I’m guessing you don’t get married every weekend! And when you attend weddings as a guest, you’re probably more interested in having fun than stressing about every detail. Now that it’s your turn, here are 12 tips to help ensure your photographs look lovely.
1. Pad as much extra time into your schedule as possible.
Your wedding day is going to be exciting and fun. But it’s also going to be a big logistical undertaking. There will be several schedule hiccups, totally outside of your control. How might you protect against slow traffic or a bridesmaid who hates her hair and has to redo it six times? Simply pad as much extra time into your timeline as possible.
Sure, your fiancé might wish to sleep in and have a relaxing morning. Sure, you might think you don’t want to be sitting around in your dress or tux any longer than you have to. But I promise you will appreciate every free moment you have to sit down and breathe without feeling rushed or like everybody wants something from you.
2. Keep your getting-ready room (relatively) clean.
The morning of your wedding will be hectic, and the room you’re using to prepare and get dressed will quickly look like a tornado hit it.
Remember: that room is going to be in your photos for the rest of your lives. Create a strategy so you’re not just dumping makeup, dirty clothes, shoes, and fruit plates all over the place.
Bonus tip: your photographer will love you forever if you keep the area around your windows free of clutter. 🙂
3. Buy a photogenic hanger.
Your bridal boutique will probably deliver your gown on a not-so-photogenic, plastic hanger. Consider swapping it with a more photogenic hanger. Whether it’s one of those popular, twisty-wire Etsy hangers or just a simple, elegant wooden hanger, your beautiful wedding dress deserves the extra effort.
4. Consider asking your guests to unplug during key moments.
People have gotten very aggressive with their cameras, phones, and tablets. They all want to get “the shot!” As a result, they’re increasingly disruptive to the wedding day. Here are three common situations you should be aware of:
“Scooping” your important surprises
This is when people try to post photos from your wedding to social networks before anyone else. Sometimes, guests posts photos of the bride in her dress before the groom has even seen her.
Blocking your photographer
Guests typically have zero concern about getting in your photographer’s way. One common example is when guests stand in the aisle to get their photos of the processional or first kiss, totally blocking the photographer’s shot.
Blocking their own faces
When people take photos, they block their own faces with their devices. As a result, your wedding photos are full of people hiding behind their e-devices.
Google “Unplugged Weddings” for tips on how to elegantly address these issues with guests.
5. If you’re *not* hiring a professional coordinator, hire the best DJ/band you can find.
Great wedding coordinators are easily one of the best investments you can make. But not every wedding has room for a coordinator in the budget. So if you’re not hiring a wedding coordinator, hire the best DJ or band you can find.
Why is that? Because without a wedding planner, your photographer and your entertainment vendor end up running most of the show. Especially your reception.
Professional DJs/bands work as the team captain to make sure all the vendors are on the same page. This is vital (for moments like your first dances or toasts) to make sure your photographer, catering staff, etc are all prepared. Part-time or friend-of-a-friend DJs usually don’t understand they are working as part of a team and will do things like announce your first dance while your photographer is outside photographing your venue. Eek!
6. Consider writing speeches on something other than a cell phone.
If you don’t want your Best Man or Maid of Honor looking like they’re texting during their speeches, consider asking them to write their toasts on regular old paper. Technology goes out of style faster than anything else, and those devices are going to look extremely outdated in 20 years.
7. Notify your photographer about any special surprises.
Your wedding will be a personal event, full of all sorts of unique moments. If you’re planning a secret high-five at the altar, a special dance when you’re announced at your reception, a surprise serenade, etc, it’s a good idea to communicate that to your photographer before-hand so
s/he can better anticipate them.
8. Be careful with amateur videographers.
Be careful asking friends or relatives to shoot video at your wedding. It’s one of the most common sources of wedding disruptions and disappointment.
It’s not their fault, of course. They want to do the best they can for you. But that pressure often blinds them to what’s going on around them, which causes problems both of you will regret. I’ve seen uncles stand between the bride and groom on the altar, I’ve seen cousins knock over flowergirls walking down the aisle, and I’ve seen coworkers interrupt first dances. It happens all the time. Be super careful, and at the very least, be candid about your expectations from them during the big day.
Bonus tip: Instead of “videographers” try searching for “wedding cinematographers.” Typically, they approach weddings more photojournalistically (i.e. unobtrusively).
9. Be wary of laser lights.
Bands and DJs use a variety of lighting effects during your reception. Most of them are completely harmless from a photography standpoint. Laser lights, however, cause all sorts of problems that can’t be fixed after the fact. Most prominently, they create tiny little dots all over your guests’ skin and clothing, which make them look like they have an alien form of chicken pox.
10. Consider using uplighting during your reception.
The easiest way to transform a space is through uplighting. Like the name suggests, uplights are just lights that rest on the floor along the walls of your reception and shine up toward the ceiling. The main value of uplights is that they add atmosphere to a dark room. Without them, some venues look cavernous.
If you’re not hiring a lighting company, check with your DJ or band — many have their own uplights. And if you think you might use them again in the future, you can rent/buy your own at www.DIYUplighting.com.
11. Empty dance floor? Just dance!
The quickest way to fill an empty dance floor is for the bride to start dancing. Most wedding receptions are completely dead until the bride starts dancing. So if you feel like your dance floor isn’t as jumping as you’d hoped, grab your wedding party and start dancing, and your guests will soon follow.
12. Don’t forget the slow songs.
Many couples want their receptions to be fabulous dance parties. Because of that, they tend to request only up-tempo songs. There are two things to consider when making your reception playlist:
1. Slow songs make romantic reception photos possible. When people dance to fast music, they start to look a little unflattering: partied-out, sweaty, and disheveled. By keeping some slow songs in the mix, you give your guests the opportunity to be photographed in more flattering, romantic moments.
2. Older people get turned off by contemporary music pretty quickly. The volume can irritate people as well. Yes, there are plenty of grandmas who will jump up and dance to Ke$ha. But not all of them will. So consider giving the older guests a few tame songs every now and then so they don’t feel bored and grumpy that they forgot earplugs.