You want beautiful imagery on your wedding day and as photographers, we want to help you make the right choices that create an environment much better suited for optimizing that quality you deserve. Its our job to take the guesswork out of this for you by knowing how light interacts with the environment and trying to control it. We see the world in a much different way than most because we have trained our eyes and brains to notice the subtle differences of light and shadow and how this will digitally develop in post.
You can take it or leave it, but I offer up some advice here on planning your event from a photographers point of view, whether you’re working with a venue or planning it in your backyard, there are some crucial details you want to make sure you understand and consider before diving into your event.
Most venues and event planners plan the lighting for your wedding to look beautiful to the casual eye. They create a fun, decorative, party atmosphere that in theory looks great in person, but often does not translate very well for photography, particularly skin tones. Here are my quick tips on choosing lighting for your ceremony or reception that maximizes reaslitic skin tones and good lighting conducive for great imagery.
Overall, you want nice, evenly lit, bright daylight and tungsten light sources with minimal magenta up-lighting (or other color gelled lights) that are large and therefore soft. The bigger the apparent size of a light source relative to its subject translates into softer and more flattering light. This is why paper lanterns or similar types of lamps (often found at Ikea) or most suitable.
The biggest consideration I ask of you is to really think about the time of day your ceremony is taking place, especially if its outside. More specifically, think about where the sun will be in the sky in relation to your ceremony space. If your wedding is during the summer, then the sun will be making much wider, straight over your head arcs through the sky and be present longer in the day. If it’s winter, the opposite is true and the sun will be mostly low to the horizon with much fewer hours of daylight offered. Always carefully plan the timing on late October and early November outdoor weddings, because of Daylight Savings Time, we lose an hour of sunlight, so it will be pitch dark by 5pm. Here are a few things you should consider when planning your ceremony:
We live in a new era of iPhoneography where everyone who has a mobile device feels the unbearable need to take 1000 photos of daily activities and post them to social media. Now imagine that feeling at a wedding, where all 150-300 of your guests also feel that unbearable need to whip out their iPhone/iPad and snap 100 photos each during your ceremony. Now take that one step further and put yourself in my shoes as the photographer trying to navigate this sea of people holding up their bright mobile devices all looking to capture their one “unique” perspective. What do you think your photos will look like when I’m shooting a wide angle shot down the aisle? Do you want 100 tiny bright screens obscuring the view in that image?
I thought not.
Do yourself a favor and request an Unplugged Ceremony. This is a thing now and people are well aware of it as its becoming more common during ceremonies. It can be announced by the officiant just prior to the ceremony and written down on the programs handed out. The general language should be overly polite but firm, reminding guests to be respectful of your wishes to keep all mobile devices on silent and in their pockets at all time until the ceremony is finished. Kind of like a movie theater experience. You want guests to be focused on the real event and not focused on trying to take a photo anyways. This is why you hired a professional to do that in the first place. You won’t hurt any feelings, trust me. Most people totally understand and get it. and the ones who don’t? Don’t worry, I’ll have a very kind word with them if they get in my way ;)
Portrait sessions are the most creative time we can spend together. Whether its an engagement, during your wedding day, or a lifestyle solo shoot, its when we get to play and have the most fun. If I’m shooting couples, my main goal is to showcase your unique emotion for each other. This can translate to a few different styles that are catered towards your personalities. Every couple is different so I will chat with you about what you’re most drawn to from the different styles showcased on my website. That might be the intimate candids, fine art look, or experimental. Each style however has a certain element of posing in them, of which I will help direct you through. My highest priority in all of these styles is to stay clear of a traditional cheesy vibe. I love natural connection, natural poses, and natural expressions. Unless we’re specifically shooting a style that is bit more fine art or experimental/abstract, most of my portraits are i the intimate candid range. This means when it comes to posing, its not so much as how you position your bodies together, but how you interact with each other. So here are my tips for posing to help you get the best out of your session together:
If you’re a bride reading this, then you are probably very aware already of the different styles of wedding dresses. My favorite type of client are the ones who dare to be different and want to bring a sense of fashion to their wedding day. That means foregoing the traditional wedding gown in favor of something more unique. Unbridaled is one of my favorite sources for non-traditional wedding attire ideas, but you can find more inspiration at Refinery29, Junebug, StyleMePretty, and GreenWeddingshoes. Whatever style matches your day, the biggest point I want to make is to keep in mind how comfortable you want to be. Often I see brides who wear the large puffy traditional wedding gowns that weigh 20 pounds and can barely walk or breathe in. Keep in mind how hot the wedding day might be and how that affects your ability to take portraits. If you’re not comfortable and can’t walk around easily, then that will not translate very well for creative portraiture work. Some of the best imagery comes from clients who can freely move unburdened in their attire. If you are hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and limited by how much you can walk, then you’re not going to be able to take very creative or intimate portraits. This also affects your entire day, from walking down the aisle to dancing at the reception. So think twice before ordering that huge puffy gown. Also think about accessories. Jewelry and flower crowns add amazing color and detail to your portraits and make you stand out in such a unique and beautiful way.
Now lets talk about the attire for the groom. All to often I see brides show up wearing amazing wedding attire only to be complemented by a groom who has phoned it in and put no attention whatsoever into their suit. I have seen some guys dig an old suit that is bulky and oversized from their wardrobe and think its perfectly acceptable to wear on one of the biggest day of their lives. For all you Game of Thrones fans out there…”SHAME!” So here’s my advice to men reading this. BUY A SUIT AND HAVE IT FITTED, preferably european style fit. Look like you belong in a GQ model shoot. This is your wedding day. It’s the one day where it’s not only perfectly acceptable but practically required that you show some taste and a sense of style. DO NOT rent a suit from Men’s Warehouse for a few hundred dollars that’s not fitted – use that cash to invest in a stylish fitted suit that you can wear again sometime in the future like a BOSS. This is a no brainer guys. Explore the possibilities and create an ensemble with attention to detail to everything from socks, timepieces, belts, shoes, ties, bowties, pocket squares, suspenders, cufflinks…the whole enchilada. Show your fiancé why she is picking the best man in the world. She will truly appreciate it. To help you with this daunting task, you can find a few resources at BridalMusings, TheKnot, JHilburn, SuitSupply, and TheBespokeEdge.
If you don’t know what these are… good. Receiving lines are a traditional way of thanking your guests immediately after your ceremony. Everyone gets in line and for 30 minutes shakes the hands and hugs everyone in the bridal party, like a wedding out of The Godfather. It’s a giant time suck. A better way to greet and thank everyone is during the reception after you have eaten dinner – make the rounds to all the dinner tables and spend some moments saying hello this way. Bonus hot tip: it makes for way better moments to photograph.
When planning your wedding day, you will probably have to decide where each of you want to spend your early hours getting ready with your respective wedding party. The traditional choice has always been a nice hotel with each of you on different floors. While this may seem like the obvious choice, hotel rooms are the farthest thing from anything visually creative or interesting as a backdrop for your getting ready photos. Unless its a historic, boutique, or very artsy/modern decor style of hotel, most of the rooms will be drab in color and style (sorry Hilton). So if you have to get ready in a hotel, be sure to choose one that has rooms that are stylish and interesting. Think about the space in and around the hotel and if they would provide for good portraiture for your single photos. Look for color, texture, good lighting, and uniqueness. There are other options now other than hotels of course. I see a trend of couples starting to rent out lofts or quaint houses via Airbnb now. I think this provides a much more relaxing, interesting, and comfortable style for your moments leading up to your ceremony. There’s something about the atmosphere of a house that automatically makes you more relaxed and your photos more natural. Just be sure to book properties relatively close together or large enough that can accommodate your needs.