Introducing the Richmond Weddings Team – Shalese Kocher
We’re happy to introduce to you our very first employee, Shalese. We met through a mutual colleague and have been together ever since! The last four years have flown by and our magazine has grown so much with Shalese on board. We are so thankful to have her on our team and are excited for you to get to know her better!
Amye Brunette, Richmond Weddings Editor-in-Chief
Tell us a little about your company!
Hi! I’m Shalese, and I’m the assistant editor & account manager for Richmond Weddings! At Richmond Weddings, we publish Richmond Weddings magazine twice a year, host the Richmond Wedding Expo twice a year, AND run www.RichmondWeddings.com, a website and wedding blog that brings awesome Richmond wedding professionals together and inspiration to brides and grooms planning their weddings.
I have a unique perspective here at the office because I’m also a wedding vendor myself! I’ve been a wedding photographer for old souls and hopeless romantics since I graduated from JMU in 2012. I absolutely love seeing my couples EXCITED to be getting married, and I love getting to capture that excitement for them. While I love shooting all the pretty details of a wedding day, I focus on capturing candid, emotional moments above all else.
How did you get started in this business?
I was an English major at JMU because I have always loved writing and literature. I had aspirations of writing and editing for publications, but I had always thought I would have to go to New York to do that. I’ve always been super obsessed with magazines, so I thought, “How cool would it be to work for a wedding magazine?!”
From the time I was 19, I knew I wanted to be a wedding photographer, so when I graduated, I wanted to get some sort of job in the wedding industry. I applied to everything from catering gigs to being a bridal consultant at a salon. I even interned for a DC wedding planner for a while –I just wanted to be a part of weddings!
When I couldn’t find a full-time job after graduation (horrifying), I reached out to a JMU alum that works in wedding PR. She wrote back right away and said, “I actually know this great couple that runs a wedding magazine in Richmond, and they’re looking for help.” I could NOT believe I could have gotten that lucky . . . but then I met Amye & Scott, sent them my resume and writing samples, and we just hit it off.
What’s your favorite wedding story??
I wrote some of the questions in this interview along with Amye and Ariana, and I think this is the hardest one!! Between second shooting for other photographers and shooting weddings of my own, I have shot 75 weddings. That’s a lot of stories! But I always tell people about the time Stephanie Yonce and I were shooting at a fully outdoor venue in a tornado.
Right as we were shooting the first dances, the head gardener came up to me and said, “I need to tell you, the weather situation is about to get bad. As in there is a tornado coming this way.” I almost passed out. I am terrified of tornados, and here we were under a tent!
Very calmly, the entire bridal party and family members headed into the house while the rest of the guests went into the barn on the property. I don’t think any clouds actually formed, so I felt ok. Plus, we got to hang out in this really, really cool historic house for a while. It was quite the adventure!
Why do you like working with weddings?
I just love LOVE. I feel really lucky to work in a happy industry. Sure, there are stressful parts of weddings, but for the most part, this is the most exciting time of a couple’s journey together. My favorite part of my job is reading the questionnaires for our featured weddings. I love reading about how people met and their proposal stories!
I love being a wedding photographer because it combines being able to capture with a camera: joy, love, intimacy, and genuine emotion!
What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a bride and how did you resolve it?
I think the biggest bummer that we face here at Richmond Weddings is hearing the stories from brides who chose non-professionals for a wedding service. Maybe they trusted a friend with no wedding photography experience to take their wedding photos or thought they could have their bridal party help put centerpieces together . . . it always seems to be more stressful that helpful! We just want to connect brides with the most experienced, professional vendors in RVA so that their wedding days are everything they hoped for.
From a vendor’s perspective, what is the one best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?
Prioritize your budget. Of course, I’m a little biased, but I think our magazine has such a great budget planning tool in the back!
Speaking of bias, I also think professional photography should be at the top of your priority list. 😉
How far in advance should couples book your services?
I think couples should find the most recent copy of Richmond Weddings & get registered on our website AS SOON AS they get engaged!
For photography, I believe that one year to eight months in advance is ideal. That way, you have time to get to know your photographer, plan your engagement session, and take advantage of all of their referrals and wedding experience! Plus, you want to make sure you’re getting the photographer you want, not just the one who has the date available!
What inspired you the most / where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, I still find inspiration the same “old school” way I did in high school: MAGAZINES! I’m a complete hoarder. My dad does not understand why I still need every issue of Vogue I’ve ever bought weighing down the bookshelves, but I can’t bear to throw them away!! I love flipping through books and fashion magazines to find things that draw me or inspire new ideas.
I also find a ton of inspiration in lyrics. I could probably tell you every single lyric to any Third Eye Blind song you can think of.
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
I’m not away from work much, to be honest! My work/life balance is pretty awful. I buy books constantly because I can’t help myself. I’m waiting for February to come so I’ll have time to read them!
When I AM away from work, I’m usually at Pure Barre in Short Pump or catching up with my roommates over trash TV. I have seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy and The Office at least a dozen times. They are perfect background noise shows for editing photos! I also love watching Project Runway reruns while I edit. It makes me feel like I could TOTALLY SEW SOMETHING TO WEAR.
I also love going to concerts and finding a new trail along Skyline Drive. My family and my boyfriend live in Orange, so I go visit them every chance I get!
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I have a really serious sweet tooth. I recently ate an entire bag of chocolate covered pretzels in one day, and I don’t know why I’m tell you that because it’s pretty embarrassing. Let’s see, what else can I tell you? I moved to Virginia from Ohio when I was 10, and some people say that my sister and I have weird accents.
To learn more about Shalese Danielle Photography, please visit www.shalesedanielle.com! Also, be sure to keep coming back to the Richmond Weddings blog for all kinds of beautiful weddings, tips from vendors, and plenty of advice from professionals!