Congratulations, you’ve decided to marry your person!
On your wedding day, you can expect to have fun and enjoy the entire experience. I know weddings can be stressful at times, but rest assured that photography is not something you’ll need to worry about. You are in good hands! We will work to capture all of the big – and small – things that you want to remember about your day. No doubt your wedding will be one of the most beautiful and significant moments for you as a couple and I want to be sure that you enjoy every part of the experience.
There’s so much to think about between now and then and I’m sure your heads are already spinning with making decisions about things you didn’t even realize existed. So to make it a little easier, I’ve created this guide to help you through the whole process! These are all the things that as a photographer I’m thinking about. I’ve made it as comprehensive as possible so that you spend less time worrying about the details and more time getting excited about your wedding!
Getting Ready: At once calm and chaotic
The getting ready part of the day has all of the feels crammed into a couple of nervous and tender hours. With all of the action buzzing around the newlyweds, it’s easy to find yourself in a really chaotic, crowded, and cluttered space that inadvertently adds stress to the situation. Considering the right space for this part of the day is more important than most people think, which is why I recommend thinking about this early.
The factors that contribute to me getting good photos are also the ones that contribute to a more relaxed day for everyone. Here’s what I’ve learned we need:
+ A clutter-free space
+ Good natural light and lots of it!
+ A space with an interior style that suits your own. If at home, don’t forget to get rid of all of the day-to-day clutter like electric fans, socks, or dog beds. Fill the space with flowers, your favorite things, and just a couple of your favorite people.
+ Enough time (at least one hour for each partner, but longer if you’re rolling with a big crew). I’ll be sure to show up right as the finishing touches are being placed, then head on over to your partner to spend some time with them too.
+ While each of you are getting ready, chances are you’ll be filled with nerves. As you won’t have each other for comfort in these moments, consider writing a love letter for your partner to read before the ceremony. It’ll be a nice little keepsake, make for some incredibly emotion-filled photos before the ceremony, and help build the excitement in the lead up to the ‘I-do’s’.
PRO TIP: A big window is ideal when taking portraits of people getting their makeup done. (The makeup artist will love the extra light, too!)
After all, photography is lighting! It’s very important to pay attention to the lighting and where the light source is coming from!
+ What time is your wedding and what will the lighting be like at that time? Can we ensure you’re both evenly lit? The best lighting is if the sun is behind you or even in full shade!
+ What will your background look like? Can we make it pretty? Will there be anything that could cast shadows onto your faces? If I have more physical space to play around I’ll be able to get a nice mix of different kinds of shots like close ups, details, wide-angles, and various candid guests.
+ Elevate the composition of your shots by having a symmetrical space. If you say your vows under an arch or between an arbour, your images will have that extra little aesthetic oomph.
+ What kinds of windows does your venue have? Do they use natural or artificial light? Sometimes artificial light can make things look really cold or clinical, but it’s possible to warm things up a bit by stringing up some warm festoon lights or candles.
+ If your venue has big windows, it is best that you are NOT in front of the windows. This makes everything around you very dark. It’s best if the windows are facing you!
+ If your ceremony is dark or on the moody side, how would you feel about flash? Is flash allowed at your venue?
Silence Those Phones: Don’t be that person
I strongly encourage you to consider this trending option and ask your guests to turn off their phones during your ceremony. It is easy for the guests to want to capture their own photo, but they become distracted and nothing is worse than having someone’s phone ring in the middle of your vows. This also eliminates any family members that may become in our way during the ceremony, resulting in loss of opportunity to capture the first moment your loved sees you walking down the aisle, the happy tears falling as you recite your vows, or the blissfulness of your first kiss. I can promise you this, as your hired professional photographer/s, we won’t miss a moment of your love story.
PRO TIP: Have your officiant announce “Please no pictures and turn off your phones! We have photographers here!” And tell them not to worry – I’m on the job of capturing some great images for everyone to take home. Sadly, sometimes signs don’t work!
The Shot List
Depending on your own family constellation, there are many number of configurations we can photograph the wedding party in. Some with everyone in them, some with each of your immediate then extended families, and some variations of smaller and larger groups. One thing that’s absolutely necessary for this part of the day is that everyone knows it’s happening, where it’s happening, everyone’s on board, and there’s someone (i.e. wedding planner, sibling, best friend) who knows who everyone is and can help me navigate everyone in the right direction at the right time.
PRO TIP: An ideal time to do this is immediately after the ceremony. Once the reception starts, it’s hard to track everyone down. Let your family know to stay close by for family photographs after the ceremony! Have your officiant announce for them to stay!
If you know me, I love to make things easy! I will send you a family portrait template and all you need to do is fill in first names and send it back to me! When we are ready for family portraits, I will go right down the list. Please keep in mind that as the photographer, I do not know your family and I don’t know faces. Going down the list and calling people up is the best process to get it done quickly!
A lot of my couples ask if they need a “shot list” for their wedding day. I understand that you have a lot of important things you want captured, and I want to ensure that everything you want photographed, is photographed. If there are any “special” shots that we should know about, beyond these traditional images, then I encourage you to let me know in your questionnaire!
Reception and Dinner: Don’t worry we got you covered
From the details of where you’ll be sitting and what you have in the background, to where you’ll be in relation to the person giving speeches, all of this is super helpful for me to get a lay of the land and understand where to get the best shots. Will there be a sit-down dinner or will people be making their way around with snacks all night? Is it formal or more of a relaxed thing? If you’re having a DJ, will they be using their own lighting? The more fairy lights and candles and non-directional lighting the better, multi-coloured disco strobes don’t look good on guests!
Also, most people don’t like to be photographed while they’re eating, so this is a good time for me to grab a quick bite too and be well-prepared for the rest of the night. It’s great to put in a request with the kitchen that I get my meal after the bridal party or join the bridal party at the buffet so that I can eat before speeches start!
The Golden Hour Session: Everyones favorite hour
Being a natural light photographer, I strive for the golden hour and using light to my advantage throughout the day. When working together on your timeline, I will assist you in ensuring maximum usage of sunlight. I enjoy taking my couples out at sunset for 15-20 minutes to provide a brief break from partying, a chance to soak in all of the excitement from your day thus far, and to provide additional photographs of the two of you as the newly married couple. These images are often become favorites as couples have shrugged off the stress and have relaxed into the happiness of the day.
Sunset sessions are highly recommended if you decide not to have a first look or a first touch. Sunset sessions are limited to weddings between May-October, and for the remaining months be supplemented for a 15-20 minute session if natural or artificial light from your venue is available.
Sparkler Exit: Make sure I get the memo!
If you’re planning a sparkler exit, make sure I get the memo about this! I need time to prepare my equipment! It works best if there’s a designated sparkler hander outer so that everyone’s sparklers are burning bright together! If you’ve booked a venue that doesn’t allow for a sparkler exit, you could opt for bubbles or eco confetti! Be sure to let me know so I can ensure there’s enough light available for the shot.
This is usually where my job ends, and I’ll leave everyone to party on into the wee hours while I head home super excited about all of the incredible moments I’ve witnessed throughout the day!
Now we’re ready to make magic!