As a wedding photographer I often get asked if I have any hints or tips on how to capture the best, most stunning shots on the big day. There are a few tricks I have up my sleeve, but there are definitely things that you as the couple can do to help ensure you are making the most of your wedding photographer. I've put together a little list of my top tips that I hope you find helpful when planning your special day.
1. Pre-wedding prep!
Be sure to send your photographer a wedding invitation...not because we're likely to forget when your big day is, but so we can capture a shot of a clean and uncrumpled invitation. Other pre-wedding shots that are lovely to have and are not often thought of are the making of the wedding bands, order of service and other stationery from your wedding, and dress fittings. These can all be done in advance and just add to the big book of wedding memories you'll be able to keep forever. Some couples like to plan a pre-wedding shoot.
These shoots are a great way to get the bride and groom comfortable around the camera ahead of their wedding and result in some gorgeous, more natural photos of the happy couple.
2. Provide your guests with lots and lots of confetti!!!
Confetti being thrown over the heads of the unsuspecting bride and groom makes for a beautiful, exciting and joyful shot. It's impossible not to smile whilst you're throwing confetti so it's one of the moments within the day that we can capture a shot where the whole wedding party is smiling, unposed...completely natural. Nowadays not all guests think about bringing their own confetti so it's best to have some on hand to give out to guests as they're leaving the church. It also means you can choose pretty confetti that matches the colour scheme of your wedding. It's best to check that the church allows confetti as not all do....but don't worry, fresh flower petals make for a gorgeous alternative!
3. Keep the bridal room as tidy as poss (I know that's easier said than done!)
The bridal parties getting ready room is usually a hive of activity the morning of the wedding. A busy, bustling room filled with hair, make-up, fake tan, photographers, bridesmaids, champagne... the list goes on. But to ensure we get those beautiful shots of the bridal party getting ready it's good to try keep the mess to a minimum. This isn't to say that everything must be pristine, but just try have a quick tidy up of empty water bottles, crisp packets, dirty coffee cups, tissues etc etc every now and then. Or limit the mess to one table or a corner of the room.
4. The dress shot...
Before the room gets busy, scout out a good place to hang the dress for that all important wedding dress shot. A long bay window, or a pale coloured neutral wall are preferable, but if you're having trouble finding a spot then just ask your photographer to have a look around as they'll be able to quickly identify a perfect place!
5. Don't forget the little details...
Don't get me wrong, I know planning a wedding is pretty full on with all the bigger things to think of such as the band, the flowers, the venue....but some of the really nice shots come from when couples have thought about the little detailed bits and bobs. Hangers with the bridesmaids names on, matching dressing gowns, slippers, matching little gifts for the bridesmaids, welcome signs etc. I appreciate that sometimes there are bigger things to think about but these details all make for really pretty and personal wedding photographs.
6. The big dress reveal
We all know it's the tradition to reveal the dress to the father of the bride, but it makes for a really happy and beautiful shot when the bridesmaids leave the room and then the dress is 'revealed' to the bridesmaids too. Getting that instant, natural reaction creates a shot that captures the emotion of all the bridal party.
A little hint to every bridal party....get into your dresses half an hour before you think you need to. At almost every wedding I have been to, however much time the bridal party have to get ready, it always seems to end in a mad rush trying to get everyone in their dresses and to the ceremony. Leave enough time so you can calmly get into your dresses and maybe even have fifteen minutes to relax and compose yourself before walking down the aisle.
7. A concise shot list
When your big day finally arrives, all you should be doing is getting caught up in the moment and enjoying every second, so preparation is key. After the ceremony is usually when we will do the more formal wedding shots. It's really helpful to have a list of exactly who you want in each shot so I, as the photographer, can gather the required people and get through the shots as quickly as possible and you, as the bride, don't have to worry about a thing.
8. The wedding car
If your budget allows then hiring a wedding car to transport the bride and groom between the service and reception is a must. I like to factor in fifteen minutes of the day to drive around with the bride and groom to get some really beautiful and timeless shots. A car can also help in setting the theme of the wedding - whether it's an old classic or a blue camper van!
9. Slow down...
Walking down the aisle can be quite nerve racking and some brides just want it over and done with as quickly as possible. However, the slower you walk, the more time it gives us to capture not only beautiful shots of you, but also the reactions of the groom and your guests.
10. Sit close during speeches
So when it's time for the speeches, everyone's full of nerves, a few drinks in, and cringing at the thought of what's going to come out of the best man's mouth, the last thing you'll be thinking about is the photographer. However, we can get some really great, funny and natural shots during the speeches. It looks really nice when the bride and groom are sat close to each other so we can capture both reactions in one shot.
11. Sunset pics
Some of the most stunning photographs can be taken when the sun is setting, as the light creates a warm, romantic glow. Sometime this means nipping out during the food but it's definitely well worth it for the end result.
12. Sparklers and fairy lights
When the sun goes down and the party's well under way there's still time for a few more of the most special outdoor shots - weather permitting. For really magical, celebratory shots hand out sparklers to your guests and dot little tea light candles and fairy lights around.
Above all, my biggest piece of advice is to relax, go with the flow and enjoy! Some of the best shots are the spontaneous, unplanned, unposed shots when people are laughing, dancing and having fun!