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Confessions of a former bride – part 9

I thought about posting this a while back, but I honestly wasn’t sure if it would really be of interest to anyone…I mean, how many times can I blog about my own wedding (that was over a year ago) before people get sick of reading about it? I hope you (readers) won’t mind if I post about it at least a couple more times though, because I have some really meaty stuff to delve into. Mmmm…meaty:)

Lots of bloggers post about their wedding, but not very many of them post about what it cost. I decided that over the next couple days, not only will I share with you how and why we spent a certain amount, I’ll actually break down what we spent as well. Why? Because I want people to know that you CAN have a great photographer on a budget. And it can be pretty and lovely and amazing on a budget too! You will have to have priorities and make some compromises on things, but I really believe that you can have a great wedding without spending more than the cost of a new car.

John and I spent 10,000 dollars on our wedding, and we saved up about 7,000 of that over a 2 year engagement. Our parents helped us with the other 3,000, and we will forever be grateful! Out of that 10,000 dollar budget, we spent about 30 percent on photography, a little less than 30 percent on catering, and then the 30 percent was divided up between everything else that was left, including cake, our coordinator, our venues, my dress, John’s tux, and our paper products, and flowers.

Why did we spend so much of our budget on photography? You might be thinking we did that because I’m a photographer and it was obviously always a priority to us, but you would be wrong! When we first started planning our wedding, I had never touched a DSLR and I really had no idea what photography cost or really what ANYTHING related to a wedding cost. I thought I would be able to get a great photographer for under a thousand dollars and maybe even less than that! Of course I knew that the photographers whose work I really admired were so out of the budget I set up for us, but I thought of them as more of a luxury…something that richer people got to have at their wedding because they could afford to pay $$$$ for them.

My attitude toward photography slowly evolved somewhere between getting engaged and starting to learn how to use a camera myself. I remember the first consultation I had with our wedding coordinator where she asked me what we were planning to do for a photographer. She just looked at me when I told her I was thinking about asking a friend to do it for a couple hundred bucks and then told me something that will stick with me forever….she said that we DESERVED to invest in the one thing we would have after our wedding was over. The way she explained it made it seem so logical. I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it was that just because we weren’t rich didn’t mean we couldn’t save up and put our money toward a photographer we really loved. We deserved those memories and could find a way to make it work.

Though we decided we would invest in a professional photographer, we were still on a budget. Our photography budget was upgraded to maybe half of what we ended up spending in the end, so it was still a very small budget. I was somewhat determined we would find someone within that range. I looked at so many local photographers. So many of them had technically great images….properly exposed, good compositions, etc, but to me they were missing something. When I finally found our wedding photographers, Jodi and Kurt, I fell in LOVE with their work. I was particularly obsessed with this one wedding with mason jars and handmade bouquets. It was an outdoor wedding and seemed like what in my head a wedding should be…garden-y, romantic, and pretty! I just couldn’t stop looking at their blog….I loved their work, I loved that they had been featured on wedding blogs, and when I met them, I loved them too…if you have met Jodi and Kurt you know what I mean…they are so sweet and friendly, but so cool in their own unique way.

We talked about it and talked about it. And then talked about it some more. Our budget couldn’t expand anymore, so if we really wanted to hire Jodi and Kurt we had to cut (and I mean SLASH) our guest list, compromise on the type of catering, and we wouldn’t be able to hire a florist anymore either. The hardest pill to swallow was that we most likely could not afford a honeymoon either. If you’ve followed any of my wedding posts in the past, you know how this story ends…we chose to commit to making photography our priority and hire Jodi and Kurt.

I realize that not everyone will have the same wedding priorities as we did…some people would rather have a big honeymoon or a party with lots of incredible foods and drinks. I think it’s awesome everyone has different priorities! But if your priority IS photography and you don’t think you can make it work, I just want you to know that you can!

On Thursday I will share a list of ways we cut back on spending to make it all work. I think my ideas can apply to saving money at any budget, so make sure you check back for those!

All images in this post by Jodi Miller Photography


Keep these posts coming!

WORD. We spent $7K on our wedding and it was hard! We were really fortunate to be blessed time and time again with people who were willing to sacrifice for our wedding, but having a teeny budget definitely makes things challenging.

great post! and i like that you made it very clear that you SACRIFICED in order to get what you wanted – and that concessions are WORTH IT when it comes to choosing between hiring a friend to take photos and hiring a professional.

Our actual wedding cost $500, if you include the cost of our flights and honeymoon it was $5,000 (minus photography). Bringing our photographer from Maryland to Hawaii to shoot the wedding cost us about $2,500, so half of what everything else was. With the extra stuff we bought from her we spent about $3,200 on photography. We have absolutely no regrets! We didn’t need a fancier wedding, we were married and it was a sweet small ceremony in a beautiful place and we have phenomenal photos to commemorate it!

Fabulous post Katie! We had a great photog for our wedding and was willing to make the investment. Unfortunately, it rained the day we got married so we didn’t get any outdoor photos as planned. It never dawned on me back then to set-up another shoot after the wedding to get the photos I really wanted. I appreciate and value a talented photographer and definitely want to have a hubby, wife and Rocco photo sesh to celebrate our fifth anniversary next year. The hubby just doesn’t know it yet. LOL!

Right there with you girlie!

I think it’s great that you’re sharing! It can be done…but priorities and sacrifices must be made for the things you value the most. I hope that you eventually end/ended up on an amazing honeymoon!?

Katie Nesbitt

We haven’t been on a honeymoon yet…we like travel, but I guess our priorities are elsewhere. Haha! Now we are saving for a house and pinching pennies so I can run my business full time:)

Lesli D

We had a budget of 10,000 as well and we weren’t willing/couldn’t manage to spend a penny more than that either! We were VERY fortunate to find YOU whose work we believe is worth SO much and we will forever be grateful that we stumbled across this site and found you!! There is not a doubt in my mind that your business will take you and your family very far.


So, it was only 13 years late, but I finally watched the Matrix this weekend! Don’t make fun of me, I was only 12 when it came out and it’s rated R! I’m not usually the biggest fan of sci fi movies, but have to say, I really enjoyed it and was surprised at a lot of the religious undertones I noticed. There are still about a thousand classic movies that I have yet to see…what are your favorites??

I also may or may not have bought the sample item at Trader Joe’s for the tenth consecutive time…it was tempura style sweet and sour chicken and it was SO GOOD. I couldn’t help but buy it. I’m also really loving the bacon, gruyere, and red potato pizza from TJ’s right now. It’s pretty much three of the best tasting things on Earth…on a pizza! I don’t know what it is that Trader Joe’s does to their food, but I’m so obsessed with it and always excited to go there.

Hope you had a great weekend! This sweet couple will be on the blog this week, yay!


Gorgeous image and I have to agree with you – I absolutely LOVE going to Trader Joes too! I miss having one around!

oh goodness i LOVE trader joe’s!!! there aren’t any on the eastern shore though 🙁 *there isn’t really anything on the eastern shore haha

great images!!

So excited to see the rest! 😀

Mmmmm I’m hungry now! Great pictures Katie!

Ahhh the Matrix is awesome!!

Natalie Franke is the one who introduced me to Trader Joe’s and I’m hooked too! I had a Ham/Gruyere & Carmelized onion pizza a few weeks ago and it was the

Ooooo so pretty!! And don’t worry, I only just watched Back to the Future for the first time a few weeks ago. 🙂

i LOVE trader joe’s. my favorite thing from there is the frozen chicken potstickers. NOMNOMNOMNOMNOM.

mmmm – you had me at BACON!! 😉 Will have to hit up TJ’s sometime soon to indulge!
I’m horrible with watching movie classics….There are so many I haven’t seen & it’s embarrassing!


Don’t feel bad, I have yet to see any of the Matrix movies and I probably never will,


Ohh Katie these are so pretty!! I can’t wait to see the rest…and I STILL havn’t seen the Matrix so don’t feel bad..haha…

Amanda Thomas

I LOVE her hair! How lovely.

I’ve still never seen the Matrix, so don’t feel bad 😉

For photographers – Posing tips!

I will start this post with a disclaimer…I’m NOWHERE near the best at posing. I actually struggled with it for a really long time and have only recently gotten much more comfortable with it. I’m still learning, but thought it would be fun to share what has helped me the most so far.

Previsualize your poses and write them down
When I first started photography, posing was one of the things that intimidated me the most! I struggled to think up great poses when I was actually out at a shoot and then I would also struggle to explain the poses I thought up to my clients. All in all it was very stressful for me, though I hope my early clients never noticed! One of the things that has really helped me not struggle with ideas for poses is to pre-envision the poses in my head, and then write them down! Whether it’s in my phone or on an actual sheet of paper, the actual task of writing something down helps my memory out a lot. So even if I never check my paper for an idea, I am way more likely to remember it.

Give SPECIFIC directions
One of the things that used to make me really nervous was trying to explain to someone how to get into a pose I wanted them to be in. I couldn’t really figure out HOW to create the looks I was going for. Well, the secret to great poses is really REALLY specific instructions! Sometimes I will be able to give out vague instructions and the couple goes into the pose beautifully on their own, but the average person is not used to being in front of the camera and will need you to help them out. That’s your job, after all! And when I say be specific, be really specific! Tell them what to do with their hands, where to look, and whether or not they should be smiling. In the end I know they will be grateful!

Tweak Your Poses for more “looks”
One of the most helpful things I’ve learned so far about posing, I learned at Katelyn James‘ spring workshop…she calls it the pose evolution and it’s basically the idea that you can take several unique images by making small tweaks to one or two poses. For example…if a couple is in a really great pose that you are loving, take a wide shot and a close up one. Then tweak or “evolve” the pose by asking them to look in a different direction or modify the pose in another small way. Also, walk around the couple and get different angles! I sometimes get caught in a trap of taking an image straight on, but that’s not creative or exciting!! I’m trying to work on that!

Gauge the Couple
My favorite types of images are the super intimate, romantic ones that show off the sweetness in a relationship…but I always take into account the type of couple I’m working with when thinking up my poses. There are some couples that are more playful and would be better suited for fun and more quirky posing. There are also those that are much more reserved and would probably think I was a nutcase if I asked the groom to pretend to dance and twirl his fiance. Getting to know your couples and really finding out where they’re coming from is really helpful because the most genuine images come from people who feel confident and comfortable in front of your camera. If you ask someone to do something that is TOO outside of their element, you will be able to tell, because the camera does NOT lie.

Have several go to poses
This one is awesome for everyone to do, but it’s especially important for people who struggle with posing and sometimes get stuck and somehow contract posers block during a session…having several “go-to” poses you can throw out there to your clients gives you some time to get yourself together and refresh your mind without your clients even knowing! Plus, knowing I have a few go tos in my back pocket helps me feel like I can be more creative and try new poses!

Be Confident!
This is probably the thing that has changed my posing the most….confidence! You have it in you to create these beautiful poses you see in your head, so just get out there and go for it!

Just to sum up this post, posing is another one of those things that you have to find your own way to do. Not everyone is going to pose their clients the same way, and that’s great! I hope these tips were at least a little bit helpful! They have really made a difference in my posing, so I hope you can apply some of them to yours as well:)


So helpful! Definitely going to try to employ the “pose evolution” idea! 😀 Great post!

great tips! i struggle with posing :/

gerat tips! posing stresses me out & I start to freak a little if I get stuck! I have a cheat sheet on my phone, but if I pre-visualize what I’m going to do, I usually don’t need it!

Love it!

Amazing tips!! Pre-visualizing is definitely key!

awesome awesome tips Katie! I still freeze up a little, but I think writing everything down will help me out TONS! 🙂

Oh, i still struggle every now and then and i have so hard time explaning the pose to the client. Thanks for this post!

As a wedding photographer in Johannesburg, South Africa I must commend this and say this is a lovely high-quality post. Thank-you for sharing.

Wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Robin + Patrick | Downtown Richmond Engagement Session

This has got to be one of my favorite sessions to date. Robin and Patrick have such an easy going spirit about them that is really just a joy to photograph. We met up with them this past Sunday in downtown Richmond and walked around near canal street before heading over to Brown’s Island.  Though almost every other day last week was at least 100 degrees with the heat index, Sunday was actually pretty mild and seasonable!

Sidenote: it was Robin’s idea to include the balloons! Those are their wedding colors…gray and yellow:) I whole heartedly approve!

Hope you enjoy some of my favorites!


Love the bright colors. These photos are just great!

These are gorgeous! I love the the balloons and tone of your B&Ws! 🙂 What a pretty couple!

the ones with the baseball hats where they are chasing each other are so cute!! great session katie!

LOVE the black and white bridge shot + shots of the gorgeous couple in the grass! This session is awesome 🙂

Jameka Washington

Love, love, love this! These photos just enhance the love that it is clear this couple has for each other! Great job Katie!

Great shots Katie! I love shooting in Richmond! Sometimes I wish it wasn’t far away!

they are so sweet together 🙂

These are perfect! I love that she is also wearing the wedding colors!


The pictures are amazing! Congrats to the beautiful couple. I can’t wait to experience more of their love in February 🙂

LOVE that red top on her!!

Love this couple!!!

OH MY GOSH. these are PERFECT. they are gorgeous!!!!

ohhh she is gorgeous and these are so fun!

The lighting in all of these is just beautiful! So are the gorgeous photos!!

Meaghan Cyphers

AWESOME PICTURES!! 🙂 Congrats again!

dorothy wright

there are so many shots where I first said, oooh, this is my favorite. After, the 7th or 8th favorite, I gave up, until the end. The black and white shot, at the end, seems to epitomize the promise you are about to embark upon. Love was captured here and shared! Thank you for still believing in the promise! Dorothy Wright

how fun!! Love the balloons!!

These are so beautiful, Katie!

These are awesome Katie!!!! 🙂 Loving the BWs!

These are soo cute Robin. I’m so excited I keep telling everyone at work

Things I Love – August

This month’s giveaway is kind of different. Instead of sharing a tangible product with you guys, I decided to share a few other things that I love instead! I’m big into causes and thought it would fun (and something positive) to offer a donation to a great charity in lieu of a tangible prize.

So…this month you have a chance to win a 20 dollar donation (the approximate value of the other giveaway prizes) on your behalf at one of the following five charities. If you win the giveaway, you can choose which one of these you would like to give the donation to! And to thank you, I will send you a 10 dollar Starbucks E-Card as a gift:)

Our charity choices are:

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Habitat for Humanity

Equality Virginia

Planned Parenthood

Wish Upon a Wedding

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with one thing you vow to do today to make your community just a teeny tiny bit better. It doesn’t have to be something big…it could be as small as letting someone merge in front of you on your way home, or donating a few dollars to a charity you support. I will pick and announce the winner on Friday, so be on the lookout!



Oh this is such a great idea!! I’m going to have to think about it and come back 🙂

We live in a constantly littered neighborhood. My kids and I (6 and 7) are going out today to pick up trash to clean up our street. We’re learning that just because we didn’t make the mess doesn’t mean we can’t help clean it up!! 🙂

I’ve never been much of a donator but I gave $3 to a group I support the other day! If I can buy junk food for $3, I can also support a good cause, so I think I’ll do that whenever I can 🙂 Very thought provoking post Katie! 🙂

Kate Zylka

Ooh! I really like this giveaway! I will donate blood in 2 weeks when I’m eligible again. I have type O- blood so I’m a universal donor but can only receive from other O negs so the children’s hospital in our area is always putting O- on the special order list. I’ll also cancel my hair appointment in two weeks and instead continue to grow my hair out another four inches and donate 10 inches to Locks for Love. 🙂

Hello! I’m a big supporter of cancer charities. I make an effort to donate and support a few groups every year. Unfortunately, cancer has touched the lives of a few close friends, my father-in-law and my mother, a breast cancer survivor. I try my best to do my part 🙂

I’m photographing some of the shelter dogs this afternoon, to help get them adopted & escape the incredibly high euthanasia rate.

i will answer the phone nicely and not get snippy with anyone (working for a municipality makes that difficult sometimes haha) great idea 🙂

OMG! I love it!! Great idea! I would pick up any liter that I may see in my neighborhood as I am walking my puppy today!


Yesterday, I participated in a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Providence, RI and was “Locked Up.” I posted $470 dollars in bail for which all proceeds went to the MDA to support kids going to camp!

Amanda Thomas

I mailed our wedding invitations today. After the first (yes, that’s correct- FIRST) post office I went to turned me away, I was feeling dejected. An hour lady, an amazing woman at the UPS store came through for me and went above and beyond.

To pay it forward, I’m going to deliver some cupcakes and a thank you note to this kind stranger tomorrow!