I posted this a little while ago over on my blog but I think it’s just as relevant for planners as it is for brides. I’d love to hear your point of view.
Just before Christmas I spent some time reviewing 2008 and going over each of my weddings with a fine tooth comb, analysing what had worked and what could have been improved. This got me thinking about the traditional timings of group and portrait photography at weddings. As you’ll all be more than aware, most couples tend to plan time for these photos during their drinks reception but there are a number of reasons why this doesn’t work perfectly for me which has made me wonder whether scheduling photography for prior to the ceremony (frequently done in the US) is actually a better alternative.
Very often I find photography sessions are what overruns at weddings and this is not always due to an over zealous photographer! Following the ceremony, couples are excited to see their guests and reluctant to leave the party just as it’s getting started whilst guests begin to disperse themselves across the venue. Trying to get all the necessary relatives in the right place at the right place can be a nightmare even with the most keen ushers and have an bellow out the names of those needed for each shot is functional but can give a wedding a school-trip meets boot camp feel. Personally, I find this time of the day has the potential to stress even the most care free of brides as typically it’s only the couple who knows the name of every guest so there is limited help ushers or a planner can offer.
Scheduling photographs for before the ceremony not only means bypassing all of these problems but couples also gain some significant benefits:
- Couples are photographed looking their absolute best, sans smudged eyeliner and crumpled buttonholes.
- The entire of the drinks reception is spent chatting with guests and soaking up the atmosphere rather than watching from afar as all the champagne gets guzzled.
- The drinks reception is more relaxed and enjoyable as the couple are free from the worry about getting all the photographs taken before dinner is served.
- The resulting photographs are better. Not only can the couple and photographer dedicate longer to getting some really creative images, without the pressure of time the couple are more relaxed and so look better and happier in the shots.
- The drinks reception needn’t be hours long in order to accommodate a long photo session; reducing the risk of bored guests and a flat atmosphere.
- The celebrations can start early, couples get to spend some quality time with you’re their closest friends and family before the ceremony.
- The major drawback to scheduling photography prior to the ceremony is that the first time the couple see each other isn’t as the bride walks down the aisle. However, this needn’t mean loosing the magic of seeing each other for the first time and does in fact have its own advantages. Seeing each other prior to the ceremony means couples get the chance to talk to each other, calming nerves and giving them the chance to really soak up the ‘we’re getting married feeling’ without being distracted by last minutes wedding planning or ceremony proceedings.
Having the couple meet each other before the ceremony needn’t be a negative thing either and is easy to make into a really special moment, perhaps meet somewhere really special/beautiful or spending 5 minutes alone together.
So there you have it, my thoughts on the matter. I’d love to hear yours so please comment regardless of if you disagree or agree!
Zoë Lingard owns Weddings by Zoë Lingard, operating throughout South East England.