It’s your wedding, do whatever the hell you want!
A guide to getting the best wedding photos
Gone are the days when a wedding should be done a certain way, more and more couples are putting together unique weddings with their own personal touch. Listen to friends and family, take on their advice but remember you do what feels most comfortable and fun to you both. As a wedding photographer I’m in a unique position to share some ideas and tips that might help with planning, especially when it comes to capturing your day. Rest assured, I’m there to document it all, not interfere. I will flex to whatever you have in the works, but if you want a head start, here’s some ideas on how to boss your wedding day…
No matter the weather on your wedding day, light is everything to photography. From clear blue to overcast skies, there’s always something to look out for. I predominantly shoot natural light until the evening, when the sun has set and the flashes come out. Most photographers will jump at the chance to photograph a couple at ‘golden hour’, that magical time of day just before sunset. It’s when the light is most flattering, interesting and creative to work with. If you can, put aside ten minutes to take advantage of this time on your day, I highly recommend it.
The morning of the big day, how exciting! All your hard work planning has finally paid off. Embrace the nerves and have a laugh with your friends and family. Hair and make up artists are typically working away when I arrive, they too prefer working with good light and often sit people near a window, which also makes for great photos. If suitable, I might switch the bulbs off to prevent mix lighting, which affects skin tones in images. If your ceremony is with a registrar they will come speak with you before the ceremony, to confirm the certificate details, this is often when I slip away and get ready for the ceremony.
The main event! Ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re wonderful to photograph. A church ceremony will often take thirty minutes, or thereabouts, where a ceremony with a registrar typically take around twenty, both depending if you’ve decided to include readings. The person leading your ceremony is also a great point person to communicate any preferences you may have. Maybe request no guest photos during the ceremony, not be distracted and just enjoy it. When it comes to walking down the aisle, a great tip is to wait for the person ahead to reach the end of the aisle before the next person enters. This allows everyone a chance to shine, get some individual photos and save that awkward bunching up as everyone find their seats.
They can be funny or emotional, personal and embarrassing, but it’s so much fun capturing wedding speeches. If you, or a speech giver, are nervous in front of people then doing speeches before food is served is worth considering. Giving you a chance to get the speech done and then enjoy your meal. I like to move about during the speeches, capturing the reactions from around the tables. If you’re conscious of timings, encourage practise runs with a timer, it always goes longer in front of a crowd.
It’s time to party the night away. Most, but not all, couples go for a first dance along to a personal song. Either taking a minute for themselves before friends flood the dance floor, whilst some go for a full dance routine! If you’re planning to cut the cake, just before you take to the dance floor is a great time to do it, because everyone is in one place to see both happen. This is when I embrace flash photography, creating nice light in often darker environments, maintaining that quality look from beginning to end. You might be planning some food for the evening, if so, I recommend not serving until the end of the band’s first set, or well into the DJ’s set list, helping to maintain that great party atmosphere that’s so much fun to document.
So you’ve picked a documentary wedding photographer, but maybe you still want some images of just the two of you, wonderful! Most couples take a few moments to step away and capture some images together. But fear not, they don’t have to be awkward or cheesy. A big win is not to look at camera, but just be together, laughing, hugging whatever you feel comfortable doing. Like above, the optimum time for this would be ‘golden hour’, so depending upon your wedding date, anywhere from 4 to 8pm. This is the opposite to family photos, which often fits into the drink/canapé time after the ceremony, often using a list of what photos you’re after. Generally speaking 10-12 family photos take around 15 minutes.
It’s an obvious one, right? Enjoy your wedding day, of course you will. The point is to go with the flow, no matter what happens. If it rains, who cares. If something gets delayed, you’ll quickly forget about it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who gets married say how quickly the day goes by, it’s a blur. I try and help create those pockets of time that you can be together, and register this major life event you’ve just achieved. Whatever you plan for your day, I’ll document it. No staging, but a true reflection of your day, so relax and let the day flow. If I can help before, or during the wedding day itself, I’m there.
There are no rules to a wedding…
You can create what you want. That’s part of the joy of being a wedding photographer, embracing the variety of it all. These are just some simple tips that might help inform your decisions. If I can assist any further, ping me a mail, I’m happy to help.