The wedding ceremony is, of course, the reason why your wedding day is a thing! But for many couples, it can be the element that receives the least attention when it comes to planning. It’s also the bit that we your wedding photographers have the least control over when it comes to making beautiful pictures. To help you to help us to get amazing images of this singular moment, I’ve put together this list of things to consider when planning your wedding ceremony.
LOCATION AND LIGHT
Light is what great photographs are made of. During your ceremony, we can’t ask you to turn around or take a step forward so that you’re bathed in gorgeous, clean light, so it pays dividends to consider it beforehand.
What you don’t want: dappled light, which will creating strong spots of light or shadow across your faces; or one of you with your face in bright sun with the other’s face in shadow.
Get the best wedding photos by ideally having the sun behind you.
What you don’t want: a dark space; or to be standing directly under an overhead light. An overhead light will create unattractive dark shadows under your eyes. Either of these issues can be overcome with flash photography, however flashes popping during your ceremony can be quite distracting and is not generally something that I do. If you are worried about the lighting in the venue that you have chosen, please just let me know, and we can decide together on the best course of action.
Get the best wedding photos with beautiful window light, preferably lighting you both evenly.
An aisle runner can be a beautiful addition to your ceremony styling, however if you are having an outdoor ceremony at a time of day with bright sun, be aware that the sun bouncing off the runner can reflect the carpet’s colour back into your face.
What you don’t want: a richly-coloured runner under or close to your feet if your ceremony is held outside at a time when the sun is strong.
Get the best wedding photos by getting married closer to sunrise or sunset; choosing a dark or white carpet, or having the runner stop a couple of feet short of the head of the aisle.
COMING DOWN THE AISLE
The bride walking down the aisle to her waiting groom is an iconic, must-have image. A simple step can ensure that picture is truly glorious – your joy, the look your dad is giving you as he holds your arm, your dress as seen for the first time by those gathered – all captured for forever.
What you don’t want: the bridesmaids following each other closely down the aisle, closely followed by the bride. Having only a short distance between means that I am only able to get a clear shot of the first person to walk down – each successive person is then obscured by the person in front.
Get the best wedding photos by ensuring that each person gets right to the end of the aisle before the next person commences to walk. If your ceremony has a very long aisle, I would still recommend waiting until the person in front is at least halfway, and walking at the same speed (or slower!). This will ensure half of a long aisle of clear shots.
THE WEDDING PARTY AT THE HEAD OF THE AISLE
How meaningful to be surrounded by those to whom you are closest on your wedding day! That love and support is a precious part of your day, and an important part of your wedding day story.
What you don’t want: a space that is too small for your wedding party to stand each with their own space, and the two of you with yours.
Get the best wedding photos by ensuring there’s enough room at the top of the aisle for your entire wedding party (including the two of you!). Ideally, a bit of extra room for me to move around will allow me to capture different angles of you as well as your amazing attendants. The love on the faces of bridesmaids and groomsmen as they watch their friend/brother/sister get married is something to be treasured when looking back through your wedding album.
LET US SEE YOUR FACE
Your face is where the most important story is at. Don’t let us miss it!
What you don’t want: to have your hair styled so that it is covering your face – think about this not just when you are looking in the mirror, but also if you put your chin down, as you would to read your vows, or often, to shed a little tear.
Get the best wedding photos by making sure that your hair is styled off your face (ideally – this means I can photograph you from all the angles!); or is parted on the side that is facing your guests. If you plan ahead, you will be able to make sure that you will be standing on the side of the aisle that best suits your hairstyle (just make sure you let your partner know beforehand!). The emotions expressed during your wedding ceremony will make for some of the most precious images of your wedding day.
Ah, the kiss. The wedding must-have, where tradition meets passion.
What you don’t want: a photo of the split second before or the split second after. While we’ve not missed that moment yet, this is not the moment to be shy. Make it a good one. No scrunched up “peck” faces. Enjoy that kiss.
Get the best wedding photos by savouring that first intimacy as husband and wife, husband and husband or wife and wife. But I know I don’t need to tell you – my couples are passionate people.
What you don’t want: your marriage officiant standing directly behind you as you kiss, his or her face and body melding with yours’.
Get the best wedding photos by arranging with your marriage officiant beforehand for them to step to the side for that moment. Some (wonderful) celebrants will always perform this courtesy, but it’s best to make sure by discussing beforehand.
CELEBRANTS, STAND TO THE SIDE
In the past few years, more and more celebrants are standing to the side of their couples, rather than behind them, to perform the wedding ceremony. As a wedding photographer, I am thrilled to see the spread of this trend, as it allows me to photograph from all angles and play to the best light.
What you don’t want: is to stand looking at the celebrant to the side of you.
Get the best wedding photos by standing facing the person that you are marrying. Look into his or her eyes while you listen to the celebrant’s words and feel all the feelings.
GUESTS WITH CAMERAS AND PHONES
Your friends and family are the special people in your life with whom you have chosen to share this most special moment. I understand their excitement at seeing you married. I understand that they want to capture you walking down the aisle; saying your vows; your first kiss as a married couple.
What you don’t want: is to look out at your assembled guests and see a sea of mobile phones rather than smiling faces; or for me, the professional who you are paying, to miss the shot, to get a shot that from an angle that is less than ideal, or to get the shot with one or more cameras or phones in the shot, because I won’t push your beloved uncle and his DSLR out of the way – I’ll get what I can around him. Because he is your invited guest and takes precedence over me every time, but you’ll have to hope that he is getting a great shot for you.
Get the best wedding photos by asking your family and friends to put their phones and cameras away for the day (or at least for the ceremony). To enjoy this time with you – to laugh and love and celebrate in real time. If you are concerned about how to politely share this message with your guests, just google it – there are lots and lots of suggestions online. You can also let them know that your amazing photographer will make all of the images, professional, edited and curated, available in an online gallery where they can download all of their favourites, so they can enjoy the day and have beautiful photos of it, too.
Of course, whether you follow all or any of this advice is up to you – it’s your day, your story.