Generally speaking, the wedding ceremony holds centre stage as the most poignant, emotive and symbolic chapter of your big day. Long before the hilarity of speeches or the romance of a first dance, the rituals and narrative of the ceremony unfold as a photographers dream.
As veritable run sheet of significant moments, back to back (entry, exchanges of vows and rings, first kiss, signings, thrown petals)…it’s little wonder this part of the day is often remembered most vividly through photography – the moments themselves passing as a beautiful, surreal blur.
With this in mind we’ve gathered our 10 all-time most helpful (wish we’d known when we were getting married!) pieces of advice, for a seriously smooth and spectacularly photogenic ceremony. A kind of let us help you, to help us, checklist – for a dreamy day, done justice through our lens.
Location & Orientation
If your ceremony is outdoors, this one is key, and often overlooked, because your wedding is planned far in advance, during a different season, or at a different time of day. Be sure to check what direction the sun will be shining, in relation to where you will be standing and facing, in real time, so as not to spend the entire hour squinting straight into the light!
Arriving on time / starting on time….
Almost every wedding we attend tracks around 15 minutes behind schedule, often because the bride is patiently waiting outside, allowing the last of her (late arriving) guests to enter the space and be seated. Or worse, a bride walking down the aisle, with guests caught in the camera frame, sneaking in behind her (we’ve taken these photos too many times!). This can mostly be avoided by bringing your start time forward by 15minutes on your invitation, to allow a buffer for any stragglers. Or let your guests know that parking is super limited, so they build in a natural buffer for themselves!
A Note on your Celebrant
Do not feel shy about chatting to your celebrant on any outfit expectations you have for their choice of dress on the day. Whether you want a specific palette or simply that they match the dress code of attending guests (cocktail, black tie, barefoot on the beach) – be sure to make your wishes known – because as professionals, they’ll be more than happy to accomodate. Plus, photographically speaking, nothing ruins a chic white-on-white ceremony faster than a magenta frock, because the celebrant wasn’t worded up prior! A great celebrant also knows to discreetly step to one side during key moments such as the first kiss, or the exchange of rings – ensuring we capture this moment with just the two of you, versus a party of three!
A Full House
Ask your celebrant to usher guests into any empty seats before the service begins, as we often see guests holding back, believing seats are reserved for family. From our point of view, nothing looks more peculiar in photographs than dozens of people standing, behind rows and rows of empty chairs – which are much better filled with smiling faces, surrounding you.
Make an Entrance
We’ve all experienced the bridal party hastily make their way down the isle, the bride following in quick succession, then all waiting for the ‘entry’ music to fade out! We recommend allowing your bridal party to walk ahead of you one by one – waiting for each person to reach the front completely, before you even enter. Photographically, it ensures nothing is missed, but more importantly for your bridesmaids, it allows them to experience (their sister or best friend), in her hugely significant moment, walking down the aisle towards them, which is pretty special.
You’ve planned a magnificent floral arch or ceremonial backdrop, and envisioned standing in the centre with your partner, however due to all the nerves and excitement you completely forget your position, and in all your photographs you’re totally off to one side. This can be easily avoided by asking your celebrant to discreetly usher you and your partner into the centre before the ceremony commences.
This one’s a truly modern problem and a slightly vexing one, for us professionals…nothing looks worse in your ceremony photographs than a hundred hands raised in the air, all holding a mobile phone, as every guest tries to document each major moment, themselves. If you’re not keen on seeing this throughout your wedding album, consider having your celebrant share your request for a phone free ceremony. Professional images aside, your guest will be far more present during this chapter of the day, versus experiencing much of it through their screens!
Hold your kiss for at least 4 seconds. We know that sounds like a very long time, and we know that not everyone is big on PDA, but this will ensure your fleeting, super romantic moment is captured beautifully. Make it count!
Your Grand Exit
Hand in hand, make sure you stick together when walking back down that isle! Amidst all the euphoria and well wishes from the gaggle of humans that will swarm around you, it’s very easy to loose one another on your way out!
The Golden Hour
There’s a reason that mid afternoon is so popular for ceremonies…it times perfectly with your portraits falling in that golden hour afterwards. That magic, honeyed window of light at the end of the day, when everything and everyone looks like their most beautiful self. The light is more interesting, the landscape more painterly and everything feels more romantic at this time, rendering it a photographers dream.
However – beautiful portraits can be captured at any time of day and at ERIN&TARA we build you a ‘wedding day’ timeline and plan ahead for the most exquisite portraits possible, painted with whatever light we have available.