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Most people only get married once and whilst the have a rough idea of the sequence of events, they often have little idea how a wedding day feels, when to be ready, where to sit/stand etc. Venues vary on how well they keep couples informed during the day and I have only ever been to one venue who seemed to think of everything! As a wedding photographer, I see many couples married each year and get to know the trends, habits and generally what goes on at a wedding. I also learn what works well from a photography perspective. This blog is intended to give couples an insight into what is likely to happen at their wedding with some tips based around photography.
Bridal preparation covers hair, makeup and some informal shots with the bride, bridesmaids, bride’s mother and finishes with the bride’s father (or representative) seeing her or the first time before walking her down the aisle. Bridal preparation usually takes place in a hotel room at the wedding venue or in a family house. I always carry some silk coat hangers with me now as I have found that many bridal shops surprisingly give plastic hangers with the bridesmaids and bridal gown! Photographic challenges include bags laying around the room and poor lighting. I always carry lighting with me although the best images are taken in natural light. If possible, it is best if bridal hair and make-up can take place near a window or in a well-lit area of the room with the necessary “wedding clutter” at the other end of the room.
Bride and father
Many brides like to have a photo with their father or the representative who will walk them down the aisle. A frequent challenge is that the registrar is on a tight schedule and if the Bride gets ready when the venue advise (usually 15 minutes before the ceremony) there is little time for this to happen. It is best if the Bride can be ready 25 minutes before the ceremony which allows 10 minutes to relax and have photographs before she meets the registrar (15 minutes before the ceremony).
The First Look
The first look is the moment that the groom first sees his bride walking down the aisle. This is often one of the most emotional images of the day. The Groom usually stands at the front looking ahead with the best man on his right-hand side ready to look over his left shoulder back at the bride as she enters. You would be surprised how many venues do not tell the groom this!!! Also, they can sit on the 2 seats at the front until the bridal party are ready; these seats can then be used by bridesmaids/parents as required during the ceremony as the Groom will not require a seat.
During the ceremony the bride and groom will stand facing the registrar or each other. Please engage in the service fully and try to ignore the photographer; this results in far more natural images. It is understandable that guests want to capture the ceremony on photos and/or video so if you do not wish to see cameras in the background then please ask the registrar/priest to ask that guests refrain from doing so. I am not concerned either way, but many couples do not realise this will happen. This is also the case when the bride and groom walk out after the ceremony when people will walk into the aisle to get a good shot unless asked not to. Some people like this as it is part of the atmosphere of the day, while other couples don’t want to see backs of people and phones in this shot. I mention this so that the bride and groom are aware and can make the right choice for them.
Formal Images and Group Shots
Group shots are an essential part of most weddings. Before the wedding day, make a list of the group shots you would like and pass it to the photographer. Be aware that each shot can take 3 to 4 minutes so there is a balance between the amount of time the bride and groom wish to spend on formals as opposed to mingling with guests. My advice is generally to focus first on the important 5 or 6 groups (parent/family) and one big group shot with all wedding guests (this can take up to 15 minutes to gather everyone!). Any other group shots can then be shot informally as the day progresses and people are naturally together. This allows the couple to mingle and enjoy the day. Again, this is entirely the choice of the couple as it is their day. I always encourage the couple to spend 15 minutes or so mingling with guests before we start formal shots if the timetable allows. After all, this is the first time they can relax after the ceremony and the first opportunity to talk to each other that day!
Some couples like to get a few shots of just the two of them. My recommendation is that this is done around 30 minutes before the wedding breakfast so that guests can start to make their way in and it does not disrupt the flow of the day too much or leave guests feeling abandoned.
If there is anything special or unusual happening please let your photographer know. Examples might be a confetti cannon or balloon, a band, a magician, sparklers, fireworks, a special presentation.
Remember it is YOUR day
These tips are intended to inform about things that happen during the day. Every couple has different priorities and a good photographer will work to the couple’s agenda as far as possible and not their own.