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Roses Are Red…

I’ve had engagement rings and wedding bands on my mind lately. Scratch that, I think I need an intervention. I am completely obsessed with discovering beautiful new settings, cuts, and metals.  After almost 20 years of photographing weddings, we’ve practically seen it all when it comes to the ring. Recently however, we’ve noticed a new trend popping up all over: the rose-gold engagement ring. “Rose gold engagement ring!” you might exclaim, a reasonable response to anyone who is accustomed to seeing the platinum, gold, and white gold metals that typically adorn the ring fingers of our friends and family. Featured in a recent issue of The Knot and now appearing on almost every woman’s Pinterest wedding board, the value of the rose gold wedding ring goes way beyond its unique and timeless beauty. The varying hues of pink available allow a bride-to-be and her fiancé to choose which shade will work best to compliment her other jewelry. A light rose gold ring (created by mixing only a small amount of copper with yellow gold) will effortlessly blend well with both gold and silver jewelry alike, eliminating the hassle of trying coordinate your accessories with your ring.

The moment after a proposal, the ring quickly becomes one of a bride-to-be’s most valued possessions. That being said, she would be crazy to let it out of her sight, let alone take it off her finger for an instant. In the midst of all her bliss and wedding planning though, she might not notice that occasional irritation and redness that many women with a slight nickel allergy fall victim too (not to be confused with the “seven year itch” as one Wall Street Journal writer jokes). Statistics say the number of women with a nickel allergy in North America is between 24-36%. That number is astounding! The allergy isn’t something you are necessarily born with, rather many men and women develop an allergy to this metal after prolonged exposure. All different types of metals can contain trace amounts of nickel, but it is most commonly found in white gold and gold-plated metals, thus, rose gold is becoming increasingly popular because it is hypoallergenic. Taking this into consideration, we encourage you and your fiancé to consider different metal types when talking about engagement and wedding bands and to check with your jeweler about the nickel content of each band before making any purchases. After all, what woman wants to have to leave their ring at home? A little bit of sparkle is always the best accessory.

Rose gold is also a hugely popular trend among celebrities (though their sparkle usually isn’t so little), with stars like Blake Lively, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panetierre, Lauren Conrad, and Katie Holmes (pre-divorce from Tom Cruise) rocking (pun intended) the gorgeous style. While we’re dying to photograph a bride with one of these pink beauties, we love how each of our beautiful brides has a special ring that reflects her personal style and symbolizes the love between the couple. That’s why we consider the ring shot such an important photograph to capture and cherish! Here are some of our favorites for you to ooh and ahh over. See more on our Pinterest board.

The classic ring and invitation shot.

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Special boxes and trays that instantly add extra charm.

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Custom engravings are so special, and the combination of ring and rose is stunning.

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Consider personalizing your ring shot to fit your hobbies, interests, or wedding theme as these brides did.

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Meadowlands Country Club Weddings – Lisa & David

This morning we are gushing over pictures from Lisa and Dave’s beautiful wedding at the Meadowlands Country Club. I’m especially in love with her Hayley Paige dress, which she purchased from La Bella Moda in Conshohocken. Lisa and Dave were married on a beautiful September day, the perfect weather picturesquely complimenting Russell Anthony’s bright floral decor. Long before the wedding planning started though, Lisa and David met at a bar on St. Patrick’s Day through a mutual friend. Their meeting almost didn’t happen because their friend was wavering in his decision to go out or not, but thanks to Dave’s encouragement, he ended up celebrating at the bar. And thank gosh he did, otherwise the couple probably wouldn’t have met and we wouldn’t have been able to capture this sweet pair’s gorgeous photos. Congratulations, Lisa and Dave! It was a pleasure to work with you both.
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One Atlantic Weddings – Katie & Drew

The love story of Katie and Drew began at a college Halloween party in West Chester, PA and grew tremendously over the next four years as the pair fell in love. Drew proposed to Katie on Christmas Eve and it was decided they would be married the following September at One Atlantic. The couple planned a truly gorgeous wedding with the help of the talented One Atlantic staff and Gerad’s Florist & Decorators (we love the aisle lined with rose buds!). Katie’s elegant lace dress complemented the timelessness of the decor perfectly; her Justin Alexander gown was purchased with her mom at Forever Formals, a small boutique in Kennet Square. This wedding was beautiful to witness and so much fun to photograph (we even learned a few new dance moves). Thank you for choosing Faith West, Katie and Drew!
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Capturing Candids 101!

All of my clients love candid photos, and want photos where the bride and groom aren’t looking in the camera, but are instead engaged with each other.

Ironically, unless a true candid “moment” of laughter is caught between the bride and groom, one of the best ways to ask a couple to “look candid” is to set them up in a pose that’s something they would never do in real life. Specifically, the photographer can set the couple up so that their “line of sight” is not natural, but looks good in an image.

Anyone who’s ever cuddled with a loved one knows that your eyes can’t really focus on him or her unless you both draw your heads back about a foot from each other. In an image, though, that foot of distance between the couples’ heads looks like a vast gulph. The appearance in the image is that the couple is avoiding each other, since they are drawing their heads back from each other, when in reality they’re just trying to focus their eyes on each other.

A photographer has to coach a couple to avoid this natural tendency to want to truly look at your partner, and instead, allow the face to go out of focus to your perception. Then you can draw physically very close to each other, and look truly intimate in pictures.

Another aspect of this phenomenon is that often the couple ironically looks the most intimate in images when the bride’s gaze is not even on the groom, but instead, is on some point in the distance on the floor. When the groom looks at a bride who’s looking down, it gives the appearance of a cute quality of being adored by the groom. If the bride smiles and adds a coquettish curled hand, you’ve got a super-adorable photo.

Finally, when a couple kisses on the lips it feels great, of course, but  doesn’t look that good in still images. From the photographer’s perspective, all that can be seen is the two jawlines and the expanse of the cheeks. The most expressive part of the face is hidden from the view of the photographer by the kiss. It’s more beautiful in images to show the “almost-kiss”, with a couple touching noses and foreheads (and sexier, since there’s an element of anticipation.)

Here are some examples from recent weddings of these line of sight issues.

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Location, Location, Location!

He’s finally proposed, you’ve called your closest friends and family, and you’ve Instagramed a photo of the ring (psst check out our Instagram) – now all that’s left to do is plan the wedding! The first major decision you and your fiancé will most likely make is on the venue. If you are choosing a popular wedding location, especially if you are interested in a Saturday date, you may have to plan more than a year in advance! All other important decisions to be made (i.e. the entertainment, the flowers, the caterer) are dependent on where you decide to tie the knot. Don’t freak out, while the task of choosing a wedding venue may seem daunting at first, after narrowing down your criteria we are sure you and your partner can turn the process into an exciting and enjoyable first-step in planning the wedding of your dreams.

The Philadelphia area is bursting with ballrooms, estates and cultural sites to choose from. In order to narrow down the list, we encourage you and your significant other to discuss what season you would like to be married in and, accordingly, if you would prefer an indoor or outdoor ceremony and reception. The Hyatt at the Bellevue, Water Works, and One Atlantic are three of the most popular venues we have photographed, and here’s why.

A ballroom instantly provides elegance, a lot of space, and the chance for complete customization. The Hyatt at the Bellevue host’s weddings throughout the year, which is especially appealing to those who wish to wed in the winter. An additional feature that we love and that you should consider in choosing an indoor wedding venue is special effect lighting. Most ballrooms allow you and spouse-to-be to coordinate the color of the lighting to match the colors of your theme. We’ve seen it all! From purple to pink, to blue and red, this effect is seriously cool. Also, many couples choose to have a light that shines their monogram on the dance floor. A married couple’s first dance is an important and unforgettable moment, and this makes the images we capture even more breathtaking. The Hyatt at the Bellevue is perfect for the couple that seeks luxury and sophistication and that will surely leave guests thinking they’ve stepped into a fairytale.

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We have shot countless weddings at the Philadelphia Water Works, and each one proves to be stunning in their own right. This venue is ideal for the couple looking for natural light and a scenic backdrop. Overlooking the Schuylkill River and at the base of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the architecture of this venue makes it truly unique. Whether you decide to have your ceremony under the gazebo or the grand pavilion, the surrounding flowering gardens make for an idyllic setting for spring and summer weddings. Although the fear of inclement weather may be a deterrent from choosing an outdoor location, the partial coverage provided by this location is enough to persuade many to choose it for their wedding. This venue can play host to both informal and formal occasions alike and is perfect for those wishing to capture the beauty of some of Philadelphia’s most well know destinations.

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Finally, One Atlantic provides the perfect combination of both stunning outdoor views and the comforts of a completely indoor wedding. Situated on the top floor of The Pier Shops at Ceasars, the floor to ceiling glass windows give guests an absolutely stunning view of the ocean, the beaches, and the famous Jersey boardwalk. Many couples choose to have their photos of the wedding party taken on the beach and boardwalk beforehand. The combination of modern amenities and scenic views provides many of the luxuries of a ballroom and the natural beauty of an outdoor setting. One Atlantic may be ideal for the couple that loves being outdoors on the beach, but would also enjoy the security and luxury of an indoor venue.

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No matter what location you choose to have your wedding, we are confident we can provide you with stunning images that will be cherished for a lifetime. Location is a key factor in setting the mood for your wedding and we are excited to hear where you and your fiancé plan on being wed! To see more images from these locations, or to check out other venues we have photographed, take a peek at our Pinterest page.

Church of the Holy Trinity and Down Town Club Wedding – Allison & Dave

It’s every bride’s dream to get married in a dress from Kleinfeld’s and Allison looked truly radiant as she walked down the isle in a stunning Lazaro gown. After seeing the dress on Pinterest (take a peak at our page!) and printing out a copy to bring along, she knew this dress was the one the moment she tried it on. The happy couple met while studying at the University of Delaware although it wasn’t until after graduation that they actually began dating. When they made the decision to get married, we couldn’t have been more excited to be chosen to photograph their special occasion! Following their ceremony at the Church of the Holy Trinity, guests headed to the Down Town Club for the reception. Cescaphe Event Group put together a beautiful event; Primrose Extraordinary Flowers accented the venue perfectly, while the Vincent James Band provided entertainment and fun throughout the night. Here’s to many, many years of happiness, Allison & Dave! Stitched1

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One easy way to make your photos go from good to great!

What matters the most to make your wedding photos look good? Is it make-up, the beautiful flowers, or the location the photo was shot? All of these are elements in what makes a great photo, but no element is more important than time of day that the image was shot.

Most brides and grooms are surprised to learn of this, and baffled when I request that they take their engagement photos in the morning, with a homemade make-up job, rather than wait ’till later in the day, after the bride-to-be has had a chance to get a professional make-up job. I explain to them that the gains that will be made by the professional make-up job are nothing compared to the gains that will be made by taking photos at the right time of day. (Although to solve this dilemma, Faith West Photography can recommend professional make-up artists who will come to your house at daybreak, before salons are open – Beke Beau and Cheekadee, among others.)

Here’s why. Studies show that the most flattering light happens from sunrise to one hour after sunrise, and one hour before sunset to sunset. I have learned that I can extend that window up to two hours and still get great-looking photos, but after that, it’s tougher to get good photos.

The dating website OKCupid (the site on which I met my husband!) asked their members to rate hundreds of thousands of photos posted to the site. The results confirmed what photographers have known for years — that there is a much better time of day to take photos, and that time is on either ends of the day. Here’s the link to the OKCupid study.

Here are some images of my own that bear this out.

The first photo is a picture of me taking pictures at 1 p.m. in July — just about the most challenging time of day, unless I get lucky and there’s a lot of cloud cover, which wasn’t the case on this particular wedding day.

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The next photo is the best resulting photo I could take of this wedding party under these lighting conditions.

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And here’s a photo of the cute flower girls taken in the full sun of 1 p.m. in July.

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The fourth photo is a photo of a different wedding party. This photo is taken in Philadelphia, only a block away from the first three. But it’s taken after 6 p.m. in August, when the sun is starting to make its way down.

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The fifth photo is an image of the bride and groom alone at that same time of day.

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Please choose your time of day wisely. It can make your photos go from good to great!

To two-piece or not to two-piece?

Let’s talk about the dress. It’s the piece of clothing that will arguably hold the most significance in your wardrobe, not only because of the abundance of photos you will have in it, but more importantly because of the memories and values that it will represent. From the moment a bride becomes engaged, to the moment she walks down the aisle, others will incessantly ask the question that everyone is dying to know the answer to: What does the dress look like? The enormity of this decision puts a lot of pressure on the bride to choose between a traditional wedding dress that will never go out of style, or to make the bold decision to surprise her guests with a fashion-forward dress straight off the runway. (Or perhaps something in between the two.)

Bridal couture recently introduced a daring new style that emboldened the catwalks of many Spring 2015 collections: the two-piece wedding dress. Incredible designers including Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang and Elizabeth Stuart defied the rules of bridal couture by altering the preexisting notion that bridal gowns be just that: gowns. Instead, layers of taffeta, tulle, and a myriad of other fabrics are being cut to show just a bit (or in some cases a lot, we’re looking at you Oscar) more skin.

While Vera Wang’s design may have you thinking, “No way!” or, like me, “Maybe after I work on my six pack,” the Elizabeth Stuart and Houghton gowns are appealing options if you are looking for a fresh twist on a classic A-line dress. It’s well known that brides tend to customize their wedding gown by adding a belt or extra lace and beading. They will also almost always have at least one alteration made to match the size and fit of the dress closely to the shape of their own body. In the case of the two-piece wedding dress, slight tailoring may minimize, or even eliminate entirely, exposure of the mid-section while still revealing its modern structure. Keep in mind though, that perfect accessories are another option if you are looking to add just a touch of tradition to an edgy look. Many of the models styled in two-piece wedding gowns adorn a flower crown that softens the look by evoking the innocence of a child. In lieu of this more bohemian look, a floor-length veil will often balance out the contemporary aspects of a gown.

We recently had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Lauren and Donald at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Unknowingly, Lauren embraced today’s two-piece trend by wearing a wedding dress that had a separate top and bottom. While Lauren didn’t reveal her midriff, she effortlessly combined a contemporary corset with a classic A-line skirt that sits at the waist to create an original look that will certainly be remembered. Don’t let de la Renta’s minimal use of fabric scare you away from exploring new trends and making them your own. We love your style, Lauren!

Left: Elizabeth Stuart, Center: Houghton, Right: Oscar de la Renta

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Left: Mira Zwillinger, Center: Vera Wang, Right: Theia 

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Lauren’s take on the two-piece gown:

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St. Joseph’s and Park Hyatt at the Bellevue Wedding – Meaghan & Matt

After bonding over a love for the Philadelphia Eagles while at Indiana University, Meaghan and Matt finally tied the knot on a beautiful summer day in August. Their wedding was a joyous occasion, filled with the love of many family and friends who were thrilled to celebrate the beginning of their lives together. Following a beautiful ceremony at St. Joseph’s Church and pictures in front of City Hall, the reception commenced at Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, where the Swagg Band (from Ohio) kept everyone on their feet late into the night. The stunning venue was made even more special by beautiful floral arrangements from Petals Lane, but needless to say, Meaghan stole the show in an allover lace gown by Marisa. She said the decision to choose the dress at Country Way Bridal was an easy one; after trying on only three dresses, she was sure this was the one. From everyone at Faith West Photography, we wish you many years of happiness, Meaghan and Matt!

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Hyatt at the Bellevue Weddings, Philadelphia PA – Kelly & Ian

This wedding is very special to Faith West Photography!  Not just because Kelly and Ian are so wonderful, but because it is the debut wedding of Nathan for Faith West! Nathan is a very accomplished wedding photographer in his own right who will be joining Faith shooting luxury weddings full time starting in 2015.  Don’t worry, Laura, Rachel or Jessica will still be available as main photographers as well, and we’ll let you know all of their exciting details soon!

We are forever grateful to all of the amazing couples who have given us such love and success over the years, and we are so excited to introduce new photographers and updated package options to our offerings at Faith West Photography.

But enough about us, let me tell you all about Kelly and Ian’s big day!  Kelly tried on 3 dresses before that and her sister found that one on a sample sale by designer Nicole Miller (who even has a store inside the Bellevue!). She looked simply gorgeous in her fitted gown, and Ian’s suit was the perfect compliment to his bride.

After a romantic “first look” on a terrace at the Hyatt at the Bellevue we took advantage of our prime Center City Philadelphia location and took some portraits along Broad Street before a touching ceremony back inside.  From there the party got started with delicious food, music handpicked by the couple and lots of heartfelt toasts and tributes.  We snuck out for a classic City Hall shot before sending off the lovebirds with our well-wishes.

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