Minnesota Wedding Photographer + Destination Wedding Photographer | Nikki Tran Photography bio picture
  • Welcome!

    Welcome to the blog! My name is Nikki Tran and I am a Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in the wonderful Twin Cities of Minnesota. Snuggle in your cozy chair, grab a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy reading about my adventures as a photographer, a wife, and a mommy to a furry little child named Rusty. I am so glad you are here! Check out my latest posts on the right --->

Wedding Photographer’s Survival Kit

Whenever I have meetings with my brides and grooms and we’re filling out their timeline I always make sure we have a little wiggle room with times because the truth is

things may happen that are out of their control.

 As a wedding photographer, you need to be as prepared as possible to accommodate for things that may happen on your bride and groom’s wedding day. Over the past two wedding seasons I’ve gradually added more and more things to that list inside my head and now when I attend weddings, my bag is heavier and our car is stocked more than it was at our first wedding. So, I’ve put together a random yet helpful list of the things you may want to bring to your next wedding, or perhaps a bride is reading this and they can make sure they have some of these items as well. :)

1. Umbrellas. Although this may sound obvious, some people may not even think of this. If you’re a photographer in Minnesota or some other unpredictable state you will want to make sure you’re prepared for the rain. We always have two clear umbrellas in our car as well as an adorable white parasol umbrella (reserved for the bride and groom only). We might switch up using the clear umbrella and the white parasol with our bride and groom, but one clear umbrella is always over the photographer taking the photos (typically me – Paul is a gentlemen and holds the umbrella for me).

2. Camera Rain Covers. We have only used these once and I’m so thankful we had them. It started raining during an outdoor ceremony and both of us were taking photos, meaning Paul couldn’t hold an umbrella for me. We both got our covers on (a little tricky to take photos – you have to get used to it) and we each held a clear umbrella over our own heads while taking photos (it sounds tricky and it is tricky). They were little life savers and we never go anywhere without them.

3. Lenses, camera(s), flashes. Obvious, but I added it for good measure.

4. Backup batteries, camera(s), and SD cards. Ditto to above. ^^^

5. Lens cleaner. Paul is wonderful and always has a lens cleaning pen in his bag. He has cleaned my lenses many times, especially when it’s windy and I’m changing lenses – little particles seem to always find a way to sneak in and attach themselves to my sensor.

6. Tissue/Kleenex. If you’re like me, you cry at weddings no matter how many you’ve been to. I usually need a tissue, as do people attending the wedding. My tissue services have helped out bridal party members, mothers, grandparents, even the bride and groom themselves. Always have some tissue handy.

7. Band-aids. It sounds weird but it doesn’t take long before I run out of my stack of band-aids. I’ve had groomsmen cut fingers on beer bottle caps, bridesmaids cut themselves shaving their legs, flower girls who have taken a tumble while practicing, and of course myself. I never want to find out I’m bleeding from any random cut while trampling through woods and tall grasses and am without band-aids.

8. Bobby pins. I use them like they’re going out of style (they always seem to disappear too, am I right ladies?) and my bridesmaids and brides usually need one before the end of the day. Hair comes loose, the wind is terrorizing everyone’s updo’s…you get the idea. Bobby pins are also useful for keeping ribbon on dresses.

9. Headband and hair ties. I know my hair and as soon as the humidity rises just a smidge, it becomes an afro and my bangs start to do that nasty curl on the side. Having a headband and hair tie as a backup has saved me from fussing with my hair when I should be chasing after my bride and groom.

10. Water. Keep a water bottle in your car. The water might get warm during the hot summer days, but you’ll be so glad it’s there when you realize it’s your only source of water for a few hours.

11. Makeup. Obviously this doesn’t pertain to everybody, but I’m a stickler with my makeup. I always keep my foundation, brush, and mascara handy in my bag to retouch up my face (I sweat during weddings – gross, but true).

12. Deodorant. I’m really not trying to be gross, but if you sweat during a wedding it’s always a good idea to bring some odor minimizer, i.e deodorant.

13. Safety pins. Handy when it comes to keeping dresses together, no joke. Or sometimes a boutonniere needs a little extra pick-me-up.

We tend to become hairstylists too at any given wedding.

14. Blanket. This can stay in your car and is helpful if there’s a lovely area where you want your bride and groom to sit during a photo. Try to keep the blanket neutral colors so it’s not so extreme in photos.

15. Women products. Yes, I said it. We all know it happens – ladies, be prepared.

16. ID. If you’re not the one driving to the wedding, you might forget to bring your ID. Bring it – I’ve actually had bouncers at bars give me the 3rd degree because I didn’t have my license. Typically if you’re with the wedding party they let it go, but just be prepared.

17. Cheat sheet. Sometimes your brain has a minor freeze and you’re stuck on what pose is next. I always have a cheat sheet in case that happens, plus if Paul and I are separate during photos he knows what to do (usually I’m the one directing everyone).

18. Extra pair of shoes. Blisters are horrible, especially when they happen within the first few hours of a wedding. Bring an extra pair, even if the shoes you’re wearing has never given you blisters. There’s always a first.

19. Coat, mittens, etc. Check the weather (obviously) and if there’s any chance it might get a tad chilly, bring suitable outerwear. We didn’t think Paul would need one because the weather Up North looked amazing; we forgot how unpredictable it can be so we had to spend the morning of the wedding shopping for a jacket for him.

20. Mini sewing kit. I totally get that our job is not to be in charge of everything, but if you can or want to, bring one of those mini sewing kits you can find at Target for a few bucks. I’ve had brides sewn into their dresses, bows fallen off of dresses, buttons popped off of suits – mini sewing kits can come in handy. If you don’t personally know how to sew, chances are someone at the wedding does.

21. Snacks. We have yet to bring snacks to weddings – we just keep forgetting. We try to eat right before we arrive at a wedding (Panera breakfast – yum) and then just hold out until dinner, which is typically 6-7 hours later. Bring a snack if that sounds like a long time.

22. Invitations. I take photos of the invites with the details. If a bride and groom has sent us an invitation, I bring it to use otherwise I ask my bride and groom to bring a copy for me to use.

23. Timeline. I make sure I have 3 copies of the timeline – one for me, one for Paul, and one for a vendor, family member, etc. who might really need to know what’s going on.

24. Formals List. I also bring 3 copies of the list of formals I have my bride and groom fill out before our last meeting (one for me, one for Paul, and an extra if one of us loses ours). This is a must have at my weddings – things go so much more smoothly during Formals and if everyone is present at the correct time, it goes so much faster than the time allotted in the actual timeline, giving my bride and groom extra time to relax.

I’m sure there are other things I bring, but off the top of my head this sounds about right. Again, we are not hired to make sure every little detail goes as planned, but if you’re like me you will feel so much better knowing you’re prepared for almost every scenario. Brides tell me I act like I’m their personal attendant and photographer and to be honest, that makes me feel wonderful. I love helping out my brides and grooms and being prepared for their wedding day is a huge step towards doing so. :) I hope this helped!! Happy Wednesday, friends! :)

Chris & Diana ~ Stillwater Engagement

I received an email from this lovely girl only a few days after shooting her best friend’s wedding; she had just gotten engaged and her excitement was so contagious in her email – I knew we were going to be perfect for each other. :) I am always so flattered when couples tell me that they just knew I was going to be their wedding photographer – what an amazing honor!! Since officially meeting with Diana (our discussion ranged from lovable kitties and puppies to Christmas galore, along with wedding talk of course :)), it has been a whirlwind of excitement between the two of us – random text messages/emails about things we both love, planning dates for tea (she knows me oh so well already), and wedding planning. :)

Not only is Diana an amazing person, so bubbly and cheerful, Chris is also such a wonderful person. He kept us laughing throughout their entire session, no matter how awkward they felt or how many cars were driving towards us in the middle of the street. :) We loved being with these two on Sunday and cannot wait for their Christmas wedding!!! :) Congrats, lovelies and enjoy your sneaky peek!! :) xoxoxo


Since Chris is a firefighter, we began their session at the fire-station in downtown Stillwater.


Such models. :)

Love this ring – reminds me of mine. :)

One of my favs!!

Well done, friends. :)

How cute is that pup?? And of the course, the ring. :)

The fog was amazing on Sunday. If we couldn’t have snow, we got the next best thing. :)

Oh I just love these.



Gorgeous, girlfriend!!

Another swoon.


Ahh!! Love!

Well done, Chris. :)

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

(Just a heads up, when I create titles I don’t always remember which words should or shouldn’t be capitalized. So, if you see any, please excuse the faults in my titles. :))

This past week there has been a theme surrounding my life and I’m sure it has been on almost everyone’s mind at one point in their lives; growing up is hard.

In school we are required to learn math, reading, science, history, etc. Unfortunately, some classes that we are not required to take really could prove beneficial when we reach the “real world”; Financial Planning For Our Future, What it Means to Have Good Credit, Signing Your Life Away on Student Loans, What it Means to Be a Home Owner, What Career Are You Really Meant to Have?…you get the idea. (I know I’m probably one of the few but my goodness, I wish cooking and sewing were required at my school. I only took the first set of each of those – it would have been nice to continue to the harder level classes.) Obviously these are all things we learn by trial and error or if we’re lucky, our parents/grandparents/siblings have great advice and experience to offer.

But to me, I think the hardest thing about growing up is that it’s so easy to lose sight of who we are and what we really want to do. We forget how easy it was to just do something we wanted to do without the criticism of other people, or without having to prove to the world that our life is so unbelievably great. When I was little I would tell everyone who listened that I wanted to be the princess on the float in the parade, doing the feminine wave that we all saw Julie Andrews do in The Princess Diaries. Then the next week I was thriving to be an astronaut. Or a choreographer for the Backstreet Boys. Clearly all of these ideas that seemed wonderful to an 8-year-old don’t appeal to this now 25-year-old, but the idea of always having new goals or dreams (I like the word “dreams” much better :)) has almost never left me. 

This past year has been one of my biggest growing years – probably even bigger than the leap from 6th grade to 7th grade (if you saw my yearbook photo you’d understand). Paul hates this saying because of how over-used it is (I can’t say I blame him) but I feel like I have “found myself” or that I know myself so much better than I did last year. I’m doing things that are good for my soul, I’m spending time with people that don’t make me feel bludgeoned with negativity, and I’ve gotten back to creating new dreams for myself, for Paulie, and our life together. Things that I wanted in my life last year are not the same things I want now, and yet things I wanted in my life when I was little are things that are present in my life today. Just because we’re adults in the “real world” doesn’t mean that we have to block the dreams we used to have or the dreams we want to have. I’m in a perfect place in my life right now but I can’t imagine being done with myself. There are still so many things I want to do, and learn; so many places I want to see.

Just because the “real world” is saturated with negativity, criticism, the stresses of everyday life, doesn’t mean you have to allow it to take over your life. Surround yourself with things that are good for your soul, things you want to do. Watch movies that warm your heart; listen to music that makes you want to dance; read books that give you that cozy feeling; drink that third cup of coffee (or tea :)); visit that restaurant you’ve always had your eye on;  take a leisurely stroll instead of binging on Netflix; apply for that position that you’ve been wanting but were too afraid to take; learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to; put technology away for awhile; invite people you love over for dinner or brunch. Make your corner of the world a place you want to be and hopefully growing up won’t seem as hard. :)

(That photo of Paulie above? He’s my corner. :))