- 3 years ago
- Wedding: August 2014
I am in the midst of editing tons of May and June weddings (most of which took place outdoors) and had some thoughts that might be helpful for those of you planning your outdoor ceremonies. These are tips from a photography perspective – how to get the most ideal results from your ceremony images. Some of these points may not be something you have control over so don’t sweat it if you don’t, but those of you who have the freedom to pick your ceremony spot and arrange things may take something away from this that you hadn’t previously thought about. Some of this will only apply to outdoor evening ceremonies but some of it is good advice whether your ceremony is inside or outside!
1. Time of day is everything. If you can choose a ceremony time that falls around 2 hours before sunset you and your guests will be less likely to squint in photos and the light will be generally more flattering on you.
2. The location of the sun matters. This is huge. If you have control over this, try to set your (evening) ceremony site up so that your guests face East(ish). The sun goes down to the west*, so with your guests facing east they won’t have sun in their eyes and neither will you because you’re facing each other. *(NOTE: this will vary depending on the time of year – in the summer sunset is more northwest and in the winter it’s more southwest.) The light will fall evenly on the side of you and your FI but won’t be blinding either of you because it will be in your periphery. (I wish I could draw a diagram here!) What often happens with a lot of my outdoor ceremonies is the site will be oriented in a direction that leaves one of you facing the sun and one of you in total shade (back to the sun). This can cause ugly squinting faces on one of you and also a lot of difficulty balancing the bright sun on one of you and deep shade on the other. IF you can avoid that it certainly helps! And of course if you’ve got your guests facing the sun they will all be miserable and your whole ceremony will be backlit (blown out skies).
3. Try to go all shade or no shade. I’m editing a wedding right now where the bride and groom are in heavy tree shade and guests are in full sun. It is not easy. The vast majority of you won’t be hiring a photographer with advanced ceremony lighting setups so this is something to think about. Check out your ceremony spot if you can during the time of day/year your wedding will be and see where the light is falling. If you think you may want to be in tree shade, look on the ground. Are there a lot of bright spots where the sun is coming through the leaves? If so they’ll probably be coming through on your faces during your ceremony which CAN be beautiful but it’s really a roll of the dice where those sun spots fall. I’m editing a bride right now that has one huge sun spot on just one eye. If she had moved a little in any direction it wouldn’t have fallen there but I’m not going to stop a ceremony to move the couple so try to be aware of light falling in weird places. If you see it on your fiance’s face try to move a little, and tell them to let you know if they see it on yours.
4. Talk with your officiant and ask them to step aside during the first kiss. This is something I try to do with every officiant but sometimes I’m not able to talk with them beforehand and sometimes they don’t care to listen to me because a) they hate photographers or b) know that I’m not the one paying them. I shot a beach wedding once where the officiant took a great big step aside before saying “I now declare you …” I was confused at the time but I realized he was stepping out of the way so I could get a glorious first kiss photo with the beautiful crashing waves behind the couple without him photobombing it. Y’all, I love officiants but it truly is luck of the draw whether or not even the SWEETEST ones are going to have a DERP face on as you kiss. I’ve had it all – mid-blink, lip-lick, beginning of a cough, creepy smile, accidental ANGRY face, weird angle where you can just see a few extra limbs behind the couple . . . It is so. much. nicer. to have a clear background for that shot. If you can, talk with your officiant in advance and ask them to step to the side right before that moment. Your photographer may not think to or get the opportunity to ask and the officiant is much more likely to listen to your request than theirs.
*** this also opens you up to the possibility of doing a reverse kiss shot if it’s something you’d like to do (where the photographer is on the other side of you and gets your kiss with the guests in the background)
5. Kiss and hold. I am a very experienced photographer. My reflexes are sharp, my timing is great. But if your first kiss is literally a half milisecond long please don’t expect us to catch that. My tip is to count KISS-2-3 before you break away. Of course if you hate the kissing part and don’t care if your photographer gets that shot then by all means, peck away. 🙂
6. “Bouquet->belly button. Bouquet->belly button.” I can’t tell you how many times a nervous bride’s bouquet has wandered unconsciously up to cover part of her face or sit awkwardly chest high during the processional and recessional. It just happens and you don’t even realize it until you get your photos back and you’re like “whyyyyy was I holding my bouquet like that??” Try to imagine there is a string holding your wrist to your belly button as you walk down the aisle (and tell your bridesmaids too!)
7. UNPLUG IT. I know this is a frequent topic here on the Bee and lots of people feel strongly about it, but if you all could see the number of ruined ceremony shots I’m dealing with in the 12 weddings I’ve shot in the last 2.5 months you would understand. Cell phones, iPads, video cameras, people jumping out in the aisle acting like fools . . . I’m not saying you should have everyone check their phones at the door but it’s just becoming ridiculous and I mourn the shots I know could have been if people would just sit in their seats and be present. You THINK you know the people you’ve invited to your wedding until you’re walking down the aisle and someone STEPS IN FRONT OF THE GROOM TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE SO HE DOESN’T EVEN SEE YOU. yes it happened. In that moment there is nothing you or your photographer or anyone else can do but look horrified, so I highly suggest that you stop it before it ever happens. The most effective method of unplugging that I’ve seen is to put a note in your program but ALSO have the officiant make an announcement. People tend to fear and obey officiants. 🙂 I am all for guest cameras the rest of the day but I promise you your friends and family can make it 20 minutes without their iPhone and you’ll be glad you did it.
That’s all for now! I’ll add more as the season continues if I think of other tips. I hope this helps your planning! Happy to answer questions too. 🙂