01. The Preparation
A lot of couples ask me how much time it takes to capture all of the activity that happens before their wedding ceremony. I like to plan for at least an hour (plus travel if applicable), assuming there are no first looks or family portraits planned prior to the ceremony. I usually arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in and track down all of the details. It helps a ton if all of the pretty things are together and ready for me when I arrive. I like to start by photographing the dress, the shoes, any jewelry or special mementos, flowers, and invites. I don't spend too much time on this, as I'm excited to start documenting all of the moments! Whether you're getting ready at a salon, hotel, house, church basement, or even outside, I've been there and photographed it. Of course there is a lot going on at this time as everyone excitedly rushes to get ready for the alter, but try to hold off on some of those more important moments to make sure I'm there! Only you can define what those moments are, but usually it's the last minute touches on hair and makeup, putting on shoes and jewelry, learning how to tie a tie, pinning on corsages, fastening up the bridal gown, and most importantly all of the emotion and connection that naturally comes with it!
02. The Pronouncement
To flash or not to flash? The answer for me is like 1000% not to flash. I’m already feeling like a sore thumb when I’m standing up by the altar or officiant, and I don’t want to distract from the moment any more than I have to with a bunch of intrusive lighting equipment. Unless you otherwise insist, I’m going sans flash for your wedding ceremony. I’ll do my best to color correct whatever those funky colored carpets or harsh can lights throw at me, but in full disclosure you may see some weird shadows or extra grain in your ceremony photos. You also may be wondering how I approach that moment where the music changes and everyone stands up to turn around, and I’ll actually be facing the other way. My husband’s reaction to seeing me for the first time on our wedding day was priceless, and I make it my goal to capture that split second for you too. If you’re really concerned about having multiple perspectives at this time, you may want to consider adding a second photographer. A second photographer can be added to any wedding collection.
03. The Pretties
Being a documentary photographer, I internally struggle with detail shots. I took to heart something I heard in my wedding photography 101 course: “If they paid for it, photograph it.” I’ve adapted this motto for myself, because it simply makes so much sense, but sometimes I put my own little spin on it. Instead of perfectly stylizing your shoes for example, I might just focus on them as you’re holding up your dress from getting wet or as they’re dangling from the log you’re sitting on. I see details a little differently…not as much like products you’ve purchased, but like small parts of your day you might have forgotten and want to recall 20 or 30 years from now. That being said, if there’s a memento or detail that you absolutely don’t want me to miss, please just let me know! I’d be devastated to deliver your gallery not realizing there was a dime in your shoe or a keepsake photo on your bouquet that you had been expecting a photo of.
04. The People
Photographing families and wedding parties is a lot like herding cats or nailing jello to a wall, so here are a few pro tips for you to help make this part of the day go as seamlessly as possible. 1. Even if you’re not a planner, and you hate making lists, consider making an exception. I’m going to ask you for a family shot list probably about a month before your wedding, but I’m not going to be a nag about it. 2. Once you’ve jotted down all the people you want photos of, be sure to let them know they’re on your list so they don’t schedule a manicure or trip to the local watering hole right after your ceremony. You may be surprised at how many people go MIA during this time, and please don’t count on my Photoshop skills to make it look like they were there! 3. If you think of it, ask your officiant to make an announcement that family members need to stick around. The faster we can all get through this part of the day, the sooner I can eat dinner! Wait, what? That’s not how this works?
05. The Party
Speaking of dinner, I have to admit, by this time I’m pretty tired and probably nearing stage 2 of getting hangry. I’ve been on my feet for several hours by then, squatting down to get all the right angles, and running around like a mad woman! Yea, and I can almost hear you playing the world’s smallest violin for me. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what kind of cake you’ll have to be completely honest and that I need to remember to ask the DJ about their timeline and if they’ll please wait to use all of their colored blinking lights until after your first dances. But when the music starts, my trusty second wind faithfully kicks in. Suddenly I know the words to every song, although I probably can’t tell you who sings it or what it’s called, and I can’t help but sing along from behind my camera. If I had more coordination than a piñata, I’d probably be out there dancing with you too, but I’ll spare myself the embarrassment and save it for my daughter’s Snapchat stories.