Love to Know | How to Get Great Ceremony Photos
Posted: 9 February 2020
Song after song has been written about it: the moment you've been waiting for since you first locked eyes across the crowded room (or since you first swiped right—this is 2020, after all...). Your wedding ceremony! That brief moment in time when you and your love commit—in words and small gestures, in front of family and friends or a few select witnesses—to spending your lives together, taking each other's good and bad and making what joy you can from every day. It is beautiful; it is magical; it is important.
It is also, in most cases, brief! In most of our advance planning, we don't spend a ton of time talking about your ceremony—it is the most fly-on-the-wall part of our job—and most of your wedding day requires a lot more attentive and decisive planning. But your ceremony is arguably what makes your wedding just that—a wedding!
For many couples, nerves come to a head surrounding the ceremony: it's the first time you'll see your guests, debut your Big Official Wedding Day Look, maybe the first time you'll see your soon-to-be-spouse. Planning and preparation go a loooong way in soothing nerves, so here are my best tips for getting awesome ceremony photos!
EYES UP DOWN THE AISLE
This applies whether you're a nearlywed or a supporting actor—if you're walking down the aisle, avoid looking at your feet! Especially for dress-wearers, the temptation to watch your step—and, in so doing, conveniently avoid the gazes of lots and lots of people...—is high, but if you can't stomach eye contact, simply focus on a horizon point to the left or right of the officiant, think happy thoughts, and...
Let us catch you with your best foot forward, literally, and try to take in the moment instead of racing to the top. I know it's hard: you don't love all eyes on you, or you just want to be married already! But take a few deep breaths on the way to the altar, and when you do get there...
This is the hardest one, because it involves either some magnificent advance planning or some meta-awareness at a moment when you just want to focus on the eyes of the person you love standing across from you. (And please do focus on their eyes—see below!) Ideally, the officiant should position themselves at the center point of the aisle and altar, directing the couple to the right spot when they reach the top. If possible, designate a friend with good spatial awareness to mark your spots ahead of time. For indoor surfaces, gaffers tape—of which I always have a roll in my wedding day bag—is an easy, non-marking option; golf tees work great in grass and other soft outdoor surfaces; chalk is a great temporary option for hard outdoor surfaces. Once you've hit your marks, make sure to...
TOUCH EACH OTHER
In a PG way, of course! Church ceremonies or those officiated by church pastors may have more strictures on when during a ceremony the to-be-wed couple can join hands, but if you have any say in the matter, grab your beloved's hand (or both hands!) at the first available opportunity. Not only will that one small point of connection still any lingering nerves, it brings you in better proximity to...
FOCUS ON EACH OTHER
Sure, it's usually considered polite to look at whoever is speaking, but your officiant will understand you and your partner holding each other's gazes throughout the ceremony. Keeping your eyes mostly on one another will help keep you in the moment, and really allow you to...
FEEL THE FULL FORCE OF YOUR EMOTIONS
Nothing makes me sadder than nearlyweds saying, "I'm so worried I'm going to ugly cry at my wedding!" First of all, ugly crying is a social media and Hollywood myth, because, second of all, one key element to a memorable photograph is genuine emotion. So you're a crier—me, too! (Even as a crier, I was so overjoyed to be marrying Michael finally that I only cried twice on our wedding day!) Pack some extra tissues or a handkerchief, ask your makeup artist for a touch-up kit (and waterproof everything...) if you'll be wearing makeup, and cry it out, baby. Are you a perpetual giggler? Nothing is more endearing than a couple bubbling over with laughter during their ceremony. The more free rein you give to the way you really feel on your wedding day, the more authentic and real your photos will feel. Especially when it comes time to...
HOLD THAT KISS!
We're not talking minutes, here, people (see above re: keeping it PG!), but a good solid kiss—say, 10 heartbeats, for my Brandon Sanderson nerds—once again lets you still that moment in time and cement it in your mind, while it allows us to get you a little more variety for that much-loved First Kiss Shot. And you did it! You're married! Please feel free to...
I love when couples hug at the altar after being pronounced married—I don't know about y'all, but we hug at least 10 times more often than we kiss! But it's official! You're married! Fist pump, high five your officiant or your dad, raise the roof, hell, jump up and click your heels if you feel so moved! Celebrate your newlywed status however feels right to you! And then, if you can manage it...
WALK SLOWLY (AGAIN...)
Have I said the phrase, "take in the moment," enough in this list yet? If not, here's one more: a slightly delayed speed back down the aisle will really allow you to take in the moment after finally being married to your love—the applause and cheers of your guests, the look on your new spouse's face. Just take your time. And, you know, if you want to stop and kiss at the end of the aisle, well, we're all for it.
What's your favorite photo from your wedding ceremony? We'd love to hear about it! Share your own top tips for great ceremony photos with couples below!
MORE FAVORITE CEREMONY PHOTOS:
Want more of our sage wisdom and detailed advance planning surrounding every aspect of your wedding day? Raleigh - Durham wedding and portrait photographers MKM Photography are available for fun, colorful, and slightly offbeat weddings all across the Triangle and Central North Carolina. We are booking 2020 intimate weddings and portraits, and 2021 full weddings and beyond. We'd love to hear about what you're planning! Use the Contact Us link above, or send Kate an email directly to start the conversation. We can't wait to hear from you!
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