Where do photographers stand during the ceremony?

A lot of couples have asked me this question: where will you be during the wedding ceremony? Will you be walking around taking photos from different angles? Will you be using flash? What if there is no space? Are you allowed to take photographs during the wedding ceremony?

These are valid questions, and I am hoping to shed some light on them. I can, of course, only speak for myself about my experience at different venues and how I work. Still, I have heard stories from couples about photographers walking around during the ceremony, using excessive flash, even knocking things over.

Throughout the wedding day, there are various essential moments to capture for your couple. The ceremony is one of the most memorable times for your couple and their loved ones, and it can provide you with some of the best picture-taking opportunities. It is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase the genuine emotion from everyone involved, which adds to their day’s overall story.

Are you where you’re allowed to stand while shooting a wedding? Sometimes the wedding location can be different from a public space, and you need to know a few facts about where you should be standing. In this photography guide, we will tell where the photographer should stand during the wedding ceremony. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

Where Should the Photographer Stand During the Wedding Ceremony?

Attend Rehearsals

Most weddings have rehearsals before the final day—the couple practices the rituals to perform best in their ceremony. A photographer should be a part of the trials and understand the tradition.

You’ll find the bride and groom moving around with the other important people. It will also help in developing an understanding between you and your client. If the rehearsal is at the same venue where the wedding will be held, you should mark the best photos’ positions.

Ask Where to and Where Not To

Sometimes the couple has seen other weddings and wants to implement them into their wedding ceremony. These poses will need you to stand in specific positions.

Where to Stand

However, you need to make sure that you won’t create any disruption in the ceremony. Attending rehearsals will also help in sorting out these positions with the couple. It will make you confident to shoot on the big day.

Where do photographers stand during the ceremony?

Visit the Venue

The wedding ceremony has a venue that you need to visit on your own if possible, separately from the rehearsal, before the final day. This visit will help you to mark down your positions.

You should move around and make a list of places where you need to stand and where you need to add a tripod. As a photographer, the angles and poses can be measured on an empty venue for the wedding ceremony’s perfect photos. Have you ever used a tilt-shift lens? Explore this fantastic gadget for shooting your next wedding. 

Get Approval from the Officiant

Weddings can be different based on rituals followed by the couple. Most of the ceremonies planned in the churches or gardens need you to collaborate with the priest, pastor, or another officiant.

Approval from Pastor

Though the officiant should understand that photography is an essential part of the wedding, you should discuss and get approval when you can hit the flash and when you can’t. Similarly, your positions should not distract the officiant from performing the wedding rituals.

Communicate With the Guests

It is recommended to talk to the wedding attendees. Give favours to take favours. When you communicate with the guests, it will help you develop a positive environment for the shoot. The guests will easily take your directions, so you can move around in your positions for the shots you need. This networking may also help you to get more work for the future.

Must-Have Angles to Capture During the Wedding Ceremony

Depending on the location of the ceremony, specific challenges can arise. Whether it is outdoors or indoors, some issues can arise from lighting to weather and more. When this happens, it can be necessary to move around and find the best angles to take the best photos. Plus, it diversifies the images you deliver after the wedding day. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

Here are the must-have angles to capture during the ceremony to help you look for the best tips during every shoot.

Shoot from the Front

The bride and groom spent time on how they wanted their ceremony to look and feel. Before it starts, capture a shot of the ceremony from the front. This will help you include the entire ceremony and showcase all the bride and groom’s details. When the ceremony begins, stand at an angle that will consist of the bride and groom as they stand together, with their bridal party on their sides. This will require you to stand to face the front of the ceremony site, where you can capture these images for your couple.

Move Behind the Ceremony

Many ceremony locations have less than ideal lighting, which can be an issue for the images you want to take. This is especially true for outdoor ceremonies, where the light creates unflattering shadows on your couple’s faces (or the harsh light causes them to squint).

When lighting is not ideal, switch angles to and move behind the ceremony. Suppose you have the ability to stand behind the altar, where the sun may be less intrusive. This angle can include the couple and may even feature who is marrying them.

Stand Above the Ceremony

If the ceremony location allows, shoot from a higher platform. This can be especially helpful when you are in a church or area with a balcony where you can stand and take photos. The higher angle gives you the chance to showcase the stunning design of the location, especially indoors. When you shoot outdoors, look for an elevated area (somewhere that is not in the way of the ceremony). You can document the ceremony site, everyone involved, and provide your couple with a unique perspective.

Shoot from the Side

During the ceremony, there are certain angles where you must stand to the side to shoot. It showcases different parts of the ceremony location, as well as the guests. It can also be helpful when there is tricky lighting when your couple and the bridal party walk down the aisle. Another way to shoot from a side angle is to stand on one side of the ceremony and capture the groom with his groomsmen behind him, and then switch sides to capture the bride with her bridesmaids behind her. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to send your ceremony images (and more) to a wedding photography editing company to ensure they are consistent when you deliver them to your clients!

Capture a Lower Angle

One way to shoot unique images from the ceremony is to capture a lower angle. You can shoot from the end of the aisle while the couple stands at the altar. This provides a unique look at the ceremony and captures details from that angle. This image helps diversify the images for your couple and gives you variety for your portfolio.

Also, when you shoot from a lower angle outdoors, you eliminate any harsh shadows that fall on your couples as they stand at the altar.

Stand at the Aisle End

As the bridal party and bride walk down the aisle, take the opportunity to capture this moment from various angles. While your second shooter captures them exiting the limo or building, you can be at the front of the aisle as they walk toward you. When the ceremony concludes, switch angles and move to the opposite end as the bride, groom, and bridal party exit to the reception.

Document the Couple’s Perspective

When they are at the altar, the bride and groom are focused on one another. They are also facing each other, which means you should switch angles to capture their expressions. Please start with the groom and shoot over his shoulder to capture the bride. Then, hit over the bride’s shoulders for the groom’s facial expressions. Not only do you mix up the angles and photos you take, but you also get to showcase to the bride and groom how they were feeling at that time.

When you switch angles as you shoot the ceremony, you have the opportunity to deliver images that cover every crucial moment for your couple.

Tips to Help You Efficiently Photograph a Wedding Ceremony 

Speak With the Officiant Before the Ceremony for Timeline Cues

As officiants tend to run the show once the processional is underway, we recommend talking with them before the ceremony begins to get a solid understanding of what to expect. General wedding timelines rarely outline the tradition in detail, so ask the officiant how the ceremony will unfold. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Ceremonies typically include a number of the following activities:

  • Processional
  • Bride’s entrance
  • Father’s blessing, aka “Giving away the bride.”
  • Prayer
  • Sand Ceremony/Unity Candle
  • Vows
  • Ring exchange
  • First Kiss
  • Recessional

PRO TIP:

Ask the officiant for a specific phrase he or she will say before announcing the first kiss. Knowing this cue ahead of time should allow your team to move into position in time to capture the moment. We also recommend respectfully asking officiants to step out from behind the couple after announcing the kiss so that only the bride and groom remain in the frame.

Communicate With the Cinema Team to Avoid Cross Shooting

When working alongside a cinema team, you will need to communicate your plans with them to avoid crossing angles and getting into each other’s shots. Communication is especially crucial for the bride’s entrance and the recessional, in which the bride and groom are on the move.

Follow Through from Beginning to End During the Processional

When photographing the processional, we recommend following each subject (parents, groom, bridal party, etc.) from the moment they enter the aisle to take their final position for the ceremony. Otherwise, if you start capturing images of the groom as he makes his entrance and then quickly transition to the next member of the bridal party before the groom has taken his place at the altar, you may miss a critical moment, such as the groom hugging his mom at the end of the aisle. Your clients will appreciate seeing these candid moments when you deliver the final images, and they go a long way to help you exceed your client’s expectations. 

Divide and Conquer the Aisle Shot for the Bride’s Entrance

As the bride prepares to walk the aisle, the second shooter should take a position at the back of the hall to shoot over the bride’s shoulder and capture the groom’s reaction while the groom’s lead shooter remains to capture the bride’s procession & his response up close.

Wedding days revolve around the bride, so her grand entrance to the ceremony site ranks highly on the list of important moments. Traditionally, couples would wait until this moment to see each other for the first time on their wedding day. While the trend has shifted and more couples are choosing to do a first look before the ceremony, this momentous occasion still draws incredible reactions from both the bride and groom and the guests.

When photographing this moment, team & lens synergy is essential. If the lead is shooting down the aisle to capture the bride on a wide-angle lens, for example, then the second shooter should use a lens with a tighter focal length, such as a 70-200mm lens, to capture the groom’s reaction (see the images below). We discuss shooter movement and positioning in more detail in Photographing the Ceremony. Create lasting memories through your Yarra Valley wedding photography that will be cherished forever.

Coordinate Positions to Tell a Stronger Story

It is essential to position your team in the optimal location to capture these moments as they unfold.

Wedding photography teams vary in size, but they generally range from an individual photographer to three shooters depending on the guest count. The more shooters you have on your team, the more coordinated the movement must be to ensure that the angles are covered for each of the critical moments and that the bride and groom’s (and the guests’) experience isn’t hampered by intrusive coverage.

During the ceremony, all shooters should rotate through three basic positions: the Center aisle, outside the left side of the seating area, and the right side of the seating area (see the image above). In most cases, the lead will likely start at the back of the centre aisle and capture the ceremony’s wide or artistic angles. When the information leaves the centre aisle to find creative tips, the second shooter should cover the centre aisle. The third should note the other shooters’ positions and move accordingly to avoid occupying the same space. Ideally, these movements would work like a well-choreographed dance. However, it may take time to perfect this coordination.

Here are some of the important moments/people to capture during the ceremony:

  • Parents
  • Bridal Party
  • Vow Exchange
  • Ring Exchange
  • Scene & Venue
  • Guests

Be Aware of Cultural Nuances

Each culture practices a wide variety of symbolic traditions and rituals derived from their respective history and religion. We recommend studying cultural nuances and wedding traditions associated with the bride and groom’s culture before photographing their wedding. When you understand the significance of the rituals and objects used, you can identify when key moments will occur and know precisely how to capture them.

Stack Shooters for the First Kiss and Recessional

If you talked to the officiant before the ceremony, you should know the cue for when they are going to announce the bride and groom’s first kiss. During the first kiss, lead and second shooters generally stand next to each other (also known as “stacking”) in the center aisle and capture the kiss at different focal lengths, using a 24-70mm lens and the other a 70-200mm lens.

After the kiss, lead shooters should walk to the front of the aisle and track the bride and groom as they walk toward the back of the gallery. It’s essential to be careful while avoiding walking backward into a person or an object while tracking the couple. If possible, use the second shooter or warn people ahead of time that you plan to walk back as the bride and groom exit.

PRO TIP: 

Ordinary critical moments like the recession offer an excellent opportunity to experiment with creative angles or tools, such as a tilt-shift lens. However, if you are the lead shooter, we recommend that the second shooter take the lead on a 24-70/70-200mm to capture the action to ensure that you don’t miss any critical moments.

Direct the Couple to Do a Second Kiss During the Recessional

When the bride and groom get to the end of the aisle, it is common to ask them to go for another kiss, this time allowing the photographers to showcase the guests cheering in the background. First and second shooters should remain on different lenses and capture the moment at different focal lengths, one wider, one tighter.

Every Ceremony Location Is Different, and Every Celebrant Has Different Requirements.

Your Wedding Ceremony Is in a Large Ceremony Room

If the room you are getting married in is vast, and there is ample room for me to move around, quietly step away from the front of the ceremony and take photographs of the guests, as well as the tradition from behind. Wait for certain moments during the ceremony where it will be easy to move from one space to the next. This might be during the hymns or when someone walks to the front to read a poem. Use this time to change locations without drawing any attention to myself quickly.

Your Wedding Ceremony Room Has Limited Space

If the space is very tight, do not move during the ceremony; just quietly taking photographs from the same spot. You can still move my camera around and get different angles, and because you use a zoom lens, you can take photos of the entire room and closer in – the happy glances between the couple, a tearful moment of mum, and cheeky smile from a bridesmaid.

If possible, as above, wait for specific moments during the ceremony where it will be easy to move from one space to the next: during the hymns or when someone walks to the front to read a poem.

Conclusion

The amount of time allotted for the wedding ceremony does not reflect its significance on the overall wedding day. Depending on the culture, rituals can involve many traditions and seemingly be finished as quickly as they started.

Like always, your best bet is to communicate with the bride and groom before the wedding day and discuss which ceremony traditions they plan to observe and follow up with the officiant before the ceremony begins to confirm the ceremony timeline. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of capturing creative imagery, regardless of time constraints or other limitations. Looking for a Mornington Peninsula wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.