What do you look for when you're browsing through a wedding photographer's website? I can tell you what I'm looking for: gorgeous light, candid moments between a bride and groom, the colorful details that flow together to create a beautiful backdrop to a happily-ever-after day! As a wedding photographer, I believe these elements are extremely important. After all, months and sometimes years, of planning has gone into every single detail of you wedding day and they certainly help tell your story.
So do formal portraits! I know that sounds so out of fashion. People standing attention staring at the camera? Well, not quite. What I mean is intentionally organizing your day so that you know for sure you have those loved ones captured on the happiest day of your life! When I make that first call to my brides and grooms to discuss their wedding plans, I always create a wedding schedule for them. Even if the most basic details are set in stone yet. Why? I want to make sure that as their planning their day, they have 3 essential portrait times set aside.
This may seem like a "duh" category, but remembering to carve out some intentional time alone isn't always so obvious! There are hundreds of family members and wedding guests clamoring for the your attention all day, and before you know it, you have had no time to themselves. The last thing that you are going to see in your portraits are natural expressions and emotions if your portraits are being observed, or worse, encouraged by family and friends! It's really hard to act natural in front of the camera, let alone a whole bunch of people calling your attention!
When discussing the wedding day flow with my clients, I ask them to think about whether they prefer an intimate "1st Look" before the ceremony or a more traditional approach of seeing the bride when she first walks down the aisle. I'm looking for the most convenient time to get my bride and groom alone based on the other events taking place for the day. This also sets the stage for the time we set aside either before or after the ceremony for all the formal portraits to take place.
The wedding day is not the first time you and your bridal party are spending together. These are best friends from childhood, college roommates, siblings and your support team! We definitely want to make sure that these VIPs are captured. We almost always sandwich your bridal party photos between your bride and groom portraits and family portraits. They're (usually) not the largest group of people we have to get together, and they are there to support the bride and groom! We want to make sure that we have pictures of everyone looking their best, but also do something fun to keep everyone laughing and having a great time.
In the day and age of candid moments and art photography, I feel like the importance of formal portraits is fading. Of course we love to capture those precious, organic moments that take place during your day, but we also want to make sure that everyone who needs to be, is in the picture. These are the images that will become more important to you as the years go by. Trust me! I've been married for almost 14 years now. I have SO many family formal photos from my wedding, and I love to see how everyone has changed. They also make great gifts! My job is to make sure everyone who needs to be in your family pictures is in the family pictures, and looking their best, so that they can share in those special memories as well.
With that said, this is usually the largest group of people to work with! So, we want to make sure we have a list and are efficiently moving along so no one gets restless! We're keeping our family formals scheduled as close to the ceremony time as possible, so that no one arrives too early (if the bride and groom have a first look) and so that no one sneaks off to the cocktail hour after (if we schedule formals for after the ceremony).
With these 3 essential formal photos scheduled into your wedding day, there is substance to your wedding photos! The backbone to the story. And you (and Mom) will thank us later!