Monday, May 20, 2013

Milestone Portraits

newborn twin boys
Milestone Portraits are an important part of your child's younger years. When they are a baby, we typically recommend doing those portraits every 3 months starting with the newborn photos and keeping up with them through 1 year. We also recommend trying to do monthly photos - they can be simple snapshots at home or you can do a mini sitting with us. If you are looking for mini sessions, just contact us and we can let you know what we have coming up or we can arrange one for you.
3 year little girl photosAfter the first year, 18 months (approximately) is a great milestone session and can usually be done with a fun outdoor summer session or around the holidays, spending on your child's birthdate. After the 18 month session, we recommend updating your child's portraits every year. If your child was born in the winter months and you want a spring or summery session, you can always do it on every half year, like 2 and a half, 3 and a half, etc. You will still be documenting the changes they are going through.

Once your child enters the school years, you will be blessed with school photo day, a day which many parents dread, and of course one in which they feel the need to shell out large amounts of money for portraits they won't see until it's too late. You can send your child to school with their hair fixed up, their clothes looking great, and inevitably photos will be after recess or lunch. So, instead of leaving those precious milestone photos to a cattle driver, have them taken by a professional.

Milestone Portraits can also be a great time to get shots of siblings together and family portraits. 

Pick a location based on your outfit choices and your child's personality. You don't want to choose a playground if you want pictures of your child smiling at the camera. They tend to get a bit distracted. We have a huge selection of props from chairs to hats and hair accessories that we are happy to bring to your session. And we are always happy to make suggestions for new and exciting locations.


Photos and Article by Jennifer Duval
Jennifer Duval is the owner and primary photographer at Duval Digital and specializes in wedding and portrait photography. She would love to photograph your family and especially your children. She has a lot of patience for getting that one great shot of your child, no matter how long it takes.
Duval Digital is based out of Colorado Springs, CO and travel all over the state and country. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Colorado's Out of the Way and Lesser-known Venues

I touched on locations a couple months ago, but we have recently been trying to help one of our clients find the perfect location, but it seems that most of the more popular locations are booked up on their date. So, we have been compiling a list of some of the lesser known venues in the state.

Many of these venues are less expensive or have better availability than the more popular venues you will see in all of the Colorado wedding magazines.

Sourdough Valley Ranch - Woodland Park, CO (left)
Although the website is currently malfunctioning, the location is beautiful, there is a lot of property, and it offers many different areas to fit whatever style you are looking for.

Green Mountain Falls Gazebo
A little bit closer than Woodland Park, is the cute little town of Green Mountain Falls. They have an adorable little gazebo next to the lake which can be rented out for your wedding. Just keep in mind that it can snow earlier in the year up there than in the Springs.

Lodge at Cathedral Pines - Black Forest, CO (right)
This is a beautiful, and small, venue with fantastic rates. 

Venue 515 and 7 Minute Spring in Manitou Springs, CO
Inexpensive, urban, outdoorsy, and a reception venue which allows you to make it your own. These two go hand in hand so well together. Plus, the downtown Maniotu area is just up the street to add some unique backgrounds to your wedding photos.

The Penrose House at Turkey Creek (left)
A pretty little venue owned by Fort Carson, but they allow civilians to rent this property, too.

Black Canyon Inn - Estes Park, CO
This is a relatively well known venue in Estes Park, but I think it deserves a mention since it is often upstaged by the Stanley Hotel.

The Lodge at Elk Valley - Divide, CO (right)
This beautiful property is great for outdoor weddings in the summer. The main house is a little too small for an indoor wedding, but it provides a great place to get ready and hideout before the ceremony. You can always set up a big white party tent in the field.

Meadow Creek Bed & breakfast - Pine, CO (left)
A beautiful little venue hidden up in Pine, they have a small indoor pavilion for the reception and a gorgeous field in the back.

Getaways from the Girl Scouts of Colorado
The girl scouts have some beautiful properties all over the state which can be rented for all kinds of events. You may have difficulty getting rentals in the middle of summer since they are used for girl scout camps, but once the kiddos go back to school, the availability should open up.

Colorado Springs Parks & Rec Weddings (GotG right)
Want a nice local, low-scale wedding? Most of Colorado Springs Public Parks can be used for weddings. But, keep in mind, since many cannot be "reserved," you may have to fight other parties, picnics, or random people crashing your wedding. There are a few that can be reserved, like the Garden of the Gods wedding pavilion, and the Mother's Chapel. 

Please, if you have any other ideas for lesser know venues, please post them in the comments below to help out other brides or people looking event venues.


Duval Digital specializes in outdoor weddings. We are based out of Colorado Springs, CO and travel all over the state and country. We have photographed weddings at most of the locations in this article in case you need tips on set up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Makeup Ideas for the Big Day

Hair and Makeup typically go hand in hand, however, makeup is seldom considered and hair gets all the attention. So, my big tip for you? Hire a makeup artist! 

Yes, it seems like an expense you can skip out on, but truthfully, your face is going to be in every photo! Makeup artists have the techniques and experience to make your face truly "shine" on your big day. A makeup artist will be able to make you naturally beautiful by enhancing what your face already has, which is also a big plus for the groom since men seldom enjoy the look of makeup and prefer our natural skin (no idea why). 

Definitely get together with your chosen artist a month or so before the big day and do a trial run, just like your hair. Hopefully you will be able to schedule these on the same day so you get the big picture. And, hey, when you get home, go ahead and try on your wedding dress. Fun! 

Make sure your makeup artist specializes in wedding makeup. The last thing you want is for a prom makeup artist to fix up your face for your big day. Sparkles are great for high schoolers, but on older faces, not so much.

Also, plan at least 50% more time for your hair and makeup than what the hair and makeup professionals ask for. If anything goes awry and they need to restart, you will be much more relaxed knowing you won't be late.

The bride to the right had a very talented makeup artist on her big day. Although she was already a naturally beautiful woman, her makeup made her look outstanding. You can see that while she does have a very natural look, it is also a perfectly polished look. It just enhanced her natural beauty.

Now, if you absolutely do not have any wiggle room in your budget for a makeup artist, here are some tips for do-it-yourselfers. And be sure to test out all products on your face before the big day. You don't want to have a reaction to something on your big day.

- The week before your wedding day, sleep on a clean pillowcase every night. I flip my pillow to get two uses out of it. There is no substitution for taking care of your skin from the inside, so drink a ton of water... like camel amounts. I'm not going to tell you to eat healthy, but it will help... I would rather enjoy myself the week before my wedding, anyways.

- Urban Decay Cosmetics creates a long lasting makeup spray, called All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. Essentially, it is hairspray for your face! Apply a coat or two and dance the night away without worry. You can find it locally at Ulta or online through retailers like Amazon.

- Primers also help to prolong the wear of your makeups and can also help smooth out your skin to minimize flaws.

- If you need to minimize fine lines or wrinkles, use a good facial moisturizer before your primer and foundation. And use very little powder on those areas.

- If you have that pesky acne that always seems to flare up on a wedding day, use a green-tinted concealer to counteract the redness before using your foundation.

- Now lets say you didn't get a nice long night of beauty rest... nerves, partying, chatting, so many reasons. Anyways, your eyes will pay the price. If they are red, visine will do the trick. If they have dark circles under them, try a yellow-tinted concealer before applying powder. If they are puffy you can try the teaspoon trick, but it won't last all day. There are eye creams with caffeine in them that are getting great reviews out there. 

- As for eyeshadow, avoid insanely bright colors. This is not where you bring in your wedding color. Stick with neutral tones for a more natural look. Iridescent or off-white shadows will make your eyes pop.

- Waterproof Mascara... and you do need to curl your lashes. However, if your lashes don't hold a curl for a long time, you may need to consider getting falsies. Get a good brand and you won't have to worry about them falling off.

- Lipstains instead of lipstick. You don't want a giant red stain on your groom's shirt. They typically come with a gloss to apply over them to make it look like a lipstick.

- Blush. It is an unfortunate cruelty. You want a little color on your cheeks. Pick a peachy-pink color and it won't be that bad. (I'm not a big fan of blush.)

Keep in mind, most professional photographers have the ability to fix any problem areas. If you do have a problem and the makeup isn't quite covering it, I am sure your photographer will help you out. 


These tips are a concoction of ideas I have been gathering in a document through the years, as well as chatting with makeup artists at various weddings. Thanks to all of the makeup pros out there for their wisdom.


Jennifer Duval is the owner of Duval Digital, a Colorado Springs based wedding and portrait photography studio. She loves outdoor weddings and homemade wedding favors, preferably food based. However, her primary love has always been photography. You can see more of our wedding photography work here: so much 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why can't I have my cake and eat it, too?

One of my favorite things about weddings is the cake. I love cake. I love frosting. I love to eat. (My waistline agrees... unfortunately.) With that said, brides seem to be split down the middle on whether or not the cake is an important part of the wedding plans. On the one hand, you may think it is a centerpiece for your wedding reception, on the other, you may think it is a great place to trim the budget  since no one will remember how the cake tasted. Well, I think both brides are wrong on this one.

Yes, the cake is a monumental piece of your reception. After all, there is an entire "ceremony" just for cake cutting. It can also help bring the theme of your wedding into the reception. However, consider that maybe the bride and groom should be the focus of the reception. You do not want a cake that upstages a bride. The cake is still important, but it doesn't need to chew up the entire reception budget.

So, to start planning your cake budget, you need to decide how much cake and how elaborate you want it to be. Cake shops can help you determine the amount of cake needed based on how many guests you expect. If your venue offers cakes, they may add a plate charge for cake ordered from another vendor. I have seen the plate charge cost up to $3/person and I know it can be much higher. This is the cost of having your venue cut the cake. Yes, it seems silly, but that's how it goes. Likewise, the more intricate the detail work on your cake, the higher your price will go. Multiple flavors may cost more, etc., etc.

Make sure you know exactly who will be cutting the cake. Is this something the bakery offers? Your venue? Is your aunt or cousin or someone else cutting the cake? Also, make sure your venue or caterer knows you need extra plates for the cake. I have had to cut wedding cakes on 3 occasions. I'm the first to admit that I am not very good at it. Yes, there is a science to cutting a wedding cake without making a mess of it.

Go modern or fun! Have you considered having cupcakes, cakes at each table, or even pies at your reception? You don't have to pick a cake because it is traditional. My all time favorite wedding "cake" was actually a bunt cake. It was the best tasting cake I have ever had and I still have dreams about it.  Not to mention, the table was overflowing with mini bunt cakes which eliminated the need to cut slices of cake for all the guests (a process that can take up to 30 minutes.) This can also help you save plating charges if your venue has those.

Sampling is fun, but generally, sample cakes are made with flavor in mind while a wedding cake is generally made with design in mind. I have had some terrible cake at receptions where a high-priced, well-known baker was hired. (That's not to say it wasn't an insanely beautiful cake.) Likewise, I have had some amazingly tasty cakes from King Soopers, of all places. Do not base everything on a taste test.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem that taste and design go hand in hand at every bakery. This is typically because bakers with better designs are hired by multiple brides for the same date. This generally means they are baking cakes and freezing them for long periods of time. This can also happen at a bakery that hires multiple people to keep up with their demand. I highly recommend deciding upfront which is more important and asking for referrals. It is the wedding guests that remember the taste of the cake, the bride usually remembers how beautiful it was.

Ask your baker how their batters are made. The better bakers make their batters from scratch. Not to mention, I have overheard a guest at a reception commenting on how the cake tastes like a box mix. Personally, I love box mix cakes, but if you are going for a classy affair, that may not be the remark you want to hear.

If you have any special considerations like dietary restrictions or certain flavors you want, you might want to look for a baker who specializes in that. Speaking of flavors, the largest layer of cake should be the flavor that will be most popular. (9 times out of 10 the chocolate cake is most popular.) You don't necessarily want to base this on your favorite cake flavor, or you could end up taking home 20 pounds of banana flavored cake.

If you are having an outdoor wedding in the summer, make sure your baker is prepared to deal with a melting cake. You may need to revamp your cake dreams on this one. Smaller/shorter cakes are less likely to cause a massive cake slide.

How far away is your baker from your venue? If they are driving your cake 45 miles to your venue, it will be 44 times more likely that your cake will slide or have an accident than a baker who only travels 1 mile to your venue. Accidents happen, but you can minimize that chance.

I once had a baker tell me that if you freeze your top cake for a year, you will be disappointed. They told me to freeze it and eat it on my one week anniversary instead. Apparently, the quality of a cake, even in the freezer, does degrade over time. I think a one week anniversary cake sounds scrumptious!

Fondant is not the enemy. Fondant is that gorgeous, yet typically disgusting stuff bakers put over a cake to make it nice and smooth. I will agree that "canned" fondant is nasty, however, homemade fondant can taste like marshmallows. So, ask your baker if they make their own fondant.

You can save some money by making the groom's cake yourself. Generally the groom's cake is not as important as the main cake. The point of it is to be a tasty confection that shows off your hubby's inner geek, whether it be about sports teams, hobbies, or an inside joke...

Finally, make sure you take time to eat a piece of cake. Not just the piece that was shoved up your nose. I always grab a plate of each flavor of cake for our brides and grooms as they can easily be overlooked due to the fact that they are dancing, entertaining guests, or wishing farewells. Have someone close to you plan to do this for you. Otherwise, you might really end up having a cake but not eating it, too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Need some wedding planning help?

For those in the Colorado Springs area, there is a wedding planning workshop series by BellaRose Event Planning starting at the end of April. The first workshop will be about Wedding Timing (helping you figure out what to do after getting engaged.)

Cost: $25/person
Date: Tuesday, April 30th
Time: 7-8:30pm
Location: 1755 Telstar Drive, Suite 300

You can sign up through the contact form on their website: or by calling (719) 622-6262.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An Adoring Engagement Session

I cannot wait for Nic and Nichole's wedding this fall. They are so much fun to be around. Not to mention, these adorable kids (saying that makes me feel unbelievably old...) were friends first and fell into love over the years. I can't imagine a more beautiful love story. Plus, they will always have that friendship at the base of their relationship. Perfection....

They met in high school so we took a trip to their alma mater for a few fun photos in front of the T-bird.   
We then went over to Rock Ledge ranch for the rest of their photos.
Their favorite sodas are Root Beer and Dr. Pepper so I could't resist making up some cute vintage labels. And check out the size of that diamond! Yeah, it's real. :-)
Nic has a wonderful appreciation for photography and has some pretty cool cameras - TLR in photo below. He even let me play with his "toy" camera. No chance of those photos coming out, sorry Nic!
Although it was a chilly day, we ended up with some pretty cute shots. 
You can see how much Nic truly adores his future wife as he brushes the hair from her face.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Epic Family Battle Portrait Session

We have had a supremely bad month... starting with our truck break-in while in St. Louis followed barely a week later by my car break-in from the following session. So, I have decided it's time to turn things around. The following session was a blast. We were hoping to have an epic snowball fight but, alas, the snow dried up, so this insanely creative family brought swords instead. Talk about a great time! So, I hope these photos make you smile as much as they did for me.

Some cute shots of the family together.

Some shots of the perfect kids. I have never seen kids who get along as well as these four.

And here is the epic battle you've been waiting for. I love how much fun they had with this. No person was harmed in the making of these images. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why Do I Need a Wedding Planner?

Several years back, a wedding planner would have been an obvious addition to every wedding, but since the economy started to tank, the planner is typically the first thing any bride will choose to cut. We asked Peggy Sargent, of BellaRose Event Planning, to give us some insight as to what is so important about hiring a wedding planner.

I often hear: “There is a wedding coordinator at the reception or wedding, why do I need a wedding planner?”
There are many reasons to hire a wedding planner.
- A good wedding planner should be able to negotiate discounts on many things, reducing the cost to you and your family.
- A good wedding planner should be current on the most recent trends for weddings and can guide the couple toward creating the wedding they want.
- A good wedding planner is knowledgeable about the details specific to your big day, both the larger details and the smaller ones.
 - A good wedding planner listens to everyone’s expressed desires, needs, and wants and should be able to help keep the peace between various members involved in the wedding.
- A good wedding planner isn’t just focused on the wedding or the reception, like those hired at a particular location, but is focused on the whole event. They are hired directly by you, not by the venue, and their interests are even more about your interests – not about the bottom line of the venue.
- A good wedding planner knows the local industry and who to steer away from and who to use.
- A good wedding planner works with the on-site wedding coordinators to keep everything on track.
- A good wedding planner should be able to give you answers within a reasonable amount of time about questions you might have about the wedding or wedding etiquette. If they don’t know the answer immediately, they should be able to get one to you within a day or less.

Peggy Sargent is the head wedding planner at BellaRose Event Planning in Colorado Springs, CO. She has been planning events for 6 years. You can find more information about her services through her website, or by calling her at (719) 622-6262.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Easter Mini Photo Sessions are around the corner!

Duval Digital Easter Mini Sessions

Duval Digital's Easter Mini Sessions are a great time to get your kiddos pictures done in a  low stress environment. We will be having live chicks and a bunny this year! (We do also have fake chicks, bunnies, and other easter props for kids who prefer not to play with the live animals.) 

Sessions are limited and will be $45 for a 25 minute mini session. Every session includes 2-5x7 prints and 10-3x4 Easter cards. We are also having a special on full resolution disks for only $40. 

Two dates to choose from:
Friday, March 15th from noon to 5pm
Saturday, March 16th from 10am to 4pm

Sessions are limited, so contact us today to book your session! | 719.930.6066

Duval Digital Photography

Monday, March 4, 2013

20% for entertainment, 50% for food, 10% for wedding attire...

Everyone knows how important the wedding budget is, but it is seldom something that people want to talk about. And who can really blame you, money (unless you have a lot of it... not likely in this economy) is never really a fun subject. So, here are some tips for tackling your budget so that you come out with your sanity in check.

- The first thing you need to do is find out how much is going to be contributed to your wedding. It's not just on the bride's parents nowadays. Many couples are taking it on their own to fund the wedding. You can also ask the groom's parents if they will be contributing. Traditionally the groom's parents would only pay for the rehearsal dinner, but it is more common now for them to pay for other items. For example, I have talked with groom's parents who decided the photography was more important than the couple thought, so they bought it for them.

- Don't look for percentage based charts. You cannot let a book, website, other brides, etc plan your budget. For one thing, every locality differs in price. And, most importantly, every bride is different which means every bride should have different priorities. For example, do you want an amazing 10 tier wedding cake or would you prefer to spend your money on a 10 piece band? If your dress is more important than your venue, flowers, photography, and DJ, then absolutely spend 50% of your budget on it! It is your wedding day, make it count! (The photographer in me requires me to say that make sure you do have a quality photographer to capture how amazing you look in your insanely beautiful dress, though. Consider that your photos are the one tangible memory you have from your wedding day.)

- Make sure all family members involved know that the final decision is the bride and groom's. This is THEIR wedding day.

- You will need to decide early on if you would like to have a wedding planner help to plan your day. Planners may charge a percentage of your overall budget, but they may also be able to help save you some money along the way.

- The feel of your wedding will generally be determined by your budget. It will be difficult to have a 5 star wedding at an upscale country club if your budget is only $10,000. So, decide easily on how you want your wedding to feel - casual, formal, or somewhere in between. And, of course, where you want your wedding to take place - church, outdoors, all in one location, etc.

- One of the most common questions I hear is "how much should I expect to pay for..." I really hate saying this, but, it depends! Many of your vendors are considered "artists" because of the industry, and, unfortunately, you would not pay the same for a Picasso vs something a two year old drew... even if they look similar. The same goes for a wedding. Consider that you might only pay $500 for a large DJ company, but if you consider half that amount goes into the owner's pocket, 25% goes into equipment expenses, 10% to insurance, etc etc, then the DJ at your wedding might only be making $50 a gig. Now, no person in their right mind would stay at a job for more than a few months making that kind of income. So, the DJs at that very large company are most likely under trained. We have had first hand experience with those DJs... something ALWAYS goes wrong. Just saying...

- $200 for a tux? My husband was in a wedding recently where each groomsmen had to pay $200ish plus tax for his tux! I think I had a heart attack. When we got married, we got an insanely good deal for only $60 a piece and my hubby's tux was free. So, to me I couldn't imagine what could be in that tux that would make it worth an extra $150. Well, as I often tell my husband, I am ALWAYS right. There wasn't one bit of difference in paying $60 vs $200 to rent a suit. They ended up sweating just like in the cheap kind, there were the same mistakes made in sizing, they were no better tailored, they were no newer or older than the cheap ones. And, quite frankly, most people are looking at the bride's insanely gorgeous gown. Point being, just get a tux that fits... no need to spend millions. Some of my favorite weddings have actually had an absence of tux. Especially in the summer, try letting the poor guys just wear slacks and a nicely tailored button down shirt with tie.

- What kind of food do you want to eat? It is generally known that the type of food you get directly correlates with price. Pasta, mexican food, and barbecue are generally cheaper, while steak, seafood, carving stations, etc typically have a higher price point. In my personal opinion, a few years down the road, it is highly unlikely that people will remember how your food tasted. However, you certainly don't want to hire a company who may end up giving your guests food poisoning.

- To drink, or not to drink... that is one heck of an important question. If you want alcohol at your wedding, there are so many different options. Some locations allow you to bring your own which can help save a great deal of money. However, you can always save by not having a completely open bar. Maybe have only beer and wine, or have an open bar for a period of time and then switch to a cash bar.

- There are some wedding vendors who offer registries to help the couple fund their services. This has become very popular especially in wedding photography and the travel industry. Guests can go on to a private site to put money into an account for the couple. This is a great idea for a couple who doesn't need much in the housewares department or if they just want to be able to afford a better photographer or honeymoon.

- Finally, go to the bridal shows. Not only do you get free food, but many vendors offer incentives, coupons or discounts if you book with them there. It could save you some money even on a vendor you already know you want.

Budgets are always going to be a touchy subject, so just wait for when it's the right time to bring things up to financial parties. And, of course, the bride and groom need to make the right decisions for themselves.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Choose the Right Wedding Photographer

Choosing a photographer can be one of the most difficult wedding choices to make. Your photographs are your one tangible memory from your wedding day so you need to be sure the professional you choose will do a good job at capturing them. So, here are some tips for helping you make a better decision.

- First, hire a Professional! I have heard stories from far too many ladies who were disappointed in their photography choice. Many brides will ask a friend or family member with a "good" camera to take some shots for them. Your wedding is a one day deal, which can't be repeated. It is the emotions and small quirks which make it truly special. You get one shot, make it count.

- Hire a WEDDING photographer. All photographers are not created equal. You wouldn't hire a preschool teacher to teach a bunch of adults about nuclear physics, right? Well, it's the same thing in photography. While a photographer may be skilled at landscape shots, or pet photography, it's not the same thing as shooting a wedding. A wedding takes a great deal of skill, from interacting well with people to being able to get the shot right the first time - there are no do-overs in a wedding.

- Good photography costs money! This may seem a bit obvious, but the fact is, there are many couples who prefer to put their money into a good alcohol selection rather than their memories. Truthfully, no one will remember how the cake tasted, how loud the music was, or what kind of food you served. However, you will always have your photos to look back on. (I do know that you are most likely on a budget, however, it might be a good idea to take from another portion of your bduget in order to get the photographer you really want.)

- Research, research, research. You need to know what you want in your wedding photography before you start looking. What style of photography do you like? Formal, casual, photojournalistic? Do you like natural poses, do you like posed formals, do you want a photographer who interacts with you or one that is silent? Do you like color, black & white, or even spot color? Do you like the strange faded candles/close up of the couple overlay thing that they did back in the 80s? Do you want a beautiful wedding album? If your photographer doesn't offer albums, make sure you get full rights to your images to have it made elsewhere. Do you want your photos on DVD? This is a very important question to ask yourself. There are many photographers out there who do not want to give up those photos. All of these things are important to know before you start looking for a photographer.

- Do NOT settle on the first photographer you come across. It never hurts to keep looking. I am not saying the first photographer you come across isn't a good choice. I'm just saying it doesn't hurt to look at a few before making your decision. For one thing, if you end up going back to your first choice, you will apreciate them a whole lot more.

- The photographer included in your venue's "preferred vendor" list is not always the most qualified. Believe it or not but many venues are cashing in on this. They have vendors pay (some are up to $500/month) to be included on the preferred vendors list. I feel it is a complete misinterpretation of a preferred vendor list. These should be people who have worked well with couples who have gotten married at the venue before, but that's not always the case. Again, be sure to do your research on this.

- Ask to see an entire wedding from your photographer. A good way to tell an inexperienced or incompetent photographer is one that only has an album with a random sampling from different weddings. If you choose a photographer who does not offer albums, they may offer to let you see an entire wedding through an online gallery, instead. Things to look for? Again, it depends what you want in a photographer.

- If you are booking a wedding photography company who has multiple photographers, be sure to see the work from the photographer who will be at your wedding. Also, be sure to talk directly with that photographer. There are some high end studios where the photographer is so busy they hire people to do all of the talking for them. It is important to meet your photographer to form a relationship with them.

- Try them out. Most photographers offer engagement sessions. Some are included in the wedding package, some are extra. It is a great idea to do the engagement session with your photographer as soon as possible. It gives you a chance to work with the photographer before your big day. If they have a bad attitude while photographing you, if they have trouble posing you, if they spend half of the time setting up the camera, these might be reasons to look for a different photographer. It is a much better idea to give up a deposit than to give up the quality of your wedding day photos.

- This leads me to probably the most important way to choose your photographer - PERSONALITY! It may sound silly, but you are spending quite a bit of time on your wedding day with your photographer. If your personalities aren't a good fit, most likely you wont be at your happiest and your photos will reflect that. It doesn't matter how good a photographer is, you can't photoshop disappointment. So, how do you determine a photographer's personality? You really need to meet with them in person. Most photographers offer a complimentary consultation to discuss your wedding day and the services they offer. If you are booking a photorgapher for a destination wedding, you can still get a good idea of personality on the phone with them.

- I feel that personality is so important, it should get two bullets. A photographer's personality and style will be combined to create your wedding memories. First, their personality combined with yours (and your guests) will create the moments and then their style will determine how those moments become photographed. If your photographer is in sync with you, you will get the memories you want. If, however, your photographer is not on the same page as you, you may not be happy with those photographs.

- This of course leads me to my next point - COMMUNICATION. You should communicate with your photographer a lot. Make sure you tell them what you want and what you don't want. On a personal note, I have had a bride email me every single decision she was making, from her shoes to the invitations. She kept apologizing for bothering me but, in all honesty, I loved it! I was able to get a very clear picture of who she and her fiance were, what was important to them, their likes and dislikes, and so much more. We developed such a strong relationship because of this.

- Read the contract! Every photographer should have a contract. They should be able to talk you through it if you have any questions. This contract is your life line. If anything bad happens (knock on wood) you have a legal document to back you up.

- A photographer's office, whether commercial, residential, or even Starbucks, typically does not reflect on their expertise, competency, or value. I have seen insanely good photographers work out of Starbucks. Although, if you happen to go to an office with a storefront in an extremely prestigious part of town, you are most likely going to pay for it.

Your wedding photography is probably the single most important decision to make, besides when you say "YES!" Your photographs are your only tangible memory from your wedding day. They will show you years from now what an amazing day it was, so you need to be sure you make the right decision when choosing your photographer. If you do need further help in choosing the right photographer, feel free to email me to ask any and all questions you may have.


Jennifer Duval is the owner of Duval Digital, a Colorado Springs based wedding and portrait photography studio. She loves outdoor weddings and homemade wedding favors, preferably food based. She has been asked on occasion to help with wedding planning because she loves to focus on the little details and is a photoshop wiz. However, her primary love has always been photography. You can see more of our wedding photography work here:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh, crap, I haven't chosen a location yet!

We were at a bridal fair recently and I was blown away by the number of brides who were telling me that they hadn't booked their ceremony or reception locations yet. And more importantly, their dates are within 10 months. If you are one of these brides without a location, you might be thinking this is an "oh, crap" moment, but don't settle for the first hall that is available, just yet.

Did you know that you can negotiate with your ceremony/reception site? Not all are willing to entertain offers, but consider that if they don't book your wedding, they may not have any income coming in that night. They are just as desperate to book you as you are to book them. Since most brides book their venues 8 - 18 months in advance, you may be able to score a discount by booking your location less than 6 months out. Sundays - Fridays are often less popular than Saturdays, many places have discounts for these days, but if they don't, ask!

If you haven't even started looking at locations, these are a few things you need to consider to help narrow down your thousands of choices:
- Do you want to be married indoors or outdoors? If indoors, at a church or in a ballroom? If you want total control over your decor and the weather, an indoor location might be a better choice. However, if you are flexible and don't mind postponing the wedding a few minutes due to weather conditions, outdoors generally has better lighting and will give you much more color on a limited budget.

- Do you want a location that provides everything, just the space, or something in the middle? Some locations provide everything from the food to the flowers, and everything in between. Some locations will charge you what is called a site fee and you have to bring everything yourself including tables and chairs, waitstaff, etc.

- What time of year do you want to be married? If you want to be married in a snowy setting, choosing a November date in Denver might not be the best choice. (Colorado is probably one of the flakiest states when it comes to snow.) Likewise, if you are set on getting married outdoors and you hate the cold, April is probably not a good choice. You can't count on the weather being similar to the previous year.

- Of course you need to make sure your date is available, however, the choice of venue should be more important than the date (unless you have chosen a date for a specific reason, like being a grandparent's anniversary date). If you know you want to be married in June, the venue may not have your perfect Saturday available, but Sunday might be open, and, sometimes, CHEAPER!

- Do you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same location? If there is a location you dream of being married, but they are out of your budget, it may be possible to have just your ceremony there and travel to another location for the reception. Consider the distance between the locations... the further it is, the more likely your guests may get lost.

- Do they have what you need? Do you need dressing rooms for the bride, bridesmaids, groom, groomsmen, parents, anyone else? Is there a bar if you want alcohol, dance floor, buffet table, cocktail hour space, room for your DJ or a band, places for great photos indoor and out, etc?

- Do they provide chairs, tables, linens, etc? And is there an additional fee for those? (I talked to a bride who told me they got a great price on a location, but then they charged her like $10 per chair they set out.)

- If you choose an outdoor location, try to visit it at the time of year when your wedding will take place. You want to make sure the types of trees, flowers, grass they have will be beautiful for your wedding. Also, if you choose an outdoor location, it may be a good idea to make sure they have alternate plans in case of inclement weather.

- Ask your location if there will be another wedding at the same time as yours. I have unfortunately been a part of a wedding that was starting at the same time as a wedding about 200 feet away. The officiants were trying to talk over one another, you could hear the music from the other wedding. It was just terrible.

- If you are getting married in the summer, ask when their air conditioning was last serviced. There is nothing worse than getting dressed in a 90° room, going outside to do formals in 95° weather and coming back into your reception area to find it is also at 90°.

- Does the style of the location go with the style of your wedding? For example, you would not want a rustic barn if you are going for high class elegance. Does their decor go well with your wedding colors? Some locations have out of date carpet and curtains that clash with almost everything.

- Finally, ask to see photos of the areas set up for weddings.

Your venues set much of the theme for your wedding day, make sure it is what you want. And, as I always tell my clients, do not let them push you! It is your wedding day, if you want to be married outside, their staff can go wipe the rain off the chairs 10 times, if that's what it takes.


Jennifer Duval is the owner of Duval Digital, a Colorado Springs based wedding and portrait photography studio. She loves outdoor weddings and homemade wedding favors, preferably food based. She has been asked on occasion to help with wedding planning because she loves to focus on the little details and is a photoshop wiz. However, her primary love has always been photography. You can see more of our wedding photography work here:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some Fun DIY Ideas to Customize your Wedding

I wanted to take some time to write down some of my favorite DIY wedding ideas. This stuff is relatively simple to do and can make a big impact in a small way. I, personally, have always found the details to be so important. Like ceremony programs, which were painstakingly cut, glued, sewn, whatever. It's the small things which show the personality of your wedding.

1. Use photos in your save the dates, invitations, and thank you cards. You can do something as simple as sticking a wallet sized photo inside the card or go as elaborate as having press printed cards made with many photos.

2. Homemade favors. My favorite wedding favors have been the homemade kinds. And, generally, food related. Custom cookies made in your wedding theme colors, maybe something meaningful to the two of you? I should have had Red Sox cookies at my wedding. I once went to an Italian wedding where they told me it was tradition for the Mom & Aunts to all bake cookies. They had them set out on gorgeous platters along with empty take out boxes. You filled the take out boxes with whichever cookies you wanted. Jams are my top favorite! Homemade, generally in those tiny little 1/4 cup jars. You can add a custom label and presto, gorgeous favors! (I love Online Labels for all of my labels - they have some awesome shapes and thousands of sizes.) Wine Bottles with custom labels also make great favors.

3. Speaking of labels, there is an endless supply of things you can do with custom labels. My personal favorite is custom water bottle labels. Many brides are choosing to get married outdoors. Some locations will provide water, some do not. Especially if your location does not provide it, consider buying cases of water and adding your own labels. You can put engagement photos on them, incorporate your colors or theme. You can even custom design each label to have your guest's name and table number on it and use them as place cards. Online Labels has a large selection of sizes and paper types including a waterproof paper so you can keep your water bottles on ice without having the printing run off.

Labels can be used on candies, mints, favor tins, etc. It is a cheap way to make them more personalized to your wedding.

4. Custom groomsmen gifts. Buy a 6 pack of each guy's favorite beer, relabel them with custom labels: Beer labels. You can also add a custom photo keychain with bottle opener.

5. Custom Bridesmaid gifts. Girls are generally much easier to buy for, however, you can still get them cute personalized gifts. For example, if you wanted to give them jewelry, maybe give them a sterling bracelet with a gorgeous photo charm of the two of you. Or maybe a custom cosmetic bag.

6. Get creative with your assigned seating. Instead of using basic table numbers, use something fun. Such as places you have been while dating, places you are traveling to for your honeymoon, favorite movies, mountains, etc. Be creative and see if you can tie it in with your theme.

7. Custom photo guest book. Boring guest books with lines are so out. Give your guests something to talk about. Use photos from your relationship or engagement session to create a personalized guest book. You can go traditional and leave a blank white page between images for guests to write on, or have some fun and add color. You can even a fun question to each page. For example, on one page you might have, "Give us one piece of advice for a long, happy marriage."

8. Use ribbons in your wedding colors. There's something about a tiny piece of ribbon that can add so much volume to an otherwise ordinary piece of paper. Add it to invites, programs, table numbers, favors, cake knife, etc. Tulle is also a very cheap item that can be used in the same ways.

9. Make your own labels for drink pitchers, food cards, etc. Many places don't even put labels on buffet foods. Although you and your families might have an idea of the food you chose, many guests can't tell the difference between fish and chicken when it's covered in sauce and veggies. You can easily print out custom cards on card stock. Again, use your wedding colors and be creative.

10. Custom shirts for all! Purchase shirts on clearance racks at your favorite stores (Penney's is an excellent choice) and iron on your own letters. You can make custom shirts for the guys, girls, family, kids in the wedding party, robes for the girls are cute when getting ready, "Mrs." jackets, panties, whatever for the bride. Maybe even a funny pair of boxers for the groom. This is especially fun if everyone wears their shirts during the rehearsal.

There are so many different ways to get extra flare into your wedding. Keep your eyes peeled while making choices for your wedding. You might come across something you can easily personalize. After all, your wedding is about who you are. Celebrate it!

We do sell many of these items to our customers if you prefer not to do the design work yourself, or if you don't have the right printer for the job. We can custom design anything using your photos or just implementing your theme. Please contact us for pricing.


Jennifer Duval is the owner of Duval Digital, a Colorado Springs based wedding and portrait photography studio. She loves outdoor weddings and homemade wedding favors, preferably food based. She has been asked on occasion to help with wedding planning because she loves to focus on the little details and is a photoshop wiz. However, her primary love has always been photography.