It is hard for me to believe that I have been given the honour of photographing roughly 100 weddings. That’s the privilege of witnessing 100 bouquet tosses, 100 ‘I Do’s,’ several hundred boutonniere pinnings, heartfelt tears and laughter and countless snaps of my shutter. Having been on the inside of so many weddings, I feel as though I have witnessed every possible scenario. But I need to be upfront about something, I am very lucky, my clients are amazing. They are without a doubt the creme of the crop, the best of the best and certainly the best possible clients that a wedding photographer could ever dream of. So because I work for the very best, I need to be the very best.
How does a person be the very best wedding photographer that they can be? The most important responsibility any wedding photographer has, second to taking breathtaking photos, is to guide their couples through the often overwhelming and stressful process of planning one of the most important days of their lives. No pressure! Ah, YES, pressure!
Below I will share five tips to ensure a stress-free wedding day:
1. Consider your timeline very carefully
Your ceremony time will anchor your entire day. That is to say that the time of the ceremony will lead, and all other happenings – such as getting ready, photography and cocktail hour – will be arranged around your ceremony start and end time. If your ceremony is early, for example, you would most likely opt to do your photos afterwards, usually between the ceremony and cocktail hour. If your ceremony is later, chances are it will flow right into cocktail hour. In this scenario, you may want to join the growing trend by doing your photos before the ceremony, complete with a special moment for your “first look.” A skilled photographer will have the wedding party present for as much of cocktail hour as possible. Cocktail hour is a special time to enjoy a most deserved refreshment and it’s one of the few times you will have to be present with your guests. Be sure to ask your photographer how long they will need to complete photography, don’t forget to factor in travel time to and from each location, and add in plenty of buffer time.
2.) Organize anything you possibly can ahead of time
There are small things that you can do ahead of time to make your day run more smoothly and get the most out of your hired help. For example, you will want your photographer to get right to work the second they arrive, so having your dress, shoes, jewellery, flowers, garter, rings, family heirlooms, and any other bridal details you want to be photographed ready. A photographer can kick off their day by styling these items right away without wasting any time tracking them down, or worse, forgetting to photograph them! The more prepared you are, the better.
3.) Communicate your schedule
Rounding up people for photos can devour a lot of time, especially when they aren’t aware of where they need to be and when. A couple of great ways to ensure that everyone is organized is to print off copies of your schedule to let people who need to be where at what time, or, you might have your wedding officiant let people know while he or she has them as a captive audience. Either way, make sure you communicate the schedule clearly and that everyone who needs it has it. This helps us not waste any time tracking Uncle Johnny down or grabbing Aunt Martha from the bar. Photos move significantly faster when those needed are on standby, and when this happens everyone gets to go to the party sooner and I promise you’ll be less stressed.
4.) Carve out time for sunset photography
The very best time of day for wedding portraits or outdoor photography, in general, is the hour before sunset. In the photography world, we refer to this as “The Golden Hour.” At this time of day the sun sits low in the sky eliminating harsh midday shadows (and squinting), lighting is soft and romantic and the beautiful warm glow of a setting sun is second to none, in my romantic opinion. The downfall is that this is often the time of the day when everyone is well into enjoying a much-anticipated meal and listening to heartfelt speeches. It can be a bit of a juggling act, but I strongly encourage my couples to consider sneaking out in the midst of this, (perhaps between the main course and dessert) for a short uninterrupted, wedding portrait photo session. Trust me, your wedding photo inspiration board that you are pinning on Pinterest is undoubtedly chalk full of photos taken when the light is soft, romantic and golden.
5.) Acknowledge every single moment
Please believe everyone who tells you – your wedding day will be a complete whirlwind, and before you know it, you will be in your honeymoon suite, reflecting on the day with your new husband while pulling the bobby pins from your hair. The very best advice I was given before my own wedding day was to take moments throughout the day to pause, hold each other’s hands, and intentionally take in even the tiniest of moments. Take it a step further and verbalize the moment you are taking in, “this is me getting my hair done on my wedding day.” Also, whenever I shoot portraits of my couples on their special day, I make sure they know it isn’t just time for photos, it’s a time for them to be fully present together – to hug each other and breathe, to take a few moments to look into each other’s eyes and lock in that memory – and yes, conveniently this also makes for the most magical photos. So, throughout the day, steal little micro-breaks to pull away from the party and just simply be in the moment. You won’t regret it, promise.
There is so much that goes into making a wedding day happen: the build-up, the planning, many many hours, the email chains, the appointments, the vendor meetings, the laughter and tears, and then before you know it, the day is here and gone in an instant. If you set yourself up for success, you can float through your day without needing to give any thought to the details or logistics, but instead, focus on each other and the reason this is all happening. I want you to enjoy your day, I want you to be as relaxed and present as you can possibly be, and I believe if you put these tips to work, you’ll get the most out of all your hard work and planning and best of all, you will float through your day with grace.