If you haven't read the first instalment of my wedding day tips blog series, go and check out the bridal preparations post. This is less specific to one particular point in the day, more just some general tips for grooms, because although we all know that brides often take the centre stage, the guys are still important, right?! 50/50? *black moon emoji*
In all seriousness, you do of course play an important part, no matter how involved you've been in the planning. I just have a few things I think can help with smooth running of the day. Please note I've deliberately left out mentioning how to nail the couple's shoot as I'll be doing a whole separate post on that one.
1. The morning
Whether you're having pre-ceremony photos or not, leave plenty of time in the morning and stay relaxed. If myself or my second shooter are photographing groom prep, we will be aiming to keep things extremely candid. You can happily ignore us and let your groomsmen know to do the same. I wrote a whole post on the brides and bridesmaids getting ready, but there's usually a little less to worry about with the guys! All you need to concern yourself with is being ready when you need to, leaving enough time to chill and having a drink with your mates (...but not too many!).
This is The Biggie. This is the one I really want grooms to take on board. Choose your ushers wisely; please remember that there's a job to do - and a really important one at that! Don't fool yourself that having a big squad because they're all your mates will make it better. If anything, the more there are, the more 'social loafing' you'll see. 10 guys milling about after the ceremony, looking untidy and not really knowing what to do? A big bunch of blokes all assuming someone else is looking after Gran? Or 3 well-briefed men-at-arms with clear, defined jobs? You know what makes sense.
Yes, after choosing friends who want to be important rather than just look important, the best way to combat the curse of the lazy usher is to brief them properly beforehand. Give each one a very specific task. Make sure they all have a copy of the timeline. And give clear instructions of when you'll need their help. It might be worth running through the day with them as you’re getting ready in the morning as well. That way you can rest easy and enjoy your day, knowing that your team have got it covered. Tell them that loud voices and persistence are essential. Not all guests will know who they are, people won’t be listening for orders, and so your ushers should prepare to be roundly ignored at the outset…
Crowd psychology is fascinating and it's one thing about weddings that can be really tricky to manage. Everyone is chatting, drinking, mingling, and they move slower than the district line in winter. So, in order to make your day run to schedule, you need good ushers. And, selfishly, as a small woman (my baritone just isn't up to scratch) I often need their help to gather people for the group photos, another part of the day you really don't want to drag out.
3. The ceremony
Smile! I know it's really nerve-wracking waiting for your partner to walk down the aisle and you'll probably be slightly overwhelmed with emotion. But do your best to relax your shoulders and smile when you see them! It's not always possible to get a shot of the groom's reaction but it's really special when you can, and sometimes nerves can present themselves in a look of absolute FEAR, which we want to avoid. Throughout the ceremony, most photographers will shoot candidly and do their best to not be distracting, so just ignore them and do your thing; breaking the fourth wall and looking straight down the camera lens tends to look a bit weird. Another weird thing? Keeping your eyes open during the kiss. Close them up and enjoy the moment!
4. The speech
I have only one piece of advice for you here: if you're going to say your partner looks absolutely beautiful today, don't read it from your card! Those words should come naturally – hearing them read from a pre-written speech will come across fake. Look at them, or the guests, and say it like you mean it.
5. The first dance
I think the first dance is something a lot of guys feel quite nervous about, but I'm going to let you into a little secret. Swaying on the spot with a smile on your face is ABSOLUTELY fine. Don't feel pressured to do some extravagant dance if it's not your thing. Photograph-wise, you can't really see what movement is actually happening anyway. As long as you're smiling at your partner and not grimacing in embarrassment, it's all good. So don't build it up to be this huge thing: just a hug to some music for 30 seconds - not so bad, is it?
I hope this has been helpful! Please leave a comment below if it has, or if you have another other suggestions to add. Look out for my next post in the series, which will be all about the ceremony.