This is a question I often get asked by clients, and with good reason. People spend hours preparing -- from getting ready to the first look, from the ceremony to the cake cutting, from the first dance to the grand exit (and all the little things in between). It only makes sense that every detail, large and small, is properly documented.
Over the years, I've given loads of advice to couples to help them get the most of their wedding photos. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting these tips (with photo examples) to help you get the most out of your wedding photographer. Of course, you're free to customize your wedding photography to best fit your wedding -- the following tips are meant to be adaptable to almost any wedding circumstance.
Some couples have large wedding parties (the biggest I've worked with is nine bridesmaids and nine groomsmen) while others have small (one or two bridesmaids and groomsmen). Whether large or small, these are the people you've chosen to stand beside you on your wedding day. They're your siblings, relatives and best friends, so it's important to get photos with each and every one of them.
Here are some tried-and-true tips for optimizing your wedding party photo shoot:
1. Schedule about an hour for wedding party photos. This might seem like a long time, but remember that you'll likely want many different photo combinations.
2. If you can, schedule these photos before the ceremony. If you're waiting to see each other until you walk down the aisle, you can always split the wedding party up for photos (bride with her bridesmaids, the groom with his groomsmen), and take fifteen minutes after the ceremony for full group photos.
3. Be as serious or as fun as you want. Current wedding photography styles are typically a combination of fun, non-traditional poses and photojournalistic ("fly-on-the-wall") shots.
4. Don't be afraid to bring a shot list. You might think you'll remember all those different photos you want, but come wedding day, it's not likely you'll remember them. Give the shot list to a personal attendant, the photographer, or his/her assistant.
5. Remember to be realistic with your time. If you bring a shot list with 300 photos, but only have an hour scheduled, you're not going to get all the photos you want. If you have a photo list, a good practice is to plan 3-5 minutes per photo on your list.
6. Consider your location(s). The best wedding party photos sometimes take place in several different locations, or at a location away from the ceremony or reception space. All locations have their own challenges (golf resorts have houses and putting greens, suburban developments have houses and sometimes smaller trees, big cities and tourist sites have traffic and other people). If your photo backdrop is really important to you, think about traveling to a new location, or talk with your photographer about ideas that she or he might have.