Obviously you are on my website because either your thinking of hiring me or you have already hired me for your wedding. In order to get the photos that I take it does take a little planning so I have organized some wedding tips and planning. Below I have written up some tips on the best lighting for all the scenarios of your day as well as some suggestions on ceremony setup and unplugged weddings. Also, there is some information on when to do portraits as well.
Getting ready can be such a beautiful time to get those genuine pre-wedding shots. But sometimes the energy is ruined by the asthetic. A cluttered, messy, dark room takes away from the genuine moments happening and the beauty of the morning.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Clutter: I know there is a lot going on, especially if you have a big bridal party. Try to keep clutter hidden and to a minimum. Keep bags, suitcases, laundry, ect. in a different room from where you will be getting ready. I often do a quick clean up when I arrive to remove any clutter that I see.
Light: Window light is my favorite light. If possible, get ready in a room with lots of window light, where we won’t need to use lamps or aritfical light. Having an orange light mixed in with the window light is not ideal for color and skin tone. So, I always prefer to turn the lights off that are near and rely on window light whenever possible.
Hair/Makeup: If you have a h/mu artist they will need as much light as possible. I suggest doing your h/mu next to the window, this is a win/win for everyone.
Hotel rooms often don’t provide the best light or setting for prep. If you can, I recommend looking into a well lit air bnb for your prep. There are a ton of affordable ones out there. You would be surprised also to see that most of them are the same price as a hotel room or cheaper.
If there is time, right after your dress is on and you’re ready to go, I will probably grab you for a couple minutes to take some photos of you alone, likely by the window.
Don’t forget about the groom! Sometimes the groom gets left with the dark tiny room. He is just as important, and his photos will look way better in a well lit room.
A first look is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time in a more private setting before they walk down the isle. It doesn’t have to be a big staged moment. It can be simple, genuine and intimate.
I recommend doing a first look for several reasons:
1. It calms the nerves. There is nothing that relaxes nervous brides and grooms more then finally seeing each other and enjoying a few moments alone before the official event begins.
2. It gives you time to take it all in. You can share what you’re feeling, you can hug, chat with each other. All the things you can’t do when you’re at the front of the isle in front of everyone.
3. It makes the timeline easier to work with. If you can see each other before the ceremony, we can do all the family portraits and bridal party photos before. Your family can go enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony, and we can get to couple’s portraits right away. Which means you miss less of cocktail hour!
If you’ve always dreamed of the walk down the isle as the first glimpse of each other, then we’ll do that. It’s your day! This is just a suggestion on what works best to get the best photos and make your day go as smooth as possible.
The best time for family and bridal portraits is before the ceremony. Everyone is ready to go and no one will miss any cocktail hour or reception time.
It’s possible to do them after the ceremony, but gathering everyone once they’ve gone to cocktail hour is always a difficult and time consuming task. You can tell people to stay after the ceremony but there is always a few people who will try and sneak off, then we are scrambling to find them for pictures, which takes up time.
If we’re taking just a handful of shots (parents, immediate family, bridal party) then about 20 minutes is plenty of time. I recommend keeping the list short, because on your wedding day smiling at the camera posed with tons of different groups will get tiring for you and your groom. I usually say expect at least 2-3 minutes per group shot.
We will work together on a family portrait list that I will have with me to make sure I check off every group you list. This will help us keep things moving quickly. I also suggest having one person from the brides side and one person from the grooms side that can help organize who is who.
I suggest keeping these portraits to striclty immediate family only. We can get extended family group shots throughtout the night at the reception.
I recommend two portrait time slots for portraits of just you two together. Right after the ceremony for 20 minutes, and at sunset for about 10 minutes.
Why after the ceremony? Because the pressure is off, and your ecstatic, giddy, in love, and ready to party. I’ve gotten some of the best, most genuine joyful moments at this time.
Why before sunset? Because its when we get the best light. At sunset we’ll get great golden light and right after the sun disappears we’ll get some of the best moody light that I love.
If your ceremony is later in the day, close to sunset, we will just merge these two into one, for about 30 minutes total. If you’re doing a first look then we will do a few portraits at that time but will still do the “golden hour” time to get the best photos.
The most important thing to ensure we get great photos is TRUST. If you trust me to create the photos you’ll love, I’ll be able to do my thing and guide and direct you well. It’s all about collaboration and trust!
Ceremonies in nature are my favorite: the setting, the light and the freedom for me to shoot all around. If your planning for an outdoor ceremony, light and sun are super important factors in the photos. Spotty sun light and harsh uneven light are not ideal. So, if you’re having your cermemony close to midday, try to always backlight yourselves. This means, try to set up the ceremony so that the sun is behind your officiant, so you two are backlit, evenly.
You could also plan your ceremony later in the day, so the light is nicer, closer to sunset. Just be sure to leave enough time for any delays, as well as your portraits around sunset.
If you are unsure, feel free to ask me about your ceremony spot and I would be hapy to help!
An unplugged ceremony is when you ask your guests to refrain from taking any photos.
Asking your guests to not use cameras or cell phones allows all guests to really be present during your ceremony, without fussing with cell phones and flashes.
If you don’t want to entirely unplug, I would at least recommend that guests take photos from their seats, without getting up into the aisles. If anyone is in the aisles during any part of the ceremony it will definitely affect the photos I am
able to take.
A great way to ask guests not to is have the officiant make an announcement prior to the ceremony. Have him greet and welcome the guests and politley ask them to turn their cell phones off.
As you know, capturing the mood of your event is very important to me. This is why I try not to use flash for anything other than party/dance floor time. For a romantic mood, market lights and candles are great, and if you use enough, they provide great light for photos. Just try to stay away from using only candles, or super dim lighting, which will make focusing tricky for me. If you are unsure about your setup, just ask me and I’ll help.
DJ lights: While color/flashy lights that your DJ provides might be fun for party time, they can destroy the romantic mood of your first dance and special dances. If you are having colorful lights, I ask that they be turned off for special dances. For party time, go crazy with them if you want. The worst is when during the first dance the DJ puts on a thousands multi-colored speckle lights that are all of you. Then in the photos you have a bunch of colored specks all of you. No bueno!