Some brides aren’t photography lovers. It’s just true. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, but those aren’t the weddings I want to shoot. I want my brides to be excited about what I offer, because I am myself! I absolutely love being a part of weddings, and getting involved in the lives of my couples and their big day is all a part of it. We go have lunch, plan the timeline of their day, and hammer out details. Photographers have lots of insight into wedding planning because they see so many! So the brides I choose are more worried about the emotions I’ll capture than the price tag, and more interested in building a relationship than just hiring “help.”
So that being said, I put together a few tips that I tell my brides when we meet for lunch or coffee. Here are a few things that make a big difference in the way your photos turn out, but you may never even consider:
1) Facing out
These are photos from my wedding. While facing out is a little unusual (usually pastors are in back not in front), it so much better for everyone! Your friends and family can see you the whole time, you are the focus instead of the pastor, and the photographer can get shots like the top one with big reactions facing the family instead of the backs of their heads facing the pastor. You’ll notice the silhouette of the pastor in the top photo, but the focus is the great emotions, not him! Love this!
2) First Row Empty
At my sister’s wedding above (we clearly have similar tastes in wedding style), I requested that they leave the first row empty (you notice it empty in the bottom picture). This is not always an option, but it’s so helpful! As a photographer, I can crouch in the front row without worrying about blocking views or stepping on toes, and can get close ups like the above picture. This is a very simple, but very helpful tip.
3) When to Cut the Cake
Little known fact: When you cut the cake, people start leaving. This is true even if you announce the other activities or do it right at the beginning of the reception. I don’t know why, but it always happens, so if you want great pictures with people interaction of dancing, throwing the bouquet, and other festivities, save the cake cutting until later so that people will be there for those photos!
4) Grand Getaway: Before or After the Reception
Your grand getaway is a really fun opportunity for great images of all your guests and the start of your new life. Time after time I’ve seen couples plan hours of dancing, and by the time they get to the getaway, barely anybody is still there! Sometimes the getaway gets cancelled altogether! Consider these other two options (unless you’re having a short reception and you know people will stay): 1) Do your big getaway after the ceremony instead of after the reception or a more popular version is 2) Do a big getaway after the main festivities except for the last dancing, and then invite the people who want to boogy to come back in for dancing! That way the uncoordinated, or older and younger crowds can leave but still not miss anything.
5) Plan a Timeline for Your Day
You’d be amazed at how helpful this is for both the bride and the photographer. I always plan this with my brides to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on, especially before the ceremony. This should be detailed, with clear instructions as to who should be where. If you’re wedding coordinator doesn’t do this, it’s up to you, but I highly recommend including your photographer in the planning. Here’s a very helpful link.
6) Planning your Ceremony Around the Light
This is not something most brides think about when planning their ceremony time. They consider meals, plane departures, and convenience. Well, if you love photography and want great images, you need to think about light! The worst times for outdoor photography is between 111:30-3pm, and. So that leaves mornings before 11am and afternoons after 3pm for the best photos. Plan the ceremony around those times, so that the images that we take before and after the ceremony will be the best light possible. In the photo above, Michelle and I planned her timeline around the light, and since she didn’t want a first look, we made sure all of the bride and groom photos were after 3pm, producing this lovely, even tone without hot spots.
7) First Look
A “First Look” is one of the most beneficial choices you can make for your wedding. Not only does it produce amazing photos, you also get a quiet moment with your groom without an audience, you get to finish all of your photos with the wedding party, family, and bride and groom, and it helps calm your nerves! This is the best way to get the light the way you want it, cut back time from the ceremony to the reception, and to cut back on stress! I’ve never had a bride who didn’t thank me for suggesting it later on.
I hope these help! Thanks to Joshua McCoy for shooting my wedding, and for my lovely brides for letting me use your photos!
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