Brides planning your special day, today I want to share some tips with you on getting the photos you envision, of your wedding day. The photos are after all your lasting memory, for the rest of your life. Being happy with your photos, is one of the most important things for most brides. You want to remember not only the big moments, but also the small detail. Photos can also remind you of the emotion during certain times on the day. A good photographer will not only take photos of everything, but he or she will be able to deliver emotive imagery, by making use of light, shadows, editing and capturing real expressions and real moments.

I know the excitement and the butterflies that come with planning one of the most important days of your life. I can’t really relate with the stress that some brides experience. I have always been a laid back person, that don’t stress the stuff I can’t change. Ten years ago, I too found myself trying to figure out a dress, catering, a music list, how to light our outdoor reception area, a photographer. I remember not knowing any professional photographers back then. This was just before the photography bug bit me. Back then, expos was not a major thing. Social media was not big either. Well, not for businesses. I had to wing it as I went. I bought a bridal directory (just a fancy term for a big bridal magazine, with a hard cover) and got most of what I needed out of that single directory. I remember paging through the Photographers section and only one person caught my eye. I have always been one for good colour and clean images. My home is not cluttered, with neutral colours and simplistic elements. My style is reflected in my own photography and also what I have always found appealing. This is what caught my attention, with this specific photographer. I truly can’t remember the image he used for his spread, in the publication. I just remember it was simplistic, showed emotion and had spot on colour. I wanted that for my photos.

I wanted THAT for my photos….

What I didn’t realise then, is that to get ‘that’ for my photos, I had to take the type of venue I booked into consideration. I really loved the venue, as the most important thing to me was the animals. It’s a wildlife sanctuary for wild animals, that cannot be released back into the wild. All of them are tame and free roaming and were guest of honor at my wedding. I also loved my photos. It didn’t look like what was in the magazine, but I was happy with them, as they were not plastered, but natural.

Different people value different things. For me getting the exact clean imagery I saw in the directory, did not carry as much weight as having animals roaming amidst the guests. But to some brides, getting exactly what they see in a Photographer’s portfolio, is very important.

It didn’t look like in the magazine…. and here is why:

Dear bride, when you see these lovely clean, well lit images on a photographer’s website or social media platforms, you need to know that your photographer uses light and a certain backdrop to create images. Every photographer has a specific editing style. And every photographer has a specific way of shooting, to compliment their editing style. This comes together and they post ‘who they are’ as a photographer. Their social media posting is a reflection of them and their specific style. This results in them booking many weddings at similar looking venues. Your venue is the backdrop and the light in that venue, will determine a lot, when it comes to the photos of your wedding day. Stay with me, as I go into detail here.

Everything in the room you get dressed in, everything in your service area and reception hall will reflect light. All light has a colour. If you are getting dressed in a room with pink walls, you won’t ever get the clean, crips colour images you see out there. Pink walls will leave you looking a bit sunburnt, with a tinge of magenta on your teeth and beautiful white dress. Orange tiles, thatch roofs, stained glass windows all around, coloured walls, none of this is a photographer’s dream. A good photographer will be able to work with whatever you give them. BUT if you give them all kinds of challenges to work with, they possibly won’t be able to give you what they consistently deliver and display on their media platforms. And lets face it: If there is a majestic toilet in the room on the one side and walls with orange bricks all around, that is what is there, to work with. Taking it outside is not always possible. Most venues do not offer an outside option, where there won’t be harsh shadows, harsh sunlight and eyes that can see you getting dressed.

You don’t have to get married in all white buildings. But what you have to look out for:

* Are the rooms/halls dark?

* Are the rooms/halls cluttered?

* What is visible in the background? You don’t want photos of you getting into your beautiful dress and in the background is a toilet or a big black or orange door.

* Is there a lot of natural light coming into the room? Artificial light (light bulbs) is either yellow or green. You don’t want to look like a desaturated version of the Oros man or the Gringe in your wedding photos. Sure, your photographer can colour adjust in editing. But fixing up colour on skin is not always easy and often, especially in print, that odd tone in the skin is visible. And no, simply using a flash on the camera, to light the room up, is not going to give you amazingly soft, flattering photos. You need an entire set up of multiple lights, with diffusers, to create natural looking, balanced light indoors.

* Colours that work on a photography level are whites, ivories, soft greys and even dark greys. Should the walls be dark grey and the floors are concrete screeds, just make sure there are large windows, to allow natural light to fill that room. The important thing is to have soft, balanced light, with natural tones (colour).

Yes, not everyone can afford expensive venues, designed with photography and light in mind. Not all venues that have considered light, elegance and simplicity are expensive. Do some digging and you will find some gems. You really don’t have to invite people that you have not seen in years, for fear of offending someone. You can have a small, intimate affair at a lovely little lodge or guesthouse. Even in a lovely garden. If your budget is really tight, you can always opt for something outdoors, on a farm. There is nothing wrong with having a bonfire picnic. You can ask your guests to all pack a picnic blanket and a picnic basket and to dress up for a picnic under the stars. Make it a surprise wedding. Or an elopement. Elopements are awesome, because you can get married somewhere on a mountain top, with just your closest family and friends (or just the two of you, should you want to) and your money can be spent on a honeymoon instead. Being strapped for cash does not mean you cannot have a stylish love celebration. A bit of creativity, goes a long way.

Irrespective of your budget, keep in mind that less is always more. Keep it simple. Keep it stylish. Keep it timeless. Don’t try to compete with anyone. It is your day and it should be all about what is happening between two people. Nothing that happens, or that does not happen, will change the fact that in a moment in time, two will become one, forever.

Trends will come and trends will go. Keep this in mind when planning your day. Even when booking your photographer. Ask yourself: Will this leave a bad taste in the mouth, ten years from now? If there is any doubt, then rather don’t. Wedding days are one of the most important days of human life. A lot of time, effort, thought and even money goes into modern day weddings. If you look at one of those old school selective colour images (everything is black and white, except the groom’s purple tie) and you think “But why?” consider if following a certain trend is really worth it.

Remember this: A wedding is about a lot more than just what people will think of the food or the music. A wedding is about relationship. It is all about two becoming one. Not just two people, but also two families. It is about two pasts colliding, to become a new present and a new future. It is (usually) the start of future life, in the form of babies. Absolutely NOTHING that happens on the day, can change any of this. Guest not showing up, the food not being amazing, the cake melting… these are all irrelevant to what is actually happening. Please, dear bride, please do not stress. Do not panic. Do not become a bridezilla. Take all the good and embrace it. Discard of the things that did not happen as you had it planned. If you do not have the funds to have an expensive venue and a coordinator, you do have creativity! Some of the most amazing weddings, that left guests raving over it for years after, were in remote outdoor locations, where people had to take a bit of a hike to get to the wedding spot. Your true tribe won’t mind packing a picnic basket and going on an adventure with you. Remember that this is your day and the day that is the start of your forever. You do you.

If you are in the position to hire a professional photographer, remember to consider them in your planning process. Give them a good ‘canvas’ and ‘brushes’ to paint with. If you aren’t in a position to hire a professional, you can always opt for creating an Instagram hashtag and to get all your guest to use it in all the images they take on the day. When you can afford to print photos, do so by printing photo blocks for a wedding photo wall. Keeping all the above tips on good photos in mind, even for guest cellphone snaps, is still a good idea 🙂

Don’t stress the small stuff. It will just take away from the special of your wedding day.

“I feel like a part of my soul has loved you since the beginning of everything. Maybe we are from the same star.” – Emery Allen

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