Weddings are definitely a surreal experience. When you stop to think about it, it’s the only time in your life that you’ll be surrounded by EVERY single person you’re closest to. With this sentiment comes the temptation to invite everyone you know. Suddenly you find yourself throwing the largest party you’ve ever attended with yourself as the center of attention and a whirlwind of loved ones.
Unless you’re having an intimate wedding with under fifty guests it can often be difficult to greet everyone. As the guest list increases, the pressure to interact with attendees in a meaningful way can become overwhelming at times. I know this feeling first hand and have experienced it both a groom and a wedding photographer. Placing unnecessary stress on yourself will usually show through in photos regardless of which side of the camera you’re on.
With each wedding my goal is to not only showcase the story of a special day, but to capture as many meaningful moments as possible. At the same time I do my best to document as many individuals as possible. I honestly feel that this requires a delicate balance between quality and quantity that only experienced professionals can achieve. As you plan your wedding timeline I would like to offer a few considerations that will create an environment that strikes the perfect balance.
Receiving lines are one of the best opportunities to greet each guest individually and thank them for attending your wedding. The line is generally formed after the ceremony or before the reception and often leads to intimate moments between friends and family. In my experience this might overshadow traditional portraits as it can often take a significant amount of time depending on the wedding but that’s ok. Sometimes these moments can prove to be more important.
A grandmother cries tears of joy as she sees her granddaughter for the first time. Since grandparents can sometimes only attend a portion of the day this is a perfect moment captured that otherwise may not have happened.
LARGE GROUP PORTRAITS:
If you love the idea of having documenting every single person in attendance at your wedding then this idea is perfect for you. Immediately following your ceremony gather everyone for a large portrait. Your officiant may choose to announce this after the recessional while they have everyone’s attention. I usually try to find a comfortable location that includes stairs or elevate myself above the crowd to ensure a sea of smiling faces. I like to take one formal photo and a few fun outtakes.
This photo (taken on the steps of Duke Chapel) is one of the largest groups I’ve ever arranged.
SMALL GROUP PORTRAITS:
I often ask couples if there are any groups that they would like to capture. This is could include friends that the bride or groom went to school with or coworkers. The timeline between the reception is usually pretty tight so I usually take these in the beginning of the wedding day or during the reception. Keep in mind that the later the reception gets the harder it is to corral people.
In this photo Cameron and Patrick pose with friends and family in which they had shared many memories with at their beach house in The Outer Banks.
INDIVIDUAL TABLE GROUPS AND COUPLES:
I sometimes take photos of individual table groupings if I feel that it will help showcase individuals that were not documented prior to the reception. I usually don’t include the bride and groom in these unless they specifically request it or happen to be in the immediate area. By the time they get to the reception they’ve usually posed for hundreds of photos and I like to keep these photos quick and easy. I try to gauge the energy level of those at the table and can assure you that age has nothing to do with this.
Inspired by the Awkward Family Photos blog, this rowdy bunch requested a photo of the most awkward positions they could come up with.
DANCE FLOOR FUN:
I love to take photos of people enjoying the wedding reception. It’s a time to let loose and find myself capturing them in their most authentic state. Some of my favorites involve the couple dancing as they are surrounded by their guests. This moment can be planned or sometimes will happen organically. Either way it creates a special experience for everyone and is often a great way to end the evening if you’re not opting for a send off.
Even the band members got in on this one!