Other than your marriage itself, your photographs might your only lasting memento of your wedding day. As such, it’s important you go into your wedding day photography with a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. There are many articles out there with lists of must-have photographs for your big day (the kiss, the bridesmaids getting ready, the look on the groom’s face as he sees you for the first time walking down the aisle), but you should also consider these larger points when planning out your wedding day happy snap checklist.
Which picture is going on your mantelpiece?
Our professional wedding photographer snapped 527 photos at our big day. How many of those do we have on display in our home? Three. And three is actually quite a high number; I have plenty of friends who only got one image printed large, and the rest tucked away in albums. Mathematics aside, what I want to get across is that if you wish to have just a couple of great wedding pics on show in your home, consider in advance what you might like those pictures to be. Is it a posed photograph or something candid? What kind of backdrop does it have? Who is in it? Let your photographer in advance which will be the money shot, so that they know to stage the shot a bit more carefully, and also to take several snaps so you have more to choose from. (You don’t want one of you to blink in your big photo!)
Which picture is going on your parents’ mantelpiece?
Perhaps you want a picture of your groom dipping you in a dramatic “you may now kiss the bride” smooch as your home photographic centerpiece, but keep in mind that your parents will probably also want a photo memento of the day to display in their home – and maybe you need to go for something a little different there. While it’s fine to go in after the wedding day is done and see which of your photos turned out most suitable for parents, you’ll have more options if you go into your nuptial photo shoot knowing what kind of picture you want. For parents, you might be looking for something sweet and cute, without being too over-the-top romantic, or too modern or artsy. Something from the waist-up or closer might be ideal, so that your lovely smiling faces are clear, perhaps a little more posed, might be the best choice.
What do you really want pictures of?
When we received the wedding photos from our photographer, I emailed back to ask him where the rest were – as there were none from our cocktail hour with all our guests. He replied that he spent the cocktail hour inside the reception room taking pictures of centerpiece details and welcome tables… so there weren’t any pictures from our cocktail hour. I was devastated! Why on earth would he think that we would want close-ups of our menu cards rather than pictures of our guests having a good time? We’re not going to put those in a frame in our mantle! (My theory: he was hoping we’d share his photos on wedding inspiration boards to drum up more business for himself.) It’s a good lesson in communicating to your photographer exactly what you what out of your photographs; clearly, it doesn’t go without saying. Similarly, make sure your photographer know your timeframes for the day; you don’t want to spend an hour on your post-ceremony bridal party photos only to run out of time on your bride-and-groom pictures before you have to hurry off to the reception.
Also consider what events of the day you want photos of. If you really want photos of you and your closest girlfriends getting ready together and that’s an important part of the day for you, make sure you don’t hire the photographer to arrive at the start of the ceremony, and make sure they know how you want them to split their time between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen.
Combinations of guests
The post-ceremony photos are a great opportunity to update your family portraits, capture a moment when all your long-lost friends are together, or simply get a great (professional) shot of you and your loved ones. So plan out exactly who you want pictures of… and don’t just plan it, make a written list or even a spreadsheet that you can give to the photographer. That way, they can simply call out the combinations. Perhaps it’s all guests first, and then the biggest sub-group of guests under that right after, so that you don’t have to move too many people around. Consider the bride and groom’s extended families together, then bride and groom’s immediate families together, bride and groom’s siblings/cousins, bride and groom’s parents, bride’s family (with and/or without the groom), groom’s family (with and/or without the bride). And then once you’ve covered off family, you can look at groupings of colleagues, school friends, university friends – and whether both the bride and grooms be in those, or just the one belonging to that group. Also consider if you want plus-ones of those groups to be in the shot; if a plus-one jumps in, let them join the picture, but then smile and say, “Okay, now just the girls!” or similar. Your photographer won’t know who is supposed to be in the shot, so while they can call out the groups they won’t know if the right people have turned up, so you and your new spouse will have to take charge.
Think about, too, other shots you want to get, without being part of the formal post-ceremony photographs. For example, my groom and I live in his country, on the opposite side of the world to my home country, where the wedding would take place. With so much of his family flying over for the big day, the wedding would be the first (and probably last) time that our grandmothers would meet, the last of our living grandparents. I very much wanted to get a picture of the two of them, but I didn’t want to make all of our guests wait around in the post-ceremony photo shoot for just two people to have a picture together. After the photo shoot was all done, I was so caught up in the hecticness of the reception, and – as mentioned – the photographer skipped our cocktail hour, so the grandmother picture just completely slipped my mind… so never happened. I very much regret that we didn’t get that picture! I also forgot to get a picture of just me with my parents, or me with just my best friend, or me with my sister, and didn’t even realize this until after the day. I still think I would have felt awkward just taking duo-pictures in the post-ceremony photo shoot while our guests waited around, but I wish I’d given the photographer (or a bridesmaid a list of those extra photos), rather than keeping it as an idea in my busy head.
Worried that your guests might wander off to bathrooms or similar and miss the photo shoot? Tell your officiant to ask guests just before the end of the ceremony to remain close by afterwards so they can join you in photographs to capture the day.
What kinds of photos do you want to make sure you get on your wedding day, or what kind do you regret not getting? Share your tips with other couples for planning their wedding day photography!