Wedding Lessons Learned - Part 1 (Pre-Wedding)
Now that my first wedding has come and gone, and my wonderful clients have been given their photos, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the experience. From just a single wedding, I've learned more lessons than I ever thought possible, and wanted to give my readers some insight into what went through my mind before, during and after shooting my first wedding. I will say this to start: Weddings are a blast, and I look forward to shooting more in the future (which is good, considering I'm booked for 2 more already in the next year). That being said, weddings are also a ten-hour blur of emotions, actions, and reactions and will present the average photographer with stresses the likes of which they might have never dreamed of experiencing. So for Part 1 of my "Wedding Lessons Learned" series, we'll take a look at the Pre-Wedding Festivities, up until the Ceremony.
The day started bright and early at 10am at the Salon where the girls were getting their hair and makeup done. This was probably the least stressful part of the day, as I was by myself and really just capturing a few moments here and there. From there, I came back home to pick up my second shooter (read: My Wife) and we headed over to where the guys were getting ready to grab a few shots from them. Again, stress was low, but this is really where the first challenge of the day started showing its ugly head. Weddings in June?
I'll touch on that part at the end of this section. After shooting the guys getting ready, enjoying a few beers, and just relaxing before the ceremony, it was time to head over to "the meeting point" and prepare for the First Look and beyond. So what did we learn from this?
- Dress appropriately. The weather was hot, and I wore an undershirt, under longs sleeves, with pants and socks. Granted, I looked appropriate, but probably could have worn lighter clothing. The upside was that, by the end of the wedding, I probably lost 10 pounds
- Women, in general, take a lot longer to get ready (and typically run behind). Allow for more time if you're shooting both sides of the party , especially if the gals are getting ready someplace that is more than a mile or two away from where the guys are getting ready. I failed to get the bride getting her makeup done, and this was a direct result of poor planning.
- Stress to the Bride and Groom the importance of having their parties together in one place when they're getting ready. Unfortunately, bridesmaids were late, groomsman were stuck in traffic, and as a result group photos can become incomplete and you'll be forced to shoot photos during the reception that could have been shot before the wedding. This also means that light changes (based on time) and the condition of the party will be different. People will be tired, sweaty, and in various stages of undress as the wedding goes on, and if you have to take group photos before and after, you're going to have issues.
From the "getting ready" stage, both sides of the party gathered at the Bride's family's house and prepared for the First Look .
The First Look
The First Look presented a challenge for me. I'm very traditional when it comes to weddings, and had only ever experienced the first look moment during the ceremony. For this wedding (and most, as trends seem to dictate) the Bride and Groom wanted to have a "First Look" shoot. This serves two purposes:
- The moment is shared by the Bride and Groom, and no one else. Well, besides the photographer. Instead of having their reactions seen by everyone in the congregation, they are the only ones that see each other.
- This saves time. By doing the first look early, the bride and groom are then able to get group photos done with each other before the ceremony. If there is no cocktail hour (as was the case with this wedding), the photographer is forced to take the entire group away during the reception.
So we did the first look and, as it was my first first look, I'd say it went off fairly well. This part's takeaways?
- Shoot in an area without background distractions. These can be physical and mental distractions. Having to tell family that the bride and groom have requested privacy can be tough, but as their photographer, it's your responsibility to ensure that the bride and groom are focused only on each other. Physical distractions (such as the fence seen in this photo) can also make it tough to get clean, clear photos. I had to bite the bullet on this one, and just shoot at and around the fence.
- Anticipate the angles . You aren't going to know which way the bride and groom are going to turn when they see each other, so having a second shooter is great, but not when you forget to tell her where to stand. With a two-person team, one of you should focus on the groom, and one of you should focus on the bride.
- Shoot fast and be prepared to move . If you've been married, then you probably know what "that moment" is like. You're in a sound isolation booth, with Bose headphones on, and the entire world disappears except for you and your soon-to-be-spouse. You don't care about anything else in the world for about 10-15 minutes. Those aren't exactly the best conditions for photographers. I can't direct my clients if they don't think I'm there, which means that we have to be quick on our feet and fast on the trigger and ready to hit every angle at every second.
So that's a few of the lessons I've learned in the first part of shooting my first wedding. Later in the week, I'll be touching on pre-ceremony photos and The Ceremony , so keep an eye out for that! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or reach out to me on any of the various social media outlets of which I'm a member!