Every wedding I shoot always starts off in a scene of pure chaos. I knock on the hotel room door, say hello to the bride – who is normally getting her hair curled at the time – and start unpacking my cameras. The room is usually filled with the following: champagne glasses, uneaten morsels from breakfast, spanx, make up, and an overflowing suitcase with its contents all over the floor. I love it. So much kinetic energy that goes on behind the scenes before the polished and beautiful bride makes her graceful debut down the aisle. No one need ever know the scene that went on in the room just moments before.
I often get asked if the room should be cleaned up before I arrive. I emphatically say, ‘No.’ I want to capture every moment that went into making your day special. Trust me when I say I will not be photographing your spanx. But for everything else, I am a firm believer that the chaos should be captured by my camera just a little bit. So don’t clean up.
That said, while I don’t care a wit about how clean the room is, time is often of the essence when I arrive. If you have the luxury of having me cover three hours of you getting ready, then no need to worry. But if I am scheduled to be with you only 30 minutes prior to you getting to the church on time, then there are a few things that will help you — and me — save time and thus, get better photos.
Unpack the dress. Wedding dresses come packed in enough tissue paper and plastic wrap to survive a nuclear apocalypse. About thirty minutes before I am do to arrive, take off the plastic wrap and remove any extraneous tissue paper, leaving only enough so that the dress still retains its shape. When I photograph the dress, I’ll remove all of that paper and use a more attractive hanger to photograph your dress. [Note here that if you have a special ‘bride’ hanger, then now is the time to get that out as well.]
Have all the accessories at the ready. That means shoes, jewelry, any special handkerchiefs or ‘borrowed/blue’ items. Basically, my first focus upon arriving is to photograph any inanimate objects. Get ‘em ready.
Where’s your light? The best place to photograph a dress, bracelet, or person is wherever there is the most light. Usually this is by a large window. If you have such a space, know that I am probably going to want to be there. If possible, make sure that the blinds or drapes can open. Also – and this is the only room where this matters – clear out anything immediately around the window. Again, don’t break your neck doing this, but only if its possible.
And that’s it. I am pretty low maintenance – it’s your wedding day, after all, and I want to tell the story of your day.
Speaking of stories, please enjoy Mireille and John’s Fordham University Church wedding photos accompanying this post. The reception was held at the Pelham Bay & Split Rock Golf Club. It was a fantastic party, as you can see by the shots from the dance floor. Their reception venue is another of NYC’s undiscovered gems: the club opened in 1901, and the bar has an elegant art deco feel.
If you would like to view more images, such as these Fordham University Church wedding photos, then please visit my website.