January 31st 2014, Planning your Wedding Photography
Planning Your Wedding Photography: The Ceremony
The ceremony is the most important part of your wedding day. After all, it’s the bit that results in you actually being married. Whether you’re having a religious wedding, a civil ceremony, a celebrant led ceremony or something else, it’s important to make sure the ceremony runs smoothly and feels the way you want it to.
As a wedding photographer, I photograph this part of the day entirely candidly. That means I’ll document it unobtrusively, aiming to move around as little as possible, not drawing attention to myself and not interrupting proceedings in any way.
Here are some hints and tips to make sure you get the best out of your photography on the day.
Rules and Regulations imposed by ceremony officials
Ceremony officials often impose restrictions on photographers in terms of what they can do, where they can stand and whether they can use flash or not. I have even photographed a couple of weddings where I had to wait outside….
Not using flash is usually fine, even in the darkest of churches, but being asked not to photograph at all or being told that we can only photograph from a certain position will obviously have an impact on the final pictures.
I am always very respectful of rules set by ceremony officials, as I want your ceremony to run smoothly, I don’t want to get in trouble and I don’t want to make things more difficult for any photographer who works at the venue after me.
Where the wedding is taking place in a Church or other place of worship I’ll ask you to find out the ceremony official’s requirements and let me know. I’ll also make contact myself a couple of weeks before, just to introduce myself and to let them know that I am a very well behaved kind of a photographer thank you very much.
Before the ceremony starts
I’ll usually arrive 20 – 30 minutes before the ceremony to have a chat with the ceremony official and to capture shots of your guests arriving.
Think about the order that you’ll be walking in. If one or both of you are walking up the aisle, the order you do it will impact on the pictures you get.
If the person getting married walks in first, it can sometimes be tricky to get a clear shots of any bridesmaids/ushers/members of the wedding party that walk up the aisle as part of the ceremony.
If the bridesmaids/ushers/members of the wedding party walk in first, it can make it a little tricky to get a clear shot of the main event, so if you do it this way around, it’s best to make sure that they have sat down before you walk in.
If bridesmaids/ushers/members of the wedding party are walking in individually, do let them know to leave a good sized gap between them too.
Have some tissues to hand. Enjoy it. That’s all!
Everyone will want to say hello/congratulate you/give you a kiss or a pat on the back, so it’s important to factor time for this into your schedule. In my experience this usually takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of guests you have present.
It’s useful to have an usher/bridesmaid/helper or two directing people at this point, so they know what’s happening next.
If you’re having confetti, I’ll start arranging people at this point. I’ll also ask them to throw their confetti up nice and high in the air, rather than directly in your faces.
The general rule with confetti is that you’ll need a lot more than you think, if you want it to make a real impact in your pictures.
Straight after the ceremony is usually the best time for this, especially if you’re having your day at two different venues. I’ll ask you to make sure that a usher/bridesmaid/helper has the list of your group shots to hand and can start rounding people up for me.
I suggest that my couples stick to a list of 5 – 7 group shots and allow up to 30 minutes for this. Here are some suggestions for group shot combinations:
Couple plus parents
Couple plus parents, siblings, partners and children
Couple plus extended family
Couple plus close friends
Couple plus bridesmaids/ushers
Couple plus everyone
If you would like a shot with everyone, this will depend on a couple of factors namely weather, lighting and whether there is a sufficiently high vantage point to take the picture from. I’ll usually need a ladder or a window to shoot out of.
To unplug or not to unplug
The debate about unplugged ceremonies goes on. On one hand it’s nice for your friends and family to be able to capture your day with their cameras. Lots of cameras/phones means lots of different perspectives. On the other hand it’s also nice to see their faces, as you exchange your vows, rather than a sea of cameras.
If you’re thinking about having an unplugged ceremony, here’s some wording that you might want to use (via Offbeat Bride)
“We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding day, feeling truly present and in the moment with us. We’ve hired an amazing wedding wedding photographer named Laura Babb who will be capturing the way the wedding looks — and we’re inviting each of you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy how the wedding feels. We’re respectfully asking that everyone consider leaving all cameras and cell phones off. Of course we will happy to share our wedding photos with you afterward!”
I hope you find this useful. Do let me know if you have any questions in the comments. And be sure to check out my other posts on Planning Your Wedding Photography.