Wedding planning is a boat load of work, whether you are doing it yourself or you’ve employed the help of a wedding planner. There are details upon details that go into making a wedding day special and unique, giving it a look that reflects your style. Floral centre pieces, linen colours, guest favours, lighting, etc, etc. There are things that you’ll think about and you’ll nail the look you are going for but there are other things that you might not consider [until now]. Things that aren’t necessarily oversights, just little details that you couldn’t have ever imagined. Because, well, this is the first time you’ve done this!
After photographing a big bunch of weddings over the past 5 years, there are some details that recur from time to time that could use some tweaking. I’m not talking about spider lilies vs babies breath in a mason jar or picking mauve over lavender napkins. I’m talking about the details that show up in your photographs that you wish had known about beforehand. I see these things happen all the time and while they don’t ruin photographs, by addressing them, you might just be a little more excited with the final images. Here we go, in no particular order, a photographer’s perspective on wedding planning details!
Slow down: Enjoy your First Kiss
The first kiss is like the icing on the cake and a really nice tradition that has stuck around, even for the contemporary non-traditional types. It’s one photo that is always on my mental shot list and it’s one that I want to make extra special. For your guests, it’s like that part in a movie that has you at the edge of your seat! Then it happens and it’s the fastest little pec ever! Dang, your cuz missed it because he was trying to get the iPhone camera open to Instagram it! I’m going to capture it no matter what, but that’s not really the point. The point is that it’s special and you should slow down and enjoy being in that moment. OK, now, you don’t need to make out in front of your Grandma, but take your time with it, it only happens once.
I am not a scientist and I don’t really know how LEDs work, but what I do know is that they show up inconsistently in photos. They flash constantly at a really high speed that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but since each photo is taken at a fraction of a second, it’s a toss up as to whether the lights will appear to be on or off in the image, and sometimes it’s only half the strand. If you are going to string white Christmas lights around your venue, try to find a few strands of the old-school, incandescent ones. They have a warmer glow and a consistent light output that always shows up in photos.
Outdoor Ceremony Lighting
A huge portion of the weddings I get to shoot incorporate an outdoor ceremony. Awesome, I love the outdoors! The outdoors can be unpredictable, but one thing that is absolutely predictable is the sun, unless it’s cloudy, then read no further. But assuming it’s a bright sunny day, chances are that the angle of the sun will leave one of you in the shade and one in full blazing sun. This bites for a few different reasons, one; the individual shots of each of you will look different, two; the overall look is uneven and three; one of you will be squinting while the other is cool as a cucumber, eyes wide open. I’ll always make it work, but if you have the choice, scout the location and try to find a spot where you are both in the shade or both on a relatively similar angle to the sun.
It’s really popular to have slideshows during receptions that show photos of the couple as kids and through the development of their courtship. I love this. The guests love it and the couple always eats it up. Obviously, having a good slideshow means having a gigantic white screen in the room and it’s usually in a very visible location by the head table. Sweet. But, here’s the catch, before and after the slideshow, there’s a giant blank white screen at a major focal point in the room and often appears in photos during speeches or in the background of candid shots. Simple solution, delegate someone from the bridal party to set up and take down the screen so it’s only up during the slideshow. Yay, we can see the floral details on the mantle again!
During the reception I usually have to use some form of supplemental lighting (flash) and the thing about flash is that it can sometimes cast shadows. I can usually place my flashes strategically so that they don’t cause overwhelming shadows, so that’s sweet. Shadows are usually most apparent when the subject is close to a wall, enter the speech podium! If you have a choice as to the placement of the podium, try not to press it up against a wall. Just a few feet away makes a big difference or better yet, scrap the podium altogether and just have a cordless mic so the speaker is not bound to a tiny corner of the room.
The First Dance
For me, the first dance is kind of like the first kiss during the ceremony. It’s a really nice tradition that has lived on and is a time in the day (one of the few) where you can simply be together. No one’s going to try to come talk to you during your dance, so enjoy the moment with each other. Now, when it comes to photos of the first dance, I have one recommendation. Dance in the middle of the dance floor! Like the really fast first kiss, I’m going to nail it no matter what, but in terms of the best possible photo, best be in the middle of the floor. It’s usually dark by the time the dance comes around, so I’ll be using off camera lighting to make an awesome looking shot and since I need to set up my lights before the dance happens, I can only assume you’ll be in the middle of the floor.
In conclusion, there’s a lot to think about, sorry to give you more! These are all things that I can work around, but with a little extra insight and planning it can make a difference in your photos and make your day more enjoyable (if you can even imagine that being possible)! Slow down, enjoy every moment, I’ve got the rest 😉
If you enjoyed the read, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Also, here’s a link to the archives of my other “educational” posts for couples.