10 Wedding Photography Tips for Brides and Grooms
1. Establish a Wedding Photography Timeline
A good deal of time goes into crafting creative images: the more time, the better the result. Unless you are an actress/model, it may take you a little longer to get the right expression. Good photos rarely happen in 20 minutes, so allocate a reasonable amount of time for photos that are important to you.
How much time do you need to reserve to take your individual portraits, family/group photos, couple’s session, etc? What does a wedding photography timeline look like? These are important questions to go over with your photography team to plan the day.
We at Amrit Photography meet with our couples 1-2 months prior to the wedding to discuss this information. During this meeting, we review times allocated for every step of the day, confirm locations for the post-wedding and pre-reception shoots, and set flexible goals for the day. This establishes a set schedule to help keep the day organized, leaving our couples free from worry to relax and enjoy their special day.
If it’s in your budget, consider hiring a wedding planner to coordinate the wedding day to take stress off your family members as well. They work miracles on the wedding day and are totally worth the investment! Think of the wedding planner as a safety net. If anything goes wrong (and something typically does) they’re there to troubleshoot so you and your family won’t have to worry. If you don’t know one, please ask us, and we can refer a good wedding planner.
2. Create a Mood Board
A mood board helps your photography team learn more about your personality, style, preference, and relationship. It is a way to visually communicate the style of photos you’re envisioning for your engagement and/or wedding. The mood board can be created on a website or through Pinterest, where you can save images that you like. Pinterest is also a great tool to create inspiration boards for your other vendors to share your vision for the decor, cake, flowers, etc.
When we plan styled shoots, we start with creating a mood board, which we share with the other members on the team to give focus to the shoot and communicate the desired result. For example, if we were to share with the team that we want a ‘glamorous’ look for the shoot, immediately everyone would have different thoughts on what they view as ‘glamorous’. Two people can have complete different perspectives about a certain description. It is easy to avoid this and get everyone on the same page with a mood board. We strongly encourage our couples to bring their mood boards to the engagement photo shoot planning session as well. Styles (rustic, elegant, romantic, boho, etc) evolve over the years and can be achieved in various ways; therefore, it is important that clients give clear direction to the shoot.
We advise against recreating the exact images that you find on Pinterest. Everyone follows the same boards, so your wedding will look like that of another million brides if you copy the exact source. Rather use these photos as inspiration with the goal of creating unique photos that others would pin in the future.
Be realistic in your ideas – it is impossible to recreate the Californian sunshine in the middle of winter in Vancouver. All couples, all locations, all moments are different, and it is the photographer’s task to capture them as they happen, not to manufacture an image from a different place and time, shot by another person. Your wedding photographer will be of most value when they are present to capture the moments happening in front of them, rather than reviewing your list of Pinterest photos at your wedding to manufacture moments and tick off all the items you have asked of them. For the best results, share your desired vision, but then allow your photographer the freedom to be creative in achieving it.
Visit our Pinterest for ideas for your mood board.
3. Incorporate a First Look
A first look is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony and have a few moments alone. The groom gets set up in a certain location and the bride comes to him. She either taps him on the shoulder or says his name for him to turn around. This becomes one of the most memorable events of the wedding day for the couple. It’s a special moment – we have seen couples say their vows and exchange loving words to one another while wiping away each other’s tears. This moment truly makes for some of the most heartfelt photos. The first look sets the tone for the rest of the day, calms nerves, and gives the couple a chance to connect before the ceremony. We understand the tradition of waiting until the bride walks down the aisle, but if you want to incorporate a first look before the ceremony, plan with your photographer in advance.
4. Utilize the Best Lighting
Light can make or break your wedding photos! It is important to try to plan your wedding to give your photographer the best lighting conditions. Late in the day is best for your wedding photos, specifically the hour before sunset, also known as “golden hour”. If you booked your venue because of the spectacular view of the ocean or the gorgeous vines in the winery, it is essential to schedule your couple’s session 1-2 hours before sunset to capture the romantic hues.
Try not to plan your photos in the middle of the day, or early afternoon. Unless it is overcast, the strong sunlight will cast harsh shadows on your face, which are nearly impossible for any photographer to fix. Direct overhead sun creates what is known as raccoon eyes when photographing people. In addition to the dark eye shadows, the shiny spots on the face and squinty eyes don’t look flattering. It is especially important for those planning an outdoor ceremony to consider the sun. We recommend for our couples to visit the wedding venue and/or the location for their couple’s session to determine where the sun will be and how the background will look in photos before finalizing the location and time. Unfortunately, most traditional Sikh weddings take place in the early afternoon resulting in the couple’s session to be photographed at the worst time of day (mid-afternoon). Luckily, we have over a decade of experience in dealing with such conditions, and we find ways to work around it. If your wedding time is not flexible and it must take place in the afternoon, please discuss lighting with your photographer to make sure there is a plan in place to ensure the photos turn out well.
For bridal preparation, window light is the best! Please ask the hair/makeup artist to do their magic next to a window with natural light as opposed to a room with no windows or in a bathroom. Ask your photographer where they would prefer that you get your makeup done. If the makeup is done in a room with artificial light with a different colour temperature than natural light, the makeup will look different in your images.
5. Choose a Quiet, Clean Space for Preparation
Prep time can be stressful when you’re being crowded by a lot of (well-meaning) people. Try to cut the crowd, so you can relax while your makeup artist and photographer do their work. Also, clean the preparation room from non-wedding related clutter. This wedding photography tip is common sense, yet we see it every time. In the rush of the wedding day, clutter takes over and distractions appear in your wedding photos.
Pick a large room for your preparation. The larger the room the better, because it allows us to photograph from various angles and use long lenses that have a flattering (slimming) effect.
To save time, prepare all pieces of your wedding details (shoes, jewelry, dress, wedding card, bouquet, etc.) before your photographer arrives to ensure all details are photographed.
6. Include Toss Items
A wedding exit can be made more memorable by including toss items for your guests. Toss items add an extra touch to your photos, radiating excitement and resulting in genuine smiles and laughter from you and your guests. For an eco-friendly wedding toss, use pretty dried flowers, fresh leaves, floral petals, dried lavender, bubbles, or sparklers. These items can double as wedding favors. Some wedding venues don’t allow for a grand exit, in which case you may create this moment during your group photos, couples session or first dance.
7. Pack an Emergency Kit
Make sure a bridesmaid or your wedding planner has an emergency kit in case you need something. Some good things for the kit to contain are stain removal (‘Tide To-Go’ pens), tampons, small scissors, mini sewing kit, hairspray, safety pins, bobby pins, energy bars, gum, q-tips, band aids, deodorant, makeup remover and Advil..to name a few. We recommend that brides bring this kit to the couple’s session as well.
8. Limit iPhoneography
On your wedding day, kindly ask your guests to be considerate and not “jump” in front of the photographers, especially during the ceremony formal/group portraits. Often we have to wait for the guests taking photos with their phones or tablets to finish so that we can continue documenting the day. While we understand they are eager to take photos, it is advisable for them to stand beside the photographer and not in front, so that we can move fast.
It is advisable to let your guests know that they should not be asking your wedding photographer to snap pictures of them using their personal cameras or cellphones. Such distractions are a poor use of the time you have allocated for wedding photography service.
Consider the idea of an unplugged wedding where guests are fully present for the bride and groom. We have witnessed an increase in the number of guests who have a camera, cellphone or iPad in front of their face photographing the entire ceremony instead of being present with the couple. No phone can compare to the cameras we use, not to mention lighting, composition, post processing, etc. We upload your wedding photos to an online gallery that you can share with your guests and that guests are welcome to download the photos that we have taken for free, so they can enjoy experiencing your wedding instead of trying to photograph it. The key to having a successful unplugged ceremony is to prepare your guests in advance and let them know all the reasons it is important to you. You can give your guests a heads up that you are having an unplugged ceremony on your wedding website, invitation, wedding program, and include a sign at the ceremony.
9. Keep Your Bridal Party Small
Unless you have a bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsmen), we highly recommend not inviting guests to your couple’s session. It delays the shoot and cuts into your session, limiting creative photographs due to lack of time. This is the only focused time for portraits of just the two of you in your ceremony attire, so you want to make that the priority during this session. Your friends can meet with you after the session. Many of the nicer locations/parks no longer allow big groups.
If you have a bridal party, we recommend getting your photographs done with them first and then allowing them to leave to enjoy their time away from your couple’s session. It is difficult for you to be romantic when your friends are around making humorous remarks. It is challenging for a photograph to prompt romantic intimacy from a couple when the groomsmen are heckling the groom. Or taking well-meaning advice and suggestions from the bridesmaids while you’re trying to get the photos you’ve spent days planning.
10. Personalize Your Wedding
Some traditions are meaningful, while others are out-dated and no longer provide value or significance. If a tradition does not hold any meaning to you, we recommend not incorporating it to your day. For example, some of our couples last year were already living together; therefore, the Doli and Pani Warna were not relevant and thus excluded. Instead, they extended their couple’s session and got stunning photos, because we had more time to allocate for creative shots. It may be challenging to convince parents to let go of old traditions, in which case, you can have those covered by video for the parents and use the photography coverage for the memories that you truly want captured on photo. We want you to make the most of your photography coverage with us.
Some of our brides opted out of the traditional cake cutting at the reception and carrying a bouquet. They didn’t want to spend money on these details that they felt wouldn’t add much value to their day. If you love flowers (like we do), then we definitely recommend getting a statement bouquet, but if you’re purchasing a bouquet because you feel obligated to have one, then we suggest saving your money.
Another obligation you may feel is having bridesmaids and groomsmen, but they are not essential and from a photographer’s perspective, the group can be challenging to manage. Especially if your bridal party consists of ten or more people, coordinating locations and getting everyone together for photos may be frustrating. Since these photos take place post-ceremony, some of the party may already be drunk or distracted, more focused on celebrating than being picture-perfect.
Remember that at the end of the day, the wedding is about you and your partner. It can be easy to let other’s opinions sway your decisions but stay true to your original vision and the meaning behind your celebration, which is to honour one another in an experience that feels uniquely you. You marry the love of your life once, so do it right. Don’t incorporate traditions or details just because every other bride or groom does it. Make your wedding memorable by staying authentic to who you two are as a couple.