Blog,  How to get great photographs on your big day

How to get great photographs on your big day?

You are investing a fair amount of time, money, and energy into one of the most important days of your life.  You may have family and friends coming from out of town and out of state to help you celebrate this fantastic day.  You work, plan, and organize to make it all work together smoothly.  Your photographer will take pictures of you and your party at the locations you have chosen.

If the ceremony takes place in a church building, the photographs will be influenced by that setting.  This is also true for outdoor weddings or other kinds of buildings. I know that I’m stating the obvious, but it is an important fact and must not be forgotten.  Consider the locations for the various parts of the day.

Getting Ready
If you are anticipating photographs will be taken during the “getting ready” session, then it is very important to consider where the ladies will be getting ready and where the guys will be getting ready.  Understandably, a church will have only certain rooms available for getting ready.  But you can still have an influence on the look that is available in that room.

To be sure, you’ll want to have access to a large mirror in each of those rooms.  But the mirror is not just for helping you to put on your makeup or make sure that your veil or tie is on straight.  Think about whether you know someone who has a classic floor mirror like the one shown or some other elegant mirror.

Anne in the Mirror

Does the place where you are getting ready have large, bare walls and unattractive furniture?  Think about what you might be able to provide to make the room, or at least one wall, look more attractive.  Would it be possible to bring a framed abstract painting?  Or, might you bring a vase with a beautiful bouquet of flowers? The entire room does not need to be decorated.  Often what the photographer needs is just an attractive corner or portion of a wall that would provide a beautiful background.

When You First Meet
Many brides wish to be traditional and not see the groom until they are coming down the aisle.  But today many brides are choosing a “First Look” as a more practical approach of having a time prior to the ceremony where the she approaches the groom, touches him on the shoulder, he turns around, and they embrace and truly enjoy the moment.


This approach allows the bride and groom to show a variety of emotions and enjoy each other’s presence in a way that cannot be done during the ceremony.  And during this time the photographs can be glorious.   This approach provides the opportunity to make sure those romantic photographs are taken.

The Ceremony
It will be important to consider features that make for an attractive background at the ceremony as well.  Having a unity candle or even unity sand of different colors in clear vessels is often very nice.  Often churches have candelabras that hold several candles; these also can look very elegant.


In addition, consider talking with your florist about flowers for the background of the church.  Some couples also decorate the ends of the pews.  This can also add beautiful detail to photographs (and your guests will find them attractive, too).

Shortly after the ceremony come the traditional formal photographs.  And too often all the photographs are done in the front of the church.  Consider having photographs done in other -places of the church.  It can work well to have the large-group photographs in front of the church and then creative shots in other places.  If the ceremony is in a church which has pews, have the wedding party spread throughout the church for a few photographs.


Consider going outside for photographs of the bride with each of the bridesmaids, etc.  If outside photography is not possible, find a nice background somewhere else, such as a stained-glass window.

Outdoor Photographs
Why are people so crazy about outdoor photographs?  Maybe it is because of the natural light and natural surroundings which help to make the outdoor photographs so beautiful.  The fact is that usually the most beautiful and creative photographs are taken outside.  When considering outdoor photographs, your photographer will likely be looking for places with beautiful backgrounds but where the wedding party can be in the shade.


Full-sun photographs are fine from a distance, like when you’re trying to do something fun like a group jump.  In situations like this, the eyes of each person do not matter so much.  However, for close-up shots and photographs of just a few people at a time, you’ll want to be in the shade so that the photograph catches your eyes wide open without any squinting.

The Reception
Because the reception, dinner, and dance is traditionally in darker, mood lighting, this will be a challenge to your photographer.  Flash will enable photographs to be taken, but because of the limited light, the background is generally dark.  Flash illuminates the people in the front but quickly falls off, creating a dark, muddy look in the back.  This often results in shots that are not as artistic as other photographs taken during the earlier part of the day.  Here are three items you might consider to improve your reception photographs.  First, notify the DJ or anyone who is controlling the lights that you prefer the lights to be kept in the mid-range–not too dark and not too light.  This one tip would greatly help the quality of your reception photographs.  Second, take groups of people out into the hallway where there is more light to take group shots.  Third, look around the reception facility for better backgrounds than just a hallway.  Look for mirrors, pictures, and other elements that would make an attractive background.  Don’t be afraid to point out such a place to your photographer.


The Photographer

Of course, an essential element to getting great photographs is having the right photographer for you.  I have an article called, “Who Should Be Your Photographer?”  Briefly, your photographer should be someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone you trust, and someone who is able to produce the goods.  As a warning, there are several important reasons for not choosing a friend or relative to shoot your wedding.  Learn more by checking out that article.

Your wedding day is your day.  People will be especially nice to you and want to help you.  I’m suggesting that you also plan for getting great, artistic photographs.  I hope that you will call me to arrange for James Studio to help you with this process and provide the “at ease” experience and quality photographs of which you dream.  You can reach me at (608) 233-5556.

By James Bendewald