Let's get this straight: Someone else's wedding is not about you.

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts for two years.

Two. Years.

I have felt this way for over two years, and have been too afraid to hit publish because of some preconceived backlash. But I feel the need to get this off my chest. Maybe I'm being judgmental to everyone and I should take a dose of my own cynical medicine. Maybe I'm being hypocritical by writing it in the first place. In which case, you are free to disagree with me accordingly.

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There is a certain tension between brides and the wedding industry. Or maybe I should say between engaged couples and literally everyone else involved in the wedding. But for the sake of this post, I’m calling out the wedding vendors specifically.

On one side, you have a couple who has never planned a party on this level before and suddenly realizes that planning a wedding is really expensive. The sticker shock is real, I know. It caused many stressful days while I planned my own wedding and forced me to get creative with my vision for the perfect day.

On the other side, you have people who charge these prices because owning a small business is f*cking expensive and they want to sustain themselves and pay their taxes and feed their family and do all the things that go along with the freedom of being your own boss.

Both sides are stressed and both are passionate and when you have the added pressure of needing to be unique in a saturated market and the feeling of pleasing your guests or making a statement or being creative mixed into an event that is so deeply personal, naturally, opinions are going to fly and frustrations will be had on all sides.

So it shouldn't surprise me that I often see dumb articles like this or I hear a vendor complain about a certain trend they see over and over, or see an entitled rant on social media about using someone else’s wedding or work to further their own business. People will use any excuse to complain about anything at a wedding in general. It might be my biggest pet peeve of the industry as a whole.

we all need to calm down and realize: it's not about us.

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Let's start with the article. What exactly is the benefit of telling couples that whatever idea they want to include in their own wedding is a fad, tacky, or a "mistake"? Why, year after year, do publications like Vogue and every other wedding blog on the planet feel the need to focus on the negative and ridicule someone's style choice? Why can't we simply focus on the positive, and instead of writing articles about "passé" trends, wedding day don't's, and "mistakes" brides make we write about things that aren't superficial and highlight the do's, the positives, and the direction we want to see from the industry as a whole?

The damage happens when someone puts a year into planning one day, then halfway through the process, after signing contracts and spending time and money on a certain aspects of their wedding, they read some BS article like this and suddenly feel judged, shamed, or unoriginal. Brides are made to feel bad about a choice they have made that makes them happy. And these people they interview are literally complaining about the presence of a donut wall. It’s a freaking wall of donuts!

Leave it to industry professionals to find a reason to hate on donuts.

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Who are we (as anyone who is not the couple making the decisions and writing the checks) to say what is a mistake for someone else's wedding? Just because we have seen it before doesn't mean we should discourage it. If I have to read one more article from some random person complaining about a damn donut wall or a photo booth being at someone's wedding, I'm going to scream. Or write an angry, ranty article like I'm doing now.

Now, on to the vendors. We love our job. Many even use the hashtag #lovemyjob on a regular basis. Some days we say it like a mantra to remind ourselves that it's worth it. Some days we are able to put things in perspective and realize that there is a reason we're doing it. We, for the most part, genuinely do love our jobs.

But like any job, we get tired of routine. We get tired of being undercut. We get tired of seeing the same thing over and over. Sometimes we just want to shake our clients and let them trust our visions and do something -- anything -- they haven't already seen on Pinterest.

It comes from a place of love, it really does. But it's also the thing I dislike most about our industry.

It all started over burlap.

Don't rain on our metaphorical parade.

Don't rain on our metaphorical parade.

You guys, when you are planning a wedding, you get unusually attached to anything that is affordable and multi functional. So when I found some amazing gray burlap runners on Amazon for CHEAP, I got them to use at my wedding. My guests loved them and they are still used by multiple family members for their dining room. I may venture to go so far as to say that those damned runners were the best investment I made at my wedding.

About a week after I had purchased these runners, after meticulously pricing out alternative table decor and planning how I wanted to present my tables to my guests and the neutral palette I wanted to have, I checked Facebook and came across something I wish I had never seen as a burlap-using bride-to-be.

A wedding planner posted an update in a Facebook group complaining about a client's choice to use burlap in her wedding; it wasn't her ideal style and she didn't want to waste time planning the wedding if it wouldn't fit in her portfolio. She also complained that the bride wanted baby's breath and mason jars. She asked if there was a way to tell the bride her ideas were tacky and overdone.

Maybe I took her post a little too personally. She awoke the Bridezilla within. I probably started writing this post because of her post. But I see it over and over, vendors getting upset because someone else paid for something that didn’t serve their business in the way they expect them to. Caterers who get angry over a photographer not taking enough photos of their food. Florists who demand the photos weeks before a gallery is set to deliver to the clients, just so they can submit them for publication. A photographer who refuses to work with a couple because their “look” or vision for their wedding doesn’t fit what they want to put on Instagram.

But, whether an opinion about burlap hit a nerve with me or not, it doesn't change my opinion. If you're in the wedding industry you are going to see trends come and go. If you want to see something different or be creative, the best solution is to coordinate a styled shoot of your own to execute your own ideas or do whatever the hell you want. You can't rely on someone else to spend their hard earned money on your perfect ideal vision. When it's your dime, your project, your event, you can be picky and tell people what they can or can't do. But if you're being paid handsomely to execute another person's vision, it is not your place to complain or mock them for their choices. 

If something makes you that unhappy, don't do it.

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Vendors are constantly after the "ideal client" yet no one can grasp exactly what that means to them. Vendors can spend their careers chasing an ideal for bragging rights, instead of appreciating the ability to do the work itself.

I realized early on that not every wedding is going to grace the pages of a magazine. Not every client is "ideal." Weddings are inherently unique and cliche all at the same time. It's the paradox of partaking in a social tradition that has gone on for centuries. Ultimately weddings are all the same: someone gets married.

some people don't care that burlap is trendy. Some people just want to have a party and get married and not be in debt afterwards.

It is the vendor's job, after all, to guide and execute a client's vision for their wedding instead of tear it down. If one didn't want another wedding featuring mason jars and burlap, one should present an alternative with a similar budget (because let's face it, most of the reason to use burlap and mason jars is because they are perfectly rustic and affordable) or turn it down altogether.

No bride wants to work with someone who isn't excited to be there.

Your clients aren't your pawns to fill up a portfolio. Stop thinking of them this way, or you'll never be happy.

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And finally, I want to talk to the guests. Yes, the people who are neither the bride or groom nor being paid to attend the event. These are people who (in theory) love the couple who are graciously hosting them, feeding them, and entertaining them for the day. It's not about you, either.

It is not your place to complain about the food, or the music, or the signature drink the couple chose to serve. Yet I know it happens at almost every wedding. It isn't your place to roll your eyes at anything you see. All you have to do is be grateful that you have people who love you enough to buy you dinner and drinks and want your company on the best day of their life. 

Is it so much to ask that you keep your opinions to yourself if they are negative? You literally have an out when they send you the invitation. If you are the type of person who will complain or is never happy, do everyone a favor and check the "no" box on your RSVP.

There should be no place for negativity at a wedding.

OK, now to myself: I recognize that people will always have opinions and there is no amount of sass in a single article that will change the industry as a whole. But, my God, it feels good to release this tension. Two years of holding this in and F*CK it feels good to release it.

To my clients and anyone who is planning their wedding: keep doing you. Make your wedding day the way YOU want it. Don’t listen to the magazines or the vendors or the guests or Pinterest. Do what makes you happy.

And to all the articles and opinions (including mine), this is the best way to handle negativity:

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The real reason you don't want the RAWs

RAW files suck to look at. There. I just came out and said it.

Sure, yes, in actuality photographers usually prefer to shoot in RAW. I shoot in RAW. I love editing RAW files. But looking at them really sucks compared to the possibilities they give.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

As a client, you shouldn’t ever need or want the RAW files for any reason. And I’m here to explain why.

What are RAW files anyway?

RAW files are uncompressed, straight from camera images. They are unmanipulated and unprocessed. Photographers will shoot on RAW because it keeps the most information possible on the file and allows the highest level of possibilities when editing.

So knowing this, “RAW” sounds great, right? It sounds like something that will give you the biggest file to print from and have the best quality. But what you may not know is that a RAW file needs to have a special program to even open it in. You cannot print RAW files from just any program without converting them to another format first. If you don’t own Photoshop or Lightroom, you probably won’t be able to open it at all.

And I’m going to reiterate what I said earlier, to be clear: RAW files look like shit. They are dull, lifeless, and basic. Sure, they are big files. But why would you want a big file that looks like shit?

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. These are all before and afters of a RAW file versus an edited file:

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Trust me, you don’t want the RAW images. They look like shit compared to the final product. And all that information you think you’re losing? You can’t detect it from looking at it.

Instead ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I need the RAW files?”

  • If it’s because you want to manipulate the files yourself, I want to direct you to my post about copyright.

  • If it’s because you want to see every single image I took at your session or wedding, trust me when I say, you don’t. One thing I promise to my clients is I’ll deliver everything I took as long as it’s flattering and in focus. You don’t want to see the unflattering photos or the photos that didn’t turn out.

  • If it’s because you feel like something is missing, tell your photographer that you think something is missing. Most of the time they either have and it didn’t upload (which sometimes happens, we’re only human), they didn’t capture it at all (we can’t be everywhere at once, unfortunately), or they did capture it but it didn’t come out the way you were expecting.

  • If for some reason you need a bigger file, tell your photographer the size file you need, and they will be able to go back and export it as big as it can possibly go. This always has it’s limits depending on the camera they used, but suffice it to say, it usually can go bigger if need be.

Again, there is no need for the RAW image. Every reason you think you need RAW images for probably has a solution without us needing to show you what was taken straight out of the camera before we put a magic touch on it.

Most photographers won’t want you to see the straight from camera image anyway. It probably sucks.

it's all in the details {the best wedding details i've ever seen}

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I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this before! I’ve shot so many weddings, sometimes it can be a blur.

But one thing is for sure: the details are what make all the difference in making your wedding day one-of-a-kind. The right kind of details can also set Pinterest on fire. I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. Trends can take over full eras of weddings (I’m looking at you, mason jars) and someone is always the first to think of doing it.

Here are some of my favorite unique details from weddings I’ve shot (in no particular order):

A Paper Flower Bouquet and Boutonniere

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I feel like the one wish I had after my wedding was that I wanted to save all my flowers, especially my bouquet. I wanted to keep my flowers forever. I wish I had thought of getting a custom made paper bouquet (like this one from The Striped Petal). I mean, look at those colors! And they are so realistic, you can almost smell them!

This Wisteria Balloon chandelier

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I might have to recreate this to turn into a blog post, because if you can believe it, the piece hanging above my beautiful bride, Rae, was made by her by hand. Each of those white flower petals is actually a popped white balloon tied to a string of green yarn. The leaves are all paper. She strung each of these up by hand to make one very impactful piece that became the centerpiece of her ceremony and later, her dance floor. It was beyond impressive.

Alternative Table Numbers

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Who wouldn’t love a twist on table numbers? If you plan on doing a buffet, you don’t really need numbered tables at all. And what better way to bring attention to your centerpieces than by naming each table something unique? In this case, my bride, Nicole, named her tables after famous duos in literature. It was not only creative, but it made everyone look around and laugh when they saw where they were sitting.

A bowtie made of feathers

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Sometimes all you need is a little extra touch of something fun. I love a good unique accent for the groom, like a bolo tie, cool cufflinks, or a feather bow tie like this one. You can find similar ones on Etsy or specialty sites.

Leopard Print bridesmaid dresses

(and napkins!)

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Leopard is the new blush. I’m calling it.

Hand poured candles in vintage glasses

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It’s really difficult to figure out a good wedding favor that your guests actually want and will use after the wedding day. I think the number one complaint from brides and guests alike is that they think wedding favors can be a waste of money. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to get creative and think outside the box. My bride, Kaytee, collected antique colored glasses and poured her own candles for her favors. Every guest had one at their seat along with some personalized matches (which are both useful and cost effective gifts in and of themselves!). They lit up the whole reception, brought a nice touch to the table setting, and made a nice keepsake for after the wedding.

A Michael Jackson Impersonator

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Or any impersonator or performance, if I’m being real. Similar to fast food, you don’t know true joy until a cover band or celebrity impersonator walks into a wedding reception and performs a set for the guests. This is one surprise treat your guests will be talking about for years, I promise. I mean, I’ve included it in this blog post, haven’t I?

Living room set ups outside

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Why not just bring the comforts of home outside? There is something about sitting on a couch outside that is just satisfying. You don’t normally run into living room decor in nature, so why not make a fun spot for photo ops like this? Dan and Paige used a little Wes Anderson inspiration with their wedding details, and their love of film really came through with some vintage televisions set up around their outdoor venue.

An area rug for a dance floor

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This brings a whole new meaning to “cut a rug,” amirite? This goes along with bringing the indoors outside, but maybe instead of renting a dance floor for your wedding day, a rug would make more sense! It’s soft on bare feet, easy to transport, and you can use it after the wedding. Not to mention, it makes a great centerpiece for your reception.

Late Night Fast Food Delivery

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A wedding detail doesn’t always have to be decor or a fashion piece. Why not put a personal touch on your day with a surprise delivery from your favorite food truck or late-night fast food spot? Your guests have been drinking all day, and after a few hours on the dance floor, they’ll have built up an appetite. And the reaction of people getting a fast food burger at the end of a wedding? McDonald’s wishes they could pay for that level of excitement in any commercial.

So what do you think? Did you get some inspiration? Do you have any other details you’ve seen from weddings that you loved? When it comes to figuring out all the details of your wedding, it’s all about taking things you like and incorporating them in some way. And who cares if it’s traditional or not; It’s your day, why not have fun?

A letter to my unborn son

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Hi. It’s me, your mom. This is a little weird, I know. Even though we haven’t formally met yet, we have spent every minute together for the past 27 weeks.

Sometimes I have to remind myself you’re there. Sometimes you remind me that you’re there. You sleep when I move and you move when I (try to) sleep.

You have already done so much cool stuff I didn’t get to do until I was way older. You’ve been to really cool concerts (like Beyoncé and Jay Z and Elton John and Weezer and the Pixies). I felt you dance during Rocket Man and I wondered if you really could hear what was going on.

You’ve voted with me twice. And I hope you come with me to vote again and I can teach you the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

You’ve voted with me twice. And I hope you come with me to vote again and I can teach you the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

You have already been on a plane 12 times! You’ve been to both coasts, and have seen both oceans. You’ve been to Europe. You have attended more weddings in these 6 months than I’ve been invited to as a guest in my whole life. How many fetuses can say that?

Your favorite food is everything, especially things I can dip into a sauce. Eggrolls with duck sauce, french fries with ranch, carrots with peanut butter. I wonder if you’ll like these things outside of my belly as much as you do inside of my belly. I wonder if you’ll be as good of an eater as you’re making me.

You give me the most vivid and strange dreams. Sometimes I wake up wondering if what I dreamt was real or my imagination. I could never remember my dreams before you came along.

My sense of smell these days is so acute that I wonder if I can use the super power for fighting crime. In fact, that’s the moment I knew you were growing in there. We were shooting a wedding, and I got an overwhelming whiff of limes. I thought someone had spilled lime juice next to me until I saw someone, two tables away, squeezing a single lime wedge into their drink.

I took a test the next day and then I knew for sure. You were there.

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Your dad and I spent a long time together wondering when we should bring you into the world. We always knew we wanted you, but we didn’t know if we were prepared. We wanted to be sure you’d be taken care of. And then one day your dad told me he was ready. And suddenly I felt ready.

You must’ve been ready then, too. Because about a week later, you started growing in my belly.

You have made me sober and tired and irritable. I have given up things I’ve loved most in my life like beer and sushi and coffee. I didn’t even eat any cheese in Amsterdam. Do you know how hard it is to say no to cheese in a town that makes cheese? You don’t, but one day you will.

I hope you know, I gave up those things because I love you. And I want you to know that I will do so much more than just that. I will spend the rest of my life doing what I think is best for you.

And you probably will sometimes be mad at me and think that I’m annoying or that I don’t have your best interests in mind, but I promise you, I am going to try my best.

I have loved every second of knowing you already, buddy. Making you has been the coolest art project I’ve ever done.

I can’t wait to meet you. I feel like I already have.

Love,

Mama

PS Thanks for never making me puke. You did me a real solid there, dude.

Photo of my dear friend  EFW Florals  and her son, Link

Photo of my dear friend EFW Florals and her son, Link

my kinda spooky hobby

This animation was created by my talented husband  Anthony Maiuri , inspired by my hobby

This animation was created by my talented husband Anthony Maiuri, inspired by my hobby

So what does one do when their hobby is their job? They find another hobby, duh!

For me, I like to relax by doing things that exercise my mind but are also a little mindless. In other words, I like challenging myself to learn new things (like knitting, needlepoint, quilting) in addition to things I’ve always liked to do (like reading, listening to podcasts, watching The Office, snuggling with my dogs…).

Over the past year, one particularly abstract (and maybe controversial?) practice has captivated my attention and free time:

Reading Tarot cards.

OK, I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes. Or, maybe you think this is cool. Maybe you think it’s weird. A few might think I’m practicing witchcraft and worshipping Satan.

I can assure you, Tarot is definitely cooler than you think, weird for SURE, and far from Satan worship. At least, for me it is.

It’s honestly taken me a while to be brave enough to share this publicly through my business pages in fear that I might get judgement or lose clients over this. But in the spirit of the Halloween season, I wanted to share a little about this hobby and what I’ve learned by reading tarot for myself and friends.

A short history of Tarot:

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The tarot deck is similar to a regular deck of cards: it has 4 suits that each go from Ace to King (which is called the “minor Arcana”). In addition to these 52 cards, a traditional 78 card tarot deck also has a “major Arcana” of people/scenes (these are the most famous and easily recognizable tarot cards, like The Devil, Death, and The Empress). Tarot cards started out in the 14th century as normal playing cards in Europe, then later started becoming used in divination and prophecy in the 18th century France. These cards are still used throughout Europe as normal playing cards.

Tarot ≠ witchcraft

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I promise I’m not casting spells or stabbing needles into voodoo dolls. I’m literally shuffling a deck of cards and seeing what randomly comes up. It’s no different than playing solitaire with a normal deck of cards: endless possibilities, and sometimes you get a good hand and sometimes you get a really shitty one.

Tarot cards are not magic

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This is a common misconception, and one that is perpetuated by tarot readers. Sure, there might be a “magical” aspect to them, but at the core of it let’s be honest: the tarot deck are pieces of paper printed in a factory and mass produced and sold. The aren’t farted out by a unicorn or woven by an elf in a castle (although, if anyone finds a deck like that let me know).

No, I don’t see dead people

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I’m not a medium nor a necromancer, and I will never claim to be one. Seriously, the woo woo notion that tarot cards converse with spirits is maybe a belief for some people, but for me, the cards are merely a metaphor for what’s going on in your life, right now. I personally don’t believe that any divine spirits are speaking through me when I do readings. And honestly, most of the time I’m just trying to learn what the cards say and how to interpret them for the person I’m reading for. Ghosts are too into themselves, anyway.

No, I’m not practicing demonic worship

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This is a very common misconception about tarot cards, especially if your only experience with tarot is from pop culture, or you are religious. I don’t use Ouija boards, I haven’t sold my soul to the devil, I’m not conjuring demons, and I definitely am not worshipping Satan. After you get a reading and I start to talk through what the cards say, you’d be surprised that they really aren’t in any way related to the occult aside from being systematically associated with it from movies and television.

There is no right or wrong way to read Tarot cards

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This is probably the one thing that’s kept me so intrigued by this hobby. It’s a challenge. Everyone interprets the meaning of the cards differently. Even the actual guide books that come with decks and are sold in bookstores vary in interpretation. There are so many different decks, numerous ways to interpret the cards and infinite ways to read them. There really is no right or wrong way to read tarot, as much as you learn the symbolism contained in each card. It really depends on who is reading the cards and who is asking the questions. I tend to always try and see the positive outcomes or the best advice for what is placed in front of me.

Tarot cards won’t predict death

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This might be the biggest misconception and fear most people have about getting a tarot reading (I know it was mine before I learned more!). A lot of people are afraid to get their tarot read because they think it will predict a slow and painful death. In fact, the actual Death card doesn’t predict death at all. None of the cards do. Tarot is way more metaphorical than set in stone predictions. For example, if the Death card is drawn, it means that there needs to be an ending of some sort so something new can be reborn. It might mean that a relationship needs to end, a project needs to be finished, or a contract needs to be closed in order for your life to progress to the next stage. And most of the time, the cards are mere suggestions. You still have free will and can change whatever the cards “predict” for you. From what I’ve learned so far, tarot cards are simply little makeshift psychologists, revealing situations you’re currently going through and giving you suggestions for how to handle it.

Reading tarot is a way I relax

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There is something both exciting and comforting to me about shuffling a deck and interpreting a tarot spread. I’m always a little nervous before I flip the cards over. I always want it to reveal some sort of good news or solution to a problem. No matter what, my readings never disappoint and they are always eerily accurate. And it gives me a chance to zone out for 20-30 minutes and not worry about answering e-mails or pleasing anyone but myself. And, I find it a fun thing to do at parties and get togethers.

And isn’t that what hobbies are for anyway?

If you’re interested in learning to read tarot, I highly suggest getting the Rider Waite deck which is considered the “beginner” deck (and is pretty straightforward with the illustrations). The deck also comes with it’s own mini booklet for readings. But if you really want to delve into it and get a better understanding of spreads and reading the cards, this book is my go-to for readings. It gives cohesive breakdowns of different spreads in addition to a thorough description, interpretation, and symbolism behind each card.

There are so many more decks to explore as well, and I also own these beautiful tarot decks (I’ve become a collector— I can’t help myself!):

I also have started learning these alternative decks:

Seventh Sphere Lenormand Deck 

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Thanks for reading, and even if you still think I’m weird, it’s ok because I embrace weirdness. Weirdness makes the world go ‘round.

Happy Halloween, everyone!