How to get the most from your wedding day
from a photographer’s perspective
Written by Vicki & Helen, V&H Photography. All images by V&H Photography
If you are here reading this then we guess you are getting married – congrats! And if you have started the planning process then you may have realised that planning a wedding day can be a little bit daunting! One key element to think about will be how the day is captured via photography as your photographs will be how you remember all the important parts of your day. So here’s a little guide to getting the best wedding photos for you.
Before the Day
Choose the right style of wedding photographer to suit you
Wedding photographers not only have different styles of photographing and editing but we also work in different ways. When you’re researching photographers first look for those whose work really resonates with you and whose photographs you can see yourself in. Have a look at Karin’s photographer blog post for more on this.
Your photographers are there for much more than just snapping a few photographs. We are there to ensure all the key photo opportunities happen as well as capturing all the in-between moments you might even miss yourselves. They will need to be able to handle changing and challenging lighting conditions, organise guests, relax you into portrait time and liaise with your other supplier to make sure everything goes to plan.
Look into how they work on the day. Do they work by blending into the background or do they become part of the day? Will they be unobtrusive and capture everything exactly as it happens or will they instruct you throughout the day? The majority of photographers will blend in a number of shooting styles throughout the different parts of a wedding day but it’s really important to get a feel for how they work and choose the style that is going to allow you to get the best from your day and your wedding images.
Have a think about what the priorities are for the two of you on your day and communicate that to your photographers beforehand. That might be plenty of time with your guests or epic couples photos (or a mixture of both) but communication will be key.
Hiring an experienced photography team will mean you can relax and enjoy your day knowing the photos are in hand.
A well planned wedding day with the right amount of time for each element (and a little bit of buffer just in case) will make for the most enjoyable day for you both and your guests. Thinking about your timings beforehand will mean you can relax and enjoy your day.
Work with your suppliers to create a timeline that allows you space to enjoy your day, have time with your guests, time with each other and doesn’t have you rushing from one task to the next! Your suppliers will be in the best position to advise you on how much time is needed for each element of the day, including photography and to be realistic about everything you can squeeze in comfortably.
On the Day
There are no fixed rules on how or where to get ready but if possible, being on site will take away any transportation stress to your ceremony and will give you a little more time to enjoy the morning. If you are getting ready in separate locations, think about two photographers so you can both have coverage and when you receive your gallery you get to see what each of you were up to in the morning! If you are travelling to your ceremony location talk with your photographer about them travelling with you. That way they can capture all the last minute getting ready moments and be with you as you arrive.
Also having your photographers there from getting ready allows you and those around you to get used to the camera being there early on and before you know it you’ll feel like a natural!
Don’t worry about the space looking perfect, there’s a lot going on during a wedding morning and things can get a little busy. If possible, have a corner of the room with some natural light that is kept clutter free for photos. Also if you have details you would like photographed, have these ready for your photographer in a box to make things nice and easy on the day.
Consider having an unplugged ceremony where everyone puts their phones away and enjoys being in the moment and present. From a photographer’s point of view we are trying to capture your friends and family’s expressions and being able to see their faces rather than a sea of phones will make for some lovely photos. You can also ask the person officiating your ceremony to remind guests just before the ceremony.
It’s also worth finding out beforehand if there are any restrictions on professional photographers during your ceremony. It’s good for your photographer to know these beforehand so they can be prepared and ready.
For any processions down the aisle remember to take your time, as nervous as you might be feeling, enjoy the moment and resist the urge to rush. Leave good gaps in between people coming down the aisle so they can be captured on their way to the front.
If you are having a registrar-led ceremony you will have certain options to choose from for your ceremony and one of those includes whether you would like to sit or stand and whether you would like a table behind the registrar. Choosing to not have the table means that any photographs from the front of the ceremony will not be obscured by the table and you will be able to see yourselves full length in those photographs and will give you a little more room.
If you are having a first kiss remember to take your time and enjoy the moment. Leave a few second gap for your officiant to move out of their central position so you photographer can get in place and make it last longer than a quick peck to give your photographer the best chance to capture it..!
Lots of wedding traditions have gone by the wayside over the years but a good confetti throw never goes out of fashion and it makes for a joyous photo moment!
Stick with biodegradable petal confetti and buy as much as your budget will allow! Larger, pale petals (like the hydrangea petals you can get from ConfettiBee) will show up best for photos, stay in the air longer and are less likely to be stuck in your hair for the rest of the day.
The moment usually works best straight after your ceremony and your photographers and venue team will help set this up with your guests. Just remember to resist the urge to rush through the line, take your time, keep your heads up and if you fancy it, stop for a hug or kiss half way through.
Group photos might not be the most exciting part of the day but they are so important for capturing the most important people in a photograph with you and make for long lasting special memories.
Check with your photographers but the best time for group photos tends to be after your ceremony/confetti when your guests are all present and no one has had the chance to wander off yet!
When you’re creating your group shot list for your photographers, estimate at least 3-5 minutes for each photo. This time will be needed for gathering the right people, arranging and taking the photo before moving onto the next one. If you have the chance, let the people in a formal photo know beforehand that they will be needed. This is especially useful if you are moving between locations.
Think about who the important people are and make sure they are included in a photo but try to avoid multiple photos of the same people to save time. That way everyone is included without you losing all of your drinks reception to portraits or you missing out on all the canapes!
A good helper, someone who knows who people are, either one person from each family or a member of the wedding party with a loud voice will do wonders for keeping the time down and will really help out your photographer. Let them know beforehand you will be needing their help (and that the quicker they work they sooner the photos are complete!)
Leave finding the best location to your photographers. We will be looking for a nice and simple uncluttered background but we also need to think about lighting and where the sun is. Sunny spots are not always the best for photos as they will leave people squinting and cause harsh shadows on faces so on a bright sunny day don’t be surprised if you are directed into some nice cool shade for more diffused light.
First off, rain is not going to ruin your wedding day, in fact some of the best weddings we have ever photographed happened on rainy summer days! The best dance floors come from days where everyone isn’t heat exhausted and hanging out outside all evening. There is an extra camaraderie from rainy days where everyone is a little more determined to make the best day!
If you have showers, be ready to be flexible about dashing outside for some photos when you have a dry spell of weather (which is often the time for the best lighting ever!). Everyone will have their own comfort levels about getting out into the rain but you can also use things like big clear umbrellas and any overhanging doorways around your venue.
Your photographers will also utilise the inside spaces you have and can really get creative with lighting and poses.
Your photographers will be able to advise on the best time of day for your couples photos depending on your main timings and the time of year/weather conditions but consider a few shorter breaks in the day rather than one long portrait session. This way you won’t need to be away from your guests for too long and you will have portraits in different lighting conditions with, fingers crossed, some lovely golden hour light.
Couples photos quite often end up being our couples favourite part of the day. It’s time to be alone together and to take a breather from being the centre of attention. The day will go super quickly for you so having that time will give you the chance to take everything in.
The bonus being you also get some beautiful portraits of just the two of you! Don’t worry too much about feeling awkward in front of the camera. Part of the reason for hiring experienced wedding photographers is it’s our job to relax you and allow you to be yourselves and make the photography experience enjoyable. So enjoy your time together and leave the rest to us!
Dancing and the rest of the day
For the rest of your day you can relax and enjoy yourselves as your photographers capture you and your guests having fun. A first dance is a great way to get the party stage of your day going and everyone up on the dance floor. You don’t need any fancy dance moves for beautiful first dance photos, just enjoy the moment and give your photographers at least half of your first dance song before calling everyone else onto the dance floor!
Remember you have hired your photographers for their experience and expertise so lean on them for advice when you are unsure of what to do. We understand this is quite often your first time planning a wedding and hiring a photographer so we are there to help and advise both before and during the day. It can feel a little daunting knowing you will have a photographer there capturing you through the day but try to (in the politest way) ignore their presence and throw yourself into your day.
The best photos always come when you were not even aware you were being photographed. Ignore any worries about your or your outfits needing to look perfect for the whole day. Outfits may get a little dirty, hair a little windswept and it’s all the perfect sign of an amazing wedding day!
Vicki & Helen x