There are two approaches I take to your photography. The simpler, more luxurious and styled the background the more of a ‘fine art’ photographic approach can be taken – think beautiful still life paintings.
If your wedding is chaotic, fun and a riot of colour then your photos will be more ‘documentary’ fly on the wall approach. This is where most weddings will comfortably sit.
However there is often an overlap and mingling of the two styles when creating your Wedding story. So before your big day here’s how most weddings roll and the areas for you to consider when planning your wedding.
Bride Getting Ready
I like to shoot the bride getting ready in as natural a way as possible. This means using window light. Ideally the room would be light and airy, spacious and clean and comfortable.
It can also be a complete riot and mess so don’t worry but the first would be my shooting ideal. It may be you hire a hotel room or even an Air B&B room with perfect backdrops.
If you are looking for tips then the following backgrounds work well; brick, greys, blues, whites, scandi look, natural woods, simple or luxurious, vintage, shabby chic.
I often ‘stage’ getting ready shots such as looking in the mirror and putting on lipstick etc. Otherwise I will hang your dress, place your shoes, and collect all your precious wedding items, jewellery, perfume, bag, love notes from the groom, flowers etc and create a ‘picture’ and a story from your wedding memorabilia.
Groom Getting Ready
It’s fun to incorporate the groom getting ready and can be easily done when both are at the same hotel. Little details like the tie being put on my best man, the grooms flower, checking himself in the mirror. Often grooms are ready way before the bride as they have to go and meet the guests in which case I do shots with the best man, rings, and the grooms men and fathers of bride and groom. This can take place outdoors or at the bar even.
This is when the bride ‘arrives’ from either the stair case, or car, or into a specially prepared room with her entourage which may include mums, aunts, bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys. The registrars and or hotel wedding coordinator will greet them and I will be there to meet you before going to the ceremony room to await your big entrance.
This is the special exchange of rings, readings and lots of beautiful looks at each other moments. Plus people’s reactions to your faces as you gaze at each other.
If you have a videographer then my movements may be slightly restricted as we both need to be in the same spot so will be conscious not to get in each other’s way.
I am also restricted by not the venue itself but by the registrars/vicar/priest who may have strict rules and regulations about what’s allowed – this includes using or not using flash.
On the whole unless faced with a very darkly lit venue I normally prefer to use natural light on your faces. You may also wish to have a word to your guests about using their ipads/phones as you come down the aisle as I’ve seen many an over enthusiastic guest literally standing right in the aisle – much as you love them you don’t want them ruining your exit.
Signing the book
Here’s when you finally sign your marriage certificate and make it official but I will only be photographing the second ‘fake’ book as the first one is not allowed to be photographed so I will wait until I get the nod. I normally add your bouquet to the table, and have you pretend to sign the fake book again. Then the witnesses can join in and if you have any other people you wish to add to this shot then let me know. But please note we will be doing formal portraits straight after outside so no need to do too many here as you are about to dance down the aisle to the music of your choice….
Your formal portraits are normally done straight after the ceremony – your guests may have a drink in their hand and it’s up to you whether you want them to continue to hold it or put them down during the portraits depending how formal you want them. I will place guests depending on where the sun is – I need people to stand with their backs to the sun and this is where I will use flash to fill in faces so they are lit up. So if I guide you to a spot you had not considered it is because of the sun placement in the sky. Your guests will somewhat dictate the mood of these photos, so the more fun they are the more I will have to play with. If you have a toast master then they will summon guests to the spot I have chosen. If it is raining then these photos will be done somewhere suitable indoors – depending on your choice of venue these will be more or less successful as I will be restricted by the number of guests and what is physically possible. Some venues have some fab indoor spots though so worth checking with your wedding coordinator.
Here’s the opportunity since everyone is gathered to do the infamous confetti or bubbles shot – I can do this shot either in a group setting or create a wedding arch for you to walk through holding hands – I normally get you to stop at the end of the tunnel and kiss too.
The confetti will somewhat depend on your chosen location and the permission of the venue to do this – you will need to check with them in advance.
I highly recommend you bring some confetti to hand out to guests because they often don’t bring any thinking it is not permissible. It’s also really cheap to buy too so the more the merrier and makes a fab fun shot. Generally formal portraits can take up to half an hour including the confetti shot depending how big your wedding party is and how well behaved they are. If you have a rowdy bunch I would whole heartedly suggest getting a toast master to help on the day or a best man to round everyone up. Especially if your venue is large.
Bride & Groom Portraits
This is your chance to shine as we head off round the grounds, (normally on a circuit I have pre planned – weather and light depending) it’s also your chance and only chance of a bit of peace and quiet to yourselves – although I will be there obviously…. Allow half an hour for this special time together. We will already have discussed your photo requirements well in advance and our good weather/bad weather plans.
Informal of everyone
Here’s when everyone chills with a drink, congratulates you and you have time to breath – not for too long – but its when I get out my zoom and capture expressions, chats, the laughter, the tears and the moments you would never possibly see yourself. I love this time and I wholly recommend allowing half hour before your wedding breakfast to accommodate this.
I capture all the little details in the room before your big entrance to the room to thunderous applause (you may even have a receiving line too). While you are enjoying a top feast, I will also sneak off to enjoy a much needed rest and food too, as I go through your photos so far.
I don’t take photos of people eating.
I love people’s reactions to the speeches whether joyful, shocked, or sad and this is when can get some really good portraits of facial expressions and individual portraits as well as group shots of people around the tables. I don’t capture everyone’s face but a good number will be caught on camera here. If you have videographers my personal movements around the room will be somewhat restricted so I don’t walk right in front of their footage.
More fun and informal time. If there are any outstanding portraits we missed earlier then here is the time to do it. It’s the time you go check your dress, and powder your nose and when people head to the bar, and young babies are put into their pjs.
Bride & Groom Portraits in Evening Light
Depending on the time of year I will take you out for either night time shots against your building lit up at night or sunset, lowering light shots. These shots will be completely different to your afternoon photos together – for starters you will also be totally relaxed by this point. This is the time of the evening I love especially during summer weddings but winter light can be equally fascinating if not cooler and more intense. It is not to be missed and well worth you setting aside 20 minutes or so to incorporate a whole new look to your wedding story.
Cutting the Cake
This is the cute and slightly cheesy but time honoured tradition of cutting your cake while everyone gathers around and claps the big moment. Who doesn’t love cake! Some couples even eat a slice – Americans will often spread this across each other’s faces – however you want to play it is fine. Your DJ will normally announce this moment before leading you on to the dance floor for your first dance because everyone will already be gathered by this point.
Of course this is the moment you pre planned! Your dance moves in the lounge will now be seen by one and all – your favourite track will get you in the mood for a good old boogie, whether it is a traditional love song, or a fun funky little number or a choreographed first dance. I will once again be using flash for this part of the day to get some buzzing, fun filled moments of the two of you together – I use a zooming in out technique to get light movement so the room does not look static. Beware asking DJS for certain lights which will drape you in unflattering dots of colour on your nose…..! My top tip is to have a chat with them about their most flattering, romantic lights.
When everyone hits the dance floor including Uncle Bob and gyrates and lets rip – I will normally wrap up my evening some 20 minutes as I wouldn’t want to embarrass your guests any more than is necessary.