If you’re reading this, it means you’ve made the awesome decision to hire me for your wedding photography. I’m already excited.
I’ve photographed my fair share of weddings, and I’ve learned a lot about what makes great photos. Being a bride myself, I also know what it’s like to take into consideration the plans not pertaining to photography. Being a fly on the wall at many weddings helped me plan for my own, so I was very fortunate in that aspect. That made me realize that most people don’t have that advantage, and there are many times that brides confront obstacles they never thought about or didn’t plan for and become stressed. Whether it’s scheduling, rogue bridal party members, or a missing cake, (Yeah, that one actually happened to me.) something usually goes wrong, it’s best to shake it off and more importantly, don’t let it ruin this day. This is a big day. You’ve put so much love and care into it, and while that is one reason it is so frustrating when things go wrong, most mishaps will be insignificant years from now. Your photos, on the other hand, those will carry more weight, much longer.
This guide is meant to advise and educate, not to dictate your day. Above all, do what you want. There are no rules when it’s one of the biggest days of your life, whether you want to keep traditions or throw them all out. This is just to give you the best advice possible when it comes to getting the best photos.
I can't wait to capture your big day! Much love. xx
Light is number one when planning for photographs. Without light, there is no photograph. There are many kinds of natural and artificial lighting, and they produce very different results. You should keep these in mind when planning so you know what to expect, or what to plan for if you want a certain kind of photo.
Overcast lighting is the result of a cloudy day. Most people are immediately disappointed when this is the case, but it is actually some of my favorite lighting. Not only does it give potential for dreamy or dramatic photos, it also gives you a buffer to photograph anywhere you want at anytime of day. And in some cases, the sun peaks through the clouds, making a harsh lighting situation softer. Need open field photos before the ceremony at midday? Is the ceremony early in the day with no shade or coverings? This is when overcast lighting swoops in and saves the day.
Harsh lighting is known as the light produced during the midday hours. It is the most unflattering light, causing blown-out, overexposed photos with little detail, and unsightly shadows on facial features. The good news it that it is not only possible to avoid these things, but to get amazing photos during these times. Shade is absolutely vital. If you plan for a midday, outdoor ceremony, try to hold the ceremony in the shade, such as under a tree. The photos will go from eh to amazing. I promise.
This is the photographer's dream. The light that happens an hour or two before sunset or after sunrise. Much like overcast lighting, you can take photos anywhere once the sun is low in the sky. This is when you get those warm, golden images, or dreamy, backlit ones. If you have your wedding earlier in the day or plan to take all of your photos before the ceremony, this prime time is usually excused and not taken advantage of. If you want gold hour portraits, you can get married at this time for some really breathtaking ceremony images. If your ceremony is indoors or earlier, you can always take your couple portraits after the ceremony, or sneak away from the reception and not only get a break from the craziness, but also get some amazing photos.
Indoor lighting can go a few ways. If there is a lot of natural light created by windows, it can be fantastic. Unfortunately most churches don't have an abundance of light beyond the entryway. For the actual ceremony, I try at all costs to avoid flash. Your ceremony is an experience that should have as little distraction as possible, and I like to make myself scarce. Some churches also have restrictions for photography, so it is always best that you are informed so there aren't disappointments or surprises if I have to stand in a certain location. (Oh and saving me from a lecture is always appreciated! ;) )
After the wedding, if your reception is dark I will use flash. It's not the best option for formals and portraits, but it works great for party and dancing photos.
There has been a great debate going for a while now about Unplugged Weddings, or weddings restricting phones, electronics, and other forms of photography by anyone besides the photographer. I, personally do not push unplugged weddings. The way I see it, is that it's your wedding, not mine, and many times people are just excited or proud and want to capture moments of their own, but I have to stay protected in situations that are out of my control. There are some negative effects that can result from weddings full of technology and I want you to be aware of what could happen and maybe how you can prevent some of it.
Phones in photos. This one is a bummer for you more than me. There are those weddings that look like a sea of light. I will go to take a photo of the parents of the bride or groom and instead of seeing those priceless emotions, I will see a phone.
Guests in the way. This is the most talked about issue on the topic of unplugged weddings. Im sure you've seen the photos of the first kiss, missed because guests jumped in the aisle to get the shot on their phones. This has not yet happened to me, and I pray it doesn't, but it is always a possibility if a guest doesn't see me. With that being said, it is very common that photos I have taken have guests with a phone in them. I try to avoid this, and I do work around the "cluttered" aisle, but I can only do so much and will not make a commotion or fight with a guest during your ceremony.
Flash. I can easily work around this one for the entire ceremony until the kiss.
These do not happen at every wedding, but they are a possibility. You know your friends and family better than I do, so I believe it should be your decision. I am not pushing for you to choose one way, just educating you and protecting myself in the case something does happen.
This is one of the most stressed over parts of the day. My biggest advice is to sit down, go through every scenario in your mind, and nail down your schedule before the actual day. My second biggest piece of advice is to allow yourself some wiggle room, because most weddings don't follow the schedule to a tee. This isn't to say that you should plan your day around photography. While I will give tips if you are interested, it is most important to have structure ahead of time so you can enjoy your day and focus on what's really important. Here are a few pointers to take into consideration or toss:
Make a schedule.
This seems pretty standard, but thinking through an actual schedule and then sharing it with everyone closely involved will save you so much headache. I've been there, the poor bride is overwhelmed because no one knows the schedule and is asking her questions every few minutes. The bridal party is scattered or no where to be found because they don't know where they should be. This results in tons of time that I have nothing to photograph, which is fun for no one. Your photos are important but also an investment and I want you to be happy with the finished product.
Decide where to prioritize your time.
Deciding where to set your coverage timeline can be stressful. You want to make sure you have everything covered that needs to be done before the ceremony, but you're worried about leaving enough time after. There are things you should consider beforehand to decide where your time is most important.
First look or not? Couples that plan to do a first look and their photos together before the ceremony will usually get all of the bridal party and family photos out of the way as well so they can just relax and go the reception with their guests immediately after the ceremony. If you don't want to do a first look, it may be in your best interest to do the individual bridal parties (Bride w/ bridesmaids, Groom w/groomsmen) before the ceremony to save time after so your guests aren't waiting for too long and because you'll be ready to unwind a bit and recharge before the reception activities.
The time group photos take. A schedule is vital for group portraits. If everyone is on time and ready to go, bridal party portraits usually don't take more than thirty minutes for each group. It's always good to have some cushion, and if it's before the ceremony there are always ways to fill in waiting times, such as photographing details. The ones that vary are family formals. While these photos are super quick, there are many factors that go into it, such as size of family, getting and keeping everyone together, and little ones.
Prioritizing photos of the two of you. It's quite common to put these photos on the back burner, and it makes me sad, because they will be some of the most important ones to you. I've noticed that especially at weddings without a first look, after your ceremony and all of the photos after with family and friends, it's tiring and the couple are just ready to relax and enjoy the rest of the day and usually cut out time for their photos. We can get really great photos in a short amount of time, so if this becomes the case and you're ready for photos to be over with, I really recommend putting aside a small amount of time so you don't regret it later. Another option you can do whether you have done a first look and photos together already or not, is to take a break during some free time at reception to take some photos. Not only can you take advantage of some beautiful lighting during golden hour, but you can also get away from the party and take a moment together to take a breath and take it all in.
Reception Photos. The reception is something that can be confusing to plan for with limited coverage. A lot of times people allow a lot of excess time after and sacrifice time before to make sure it is covered. This just depends on your priorities for photos. You may want to center most of your time for later in the day if you are planning to do all of your formal photos after the ceremony. If you are planning to do all of the formals before, I would suggest prioritizing more time at the beginning of the day. I would also take into account how much you are planning for your reception. The reception might be a high priority to you with a lot of events you want photographed. If you aren't planning as much for your reception, keep in mind that it will be hours of the same view and people dancing, and there are only so many photos that will be unique enough to use. If you plan to limit your reception coverage but want all of the events covered, I would recommend planning them early in the reception.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I just want to reiterate that this is simply a guide meant for suggestion and/or help with common questions and concerns. Never will I tell you to do something in a certain way. Your wedding day is so special that it should be exactly as you want it to be. The best piece of advice I can give you is to enjoy your day. Being prepared is the best way to do this, but even when problems occur, remember that you won't get this day back, so make the most of it, let the small things roll off your back, and enjoy every second. I can't wait to be a part of it.