A wedding photographer is one of the many suppliers that you will use on your wedding day. The unique thing about being a photographer it is that you get to see the WHOLE wedding day, from start to finish!
So, I thought I would write a blog about things I have observed over the years that may help you when thinking about and planning your day.
Most couples say to me that they have never done this before or may never have been involved in helping to plan a wedding. Well, I have photographed around 400 to date and think I can give you a few little tips to help your day go smoothly.
So here goes!!
As everyone will say, your day will go so quickly! It really does, so its important to have enough time to get the pictures that you want. You have paid a lot of money for your day so you don’t want to feel rushed.
I have divided this into sections of the day to help you
Ensure you have enough time for some quick pictures after you are ready. I usually need about 20 minutes to get some nice pictures of the bride, with the bridesmaids and any family members. The majority of pictures in the morning are candid but it is nice to get a good portrait of the bride when the hair and make up are perfect. Also please allow time to get into your dress. Some dresses take longer than others to get into and remember to have someone who can help you with this and knows what to do!
So if hair and make up can be finished for 30 minutes before I leave, this is perfect!
– Arriving at Church
If the Groom, all the ushers, best man etc can be at the venue or church at least half an hour before the ceremony starts then this is ideal. It gives me plenty of time to photograph the Groom with everyone and good candid shots of the guests arriving. It is helpful if the bride can arrive on time contrary to the urban legend of the bride always being late! If you are too late then it can hold things up and you might not have the time to get all the pictures that you want.
As a reportage photographer, capturing the ceremony is very important to allow the story of the day to be told through pictures. The majority of celebrants welcome the ceremony to be photographed but there are still some churches who frown upon it. This may be because they had an intrusive photographer in the past. It is best to just check if photography is allowed, and please inform the celebrant that I work in an unobtrusive way! I am happy to sit in the one place if that is required but photographing the ceremony is important to my style of work.
For the timings of your ceremony best to chat to your celebrant for this. Most ceremony’s are from 30-40 minutes long. If you are having hand fasting or a few readings this will add to the time of your ceremony. A full Catholic mass is usually an hour long.
The time from when the ceremony is finished to the call for dinner is the most important for me. You also must take into account any travel time from church to the venue. The ideal drinks reception time is an hour and a half. I find this works well. It gives plenty of time for pictures and time for the bride and groom to spend time with their guests.
If you are having a line up then you will have to factor this time in. A line up can take from 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on how many guests you have and if it’s just the Bride and Groom in the line up or the whole Bridal party.
The speeches and dancing are pretty much photographed in a candid way. What I can suggest, if couples fancy, is for some sparklers shots or fireworks which work well in the winter. Also sunset shots look amazing (depending on the weather).You will normally have an hour from when the meal and speeches are finished until they turn the room around and it is ready for the evening reception. Most bands will take an hour to set up and do a sound check.
The majority of first dances start at 8pm. If the speeches take longer than the usual 30 minutes then your first dance could be delayed.
Ah, the lovely British weather! As you know not everything can be planned and the weather is definitely one of them! The photography on the day will be affected by the weather but as it is out of our control what I would say is just embrace it! Don’t get too annoyed if the weather is misbehaving as you can still get some good photographs in bad weather.
My best advice is – Be prepared with wellies and brollies. I will always try and get couples outside at every wedding. However, it is best not to take your family members outside if it is pouring down. That is why it is important to have a plan B for inside shots if needed.
Don’t worry about the dress too much. You are only going to wear it once and you can get some lovely pictures under a brolly! Venues are also great at supplying tablecloths for brides to stand on if it is really wet.
3. DRESSES AND SHOES
Every bride I have photographed naturally wants to look good in their dress . Some dresses are a bit more “high maintenance” than others. If the dress has a large train then this will need to be laid out well to look good. This is why you have bridesmaids! Ensure that at least one of your bridesmaids is on hand to help with the dress while the pictures are being taken. If I take a couple to a beach for pictures then I rope in one of the guys to help with the dress. Guys shoes are easier to walk in than bridesmaids shoes on a beach!
Shoes are another point. I understand that when you are a bride the shoes matter (I’m a girl after all). I have seen some stunning brides shoes over the years but they are not always practical. Have a spare pair of shoes to slip on if the ground is wet or we go to a beach. Designer shoes are not made for wearing outside too much! Also if you take your high heeled shoes off at night for dancing (if they hurt too much) remember that flip flops or flat shoes could make your dress drag on the ground as the dress will have been fitted for the high heels.
Veils are another aspect that can take a bit of looking after. Veils can be incredible to photograph and really set off a dress. However, they can be sometimes hard to handle if there is a bit of wind! This can look great in pictures but it can sometimes be a bother to brides. Also if your dress has all the detail on the back, a heavy veil can hide this so just be aware of this.
4. CHASING THE LIGHT
One photographer, years ago when I was a student on work experience at The Herald, said to me that photography was painting with light. I have never forgotten this as it as absolutely true!
This is why photographers will get very excited about bits of light on the day. Some photographs will just happen on the day because of the light, and sometimes they can be the best.
Also, quite often the best quality of light can be just before the sun goes down. I will often ask couples to go out again after the meal for 5 more minutes to get some great shots in the fading warm light. Just go with it. This is why you have hired a professional photographer, trust me!
Furthermore some clients wonder why I choose certain areas for group shots on the day. This is always because of the light. Overcast days can be the best for this type of pictures but if you have a sunny day then you have to “backlight” the subject. This means putting the light behind them. Alternatively you can look for a bit of shade. If you don’t do this people will squint in the pictures and you will have unflattering shadows on the face. Not what you want!
5. GROUP SHOTS
Every wedding needs some family group shots. Weddings are opportunities for families to get together which can sometimes be a rare occasion, so the family shots are important. I usually recommend around 5 but sometimes people need more than this. Keeping to around this number means that you are not standing about too long and you can spend more time having fun and socialising. I always discuss the group shots needed with couples before the wedding so on the day you aren’t needing to think about it. It is also good to have someone on either side to grab family members. On the day I generally know who all the bridal party are but don’t always know who Auntie May is! I will alway try and do the family group shots first and then the parents can go and mingle.
A large group shot of all the guests is a great picture to do. Believe me you may not remember who was all at your wedding 15 years down the line. There are two ways to do a large group pictures. Either from up high looking down on the guests (usually from a bedroom window) or on outside stairs. The stairs have to be wide enough to accommodate all the guests. Unfortunately there are a few venues where this is not possible.
I LOVE confetti pictures. To me it symbolises that you are just married. I also love it as it has movement and colour. Some churches don’t allow confetti so please check with them first. If they don’t allow it then we can arrange to do it at the reception. The best confetti to buy is the cheaper tissue paper type. This floats for longer to get good pictures. You can do the picture with a few people holding the confetti but I think what works best is to get two lines of people and the bride and groom walk through this as the confetti is thrown. It can take a bit of organising but its worth it!
7. CANDID PICTURES
I love taking candid pictures of the guests. Allow some time for this which will also give you time to chat with your guests. You have invited all these people to your day and you need to see them. This is why discussing the timings with me is essential which will give me time to get what you want and for you to relax and enjoy your day.
8. THE WEE ONES
There is nothing more cute than the flower girls and pageboys at a wedding. Now the saying “never work with children or animals” has some truth in there. Kids will generally just want to do what they want (I know, I have two) and a wedding day can be right out of their routine. So please don’t get too bothered when they don’t play ball for pictures, especially the younger kids. That is why I try and get as many pictures of the children early on in the day as I can, in case they become a bit grumpy later on.
Also with the youngster’s shoes. Pretty flower girls shoes and kilt shoes for pageboys look great but are not always the most comfortable or practical. Best to bring along some trainers for them at night so they can run about on the dance floor the way that all kids want to do!
Also If you are going to have quite a few children on the day you may want to think of something to occupy them like a children’s entertainer or bouncy castle. Might be the best money you spend!
Also, if the Bride and groom have small children of their own then it is a good idea to allocate a family member to help look after them on the day so you don’t need to worry too much about what they are up to. I have also seen a couple hire a professional nanny for the day to look after their toddler son which was a great idea.
Well hopefully some of that information will be of help to you.
Every couple’s wedding is different – they all have their own requirements on the day of what they want from the photographs taken. That is why I always have a pre-wedding meeting with every couple I photograph which is usually a few weeks before your day. In the meantime I am hoping this will get you thinking on how best to plan your day and have a great wedding!!