You’ve established your look and selected your wedding colors – from the bridesmaid dresses down to the linen on the escort table. You’re surrounded by friends and family as you exchange vows and celebrate your love, a collection of moments that are both truly blissful and fleeting. Eventually, after the dust settles and you’ve preserved your gown, you’ll be able to sit down and reflect on your special day through photographs detailing every moment.
As photographers, we’ve seen numerous weddings with different styles and recognize that couples have so many factors to juggle: aesthetics, budget, logistics. The list goes on. There are a few elements that can make or break the memories captured as you celebrate your new life together, many of which you may not have even considered.
Choose a great location for getting ready pre-ceremony. This is often an afterthought, but the location of the ‘getting ready’ images of the bride can be key, especially if the weather is iffy. Spaces filled with daylight are a photographer’s dream and the perfect place for capturing the bride alone before the ceremony. Additionally, these locations can act as backdrops for pictures with your bridesmaids and friends, before bridal party photos are taken.
Give yourself enough time for styling. Make sure you get styled first. Things like last-minute adjustments to hair and makeup are always a possibility, and the last thing you want on your big day is to be rushed or unhappy with the way you look.
Consider seeing each other before the ceremony. Some brides believe it’s bad luck to see the groom before the ceremony or, more often, will lean on the tradition just for tradition’s sake without considering other options. By seeing each other beforehand, the photographer is able to capture the emotion in a private, picturesque setting. During the ceremony, you don’t have much time to speak to each other and really take it all in – and it’s much harder for photographers to capture an emotional moment.
Additionally, the bride’s hair and makeup are usually at their best pre-ceremony and you actually have time for photographs, easing the stresses of rushing to the reception and maintaining a concrete timeline.
Be yourself and allow your ceremony to be a reflection of you, as a couple. Incorporate and blend your family and religious traditions. Weddings are all about adding those personal touches. Does your best friend sing beautifully or play an instrument? Consider having him/her perform during the ring exchange or as you make your entrance into the reception venue.
Consider the width of the aisle when decorating. Allow enough room for you, your dress and the photographers/videographers, if possible. Some aisles can be really narrow, so it’s important to keep in mind the placement of vases, candles and anything that could potentially be a hazard.
Create a focal point. The Ceremony is such a memorable and important part of the day, so there should be some sort of ‘wow factor ‘when the couple exchanges vows, likely at an altar. Whether you decide on a chuppah, tall floral arrangements or something more customized, you want to be sure it’s eye-catching and cohesive with the adornments throughout the rest of the space.
Keep touch-ups in mind and consider a second look. Take the elements into account, especially if it’s a Chicago wedding. Chances are it will be windy, snowy or humid, which can be difficult with hair and makeup. The last thing you want is for your hair or makeup to compromise your pictures.
Consider keeping your stylist on board until all bridal party photos have been taken. By doing so, your stylist will be on hand for touch-ups throughout the portrait session as well as a transitional look from the ceremony to the reception.
Alter the size of your tabletop arrangements throughout the space. This will ultimately add layers and depth to your pictures and is especially important if your reception is being held at a venue with high ceilings or ornate architecture. The elaborate element can often overshadow beautiful tabletop arrangements and this is a trick that will help them stand out.
Consider adding ‘dummy’ layers to your wedding cake or placing it on a pedestal. Don’t skimp on the size of your wedding cake, especially if your venue is large and elaborate. By using secret ‘dummy’ layers, you create the illusion of a grandiose cake. One layer can then be added and used for cutting. Additionally, utilizing pedestals creates the same illusion of height and dimension.
Make use of uplighting. Using these lighting techniques can visually heighten your venue, giving it a more dynamic presence on film and in photographs. Aside from heightening the space, it works beautifully for accentuating the architectural elements, which can quickly change the look and feel of your reception venue.