Daniel of Sutoritera is by far the funniest photographer I know and I just love his sense of humour so I’m thrilled to have him here guest posting today and sharing with you his tips on how you can make the most of your wedding photography!
Having photographed three years worth of weddings across all four seasons in Australia, I know a thing or two about how wedding days run. Here’s a little hint: they never go to plan. But this post isn’t about project management nor is this article about making photography central to your wedding day. Instead, it is a descriptive mental checklist on how you can fit optimise your wedding schedule in order to achieve the best results from your photographer.
When I meeting couples for the very first time, I ask them about their rough plan for their wedding day. I note down when things start, where they will occur, and how much time is allowed in between. Then closer to the wedding day, I sit down with them once again, go through the nearly finalised run sheet, and make suggestions based on my experience as a wedding photographer. The following 7 tips are the very things I discuss with my clients.
(1) Location, location, location
Location matters. The where provides context. From the very beginning to the very end of your wedding day. Allow me to explain.
Are you planning to get ready (i.e. hair & makeup, wear your wedding dress) at a hotel? Or do you plan to do it at your parent’s place? Or your place? There are pros and cons of each.
A hotel removes distraction. It also means that you don’t have to clean up. You probably will have quite a nice view. The walls are mostly white. There is usually good light coming from the windows. However, you lose the context of who you are as a back story. When past brides of mine get ready at their parent’s home, I am surrounded by photos. Photos of the family, photos of the bride growing up. There are trophies. There are framed awards. There are trinkets that have sentimental value all around you. As a photographer, I use these to provide a setting as a means of triggering certain emotions, thoughts and memories through the resultant photographs. The same applies for brides who choose to get ready at their own place.
Any photographer will tell you that the best time for photos is either before sunrise or the hour before the sunsets. The sun is at a low angle which means that you get that softer, warm glow and golden flare that we all associate with romantic photos. Obviously, sunrise is out of the question! So that leaves us with sunset.
Unbeknownst to most marrying couples, Winter is the best season for wedding photos. Apart from the cold, the sun sets just at the right time. You know, the perfect gap between the conclusion of your ceremony and the beginning of your dinner reception. Just remember to bring a jacket. You can always take it off for the photos.
For couples who get married in Summer, this presents a major logistical challenge as the best time for portraits is during your reception. For couples who get married in Autumn and Spring, the best time for photos is actually at the start of reception. Sometimes, it is unavoidable, but if possible, be open to the possibility of stepping outside quickly, for a few snaps with the photographer. The wedding day is not a photo shoot. The wedding day is not about the photos. But when you’ve paid a small fortune for your wedding photos, wouldn’t it make sense to make the most of it?
You probably didn’t know this but most reception venues feed the videographer, photographers, MC, and DJ after all the guests. I can understand why receptions do this, but when our food gets served, we don’t get to eat it because it is time for speeches, or cutting of the cake, or the bridal waltz. And when we finally return to the table, our food has been taken away. For most of us, we have been working 8-12 hours already. We probably no longer feel the hunger, but we sure as hell want to sit down for a good 15-minutes. Please speak to your reception venue and request that vendor meals be served at the same time as guests. For Asian reception venues, vendors are usually fed before guests arrive. Make sure that your vendors know this. And if you are doing guest photos as they arrive, understand that your photographer will not be able to eat during that time. A fed and rested photographer will work harder for you. You can trust me on this.
I once had to travel to Cabramatta in the morning, then down to Stanwell Tops for the ceremony, before driving into Sydney CBD for the dinner reception. That was a lot of mileage for one day.
The more time you spend traveling, the less time you have with your friends and family. I’m usually not in the limo with my clients, so if we are to spend more than 3-hours on the road, that is 3 whole hours worth of content that I cannot deliver to my clients.
For those of you who will have traditional tea ceremonies on the day of your wedding (please do!), if your respective parents’ homes are a good 40+ minutes apart, consider hosting the tea ceremony in just the one location. This is a contentious issue I know and one that may cause ripples, but if required, schedule a meeting with your respective parents along with your wedding photographer. Have the photographer explain the consequences of time (or lack of time). The more travel that is required, the more opportunity there is for things to go wrong.
For parents who are not too fussed about adhering to thousand-year-old traditions, perhaps they may be open to having the tea ceremony later in the day. Perhaps they may be open to having one during the actual wedding ceremony. Most objections arise because no solution has been proposed. Consult with your photographer, show them the proposed run sheet, and see if there can be a compromise to be had.
(4) Summer is really really hot
Sorry for being Captain Obvious here, but I will say it again. Summer is really, really hot. This has implications.
On a hot day, your makeup will not last due to sweat. It is advisable to have a touch up session with your makeup artist. If this is not possible or beyond your budget, then consider having a bridesmaid help retouch the makeup during the day.
Summer in Australia is bright. Like really really bright. Again, this has implications for you and the resulting wedding photos that you will get back. If possible, avoid an outdoor ceremony between the hours of noon and 2pm. The sun as at its peak and you will have all sorts of harsh shadows. If the timeslot is unavoidable, see if the ceremony can take place in shade. Or erect your own shade.
Lastly, due to the heat, make sure you have a pallet of bottled water. Coles and Woolies have these for $8.00 for 24 bottles. Keep hydrated throughout the day to prevent headaches and heatstroke.
(5) The 2IC
I’ve left this as one of the the last tips but it is one of the most important things to consider. From my experience, the less a bride has to worry about the operations of the wedding day, the more likely she is to enjoy the day. You’ve spend a good part of 9-months preparing for this one day. It has brought countless stress, telephone calls and emails. The last thing I want my clients to be is to be stressed over the small stuff on their wedding day. This is where a 2IC comes in very handy.
It can be your MOH or BM. It can be someone outside of the bridal party. The role of the 2IC is to make decisions on your behalf on the day. They know the logistics of the day. They know where you need to be and when. They know most of your family members. Ultimately, they alleviate you of your worries. In my experience, couples who have a 2IC tend to enjoy their day more. They can rest assured that someone is taking care of things. When the hired limousine is running late, they know that the 2IC will chase it up. When there has been a change of plans, the bride and groom know that the 2IC will coordinate with the necessary people. The less you are focused on the small stuff, the more you are able to see the big picture . And what is the big picture? That you are marrying your beloved! That is all that matters!
So when the flowers are late, or the cake is wrong, or the photographer goes missing, or you’re missing family members for the family portrait, the 2IC can take control and you can look at your husband and smile because after today, none of those small details will matter. So why sweat it?
(6) Tell your photography what you want
Photographers, despite their experience, are unfortunately not mind readers. If there are specific photos that you want with particular people, of particular things and details, please tell them. If there are certain details that you want to be photographed, have them ready and set aside so that the photography can easily access them. And if you want really amazing photos of your flowers, be sure that they are scheduled to arrive before your hair and makeup is complete.
To be brutally honest, when I receive an email of photo checklists, I go a bit #zomgwtfbbq. But at least I know what I need to deliver. And being upfront and honest with your photographer is the best way to ensure that there are no miscommunications or misunderstandings.
So there you have it – 6 tips to make your wedding day the best possible day. As I said before, I don’t want wedding photography to take the limelight. It shouldn’t. But since I’ve been to my fair share of weddings across the years, I thought I would share some of my findings with you Simply Peachy peeps so that you can maximise the fun and enjoyment of your wedding day.