A Review of Our Wedding Photographers: Dreamlite Photography (website / Facebook)
As I stated in my own personal vows, I was never quite ready to be a bride even though I was definitely ready to be a wife. Though my high school years were filled with hours spent online looking at bouquets and favors and mentally making lists of the things I liked, when it came down to actually doing it 10 years later, I wasn't interested. All of the items on my "I-really-want-to-have-these-things-for-my-wedding" became a short "I-only-NEED-3-things" list. Those things included the following: (1) a simple dress that didn't require an entourage for me to do basic tasks, (2) a church and a reception venue that had natural lighting and no frou-frou qualities, and lastly (3) a duo of great photographers. I just wanted to be married and not deal with all the intricacies of wedding planning for our day in May 2012.
I didn't know where to start when it came to the photography, so I posted on my Facebook wall and asked for suggestions. We got links to photographers that had more of a "couture" and runway style and photographers that cost an arm, a leg, and quite possibly a few internal organs. It wasn't until one of my church friends recommended Dreamlite that the search for this particular vendor was over in my mind. I sent the link to my guy, Howard, and he agreed that they had the exact look and style we wanted. We wanted pictures that captured the candid moments of our wedding as well as those posed shots that wouldn't look stiff and rigid.
Contacting Dreamlite was the next step, and it only confirmed that we had found our photographers. From that email onward, Dreamlite became Jon and Howie for us. It was no longer just a photography vendor but two guys that we soon grew to know more personally. Their patience for us was astounding! I initially contacted them in July of 2010, and we didn't officially sign any contracts until August of 2011! During that year, we exchanged many emails about their photo packages and constantly changing dates. We also asked them for recommendations about other vendors. Jon and Howie were willing to answer any questions about wedding planning even if it had nothing to do with photography. We really appreciated their honesty and genuine opinions about all the details of the industry.
A year after that initial email, we met with Jon and Howie at my local Panera. I was grateful that they were willing to come in from New Jersey to Staten Island. Howard and I showed up earlier than the meet time, and we sat in the car for a little bit because I was nervous! I admit that I don't like meeting new people and dealing with new situations, but eventually, we went in and found that they were already there set up! My first thought was a positive one because I too am a stickler for not just punctuality but being earlier than the designated time! The meeting flowed as I asked them what I thought were silly questions. Jon and Howie answered everything with such professionalism and humility that Howard and I felt relieved that they had wanted to meet with us. We never felt pressured, and they were the ones that actually encouraged us to think more about whether they would fit into our wedding day and to look over the contract to ask them anything else. At that point, we really didn't have many more questions since they had shown us sample albums and gone through the minutiae of the contract.
Before the wedding, we discussed via email the schedule for the day and any specific shots that we wanted. They told us that if we came up with anything else, we should let them know. I sent them a few strange requests (ex. I wanted pictures with the chairs at the venue because they were my favorite!) and a picture that we wanted to recreate. They kept a list of everything as well as the photo on their phones so that I didn't have to worry about anything on the day of. It was a relief having responsible people on our "team" for our wedding.
I thought that it'd be awkward having photographers take pictures of us all day long. We didn't have a chance to go through our engagement session before the wedding because we were too busy, but it ended up not being an issue at all. Jon was scheduled to be at my house in SI, and Howie went to Howard's house in Brooklyn. My bridesmaids and I literally just went about our day getting ready as Jon took pictures of our hair and makeup along with some shots of my cousins making their breakfast and my eating it. I really enjoyed seeing those pictures of everything we did. Jon then went around and took pictures of details in my parents' house, including my mom's calendar with our wedding date on it and scattered wedding things we had around. My mom was surprised that he was taking my shoes out on the balcony since the wood was rather worn and weathered, but Jon made it work!
During that hour or two of preparation, I had a few ideas pop into my head as well. It was very easy to tell Jon what else I wanted, that I wanted pictures of my Build-A-Bear from Howard (yes, I am 27 with my own teddy bear) and I wanted him to capture my putting my vows together on cardstock since I'm interested in papercrafting. I never felt any awkwardness even though I thought it'd be odd having people I didn't know very well in the house, but it just never crossed my mind. Jon knew exactly how to handle all situations, and he was extremely polite and respectful to my parents who were just meeting him for the first time. My parents warmed up to him very quickly as did my bridesmaids. I was loving the way my morning was going!
Jon got some last few shots before heading to the church. We had discussed earlier whether or not they'd be in the limo with us, but they preferred driving to and from the venues on their own. It worked out better that way because they were there to get arrival shots. It was also nice to have some moments in the limo with my parents and my 2 bridesmaids. Jon and Howie also communicated with each other to make sure that Howard was in the church where he couldn't see me before the ceremony. They literally made things easier on us and took charge of a lot of the things I would normally feel I had to handle myself.
The benefit of having two photographers working together is that not only did we have separate "getting ready" photos, we also got two different views during the ceremony. One stayed at the front, and one stayed at the back when I was walking down the aisle so we didn't feel like anything was missing when we got our pictures. They caught the sentimental moments, the glances and faces Howard and I made to each other, and even the funny ones, like when our best man handed us the wrong rings! They really captured the moments, which was important especially since we didn't have an official videographer.
When the ceremony was over, we had to take group photos at the front of the sanctuary. This was a little stressful for me because both of our families are rather large. Plus, everyone and their grandmother had a camera, which meant we were standing there with the same people for longer than needed! I was getting a little impatient because I wanted to get to our venue at Snug Harbor to take pictures with our bridal party. If Jon and Howie felt any of the impatience that we were feeling, they didn't show it at all. What was great was that they took a picture of the huge group taking pictures of us! It definitely was a memory that we might not have wanted to have at the moment, but it's funny to see it now when the wedding is in the past!
Eventually we left the church and took the limo to the location of our reception. We dropped off our belongings in the bridal suite and then headed out on the grounds to take photos. Jon and Howie worked very well as a team, coming up with ideas for spots to take photos, testing the lighting, and doing all the technical stuff that I didn't understand at all. I just really enjoyed the fact that I could trust them with the photos and not worry about anything. After some great shots with our bridal party, Jon and Howie sent them back to eat during the cocktail hour so that Howard and I could have a more private session for just the two of us. This was suggested to us by Dreamlite, and we couldn't have been happier about it! We didn't really think much about it earlier, but if they hadn't encouraged us to set that time aside, we would've lost out on the majority of the pictures Howard and I really love! They helped us out, giving us pointers in how to pose since before this point, Howard and I were all about those one-handed shots! We also told them during our Panera meeting that it was a little strange for us to be kissing in front of others, so they were very mindful of that fact. It worked out extremely well that we didn't have an audience during our session! It was just a lot more personal and private, which we really enjoyed!
When we returned for the reception, things moved very quickly. I didn't see Jon and Howie as often since I was so consumed with everyone that was around, but in reality, they were everywhere because we got pictures of everything! I wanted pictures of the food; they got it. I wanted pictures of all my DIY touches; they got them. The two-person team really works because one of them was always around to capture moments while the other could photograph details. At one point, they asked for our rings and got some creative shots that Howard and I both love!
Howard and I had to go through the long process of taking pictures with every table. It was a lot of "Oh, he just went to the bathroom" or "I don't know; she was just here," and I was wanting it all to be over with faster. Howie followed us around without any problems, and I apologized numerous times for how long it was taking, but it didn't bother him at all. I guess Jon and Howie have seen and experienced it all! While we were dealing with those necessary but "boring" photos, Howie got a great shot of the table photo in the screen of someone's iPhone! I liked how even in the more typical rounds of photographs, the two of them could still see other creative opportunities.
When the dancing finally picked up during the last hour, Jon and Howie caught so many of the hilarious moments. They weren't afraid to literally get down on the floor to get the right shots. Those were some of my favorites as well because everyone was just having fun, and they caught their laughter and enjoyment on camera.
At the end of reception, we said goodbye to our guests and were about to say goodbye to Jon and Howie. Thankfully, they had kept in mind my request for photos with THE chair, so they set up a little area for a quick photo shoot. I'm so glad that they remembered my list of must have photos so that it didn't have to cross my mind. I was so relieved that the day was over, but I was also extremely glad that Dreamlite had made the day go by so smoothly!