We’ve all been to the wedding reception where the bride and groom disappear, and don’t come back for hoursss. Your stomach is growling, your drink is running low, you're checking your watch, waiting for them to arrive to move on with the evening. Although photos are an absolute necessity and important part of your day, do your best to take into consideration your guest’s experience. Here are some tips as you seek to arrange your photo coverage:
Take as many photos before the wedding as possible- This alleviates the family shot list after the wedding… and a big perk is your makeup and hair are fresh!
Even if you aren’t doing a first look, you can still take bride and groom portraits ahead of the wedding, family shots, and most of the bridal party portraits prior to the wedding… including individual shots. Then you can grab the group and celebratory shots afterwards.
Assign a family member with the task of wrangling a rogue family for post wedding portraits. This is a great task to give to an aunt, etc. Someone who is close to the couple, knows extended family, and assertive enough to track them down for the photographer.
Start with the large group shots, then whittle the list down. You want a huge family shot with all of your cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.? Either consider a more relaxed shot at the reception (and task them with approaching your photographer with that request) OR shoot these photos first, then ask the photographer (or us) to ‘release them’ to the cocktail hour so the group left becomes smaller and more manageable.
Consider pushing back the bride and groom photos to sunset (if you are getting married earlier in the day). That way you can get to the cocktail hour sooner, refresh your makeup, and enjoy the gorgeous, lower lighting (trust us, the photographer will THANK you). Timing wise, it can be a great time to sneak away for a few once you’ve been announced, and have eaten your meal. Then, while the rest of your guests are eating, you can sneak away.
We have also had brides and grooms who choose to take their bridal portraits WITH their groom prior to or after the wedding day. It’s an amazing trial run for the big day, if taken beforehand, and enables you to choose the best time of day, without being rushed the day of the wedding to capture ‘the shot’.
Another fun tip, is to consider asking your photographer to set up a ‘preview’ of the wedding photos at the reception for guests to enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a long list of shots, just a glimpse into the beauty to come. Some of the photographers we’ve worked with have set this up on a computer, and enabled guests to ‘sign up’ to receive an electronic wedding album to be sent after they’re ready. This enables guests to purchase photos online of themselves enjoying your big day.
Finally, keep the cocktail hour FUN. Provide plenty of drinks, a variety of hors d'oeuvres, games (where possible), interactive installations (like leaving a voicemail in lieu of a guestbook, or incorporating a polaroid guest book with a backdrop). A recent couple wrote personalized letters to each of their guest tables as part of the centerpiece… and another added postcards to the tables (self addressed to the couple’s new home) and asked for them to write a word of wisdom or favorite memory from their big day to be enjoyed over the next few weeks. These little, thoughtful details don’t have to be expensive to be memorable… and fun.