A lot of people have asked me, as a wedding photographer, how I went about planning MY wedding day to help my photographer create the best wedding images possible. Photography starts with light. If you have beautiful light, you can more easily capture the beautiful moments. Even the most perfect landscape can be wrecked if the light isn’t there.
First, before anything, we made sure that both our ceremony and reception location would be in the shade. Not only does this help my photographer create evenly lit images, it’s also just more pleasant for the guests at the wedding. No one is stuck in the bright sun, which is always uncomfortable. We even pushed our ceremony back 30 minutes from the original set time to account for this— it was that important.
Next, Ben and I discussed the most important things to us on our wedding day, and to make those an absolute priority. We, above EVERYTHING, wanted to be a part of our day and to be with our friends and family. We wanted to go straight from our ceremony into our reception, and to feel like we were never ‘taken away’ from the action. We wanted to feel that there were no time crunches, and that our day was truly ours.
We accomplished this by doing all of our portraits and formals prior to the ceremony. We were ready to go 4 hours before the ceremony, and met at a pre-determined location for our first look. Ben and I scouted several locations prior to our wedding day that we thought would make for pretty photos, and made sure to tell our photographer ahead of time about these spots. We had nearly TWO HOURS set aside for portraits (these were important to us, and also a speciality of our wedding photographer). This was an amazing time, because Ben and I got to essentially be alone for these two hours. We felt like we could soak up our wedding day, and absorb what was about to happen. Marina, our photographer, is INCREDIBLE… and this portrait session yielded some incredible results. We are forever grateful toward her.
We asked our family and friends to be at the ceremony location 2 hours before the ceremony. We had drinks and food there for them, so they could be relaxed and happy. After portraits, we took care of our family photos. We created a list ahead of time for our photographer, so there wasn’t any guessing going on as to which photos needed to be taken. We took some relaxed wedding party photos (we each only had one wedding party, so that our day would feel more simple). All together this took less than 30 minutes, I think. Easy peasy, and everyone was happy! : ) We even had time to spare and just hang out before the ceremony.
Next, after everyone arrived, we began our ceremony. We then got to go straight into our reception confidently, knowing we had taken care of everything beforehand. There are a lot of photos that are taken on wedding days, however if you plan time for it, it does not need to be stressful.
Some simple ways to alleviate wedding day photography stressors:
1) Be realistic. If you have a lot of people in your wedding party, and want lots and lots of family photos, you must make time ample time for it. Trying to crunch these things in after the ceremony in 20 minutes will naturally be stressful. My suggestion is to limit family photos to your immediate family only, and take others during the reception when it’s more relaxed.
2) Focus on what’s truly most important to you, and tell your photographer. If you aren’t interested in a bunch of portraits, and would rather just BE a PART of your day.. ask for more photojournalism of the natural events of the day. If you want more portraits, then make sure you give your photographer ample time. You don’t have to follow the rules on your wedding day. If you don’t feel like you need a million wedding party photos, that’s OKAY. Talk to your photographer about your wants and needs– this will help them help you.
3) Ask your photographer for suggestions, and opinions on light. Again, photography is almost completely dependent on light (especially with digital photography). Although anything is technically do-able, poor light conditions won’t yield the kind of photos you are probably dreaming of.
4) Don’t worry about wedding ‘rules’, and be willing to be flexible. If people see you before the ceremony, it’s okay. Have fun, and be relaxed. It stuff gets pushed back, it’s okay. Everything ultimately will be great. Time is going to pass regardless, so you might as well be having fun. No need to stress at all.
5) Plan ahead, so on the day you can just BE. Simply just plan ahead. Give yourself time. Manage your expectations, and be realistic. This will help you fully relax when you day actually gets here. Ben and I were truly able to be lost in the beauty and love that surrounded us that day.
Photo courtesy of Marina Koslow Photography . We love you very much. xoxo