LEWISTON — Wedding planner Laurie Andrews usually advises brides to ban gadgets from their weddings.

Save the buzzing drones and the flashing LEDs for the reception, she counsels, and tell your guests to keep their smartphones in their pockets until the final “I do.”

“Usually, my suggestion to my brides is to not even let anybody have cameras during the ceremony,” said Andrews, of Laurie Andrews Designs of Portland. “They should just put them away until the ceremony is over. Otherwise, it’s just a hindrance to the professional photographer that they’re paying to do the event.”

But once the guests get to the reception, everything changes and the right gadgets used the right way can enhance things, a lot.

“Planning a wedding, it’s all definitely evolved,” she said. “Pinterest has made a change, but overall it’s education. People have resources now that they didn’t before and it just lets their imaginations go crazy. And I love that they can think out of the box and do fun and unusual things.”

Imagination and budget are the limiting factors. Drones, for example, have their place.

“Especially for tented events on private property,” she said. “They can capture some really good images. I love the idea, but they can really take away from the event, as well.”

There’s more to it than just buzzing around, said videographer Brian Bechard. He’s used a DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone to capture some great wedding footage, especially for Portland couple Michael and Erica Lizotte’s wedding last fall.

But Bechard said he’s not shooting weddings anymore and he’s shelved his drone professionally since Federal Aviation Administration rules changed.

“It was a bonus to offer when I was shooting a wedding,” he said. “I didn’t advertise it, but I’d use the drone and throw it in my videos where it made sense. But if you want to do it professionally now, you need to file a bunch of paperwork and take a bunch of tests.”

Still, there are plenty of ways to get good photos. Consider the photo booth.

The bride and groom can set up an area for their guests to come in for portraits, encouraging them to take snaps or providing a photographer of their own.

“If you do an outside event, we’ve used a company from Vermont that brings in a Photo Bus,” she said. “It’s vintage and really nice and the guests go right in to have their photos taken.”

She’s also been known to use a red carpet for arriving guests, with photographers acting as paparazzi as guests arrive.

“It’s kind of our signature thing,” she said. “We have a red carpet and a backdrop made with the client’s logos. And then the photographer takes the photos, discreetly goes away and the photos show up on the table in a frame as a favor for the guests to take home.”

She said she’s intrigued by video booths, letting the guests record messages or create videos for the newlyweds, but she hasn’t done it yet.

“I’d love to create a booth, like a confession booth, and friends could go in and record a special message to the bride and groom,” she said. “I want to do it, but nobody’s bitten on that yet.”

And she’s willing to relax her no-gadgets-at-the-ceremony policy. This fall, she’ll employ her very first GoPro Bouquet Cam.

“We have clients who want to do that and I think it’s going to be pretty cool,” she said. “We’ll wire it right into the bouquet and then give that to the photographer and they’ll take care of it from there.”

Battery-powered LED lights are popular, on the walls, tables — and on the wedding party.

“We had an event last Saturday and the father of the groom had them on his suspenders,” she said. “He was going to steal the show, for sure.”

Of course, he waited to turn them on until the reception, she said.

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Hashtags and Geofences: Wedding photos in real time

Brides and grooms used to memorialize the day’s less formal happenings with disposable cameras left on the guests’ tables. Guests were encouraged to shoot away, capturing the fun and laughter going on while the new Mister and Missus were stuck in the receiving line.

The happy couple would collect the cameras at the end of the reception, get them developed and see what fun they’d missed.

But thanks to the ubiquitous and high-quality cameras we all carry today in our smartphones, the newlyweds can see what they’re missing in real time.

First, pick a hashtag. That will make it easier to collect the photos after the reception is over.

Make it unique to the situation but easy enough to remember and type out after a glass or two of champagne. You can be creative, but #Ashley&Bill2016 should do nicely.

Now make everyone aware. Some put the hashtag in their wedding invitations or on signs around the reception hall, encouraging their friends to use them when they Tweet a moment or put something up on Instagram.

Users on Snapchat can create their own custom Geofilters  for the Wedding and reception, but it takes a bit more planning, more time and it costs at least $5. If you are not familiar with Photoshop or similar image editing tools, it’s time to enlist a friend. Snapchat offers templates for Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop users that help a lot.

Here’s how it works:

* Create a simple logo for the wedding and reception. Don’t use photographs, brands, logos, trademarks or drug references. Something similar to the hashtag you are using is a good place to start. Pop that phrase into Photoshop, use a nice font and add some stars, rings, cake, hearts, flowers or whatever you want to dress it up.

* Keep it simple and small. You want something that’s going to appear on one-quarter of the screen to frame or give context to the photos.

* In Photoshop, make the image 1,080 pixels wide by 1,920 pixels high. Your logo should be on the fringes of the image file, at the top or bottom with a big rectangle of space surrounding it. 

* Save the file as a PNG format file (not a GIF or JPEG) with a transparent background and make sure it is smaller than 300 kilobytes.

* Submit it to Snapchat for review. Go to www.snapchat.com/on-demand to upload the file and then set the Geofence, the date and the time. The Geofence is a circle drawn on a digital map around your wedding venue or reception hall. It determines where and when Snapchat users can access your Geofilter for their photos.

* Snapchat will review your submission and let you know if they’ll accept it, usually within one business day. If they reject it, they should tell you why so that you can fix it and resubmit. This is one reason it’s smart to plan ahead.

* Once you’ve been accepted, you have to pay Snapchat. The price for on-demand Geofilters starts at $5, and it goes up depending on how big your Geofence is and how long you want the Geofilter available. You can submit multiple Geofilters if you want.

* Tell friends to look for your Geofilter when they use Snapchat, and to share their photos on Facebook or on Twitter or Instagram using your hashtag. (If they’re really proud of it, have them share it with us: We’re thesunjournal on Snapchat and @Sunjournal on Twitter.)

* Afterward, you can log back on to Snapchat to see how many used your personalized Geofilter.


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