There are a lot of things to consider when planning out your wedding day, from where to get ready, to what time to hold your first dance and all of the in between.
I've been shooting weddings for years now, and I'm happy to go with the flow and work with whatever the day presents. In saying that, some conditions naturally lend themselves to better photos, so I've put together this guide to help you to get the most from your wedding photography.
I get it. There is a lot happening on the morning of your wedding. One of the last things on your mind is tiding up the place! However it DOES look so much better in photos if the clutter is kept to a minimum. Bridesmaids overnight bags, dirty dishes, food packets etc all of that stuff will end up in the background of the photos. Have a word to your team on the morning and ask them to help keep it tidy. Most bridesmaids and groomsmen are filled with nervous energy so having a task to do isn't usually a problem. Having a tidier place also helps with stress levels. Chaos doesn't feel great!
When choosing a place to get ready, take a moment to consider the light. Natural light from windows looks way nicer than yellow tinted down-lights. If you are getting ready at home, choose a room with large windows (your make-up artist will also be stoked!) If you are considering getting ready at a hotel, have a look around on Air BnB or Bookabach to see if you have other options. Hotel rooms are usually quite dark, and they tend to get cluttered easily and often have zero ambience.
Groom & Groomsmen
Cuff links: I've lost count of the amount of groomsmen I've seen having to cut the buttons of their shirts because they aren't suitable for the cool cuff links they were given. If you are planning on buying cuff links, make sure you buy a suitable shirt ;)
Activities: Other than last minute tasks the boys often have very little to do on the morning, so planning a fun activity can help alleviate nerves. Golf, bowling, surfing - whatever's your jam, just go for it!
So this is a once in a life time dress, so you want it to look perfect. But you also want it to feel perfect! Make sure that you practice sitting in your gown before you purchase and that you can actually breathe! I've seen a few brides struggle with how tight their dress is, and I promise you, you don't want to spend your day feeling uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable it will likely show in your photos!
It will get dirty. It just will. No matter how much you try to keep it clean. So my advice? Don't stress about it. You can't avoid it, so just relax and enjoy the day.
Fixing up bad and patchy spray tans in post is incredibly difficult and isn't included in the editing that comes with your photography package. I'd recommend a specific trial with your chosen professional first and that you go only few shades darker than your natural skin colour - darker/heavier tans can photograph unnaturally orange rather than looking subtly sun kissed.
PLANNING YOUR TIMELINE
Figure out what you want captured
You have a set amount of hours with me, so discuss what parts of your day you want covered most. Some couples area all about the getting ready images, while others want lots of their reception. Once you know what you want, we'll be able to make a plan that suits you perfectly.
First looks or traditional?
Whether you're planning first looks (photos before the ceremony) or keeping it traditional, we'll need between 45 - 60 minutes for the bridal party photos, plus any travel time. You are welcome to take longer if you'd rather spend your time on photos/hanging out with your bridal party - and if you are planning on an extended session, make sure to grab snacks and drinks for your whole team.
Consider the light
As I mentioned above, I have plenty of practice in making any situation work....however it is important to note that the harshest light is between 11 - 4pm in summer - most likely when you are planning your photos! I do emphasise to my couples that light is a major factor in getting the beautiful portraits, so while we can't control the light we can do what we can to improve the situation. When choosing the location for your images make sure there is plenty of open shade. Big trees, mountains, funky buildings - anything that casts a large shadow. Not only will this keep you cooler (and if you are like me, less likely to burn!) but open shade will even out unflattering shadows (no panda eyes!)
Wide open fields in winter or at sunset = gorgeous. Wide open fields at lunch time in summer = squinty faces and harsh shadows.
Equal light for all
If you are getting married outdoors, consider where the sun will be during the ceremony. Putting the sun behind you will ensure that you are both evenly lit. If that doesn't work, try to make sure that you are both in the shade or both in the sun - when one of you is in light and the other is in shade the photos will look inconsistent
Make sure you let you MC know exactly what they need to tell everyone, including your plans for family photography and if you plan on heading away for bridal party photos. A good MC is crucial to making the day run smoothly so choose someone who is really good at public speaking instead of someone you just want to involve in the day.
Plan your list of family photos.
This is pretty important. Planning who you want in family photos before hand makes the whole process go a lot smoother and faster. You can take as many as you like, but please make a list beforehand! I recommend printing it off and giving it to someone from each side of the family, The lucky recipients of the lists will help round up the family members while you guys stay put. Let your MC know when the photos are happening so they can tell the guests when it is about to happen. Aunt Shirley is less likely to go exploring if she know's she's about to be in a photo.
Below is a rough guide for you. Feel free to add/remove people. Be specific where you can. Allow 3 - 5 minutes for each photo. Some will take less, others more depending on how chatty your guests are!
It's a generic list - so if you are a same sex couple, please forgive the bride/groom terms!
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents
- Bride + Groom + both sets of parents.
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s immediate family
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s immediate family + grandparents
- Bride + Groom + grandparents
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s immediate family + Bride’s Grandparents + Bride’s Aunt(s) + Bride’s Uncle(s)
And then the same again for the grooms family :)
WHEN DAY BECOMES NIGHT
That delicious golden light is an hour before sunset. That means that it's likely that at some point during your reception I'm going to sneak the two of you out for some photos when the light is at it's best. These images are usually the favourite images of the whole day so it's worth while to do it. It will also be a good chance for you to have a quiet moment together and have a breather. It will only take 10 or so minutes so your guests won't miss you.
Sometimes night time photos can be fun too - especially if the sun wasn't shining during the golden hour.
Festoon lights, sparklers etc can all add to the fun of it, and if it rains...woohoo! Night time rain shots are epic!
Sparkler tip: If you choose to use sparklers for a shot I recommend get the extra long ones - they burn for much longer and you can hold them further away from those fancy clothes! Make sure when you are handing them out to give specific instructions...don't let them light them until everyone is ready!
Photos of your guests
When photographing your guests, my aim is to be unobtrusive and kind of secret squirrel. I don't approach tables and interrupt people to ask if they want images - unless you ask me to. If guests approach me and request it, I'm happy to take posed ones of them. You'll receive them along with your gallery and you can share them with your family and friends.
Around Canterbury we marquee weddings are quite popular. Some come with great lighting and other rely solely on fairy lights and candles. While the latter looks super pretty, please be aware that in dark situations cameras cannot focus as quickly which may result in missing a cool moment, so if it is too dark for quality photos I'll need to use some artificial lighting to focus or light my subjects. This has never been an issue with my previous couples, but I just like to make a note of it before the day that video lighting may be used at some stage.
Lasers on the D floor.
Lasers can be add a cool aesthetic to your dance floor, but not during the first dance! If I think your band or DJ will use lasers I ask them to wait until after the first dance before firing them up, so it doesn't ruin any sweet moments with the two of you. (Streaks of green or pure spots of light on the face aren't pretty)
Once the first dance is done it's time to get crazy! Depending on the type of package you have got I usually stay for a couple of songs after the first dance so I can get those shots of your guests cutting some shapes and having a great time. I'm often dancing at the same time as taking photos - I just can't help it!
Try not to stress! The day will work out just fine, and if there are anything little things that go wrong you'll soon release that they either don't matter or they make for a great story down the track! I'm there not only to capture the day as it happens but to help you in any way. I'll have a bag of supplies of anything that you might need and I'll guide you throughout the day to make your day as stress free as possible.
I'll see you soon!