Category Archives: Weddings

Want more beautiful wedding photos? Limit the number of group photos

limit group photos at your wedding

Do you reallywant hundreds of photographs of various combinations of people all standing smiling at the camera with you in the middle?  Or would you prefer to have beautiful wedding photos (bridal portraits) and candid shots of you, your wedding party, and your guests?To allow more time for capturing candid shots, you may need to limit the number of posed group photos.

Use your time wisely – limit the number of combinations

Of course you will want group photos of family and friends – after all, how often do we get to all get together in our finest clothes these days? But do you really need a photograph with each individual person, followed by a photograph with each individual person plus their partner, followed by a group photograph, followed by a group photograph including partners? Focus on the group photos you really want and will cherish and don’t worry about the rest!

Create a group photo list and arrange for someone to assist on the day

To keep you on track on the day:

  • think about and write down all the important groupings of people that you would like photographed in a shot list.  Having this written down prior to your wedding means you can relax on the day and not have to think about “who else” needs to be photographed.  Send this list to your wedding photographer so each group can be “checked off” as the photographs are taken.  It will also help your photographer in planning the photography timeline for your day
  • arrange for one of your wedding party or an organised relative to “marshall the troops” on the day.  Your wedding photographer is not going to know who everyone is, so having someone help round up the people for each shot mean things will go much more quickly and you are not hassled trying to find people.

Tell those involved in the group photos that they will be needed straight after the ceremony

Before your wedding day, it is really important to let those who are needed for group photos and family photos know that they should listen for an announcement at the end of the ceremony.  Stress that they should not wander off, but immediately head to where they are instructed.  You don’t want to be spending time retrieving Uncle Bob from the bar.

Try to take your group photos in a different location to your ceremony

Even if your ceremony and reception are held in the same place, try to take your group photos in a location that is away from where guests will mingle after the ceremony.  It doesn’t have to be far, it just needs to be hidden from the other guests.  There are a couple of good reasons for this:

  • It is best to only have those involved in the group photos present as this will make everyone in the photo much more comfortable (they won’t feel as though they are on stage performing for a crowd).
  • It will limit distractions so everyone will be looking at your wedding photographer for the photo.  There’s nothing worse than having 10 people looking in the right direction and one not.

Have a plan for extracting yourself after the ceremony

It can be difficult to extract yourself from the well-wishing and photo-hungry crowd immediately after the ceremony.  And although you want to spend time with the crowd and meet and greet everyone who came to share this special day with you, this will usually eat into the time you have allocated for your bridal and wedding party portraits.

Make sure you have a plan for how you will extract yourself quickly so that you can keep to your schedule.  One of the most effective ways to do this is:

  • have your celebrant make an announcement just before the recessional.  The celebrant should announce where the group photos are to take place and ask those who are involved (remember, you have told them beforehand) to move immediately to that location.  They should also instruct those not involved in group photos where drinks will be available etc.
  • exit with your bridal party and head straight away to the location of the group photos.  Or, if the group photos are being taken in exactly the same place as the ceremony, head to a private area for a few minutes until most of the crowd has cleared.

By doing all this, you will ensure you get the group and family photographs that are most important to you but really cut down on the time required for them.  This will allow more time for your photographer to capture beautiful wedding photos of you and your wedding party and many candid moments of your friends and family enjoying themselves.

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Add a splash of colour to your wedding dress

Incorporate colour in your wedding dress for a unique look

Most brides follow tradition and choose to be married in a beautiful wedding dress of white or ivory. All of my brides have followed this tradition, but a few of them have put a unique spin on it by adding a splash of bright colour.

Brighten your wedding dress with a sash

If you are opting for a simple wedding dress – perhaps one you’ve pickup up off the rack in a regular store – have a think about adding colour. Several of my brides have done this by adding a brightly coloured sash that reflected the colour theme of their wedding. They then went on to either:

  • match the flowers in their wedding bouquet;
  • match their makeup;
  • match their shoes; or
  • match their jewellery

to the colour of the sash.

Where do you get sashes for your wedding dress?

Some of my brides dusted off their DIY skills to create their own sash from material they love. This added yet another personalised touch to their wedding. However, there are many places online where you can purchase sashes and ribbons. Light in the Box is one example.

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Wedding photography tips for brides – post-wedding, trash the dress shoot

Your wedding day is over but you don’t want to put the dress away just yet? How about a trash the dress photo shoot?

This is your chance to let your hair down, quit worrying about staying clean and pristine, and capture some really fun photographs of you in your special dress.  The stress of the wedding and the need to get to the reception is gone, allowing you to enjoy yourself while creating some very relaxed images in unusual places.

Just how far you go in trashing your dress is up to you.  Getting wet, running through fields, lounging on rocks, making sandcastles.  In many cases, the dress is not really trashed, and a good dry-clean will restore it to as good as new.

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Savour your wedding day – walk down the aisle, don’t run!

take your time on your wedding day - walk down the aisle - don't run

For many of us, being nervous tends to make us rush through things. And being nervous on your wedding day is no exception. I can’t tell you how many brides I’ve seen almost run down the aisle!

However, one of the most important things you can do is relax, take your time, and savour the special moments. It is only if you give yourself time to be in the moment and enjoy the moment that you will remember your wedding day clearly and be able to re-live it in the years to come.

It’s all about you, so take your time

Your wedding day is full of moments that you should enjoy to the max. Here are some moments to take as slowly as possible:

  • the processional – take time to enjoy your walk down the aisle towards the man standing there waiting for you
  • exchanging rings and sharing the first kiss.  Make sure you at least turn towards each other.  Even better, turn towards your guests and let everyone share these special moments with you.  (You may need to discuss this with your celebrant beforehand).
  • the recessional – take a little time to walk back down the aisle as husband and wife and accept well-wishes from your guests

These are key moments in your wedding day and you should make the most of them. Taking things slowly will also make for happier guests, as they will have more time to look at you and follow what is happening.

Taking things slowly will result in better photographs

An added advantage is that by taking your time, you will allow your photographer to capture candid photos of not only what is happening with you, but also the emotions of other people experiencing those moments. For example, if you run down the aisle, your wedding photographer may be able to capture a couple of shots of you and whoever is giving you away but that will be all. If you walk down the aisle, your photographer will also be able to capture a close-up of your emotion, a close-up of the emotion of your chaperone and a wide angle of your guests watching as you walk down the aisle.

So walk slowly, don’t be afraid to stop completely, and don’t look down!

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A special moment – first look wedding photos

What is the one moment from your wedding day that you really want to carry in your heart and mind forever? For many, it is when they first lay eyes on the person they are about to marry.

Usually the first time the bride and groom see each other on their wedding day is when the bride appears at the start of the wedding ceremony to walk down the aisle.  Given a typical ceremony schedule, this means that there is no time for the bride and groom to connect emotionally, really talk to each other,drink each other in and savour the moment.  Before you know it, you are saying your vows, kissing, walking back down the aisle into a sea of well-wishers, being whisked off for a wedding photo shoot and then off to the wedding reception.  You often don’t get to spend a quiet moment alone until well into the evening!

Take time – schedule a private first look wedding moment

An alternative – and a way to carve out some private time in a very public day – is to arrange a first sight or first look wedding moment to occur before the ceremony.  Typically your photographer will find a quiet location away from any guests and position the groom. The bride will then appear from behind and either tap the groom on the shoulder or call his name when she is ready for him to turn around. The reactions of both the bride and the groom are always priceless as they see each other for the first time.

Incorporating a first look wedding moment into your day allows you to enjoy a quiet moment together and emotionally connect before being caught up in the whirlwind of your wedding.  Your wedding photographer will capture this special moment from a discrete distance, and wedding photos (bridal portraits) can be taken straight after if you wish, allowing you to head off to the wedding reception with your guests straight after the ceremony.

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Wedding photography tips for brides – pre-wedding engagement shoots

e-sessions and pre-wedding shoots

An engagement shoot (or pre-wedding shoot or e-session) is essentially a couples portrait session conducted a few weeks or months before the wedding. Many photographers offer these sessions as part of their wedding packages and it is a good idea to take them up on it (or insist on it if it isn’t offered) for the following reasons:

  • It is the perfect opportunity for you as a couple to get to know and build trust with your wedding photographer.  This will help everyone feel more comfortable on the wedding day, allowing for more relaxed and natural photos.
  • It introduces the groom (in particular) to being in front of the camera
  • It allows you to see how your wedding photographer works and their personality when directing and photographing people.
  • You can brainstorm or test out ideas you think you would like to incorporate into your wedding shots.
  • You can use an image from the engagement shoot for a save-the-date card or the wedding invite.

The better you know your photographer and the more experience you have in front of the camera before your wedding, the more fun you are going to have on the big day.   This is what will be reflected in your photos.

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Wedding photography tips for brides – communicate with your wedding party

For successful wedding photography, it is essential that everyone involved is on the same page.  Of course, you should be communicating with your wedding photographer, but it is equally important to communicate what will happen with your wedding party.  In particular:

  • Most important — make sure that the person you are marrying understands the importance you are placing on the photography and agrees to a specific amount of time for the photographs.  You will feel pressured to rush the photo shot if they lose focus and want to leave 10 minutes after the photographs have started.  To avoid time pressure (the desire to get to the reception as quickly as possible), think about scheduling a “first look” or “first sight” moment, or a 3-hour break between the ceremony and the reception.
  • Communicate the decisions you have made as a couple to the rest of the wedding party.  Where, how long, and what will be required of them. Again communicate about the photography so that they understand that it is important to you.
  • Arrange for a family member to help the photographer by rounding up the relevant people at the appropriate time during the wedding day.

Another opportunity for communication is to invite your wedding photographer to your wedding rehearsal.  This will allow the photographer to meet the wedding party and pass along important information about the photography on the day.

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Be talkative! What to discuss with your wedding photographer

things to discuss with your wedding photographer

To get the most out of your wedding photography, there are several key things you should be prepared to discuss with your wedding photographer at your initial consultation.

Important things to discuss with your wedding photographer

  • Theme.  Many weddings have a theme, whether it be a colour theme or something a little more elaborate (e.g. a Broadway theme).  Make sure you explain the theme to your wedding photographer and why you have chosen it (what is its significance).
  • Style. Show your photographer examples of images that you love.  You may have found these on the internet or in wedding magazines. They will give your photographer a good idea of the style you would like to go for with your wedding photography. Note: you should already have made sure that this style matches the wedding photography style of your photographer.
  • Venues.  Is there a particular reason you have chosen the venues/locations you have?  Do they hold some special significance to you?  If so, explain the significance and the emotions associated with it to your wedding photographer.
  • Shot list. Make a list of all the “must have” photos and give it to your photographer. Explain the significance of special jewellery and clothing shots. For group shots, remember that your wedding photographer will not know most of the people, so arrange for a bridal party or family member to help the photographer by rounding up the relevant people at the appropriate time during the wedding day.
  • Time allocated for photography. Make sure that as a couple, you have discussed and agreed to a certain amount of time for photography.  You need to let your photographer know the amount of time you have agreed upon so that they know how much time they have to create the images and advise you on a photography timetable for your day.
  • Your own photography ideas. If you have specific ideas for photographs you would like to have, let your photographer know! A wacky example might be building a human pyramid for an image of your bridal party.
  • Your interests. Discuss your own individual interests with your photographer.  e.g. Do you play in a band?  Is that where you met your partner?  Your wedding photographer may be able to incorporate elements of this into your wedding photography.
  • Tricky situations. If special circumstances exist between any of the guests, let your photographer know so that they can avoid uncomfortable situations.

Another opportunity for final discussions with your wedding photographer is to invite them to your wedding rehearsal.  This will allow the photographer to meet the wedding party and officiant, familiarise themselves with the venue(s) and pass along important information to others who will be involved in the photos on the day.

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Wedding photography tips for brides – planning your reception

You’ve arranged a beautiful light-filled venue and the catering — what more do you have to think about with regards to the reception?  Everybody just turns up, eats, drinks and enjoys themselves right?  Not quite — have you considered the following?

Scheduling the reception to start immediately after the ceremony

In this scenario, the guests head off to the reception straight from the ceremony.  On the other hand, the bride, groom and often the wedding party head in a different direction to have photographs taken.  Depending on the wedding party, this photo shoot can last at least an hour or two – that’s a lot of time for guests to be milling around a reception venue waiting for the most important people of the day to appear!

There are several solutions to this problem:

  • Schedule the reception to start at least 2 hours (or however long you thing the photos will take) after the ceremony finishes.  Depending on the location, your guests can wander the gardens or grab a coffee before heading to the reception.  This also reduces the pressure on the bride, groom and wedding party during the photo shoot, as they are not constantly thinking about how quickly they can get to the reception.
  • Arrange a “first sight” or “first look” moment (the moment where the bride and groom see each other for the first time) before the ceremony.   Although in this case that moment will not occur during the ceremony, their reaction will be genuine and you can choose a stunning backdrop for the occasion.  Having the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony also allows for the formal wedding portaits and wedding party photos to also be taken early, allowing the bridal party to accompany the guests to the reception.
  • Arrange to take as many of the wedding party photos as possible before the ceremony.  Even if the bride and groom do not wish to see each other before the ceremony, there are plenty of group photos that can be taken that otherwise would take up valuable time between the ceremony and the reception:
    • bride and bridesmaids
    • bride and various combinations of her family
    • groom and groomsmen
    • groom and various combinations of his family

Scheduling the important parts of the reception for the beginning

Guests with young children or older guests may not be able to stay for the entire reception.  It is therefore better to schedule the speeches, cake cutting, first dance and bouquet toss earlier rather than later during the party.   Why not consider doing these things first up – right after you arrive.  Your entrance will already have attracted everyone’s attention and everyone will be there to enjoy these special moments.

An added advantage of arranging your reception in this manner is it may save you money on your wedding photography package!  Many photographers offer a slightly cheaper package to cover just the first hour of the reception (rather than the whole thing).

Arrange a specific location from which the speeches will be delivered

If there is no obvious place from which to make speeches (e.g. a podium or a bridal table), many people will automatically stand very close to a wall.   Before your wedding day, identify a specific location in the reception venue from where the speeches will be delivered.  Make sure it is located several steps away from any wall, and that the closest background (most likely a wall) does not have any distracting elements on it (e.g. a picture).  The other important thing is to communicate where the speeches should be held with your Master of Ceremonies (or whoever will be announcing the speeches) so that they know where to stand and direct people.   You will make your wedding photographer’s job much easier and your photos will almost always look better if you make these simple arrangements. If you are unsure whether your venue will help or hinder the photographer, ask them to come along and check out your selections before making your final decision.

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Wedding photography tips for brides – choosing your locations for bridal portraits

Bridal portraits (or formal wedding photos) are an integral part of most weddings and care should be taken in deciding where they will be taken.  The number of locations you need to choose will depend on how much time you have allocated and the wedding photography package you have bought (1 is standard but if you have placed a lot of importance on the photography, you may need to come up with 2 or 3).

  • If you are arranging for your bridal portraits to be taken at an inside venue (could be a good idea if it is going to be either roasting or freezing outside), keep in mind that the more natural light, the better. I have more photography-related tips for inside venues in another post.
  • If you plan to have your bridal portraits taken at an outside location, remember that the weather is fickle and the light changes from season to season.  I have more photography-related tips for outside locations in another post.
  • If the location you have chosen has strong sentimental value to you, make sure you explain this to your photographer.
  • If you are scheduling your bridal portraits for between the ceremony and the reception, is it a good idea to choose a location that is between the two.  This saves on travel time and allows you to arrive at the reception more quickly.
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