photos: Gia Canali
photos: Gia Canali
The first dance is such a sweet moment in the wedding day. It’s a challenge for shy brides and grooms (since all eyes are on you!), but I think it’s a particularly lovely tradition, one that can yield some fantastic photographs, and one that deserves some thoughtfulness in the planning of your wedding day. Here are a few easy tips to get you started:
Emotion in real life = emotion in your real photographs. The song can be magical or meaningful, sentimental or just plain fun, but definitely choose one that makes you two dance.
Lighting can add drama, but it also shows off your faces. And I know I’m always reminding folks about their grannies, but your grannies will be glad they can see your faces, too. This might mean planning your first dance just before or after sunset if you are planning an outdoor reception. Or it could mean bringing in lighting to accent the dance floor if you’re planning an indoor or late night outdoor reception.
I don’t necessarily mean you have to take dance lessons, though I have seen—and thoroughly admired!—some spectacular choreographed and rehearsed first dances. Practice could simply mean slow dancing around your living room a few times before the wedding (which you’ll probably love anyway at that point in the planning!).
photos: Gia Canali
Sometimes, getting the photographer of your dreams means going with partial day coverage instead of full-day coverage. And if that’s what you need to do, do it. But—if there’s any way you can help it—don’t skimp on coverage early in the day. Unfortunately, photographs of getting ready are often the first thing to go with limited photographic coverage. Not only is the getting-ready time a beautiful ritual in and of itself, but it’s one you and your fiance generally go about separately from each other.
Adding time on the day of the event won’t necessarily give you time earlier on in the day when you’d have really needed it. So it’s a good idea not to rely on adding coverage on the day of the wedding. In any case, proper advance planning should tell you how much time you should budget for.
photos: Gia Canali
We love wedding toasts! For one thing, hearing how other folks love the bride and groom makes us—and everybody at a wedding, I think—adore the bride and groom even more. And the photographs of the bride and groom and the guests reacting to toasts can be so fun (though, in fact, that could go either way if the toasts are deadly-long or if there are too many of them, come to think of it).
Somehow, toasts are more-often-than-not overlooked in the orchestration and choreography of the wedding day—but they’re important because the toasts themselves can be very meaningful and the photos do actually sometimes make it into the finished wedding album. So, naturally, you want the toasting photos to be their best selves. (And don’t think that this magically won’t happen to you on your wedding day … )
Here are a few easy tips for setting yourself up to have picture perfect toasts:
Check back tomorrow for an interview with Yifat, full of tips from celebrity weddings that are applicable to weddings on any budget.
photographs: Gia Canali
We all know it’s important to dance with your beloved. But don’t forget your friends! Not only does it make for good photos, it makes for good memories.
photo: Gia Canali
Here are some sample itineraries and guidelines. There are, of course, many variations on each. This is just meant to be a starting point for considering the kind of flow you’d like your day to have. One thing to keep in mind—if at all possible, plan to take the most important photographs during the best light of the day (theoretically the portraits of you and your beloved and likely just before sunset for an evening wedding).
Pros – Things flow very quickly, and if well-planned can feel very spontaneous. This is also a good schedule for morning or noontime weddings with lunch receptions.
Cons – You spend a good part of your wedding day (maybe until 6pm) away from your husband. Things may go by too quickly, or you’ll feel rushed.
Pros – You might enjoy a little more peaceful time with your spouse. And you might be more present for your reception.
Cons – You may not be getting your portraits in the best light of the day.
Pros – You might get to enjoy a little more time with your guests or more portraits, depending on your preference, and those un-rushed portraits might be during the best light.
Cons – It’s possible that things could feel a little slower and more staged if you do group photographs beforehand.
Pros – You don’t miss any of the party, so you have lots of time with your guests.
Cons – You might miss the best light of the day. And it’s possible things could feel a little slower and more staged.
Your photographer wants you to have a wonderful wedding—the kind of seamless experience that works with the kind of wedding day you want to have, rather than fights against it. That is, we want you to have both the wedding you want and the beautiful photographs to remember it by. And all of us photographers know that it is much easier to make flattering photographs of people who are truly enjoying themselves. People who are not stressed out.
A healthy dose of realism goes a long way in preventing stress. So a lot of what Pursuing the Picture Perfect Wedding will deal with is what I like to call the pre-wedding reality check—reconciling your expectations (for the wedding, not just for photography) with the reality of time constraints. The wedding is only one day, after all.
There are a few misconceptions photographers deal with that affect the wedding day plans (and therefore, the itinerary, the “time constraints”) directly. The first misconception is that hiring a hiring a wedding “photojournalist” means that you do not need to take time to make photographs. Or that making great photographs—from any style photographer—requires no effort on the part of the subject (i.e., the bride and groom).
This is simply not true. If you want beautiful portraits of you and your husband (posed, unposed, candid, relaxed), you’ll want to get away from the busy-ness of the rest of the wedding so you can interact with each other. Alone. And ideally, you’ll get to do this in a beautiful, uncluttered environment, during the day’s best light. You’d be surprised to see how, if you’re not vigilant, your “intimate portrait” time can get whittled down with other distractions and obligations. So it’s smart to allow at least 30 minutes for portraits of you and your husband.
If you want photographs with your family and bridal party (and you probably do—they are an important part of your family history), then you’ll need to make time for those, too. We suggest limiting the group photographs to the most essential combinations—extended and immediate family, parents, grandparents (if present), and siblings (if applicable) on both sides; whole bridal party, bride and her attendants, groom and his. Not everybody even elects to have a photograph with the extended families. Depending on the number of people involved in the photos, a streamlined series of group photographs can take about 30 minutes. *
(An aside: if you want lots of photographs with your friends, family, and guests, ask your photographer if she can do a photo booth. It’s really fun for absolutely everybody and it doesn’t take away any time from other wedding day festivities).
(I took the above photograph at a wedding at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. A neighbor saw the wedding ceremony and offered their garden for portraits afterwards. Because we had all planned time to take a long walk and make portraits, we were able to jump at the opportunity. It was a happy detour and the garden photographs added a welcome spot of color to their wedding album.)
The other misconception, which is nearly related to the first, is that you can get away with not planning time for the things that are going to have to happen on your wedding day. For instance, a lot of couples think they can skip seeing each other beforehand and not miss any of their cocktail hour/reception—and still come away with great photographs. This, too, simply isn’t true. There are a several different ways to plan your itinerary, but planning it without time for the things that need to happen—like getting your hair and makeup done, like getting yourself to your venues, like taking some photographs—spells disaster, or at least disappointment and lots of stress. Let me say again, stressed out people look stressed out in photographs. And even I had to submit to getting my hair and makeup done and taking posed family photographs at my own wedding.
So, allow time for everything you are planning to do: get your hair done, get your makeup done (these things often run upwards of 45 minutes behind, so I suggest padding your itinerary early in the day), get dressed (allow more time for a complicated gown), get to your venues, get married, take photographs, make toasts, eat dinner, etc., etc. If you want anything special or unusual, for instance, a vintage process photograph that may require a little extra time to set up and take … allow time for that, too.
In the next post, we are going to show several different, workable itineraries. If you have questions about how long things typically take, ask your photographer and other vendors. Chances are, they’ve worked at hundreds of weddings and have a very reliable sense of how things go and what works in a wedding day itinerary.
photo credit: Gia Canali
*Note: A disproportionate amount of time goes into planning what amounts to about eight family photos and three bridal party photographs—it’s only because there are so many people involved and your photographer wants to make sure it goes as efficiently as possible … Don’t get stressed out that you somehow got tricked into hiring a so-called “traditional” photographer. Your photographer is just trying to help you make the most of your time. You don’t want to be away from your guests and party for an hour … maybe an hour and ten minutes.