10 Wedding Day Tips from a Nova Scotia Photographer...
That's right. 10 tips! This will be part 1 of 2...I will have 10 more to post in the coming weeks.
The goal of this blog post is to help you along on your wedding day, but also, if you have me booked as your photographer or are thinking about it, make things even better for me as well. In the end, if we are on the same page or close to it, you will end up with a better experience and product.
Now, I am no wedding planner, but having shot hundreads of weddings I can offer some tips to make your day a little better for you and your photographer! After all, the only thing you have left after your wedding day are your memories and photographs...oh, and video as well if you hired a videographer, which is always a great idea!
Keep in mind, none of this is set in stone. Do whatever you want on your wedding day, a great photographer will deal with whatever you present them, this is just some advice and opinions. You certainly don't HAVE to do any of this.
1. Plan to get ready, in a nice spacious place.
This is especially a great idea if you are getting ready with a lot of people. If your bridal party is 3-6 people per side, chances are they will all be with you for the entire day. Having a nice place that has lots of space and light (think big windows) is a great idea.
If you have a family member who has an open concept home, ask them to use it, that could be your parents place, an aunt or uncle, whatever! The big bridal suites at most hotels or resorts work great as well.
2. Consider a "first look" session
I may catch some flack for this one, but I'm not sorry. First Looks are amazing on your wedding day and they greatly improve the way your day flows afterward. A "first look" is when you and your partner meet before the ceremony, for the first time, all alone. Think about it, you get to see your bride or groom before anyone else, not in front of loads of people. There is way less stress and much more emotion!
The great thing about getting it out of the way is that you can allocate more time for your creative portraits right afterward. We can take 30 minutes to an hour and just get some really unique photos, which frees up more time later in the evening for you to spend with family and friends and be present during the time people are mingling, like cocktail hour.
This method always helps me end up with much more variety during the day. Nothing is rushed later, you don't have to race away from the ceremony to fit in photos and chances are we won't be late for your supper!
3. Allocate enough time during the day
You don't want to rush around and we don't want to drag you to 17 different locations. Have a plan and figure out the time that you will need. Instead of spending more time driving from point A to point B, figure out something close and fast, if possible. This will give you more time at the locations that you have chosen and give you much more variety in your images. Sometimes, staying very close to where your ceremony took place is the best idea. For example, during my last wedding we were no more than a 5 minute drive away from the ceremony/reception site at any time.
However, let's say your ceremony site isn't the same as the supper/reception site....plan to make some stops along the way. There is always something to shoot...anywhere. Don't stress if you have locations separated, just chat with your photographer and get a plan going!
4. But, don't get hung up on locations
Where you are is where you are, for me photos are more about the couple than they are about the locations. Don't get me wrong, locations are awesome and add to the images and I love to try to incorporate them into your day, to show off the landscape of where we are, but it isn't the most important thing on the day, you are.
However, if you have some specific locations that are an absolute must, then revisit number 3 and chat with your photographer about it. As long as we have enough time, we are going to do exactly what you want.
Plan for them, love them, hope for them and embrace them. The setting sun is the absolute best light for photographs. Embrace it and hope that you get a beautiful one at some point on your wedding day. Even if you only have 5 minutes, do it! You may end up with some of the best images from your day, in just a short amount of time. Golden Hour is a photographers dream, dramatic sky, soft warm light...what isn't there to love! Don't be shocked if your photographer runs up to the head table and asks you to run outside!
Typically this is 30'ish minutes before the sun sets, this is easy to figure out online doing a quick google search!
Also, speaking of the sun...if you are getting married outside, the best time is later in the day. I know this always isn't the easiest thing to accomplish but if you have your ceremony closer to the evening, the light will be that much better. Remember Golden Hour? It's awesome. The worst light during the day is basically between 12 and 3pm. Yuck, it can be harsh and nasty and in a situation like a ceremony it could be hard to deal with it because we can't position you in the best spot. Just something to keep in mind!
6. Plan better family photos
Large family or not, having a plan for family photos is a great idea. In my opinion, the most important people for your family photos are as follows:
If you can keep the main family session to this grouping to start, you will end up with better and faster family portraits. Your siblings families can come afterward or aunts and uncles, but focusing on the above list is the goal. Also, what I typically do for the family sessions is do them right after your ceremony, somewhere very close and hopefully with some shade. Reason being, everyone is there...we don't have to wait on your sister who needed to stop at the store to get mix while 15 other people are there and ready to rumble. It is really hard to herd 10-20 people back together later in the day.
Most of my family sessions take only about 10-15 minutes, your parents don't want to stand around in the heat in mid-August for 2 hours posing for photos. Trust me on that one. Check out my Deconstructing The Wedding Day post for more information on how the day rolls. Having a messy and unorganized family grouping session can be a massive time killer. If you have a huge family and these photos are very important to you, let us know!
7. Keep me in the loop
If you are planning something special, or there is something important happening, give us a heads up before hand! It is great for photographers or videographers to know all the details so that we can prepare. Is a family member playing the music for your first dance? Are you surprising your guests with a special dance? Anything and everything you can think of, let us know.
Also, sending an email with what is most important to you on your wedding day is awesome. You may think some things are not that important, but you never know. The more we know, the better we can help capture your day in the way you have envisioned. This doesn't mean giving us a shot list though, they are really not needed, unless there are some specific things you have to have. We have all the safe, classic and typical photos covered, trust us.
8. The Unexpected
Just let it happen! Your day is what it is, whether that means high winds, heavy rain or snow. It is part of your day. The question I get a lot from my clients is "what do we do if it rains?". My answer is always "you get married and we shoot your photos like we would if it was not raining!" Embrace it, it will make your day that much more unique. Sure, we may get a little wet, but how wet is up to you. It will be great no matter what. I once shot a wedding in a hurricane and there was no power at the venue, but we made it work and got some great stuff!
This can differ on where you are doing things. If you are having your supper/reception outside and under the stars, then get as much light as possible. Not big broad lights or spot lights, but lights on the tables, hanging Edison lights, candle lights, string lights, uplighting, anything and as much variety as you can. This will help create some great back drops and a nice warm feel! Same goes for tent weddings or reception halls, the more lights the more creative we can be!
Lighting is everything for photography, if you have questions or want some ideas, just chat with your photographer. We can offer some awesome advice and tips on how to make your day that much more unique.
Weddings can be crazy! But the most important thing is that you are getting married. It is just one day in your life, try not to make it too stressful. Leave most of the crap up to the professionals. A great photographer wants to kick your weddings ass and get the absolute best photos they have ever taken, if they don't, they are just not that interested. If they are not excited about your day and pumped to shoot, don't hire them. I typically have to calm myself down when things are going awesome, I love it when everything is working out but also love the challenge when things don't quite go to plan.
I want your day to be fun and awesome. I want you to remember it for the rest of your lives and I want to be the one that captures the memories for you, so that you can look back in 50 years and relive every single moment. Don't hesitate to chat with your photographer and tell us exactly what you want and what is important. I can't tell you how silly it is when I read an email from one of my clients that says "will it be ok with you if..." YES! It's ok, everything you can imagine is ok. It is your wedding day, you get what you want.
Part 2 coming in a few weeks!
I am a wedding and portrait photographer in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Over the last 14 years I have photographed thousands of people, families and hundreds of weddings locally and abroad.
I now focus on wedding and high school senior photography. If you have a unique idea for some images, let me know!
Cape Breton Island Wedding Photographer • Scott McIntyre