Once engaged, every bride dreams of her perfect wedding, and the many candid wedding photos that will be captured on her day.
From making sure every detail is placed correctly to organizing the schedule of events for the weeks leading up to the day, it is a huge task to pull off a wedding! So much thought and care goes into the planning process that we thought we would shed a little light on an aspect that may not get as much attention as it should: creating a great environment for candid wedding photos at your wedding. Yes, Yes – the creative and family portraits are probably the most important part of your photography planning, but there is a rather large portion of your photography experience that you might not think about at all: the photojournalism. From a photographer’s perspective, a fairly large percentage of a wedding day is spent capturing moments as they happen, and the more prepared you as the bride are for these moments, the more value you will gain from your investment in photography. We have spent our entire careers as Charleston wedding photographers learning to be in the right place at the right time and to anticipate moments before they happen. The biggest lesson we have learned is that you can plan for success all the way down to the more unscripted moments of the day. So, here is a quick list of how you can make the most out of candid moments on your wedding day:
1. Have your important people around you as much as possible
This is something we noticed early on in our career: mom and dad tend to get busy behind the scenes trying to make the day go smoothly, that they end up not being in any photos except for family portraits! Make sure that your parents, bridal party, best friends, and close relatives are freed up and can be around you at the appropriate times. Just imagine images of your dad seeing you in your dress for the first time, or the huge laughs you have with your best friend when she helps you try to navigate stairs for the first time in your wedding dress, or that gentle embrace you have with your grandma who doesn’t get to come into town very often…moments like these don’t happen without your people close by! Family plays a huge roll in the candid wedding photos that can be captured on your wedding day!
2. Incorporate photographable activities into the day
Of course you will have plenty of things you must do on your wedding day, but how about thinking of things to do that will result in great candid wedding photos? Some wonderful ideas we have seen in the past include: a first look with your dad, champagne toast with the bridal party, joining in prayer before walking down the aisle, exchanging gifts with your groom, etc. Basically, the idea is to set the stage for beautiful moments to happen by planning them out ahead of time.
3. Set the stage…in an attractive location
This is something that every bride should keep in mind for the “in between” parts of the day. Don’t get ready for the day in a church nursery or cramped bridal suite without any windows! Don’t hide in a bathroom before walking down the aisle! Keep the background of these seemingly less important parts of the day as attractive as you can to ensure great moments will not be marred by an unappealing location, clutter, or inappropriate lighting conditions. Candid wedding photos should have a very natural feel to them, but its important that some attention is paid to make the surroundings look their very best.
4. Invest time
The biggest determent to great photographs of any kind is lack of time. Being behind schedule is the number one reason that brides become stressed on wedding day and it ultimately leads to less than perfect expressions along with less images overall. Make sure to plan an extra padding of time in your schedule for each portion of the day to be able to fully relax and enjoy the moment enough for great candid wedding photos to be able to happen! You will never regret it!
5. Keep the camera in the back of your mind
Obviously the creative and family portraits will be time that you are fully camera aware. However, it is wise to keep yourself slightly aware of the fact you are being photographed throughout the entire day. I’d say a good rule of thumb would be to stay about 30% camera aware, even during the unscripted moments. Don’t let little setbacks or hurdles throughout the day dampen your expression, even if you have to consciously decide to smile instead of scrunch your face up in concentration!
6. Let your emotions show
Lastly, and potentially most importantly, don’t hold back your emotions! Don’t fight those tears when you see your groom for the first time, don’t stop your loud laughter with your girlfriends in the car on the way to the ceremony, don’t keep yourself from running up to your college roommate at the reception…these are all beautiful, REAL moments that are so much more valuable in a photograph than going through the motions of a wedding day as a perfect bride robot. Hug hard, laugh loudly, love big on your wedding day…and let us capture it in a beautiful way!
In conclusion, I think the biggest lesson that I would like a potential bride to learn from this list is that great photography doesn’t happen by accident! You can plan for success even with the unscripted, candid moments of the day! Pick a great photographer whom you can trust, use the guidelines above to ensure the best photography experience all the way around!