Slow your roll – This is not a complete list of every single wedding photograph that your wedding photographer should try to capture on your wedding day. Perhaps someday I will make a nice little list of what shots are recommended and which to skip. But today I would like to single out seven specific pictures (or variations thereof) that I have had several brides and grooms tell me are “must have wedding day photographs.”
Communication is key – if your photographer doesn’t know you want these (or other) specific pictures, they might not get to them. Remember, your photographer (and other vendors, for that matter) are not mind readers, and every couple has different expectations as to what pictures they have to remember such a special day.
And note that I wrote, “your wedding photographer should TRY to capture”… no one is going to get a shot of your mom and step mom together, frolicking through fields of lavender, if they are feuding. And sometimes an important candid is missed, because your photographer is capturing another, just as important, shot at the other side of the room. Be realistic. And maybe consider a second shooter. (And family therapy? Too soon?)
- The First Look (yes! I want you to SEE each other before the ceremony!)
Someday I will write about the pros and cons of the first look, but the gist of it is this – a couple decides to see each other prior to the ceremony *GASP*. Before you go booing me off stage, keep in mind a first look makes pictures much easier (more wedding photography finished before your ceremony! less work to be done during cocktail hour!) and gives you a very private moment with one another before declaring your love in front of everyone and their mother. (And in some cases their mother’s mother’s mother. Quick generations, I suppose #nojudging.)
The first look is a tender moment. Raw. Personal. Want to make your future husband tear up? Have him wear a blindfold and take it off of him when you stand in front for his eyes to take you in. That’s some raw emotion.
(variation) FINE. You don’t want to see each other. You want to stay traditional. Pfffffft. Just kidding, I don’t hate you. But at least trade handwritten notes around a corner. Or grasp each others hands and pray together. I want you to hear your fiancé’s voice and he/she to hear yours. I want you to know that you are both in the moment, together.
2. Parental Figure and Offspring Unit. (aka “dad and daughter” “mom and son” etc)
It’s a picture of the bride or groom with the person they have selected to walk them down the aisle, before all the pomp and circumstance takes off.
I want the parental figure (dad, step mom, uncle, grandma) to have a moment with the bride/groom – and I want a picture of it. So do you, I promise. One of the most tender moments I saw this summer was of a sister (bride) and brother (escorting her down the aisle). I didn’t know the backstory of why her dad or step dad was not a part of this tradition. She choose her brother – and in the moments leading up to the ceremony I could see why. The proud look he had on his face – his older sister, about to commit to an amazing man for the rest of her life – was touching. And when she scrunched up her face and fixed his tie, I completely started crying. Lump in ‘ma throat, choking back tears. And I am not huge crier at my weddings anymore. That’s a picture to hold on to forever.
When I get married, we didn’t really get this “must have wedding photography” shot pre wedding ceremony – but we had a great moment when my parents were walking me down the (beach sand aisle). The minute my heeled feet hit the sand, I realized that I couldn’t walk across the sand in my fancy white shoes. Physically I could have pulled it off, but I wanted to be more grounded – more… me (barefoot whenever possible). So I stopped my parents (my mom just about crapped herself until she realized what I was doing), and I kicked my heels off. All three of us were laughing our butts off. And that moment… completely organic and unrehearsed, is one of my favorite wedding photographs.
(photo credit: Author’s Personal Collection, David Royal Photography)
3. The Photographer’s Signature Shot (aka, why you hired this person in the first place)
If I had a dollar for every time I told a couple “relax and let me do my job,” I would at least be able to pay for a few months of Netflix. And I don’t mean it in an asshole-y way. I mean it genuinely. Yes, you will have enough chairs at your wedding, because I know your final guest count – relax, this is why you hired me. The same goes for your photographer. You hired this person because they had a style that spoke to you (unless you hired your cousin with a fancy camera, and that’s a whole other blog post…).
So let them show their style through your wedding photography. It might seem silly for you to stand on a concrete balcony in the wind. On a cloudy day – but you might get a shot like this.
Or you might balk at the idea of standing outside, in the rain, in the pitch dark – but you might get a shot like this.
*for the record, our rainy night bride, Taylor, was 100% all for doing this shot, such a trooper, as it was raining and about 40 degrees that night!!*
4. The Serious Shot (aka, who can rock the better b**** face?)
I know, I get it… you want your wedding photography to convey “happily ever after” – but that doesn’t meet you need to have a “s”-eating grin in every photo. The serious faced shots envoke a high fashion feel, and can catch your audience off guard. They give gravitas to this important event – and force you to slow down and be in the moment. Plus, you will be so hopped up on mimosas and adrenaline, trying not to smile may actually lead to a few candids of you and your future spouse (or family) laughing hysterically. Win/Win. How gorgeous do these ladies look? Proud. Strong. United – and stunningly beautiful – all while skipping the smile!
5. We Did It! (aka, let’s party!)
I love the “Holy Crap, We Did IT!” look that my couples get at the end of the ceremony. Shoulders up, a mile-wide smile, and an almost mischievous look. Here is where having a second shooter is such a plus. One wedding photographer can capture your family and friends’ jubilation with a nice long-shot of the entire audience, and the second photographer can be closer to the happy couple – and catch that fresh and delirious moment as it happens. This is one shot that cannot be re-created in wedding photography – you have to catch it right when it happens.
6. Small Children Dancing (aka wedding photography GOLD)
Yes, you paid $70 for the kids meal -and it’s chicken strips. Yes, the flower girl smeared her lip gloss (really, she’s 3) on your dress. Yes, the ring bearer threw a tantrum before delivering the rings to the alter (really? you let him walk with live rings?? smh). But at the end of the day, those little munchkins are wedding photography gold. Flower girls in a circle around the ring bearer on the dancefloor? Swoon. Your 2 year old nephew, in a tux, passed out in mom’s arms, as she laughs with your *new* sister in law? Priceless. The awkward 13 year old nephew asking your best friend’s kid for a dance? I die.
Trust me – invite kids to your wedding and make sure to capture them in pictures. When you look back at your wedding photography in 5, 10, 50 years, it will be such a joy to see the little ones so… well… little. More on why kids are a vital part of any wedding later (from the girl who once said, “I am going to hire a gaggle of kindergartners to be at my wedding”) at a later juncture.
7. Your Vision (aka, I saw this on Pinterest, my favortite blog, my BFFs wedding, etc..)
Mine was a picture of my husband and I, silhouette from the back, with our hands up. Each hand was to form a letter. L. O. V. E. We failed. Not epically, but definitely not what we had envisioned. But we took the shot. And it is not haunting me to this day (if only we had time to take that one picture…).
Pick that shot / pose / angle that you are in love with and try to recreate it in your wedding photography – BUT (and its a big but) – promise me you won’t think the entire wedding day was a waste if it doesn’t work.
You might be able to recreate something you saw, and loved…
Or you might fail. Epically so, like we did. But meh. It was fun to try and who cares.
There is no magic potion for must have wedding photography. But by singling out a few important shots, you can start to build your idea portfolio. I invite you to be honest with your photographer – and hope they will return the favor (No, we cannot create a city-scape with glittery lights silhouette shot at your 11am beach wedding, but this is what we CAN do…). Communication is key. Use Pinterest or other wedding photography image resources convey your dreams to your photographer if words fail you. And let them know in advance, so no one is taken by surprise. And above all, enjoy your day. Be in the moment and savor every minute.
Commenting? Tell me what other Must Have Wedding Photography shots I might have missed!