As a wedding photographer I am “behind the scenes” at a lot of weddings and I see people struggle with a few things time and time again. It makes perfect sense; why should you know how to attach a boutonnière if you have never had to do it before? Below are a few tips and tricks I have picked up over the years that will make your day run just that little bit smoother.
How to make doing up the wedding dress much easier
Lots of wedding dresses have a zip and then buttons over the zip to make it look nice. These buttons usually go inside little loops of elastic which are incredibly fiddly to get over the buttons. If you use a crochet needle or a hair grip to hook the elastic over the buttons you will find it much easier and quicker. This is particularly helpful if time has run away with you and it’s suddenly 10 minutes until the ceremony!
Make sure you have some scissors around for the preparations
Those brand-new bridesmaids dresses (amongst many other things) probably still have the labels on.
How to attach a boutonnière
The boutonnière goes on the left lapel of the jacket (as you are wearing it) below the knot of the tie but above the breast pocket of the jacket. Put it in place and then fold the lapel around to create a kind of “wedding burrito” and expose the back of the lapel. Take the pin and starting at the inside top push diagonally down so that it goes through both sides of the lapel and the stalk of the boutonnière leaving the sharp tip pointing down and away. You do it this way so that the pin doesn’t fall out during the day and so that the sharp end of the pin can’t prick you.
Have a towel ready for your bouquet
When your bouquets arrive, they will most likely be in water to keep them fresh. You should leave them in the water until the last minute but when you take them out the stems will obviously be wet. Have a towel on hand to dry them so you don’t get your lovely dress all wet right at the start of the day!
How to tie a bow tie
You would be amazed how often this comes up. Guys, if you are going to wear a bow tie on your wedding day learn to tie one first! This is the sort of thing where a video will be much clearer than writing it out so here is one below:
Make sure a bridesmaid has a bag for you
Wedding dresses, like lots of dresses, don’t tend to have pockets, but unlike other dresses, you generally won’t be carrying a bag with you. Lots of people cry during the ceremony and you probably don’t want to smudge your carefully applied make up right at the start of the day. Get one of your bridesmaids to carry a bag for you with some tissues in it so that they are on hand to pass you one during the ceremony if it all gets a bit too emotional. Don’t worry about crying either, it just shows how much you care and actually a few tears make for sweet photos.
Invariably your family will want a few formal photos with you on your big day, these can end up taking quite a long time if not done right and – let’s face it – you really want to get on with enjoying yourself. Your photographer will have no idea who anyone is, so assigning a couple of people to oversee rounding up the relevant people for each photo will speed things up dramatically. One person from each side of the wedding makes the most sense.
There is also a sensible way to order the photos. It is much easier to get people to step out of the photo than it is to find the next few people to step in, since inevitably someone will have gone to the toilet or the bar. Start with the biggest groups and work down. So, if you wanted a shot of all your family, immediate family and one of you and your parents, you would start with the full extended family, then do immediate family then do just parents. It’s also a good idea to start off with the big group shot of everyone as this lets everyone know that the photos are happening.
If you want to do a bouquet toss you might want to consider getting a second, smaller bouquet specifically for this. Most of the time nobody actually catches the bouquet (wine and catching stuff doesn’t mix well!) meaning it essentially gets thrown a fair distance straight on the floor which generally messes it up pretty badly. Of course, you might not care about that because by the time you are doing the bouquet toss all the main moments you want it for will be done. It’s entirely up to you.
Speak to the officiant about what rules they have for photos
Every person who conducts wedding ceremonies has a different set of rules on what a photographer can and can’t do during the ceremony. I’ve had everything ranging from do whatever you like, to you can shoot the entrance and the exit at the end and that’s it, nothing in between. As a photographer I must respect their wishes, but this obviously places limitations on what it is possible for me to do.
Talk to the person conducting the ceremony when you first meet them to find out what their rules are, this is more relevant for religious ceremonies but it’s always worth having a chat, just so you are prepared.
The usual concern that is given by the officiant is that the photographer will be disruptive during the ceremony by using flash and getting in the way of the ceremony. There are some photographers who do this but most (including me!) are very respectful of the ceremony. Moving around a little is necessary to get a good range of interesting shots but it is simple enough to do this discreetly and at sensible times. Using a telephoto lens allows me to get close-up shots without having to get too close. If you talk to your officiant beforehand and tell them that you have spoken to your photographer and that they will be respectful this will go a long way to reassuring them. It’s also worth remembering that it is YOUR day and if you want nice pictures you need to allow your photographer a reasonable amount of freedom to do their job.