Little things, big impact: 5 tips to make your wedding photos awesome!
No, no, no, this isn’t your typical blog with the typical tips that everyone knows, like ‘Make sure you have a professional hair and make up artist,’ ‘make sure you hire a professional if you want good photos,’ ‘Get a good florist,’ or ‘Have your ceremony later in the day!’. While we couldn’t agree more with all of the previous statements, these are all things that when you start planning your wedding, you inherently know. The 5 tips we are going to go over are little things we’ve seen over the past few years that nobody really tells you and they are easy to overlook during the course of a wedding day. Since we have had the privilege of being a part of so many weddings, we tend to pick up on these little things when they happen more than once or twice. Over this past year we really noticed these 5 things jump out to us and while they are subtle enough that they won’t ruin your wedding photos, they could definitely make great photos into mediocre ones, so without further ado, let’s consider the following. (Also - NOTE - the photos we chose for this blog are not examples of the things gone wrong, we chose photos we liked, didn’t want anyone to be like heyyy! lol)
Make sure your getting ready area is clean
If you’re having your photographer show up to document the getting ready process, this tip is for you! In our experience, the majority of the couples we work with want some, if not a good amount of getting ready photos. We absolutely love getting all of the preparation shots, details, and interactions amongst your friends and family, so when I say these are some of our favorite images from most wedding albums, we’re not even kidding! One of the little things that can make a big impact on the photos taken during this time is having the space you are getting ready in tidied up a bit before your photographer arrives. I’m completely reverse stereotyping here but in our experience, we usually find it’s the ladies who are a bit more messy than the gentlemen (I know I know…blasphemy!). Given the amount of prep, that goes into the bride and bridesmaids getting ready this really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when you consider hair and make up, dresses, shoes, jewelry, flowers, other accessories, snacks (did we mention champagne :) ?) are often found/taking place in the ladies getting ready space. For the guys it’s a little easier, in most cases, their pants, jacket, shirt, tie, shoes, etc. are usually all contained in one bag or they often times show up already ready. With so much going on around the brides and bridesmaids, it’s easy for the room or suite get a little out of hand. Often times we hear from brides that one of the things that sold them about their venue was the beautiful bridal suite or getting ready space on site. Sometimes you may book a hotel room for a particular view, plenty of natural light, etc. It’s easy for that beautiful suite to turn into just another space when you have all of the aforementioned items scattered everywhere. This may mean a lot of clutter in the background and foreground of all of your getting ready photos. If the thought of this makes your cringe, fear not, we have another tip! Put one of your bridesmaids or family members in charge of keeping the room clean or at least if there is going to be a lot of ‘stuff’ have it designated to one area in the room and your photographer can easily work around it. It’s not to say that your photographer won’t be capable of using creative angles and settings to block out certain things, and minimize distractions, but the more freedom they have to use every angle possible without distractions in the foreground or background, the more likely your photos will turn out like you want.
Short bride tall groom, be mindful of arms during first dance
I want you to envision your first dance. Are you holding each other close and swaying back and forth to your song? Or are you twirling about the dance floor to a beautifully choreographed routine? Are you looking deeply into each others eyes as you smile? Are your arms wrapped around your husband’s neck blocking your face from all of the photos? Wait, what!? This one is a rarity but having been to so many weddings, we have seen it happen a time or two and for whatever reason more so this year, so it’s something we wanted to bring awareness to for couples that may fall into this category where one of you is significantly taller than the other. Now by significant we don’t have an exact measurement but if your groom or bride is so tall that it forces you to lift your arms up so high to put them around their neck that your own arms block your face from photos, then we would say that’s significant. Or if you are going hand in hand for your first dance vs arms around each other, and your hands are lifted so high that it blocks your face the majority of your first dance. Again, both of these are a rarity, but sometimes couples do have quite the height differential and sometimes these two traditional dance positions can block your face from being seen. When your hand in hand, not as much as there are angles that open up the space, but if you’re not much of the dance type and one of you plans to go arms around the neck and the other arms around the waist, take the time to look to the side if you practice and notice if your arm is obstructing your view. If it is, (and you plan to stay in this position the entire first dance), there’s a chance that your photographer won’t be able to get a clear shot of both of your faces during your first dance. A tip to combat this is to bring your arms down lower on your bride or grooms arms like Chelsea does below with Robby!
Keep your first look low-key
This one is huge if you are excited about your first look. In our experience, there are a few different reasons a couple may decide to have a first look on their wedding day, and two of the most popular reasons are because you want to capture that moment that he/she sees you for the first time and that genuine expression on their face. One of the other popular reasons is because of nerves and being able to see each other for the first time without the added pressure of everyone’s eyes on you in that moment. One of the quickest ways to ensure you don’t get a reaction or that you don’t have an intimate first look, is by inviting guests besides your photographer and videographer to your first look. The few times we’ve seen this, usually the groom/bride turns around and instead of being absorbed in the moment with their bride/groom, they are distracted by the entourage of family and friends and all the eyes that they were initially trying to avoid in the first place (ironically). Sometimes the first thing they see is your friends or parents instead of you depending on the angle and how they turn around (brutal!) Our tip on this would be don’t be afraid to say no. Naturally you’re going to have a bridesmaid or family member that wants to come facebook live the entire first look, or post it on their IG stories before the moment is even over, but ask yourself, is this moment about them? Or is it about you two being present in the moment with each other and able to enjoy one of the few private times you’ll have together to take it all in throughout this day? If the first look is important to you, we would highly encourage you to set this boundary with your friends and family as we’ve seen them inadvertently ruin a few.
Processional and Recessional
Look at any number of weddings website or social media outlets and you will see that one of the most exciting and popular photos is a joyous capture of the brides and grooms as they make their way back down the aisle after saying I do! It is definitely one of our favorite moments throughout a wedding day as well! A small and simple tip we have for everyone as they make this trip back down the aisle, look up! No seriously, every now and then we will see a couple make their walk all the way back down the aisle while one of them or both of them look down the entire time. This tip isn’t to call anyone out, or anything like that as some may just not like crowds and all the eyes being on them, but if you know this is likely to be you, make sure to look up once at the camera, or towards your guests. We know you’re happy about this moment, let it shine! For the processional, this is something we always try to tell the bridal party before walking down the aisle and I know it sounds crazy, but smile!
Keep it Natural - Special Dances
We will be first to tell you, we love funky colors and lighting on the dance floor during the reception, but during your special dances (first dance, father daughter, mother son), if your band or DJ decides to use any kind of lighting, make sure it’s natural. If you get spotlit with an intense light and a deep funky royal blue, no amount of color correction is going to fix them.
Clear the aisle
This is another one that’s a rarity because it usually depends on the venue set up for the ceremony and the bride having a long train. We think this one huge because there aren’t any redos for a ceremony and it's so easy to avoid. Can you picture what we’re talking about now? The bride walking out with her dad and wait….whose that in the background? They’re still there……they’re still there, okay apparently they are following them the whole way? This most often happens when there are special doors that need to be opened up and the bride has a long train or veil that needs to be set before walking down the aisle. Where it becomes troublesome for your photos is when your coordinator or church official, carries the dress most of the way down the aisle, or even worse, just stands at the door the entire time. Naturally you don’t want them in every photo with you and your dad walking down the aisle, so if you see yourself in a similar situation or set up, it’s helpful to have a plan for them so they can get you set, then move, then you can walk down the aisle. It’s something we usually will take upon ourselves to address with the planner or whomever is helping beforehand, but if your photographer isn’t that experienced with these situations, then it would definitely behoove you consider this as a heads up for your big day! Is it something that can be photoshopped? In a lot of cases yes, but due to the intricacy of these types of edits, it will often times be accompanied by a substantial additional fee. Save yourself, the time, money, and headache, and clear the aisle :)
As previously stated, these aren’t things that are likely to ruin your wedding photos, but they are little things that can have a big impact on the overall feel and look of an image. It is the difference between “I want to hang this one on my wall.” and “Man I wish somebody would’ve warned us about this.” or “I wish someone would have noticed this sooner.” We hope one if not all of these tips can help you during your wedding day!
Joe and Jenny