expect and appreciate daily updates, this is just not possible and/or necessary with many of the more popular Destination wedding resorts. They DO have everything under control. They have weddings down to a science – and even though it may feel like your world is going to end if you don’t know all of the different colours of chair sashes currently on hand at the property, the wedding coordinators on site will respond - Oh, they WILL respond, but as we all know from experiencing a Caribbean holiday, NOBODY is in a rush! Keep in mind that perhaps that very same wedding coordinator is tending to another bride’s vision for her wedding that is actually scheduled that day. When it is your wedding day, you will also appreciate his/her full attention. Trust me when I say that your requests are being noted, but more importantly you will have an opportunity to sit down with your wedding coordinator on arrival and go over all of the finite details of the wedding. Just breathe….it’s all being taken care of.
The “Uber Planner”: This bride is the one who wishes to plan EVERY single moment of the entire week for the EVERYONE in the group. I understand. I truly do! As destination brides, we seem to feel more responsible for our guests’ enjoyment because not only did our guests spend a significant amount of money, but also had to use their valuable vacation time to join us in our chosen destination. For these very reasons, you should keep in mind that this is a vacation for your guests as well as your wedding. Allow them the luxury of some free time to wander off and take in excursions or just unwind on their own. Many brides go so far as to try to plan every meal together as a group and this can quickly become daunting when it comes time to try to reserve those a la cartes for all of your guests. Not to mention that some resorts may charge for any special meals when you refer to them as “Welcome Dinner” or “Rehearsal Dinner” and your guests may simply prefer to make their own plans. My suggestion is to locate a central meeting place: the lobby bar, an outdoor terrace and let your guests know that you will be meeting here each evening at a specific time to discuss the next day and share tales of the day’s adventures. Try to make it a time just prior to or after dinner in the evening. Of course always make it optional! This is a way for any guests who DO wish to share activities to make arrangements without having to run around a large resort trying to locate everyone. Planning one excursion for the entire group is a lovely way to thank them for joining you. Many couples will include a note in the Save the Dates, itinerary or Invites saying that the guests are invited to join them on a catamaran excursion (for example) – details to follow. Then just contact your travel agent to book the excursion of your choice. You can even have your TA work the cost into the group rate! One couple I worked with sent out a multiple choice excursion card to all of their guests with their invites – whichever excursion received the most votes is the one they selected. Have fun with it and give your guests options!
The “Substituter”: This is the bride who insists on changing every little detail of the packaged weddings offered until it no longer resembles the original package. Some brides will even create their own wedding ceremony venue on the resort. Again, this is your wedding and I do understand – but keep in mind that any deviations from the resorts’ wedding packages will almost certainly result in higher cost to you. This is the perfect reason to thoroughly investigate the wedding packages offered at each resort – not only the resorts themselves – until you find one that really does fit your vision (and your budget) as closely as possible. If you have your heart set on a particular property, but are not thrilled with their wedding offerings, consider an off-site wedding. This will offer you exclusivity as you won’t be the second of four weddings performed each day and you won’t have to contend with curious onlookers in speedos showing up in your treasured photos. Off-site weddings will also cater your wedding to fit YOUR vision with everything from décor to dining to dj’s and many even offer transportation for your guests to/from the venue. Be prepared to pay a bit more for these ‘private’ functions, but for those brides who truly want to be the only ‘belle of the ball’ the off-site wedding will definitely fit the bill.
The “Martha Stewart”: This is the bride who really is quite talented and wants to put her own touches on the wedding. This is understandable and not a bad thing at all – until that same bride is bringing suitcases of extra décor down to the resort to complete her grand vision. Remember that all airlines have weight restrictions and that extra luggage can be quite expensive and even if you do bring down your own décor it may not end up where you had initially planned! (This happened to me at my wedding reception.) Less really is more when it comes to Destination Wedding décor – after all, you have the lovely azure blue sea, palm trees and sand as a backdrop – what could be lovelier? For those brides who are considering bringing wedding favors for their guests, perhaps consider a local souvenir. Not only are you avoiding having to transport the gifts, but you are also supporting the local economy. Make your own favor tags at home and bring them along to place on your locally purchased treasures. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness and the memento from their trip. Alternatively, consider something that your guests will use during their stay like a beach towel or Bubba Mug – but to save again on your luggage costs, plan a ‘ticket party’ where you can hand them out before you leave and the guests can pack them in their own luggage! If you do bring down any of your own décor, consider leaving it with the wedding coordinator on site to be used by future brides. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but you will have the pleasure of knowing that a small piece of your day is being enjoyed by brides for years to come.
There are certainly other personalities, but most brides will fall into one or more of these categories at some point during the planning process. Let’s be honest, planning a wedding from thousands of miles away may not be for everyone. However, if you have even considered a wedding away, there are SO MANY REASONS to pick a Destination Wedding.
Here are just a few:
First and maybe foremost is the fact that the cost of a Destination Wedding is a fraction of the cost of putting on a wedding here at home with the same inclusions.
Sharing a week with friends and family is the perfect way to introduce two extended families to one another – and where better than in a sunny climate with everything included? The bride and groom can relax and truly enjoy their guests in an unhurried, care-free atmosphere.
Depending on the time of year that you book your group, you are almost guaranteed lovely weather for your wedding day. Let’s be honest, we can’t always say that here in Canada! Keep in mind that it DOES rain down south from time to time. Be sure to research the best times to travel to avoid the rainy or hurricane season. Prices will be lower during this time, but so will your chances of a guaranteed sunny wedding day! Always purchase travel/cancellation insurance and urge your entire group to do the same. Weather is simply unpredictable and flight delays or cancellations could quickly derail what is meant to be the most memorable trip of your life.
You can combine your wedding and honeymoon! Many couples opt to extend their wedding week and stay an additional week either at the same property or at an alternate resort. This gives the couple that much-need time alone to start making memories of their own.
As a Destination Wedding bride, I could go on and on with advice. Here are 10 TIPS from which any destination bride should benefit:
Start planning at least 9 months to a year in advance. This will give you time to thoroughly research any properties that interest you and it also gives you time to get the necessary information out to your guests so that they can budget accordingly and request vacation time
Don’t expect everyone that you invite to be able to make it. Please don’t take it personally! Not everyone can commit to a week away for various obvious reasons and it is not a reflection on how they feel for you. Hosting a party on your return for all of your guests who couldn’t make it gives you the opportunity to relive the highlights of the week with friends and family.
Be specific if you do not want children at your wedding. The best option for this of course is to choose an “adults only” property. It’s also important to be sensitive to your guests’ individual situations.
Be aware that most resorts – even though they are all-inclusive – will charge per person once you surpass their maximum allowable guests for that specific wedding package. Many brides don’t consider this until they realize they are paying hundreds of additional dollars – even for the FREE package.
Be sure to select a wedding gown that fits the venue – light fabric, not too heavy and in a fabric that travels well.
If you are opting for a veil, consider purchasing veil weights to keep it in place and lipstick free during photos
Speaking of photos, be sure to spend some time with your photographer BEFORE your big day, going over possible locations for shots, family dynamics, etc. With the limited time available between wedding and reception, it’s important to communicate and utilize the time wisely. Consider a “trash the dress” session on a day following the wedding or a trip into town for some stunning local shots.
Rethink those Manola’s when it comes time to choose your wedding shoes – especially if you are getting married on the beach. Remember, your feet will swell in the heat of the day and none of us want to look like we are grimacing in pain in our wedding photos! Perhaps consider flats or even flip flops on the beach (often the sand can be too hot for bare feet) and then once the sun goes down and it’s time to dine and dance, whip out those lovely heels.
Meet with your hairdresser at home to discuss options for a humid, possibly windy climate. Practice some hairstyles at home before you take those photos down to the resort hairdresser. Bring your own hair appliances, lots of bobby pins and hairspray and always have a plan ‘B’.
Be prepared to change venues quickly in the event of bad weather – even with all of our best efforts, Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and you must be prepared to be flexible and toss aside the vision of being married on the beach for a less windy or wet option. All resorts will discuss alternative venues with you at your initial consult.
The most important advice I give to any couples considering a Destination Wedding is to RELAX. One of the biggest reasons couples choose a wedding away is to enjoy a stress-free celebration. Go with that….and remember that the small things that brides seem to fret about will not be what you remember about your wedding day. It will be the love you feel for your new spouse and the wonderful time you had with friends and family.
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Kelly Neonakis-Morash is an award-winning Travel Agent specializing in Destination Weddings and operates Sunshine Vows, a Destination Wedding Travel Company. You can also find her Company Facebook Page here and 'Like' it to see more Destination Wedding posts in your feed!
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Years ago, at a wedding at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, I watched in awe as an artist beautifully painted the wedding reception as it happened. At that very moment I was hooked on 'Live Painting" as a compliment to the wedding photography. Not only do the bride and groom have a wonderful piece of art of their actual wedding reception - but the guests absolutely love watching the progress of the painting all evening. Unfortuately, the only gal in Halifax was doing it moved to bigger and better things in Montreal.
So after shooting Sindura & Aneesh's wedding, Sindura's parents had many of the vendors over for dinner and I saw her moms paintings. I was blown over - they were beautiful. And then it hit me. Sindura's mom, Najma, should be Halifax's next 'Live Painter'. She loves painting and has a wonderfully unique style. She uses watercolours, which I feel look elegant and whimsical when painting a wedding. So to see if this is something she's like, I arranged for Najma to paint the reception of my wedding this past weekend at Juno Towers.
Najma had a great time and did a phenominal job capturing the wedding reception! I was thrilled but more than that, the Lindsay & Bryan are so happy with their new painting!
Yes, wedding photographers are a very important part of your dayt, however, you should consider treat your guests and yourselves to a Live Painter for your biggest day. Visit Live Art by Najma to see more of Najma's work and to contact her for rates and availability!
Oh - and Najma also does amazing invitations!
I'm excited to be offering a free online photo gallery to all my future weddings, including destination weddings as well as ones here in Halifax and around Nova Scotia! Many photographers do it but this is such a beautiful way to present your wedding photographs to your family and friends. I'm looking after the fee to have your photos up for a year and the option to have you, your friends and family the ability to download the full res images (individually or as one big batch) directly to your computer! Even create custom galleries!
Printing images is no problem too - you can order prints right from the gallery and have them delivered directly to you. The prices are set so that anyone can have the opportunity to order as much as they like!
I'm a happy photographer and you will be a happy bride (and groom)!
Like all photographers, I'm honoured to have two Indian Wedding blog posts featured in the premiere website for Indian Weddings, MaharaniWeddings.com. Sindura & Aneesh are a beautiful couple and I'm thrilled that their wedding was selected to be on this site.
I'm a big fan of Marielle & Joe. I met Marielle while she was a bridesmaid at another wedding and shortly afterward she contacted me to photograph her own wedding. I was thrilled because I remembered, not just how beautiful she was, but how much fun she had that day!
And, yes, we had fun on her wedding day! You can tell just by all the smiles and laughing in these photos, the way they entered the room and, yes, Marielle was the bride who arm-wrestled another bride.
I loved being the photographer for their wedding and I always love shooting at the Lord Nelson. Take a look at some of her wedding photos and see for yourself the wonderful day I was able to be a part of!!
By the way, see Marielle's stunning bouquet? They were made by a newcomer on the block, Chelsea Lee Flowers and Chelsea's business has since exploded in popularity this summer - try to get her if you can! She's real sweet and her arrangements are truly stunning!
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So my first Indian Wedding! I had a lot to learn. I really wanted to, not only make sure I caught all the small, intricate, important traditions that were surely to occur, but to also not be completely lost when people mentioned terms like Mehendi, Pitthi or Gaye Holud, Sangeet, Baraat, Milni, etc. Although, I knew I wasn't going to understand the Sanskrit ceremony but if I was familiar and ready for all the parts, then I wouldn't miss a thing.
This event, called the Guye Holud and is part of the brides' Bengali heritage, happened a few days before the wedding day and included both families getting together to celebrate the bride and groom. Turmeric paste is applied to the bride and grooms' faces by each of the guests, and although it started out very sweet and proper, at the end, the grooms fellas made sure the he was to be 'fully adorned' by this yellow paste! Then sweets, food and traditional dancing!
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After shooting the Gaye Holud a few nights earlier, I knew I was in for a whirlwind of tradition, colour & cheering followed by a great meal and lots of dancing. I was familiar with all the small traditions and formalities I'd be seeing but I really wanted to make sure I captured all them accurately. From the joyful Baraat (groom arriving on a horse with all his family) to the cheerful Milni (relatives of the bride and groom embrace (bear hug) and greet each other with garlands) to all the rituals happening under the mandap - it was important to me that I didn't miss anything and that I captured all the emotion that I was about to be surrounded with.
I was also nervous about the fact that it was going to be happening during Halifax's biggest annual event, the Buskers Festival. I really wanted to shoot a lot downtown but didn't want to get a bunch of tourists and crowds in their images. I'm quite pleased I was able to make it seem like they were the only ones down there.
I was very happy to be working with the ladies over at Elegant Productions, an event coordination and decorating company that specializes in weddings. Not only are they a treat to be around, they make my job a whole lot easier. The bride (and her mom) is less stressed knowing everything is looked after and every wedding I've been to with them at the helm has gone wonderfully smooth.
I really care for Sindura & Aneesh. They are really wonderful people and I'm blessed that they allowed me to participate in their day and I'm thrilled to be able to deliver these (and over 1000 more) images from their wedding! I hope you enjoy this quick rundown of their day.
To see my available Saturdays for the 2014 Wedding Season, please see my post here - 2014 Wedding Photography Availability
You can also see more of my work on my Facebook Page as I try to post there every day or so. Just click the following link - Trevor Allen | Halifax Wedding Photographer
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Last month I photographed Sindura & Aneesh’s multi-day Indian wedding and at 1:00am on the Sunday (I suppose that makes it early Monday) we left the dance at the Marriott Harbourfront for a quick 15 minutes of shooting out by the water. We got wonderful images and below is an iconic image that got a tonne of attention on my Photography Facebook page. So now, after seeing this, lots of brides have been asking for a similar style shot on their big day...but I’ve also had nearly a dozen photographers this month e-mailing or calling me asking how I do them.
I love sharing the techniques I’ve learned as I enjoy seeing people taking what I’ve taught them and then take it in a different direction! To hoard knowledge goes against my mantra that if you are good at what you do (not just technical photographic skills, but being a good 'photographer'), you will never be out of work. And there will always be others hoping to learn from you.
So this is how I do the sparkler shots.
First off, they are not composites and the images don’t even really make it into photoshop (except maybe to add a few more stars). And right off the bat, let me say that it is actually me twirling the sparkler around the couple (oddly, that’s always the first question I get...followed with “how come I can’t see you?”...but more on that in a bit..
The first thing I did for Sindura's shot was set the tripod and get a good composition and exposure for the background. For this type of shot I know I need lots of time to run around with the sparkler, so I set the shutter speed right off the bat to 10-13 seconds...so now it's all about my aperture and ISO (This image was 13.0 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 200 - I like low ISO because I don’t like digital noise). Then I pop the bride and groom in there and tell them not to move...even when the sparkler is in their face (that is the most important time not to move as that is the moment they will be lit with the light from the flame). Ideally, have them standing in the dark so in the long exposure they’ll be lit by nothing but the sparkler. Because your camera will have a tough time seeing them too, have a flashlight handy to help find focus and then once you have it, flip your focus to manual so you don't lose it when you press the shutter. Also, try to have a person handy with an iPhone to loudly count off seconds on their timer app because if you go too fast, you will be left with a big blob of light above their heads and if you go too slow, your trail won't make it to the top and will just simply end at their shoulders (I mean, you can keep going to the top if you like, but the shutter has already closed - so that’s no good). Also (VERY IMPORTANT), don't have the sparkler go right in front of their heads or else you won't see their faces - instead, leave a gap there so their faces aren’t obscured by fire (look at all these images and you'll see what I mean).
Ok...it's go time. Light your sparkler (I used two at the same time for a thicker stream of spitting sparks) and once lit, get the couple to strike their pose, hit the shutter (I use a 10 second timer - but if you have a remote, that would be so much better) and hide behind them peeking out to watch your red light blinking. As you watch that flashing red light count you down, remind the couple not to move and have your timer person get ready to hit start on their iPhone and ready to yell out the countdown. Solid red...Here we go....2 seconds left...GO! Ok, start walking at a good pace, leave a wide cage to it doesn't crowd them and listen to your countdown person and keep a good pace keeping nice even (and not wobbly) lines of sparks. It is impossible for your body not to pass in front of the sparklers and that will leave a gap on every rotation (I left mine instead of photoshopping the gap - they aren't obviously noticeable and are neat little glitches in the photo that make it real. Now, the reason you don't see me is because I'm moving...I'm so 'ghosted' that you don’t even see me (well, in the image below you can see my face at one point to their 10 o’clock - I left it for this post but will remove it for their print). It is important that the person doing the twirling wears black or a very dark colour or else you'll see a white streak moving just to the outside of the sparkler - that's your shirt being lit by the flame and being recorded on the image. But even if you wear all dark clothing, at the very end when you stop moving and do the little twirl at the top; that's when your face will really show....and I did photoshop that out - it was right above Aneesh's head. The best sound you'll hear is the click the moment your reach your apex. You nailed it. Now....when you look at the photo, it will look wonderful...but zoom in on their faces....they likely moved. Don't just assume you got it and then find out the hard way while editing that you didn't get it. It only takes 13 seconds...do it several times (be mindful not to go in front of their faces with the light - I botched many doing that as you tend to forget as you are quickly walking around them in tight circles getting dizzy).
(so here is technical editing mumbo-jumbo)
In Adobe Lightroom, all I did was jack clarity, boosted the highlights and adjusted my colour balance. I only took it into photoshop to add more stars. I love seeing stars in the image but being right downtown, only a few were visible in the shot. Here, I was able to add my 'artistic expression' on the moment. So to photoshop them, just put a layer of stars (preferably stars on a black night sky) on top of the image and set your layer blending mode to ‘lighten’. This takes all the lighter parts of the image (stars) and doesn't show all the darker parts of the image (sky). Then just mask out where you don’t want to stars and possibly a wee bit of a gradient mask from the horizon. (13.0 sec at f6.3, ISO 200)
I love this next photo. It’s actually right where Jane & Olesh had their ‘first look’ earlier in the day. It’s at Pier 21 in downtown Halifax, NS and I really like the reflection of the sparklers in the trains’ windows as well as all the neon lights and textures in the image. The image just pops. I love it
This shot below of Heather and Jonathan has their reception and ceremony location behind them and the party in there is rocking! Currently, the DJ has KISS playing and everyone is rocking out in there. It’s a wonderful memory and I love that their wedding location a big part of the image. Being in Lunenburg (at the Lunenburg Yacht Club) the stars are, in fact, not photoshopped in. And it's the big Dipper at that! What a night! (13.0 sec at f5.6, ISO 400)
Below is Marielle & Joey outside Public Gardens and the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax. I love this shot and I’m so pleased I was able to get it for them. (13.0 sec at f5.0, ISO 200)
So, you can actually create the sparks without using sparklers. Below is a really neat spark trick recently adapted by Jeff Babineau, a Halifax wedding and portrait photographer based out of Truro. He got this very cool effect, not using sparklers, but with burning steel wool.
In addition to a tripod, you’ll need the finest grade steel wool you can get because if it is too thick it won't burn and it’s tricky to light so have a small torch or a BBQ lighter. You will need a METAL kitchen whisk (like the kind you beat eggs with) plus 2-3 feet of string or wire. Last, you’ll need a trusting volunteer with short hair and dark clothing (natural fabric, not synthetic - because sparks will be a-flying )
To create the spinning shower of sparks you take a small ball of steel wool and stuff it into the kitchen whisk as the whisk acts as a cage to hold the steel wool while it burns. Then tie a string or thin wire to the end of the whisk and light the steel wool. When she's lit, press the shutter and start your twirling (if you are doing it alone - just set the timer like I described above). Sparks will fly around like crazy as the steel wool burns. However, it burns quick so Jeff didn't get the sky full of sparks like how he envisioned the shot. So he took a number of shots and then layered them in photoshop to get that full sky of sparks. So if you are going to be layering images, it’s real important to remember not to move the tripod between shots. So now that you are taking multiple shots, it's a great way to pick and choose the best (and most sharp) shot of the bride and groom. Once you have that shot, then begin the process of layering the images, setting their blending modes to ‘lighten’, mask as you need to, as build a beautiful image. And finally, Jeff wanted to light up the bride and groom so he popped them with a little flash toward the end of the exposure. This shot got wild interest on Facebook and is certainly an impressive image to show off! (10.0 sec at f22, ISO 100)
So, good luck and have fun with this - there are soooo many things you can do with sparklers. Feel free to e-mail them to me as I’m actually putting together a pretty rad website this winter showing off neat and interesting photos done with sparklers (be sure to hook me up with your website URL and anchor text you’d like used).
PS - I absolve myself of any responsibility if anyone has sparks melt holes in a brides dress (frankly that wouldn’t really bother me as it adds to the memory of this photo in 40 years) or lights a bride or her hair spray caked hair on fire. Lighting a bride on fire is not good. Be careful. Remember, it's fire you are playing with. Don’t do this over or around anything flammable (dry grass, wood, gas pumps, etc.) and it isn’t a bad idea to have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy. Just in case.
Arlene: Thank you So MUCH Trevor! Your work is photography at it's absolute best, I'm so appreciative of your help and advice! You're an amazing man and your talent is astounding!!! Thank you! on 09.06.13
Darren: Trevor. Thanks for sharing the how to. I will quickly be adding this to my bookmarks so i can refer back again and again. on 09.06.13
So here's a funny story from last weekends' wedding.
The bride, groom and I, after an hour of wedding photography around halifax, are making our way back to the Lord Nelson Hotel this past weekend and we see another bride and groom, who had just finished their wedding photos, walking towards us. Right away the other bride (Lori) yells from 20 feet away, "Let's arm wrestle!!!". Joey, my groom, says "Is she for real?". I told him she likely saw one online before and next thing we know the other groom yanks out a $20 bill. I thought, "wow, this is gonna be...awesome!"
So I asked a very tattooed and pierced tough fella (and very nice fella) if I could use the bench he was sitting on and 'Ding Ding" it was on. I shot from the other side of the street getting a cool wide shot and BOOM, my bride, Marielle (dark hair), beats her. The other couple was stunned. "but my wife chucks around 30lb kettle bells like they're nothing." (PS - I love a man who is very proud of his wife). As soon as he handed over the $20 but he wanted a rematch. This is a shot of the rematch. There is nothing staged except for yelling to Joey to move in a little closer during all the mayhem. It was a very fun end to a very fun photo session.
And despite the fierce look on Marielle's face - Lori dug deep (as you can tell by the clenched fist and total focus) beat Marielle on the rematch. Maybe it was the coaching (Lori's hubby is awesome!) as Joey was just relishing his earlier win.
The bride and groom love this photo as it got a tonne of attention on my Wedding Photography Facebook Page with nearly 700 likes. Holy smokes!
Sindura & Aneesh will be my first full on Indian Wedding. If it's anything like our engagement shoot, we'll have no problem getting wonderful images of them. They are just so much in love - it makes my job pretty easy!