Your Wedding Day From Your Photographers Eyes
Today I’m going to take you through a typical wedding day from my perspective.
This should give you one less thing to stress about on the day when you have a clear idea of what to expect from the photographer.
The Night Before
Having already charged all the batteries, cleaned the lenses and taken care of any routine maintenance the day after the last wedding, the night before a new wedding is a fairly relaxed affair for me.
I run through a checklist to make sure I have all the equipment I usually take; 2 cameras, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, spare batteries and memory cards. It’s not a huge list of gear, but it will handle pretty much every situation I typically come across. I do have a few extra items I’ll take depending on the venue or time of year, but I try and carry as little as possible. It keeps mobile and more discreet as I mingle amongst the guests.
I also grab a print of the list of shots the couple have specified and take a snap on my phone as a backup copy. This list is usually fairly short and specific to the group portraits so that no-one is missed.
Finally, I plan my route to the venue(s) and check the weather so I have a fair idea if more time might be needed for travel or the bridal photos will need to be indoors.
On the wedding day, I try to arrive about 90 minutes before the Bride leaves for the venue. This gives me enough time to grab some detail shots, like the dress and shoes without arriving too early when nothing is really happening.
During this part of the day, there’s a chance to have some fun, relaxed photographs with your bridesmaids, some ‘getting ready’ pictures and first reactions to everyone seeing you in your dress, ready to leave.
Where a second photographer is working with me, they will be with the groom, capturing similar moments.
Timings can vary at this stage as some brides leave from home and sometimes they’ve stayed at the venue the night before.
Either way, once we have the reveal to the bridesmaids and Mum and Dad in the camera, I’ll head off to the ceremony location and await your arrival, hooking up with the groom for a few last minute photos with him as we await your arrival.
There is an alternative step that is becoming a little more popular, particularly if your not heavily investing in keeping it traditional, and that’s a first look.
The first look, is where the bride and groom meet away from the guests and bridal party to simply share a moment with each other before the hustle and bustle of the wedding really takes hold.
If you’ve decided on this, I’ll be with the bride while my second shooter or assistant keeps the groom in position looking away until your close enough for him to turn and see you for the first time.
Just before he opens his eyes or turns to see you, I will back away, giving you space to simply be with each other and enjoy each others company.
The moments we capture here do not take away from the reactions normally associated with coming down the aisle for the first time and I highly recommend it.￼
The Ceremony …continued
Many couples now choose to have an ‘unplugged’ ceremony asking guests to hold back from taking pictures with their phones and iPads and to be present during this particular section of the day, trusting the photographer to document it. It’s something you may want to consider yourself.
As you step down the aisle I’ll usually be positioned to grab the groom’s reaction first, before moving to see you come through the guests and meet at the front of the room.
During the ceremony, I have 2 objectives.
Firstly get the shots you expect, such as exchanging the rings, mum tearing up and signing the register, and secondly to be as discrete as possible.
Your guests are there to see you, not be distracted by me lay down in the centre aisle for an image. Of course I’ll take beautiful images, but the ceremony is not the time for anything fancy or ambitious.
It’s also worth noting that some ceremony locations, such as churches have limited lighting and going back to point 2, I don’t want to be distracting with multiple flashes, this may mean pushing the camera further to capture the available light and add a little grain (also known as noise) to your photographs.
If your so inclined, immediately following the ceremony is typically the best time for a group shot of you, the bridal party and all your guests.
I’ll get everyone in position, be that on the church steps, grouped on the the venue lawn or whatever lends itself best to a large gathering, and make sure we have all eyes on the camera before the confetti rains down.
Bridal Party and Cocktail Hour
In the lead up to the wedding I discuss this section with my couples as it can be a part of the day that can grow arms and legs if not managed well.
I like to have an agreed list of groupings and a nominated helper – usually someone who knows both sides of the wedding party – to assist me in gathering the various combinations. As I shoot one group, they are herding the next.
While this portion of the day can take a while, it’s usually completed in less than 30 minutes with a little guidance.
That in turn leaves more time for bridal portraits and for everyone to get back and enjoy cocktail hour!
After the group shots, I like to take the couple for another 15 minutes for a few more intimate photographs as long as the sun’s not at its peak and the light is good. It’s also an insurance policy against not getting more shots of the couple after the meal.
Back to cocktail hour and if there’s time left, I’ll try and grab at least one simple portrait of all attending, either as a group or individuals. Where you have a second photographer, this will be where they are during the group session.
Meal and Speeches
Typically, the speeches come first. I’ll switch to my long lens and perch myself out of the way switching between snapping the speakers, the top table and guest reactions. Occasionally I’ll pop a flash on a stand if I need a little more light but I’ll always aim to match the ambience of the room.
During the meal, I’ll usually take the opportunity to backup my cards and have my first sit down since the start of the day.
Something to note here is that occasionally the venue want to put the photographer and videographer in another room to eat. While this is fine please make sure someone knows where we are in case the day moves on without us knowing as we don’t want to miss the cake cutting or speeches if they’re post meal since we get served last.
With all the formalities out of the way, it’s time for your first dance and to let your hair down.
Like the speeches, I might strategically place a flash near the dance floor, but I’m never looking to overpower the scene, simply to enhance it, if needed.
If you’ve asked me to stay throughout the reception, I’ll be in amongst the dancers grabbing candid photos as everyone dances the night away and if your up for it doing a few after dark photos with you, as the Moon takes over from the Sun.
Happily Ever After
When it’s all said and done, my first job on getting home is to back up everything.
I’ll copy every photo to my laptop, then to my cloud server before archiving the cards until your images are delivered. Only then do the memory cards get added back into rotation.
With everything backed up I can finally crash into bed.