Different couples will have different approaches when it comes to how they want photography and videography to fit into their day. Some may want every moment captured with poses and set pieces, whereas others may want their photography and video to be captured as unobtrusively as possible.
I was definitely one of those people that jumped on the ‘reportage’ style bandwagon to begin with – blending into the shadows like a sniper, filming everything without being noticed. I’d even rely on the photographer to begin with to pose the couple for me and shoot from behind them somewhere! I did this largely because that’s what I would want if I was getting married. I figured that I want to enjoy my wedding day, not feel like I’m at some kind of photoshoot or film set. I still believe that, but…
I’ve since changed my tune a little bit and I believe that whilst much of the day should be captured as unobtrusively as possible, it’s still very much necessary to pose the couple, and to take time to ask for what will make the best shots – because many of the very best shots only happen with some direction. As with most things in life, I feel it’s more of a mixture of approaches that is needed, not a single way.
Anyway, as a couple getting married you may be interested in knowing how much time you might have to carve out for photo and video during the day. Particularly during the morning preparation which is one of the most time-pressured parts of a wedding day.
Generally, I think the answer is that you can go about your day without worrying about your photographer/videographer – they will let you know if they want to pose you for something or set up a particular kind of shot – and the frequency with which they do that will be something you (hopefully) discussed ahead of the wedding so you know what to expect. But there are things that affect which shots will be possible given time constraints…
For me, as a videographer, I need to be able to get to the ceremony venue with a good 20 mins to spare so I can set up tripods, cameras, mics and the like, and for that to happen, the bride needs to be ready to get into her dress with time to spare. Some of the best shots the photographer and videographer will get on your wedding day are the portraits of the bride when she is finally ready, or the reveal to the bridesmaids and her father. In many weddings I’ve shot, there’s often not enough time for these as the bride is right up to the wire finishing makeup and getting caught up in other arrangements that need to be negotiated. So my advice would be to create plenty of contingency time in your morning prep to allow for those really special shots to happen.
Another curious phenomenon that affects available time for bride portraits is the common decision to do the bride’s makeup last. Now, I’m no make-up artist, and I will probably need to be informed better by some actual makeup pros, but it strikes me that getting the bride ready first or at least much earlier would be really beneficial! I guess the rationale is that the makeup will look fresher and better if it’s left til last. Might be worth challenging that though – it is after all professional makeup meant to last all day long. Bottom line: the more time you have, the better for creating epic beautiful footage and photos.
After the ceremony
This is the time for confetti, selfies with guests, and possibly a group shot or two. If you’re at a church, particularly a pretty one, it’s nice to spend half an hour here getting some shots but you’ll probably be wanting to move on to the reception venue pretty swiftly, where more photos will be taken.
It’s nice for the bride and groom to arrive slightly later than all the guests to the reception venue (whether on-site or not) and this way they can be made a fuss of when they arrive. If you’re leaving from a church in a wedding car, think about taking a small detour to take some photos with the car somewhere pretty. It’s a nice opportunity to get some portrait stuff done, and at the same time grab a little time together to marvel at what you’ve just accomplished!
A quick note here would be just to make enough time before your wedding breakfast for all the group shots and couple shots to happen as well as some general socialising time. This allows the videographer and photographer to get all the candid people shots as well as the details of your wedding decor.
Arranging for the photo and video people to eat at the same time as the guests ensures that they don’t miss anything that’s going on.
Having arrived at the drinks reception, the next order of the day is usually the group shots. From a videographers perspective, (at least this one’s) I don’t get involved taking too many group shots – they’re more for stills than video – but I will take a few and inject some animation into them. You can basically trust your video people to divide up their time so they can record everything that’s required including the wedding breakfast room before your guests descend upon it with jackets and handbags, for example!
Following the group shots, there’s usually some time before the wedding breakfast. If it’s a cloudy day, this might be a good time for couple portraits as the clouds will diffuse the light in a more flattering way. Overhead direct sunlight makes for ugly shadows everywhere. You might consider putting aside 20-30 mins to do a portrait session here, before rejoining the party.
AND/OR you could also see what the light is like later in the day. If there’s some late afternoon/early evening sunshine in the couple of hours before sunset (referred to as Golden Hour in photographer speak) then this is the best time to get the most beautiful video and photos. When you do this will have to depend on the light, but if it co-incides well with the end of your speeches and the cutting of the cake, then you’re game on! There’s not usually much happening at this point in a wedding, although it’s usually a consideration for couples that they are present for the arrival of their evening guests. However, a couple shoot shouldn’t really take more than half an hour max.
At the time, you may feel the pressure a bit, and perhaps not relish the idea of posing for video and photo whilst being away from the party, but there’s really nothing being missed much between speeches and the evening party starting, so it’s a good time. In addition, it’s also worth mentioning that socialising all day can be exhausting, and these little breaks where you just get to hang out as newlyweds together can be really nice.
On the day, it can definitely feel a bit tedious to have to do everything to a camera every five minutes. After all that is not what you get married for. So choosing vendors who can tread the line well between being unobtrusive and posing couples is key. In my opinion, too much reportage leads to missing out on the very best shots, but too much posing on the other hand feels unnatural.
So it’s good to make time for the directed stuff, but keep it to a reasonable length at prearranged parts of the day. I also recommend talking through any special shots that you or the videographer/photographer has envisioned and when they could be done. Ask your videographer/photographer to show you examples of anything they have in mind so you can get on board with the enthusiasm for it (or not!).
It’s all a bit of a trade off between being present and enjoying celebrating your special day, but also taking the time to create photo and video that will delight you for years to come and serve as family history.