1. Create a ‘Shot List’
One of the most important tips I offer to the bride and groom is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma! In addition this will help both the couple and myself set realistic expectations on the amount of time that is required for the formal portion of their wedding day. In general allot 5 minutes per shot. This means, if you have 20 different shots on your list, allow at around 90 minutes. We may get done earlier, but it is much better (and much less stressful) to get done a little earlier than expected rather than run late. Often the announcements, first dances, etc.. follow the formals and having a tight time constraint will add a lot of stress and the photos will ultimately suffer.
2. Wedding Photography Family Photo Coordinator
I find the formal sessions can be stressful for the bride and groom if things are not well planned or enough time is not allotted for formal pictures. Staging a formal picture of requires time… Attempting to get 30 or so different combinations of people in just 30 minutes is unrealistic… even if we were running it militant style! People are going everywhere, there are different family dynamics at play and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic and not as simple or straightforward as one might think.
I most likely will have an assistant on hand to help, however I like (but do not require) the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot – particularly for the large group shots. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party. I will also add that having more time allows for some more candid (informal formals) and interesting pictures as well
3. Scout the Location
Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. While I will make every effort do do so myself, I find it really helpful if the couple has some ideas where we’re going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and are aware how the light might come into play.
4. Allot Enough Time For The Formal Portrait Session
One of the biggest misconceptions I find as a wedding photographer is that notion that formals are boring and can be done in a short amount of time. Formals don’t just involve group shots with wedding party and family – they also include pictures of the bride and groom. On average it takes a minimum of about 45-60 minutes of the bride and groom alone… and that would be if things were running really smoothly without a lot of fuss or very many variations. Unless you are not particularly interested in having formal pictures taken, I suggest 1 hour minimum for the bride and groom alone. Allowing enough time for the formal portion of your wedding day will produce more creative and beautiful images and will make it much more relaxing and enjoyable.
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How much time will you need for your group formals? After you make your list of group shots, allot 5 minutes per grouping. Although getting a picture of the bride and groom with one set of parents may take only a few minutes, getting a picture of the bride and groom with a group of people can take longer. In the end, 5 minutes is a good gauge to use when considering how much time you will need. You may want to consider prioritizing some of the group shots in case we start running out of time, so we get the most important ones checked off first. If there is not going to be a lot of time for formals, the bride and groom may want to consider something called the “Day After Shoot” where the day after the wedding, the bride and groom are photographed (usually in dress and tux or suit). This can provide a more stress-free situation and may be particularly useful if the couple is interested in having a full session just by themselves and getting some creative images.
5. Set up an Engagement Session
Engagement sessions are a wonderful opportunity to get an idea of how things will proceed on your wedding day. Engagement sessions are usually a combination of candid and more formal (staged) pictures. I find it helps the couple to understand what is expected of them and they tend to be much more relaxed and less anxious about getting their formals done on their wedding day.Click on the following link if to see the “Top 5 Engagement Photo Session Questions”.
Thank you for taking time out to read this wedding formals tips and suggestions page. I wrote it with the intention to help make your wedding day as enjoyable and fun as possible. Love is the glue that bonds the sacred connection of two souls together. The level of love you share is special, profound and rare. Something to be in awe of and thankful for. Something to be honored, respected and treated as sacred.
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