There are various Wedding Planning websites out there that think they are helping couples plan every aspect of their day, but when it comes to the all important photographs, only a Wedding Photographer REALLY knows the deal. Consider this a Public Service Announcement for my current and future couples, and anyone else lucky enough to stumble across this :-)
1. Little kids still on a dancefloor at 9.30pm will keep the adults and fun vibe away! - Yeah, it's cute to watch cake-covered little Harry endlessly knee slide across the dance floor like the Peter Kaye stand up sketch, but nobody wants to step on a toddler when Mr Brightside gets going. Agree with parents beforehand a time, when the little ones will be kept to one side, so the party can really get going. I'll have taken shed loads of photos of them by then anyway. On a similar theme, if you have a little one yourself, ask Mum or Dad to mind them during your first dance, or for at least long enough for me to get some great shots of you both. Once you are stooping down to dance with a 3 year old, the moment has gone, and it's nigh on impossible to get a great shot of you all.
2. Bridal Party, pace yourself on the aisle walk - I know it's an overwhelming moment, and that Dad can't wait to sink his teeth into that first pint of Peroni, but there are no medals being awarded for a sprint finish. The shot of you all walking down the aisle is an important but tricky one, and I already need to negotiate attention seeking vicars, Aunties with iPads, and horrendous back lighting. Please allow the biggest gap possible between flower girls, pairs of bridesmaids etc, and especially the vicar who nobody came to see! I want a good few clear seconds to shoot you making eye contact with your fiancée for the first time, and I need to remove as many obstacles as possible to do this. Walk slow, ignore the vicar and listen to your photographer.
3. Don't let Mum & Dad railroad the formal group shots - While I'm happy to do the formal group shots, despite my reportage style, I need to retain some control over this part of the day or it can become a monster, and then eat a painful chunk of your valuable day. All you really need is the following: B&G with the following groups - Bridal Party, Groom Party, Her Parents, His Parents, Same as previous but with siblings. That will take us 30mins, and longer if you want a group shot of everyone. There is simply no need for a large group shot of all the guys, and then all the girls, and throw in cousins, aunties and uncles etc. You won't do anything with these shots. Trust me. I'd far rather we spend that time letting you enjoy time with your loved ones, and getting you both some AWESOME portraits at your beautiful venue.
4. Speeches photos look best on a traditional long table - the round table thing is a nice idea for the less showy couple, but it's tough for us to get that great shot of the reactions to emotional and hilarious moments if people have their backs to the speaker. Typically I love to get a frame with the groom being roasted by the best man, and it works better when you are all in a line. Ditto shots of the bride's father getting emotional over his daughter.
5. Brides, please ask your make up artist and hair stylist to position you in natural light - Light bulbs give off a horrible yellow cast to you skin, and nothing beats diffused natural window lights to bring out the best in you. Bride prep rooms with big windows are always a massive bonus, and the more space and less clutter in the room, the better, although this is often unavoidable with all the Prosecco bottles and fake eye lash packets skittling about the place.
6. Ask ceremony guests for a Photo Free Ceremony - your vicar or registrar will be happy to ask guests for this. It simply reduces the risk of someone stepping out into the aisle with a phone at that crucial moment where I need to get a key shot. It also reduces distractions for you and anyone giving readings or singing. Trust the professionals on this one. You'll still be tagged into a thousand blurry low res iPhone photos that day by friends, but none will compromise the work I do during the ceremony.
7. Avoid Wedding DJ's with the sniper lasers - Or just ask them not to use them! There's nothing more frustrating than having a bright green dot in the bride's forehead during a magical dancefloor moment. I will always ask them to hold off using them for the first dance at least, but even later on I can find they ruin potentially magical moments for us. Disco lights are not the problem, just the laser cross-hair ones that make it look like you are about to be assassinated.
8. Point out to your Wedding Photographer any special guests outside of the bridal/groom parties that you want lots of photos of - I am not a Record Photographer. I look to document your day and present you with a mix of happy smiling, engaged people. I won't even pretend to know the relationships you have with each person there, but like a moth to a lamp, we are all drawn to interesting shiny, and smiley things. If your Uncle from Burkina Faso has spent his life savings on attending your wedding, let me know this when we run through your Day Plan and I will look out for him crying at the bar, or asleep in the corner.
9. Let me know if Mum or Dad is about to burst in on Bride Prep for the first time - This can be an amazing shot if I have 10 seconds to prepare for it, as there is bound to be some emotion. Sometimes I may need to move you quickly and readjust my own position, but often, if unprepared, by the time I see Dad walk in, and pull the camera to my face, the moment is gone. Maybe employ a super organised bridesmaid to keep watch like a lipsticked German Shepherd?
10. Most important of all: Trust Your Wedding Photographer - As a documentary wedding photography, I want you to give me full access to your day. We've seen it all, trust me. I want to shoot you putting your dress on, kissing your husband for the first time, and falling into his arms at 11pm on the dancefloor. We know how things go at weddings and will advise you gently through the day to ensure we get the best from it. Relax, and enjoy yourselves. xxx