Whether you’re getting ready at a venue, your house or your parents’, a decluttered environment makes for great photographs.
Think of somewhere to get a photo of your dress in all its glory. Four poster beds are brilliant for dress photographs. If you’re stopping in a hotel, and your preparation room doesn’t have a four poster but you know of a room that does, put your parents in that room the night before and we can ferry the dress along for a quick photograph of it.
Aim to be ready with some time before the ceremony, or before you or your photographer needs to leave for the ceremony. Rushing for the ceremony will leave you flustered and you won’t take in the first few moments of the big occasion. Being ready before gives you time to get photographs in your dress and with your bridesmaids.
I'm saying this twice because it's really important. Don't be late. The time just before the ceremony is some of the most precious moments of your life. The images of your dad seeing you for the first time in your dress is a magical moment, for him and for you. Don't cheat yourself out of this by being late and ill prepared. Being late for your ceremony has knock on effects for the rest of your day and invariably it's your photo time that gets cut.
Guys, this is a button hole, despite its name, it doesn’t go through your button hole, it should be pinned to your left lapel a couple of inches below the button hole. Don’t stress about it, try your best and if you can’t get it right your lovely photographer will be happy to put it right for you!
Ascertain the photo policy of your ceremony venue as soon as possible. Some churches/vicars/priests ban all photography, some allow it but only from the very back, some actually don’t even allow your photographer to enter the building whilst the ceremony is taking place. For many, the photographs of the exchanging of vows and rings are the most important part of a photo story, please don’t leave it until the day to find out and be left disappointed.
Here comes the Bride-smaids?
Think your entrance through very carefully. Some vicars like to walk up the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony, find out if they are going to and ask them to go up quite a bit earlier, to allow for space. Are your bridesmaids going before you? Same applies, give them time to get up the aisle and crucially out of the way and into their seats before you make the turn.
You are going to look amazing, your fiance wants to get a clear view of you because it will be one of their favourite memories, and photographs.
Let your bridesmaids have their moment, but don’t them block your big moment!
Last to arrive, first to leave
You’ll be the last person to arrive to the ceremony, with a big, grand entrance. As newlyweds you’ll be the first to leave the ceremony. This means that after walking down the aisle you’ll be outside while all your guests slowly file out from their ceremony seats. The first people out will obviously congratulate you on tying the knot, and no doubt those behind them will wait patiently so that they can also congratulate you. Before you know it your whole wedding party is now backed up in a queue waiting to congratulate you.
This impromptu receiving line can eat up a huge chunk of your day, and the time immediately after the ceremony is crucial for getting your formal photos done. The best advice is once you’re outside and chatting, keep moving to allow your guests to filter out without being held in a queue. You can move around the crowd sharing hugs with guests as your photographer gets your confetti shot set up.
The Confetti Shots
Who do you want stood next to you when all your dreams come true? The confetti shot is that moment, captured for eternity. It is the most common photograph shared on anniversaries years after the wedding. Why? Because the confetti shot shows so much emotion: laughter, big smiles, kisses and often friends and family in the background. It’s a traditional shot but it’s not often on guests’ list of items to bring along so it’s worth buying confetti yourself. Check with your venue as to what they permit, biodegradable or flower petals only.
Let your photographer arrange a nice long aisle of guests for you to walk up and then walk up slowly, take your time, let it shower you! A kiss in the middle of your walk will provide a beautiful photo opportunity.
Frustration Free Formals
The Formal Photographs can take quite an effort to get people in the right place at the right time and at a part of the day when time really is of the essence. Think about who you want in your group photos well before the wedding. Make a list of exactly who is in which photograph and get that list to your photographer. This is something I help with. Also think of who can help on the day, a couple of people (or more) who know a lot of the guests and can get them to the photographer quickly and efficiently. When you make your list start large and get smaller, it’s faster to ask Aunty June and Uncle Dave to come out of a group than it is to have your immediate family stood there and then have to look for Aunty June (toilet) and Uncle Dave (bar).
Start big and get progressively smaller, down to the VIPs. Doing this can save you up to half an hour, which seems ludicrous but trust me, we are all at the behest of your least cooperative guest.
If you can place a list of the numbered groups on display or slipped into your order of service you can create so much extra time for yourselves on your wedding day. Rather than standing waiting for guests to be placed next to you you can instead move around and chat to people you’ve not seen for ages.
Rain stops play?
It shouldn’t have to, always have a wet weather contingency for your group photos. Ask your venue if it’s raining where can we do them, it might be a case of having chairs moved from the ceremony room or another part of the venue being cleared but it’s important to have a wet weather space. You should plan for 2 weddings in the most part; a sunny wedding and a wet wedding. If it's sunny then go with Plan A. If all of a sudden it starts to rain then that shouldn't be a problem, switch to Plan B until the rain blows over then back to Plan A. You don't want to have to make a spur of the moment decision which you may come to regret.
Group photos taken indoors shouldn’t need to be any less attractive than group photos taken outdoors. I personally bring studio equipment to professionally light group photographs so rain should never, ever mean poorer photographs!
If you have any of your grandparents at your wedding then you are a wealthy beyond measure. I personally don't have any of my grandparents with us any more but I loved them so dearly. I love to give grandparents special attention so get them in amongst your group photos and I'll do images with them separately with you. A grandparent will forever be your greatest press secretary. A photo together will make their day as well as yours.
The ReceptionTake your seats
A lot of planning goes into your wedding reception. Spare a thought for the photographs and how you want this to be documented when you're planning your room layout and running order. The norm is to have your Reception 2 hours after the start of your Ceremony. Adding an extra 30 minutes to that time will make a huge difference to you group photos and the mingling time you will have before sitting down. This is dependant on your ceremony time of course.
As someone who has been a Best Man twice, and despite doing a good deal of public speaking during my academic career, I still really recommend you having your speeches before you eat. It takes the pressure off the speakers and allows them to relax and really enjoy their meal and the conversations to be had during the meal.
Some couples but in an awe inspiring amount of work into dressing their tables and making their wedding so personal to them, this doesn't go unnoticed by guests. Another reason as to holding the speeches first is that this time is when most of your candids of your guests will be taken. you want your tables to look stunning when these are taken, rather than with napkins and empty bottles lying around on top of them.
You may not have too much control over where you can place your Top Table but try and face the largest window or light source. Many have their Top Table in front of a large window but this makes it hard even for the most sophisticated of cameras. If you sit in front of a window then a lot of your photos of the members of the Top Table will be against pure white back drops, rather than the beautiful surroundings of your chosen venue.
I've been photographing weddings for 10 years now and have encountered videographers of all styles and persuasions. If you want relaxed, mainly candid photography then it's not a good idea to a book hands on videographer who will direct your wedding in scenes. It's highly recommended that you consult your photographer as to who they would recommend. I'm lucky to know some unbelievably talented videographers, who also know how I work. Together as a team we can produce photos and a movie that you will cherish forever without us battling for the same piece of flooring, or standing in eachother's way and spoiling eachother's work. Ask who's the best in the business.
Post Wedding BreakfastWill it be light or will it be Dark?
What time of year are you getting married? A summer wedding will have many hours of sunlight left after you've finished eating. An autumn wedding will see very limited light after the meal and a winter wedding will see the sun set during your meal.
If you want to catch that epic light then speeches 1st is definitely a wise idea as you can sneak out as soon as you've had your desert and make the most of the sunset light. It's not something a photographer can halt so you need to take the sunlight when it's at its best.
Taking photographs in the dark is not easy. Taking good photographs in the dark is even harder. A proportion of your wedding will be in darkness, both indoors and outdoors. If you want to make the most of this find a photographer that knows how to create their own light to make dramatic, dynamic photographs. I always say that I want to make you look like movie stars, for your wedding photographs look like stills from a Hollywood movie, but you shouldn't need to be working like actors to achieve this. That's down to me, it's my job to be doing the hard graft, lighting scenes and capturing your love, joy and happiness. Here's some photos when the sun has set, but the party is just starting.
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