How To Get Great Wedding Photos – Part Three – The Ceremony

how to get great photos at your wedding ceremony

It’s part three of my series on how to get great photos at your wedding ceremony! Today we’ll look at the ceremony, and I’ll detail a few of my best tips for what is probably the most important part of your wedding day. After all, this is the main event of the day.

If you missed last week’s post on How to Get Great Wedding Photos – Getting Ready, go back and read it first.

1. Consider an ‘Unplugged Wedding’

When you hire a professional photographer you need them to get all the critical, must-have photos. These include the all-time classics like you walking down the aisle and your first kiss.

In this day and age, everybody owns a camera, be it a fancy DSLR, an easy ‘point and shoot’, or a phone or tablet camera. Unfortunately, many photographers are unable to get their desired photos when guests at the wedding endeavor to take their own happy snap of the event, and end up blocking the view of the photographer. You don’t want to pay for professional images of the back of your guests heads!

Worse than this is that the images that come from these devices are unlikely to match the quality that your wedding photographer can provide you.

And thirdly, on a more personal note, wouldn’t you rather your guests were present for the moment of your wedding, rather than staring at a LCD screen, and then tweeting or posting photos of the ceremony before it’s even finished? Check out the following link which will take you to a blog post by Offbeat Bride – it will really give you some detail and scary photos to prove how bad guests with a camera/phone/tablet in their hand can be:

If you want to prevent this from happening just ask your photographer to help you organise an unplugged ceremony.

It can be really easy to organise! Just pick one of the wordings below and print it in your ceremony booklet, and ask the minister/celebrant to ask the guests to adhere to your wishes before the ceremony starts.

Example 1. “We want you to be able to relax and have fun with us today! This in mind, we invite you to put down all your favorite devices and just be present in the moment with us. Please leave your camera in your bag (we’ve got photography covered!), and put your mobile phone on mute (we promise they’ll call back!) for the duration of the ceremony.We’re happy to share our professional wedding photos later, but the greatest gift you can give us today is just being fully here with us in this sacred and special moment.”

Example 2. “Ladies and gentlemen, prior to wedding take-off, all seat backs and tray tables must be in their upright and locked positions, all bags properly stowed, and all portable electronic devices turned off and stowed. This includes cell phones and cameras.”

Example 3. “We are honored to have you all as witnesses to our vows and the beginning of our marriage. We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off.”

2. Arrive a little early

The groom will need to be at the ceremony location typically 15-30 mins prior to the ceremony start time. Your photographer will often arrive at a similar time to capture the groom and groomsmen waiting at the altar. Many ministers/celebrants also use this time to speak to the groom prior to the start of the ceremony.

If possible, a bride should aim to arrive 5 mins prior to the ceremony start time to allow the photographer/s to take some images of her arrival in the bridal cars, and her walking with her parents/mother/father into the church.

3. Make sure your guests can see and hear you

Don’t spend the entire ceremony with your back to your guests. Speak to your minister or celebrant ahead of time as to where they wish you to be positioned at the alter. Keep in mind that during most church weddings, photographers cannot gain access up onto or behind the alter. If you have a larger wedding consider having a microphone setup so that all your guests can hear the entire service.

4. Check any photography restrictions that are present at your ceremony location

… and inform your photographer, so he or she knows all details in advance.

5. Remember to look at each other during the ceremony

Many couples spend a great deal of time looking at the minister/celebrant. When reciting you vows and exchanging rings, remember to maintain eye contact with the person that you are promising to love and cherish for the rest of your life. Not only will your wedding photographer be able to get some wonderful moments, it will also help you to relax, because staring into each other’s eyes reminds you that this is the day that you get to marry your best friend. Lastly, take time with your first kiss – it’s not a moment to be rushed.

6. Slow down when you walk down the aisle

During the processional the bride should look down the aisle so she can see the groom’s face. It will be one of the most precious moments of your life. Also take the time to look at the person walking you down the aisle. If this is your father, you may catch a glance of some raw emotion that you usually don’t witness. During the recessional take your time and look at each other (for some romantic shots), and also your guests. If you plan on an unusual exit down the aisle, make sure you tell your photographer in advance so that they are positioned to capture your exit.

7. Consider a bubble or flower petal exit

Most ceremony locations will not allow confetti or rice to be thrown as the bridal couple exit the church/ceremony location. Give your wedding guest bubbles to blow on your exit out of the ceremony location (get a family member or friend to organize this for you). This can add a touch of magic when the light hits the bubbles and gives off some beautiful colours.

8. Factor in additional time

Factor time into the day to spend some quality moments with your family and friends, e.g. for them to congratulate you immediately after you exit the church/ceremony location.

9. Group shot

If you wish for a group shot of all your guests, make sure you ask the minister/celebrant to make an announcement for people not to leave after the ceremony until after the group shot.

10. Formal family photos

These photos are traditionally taken following the ceremony, usually at the ceremony location unless previously discussed with your photographer. Ask your minister/celebrant to make an announcement for family members not to leave after the ceremony until after the family shots are complete. Each photograph typically takes approximately 5 minutes. You will want a list of the photos that you want and have a family representative from the groom’s and bride’s family to ensure the family portrait groupings can be achieved in a timely manner.