'Tis the middle of wedding season! Every year I think of different ways brides can plan their weddings to go as smooth and perfect as they had dreamed. However, each year I get so busy that I never share those different ways. I just recently moved and had a full week without the Internet so it gave me a chance to write down those things without getting distracted. I've come up with a list for brides to best utilize their wedding photography without necessarily adding more money to the top of their bill.
These are just a few tips you can take to your wedding day to get the most out of your wedding photographer. Keep in mind different vendors will have different opinions. In fact, even different photographers will have different opinions. I’ve tried to pull a few of the things I know will improve your photographic experience on your wedding day.
During Your Planning Process:
Ask your photographer to help you choose a time and location for the ceremony on the venue grounds. I can’t even tell you how often I show up to a ceremony location and cringe at the way the light casts down on the couple. Brides and Grooms usually aren’t trained to know what light is best and in most cases, neither is the manager of the venue property. Have your photographer come with you when you are making these decisions. They can help!
Hire a coordinator. Depending on the photographer, you may have a certain time frame that they are there shooting. Coordinators can help keep the wedding on schedule. It would be such a shame for the photographer to miss an important aspect of the wedding because it was forgotten or because the wedding is going way behind schedule. This is also nice because it keeps your guests engaged. If you are running the traditional events close to each other, your guests don’t have a chance to get bored and can jump right into open dancing.
Opt for a longer and narrower chair set up (aisle) vs. a wider and shorter. The reason I say this is I recently had both. The wedding with the longer aisle gave me more opportunities to shoot while everyone was walking down. This is important to grab the PERFECT father-walking daughter down the aisle image. Sometimes I have a very short window and can maybe grab 2 quick shots. This doesn’t necessarily give me the opportunity to perfect the shot. So if you have the ability – longer is better.
During the wedding:
Do your photos before before the wedding. I know this sounds so taboo, but it is becoming the norm with weddings these days and there are a few reasons why I recommend it.
- It takes the pressure off before you walk down the aisle. Most people are more nervous about making a mistake in front of the crowd than actually getting married.
- It sets a relaxing tone to the wedding. Seeing each other tends to relax the bride and groom for an overall relaxed feeling. Ever seen a stressed out bride? Stressed out everyone else :)
- You aren’t rushed during your formal photos. Most of the time after the wedding your photographer is trying to bust her booty so that the guests aren’t waiting and annoyed that he/she kept you so long. This gives you guys more time to have better planned out shots. You will likely get more shots this way too.
- You can go right into your reception and actually experience your cocktail hour!
- If you have a large wedding with lots of traveling between the getting ready location, ceremony and reception – this is almost a must. Otherwise your guests might we waiting between an hour and hour and a half for your arrival.
There are so many reasons why this works so well, but those were the important ones.
Keep your family formal photos short and sweet. For some reason this tends to be the craziest part of the wedding. Work with your photographer to create a list of the most efficient way to shoot these photos. I personally put together a name-by-name list of who we will be photographing. The shorter the list, the smoother this process goes and the faster your guests can be on their way.
Feed your photographer. Don't let them get hangry! All jokes aside, your photographer has probably been on their feet running around since before lunch. If they haven’t eaten, they are likely running low on steam by the time the reception starts. You’re going to get more out of them if they’ve been fed. I promise! On top of that, have them eat at the same time as you are. I mention this part because most people will wait until all the guests get through. By this time the wedding festivities are starting and that leaves the photographer eating when they could be shooting.
I always tell my couples that I will sit down and eat at the same time they do. This way I can utilize my time a little better. I generally don’t like taking photos of tables at the reception when people are shoving food into their mouths. I might as well eat when everyone else is. I am resting, getting some energy back and not annoying people while they are trying to eat. Then, by the time you guys are done eating I’m ready to start shooting again.
This is something you will want to tell your coordinator as well.
Fake your grand exit, or do it immediately after the ceremony. Sounds weird, but if you think about the times you’ve been at a wedding when the bride and groom have left the reception, there are usually only a few last people standing. By faking the exit, you are able to have full group participation. OR, by doing it immediately after the ceremony you are still getting the effect of it but not staging an event at the wedding. Just some food for thought. The more people in the shot, the more fun it is. The shot below was faked.
As of right now, those were the few things I had come up with. A good and experienced photographer will be able to tell you these things during the planning process.
Do you have any items you could add to this list? Add them in the comments section below!