We take pride in shooting candid photos without interfering, so getting you to relax and enjoy is important to us. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t give you a few pieces of advice right now.
We based this on years of experience shooting weddings and receiving couples’ feedback afterwards.
1. Location, location, location
If you’re flying in for a destination wedding, you will often book a hotel room and get ready for your wedding there. Our first advice is to reconsider this idea.
Hotels, even five-star ones, are designed to fit as many rooms in given amount of space, which usually makes the rooms narrow and elongated, with windows on just one side. This is perfectly fine for enjoying your vacation, but less than optimal for photographic coverage.
Light is insufficient, as the windows are usually on the far side of the room, while the rest falls in shadows, twilight or depends on flickery artificial lighting.
Also, hotel rooms are very sterile decoration-wise. There may be a piece of art on the wall, but that’s about it. They’re boring to look at on photos and show no personality.
Finally, it’s much easier for us to react and move quickly in more spacious rooms without getting into anyone’s way.
Almost all hotels we’ve ever shot in have had these features with very rare exceptions of ultra-luxurious (and ultra expensive) presidential suites.
Luckily, all of these problems have a very simple solution. Get a nice, spacious and well-lit Airbnb apartment for a day or two and get ready there!
They’re usually reasonably priced, have a lot natural light coming from many sides, they’re quite spacious so we can move very fast and they’re much better decorated, having a more homey feeling to them.
Pick one that reflects your personality!
2. Let there be light
Great lighting is what makes a good photo amazing, so it’s worth thinking about this in advance.
Natural window light is the best kind of light, so let there be light! Open the curtains and raise the blinds on all windows to give your photos the best chance to shine.
Yes, the A/C may have to work a bit harder, but in 20 years’ time all you’ll remember are the perfectly lit photos we recorded. Sunny or cloudy, it doesn’t matter.
Finally, if there’s a TV in the room, consider turning it off. It’s really distracting in the photos and especially video. Do you really want a washing detergent ad running in the background as you get ready?
3. Clear things up
In 20 years time, do you really want to see breakfast leftovers on the table or clothes on the floor?
So, feel free to leave relevant stuff lying around!
We’ve never had a bride or groom fall into this trap, but often have a mom or sister taking a long time to get ready, all the while avoiding our cameras.
This results in them being recorded in almost no shots from the preparations, as we just don’t have time to chase them around in that late phase.
Another thing we can’t emphasise enough: remove all tags and labels from the clothing and accessories, and unsew your suit pockets — prior to the wedding day! Doing it while packing for the trip is a pretty good time, plus it won’t create a mess that will end up in photos and video.
On the other hand, going to get dressed and realising you need to remove tags from all the ties, suit jackets and dresses can really throw a wrench into the works at the worst possible moment — just as you need to get dressed and get out of the door to reach the ceremony venue in time.
People will often not even have scissors handy and will have to resort to pocket knives, nail-clippers etc., further slowing down things.
Finally, a mistake we’ve often seen done is not spending enough time wearing your shoes prior to the wedding. Trying them on and doing a few steps is not the same as spending 12 hours walking and dancing in a hot country. Wear them at home for a prolonged period — they won’t get dirty. If you don’t want your partner to see them, wear them while (s)he’s not home.
First dance is stressful enough without bloody blisters on your feet. We’ve seen this often enough that we started packing bandaids in our photo-bags!
5. Makeup Artist
Destination wedding takes you to somewhat unfamiliar climate and it’s hard to predict everything that’s ahead of you that day. A professional makeup artist will know how to prepare you for whatever lies ahead – be that a lot of cheek kisses by gleeful guests or sweating under the noon sun.
It can’t be fixed later so consult your makeup artist!
Finally, we suggest you use a window as the light source during makeup. Your photographers and your makeup artist will thank you! 🙂
6. It will be hot!
For weddings between June and August, heat and humidity will often be significant on the day and it’s a good idea to consider and mitigate this in advance.
If your fiancé is planning to wear a three piece suit, it’s worth considering whether he really needs a waistcoat as one of the many layers. It’s not something you need to decide right now, but discussing the possibility now will make it easier to decide on the day. (Guys often feel compelled to wear it because that was the original plan, even though they’re melting already).
More relaxed grooms might opt for light linen clothes which easily breathe and feel appropriate for beach weddings, skipping the suit jacket altogether.
If this feels too informal, there are high performance dress shirts and trousers that are breathable, non-creasing, moisture-wicking and resistant to sweat stains (so, basically magical). This is exactly the kind of clothes I use for weddings, to ensure I look appropriate yet cool enough to actually be able to shoot. (Check out brands like Ministry of Supply, Bluffworks, Mizzen + Main…)
Of course, this still isn’t super-fancy, but neither is dressing up super-formal and then constantly dripping sweat in 38C heat, glistening in every shot. It’s probably wise to compromise for summer weddings, as being relaxed and comfortable is really important if you want to have fun and look good.
Regardless of how your fiancè ends up dressing, if he’s anything like other grooms we’ve worked with, he will be sweating at some point. He needs to be wiping the sweat off him in regular intervals as it’s something we can’t fix later.
If you have high heels, consider a more comfortable footwear for the session, unless high heels are essential for your look and you feel very comfortable wearing them for prolonged time (and over stairs, uneven ground etc.). Someone close to you can have something ready for you to change after the ceremony, and you can dress up again before the reception.
Ask someone close to you to have bottle(s) of water ready for you at key moments (like before the ceremony, before the session, before you enter the reception venue). You will appreciate it!
Just as important, go easy on the alcohol! Yes, it’s your big day, but alcohol makes the heat harder to bear, sweating much worse and often causes redness. We recommend drinking in the evening when it’s cooler and when the ceremony and session have passed (where we tend to shoot more close up). When the party and dancing start, no one will care anymore!
Final piece of advice: if there’s anything in the schedule that you feel may be too tight, try to move things around a little bit to loosen the schedule. (Or alternatively, expend extra effort on the day to be everywhere on time).
That’s because when things start running late, you’ll be stressed and will need to hurry, which will just make the heat feel worse. We’ve seen it many times and taking it easy is amazingly effective.
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
7. First Look
It’s utterly romantic if this happens somewhere in private, away from the guests, and with enough space for us to get further away and let you have your moment while still recording it beautifully. Feel free to consult us if this sounds like something you’d love to do!
Of course, if you’ve dreamed of the first look only after you’ve walked down the aisle since you were a little girl, go for it!
8. Planning & Scheduling
Luckily, solving this issue is quite easy: plan for the unplanned! Insert random 15 minute safety buffers throughout your day, especially before key events (like ceremony).
Multiple intervals will make sure that even a big delay gets slowly soaked up in these small buffers so that by the evening everything is back on track!
…and don’t worry: even if everything is on time, no one is going to mind that extra time spent chatting or enjoying a drink.
Not only will the heat be unbearable, but light will be harsh and unflattering, creating deep shadows on your faces, guests will either be squinting or wearing shades and guys in suits will be visibly sweating in the photos, and wiping off sweat in the video!
It’s easy to underestimate summer sun while planning your wedding during a cold winter month, but avoiding this mistake will afford a much more pleasant open-air ceremony and great looking photos!
9. The Grand Entrance
In rare circumstances we might have a better vantage point, but generally we shoot from front of the venue to capture your expression as you walk down. So remember, it’s your grand entrance — make them wait a bit before graciously gliding down the aisle with all eyes on you and no one in front of you!
10. Unplugged weddings
Some think it takes away from the experience and dehumanizes the guests since they essentially become camera tripods.
So, there’s an even newer trend – unplugged weddings. Couples ask their guests to leave their phones and cameras in their pockets and instead immerse themselves in the surroundings and the moment.
Don’t worry, nothing will be lost. That’s why you have us there! 🙂
We think it’s an idea worth considering. We happened to be guests on an unplugged wedding recently and it really was different. We were unimpeded by constant consideration of what’s worth recording, when the important moments are coming up and whether to shoot photos or video.
And we really enjoyed ourselves that afternoon!
11. Uncle Bob
If you’re reading this, you’ve hired very good photographers who rarely miss a beat. Guests with cameras can be detrimental to our own coverage (getting into the frame, squeezing us out of the best angle, ruining a shot with an elbow or untimely flash etc.). It’s up to you to decide whether this “third shooter” is worth the risk.
We suggest you ask everyone to relax and enjoy the wedding, leaving their cameras for less critical moments like dinner reception and dancing.
They’ll be able to truly engage with what is going on instead of witnessing everything through their screens — you’ll be doing them a favour. Trust us, we know! 🙂
12. Formals & family photos
Shooting formal photos of you with your family is a traditional part of most weddings, so here’s a few suggestions to make the most of it.
It’s a good idea to make a list of groups you want photographed, so we don’t forget anyone. It’s an even better idea to hand this list to someone who knows these people well (like one of your siblings, best man etc.). This way (s)he can help in gathering people and making sure everyone’s in the shot when they need to be, which is much more efficient than us yelling name by name instead of setting up our cameras and the group.
This will make formals very efficient, leaving more time for you to just enjoy your big day.
We also suggest to keep your list short. It can be surprisingly exhausting to just stand then smile for dozens of photos while people around you come and go. You need to stay fresh to properly enjoy your wedding, not to mention look good for later!
Most people go for shots of their closest families, bridesmaids with groomsmen and a group shot of his and her friends. This way you have everyone important on the photo, looking good and smiling.
Further groups are optional, but it’s best not to go overboard as some very traditional parents may insist (e.g. the couple with one mum, than the other mum, then first mum and dad, then the second, then throw in siblings, then their partners, then the same for other side… then the aunts and uncles, then add the parents again… you get the picture!).
This is utterly exhausting and time-consuming so we recommend against it. If your families are in good relations, there’s no point separating and recombining each and every person for photos. A few group shots will do.
Experience has shown that if you have drinks planned after the ceremony, it throws a wrench in the formal shooting – it’s next to impossible to gather people for the photos, not to mention convince them to put down their glasses of cold drinks on a hot summer day. This makes everything last three times longer than it should and instead of you enjoying your drinks with guests, you’re standing around constantly waiting for someone to show up for the photo.
If you’ve already had your first look, here’s an idea: shoot the formals before the ceremony. Why? It’s simple: everyone’s there, looking great, excited and ready to go. You can feel this excitement in the photos, not to mention that when the ceremony is over you don’t have a worry in the world and can immediately join your guests for drinks or run away with us for a short private session.
If you’re planning your first look after you walk down the aisle, next best thing is shooting immediately after the ceremony. We start with biggest group first and send people away as we shoot them, so they can enjoy their drinks while we wrap things up. This also saves a lot of time looking for people around the venue and convincing them to put their drinks down for a second.
Final suggestion: make sure you’re looking at our camera as we shoot the formals, not the dozen phones and cameras around us. It’s a trap everyone falls into – you see your family or friends snapping a quick photo and naturally look at their phone. However, when you get your beautiful professional photos, you’ll notice you’re looking away from the camera and it will bug you. It’s not worth it!
As much as we keep reminding people during the formals to look at our camera, there’s often that one person looking somewhere to the side.
13. Private Portrait Session
Why after the ceremony? It’s an emotional experience and you will positively feel the magic in the air. You’ll be happy, in love, smiling and exuding affection. It shows in the photos and you can effortlessly get enchantingly emotional photos in those moments.
If your ceremony is towards the end of the day, we’ll just combine these two time slots into one session of 30-45 minutes.
Most couples tell us that session was their favorite part of the day and you’ll soon see why, we promise! 🙂
By default, reception venues group our meals with other vendors. It’s logical when you think about it, but vendors are often served last.
Our suggestion is to ask the head waiter to serve us at the same time as your guests. This way we will eat quickly be ready while everyone else is still eating, so we’ll be prepared for whatever comes next, whether it’s the speeches, toasts or surprise dance numbers!