Going into a wedding day…there are a million things going through my head. I have a mental list that I am following while at the same time trying to capture all the individual things that are unfolding in front of me. Every wedding I shoot gets me more into a routine of the flow of the day. But sometimes routine isn’t a good thing. Sometimes when our minds go on auto-pilot…we can forget to pay attention to the things that are going on around us. For instance, maybe I’m shooting the details and meanwhile the bride is seeing the bridesmaids all dressed for the first time. Or maybe I’m shooting the bride walking down the aisle but her mom is sitting in the front row with tears in her eyes. I think, as photographers, it’s so important for us to not only nail our mental shot list…but also those little moments that make up each couple’s day. Not every mother of the bride is going to cry…but there is always going to be something that makes their day unique. And I think it’s our job to make sure we do what we can to capture every bit of that.
Here are a few things I have found that work as far as making sure I’m as prepared as possible for all the little things…
1. Find out everything you can ahead of time.
I always send an email in advance with a few basic questions. I ask them the basic stuff but I also ask about things I may not be aware of. Are they carrying something special with their bouquet? Did they get something special for their bridesmaids? Are they exchanging gifts before the ceremony? These types of things are so important to know because without that information…they can easily be missed. You may not know that she has part of her mother’s dress sewn on the inside of hers…unless you ask.
2. Educate your couple.
There are certain situations that evoke emotion. Most of which we keep on that mental shot list I was talking about. The bride walking down the asile…most likely the groom is going to have some sort of emotion on his face. So we never miss that. But there are other situations that can be equally as important and we want to make sure we’re there for them. After I get the information back from my bride about the special parts of her day…I always make sure she knows to wait for me. If they are exchanging gifts…I just make sure she waits until I arrive to open it. Same goes with the groom and so on. Or if she is getting dressed at 2, I just make sure her dad hangs around until 2:30. Which leads me to number three.
While educating is so important…you don’t want to make real moments seemed forced. You want things to unfold naturally…you just want to be ready for them. Back to the dad example…if you know you’ve told the dad to hang around. And you also know the bride is going to be coming down the stairs in 5 minutes…you can anticipate that there might some emotion in that moment worth capturing. Or when the bride is getting dressed. You know at some moment her mom is going to look at her with that look (you know…that one that says I can’t believe my little girl is a bride). If you tell her…mom, look at you’re daughter adoringly…those photos are going to seem forced. But if you anticipate that it is going to happen and you are ready…you will capture a real and authentic moment. It’s impossible to plan for every moment that might happen throughout the day…but if you can anticipate them and be ready…you’re golden.
Hopefully this makes sense…because sometimes I think things only make sense in my head. This is just my outlook and is by no means right. But hopefully this can help at least someone capture those little moments that make wedding days so special.