Below you will find my bride and groom guide to wedding photography and how to get the best wedding photographs. It includes snippets of advice that as a couple planning their big day may have previously given little thought to; but can very much enhance the overall look of your day, both in person and through your photographs. It’s a guide on how, with a little bit of forethought, you can help your photographer to help you. In my profession as a photographer, I have gained a great amount of knowledge and experience over the past few years that have allowed me to offer you some useful tips that will hopefully help you to get the most out of your wedding photographs. So…
Before your wedding day
Around a month or so before your wedding day I will send you an email to arrange a wedding day consultation. You will also have received an online form asking for more detailed information about your wedding. The online form (which should be completed in preparation for the call) will include questions about the schedules and locations. It will also give you the opportunity to list which shots are important to you and allow you to highlight anything out of the ordinary I might need to know.
There’s no need to send me Pinterest boards or things like that, but if you have specific examples of shots you love from my website, please feel free to let me know. Other than that, I totally appreciate that you trust me to approach your day with an open mind, and that way we will create photographs that are truly and uniquely yours.
In the run up to the wedding you can add à la carte items to your wedding package at anytime, for example, a second photographer, pre-wedding/engagement portrait session or an album if not already in your Collection. Just drop me a line.
Permission for photography
Yes! You may need it, For most couples, the legality and commitment of the actual wedding ceremony is the most integral and special part of their whole day. Sadly, it is a fairly common, but unknown, practice that some religious venues do not allow photographs to be taken throughout the legal ceremony, if at any point at all. Strangely, there doesn’t really seem to be any set pattern or rules regarding this and seems to be strictly down to your Priest/Vicar/officiates views. This may be something to consider when choosing your venue. Make sure to ask your Priest/registrar if you have photographic permissions throughout the ceremony (not just the start or end) or if there are any restrictions to be followed before the big day to avoid any last minute disappointment; and maybe try to negotiate ahead of time and prevent your poor photographer(s) from being banished to the back of the church or out of it completely!
Important: Read your contracts from every vendor, not just your venue or photographer; as on some very rare occasions some ‘Make Up Artists’ are adding clauses to not allow any photography or video during the bridal preparations, resulting in no record for that part of the day.
The morning of the wedding
For most weddings I aim to be with the bride in the morning and then stay with them until the ceremony. If you would like groom’s preparation captured, then provided the distance and travel time between the bride and groom’s getting ready location is not too great (for logistical reasons), then we can build this into the timeline, provide this does not exhaust too much of your coverage hours. Alternatively, I am happy to organise a second photographer. A second photographer is a great addition to the wedding day, covering the boys in the morning and then capturing more candid shots of guests during the day with alternative angles for the ceremony and dancing.
I will usually arrive around 45 minutes to an hour before our agreed start time in your wedding consultation. It’s a chance to get to know everyone and observe the relationships and characters I will be documenting during the day. Plus, it gives everyone time to get over the…‘Look! There’s a photographer in the room syndrome!’
At first it will seem a bit odd that some guy is crashing the wedding with his cameras, but just ignore me and get on with enjoying your day, the feeling passes. In fact, I prefer it if you don’t even look at the camera.
I love to capture the things that matter and the moments as they happen, so I just want you to do what you do, and let me do what I do. Things sometime get a bit chaotic in the morning, don’t worry about tidying up or hiding the chaos for me, but if you do want things to look neat and minimal in your photographs, then just be mindful of that.
In the morning, if there are certain detail shots, or items you want photographed, then try to make sure these items are out on display. I don’t want to miss any awesome moments because I’m in another room unboxing shoes. Typically this includes shoes, hanging the dress in a good position, and flowers. If you are not overly bothered then that’s fine, these things will all be captured on you during the day and look a lot better for it.
Your getting ready location
If you are having a large number of bridesmaids and/or groomsmen, you might want to consider using a large room or suite that can accommodate that many people in there at the same time. Along with your makeup artist, hair stylist and photographer all in at once, it can get very crowded and possibly intensify any nerves you maybe having on the day. A large room allows for you and everyone to move about more freely and certainly helps me manoeuvre to find the best directions and angles to capture you and everyone beautifully and candidly.
Important: Wherever it is that you decide to get ready in the morning, pick a room with lots of natural light and ideally face that light when having your makeup and hair done. Natural light will look more flattering on your skin, than if I had to use flash because of insufficient light and the room being too dark.
The ceremony & your position
This is an important one! Every bride or groom wants to relive the moment they saw their husband turn around and catch the first glimpse of their soon to be spouse walking down the aisle, or seeing what they looked like themselves and the emotions they felt whilst walking towards their happy ever after. However, this view is often not possible when your bridesmaids or even potentially your priest are walking down the aisle and block the shot. This is something that can easily be avoided. Find out if your Priest likes to walk down the aisle before you and if so ask them to go quite some distance ahead of you. It’s also nice to be able to get photographs of your bridal party as they walk down the aisle, so leaving a decent sized gap between yourself and your bridesmaids will make this possible as well as the aisle to be clear for you to have centre stage whilst arriving to your soon to be husband.
Face the light!
When planning where you are going to stand during the ceremony or positioning of the top table, don’t just stick to what is considered the norm. For the most part, you’re limited by the venue; but do ask what your options are and if possible try to ensure you are facing the largest light source (which is usually a window), and avoid having your back towards it. This natural light is the most flattering on you and will ensure your photographs are the best they can be. Having the light source behind you means you are heavily backlit, which is very difficult to combat with a camera, especially without flash, and will result in your images being fairly dark. This is the same with your top table positioning. Couples tend to have the window view behind them for people to admire, however, try to face the window rather than having your back to it, that way you can enjoy the view too.
One of the latest trends to hit weddings is to ‘Unplug’ your day. This involves inviting all of your guests to leave their cameras and smart phones at home or at least refraining from using them throughout the day. It is also common for the couple to ask that no photographs be uploaded to Facebook until they have received their professional photographs. This allows your guests to fully enjoy their day without any distractions, prevents you posing for pictures all day long and leave’s the photographer to do their job with as few obstructions in their way as possible. This ensures that no important moments, such as walking down the aisle, go missed due to guests blocking views by trying to get their photo etc.
Here are some examples of why people choose an unplugged wedding ‘click me’.
You may kiss the Bride
At some point in your wedding you’re going to hear those words. This is pretty momentous and I will of course be poised to catch it, but I’ll need you to give me a chance and make it last a few seconds…please! 🙂 A micro kiss or a peck is difficult to catch at the best of times, so doing it behind a pew, a vicar and a big display of flowers usually will test your photographer’s contortion skills to the limit. Lets not forget this is your very first kiss as a married couple and once you stop anything after is well… just a kiss.
Kiss with gusto, passion and romance, your photographs will thank you for it!
The confetti shot always makes an amazing wedding photograph, often showing laughter and emotion of not just yourself but your guests too, so don’t just stand there, let yourself go while your guests shower you with love. Kiss, hug, fist pump, hell punch the air, just do something to show what your feeling.
Something to note also, not all guests remember or even think to bring confetti, so you may want to add it to your shopping list. You can buy large quantities from most online stores like Amazon, Ebay, Etsi; but do remember to buy the Bio degradable kind, as most churches and certain venues won’t allow anything but.
Time keeping contingencies
Like in life, things often take a lot longer than you expect. Small things, such as the time it takes to simply travel between your two venues, are often overlooked and therefore missed out of your timing schedule. Things like this can really add up and the result is the time must be shaved from somewhere else. To prevent this, try to add a little extra time to each of your estimations. It seems silly, but will result in a much more accurate plan of your day. This will give you reassurance that everything you want will fit in to the time provided and, more often than not, leave you plenty of time to relax, mingle with friends and family, and thoroughly enjoy your day. A relaxed Bride and Groom appear calm and look happier in their photographs.
Formal group & Family photos
You may or may not require photographs of your family members, Father, Mother, Aunty Mabel etc, AKA ” The Formal photographs”. While these are important photographs, it’s worth bearing in mind they can be quite time consuming as more often than not, someone is missing, toilet break perhaps, checking in, or in most cases at The Bar! As with most things in life, preparation is the key. Please let me know prior to our consultation (using the questionnaire you’ll receive), the images you require as well as the people you would like in them. We can then finalise the list during our consultation.
Important: If possible, please assign the gathering of guests to someone in your wedding party who knows everyone, or as many people as possible; one person for each side perhaps? Try and keep your number of photographs to the minimum, because each image can take around 3 to 4 minutes, eating into valuable time. So, if you do require a photograph with individual people, assign enough time for them. For 10 photos, you will need to factor in 30 to 40 minutes for this.
The reception & speeches
If not for anything else, spare a thought for the best man! As you can imagine, the nerves often get the better of best men with the intense pressure of the looming speech! But from a photographic perspective, think of the tables. You spend all that time planning and preparing for your tables to look fantastic, so show them at their best! When speeches take place after the meal, the tables are scattered with glasses, bottles and napkins, and honestly, look a little worse for wear. Speeches before hand ensure that your tables look as fresh as a daisy, and the napkins are clean just in case you need to have a little dab at your eye!
Also, it’s always appreciated if you’ve planned to feed me (and my second photographer). The best time for me/us to eat is when you eat. It’s really the only time I/we stop taking photographs all day and guests with mouthfuls of food don’t make for the great photos.
Bride & Groom portraits
I prefer to capture your portrait photographs when the light is best, usually an hour before sunset. It also means you’ve had time to relax and socialise with guests. If I feel the weather or logistics of the day will make this difficult, I may schedule them at an alternative time.
Most couples love this part of the day, although may feel nervous about it. It’s 30 minutes with just the two of you as a newly married couple. You can enjoy the time by yourselves during the golden hour. I keep it very relaxed and encourage you NOT to kiss or look at the camera. I don’t do silly poses or cliché shots – you will see my work on the website and I hope you agree they are elegant and natural looking.
If this part of the day is important to you and you would like to take more time, or leave the venue to travel a short distance to make some epic pictures, then do let me know, I’m more than happy to do this.
Don’t stress the dress!
Brides spend months searching and trying on hundreds to find the perfect wedding dress, it’s probably the most planned aspect of your day and as a result a major part of your wedding. It also more than likely cost you a small fortune, however, the reality is that it’s going to get slightly dirty. Even just walking along a carpet is going to pick up a bit of dirt. Don’t let this put you off and don’t avoid going outside to prevent it from getting dirty. You won’t be asked to drag your dress through a soggy muddy field and I can hide a multitude of sins with a little Photoshop magic resulting in your dress looking as good as new on all of your photographs. Don’t stress yourself over it, just let it go.
On a cold day, and this particularly applies to a winter wedding, it can get a little uncomfortable being outside for portrait photographs (although definitely worth the results!). To make things a little more comfortable for yourself, it may be worth bringing a warm jacket or throw to wrap around you in between shots to keep some of your warmth. You won’t win any awards for the most glamorous wedding look, but it is practical and no one will ever know you cheated!
You may have bought the perfect pair of expensive bridal shoes and want to get your wear out of them, however, fairly often your wedding venues best photographic locations are on a grassy field or in between trees. Understandably, you don’t want to ruin those new designer heels, so to prevent you sinking your heels into the mud and them being stained forever, its worth considering bringing a spare pair of flat shoes that you don’t mind getting potentially a little dirty or potentially a pair wellies. The best thing is you will be a little more adventurous in where you will venture, resulting in more interesting photographs and you will never see them under all that dress!
First dance and DJ playlist
A bit like my first kiss advice above, try to dance for the full length of your chosen song, giving sufficient time for me to capture the emotion and moment between the two of you. Because you’ll be moving and possibly rotating in circles during your first dance, I will have chosen what I believe to be the best spot to capture you and all the reactions of your friends and family, so dancing the full length of your song really helps.
If you can, also ensure that your DJ’s first 5 to 10 song are of the same tempo and energy right the way through. Some DJ’s kill the dance floor by having a poor or less liked song in between the great ones. This often clears the dance floor and your guests then go off for a coffee or cigarette break.
After your wedding
I will send you a preview of 10 edited photographs within 2 days of your wedding, for you to enjoy and share with friends and family. Feel free to share via social media if you choose, but please tag me in your posts. You can find me here: Instagram.
I will deliver all your professionally edited photos within 8 to 12 weeks of your wedding, via your very own online gallery. Please note that the summer period can be very busy, so delivery may be closer to 12 weeks during these months. If you wish to also have the photos sent to you on an USB, do let me know and I can send one out with both low and high resolution JPEGs images to you at an additional cost.
Professional printing of your photographs
Important: You and all visitors to your online gallery can purchase professional prints, with a 50% discount for the first 2 weeks, which are delivered direct to the home address. You’ll also have the ability to download individual images or the entire gallery using a PIN, which I will provide in my email on delivery of your photos.
If your chosen collection included an album, your gallery will have an option for you to label your favourite images “album choice”, which I can send from my end. I will email you with more information explaining the design process; approving your album design and picking you cover material and colour etc.
If your chosen collection did not include an album, you can add one anytime before or after your wedding.
I honestly believe the best way to enjoy your photographs that you’ve invested so much in, are in albums. The Queensberry Albums are beautiful and perfectly sized for you to easily store anywhere and pull out to spend 20 minute or so, reliving the day with your friends and family. Most importantly, they are hand crafted to last and will become the family treasure passing from generation to generation.
Parent / Copy Albums
Parents usually play a big role in the planning of a wedding and sometimes, financing them. Once you have chosen your album and settled on the design, a smaller 10-inch duplicate album can be produced at the same time as a gift for mums and dads. If this sounds like something you might want, don’t worry! I’ll send all the information out to you when I deliver your online gallery.
That’s it for now!
I hope you found all the above information very useful and it gave you lots to consider and possibly implement for your own wedding. If you have any questions what so ever, please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Finally, if there is any other useful advice you think I ought to add and would be useful to other couples, please let me know.