For those about to wed, I salute you.
I am so excited you're considering me to photograph your wedding. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that come up with potential clients. Of course, you can reach out if you have a question about something not covered here.
You've already got my email; my personal line is +1-203-526-1738.
How do know how many hours we need?
The vast majority of my elopement clients choose three or four hours. Three hours gives you a perfect tiny wedding day: getting ready, the ceremony, and portraits after. Four hours is good if you want to travel to different parts of the City, or if you want to do something more involved, like go to the top of the Empire State Building for photos.
How do elopements work?
You'll need to get a marriage license at City Hall, located at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan, at least 24 hours before your ceremony. It's $35 for the license, cash or credit. You can either go back to City Hall in the next day or so (no need to book ahead of time) or hire a private officiant to get married elsewhere in the City. You'll both have to appear in person with ID to get a license, and appear with a witness to get married. I'm happy to be your witness if you'd like.
We need hair and makeup. Know anyone?
Do I ever. I have a whole welcome package that has the best hair and makeup people I know, as well as a ton of other resources for making your elopement perfect - florals, hotels, a hired car... even a planner. Everyone on my list is incredible, and all of them are committed to working with all of my couples, no matter what orientation or gender expression. You'll also want to check out my Pinterest board called "Your New York City Honeymoon".
What's better, City Hall or elsewhere?
It's up to you. I've been photographing elopements in NYC since 2011, and have done dozens of each. There are a few things to think about as you consider what's right for the two of you.
- Ceremonies at City Hall are a nominal $25; an officiant will charge you a few hundred dollars. (My husband, Marley Jay, is a professional writer who occasionally moonlights as officiant for my couples when he's got the time. He charges $300 which is right around the going rate.)
- City Hall wedding ceremonies take about sixty seconds. All you say is "I do." though on a slow day they might invite you to say a few secular words. You will always be allowed to exchange rings. A lot of couples really love the quick, no-fuss ceremony, and others are left feeling like hardly anything happened. With a private officiant you can choose your own readings and wording, and make it religious if you'd like. The ceremony will have some depth, personalization, and sentiment.
- Weddings at City Hall are in private chapels. You can invite your friends and family, and close the door behind you. If you're getting married at Central Park, you'll draw a crowd. Depending on where you get married, this could be one little old lady off in the corner watching or an entire tour group cheering you on. This might be your worst nightmare or the best thing ever! I can help you pick a spot that is just right for you, or help you find an alternative, private venue (I day dream about perfect elopement itineraries, and have a ton of places in mind.) In case you're wondering: no one has ever - ever - heckled one of my same-sex couples.
- City Hall is a government office, so waiting for your wedding to start can take fifteen minutes, three hours, or anything in between. It's very unpredictable. With a private officiant, you know exactly what you're going to get and can go on your own schedule and at your own pace.
What if City Hall takes a really long time?
I made my own “Amber Marlow City Hall” rule: Any time we spend at City Hall counts as no more than one hour. So, for example, say you have my three hour elopement photography collection. We do an hour of getting ready and travel, and then arrive at City Hall. There, it takes two and half hours for you to make your way through to get married. After you're done, no worries: we'll still have an hour left for portraits.
It’s different than the way most elopement photographers work, but lines up with my values: No looking at the time on your wedding day - I just want you to have great photography. Period.
Photos, Printed Heirlooms, and Style
How do we get our photos, exactly?
You'll be emailed a digital gallery of your images that you can order your prints from. The set up is exactly like a typical online store, and you'll be able to share this link with friends and family so they can shop for prints themselves (read: you don't have to handle the ordering for everyone). On that same gallery, you'll also be able to click a button to download all of the .jpgs for sharing your photos via email, on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Do we have to order prints through you?
I hope that you do. The images I give you to download are meant for sharing on online. These downloaded images make decent prints sized up to 5x7, so if you want to make holiday cards or save-the-dates on Minted, Paperless Post, etc., you're covered.
That said, digital images should never be considered a final product (my irreverent - and possibly unprofessional - motto is "Flash drives make shitty heirlooms"). For those prints that you want to treasure, frame, and display in your home, I recommend you order through me. A big box printer like Target or Costco will take all of the work I've done (and all of the money you've paid) hand-correcting every individual image and ruin it. In my shop, you have a choice of luster prints (standard) or the fancy, luxurious deep matte prints. I have a special printer for my UK clients, too.
Are the digital images we download watermarked?
No. Some photographers do this to make sure they get properly credited, but I've never had a client have a problem putting "photo by @AmberMarlow" on their Instagram photos. My couples are the best.
Do you offer wedding albums?
Most elopement clients get an elopement album included in their collection. It's a linen-bound art book with archival pages. They're 10 x 10 inches / 25 x 25 centimeters, hold 40 images, and they come in 21 good colours. They ship anywhere in the world compliments of my studio.
There are a few optional upgrades for the elopement album, too.
- Additional images - your album can have up to 100.
- A larger book. Choose 9 x 12, 12 x 12, or a stunning 11 x 14.
- Debossing. We can put your name and/or wedding date on the cover either blind deboss (just the imprint of the letters pressed in), or in gold, silver, or rose gold (some colours work better than others for debossing, we can discuss.)
You can opt for any or all combinations of the three things above, or pick a fourth option, new for 2017:
Swap it out completely for a traditional wedding album.
I have two traditional wedding albums: the Wedding Book album and the Marlow Signature album (which is the most gorgeous wedding album in the world as far as I'm concerned!) In the past, I've only offered these to my full wedding clients, but I had a few elopement couples in 2016 who wanted to "go big", and have decided to make it a regular offering.
The Wedding Book is the original wedding album, and the one included in my collections. The images and white background are printed on luster photo paper that protects from fingerprints. The paper with the images is then mounted onto thick, acid-free substrate pages that resist bending and tearing. The result is a beautifully-bound album that will endure for years to come.
The Wedding Book is available in all of the linen colours at the link above, as well as several leather options.
For something extra special, I offer the Marlow Signature Wedding Album, an album so gorgeous I put my name on it. The images are printed on smooth 100% cotton photo paper, then finished with a matte glaze to protect them without losing the character of the paper. Next, they are mounted by hand into acid-free photo mat pages. Finally, those pages are bound together, and a cover is added, for a stunning dimensional presentation that nods to vintage wedding albums while remaining modern. It comes in a variety of high end fabrics, including silk, high-end faux leather, and real leather.
Can we purchase an album after the wedding?
Yes, always. However, if you think you might want one, you're way better off getting one of my collections that includes it, so we can start designing right away.
How many photos do we get?
"Enough to tell the story" is the best answer I can give you. This is a hard question because the answer changes based on if you're eloping for two, or having a few friends and family along for formal portraits. Some couples also have more details. You will have enough images to make a beautiful album, though, and no one has ever been unhappy. I'm very attentive to details.
How long does it take to get our images back?
My contract says 6 weeks from your wedding day. It usually doesn't take me that long.
Do you do black and white or colour?
Both, mostly colour. If you want more black and white, let me know. Images are ONLY delivered in either colour or black and white and can’t be converted either way afterwards.
We don't want our photos to look super stiff. How do you handle posing if someone is shy? What about LGBTQ couples and traditional wedding poses? We hate posing, btw.
Honestly, I hate posing, too. Try not to worry about it too much. We laugh and joke and smile during portraits so your personality shines through; the rest of the time I'll be getting journalistic candids. You’ll look back at your wedding photos and see two people in love, and this will be way more interesting to you than the cliche poses you might have seen elsewhere.
I typically allow couples to fall together into their own patterns the way they will naturally, and go from there. This works well for everyone, no matter what their orientation, height difference, etc. (Seeing these lovely patterns everyone has is the best part of my job!)
Tech & Legal
Do you have backup equipment?
Yes. Extra lenses, extra cameras, and so, so many batteries. The cameras I use have dual slots for memory cards so I go home at the end of your wedding with two copies of your images.
How do you keep our images safe? We've heard horror stories!
Beyond making two exact copies of your images when I am shooting them, I take other precautions, too. Your images never go on the subway or bus. The RAW files get backed up immediately when I get home from your wedding to a RAID 1 hard drive that then backs itself up to the cloud every hour. They're archived on yet another hard drive that I keep at a relatives house. On top of that, everything is backed up to a secure cloud based system, and I never delete the cards themselves until the images are delivered and you have your own copies.
This is probably overkill.
What is your processing like?
I shoot RAW images on both memory cards. This allows me to process the photos exactly the way I would like. They are hand-corrected by me, with no batch edits or Instagram-type filters, using only professional software. For albums and large framed prints, I take it to the next level with a bit of Photoshop on the images (you won't be able to tell!) to make sure they are absolutely perfect. Your album will be filled with magazine-quality images. This is a source of great pride for me.
Can we have the RAW images?
No. It would be like a baker handing you a few layers cake and a tube of icing and telling you to "go for it", when what you asked for was a wedding cake. They're an incomplete part of the overall product you're paying me for. It's the RAW files, plus the processing after, that makes the image.
What gear do you use?
Professional level Canon cameras and lenses. I've been shooting a Canon camera since I was a teenager in the 90's, and my grandfather did, too. This makes me feel elderly.
What about permits?
You are responsible for acquiring all photography permits needed on the day of the wedding. If it’s in NYC, I can usually point you in the right direction off the top of my head.
What if something happens to you on the day of our elopement?
I've never missed an elopement. I take shooting your wedding very seriously, of course, and would never "call out sick" unless there was a circumstance so extenuating it could not be helped. Should this happen, your wedding would be photographed by someone who matched my skill level; I have several amazing photographers on speed dial.
When should we book you?
As soon as you know you would like me to be your photographer. To book, I need to receive from you a signed agreement and a retainer. Without these things, I cannot hold your date. I take fifty percent when you sign your agreement, and the remainder one month before. If you are retaining me within thirty days, the entire balance is due when you sign.
Wait, we just changed our minds and we're getting married a plane ride away.
I can come, too! Every year, I photograph weddings big and small all over the world.