Wedding Tips – 9 Essential Questions to ask your Photographer Part 1

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: A guide to Hire your Wedding Photographer

Your wedding day may be among the most wonderful and daunting days of your life. Its unique events can never be recreated – a thought which strikes terror into the hearts of many couples intent on capturing their marriage in pictures.

In Part 1 of our study, we ask two of Melbourne’s top wedding photographers what they would ask prospective companies if planning their own event. And this is what they said:

Q1: Do you have the Training and Experience necessary to produce the full package?

Dana, owner of Dana Tsokas Photographer, points to membership of a recognised and accredited group of photographers, such as the A.I.P.P. (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers).

Don’t be afraid to ask“, she says. “Too often in my industry I have seen photographers come and go. Some people have a semi-decent digital camera and no qualifications, yet they call themselves ‘professional’. With more than 20 years as a professional wedding photographer and a BA in photography, I can’t stress enough that a wedding cannot be repeated, nor the images recreated if you make the wrong choice. Training and experience are ESSENTIAL!


Q2: Do you have the Personality, Interests and Manner to make us a good fit on a personal level?

Karen Woo, from Finessence Photography, emphasises the importance of “hitting it off with your chosen photographer.

Ask about their interests or hobbies outside of their trade“, she says. “The photographer will be spending the entire wedding day with you, your guests, family and vendors on the day. It is essential that you connect at the first meeting with your photographer, and have an engagement session where you can get to know him or her and smile naturally in front of the camera.


Ask about their interests or hobbies outside of their trade“, she says. “The photographer will be spending the entire wedding day with you, your guests, family and vendors on the day. It is essential that you connect at the first meeting with your photographer, and have an engagement session where you can get to know him or her and smile naturally in front of the camera.

Q3: Do you back up your photos in camera and off site?

Karen insists on meticulous back-up procedures to avoid the grief of losing everything, including carrying at least one back-up camera in case of malfunction.

Time and time again we hear and read stories on online photographer forums where the photographers have lost a whole memory card of images because they didn’t back up. We have a stringent process of backing up our RAW files on Blu-ray and sending them off-site and uploading the files onto iCloud. We have a daily process run of backing all our files on our NAS server, to avoid any disasters.

Q4: Can you show me an entire coverage of a recent wedding?

Dana Tsokas reminds couples to take a complete look at a photographer’s work rather than being dazzled by individual images.

Ask to see more than just ‘their best images’ as anyone can put together a group of ‘wow’ images and say they shoot weddings!” she says.


You need to be confident that your photographer will tell your whole story, from capturing images at both homes in the morning, through to your ceremony, locations and some part of your reception, as requested (most will stay at least to cover the entrance and a mock cutting of the cake). By seeing a finished album from one particular wedding, you’ll be able to judge the consistency, or lack of it in some cases.

Q5: What is your turnaround time?

Karen Woo has heard of clients waiting many months to see their wedding photos.

There is nothing worse“, she says. “Make sure you hire a photographer that will turn around your images promptly, and give you your photos before the start of the wedding album design process.

Our standard turnaround time is about 4-6 weeks or sometimes earlier for digital files, and our album design process is around 2-3 months. We have a follow-up process where we ensure our clients can review and approve their album design before we send the album off to production.

Finessence collage

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of our Feature Piece, where we will tell you the other 4 questions you should ask before choosing your Wedding Photographer. Otherwise checkout our excellent wedding photographers on our Real Weddings Showcase today to find your dream photographer.

Real Wedding – Purple Passion

Amy Pollard and Luke Ball chose a striking colour combination of deep blue and purple for their wedding reception at Luminare in South Melbourne.

Their ceremony style was fresh and simple with green and white flowers but it underwent a dramatic change at their reception with a vibrant blue and purple colour combination. The floral installation suspended above the bridal table was especially eye-catching. It had a cloud-like quality and featured hydrangeas, asparagus fern and trailing ivy.

The style design for Amy and Luke’s reception drew on the mirrored accents already present at Luminare. Silver foiled stationery was used as well as mirror displays, circular mirror centerpieces and a mirrored credenza that was covered in candles and an abundance of more vivid flowers. The dance floor was made from driftwood and lit by a chandelier of exposed light bulbs. The Melbourne city skyline formed a panoramic backdrop to the party.

For more details from this bold wedding and to see Amy’s style guide, visit


Real Wedding – Modern Romance

Although Aimee Marks had been dating Christopher Lock for ten years, she didn’t think a proposal was on the cards when they shared their usual Friday afternoon drink at the beach.

“He asked me to make a wish on the bottle of Moet we’d popped, and right down to the second before he pulled out the ring, 
I thought we were celebrating a big week at work – I had no idea it was coming, which is what I love about him; so in control and calm at all times,” Aimee said.

The couple decided to keep their engagement news a secret until lunchtime the following day. “It was incredible – we wandered around the city, took the dogs to the park and allowed time for it to sink in,” Aimee said. “Then, of course, we couldn’t wait any longer, and our family and friends were over to celebrate with us by that evening.”

Their five-month engagement flew by, and the couple became accustomed to making quick decisions. “We just had a ball; I maintained the mindset that because I was marrying the man I adore, there was no reason to not enjoy this time, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way,” Aimee said.

“Of course it always makes it easier when you surround yourself with the experts in their fields – for instance, we had such a ball working with florist Fleur McHarg and her wonderful team at Fleur in Armadale, who wove their magic throughout the entire day in the form of the most amazing floral design.”

The couple described their ceremony at chic Melbourne venue The Deck at The Prince as serene, peaceful and calm, and nominated their Jewish pre-wedding Bedeken as their most memorable highlight.

“The Rabbi positioned us so that our backs were touching ever so slightly before asking us to turn and face each other, and it was one of the most incredible moments we have shared,” Aimee said. “After all the years together, all the experiences, all the highs and lows, we finally stood in front of one another ready to commit forever. We were simply the happiest.”

To see Aimee’s Style Guide, be sure to visit

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Photography by Stewart Leishman

Melbourne venues – Marvellous Mural Hall

Take one step inside Mural Hall and you will be transported to another world. Perhaps it is the Parisian inspiration, the parquet flooring or the 18th century style mirrored commodes that dance light around the room creating the illusion that you are celebrating in a lavish European ballroom. Perhaps it’s because you are.

Invite 500 guests to an exquisite seated meal, or up to a 1000 for Champagne and canapés. Either way, our staff will ensure the service is head to toe chic; female staff wear black cocktail dresses, and the men – white Italian waiter jackets with long white aprons finished with a black tie. Whatever the cause for your celebration, Mural Hall will leave you and your guests captivated.


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Real Wedding – By The Seashore

Impeccably dressed in a bespoke, mermaid silhouette gown with eyelash lace and pearl and crystal beading, Casey was a relaxed bride, thrilled to be marrying her best friend Brett.

Casey and Brett had 18 months to plan their wedding. “Luckily I had been a bridesmaid twice during this time so I was able to draw on other weddings for inspiration. I also had a trusty planning book to help me through. It was very busy planning trips up the coast to meet with dressmakers and other suppliers,” Casey said.

The couple married at Dayman Park in Queensland. “It is a beautiful green park beside the beach that overlooks the marina and surrounding resorts. Brett and I love anything to do with the beach or water so we knew we had found a great place.” Casey and Brett hired a silk-lined marquee for the ceremony and for the reception Hervey Bay Boat Club offered their guests a large space with views of the marina.

In keeping with the modern look of Brett and his groomsmen’s navy suits, the wedding decorations incorporated clean lines and fresh colours including blush pink, cream and ivory. Lace was also incorporated into the romantic design.

Casey and Brett had packaged wedding cupcakes for their guests to take home. The cupcakes were individually decorated and sat inside neutral coloured, laser cut patty pans. The flavours were caramel mud cake, cherry ripe or chocolate mud cake. A candy buffet table was also on display for guests to help themselves to a large range of sweet delights.

“Lara at Bay Flowers brought my floral vision to life. I sent her examples of bouquets and centrepieces that we loved and she put a list together of all the flowers that were in season and that worked with our delicate pink, white and cream colour palette. There was the most beautiful fragrance permeating the room,” Casey said.

To see Casey’s Style Guide, be sure to visit


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Photography by Calli B Photography

ALTO’s warm welcome

On Wednesday night the Real Weddings team was thrilled to spend an evening with an intimate group of wedding industry experts to celebrate the spectacular new design at Alto event space. The team enjoyed a decadent, 5-course menu served by Georgina Damm and her team at Damm Fine Food.

The menu included French green pea and Champagne soup, confit of ocean trout with watercress foam, edible flowers and mustard fruits, fresh horseradish, truffle pecorino and mascarpone risotto with gold leaf, salt bush lamb with honeyed carrot purée, beet crisps and apple balsamic jus. Innovative mini, 3-tier wedding cakes with chocolate, lemon and raspberry fillings completed the delicious meal.

One of Melbourne’s premiere event spaces Alto unveiled its new interior following its refurbishment by Kate Hannaford of Moth Design. Kate, who works across a range of design disciplines, was briefed to create a space that was multifaceted yet pared back, allowing brides and event planners to project their own aesthetic and theme.

Positioned in the heart of Melbourne, on the top floor of the iconic GPO building, the new event space draws its inspiration from the panoramic views of the city skyline.

Embracing a variety of textures and hues – something that has become Moth Design’s trademark – the design has a modern, industrial feel yet is still warm and inviting.

The versatile floor plan and huge outdoor terrace was open to the team to explore. Lofty ceiling heights and floor-to-ceiling glass walls provided a spectacular backdrop of the city lights and, as the sun set, guests were invited to sit down for the meal. Each course was paired with a complementing wine and there was even a lesson on Champagne appreciation.

Peonies, roses and lush foliage graced the long table in vases of varying heights. A subtle fragrance permeated the room and a sense of occasion was evoked with the gold cutlery and shimmer grey linen. Gold foil embossed stationery completed the elegant place settings.

It was a night to remember and Real Weddings feel privileged to have shared an evening where the room was buzzing with excited conversation about the future of the wedding industry.

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 Our lesson on Champagne appreciation with Alan Nelson


Alan Nelson with Georgina Damm of Damm Fine Food

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Real Wedding – Floating Above The Clouds

Ciara Bambrick and Steven Johnston’s wedding was a fusion of many cultures. From Irish dancing to bagpipe performers the festivities were in full swing. Ciara and Steven had their portraits taken in a typically Australian urban setting while they sipped Coca-Cola from the iconic glass bottles.

After a long day spent looking at potential wedding venues in Fremantle, Ciara and Steven decided to drive up the coast to visit Steven’s parents. On a whim they stopped for coffee at Indiana Cottesloe Beach. It is a venue with uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and is an iconic landmark in Western Australia located on the pristine white sands of Cottesloe Beach. “The heritage listed building had wooden floors, high ceilings, white bannisters and a symmetrical layout. We couldn’t fault the service, the food was impeccable and our glasses were always full so we decided it would be a great reception venue.” Ciara and Steven plan to go back every year for their anniversary.

Ciara looked radiant in her strapless, Fara Almasi gown. “My nieces Olivia and Holly were so excited to be our flower girls especially because all eyes were on them! Both of the girls are obsessed with dancing and ballet so tutus and ballerina buns were an easy choice. My mother-in-law created custom floor-length tutus,” Ciara said.

Ciara’s sister Niamh was her only bridesmaid. “She has a great eye for fashion and so we let her choice of dress, guide the wedding colour palette.” Mint, cream, blush and ivory became the colour selection and against the backdrop of the ocean and the white wood combination of the venue the colours really popped.

“We left complete creative control of our flowers and centrepieces to our florist and stylist Katie Cooper,” Ciara said. As soon as the couple was engaged Katie Cooper was the first supplier Ciara wanted to lock in. “Katie has styled weddings for several of my friends and her work is always inspiringly unique and beautiful.” Ciara had a special request that the groomsmen’s buttonholes contained a thistle and a white rose. As thistles aren’t found in Australia Katie matched the next best thing. Sea holly became a feature of the buttonholes and Ciara’s bouquet and tied in nicely with the waterside setting.

A nod to Steven’s family’s heritage, Niamh decorated Ciara’s bouquet by wrapping Scottish tartan around the stems pinning a claddagh locket on. “Inside the locket were photographs of my and Steven’s parents on their wedding days,” Ciara said. Claddagh is the traditional Irish symbol of marriage and is often seen represented in a ring with a heart held by 2 hands and a crown symbolising love, friendship and loyalty.

“A white, vintage London taxi was our wedding car. My sister organised it as a surprise. It was significant because Steven’s father had driven a London taxi for many years while living in Edinburgh.”

Ciara and Steven carefully contemplated every aspect of their ceremony. “We made sure that the ceremony was the most significant and memorable part of the day,” Ciara said. Wedding bands were passed around in what is known as a ‘ring warming ceremony’. Ciara and Steven had written their vows and as Ciara fondly remembers ended up streaked with tears. “As a symbol of his commitment, Steven surprised me with a piece of tartan from the Johnston clan and inside was a thistle, transported all the way across the world by one of our international guests.”

“A week before the wedding my sister and I came across 2 boys busking in Fremantle. They were playing Auld Lang Syne on the bagpipes. It’s a song traditionally played when ringing in the New Year or ending a wedding. The boys agreed to come to Indiana at midnight to surprise Steven and play Auld Lang Syne as we left the venue. They got all dressed up and had their parents bring them to the venue. We slipped them $50 each. They were stoked!”

“We asked all of our married guests to provide us with a photo of their wedding day. We had them framed and displayed them so guests could compare the hairstyles and puffy sleeves and admire the longstanding and strong unions Steven and I hope to model our marriage on.” Other decorating ideas included using wooden Scrabble tiles and holders for place settings and instead of a guestbook, friends and family were asked to leave their thumbprint on an image of the couple holding a bunch of balloons. “Steven had created the poster by taking our picture, turning it into a black silhouette and adding the balloons,” Ciara explained.

“The styling for Ciara and Steven’s wedding epitomised coastal romance.  The blush and white blooms enhanced the mint colour palette, while the white wooden lanterns and pretty blush posies in pedestal vases complemented the existing décor at Indiana. Ciara’s stunning bouquet featured peonies, David Austin and open roses and a petite cluster of sea holly to acknowledge Steven’s Scottish heritage. It was finished with trailing lace and ribbon. The men’s buttonholes had a sprig of sea holly and a crisp white rose.”
– Katie Cooper of Katie Cooper Floral Design

“Ciara and Steven were a delight to work with. I wanted to capture their enthusiasm, love and style through the lens. It was such a beautiful, relaxed day where we basked in the late afternoon sunshine and embraced all that symbolises the love Ciara and Steven share.”
– Nicole Duncan of Nicole Duncan Photography

To see Ciara’s Style Guide, be sure to visit

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Photography by Nicole Duncan Photography

Real Wedding – J’adore

Liga Melne and Anton Zemlyanoy chose a luxury hotel in a fortified French castle for their intimate destination wedding. “We loved the surroundings, the interior and the cosmopolitan feel of the chateau. we had only 30 guests, mostly European, and the place was the perfect size to accommodate everyone – closest friends and family all together in a relaxed atmosphere,” Liga said. “We booked out the chateau completely for two nights; this was our gift to our guests so they could enjoy the romantic atmosphere of a wedding in provence,” said Anton.

For more details from this divine wedding and to see Liga’s style guide, visit

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Photography by Blumenthal Photography


Real Wedding – A Glamorous Affair

Laurette Chetty and James McLoughlin created a wedding that was intimate, sophisticated and fun. The sleek black place settings complemented the contemporary design of the reception venue.

How would you describe the styling of your wedding?
We created a sexy event with a black tie dress code for our nearest and dearest. The day was a fusion of glamour and fun. We used an elegant colour palette of black, white and gold. I wear these colours in my everyday fashion so they were a fitting choice. We wanted a scheme that was elegant and fit with the minimalist and modern look of our ceremony and reception spaces.

How can other brides create a similar styled look?
We used bunches of fresh white flowers, candles and modern ghost chairs with black cushions to create this look. It was so nice to have the view of the water as a backdrop and our stylist helped us create a glamorous dinner party. This was achieved with gold charger plates, black tuxedo napkins and black Champagne flutes on long tables. The personalised wedding menus and other stationery featured gold foil on black card.

Did you have wedding favours?
We treated our guests to cute piccolos of sparkling wine that were decorated with our ‘J&L’ label. These really kept the after party going!

What advice do you have for brides-to-be organising their weddings?
We had a children’s activity room set up at our wedding where 2 babysitters looked after our precious little guests so their parents could kick up their heels. This worked really well.

I also recommend that brides personalise their wedding decorations for example by using family photographs. Ask a close friend to act as your wedding MC and if possible, DJ.

Describe the bridal party outfits.
James’ groomsmen looked dapper in their matching, eco-friendly tuxedos from Hallenstein Brothers. The company collaborated with Coca-Cola and to produce the range of environmentally friendly suits that are manufactured from recycled PET plastic bottles.

My bridesmaids wore fashionable black gowns paired with gold accessories and wore their hair out in loose waves. A local Perth designer helped me create a timeless wedding gown inspired by Grace Kelly’s. It had a detachable jacket that I took off for dancing!

What kind of wedding cake did you have?
Our 3-tier cake featured cream roses, a gold metallic layer and a black ribbon. It was a delicious dark chocolate fudge flavour and had our guests on sugar highs for days!

To see Laurette’s Style Guide, be sure to visit

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Photography by Kerri Mackintosh Photography

Real Wedding – Afternoon Delight

Today on the blog we are sharing the homely wedding of Kaitlin and Brennan, who were so excited to get married that they considered eloping, “But then we thought, ‘We’re only getting married once’ so we decided on a small intimate and very personal wedding,” Kaitlin said.

Kaitlin and Brennan may have kept the number of guests small (with only 17 in attendance) but the styling and decorations were anything but simple. Kaitlin lovingly thought through every detail of the wedding from the stamps on the lolly buffet bags to the teacup candles she made as wedding favours and the doily confetti cones filled with petals and paper love hearts.

“Magazines and blogs are a great source of wedding inspiration but they can also be overwhelming with their quantity of ideas. Brennan and I decided to create a wedding that was a fusion of vintage and rustic styling with a dash of boho.” This was a great recipe for a sweet wedding with a relaxed vibe.

For more details from this sweet wedding and to see Kaitlin’s Style Guide, visit

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Photography by Elleni Toumpas Wedding Photography