The Main Event! Vows! Rings! An awkward kiss in front of 100 people! This post is all about how to get the most out of your photography during the ceremony. I shoot a variety of different types of ceremony, including religious, civil, blessings and anything else in between so hopefully there will be something for everyone.
1. Walking down the aisle
Usually, but not exclusively, this will be the bride and bridesmaids. My first tip to anyone going on The Long Walk is to keep your head up. It's tempting to check where your feet are going, but try and keep your gaze forward, even if it's above everyone's heads because you don't want to catch anyone's eye. Secondly, slow down! It's quite tricky to shoot fast moving objects well, especially indoors. Churches are almost always very dark as well which makes it harder to focus and avoid camera shake. Lastly, smile! I mentioned this in my blog post for grooms, but it's just as important for those walking up the aisle too. It's very common for people to be nervous, but I always try and encourage them to smile as they're walking up because nerves can end up making you look miserable. Of course it's okay to be emotional - I will always embrace that, but a smile for your partner will go a long way.
2. The ceremony
During the ceremony, I always do my best to be stealthy and not distract the couple whilst getting the best shots I can. The main priority here is for couples to concentrate fully on saying the vows and not look at the camera, however, it can help to just be aware of your facial expressions. There may be some sightly more serious parts of the wedding, but where you can, smile! In terms of what I'm able to shoot, I will always be flexible with whatever the venue allows and not overstep my mark. It makes sense to find out this information well before the wedding so your expectations are managed and your photographer can be prepared. Civil ceremonies are usually relaxed, but some churches will have slightly stricter rules we need to comply to.
It's also worth considering having an unplugged ceremony. Most photographers will encourage this as it means they're less likely to miss an important shot because someone's iPad has swooped in front of the lens. It's also quite nice to be able to actually see your guests faces in the photos rather than just their electronic devices. More often than not, especially if it's a church, their photos will be dark and grainy, so it's usually best left to the professionals and means that everyone will be fully enjoying the moment.
3. The kiss
There are two main things I really appreciate as a photographer here. The first is time - you might not be the type to have a full-on snog at the altar, but a very quick peck on the lips is very easily missed, so if you want it to caught on camera, try and hold it for a second or two. Secondly, close your eyes! You'd be surprised at how many people keep their eyes open and it just doesn't photograph well.
4. Register signing
I always wait to be told what I'm allowed to do at this point as it varies between all venues whether you're allowed to photograph the signing or not. If I'm able, I will grab a few natural shots, but if not we can do a staged one at the end if you would like to. It's tradition, but don't feel you have to sit there pretending to sign for the sake of it - I'm quite happy to skip it if you're not bothered.
THE MORE THE BETTER. If you're doing it, go big and get as much as you can (the same goes for bubbles). A few small handfuls won't make much of an impact and are gone in 0.3 seconds, but a big shower of it can look incredible. If you're limited by your venue to rose petals or similar, give them to the most important people who can stand close by and we'll get them to throw all at once to create the best effect. If you're walking down a tunnel, walking slowly and keeping your heads up in spite of the debris flying at you will help me get a great shot. No space for a tunnel? No problem. Standing still and having a great big kiss instead works just as well! Lastly, make sure your ushers are on hand to shepherd people as efficiently as possible.
Next time I'll be talking about how to tackle the group photos so keep your eyes peeled for the next post!