Planning a wedding is an amazing experience. You will have dedicated a fair amount of time and resources to plan the wedding of your dreams. However after those 24hours are over, all the survives are your wedding photos.
My job a photographer is not just to take pictures, your guests have camera phones for that. My job is to tell your story in the best visual representation possible. A lot of elements, work and expertise go into crafting these photos for you, one of aspect is to effectively advise you ahead of time, so that you are absolutely over the moon with your photos later.
The first couple of tips will be targeted toward Light, because one thing you need to know about photography is that photography loves light!
1. Think about Sunlight, Seasons & Time when choosing your Wedding date
I'm sure you are already thinking about weather conditions which serve as the setting for the day, however something which I find brides do not think about is the ceremony time in relation to the time of year. Here in the UK, we have beautiful long summer days, but incredibly short time day light in winter, with the sun disappearing around 3pm. Think about what is important to you, and if you value the first look to happen on the aisle, then I would recommend you go for a summer wedding, or an early ceremony in winter. One of the questions you should ask your venue is at what time (in the season you are considering) does the venue get the most beautiful, especially for the ceremony room.
2. Choose a Venue with Natural Light
Light conditions will have a massive impact on the overall aesthetic of your photos. What or like bright and airy photos? choose a location with ample light, and white landscape elements. What do I mean by this? White reflects lights and so, the more white elements you have in your surroundings the brighter and airier your photos will look. In indoor spaces things like marble, limestone walls. or white wall paper will help bounce off the light coming through the windows. In outdoor spaces, gravel driveway floors, sand, white titled court yards, again all of these will help to brighten your image.
If you want the opposite, and like the high contract look, then choose darker spaces, with one directional light coming from a window.
Of course all weddings mostly go into the evening, so be prepared for your evening photos to look differently than your morning photos. Be also prepared for the flash to come out in dire situations, and this again will change the overall feel and look of your photos. If you are not a big fan of flash, then the best thing you can do is plan for a summer wedding when daylight is still available at 10pm, alternately, speak with your photographer and let them know so they can plan and advise you accordingly.
3. The Golden Look
Love the Golden look? I'm sure you've seen those stunning golden romantic couple's portraits on Instagram or Pinterest. To get that effect, photos need to shot during the golden hour which is 1hour/45mins before sunset, though I find the optimal time for photography is about 2 to 2.5hours before sunset. If you are lucky enough to have clear skies on your big day (sorry I'm writing from the UK) , have a chat with your photographer beforehand to see if you can allow some time for this during the day.
If this look is super important and you absolutely want your couples portraits to have this aesthetic then I would recommend booking your make up & hair for a second day, and schedule a 2hour couples portrait session on an other day. This way you have the flexibility to follow the weather forecasts and catch that coveted golden light with intention, instead of hoping for clear skies on your big day.
4. Bridal Preparations (location options)
Best case scenario you are getting ready, marrying and celebrating all in one place, however this is not always the case.
What I recommend to my couples who are getting ready in a different location is to rent a bright and airy hotel room or air bnb, with big large windows and a stunning sense of interior decor.
Just imagine how beautiful your photos will look in such places.
5. Hair, Veils & Glasses
The face is the window to the soul and so when photographing people and emotions it is ideal to see faces. Sounds silly to mention, however this is something neither bride or hair stylist think about. When choosing your hair do, try to go for something that will open up your face and won't cover your eyes.
Veils are beautiful and are one of my most favourite things in a wedding, so classic, so romantic. If you are also considering having a veil, make sure it is thoroughly pressed, as cresses are hard to remove in post production, and if you are wearing your hair down, have your stylist give you a blind braid in which your veil can secure itself onto. So many times I've had to perform these blind braids on my brides because their veils were constantly slipping. Though I do love being the super hero that saves day , I would rather you as a bride be completely stress free to start off with.
One last element that can be very distracting in photos, are prescription glasses, especially in men. Apart from having horrible reflections, sometimes covering the eyes completely, when shot from the side the frame & arms can cover the pupils from certain angles. So if you or your hubby to be wear prescription glasses, where possible (I do understand this is not always possible), I do recommend you try contact lenses for the day. If you've never tried them, then start to get used to them at least a couple of months before the wedding day to get comfortable with them. It will save you the hassle from the glasses fogging getting smudged, and believe me, with all the partying and people hugging you, they will get foggy and they will smudge very often on your wedding day.
6. No Mobile Phones at Weddings
This is a topic down to preference and personal choice, on one hand, even if phones don't produce professional photos, phone photos can be a nice addition to your wedding photography collection, because ultimately they will tell your story from your guests point of view.
But, and it's a big BUT, I would recommend you set aside a budget for professional photos and video and ask people not to take their phones out especially during the ceremony, the confetti exit, & the cutting of the cake.
Here is what I witness when couples don't have a 'no phone' policy
🌿 Guest Arrival - people looking at their phones give the impression they are bored and won't make the effort to mingle
🌿 Ceremony - Beautiful photo of the couple, with a couple of people in the background covering their faces with their phone as they snap away.
🌿 Confetti Exit - This is the worst for phones, because all guests want a video of that happy moment, that they all forget to cheer the newly wed couple or throw their confetti, making the exit a little underwhelming.
🌿 Cutting of the Cake & First Dance - These again are other moments where guests forget to cheer when they get entranced by their own recordings, sometimes at the detriment of blocking the photographer & videographer's view.
The final conclusion about phones, it is best to stress to your guests that you want them to live in the moment and that you will send them the photo gallery for everyone to enjoy.
Details form part of your day, they are as little bit important as anything else to get captured on the day. Why?
These are the things you are likely to forget first, so it is utterly important to record what your venue looked like, what perfume you used that morning, what shoes and earrings you wore.