The Journal

Real weddings: Get published

This wedding is VERY near and dear to my heart, and not just because Kelly and Kelsey have become very close friends of mine in the time since they decided to book me for their Sequoia National Park wedding a few years ago. It was also my very first feature on Martha Stewart Weddings!

Kelly and Kelsey’s wedding is a perfect example of getting real wedding submissions featured on a big-name blog by curating refined imagery and telling the couple’s story without a gigantic budget, a fancy wedding designer, or over-the-top details to photograph.

camping wedding photos

The brides hosted their weekend-long, 250-guest wedding at a central California campground. Most of their wedding details were either DIY or executed by friends and family. Dinner was from a local BBQ joint, Kelsey got her dress from ModCloth, and the couple’s wedding logo on camping mugs, matchbooks, and shirts were all coordinated by Kelly and Kelsey themselves.

The wedding was beautiful, emotional, perfectly executed, and one of my all-time favorites. But it wasn’t an expensive or over-the-top extravaganza, which you might think are prerequisites for getting a blog like Martha Stewart Weddings to feature your work.

Instead, what publications love is a well-told, unique love story, personal and meaningful details, and intentional, beautifully-edited, curated imagery. If you have those three elements, then the wedding is a good candidate for submission!

camping wedding photos

1. Intentional imagery

Having beautiful photos to share is a wedding blog or magazine’s top priority, and this is where YOU come in. The elements of a beautifully-told love story and personal, meaningful design details won’t matter *as much* to a publication if there aren’t refined, intentional, curated photos to accompany the narrative.

Even if a wedding has minimal design details, the way you photograph those details makes a huge difference. I didn’t even have my styling kit with me for this wedding, but I took the time to do some simple yet thoughtful styling for the camp mugs, wedding rings, and the sage wedding favors, and images of all three were used in the Martha Stewart feature.

Kelly and Kelsey’s wedding details, while lovely and appropriate for their campground setting, weren’t cutting edge, high fashion, or trendy. The eucalyptus, lanterns, natural-weave table runners, bud vases, and a dessert table of donuts and pies are all familiar choices that most editors and wedding pros have seen before. As the couple’s photographer, however, you have the responsibility of giving proper reverence and attention to every puzzle piece of your clients’ wedding, and this has the added benefit of making images worthy of publication consideration.

YOU have the ability to refine, curate, and tell the wedding day story in an elevated way that will delight your clients AND editors.

Of course, photos must also be edited well, in focus, properly exposed, etc. The photos should also be a good stylistic match with the publication to which you’re submitting. For example, light and airy film images probably aren’t a good fit for Junebug Weddings, nor should photographers send their moodiest wedding submissions to Magnolia Rouge, which prefers film.

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2. Personal + statement details

Kelly and Kelsey infused a ton of meaningful details in the design of their wedding day, and this was a big “selling point” for Martha Stewart Weddings editors. For example, the couple’s rings were made of wood and meteorite as a reflection of how they view their relationship: “grounded and cosmic.” They also embraced the camp theme by asking their friends to serve as “camp counselors” with specific coordination duties (instead of hiring a wedding planner), and the dried petals tossed by guests during the ceremony recessional were preserved flowers collected by K + K over the two years they spent planning the wedding. Kelsey sewed the bow tie that Kelly wore on the big day. Guest favors were personalized matchbooks with bundles of sage to echo the sage burning that started the ceremony. You get the idea — there are tons more details the couple used to personalize their celebration, and publications love sharing this inspiration with readers.

Kelly and Kelsey also asked their New York-based florist friend Garin Baura to create a circular-shaped altar piece for the ceremony. This turned out to be one of the more impactful statement pieces of the overall design, so including strong images of the ceremony flowers was important for submission. Publications love flowers!

Even if your clients don’t have special materials used in their wedding rings or dried floral confetti they made themselves, every couple has made deliberate choices about wedding decor, what food and drinks to serve, which ceremony traditions they’ve chosen to include or exclude… find out about the meaning behind these details and learn about your clients’ wedding planning journey! You’ll have an elevated appreciation for the intricacies of the celebration AND incredible content to offer alongside your photos when submitting to publications.

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3. The love story

Kelly and Kelsey first matched on Tinder, planned proposals within three days of each other, and selected their venue based on their new last name (Kelly’s last name is Balch, and they found the picturesque Balch Park campground when searching for a place to host their wedding!). Special details really grab the attention of a wedding blog or magazine; publications are always looking for unique moments and stories to share alongside beautiful imagery and give those personalized details even more meaning and impact.

Sequoia National Forest camp weddingwedding planning tips

This wedding is a great case study in how you can produce imagery that a blog or magazine would love to feature, even if the couple didn’t spend a fortune on trendy decor, elaborate floral design, or a celebrity wedding planner.

Every wedding is special, and it’s our job as photographers to give each one the proper attention it deserves with thoughtful, intentional artistry and skill.

Here is the full post of Kelly + Kelsey’s wedding, or check out the full feature on Martha Stewart Weddings!

Ready for more inspiration?