Post-Gazette Bridal Planner 2010-2011

Author: Dana Vogel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The average wedding costs $20,000 and takes between seven and 12 months to plan. And yet many brides are so busy on their wedding days that they miss a lot of the action.

That’s where photography and videography come in. By capturing all the magical moments on film, a bride can sit back with a slice of leftover wedding cake after the honeymoon and relive her special day.

And today’s bride is in luck. There are now more possibilities in photography and videography than ever, so a bride can choose a style that suits her personality.


The most options for capturing a wedding on film are in the field of photography. For the conventional bride, there are many choices that range from traditional to artistic. Divine Creations wedding planner Erin Calvimontes, a winner of The Knot Best of Weddings 2010 award, recommends Bellissima Photography in Sewickley. Bellissima offers artistic photography while retaining traditional elements, photographer Robin Pesa said. Its all-inclusive wedding packages cost around $4,400. Calvimontes also recommends Studio Bash in Mount Washington and Araujo Photography in Robinson, both of which are owned by husband-and-wife teams.

Aly Bash of Studio Bash said her photography style is a blend of her and husband Derrick’s individual styles.

“The relationships Derrick and I build with our clients leading up to wedding day is one of our most valued assets and one which we feel brings out the best in our work,” Mrs. Bash said. Packages at Studio Bash start around $3,000.

Araujo Photography offers a style that is “timeless and cutting-edge,” with packages starting at $4,995.

For the do-it-yourselfer, there’s the option of passing out disposable cameras at the wedding. Many film companies, such as Kodak and Fuji, makes special wedding-themed disposable cameras. Whether a bride chooses to completely forgo a traditional photographer at her wedding or choose to supplement a photographer with disposable cameras, these cameras almost guarantee a variety of pictures and are a fun way to keep guests entertained. They can be purchased in bulk online at websites such as for about $3 each.

For the young-at-heart bride, there’s the possibility of renting a photo booth. There are a number of photo booth rental companies in Pittsburgh. Red Eye Photo Booths is one of the most affordable options, with a four-hour session and prints for $650.

For the fun-loving and laid back bride, there are “Trash the Dress” photo shoots. These occur after the wedding and can range from getting the dress a little dirty by posing near a stream or in a cityscape to full out deconstruction of the dress. In Pittsburgh, one option for these pictures is Birchtree Photography in Swissvale.

Photographer Mary Schwartz has done a few “Trash the Dress” shoots but said this type of photography hasn’t yet gained popularity in Pittsburgh. The cost of a “Trash the Dress” shoot is typically about the same as the cost of a portrait shoot.


In the field of videography, the latest trend is adding elements of a documentary to the traditional wedding video. Documentary style varies and can include pre- and post-wedding interviews with the bridal part and wedding guests. One option is Keepsake Video Production in Franklin, recipient of The Knot Best of Weddings in 2008 and 2009 award. Packages with Keepsake start around $1,000. For a blend of traditional and documentary style, try Video Horizons, LLC, in Greensburg. Video Horizons has been recognized with The Knot Best of Weddings 2010 award. Owner Eric Pensenstadler, who also serves as president of the Pittsburgh Professional Videographers Association, recommends budgeting between $1,500 and $2,500.

For a multimedia experience, Pittsburgh has the unique option of FlashBox. Developed by three Carnegie Mellon University alumni, FlashBox is a five-foot-tall kiosk with a microphone and video camera that wedding guests can use to record messages to the bride and groom. In the final product, these messages are integrated with photos from the wedding. FlashBox has recently started integrating videography from the ceremony and reception into the final product as well. Gary Cozen, owner of FlashBox, said incorporating video is perfect for brides who don’t want a videographer or for brides who are looking for something different. The cost of having FlashBox at a wedding varies from $1,500 to a little over $2,000.


Start by deciding what style of photography or videography you’re looking for. This will help you narrow down your search for a photography or videographer right from the get-go.

Start your search with personal references. Word of mouth is the best way to determine if you’ll be satisfied with a wedding photographer or videographer. Talk to friends who recently got married. And don’t just ask if they liked their photographers – ask to see pictures. You might have different tastes. For additional recommendations, ask other wedding experts – like your wedding planner, caterer, band – or attend wedding planning conventions.

Meet potential photographers in person, Calvimontes recommends. “Your photographer will be by your side the entire wedding day. It is important that you feel comfortable with them,” she said. She also said you should ask to see several full weddings they have shot to see if you like their style and make sure to see indoor and outdoor photos. Calvimontes said you should ask yourself these questions: “Can you see yourself in the shots?” Do you like the setup of the shots? Does their style fir yours?”

Don’t shop on price alone. “More often than not, you will get what you pay for when it comes to photographers,” Calvimontes said. She recommends choosing a photographer you feel comfortable with and making sure they know what you want to spend.

Once you’ve found a photographer or videographer, be clear and communicate with the person what you expect is included in their packages, Calvimontes said. You should have a contract that you’ve read and agreed to. Contracts should include details such as the number of proofs you’ll receive, total cost, important dates such as when the deposit is due and when the photos or DVD will be ready and the cancellation and refund policy.

Make a wedding day schedule and stick to it. Otherwise you risk cutting into the time you had planned for photographs. The more time you have for photography, the more relaxed you’ll be in the final product.

On the wedding day, assign a close friend or relative – preferably someone who isn’t in the bridal party – to be a liaison to the photographer or videographer. Give this person a list with who should be in each photo and what photos you want. It will save both you and the photographer, who doesn’t know your family, from stressing about getting everyone in the pictures.