Borrowed & Blue Interview

Wedding party cheering

Bride and groom portrait - intimate moment

Fun engagement photos at Chine Beach in San Francisco. Couple riding bikes on the beach.

Closeup of emotion

Colorado wedding - portrait of bride and groom walking in the mountains

We recently teamed up with Borrowed and Blue, a locally-focused online wedding resource, to share more of our story. Here’s our Q&A with Borrowed & Blue:

  1. What photo sums up your aesthetic?

With every image we make, we try to include light, emotion and fun. We look for good light that is visually appealing and flattering on our clients. We are either capturing genuine emotion within a candid moment or we will coach our clients in a way to draw out different emotions so their expressions are honest in their portraits. And lastly, our goal is to have a lot of fun in the process. I would say the majority of our clients are nervous or dreading the photographic process. We take it upon ourselves to not only provide them beautiful photos of a very special time of life, but we also seek to surprise them by how much fun they can have during a photoshoot with us. Obviously, the fun leads to great emotion in the photos!

  1. What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding?

Hands down, my favorite moment to photograph at every wedding is the recessional. There is nothing quite like that feeling of being announced as husband and wife. All the planning, all the stress, all the nerves culminate in this very moment. There is such a sense of relief to have reached this point and so much joy to finally now be married. All of these emotions are evident as the couple walks back down the aisle, hand in hand, finally as one. It’s the most authentic moment on a wedding day.

  1. What are some of the most photogenic spots for engagement shoots?

Good light is key. We recommend our clients schedule their engagement session about 2 hours before sunset for the most flattering light. On top of that, I recommend choosing a secluded location, if possible. It can be intimidating to have your picture taken and having onlookers during the process usually only intensifies people’s insecurities. Lastly, we recommend our couples approach their engagement session as a double date instead of a photoshoot. We’ve started sessions at a couple’s favorite coffee shop, we’ve had a picnic at the beach, and we’ve even played in the snow. Adding a little activity can help them forget about the camera and focus on each other.

  1. Where else do you love to photograph?

I think shooting at a location that has sentimental value to a client is nice because the images will mean that much more to them. But honestly, location is not a primary concern for us and I often encourage our clients not to stress too much about the location. We definitely have locations where we love to shoot or would like to shoot and I offer those to clients when they ask for suggestions. But my primary concern is for our clients to focus on each other. This shoot is not about the location, the clothes or the props they might bring along. Our engagement sessions are simply another opportunity for our couples to make a new memory together during one of the most special times of their lives. And we’re there to document it for them – no selfies necessary!

  1. What’s your favorite photograph you’ve ever taken?

That is an impossible question to answer, but I do have a photo that comes to mind as a contender. When we approach the wedding day, the service and care we provide is not only focused on the bride and groom, but also extends to their wedding party, family and friends. This day means just as much to them and we want the photo taking process and any interaction they have with us to be a fun and pleasant experience. With that being said, it can obviously be a challenge at times. Take the wedding party for example. I’d say an average wedding party is about 10 people. That is 10 people, plus the bride and groom, with unique personalities, insecurities, and emotions about the day. And it’s our job to try and form enough of a connection to get the emotion we hope to capture while also providing a fun experience. I feel like this image perfectly captures what we set out to achieve at each wedding.

  1. What’s your favorite out of all the San Francisco wedding venues to shoot at?

As natural light photographers, our favorite venues to shoot at cater to outdoor weddings. Clos La Chance and Kohl Mansion are two that come to mind from the Borrowed & Blue list of San Francisco locations. For an indoor San Francisco wedding, I think the Bentley Reserve is a beautiful location and you can’t go wrong with City Hall which has so much window light it’s like shooting outdoors. My top recommendation when selecting your venue is to choose a location that can host your ceremony and your reception. Having everything at one location, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area where traffic and parking is challenging, will reduce your wedding day stress astronomically.

  1. What is the first thing you ask couples when they approach you?

Besides the general information about their wedding (i.e. wedding date, ceremony location, reception location, etc), I ask them what they want to remember when they look back at their wedding day. This gives me a better sense of their priorities and personalities. It’s not only important that you connect with your photographer, but it’s equally important that they connect with you. Pretty weddings are visually appealing for a photographer and nice for getting published in magazines, but what’s most important to us and what keeps us coming back year after year, are the people we get to work with.

  1. What’s the biggest mistake the couples make when choosing their photographer?

I’d say the biggest mistake people make when choosing a photographer is selecting them solely based on their work. Not only do you need to love their work, but you also need to love their personality and feel safe and comfortable with them. When I say safe, I don’t mean as if they’d harm you. I mean safe in the sense that you trust them to be present and a part of some of the most personal moments of your life knowing they have your best interest in mind as they work. There is nobody with you more on a wedding day then your wedding photographer so they hold a lot of potential to make or break a wedding day and your memory of it. Your photographer should be able to help you plan a realistic timeline for your wedding day and assist in keeping things moving efficiently once the day has finally arrived.

  1. What makes you different from other wedding photographers?

We are a husband and wife team who care about marriage. We really hope to stay in touch with our couples even after the wedding day with the hopes of not just photographing their growing families, but encouraging them on this journey of marriage that we’re both on. This may happen while taking their photos, grabbing a meal together, on our blog, or through social media.

  1. What tips do you have for couples who have never been photographed before?   

Make a personal connection with your photographer either over social media or in person. The more you know each other, the better your experience will be and the more genuine the photos will turn out. Invest in having your hair or makeup done, or both. You are paying for professional photos so it’s worth arriving to the shoot looking and feeling your best. Lastly, trust your photographer. They are the professional and the one with the experience, I recommend listening to any advice they offer you.

Inspired yet? Contact us today to book your wedding! A special thanks to Borrowed & Blue for the Q&A.

Darling Backyard Wedding in
San Francisco

Mike & Alison

I’m so excited to share Mike and Alison’s wedding with you today.

They had a beautiful backyard wedding followed by the biggest dance party we’ve ever seen. Mike and Alison met during a dance class so dancing was a huge part of their celebration. You’ll see that in the photos! I love what Alison shared about planning her wedding. For all the couples out there beginning their planning process, go grab a pen and paper. You’ll want to take notes!

From Alison the bride…

One of the things we did really well was making sure that our ceremony was highly personal and told the story of our relationship and what marriage means to Mike and I. I tell other couples that are getting married that a wedding is a chance to get an intimate glimpse into a couple’s relationship. There is a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery about love: “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Well, your wedding is your chance to share that direction, that shared vision of yourselves and your future with the people you care most about.

For us that narrative was all about family. What it means to us, who family is, and what it means to have one. It’s why the wedding was in my parent’s backyard. It’s why both our Dad’s married us and talked about family and marriage in the ceremony. It’s why we picked a menu that was an upscale version of Sunday dinner (every Sunday is family day, where the whole family gets together sits outside and has wine and dinner). It’s why we invited only the people we believe will be part of our life ten to twenty to thirty years from now. And it’s also why that list is 115 people. Mike and I collect families and family members. We are the gathering place and the glue. And we are home to each other.

So my advice to people is make sure they know their own narrative and don’t lose it as they build out all the parts and pieces of a wedding. The details that matter are the ones that are personal to the story of your marriage, not marriage in general. Spend your time and energy planning and detailing those things out. Then simplify or offload everything else. Let those be someone else’s problem.

Mike and Alison it was a joy and pleasure to serve at your wedding! It was memorable and special in so many ways. I will never forget the dance floor! Thank you so much for having us! We wish you a marriage filled with love and laughter.

You can see even more of Mike and Alison’s wedding over on Borrowed & Blue!

Here is the team that brought everything together.

Photographer: Pictilio
Planner: Caitlin Arnold Weddings & Events
Florist: Sweetness and Light Floral Design
Officiants: Fathers of the bride and groom
Caterer: Weir and Associates
Bakery: Icing On The Cake
Music: MK Mobile Sound
Rentals: Unica Party Rentals
Hair: Lux Image Agency

California backyard wedding, first dance of bride and groomWedding details: invitation, RSVP, etc.Wedding detail of bridesmaid flowersWedding gown detailReal emotions, bride and groom laughingGetting ready portrait of groom by pianoIntimate nuptials in a private residenceGetting ready photo of the brideWedding reception details: Table, glasses, plates and centerpiece with lemons and yellow flowersRelaxed portrat of bride and groom in a private California backyard weddingBride and groom at their first lookWedding details: table setup at an intimate backyard weddingBride and groom dancing down the aisleGetting read detail: bride looking at her shoesSan Francisco backyard wedding reception at duskBackyard Nuptials in San Francisco at Private residence

How To Create The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline – Pt 1

How To Create The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

I recently wrote an article and gave you 10 ways to relieve stress on your wedding day. In it, I shard the importance of planning a realistic timeline, but I realized most brides and grooms don’t really have the experience necessary to do this, so today I thought I’d help anyone who might be in the process of planning their wedding day and needing a bit of guidance. It can be daunting!

When Vitaliy and I first started photographing weddings more than 7 years ago, we used the timeline our clients provided and simply trusted their plan.

There were even weddings when a client provided no timeline at all and we walked blindly into the wedding day. We often found ourselves falling behind in the schedule and feeling really stressed out. We did our absolute best and delivered great photos to our clients, but we quickly realized this was not how we wanted to operate. We were on the road to burnout and decided to take a proactive approach to the wedding day. The first thing I did was start timing how long different portions of the wedding day typically took. My calculations never matched the timelines our clients provided. If we wanted to give our clients the best wedding day experience while also keeping our stress levels low, we needed to be a part of the planning process.

The truth is, if our clients don’t have a wedding planner, they have no idea how to create a wedding day timeline. We now use our experiences from collectively photographing over 150 weddings to help guide our clients in the planning process. This helps ensure we’re all on the same page when the wedding day arrives. It helps manage expectations and stress levels. And it ensures the wedding day runs smoothly and efficiently. This was a game changer for us! We’re now able to give our clients the kind of wedding day experience we have always envisioned and that’s only possible by planning a realistic timeline.

That’s the key! In order to create the perfect wedding day timeline, you have to build a timeline that is realistic. When I started helping our clients plan their timelines, I found there were portions of the day unaccounted for and there were also portions that were drastically miscalculated. Let me share the most common ones in hope of helping you plan the perfect timeline for your wedding. Because believe me, the last thing you want on your wedding day is to get behind schedule. It always results in unnecessary stress. There can definitely be mishaps that happen on a wedding day, but there are a lot of things that can be avoided completely, with the proper planning. Here we go!


  1. Detail shots (30 min – 1 hr) Thanks to Pinterest and social media, every bride dreams of having magazine worthy photographs of her dress, shoes, flowers, etc. Your photographer is happy to oblige! But you need to factor those pictures into your timeline if they are a high priority. If we are extremely tight on time, we can make them happen in 30 minutes. But we usually like to allow 1 hour for these which we take simultaneously with the getting ready photos.
  2. Bride putting on her wedding dress (30 min) I now give this it’s own time slot in the timeline because it was often an area that was putting us behind schedule. A bride often thinks this will take 10 minutes. How long could slipping on a wedding dress take? But it’s not just slipping on the dress. It’s the culmination of everything. This is the moment! You are putting on your wedding dress! The one you bought more than 6 months ago. The Cinderella moment you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t rush this! The reality is, you won’t rush it so make sure your timeline reflects the not rushing it. You’ll need to go to the bathroom, put on your jewelry, probably a veil, your shoes, and do one final take in the mirror which usually ends up with a few touch-ups from your make-up artist. Again, factor in a minimum of 30 minutes and even 45 minutes if you’re a diva or very sentimental.
  3. Bridemaids behind schedule (be selective) This is a little hidden tip. I don’t factor this into my timeline, but I thought it was worth sharing. I cannot tell you how many times a bride has been late because one of her bridesmaids ran late. I’m being serious! A bride usually wants her bridesmaids surrounding her and helping her in this special moment. It always looks better if the bridesmaids are already dressed when helping the bride get dressed. My highest recommendation would be to surround yourself with thoughtful friends who have your best interest in mind on your wedding day and I’ll leave it at that!
  4. Travel time (depends) Always, always factor in travel time to and from locations and put it as a time slot in your timeline. And if a location has a far walk to the car, then be sure to factor that in as well. Use google.maps ahead of time to get an estimated travel time and then factor in your location, day and time to account for possible traffic. Adding a 10 – 15 min wiggle room is always a good thing, regardless.
  5. Bride getting tucked away (30 min) Regardless of your plans on doing a First Look, no bride wants to be seen by guests before the ceremony. I had one bride that was so adamant about not being seen, she wanted to be tucked away 1 hour before the ceremony. This obviously causes you to lose valuable photo time, but its your wedding day. As long as you discuss things with your photographer ahead of time, together you can map out other parts of the day to make up for the time and ensure you get the important photos. Depending on your location, you might be able to take photos in an area hidden from arriving guests. Typically, guests start arriving about 30 minutes before the ceremony, but there can be a few that come as early as 45 min – 1 hour before the ceremony.
  6. Celebration after the recessional (15 min) My favorite moment of the day is watching the bride and groom walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. The joy on their faces is unforgettable! That is still the most vivid memory I have of my own wedding day. The last thing I want to do is pull the bride and groom away from this moment of celebration to go take photos. This is another reason why I always suggest a First Look and getting the majority of your photos done before the ceremony. Because in my experience, taking photos is the last thing couples want to do after their ceremony. In order to help our clients fully enjoy this moment while also staying on schedule, I simply factor this celebratory time into the timeline. I’d allow 15 – 20 minutes.
  7. Bridal party/family photos (30 min each) There are so many factors that go into wedding party and family photos that a bride and groom could never imagine ahead of time. Family members getting stuck in traffic and arriving late. Groomsmen drinking early and becoming difficult to motivate for photos. Gathering 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, posing them, and making it enjoyable enough that they’re not grimacing in the photos. Divorced families that need to be positioned in such a way that two people aren’t standing side by side to prevent a possible argument from erupting. Yes, these are all true stories and they only begin to paint a picture. We do a ton of planning in this area before a wedding day. But suffice it to say, if you have 5 or more bridesmaids/groomsmen, then I’d recommend allowing 30 min for wedding party photos. And if you’re family is medium to large, allow 30 minutes for those photos as well.
  8. Bride and Groom photos (30 min) I honestly once received a timeline with no time slot for bride and groom photos. When I mentioned needing to add it in there, the bride and groom were so thankful! They said they didn’t even think about it. Let me tell you, this can be a very special time on your wedding day. It’s the only time the entire day that it will be just the two of you together. Factor it in and soak each other up. I typically allow 10 min for a First Look and 20 min for photos. And I always, always try to convince my clients to let everything go. No planning or worrying about this or that, focus on each other and take note of this monumental moment in time.
  9. Bustling your dress and freshening up before the reception (15 min) By the time the reception rolls around, you will likely need a breather. You’ll want to step away, freshen up, and bustle your dress. Be sure to factor this into your timeline or you’ll end up leaving your guests waiting uncomfortably long.
  10. A safety cushion (10 min) Don’t be afraid to put a safety cushion on this or that. If you’re worried about something or if there’s a portion of the day that means a lot to you, feel free to tack on 10 extra minutes. If you end up not needing the time, you’ll be so thankful to be ahead of the game and so much more at ease.
  11. Visiting tables during the reception (30 – 45 min) This is another bonus tip! Occasionally, we get requests to photograph the bride and groom visiting tables. This can end up taking up to 45 minutes of your reception. It’s understandable, you’re visiting with friends and family who love you dearly and many who likely haven’t seen you in years. One wedding we photographed a few years back, the couple really wanted to say hello to everyone and get a photo with each table, but they realized they didn’t want to invest such a large portion of their party to table visits. So, they decided to make it fun for everyone. They worked with the DJ to make the announcement that the couple was going to visit each table in the course of one song. He suggested each table get up and decide where and how they wanted to take the photo with the couple so they were all ready when the bride and groom arrived to their table. Then it was off to the races! The bride and groom ran from table to table and the room was filled with laughter. It was a lot of fun to photograph and a great way to start the party. Side note: be sure your dress is bustled so you can easily move around and not get it stepped on.

Most people spend 6 months to a year planning their wedding and it’s over in the blink of an eye. One of my main goals in helping our clients draft their timeline is to help slow down the day as much as I possibly can. You don’t want to rush through one of the most important days of your life. Keep that in mind as you draft your timeline. I hope these suggestions help you revise your draft timeline and make it more realistic. But if you are feeling like you have no idea where to even begin, I’ll soon be sharing the process I take our clients through in order to draft their wedding day timeline so be sure to come back.