Your day can go by so fast, heck even the planning can go fast and honestly you are not a professional photographer so there may be a lot of things you don’t think about and how they can effect your photos positively or negatively. Here are some tips and things I want all brides to know about so they can make the best of their wedding day and get some gorgeous photos!
1. Sunset Time- This is something that is very important to check and is easy to do. The best light for photography occurs about an hour to hour and a half before the sun physically sets. This is the best time of day for your ceremony and/or your portraits. I suggest in the winter months to schedule your ceremony earlier in the day around 330pm so that you have the best light for your ceremony and portraits. In the summer months it can get hard because the sun sets so late, I suggest anywhere from 5pm to 630pm. Something also to keep in mind is where the sun is setting in relation to your ceremony and or reception site. If the sun is directly across from the altar then all your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be squinting into the sun the entire time and it will show in the photographs. Feel free to ask me and I can help you decide on exact location and time.
2. Light not location makes a good photograph- I hear people all the time tell me well I want to do our engagement photos here or our wedding ceremony facing this way because the background is soooo pretty. Well 99% of the time I am going to blur that “pretty” background anyways because the main focus is on you, the newlyweds! When shooting portraits I look all over the location for the best light I can find, this typically means the light is behind you and you are standing near a reflective surface so that you have that same backlight filling in your face as well. So when scouting out your venue or thinking of where you want to do your engagement photos think about light first and location second! Although I can get rid of things in the background of images like people or trashcans keep in mind photoshop can’t fix bad light! Perfect example is a quick before and after difference of how light can effect a photograph and flatter you more.
3. Timeline- Having a great timeline and sticking to it mean the world to us as photographers. All of my JDP Brides get a one on one timeline lunch, dinner or coffee meeting with me (preferably at their venue if possible) to make sure that we can make the most of their time together. This meeting usually occurs about 2 months before your big day so that you can arrange your hair/makeup appointments and let everyone know what is going on. I typically spend 45 mins to an hour just on your details alone because we all know that pin your grandmother gave you means the world to you and I want to make sure you have a one of a kind photo of it, as well as that killer dress and shoes! You go girl! During the timeline meeting I answer any questions you have. A few things to note is that each family formal takes about 2-3mins to complete so it is best to let family know ahead of time that they need to stay put in the ceremony site. I also want to preface I LOVE spending at least 45mins just with my bride and groom after all you spend all this money on your big day lets have some fun and capture your love because that is really what this day is all about!
4. Unplugged Weddings- I know we have all heard and seen this but seriously do it!!! I will even make the sign for you bahahaha. It is so distracting and unattractive when I have to photograph you walking down the aisle cut off because Aunt Betty HAD to have a shot of you walking down the aisle. I LOVED my photos of me walking down the aisle because you could see people admire the $1300 dress I bought, or the fact my dad had a tear in his eye and they were not hiding behind their devices. I know for the rest of the night you really do not have control over guests but at least for the ceremony have the efficient make a note to say something about being present in the moment and taking mental photographs. The last thing I want to do is tell Uncle Bob he needs to sit back down and then I look bad tee hee hee. I myself will be taking amazing photographs and I will have an assistant with me as well, so tell your guests to sit back relax and enjoy there will be enough photographs up the next day for them to enjoy 😉 This brings me to another point as well, if you have guests snapping horrible iPhone photos that are not doing your $2000 dress justice do you really want your frienemies to see that photo first when they stalk you on Facebook or that fab photo of you two looking in love in the middle of the vineyard. Or Grandma who couldn’t make it, you want her to see her son walking you down the aisle and you both looking stunning instead of a blurry out of focus shot!
5. Reception Venue- A reception venue can make a WORLD of difference in terms of your party photographs and how they turn out. Some key things to look for our light color walls such as white, light blue etc. Yellow, orange, or green walls will throw off the white balance of your photographs even tinting the color of your cake (this can be fixed in photoshop butttt that means it will take longer to get those photos back tee hee hee) Another thing is vaulted ceiling make it very hard for us as photographers to bounce our light if the ceiling is vaulted or extremely high our strobes/flashes/lights will bounce off the top and spill over the ceiling instead of back down.
6. Spray Tans- BE DO NOT SPRAY TAN! Even though you were going to go to that really great salon and pay $200 it will look good in person but I promise when you stand next to your groom or family members it won’t. If you want a little bit of color that is fine but try not to go overboard. It is very hard to correct in post processing without your friends and family around you looking pale or you looking unnatural hehe.
7. First Dance- I typically set up my lighting the same at every wedding, one light on opposite corners of the dance floor, to get some awesome and badass first dance photos it works out best if you want in the center of the dance floor. Also remember I am taking photos so don’t bury your head a lot and try to continue to turn while dancing do not just sway back and forth. My assistant and I will be on opposite sides but this way you get more angles and some pretty badass photos.
8. Toasts- Remember those lights I just told you about well its best if your head table is at the head of the dance floor, if not thats ok too just have your planner or coordinator bring over two chairs on the dance floor so that your toasts are well lit. Make sure to tell your toasters to stand and face you, after all they are talking to you and if they are standing beside you they will be looking down at you at an awkward angle. This way your toasters can address you face on to both you and your spouse! Also that same light from the first dance will look fierce for the photos of the toasts!
9. Meal- Most wedding venues, ok all of them serve the vendors last and I get why, you and your family and friends should be served first before we do. The issue with this is by the time you are done eating and start visiting tables we still have not eaten our food. I secretly LOVE when brides get ready at a hotel and then go to the venue because that gives me at least 10-15mins to eat a quick sandwich in the car. I always say odds are if you have not eaten since breakfast then I probably have not either. If you can let your venue know or your coordinator know to serve yourselves, your family and bridal party and then the photographer that would be AMAZING! Not only does that allow us to eat when you eat so we do not miss any major events, but it also gives us the energy and refueling we need to finish out the last few hours of the night on a high!
10. Photoshop- “You can photoshop that out right?” Maybe?!?! I know it seems like photoshop is magic and lets face it for a lot of stuff it is. Most people do not realize that to photoshop a person out of the background of an image can take up to an hour if not much longer. Also I believe in having my couples and their friends and family look how they are, I do not believe in making people look skinnier. There are some exceptions if it really calls for it but like I say at almost every shoot I LOVE to photoshop in person first! This is to your advantage because if I do not have to spend an hour on each image you will get your photographs soooooo much faster then me having to do very little retouching.
I hope all these tips/tricks and suggestions help and that none are offensive. These are things I have learned over 5 years and 40+ weddings that I believe will make your day amazing and create you some amazing and magazine worthy photographs! XOXO