Take a Saturday morning at Starbucks to review this page together with your fiancee to help prepare to get the best possible photography from your wedding day!
1. Make sure to complete and send Photographer the following:
a. Photographer Guidelines if any from Venue (Especially important for Church weddings with strict guidelines)
b. Wedding Vendor Form
c. Day's Timeline
d. Name of Family member or friend who will be in charge of gathering groups for posed portraits.
2. This is one of the most important: Take everything in slow motion, from walking down the aisle, sliding the ring on your fiancé’s finger, holding the first kiss, standing on the alter before recessional, cutting into the cake… everything. The day goes by fast enough as it is, so for your own enjoyment and memory, be deliberate in taking your time. This also allows me as your photographer to capture images of those moments, especially in the case where one of you blinks in the shot, or the flash doesn’t fire properly, etc. Also, please do a follow kiss after the first kiss, and hold it for about half the time of the first kiss.
3. Consider me as much as possible: (In other words, help me help you.) Of course, you will develop tunnel vision in the big moments – and you should! But if you can help in terms of working with me to create the best shots possible, that can only serve to create better photographic images/memories for you to treasure. One example of this is when exchanging the rings, try to avoid covering the ring with your hand, hold it mid way before sliding it all the way on, and turn your fiancé’s hand so that they are facing me in my position – then hold that as you say vows, as you finish vows, slide it all the way. This will help me get a clear shot of the moment. The same goes for the lighting of the unity candle or mixing of sand, etc. Think of yourself as an actor on stage and don’t obstruct the view of your movements/actions/ etc. When you are facing each other, give a slight bit of turn outward so that I can catch the reaction expressions while you share vows, etc. This is also important if you have a wedding planner. Certain photographic scenarios take time to set up lighting, change camera settings, etc. so if your wedding planner is setting the pace for the wedding, please have him/her communicate with me with at least ten minutes before things like first dance, toasts, cutting cake, bouquet toss, sendoff, etc so that I can get everything set. If I am working on detail shots (photographing the cake/rings/décor/ etc. ) during downtime, I will need some time to break down and secure equipment before transitioning in to the next segment or event.
4. After the ceremony for posed formals, I will set up at the location you request (e.g. typically the altar or prayer garden). Anticipate a conservative set up/light test time of 15 minutes. We will shoot portraits in one location after the ceremony. Since I will be meeting most of the people in the group shots for the first time on the day of the wedding, Client will be responsible for groupings for portraits. I typically suggest that they have a family member or best man/maid of honor who can corral and direct family members calling them up when it is their time to be photographed. I would also suggest they use a list of common groupings (which I can provide upon request), please keep in mind the increase in time that will result from a large number of group portraits after the ceremony. This will help you best ensure that you have the formal portraits that you would like.
5. During posed formals: I try to nail the shot in as few frames as possible in the interest of time. Please do not move after a shot until I give you the go ahead. I try to check that all eyes are open and the lighting is even and flattering. I may need to adjust guests and reshoot. (e.g. if there is a tall guest casting a shadow, etc. ) For bride and groom, this is where your smile holding exercises and training are put to the test. Another suggestion: You may want to send an E-vite or make actual mini-invitations for the family members whom you would like included in the posed group portraits so that they know what time (pre-or post-) ceremony to be present for the pictures. This will prevent them from accidentally leaving or wandering off and getting left out.
6. After posed group formals, please make sure that you have planned for me to enter reception location ahead of you if you would like images of the entrance. This is a great time to decompress for your first moments alone with your new husband/wife. Say a prayer together, share a drink/laugh, talk about the ceremony, etc.
7. During downtimes at the reception, especially when people are eating (because no one wants a picture of themselves eating) I will typically be photographing details (décor, cakes, exterior of venue, guests, etc.). However, if at any time you would like me to capture an image of something or someone, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Please be aware as well, I may come to you during that down time to borrow your wedding rings for photographs. I will verbally and with eye contact confirm with you when I return them. I may also pull you out for a brief bride/groom portrait session (as light and time allow) for your first portraits as a married couple and as storytelling images of your wedding day.
8. This is just a peculiarity of mine, but if you plan to do toasts, please give your best man/ maid of honor a heads up so they can prepare their speech well in advance. There are so many opportunities for me to capture the real, raw emotion of the day and meaningfulness of relationships during the toasts (but generally only if they are meaningful and well-prepared).
9. **I always like to have and give an honest heads up on this because situations do arise where guests act in unpredictable ways. I have had guests who bring their own cameras, and I do not mind this as long as it is not disruptive in any way to me in completing my job. I also have guests with strong “opinions” (for some reason mothers in law sometimes fit into this category) and directions for the photographer; please understand that you as my client are my first priority, and my foremost priority will be to photograph the event to fulfill my obligation to you and to fulfill your photographic requests. Please understand and explain if necessary that I may need to ask guests to move or direct them in other ways. If I have any issues with guests, I will bring them directly to you and I will need you to resolve them. If a guest at your wedding acts in such a way as to prevent me from completing my job after I have notified you of the concern, I can not be held responsible, and I reserve the right to discontinue providing services until such time as the problem is resolved subject to my discretion.
You may also want to consider having an "unplugged ceremony". This is an emerging issue at weddings that guests are so busy holding up their cellphones or personal cameras (especially during processionals and vows) that they are not engaged meaningfully in the spiritual moment that is occuring. It can be distracting to the images that I am creating. Many couples simply choose to have a family member make an announcement before the ceremony to please silence and turn of cell phones and enjoy the ceremony. You have hired a professional to capture the images of the ceremony. I have seen wedding guests actually go on to the altar with their cameras to try to capture pictures during the ceremony, you don't want any of your guests to be "that guy!"
10. If you're preparing/dressing in a hotel, try to reserve a preparation/dressing that is facing the sun. Bride: Buy yourself a little white dress/gown to wear while getting your hair and makeup done, this will look better in your preparations pictures than an old t-shirt.