Carrie Swails had us at: “I am totally down with a Lord of the Rings wedding where I also get to wear a costume!” From that quote alone, we knew that MEN’S VOWS had met a true original.

Carrie has been photographing weddings ever since she stuck a resignation letter to the door of her corporate job and never looked back. And, while she didn’t start photographing weddings, her wedding photography business has thrived ever since she put up a website that was as nerdy and non-traditional as the weddings she now shoots.

“Some people think that they don’t deserve great photography because they aren’t a couple that will end up in the wedding magazines or that has been planning a wedding since age three” said Carrie. “I connect with those couples that want a wedding that is entirely authentic to them.”

We asked Carrie to share some of her pointers on how to get the best photos and have the most fun while shooting them.

Get to know each other.

Carrie goes the distance in getting to know her couples and them getting to know her. “We Skype, I follow them on Instagram and I continuously email them pointers about what to expect from not only the photography, but the wedding in general.” By the time couple and camera are together at the big day, there’s already real chemistry. Carrie goes on to say: “I book 90% of the people who come to my site because they get me and my style immediately.”


Don’t sweat the small stuff.

A lot of photographers will spend too much time worrying about “getting everything pretty.” For Carrie, “getting everything that is real.” It doesn’t matter if there’s something in the background of the shot that is off, if you’ve managed to capture the moment when your parents see you just before heading down the aisle. And, between your floral and cake vendors, not to mention the hundreds of smart phone photographers at your wedding, the details will get covered.



Despite the above point, weddings where “guests aren’t more concerned with getting their shot versus being present for and with you, make for weddings where people dance more, hug longer and connect deeper.” Make yours an unplugged wedding.


Take your time.

Picture time is when couples really get to process the fact that they’ve just gotten married. “Don’t worry about rushing to the reception,” says Carrie. “I need at least 30 minutes for us to get into the groove and for us to take pictures. Especially the pictures that you’re going to put on your and grandma’s mantelpiece.”


Clear it up.

Whether you’re photographer is a lifelong pro or a friend doing you a favor, make sure you have a contract and have agreed expectations. But, know that, “even if we’ve agreed every shot, you can still ask me to be spontaneous. You don’t need my permission to make sure you’re happy with your pictures.” But, also remember that most photographers are independent, small businesses and be fair.

Ultimately, Carrie recommends you work with a photographer who you can trust will advocate for you on the big day. “Some photographers can focus more on their creativity, versus your emotion in the moment. I’d rather my couples come to trust me as the friend at their wedding who happened to take awesome pictures!”

We at MEN'S VOWS are delighted to advocate for our friend Carrie Swails! To find out more about Carrie and book her for your wedding, visit her website here.