Have you seen outdoor ceremony photos on Pinterest with harsh light, dark shadows, and lots of squinty eyes? Are you worried about your wedding images turning out like this?
We hear you.
Your photographer has ONE chance to capture your ceremony…and you want to make sure it’s done right! Every detail is a part of your story—a story that’s meant to be remembered and shared for the rest of your lives. Here are our top 7 tips for ensuring that you receive beautiful, memorable images of your outdoor wedding ceremony!
1. Have your ceremony in the shade.
Positioning your ceremony in the shade is essential for producing high-quality photos, especially if your wedding falls on a sunny day. Although it’s nice when the sun is out and there’s not a cloud in the sky, too much sun can lead to those sharp shadows, washed-out faces, and squinty eyes we just mentioned. Yikes! To avoid this, choose a venue that has ample shade available. If you’ve already committed to a venue that has fewer options for shade, plan to have your ceremony as close to sunset as possible for the softest light.
2. Conduct a “venue walk” with your photographer.
Before your wedding day, meet with your photographer to walk through your venue and evaluate photo-friendly options for your ceremony. Together, we’ll identify a convenient location that meets your lighting, spacing, and aesthetic requirements. It’s ideal to schedule your walkthrough one month before your wedding at around the same time of day as your ceremony.
3. Do a first look.
Doing a first look allows you to have your ceremony as close to sunset as possible (ideally 45 minutes-1 hour before the sun drops below the horizon). During this time of day, which is known as “golden hour,” the lighting takes on softer, blush-infused tones that are incredibly flattering. A first look can also help calm some of your nerves so that you can be fully present during your ceremony. If you choose not to do a first look, you should schedule your ceremony closer to two hours before sunset to allow enough time for post-ceremony portraits and photographs with your wedding party. Learn more about creating the perfect wedding timeline here.
4. Make sure your ceremony is at least 15 minutes long.
A longer ceremony means more opportunities for gorgeous photographs. If your ceremony is shorter than 15 minutes, your photographer won’t have much time to capture shots of your family’s reactions, your vows, or the ring exchange. To ensure that you receive a gallery with plenty of variety, work with your photographer and officiant to determine an optimal ceremony length.
5. Prepare for the kiss.
Although a spontaneous kiss is romantic, for the purpose of photographs it’s best to have a plan. Talk with your officiant and ask if he or she can move out of the frame during the kiss. Next, coordinate with your fiancé and prepare to hold your kiss for a few extra beats. Not the hardest request in the world, right? Plus, this will give your photographer ample time to get the perfect shot! After you’ve been officially introduced for the first time, walk slowly down the aisle and kiss again when you’ve made it to the halfway point. Practice makes perfect, so get a few test runs in during your engagement session or at some other point prior to your wedding day. Trust us: This makes for an amazing shot. Especially since it will include your guests and their reactions!
6. Elevate your guests’ experience.
Do what you can to make sure everyone is as comfortable and focused on your ceremony as possible. In the hotter months, provide guests with water and fans. Fans that double as programs are especially nice! During the winter months, pashminas are a thoughtful touch. To help keep distractions at bay, set up a sign outside your ceremony encouraging guests to “unplug” and avoid cell phone use during your ceremony. And speaking of devices…you and your fiancé may also want to consider writing your vows in a lovely book rather than reading from a phone or piece of paper.
7. Don’t forget the little things.
Small touches can make a big difference when it comes to ceremony photos! First, make sure to retrieve your bouquet after you’ve been announced as a married couple so that it shows in your aisle shots. Second, ask your maid of honor to fluff your dress before (or as) you’re walking down the aisle! Last but not least, ask your maid of honor or a bridesmaid to keep tissues on hand for catching happy tears.
Your wedding ceremony is a defining moment that marks the beginning of your lives together. By prioritizing photography and planning ahead, you’ll be able to enjoy the magic and remember the commitment you’ve made for years to come!