7 Wedding Day Tips – A Wedding Photographer’s Perspective
Considering I have been a wedding photographer for over 10 years, I feel I have a certain degree of expertise and can offer some tips to help the day run as smoothly as possible. When I meet with a couple, I’m often stumped when they ask, “what’s the worst thing that’s happened on a wedding day?” Luckily things tend to work out but that’s not to say things haven’t gone wrong! Of course there’s the odd wardrobe malfunction or missing button holes but here are some aspects you may not have considered.
Getting Ready On Your Wedding Day – What’s the Best Time to Get in the Dress?
This one springs to mind instantly. The most common issue I encounter at weddings is a mad rush before leaving for the ceremony. I have photographed lots of weddings and I would say 80% of them involve a hectic spell as the finishing touches are made. I am aware that this is part of the fun and somewhat expected, but you don’t want the stress to take over. Everyone involved should be as relaxed as possible. First and foremost this is a celebration that should be enjoyable, not stressful and it’s good to have a timescale in place even if it’s just a rough guide.
Allow more time than you think you will need. Sounds obvious but no one does it! If it’s a hot summer’s day I know you won’t want to be in your dresses and suits long before the ceremony, but try your best to allocate additional time for getting in the dress, final makeup touches, hair, ties, shoes, jewellery. It always takes longer than you think. Granted, the gents get it a bit easier here!
The getting ready part is not my only reason for putting time aside. I think it’s important the bridal party, parents, groomsmen etc. make the most of these moments. It’s such a lovely time for photos, whether it’s ties being tied, dresses being buttoned, the big reveal, a parent seeing the bride in the dress for the first time and of course a sip of champers! I love to photograph the bride on her own too. A chance to really appreciate the dress and all the attention to detail made. It’s a shame if these moments get lost in a chaotic rush for the door.
Wedding Group Photos – How Many and Do I Even Need Them?
This is another good one. I am often faced with a list of 20 – 30, sometimes 50 group photo variations! This part of the day tends to be everyone’s least favourite. Most people don’t like their photo being taken, they want to catch up, celebrate and have a drink or two. Guests soon get bored of hanging around waiting to be called for a photo and the couple soon gets tired of smiling at the camera every 2 minutes! 95% of couples who have persevered with a long list have seemingly regretted it half way through.
However, it’s important to capitalise on having everyone in one place at the same time which can be rare and often many travel from afar to be there. It’s understandable that couples want as many group photos as possible so no one is missed.
Group photos are great! I have become accustomed to this part of the day and always get a list from the couple before the wedding with the photos they want, making sure they know they can grab me at any point for more informal versions. I also make sure they know I will be snapping candid moments of all guests throughout the day too. I normally recommend 45 minutes is put aside after the ceremony or at a convenient time and I suggest the list is kept to roughly around 10 variations with an added “whole” group photo too. I usually print out a few lists and ask groomsmen to help round people up. This part of the day normally takes around 30 minutes and therefore leaves more time for couple photos and those lovely natural ones as well. If you don’t want any formal looking group photos, this is fine too.
P.S. This is just my advice. If you want 30 variations of group photos, I won’t say no! I just make sure you realise it will take some time.
P.S.S. It’s always good to give me a list of “important” people attending the wedding so I can keep an eye open for the likes of Great Granny Sally and Uncle Bob from Jamaica.
Here are a few more bits of advice that spring to mind…
Wedding Day Drinks
No, not just the champagne! Try to have access to water throughout the day. Seems obvious but one that easily gets forgotten. For example if we decide to drive to a location for photos, many couples have loved having water in the car as they become quite parched due to nerves and lots of talking right after the ceremony.
Stay Minty Fresh
A pack of mints go a long way. There’s nothing worse than posing for a few kisses straight after the garlic mushroom canapé!
Wedding Day Snacks
With that said, it’s good to keep those energy levels up and of course enjoy some of the food you have “forked” out on! Ask the catering staff to put one of each snack/canapé on a plate for your return after photos in case you don’t have time to try everything. Or even take some with you! I know I might sound like a broken record, but photos shouldn’t get in the way of you celebrating your day. I see all too often photos/video take precedent and it should be the other way round. And the last thing I need is a ‘hangry’ bride or groom.
Feeling Awkward About Your Wedding Photo Poses?
Ironically I am not the biggest fan of having my photo taken so I know how you feel. I am sensitive to what style of photography each couple wants, everyone is different. I will hopefully meet you before the big day so we aren’t strangers at the wedding but either way, I always make sure I know what you require. I photograph as naturally as possible but direct where needed. Some couples want lots of direction, some don’t want any and some in between. I never become that bossy annoying photographer though! Warm, natural and affectionate poses are lovely. Try to enjoy this part of the day, it’s usually fun, romantic and chilled out. Act lovingly with one another which hopefully isn’t too hard! Affection and smiles and all the things that come naturally make for beautiful photos.
Take Your Time & Breathe It In!
This one is a little more subjective but the day really does fly by. Make the most of each element of the day, including the photos. Leaving your guests for the “couple photos” provides a chance for things to sink in and celebrate with one another. I’ve worked with couples in the past who have used this time to discuss things that have gone wrong or what needs to happen later. At this stage there is little point in worrying, trust all your hard work – what will be will be.
Don’t let the little things get you stressed. Photography is quite a big thing, but let me worry about that.