There is a lot of disagreement in the wedding world about when the best time for you to take pictures is. Many coordinators, to make their schedule work better during the wedding day, choose to splinter the timing of the pictures so all are shot before or some are shot before and then a few are shot after. Also many bridal magazines tout the glory of shooting before and how smoothly it will make your wedding run after the ceremony. While I think they say these things as the gospel truth with absolute sincerity they truly are not in touch with the harsh reality of the people factor. In my experience people not showing up when they are scheduled to sets the schedule of a wedding off kilter very quickly. Unless your wedding is at a location next to the airport, out of town members of the wedding party are going to be late for the wedding as all to regularly are the guests.
A bride a while back was adamant about shooting as many of the pictures on her shot list well before the ceremony with the bride and groom separate. I had advised otherwise. It was a hot July and the groom was not to terribly excited to go out in the sun at 4:30 for pictures. He was supposed to arrive at the venue at 4 p.m. and be ready at 4:30, but had only just arrived with a missing groomsman. They were only ready at 5 p.m. Once outside, not a scrap of shade was anywhere in sight and the shots began with those people who were available for the shoot sweat pouring down their faces. The flower girl had not arrived yet and the bridesmaids were not ready so most of the shots before the wedding were scrapped until after the ceremony.
Another bride planned to shoot an extensive list of shots well before the wedding in April. Even though we started late with shooting because the bride and bridesmaids were not ready we started shooting, it was so bright out that day that everyone was squinting horribly in the picture. It was a golf course wedding that offered no trees for shade near the clubhouse so the pictures were shot in bright sunlight which is not nearly as flattering as the pictures shot after the ceremony when the sun had dipped a bit. The bride had beautiful eyes which didn’t show up in the shots before the ceremony but showed very well after.
What does a seasoned photographer say about the best time to shoot your posed family wedding pictures? Shoot them after the ceremony. You aren’t going to save much time shooting beforehand as it is normally a futile exercise in trying to get everyone out before they are ready. Every one will have arrived at the wedding for certain by the end of the ceremony and there should be no delays hopelessly waiting for someone to show up so the pictures can be completed beforehand. I suppose in the perfect world of magazine weddings people aren’t late, don’t get lost, have their wedding clothes on already and are completely prepared when they spill a soda on their dress while applying make-up in the car. It’s not fun to hear, but the wedding party in 50% of the weddings we shoot will not be complete until just a little bit before the ceremony takes place.
It’s a photographer job to make sure that excellent pictures are shot at a wedding and leaves with a considerable amount of good images to represent that wedding well. A coordinators job is to make sure the wedding runs smoothly but their responsibility ends when the wedding ends. They don’t care if the pictures turned out poorly because of bad scheduling. The pictures are the only thing most people have to remember their wedding by so take the word of your photographer if you’d like fantastic images.
An additional reason I typically try to shoot after a ceremony is to take advantage of softer, warmer looking light from the sun. Once the sun has dipped the light from the sun has to travel through more of the atmosphere which softens the light and changes the color. It is certainly more flattering to do this and also it tends to cool down a little bit once the sun isn’t directly overhead. Thinking of the comfort of your wedding party helps to get happier pictures. It will be cooler with more shade available to keep people from getting too hot later in the day. In Texas this is something to think about a good part of the year.
If you do choose to shoot all of your pictures beforehand and have the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony be sure to remind people to be timely more than once. Certain people will not show up unless they are reminded many times. Sometimes people won’t show up on time no matter what you tell them. Bride’s in the past who were concerned about specific people not showing up on time have purposefully told them an hour earlier than the schedule said. Some were still late.
Any which way you choose to shoot your posed pictures at your wedding, flexibility is definitely a good choice as you are preparing for your fun and exciting day!