When the lights go up on the naked, washed tables that once held your carefully chosen three-course meal, your wedding day will come to mind only in snippets of faint sounds and flashes of smiles. But it will have been forever captured visually and left for you to rifle through in 4x6 print boxes, on CDs, and in wedding albums. As you plan for the upcoming blur of this day, with all the intense hopes and milestones the preparation entails, there are a few things that you can do to ensure those visual memories show you in the best, most blissful light.
1. Getting Ready
There’s a lot of pressure on a bride to be the prettiest woman in the room. And there are many treatments and products out there waiting to up their price to “bridal” as soon as you mention the word. But in reality, though all eyes will be on you, chances are your guests will simply be looking at how happy/nervous/contented their daughter/sister/niece/cousin/friend is. And your photographer is just praying that you look natural and vibrant. Gone are the golden days of cinema, where heavy makeup was needed to photograph well. As veteran local wedding photographer France Menk says, “If your makeup looks natural in the mirror, it will look natural in the photos.” The week of your wedding is not the time to experiment with a new beauty treatment, like facial waxing or spray-on tans. After years in wedding, commercial, and studio photography, Tivoli’s Cynthia Del Conte advises against shiny makeup and sparkly powders. “They just make you look sweaty in the pictures,” she says. She also suggests that brides build in extra time for the hair and makeup. Very often things will run long in the beginning, and then the time for formal photos gets rushed as dinner is ready or the sun is setting. Del Conte suggests, “Tell them to be done one-and-a-half hours before you really need to be finished. Then you can sit around in your bathrobe with your friends and sip champagne, rather than have the anxiety of being late.”
2. Organizing Formals
Every wedding photographer suggests the couple create a must-have shot list. Denise Edkins of Your Day Photography in New Paltz provides her clients with the list and suggests they assign a “wedding wrangler” to specific group shots. “The ‘wrangler’ will know everyone’s names and faces who need to be in the photo and will help to get those ‘main players’ to the assigned place and time of the portraits,” Edkins says. Michael Gold of the Corporate Image, also of New Paltz, reminds couples to let the photographer know the nuances of family relationships, especially if parents are divorced and wouldn’t want to be pictured together. It’s helpful to determine in advance the location of the formal photos. You can arrange for your photographer to do a site viewing where you can walk around the grounds together, talking about your vision and ideas. If your photographer has worked at your wedding site before, this conversation can happen via e-mail or telephone, as well. Ion Zupcu, who spent years in New York City and now has a studio in Hopewell Junction, suggests that couples “listen to the professional first and then ask questions or make suggestions.” There are a lot of considerations when choosing a good spot for pictures, and your wedding photographer knows what will work best. After you’ve determined the location and timing for the formal photos with your photographer, don’t forget to let family and bridal party members know. The rehearsal is usually an ideal time.
Del Conte suggests, “Make your must-have list, and then make it shorter. Because remember, on the day of the wedding, once you start those group shots, a third of the way through you’re going to want to be done!” She says it’s better to have a photograph of everyone together rather than having many shots with multiple combinations of people. There’s only so much room in a frame or wedding album.
3. Think About the Light of Day
There are certain times of day that are more or less photogenic. In the summer, when the sun doesn’t set until eight or nine o’clock, there’s time to have an evening ceremony with natural light. One problem you could run into, however, is that if you plan to do your formal photos after a ceremony timed for sunset, you’ll quickly lose the light. It’s not impossible, but you’ll definitely want all of your family ready to go right after the ceremony, and you’ll want to skip the receiving line. “We all know way ahead that during the summer the sun is going down after 8pm and after 5pm in late fall and winter,” says Zupcu. “All the formals should be scheduled to take place before the sun is going down.” If you’re working with a small window of opportunity for the light during formal photos, be sure things don’t run long in the beginning, or you could end up doing family pictures at dusk, which would require over reliance on flash and studio lighting.