Wedding photos tell a story
When you hire a wedding photographer, you want to find one who doesn’t just take pretty photos, but also tells a story. The story of your wedding through one single day reflects your love for one another through the months and years that you’ve known each other.
Please, roll with me for a moment.
You both start the day apart. You’re living your life with only your closest friends and family members, getting ready for the chance to meet someone. And then you see each other, and it feels like it’s for the first time.
During the ceremony, you start with the introductions and then bond together. Afterward, during the pictures, your two groups of friends merge and your two families become one. You celebrate for the rest of the night.
Details shape the story
We just love stories that make us come alive and bring us meaning.
Part of that story telling is capturing details. As you plan your wedding day, I’d encourage you to carve out time for your photographer to capture those details.
Going into every wedding, I encourage couples to pack a bag of special items to the room where the bride is getting her photos taken. The basics include shoes, rings, jewelry, family heirlooms, wedding programs, save-the-date cards and the bouquet.
I also encourage clients to allow time for me to take photos of the reception before people arrive. Most, if not all, couples I work with spend a lot of time and money on the centerpieces, placards and dessert table. Those decorations most accurately show off your wedding colors and style, so it’s important to capture all of them.
However, taking photos of those decorations can get messy when the reception is in full swing. It may be so crowded that I can’t get a clear picture of the cake because of the people coming and going. Scheduling 10 minutes of time where I can come in and take pictures of the reception and venue before the guests file in can make a world of difference.
From there, I’ll make my way to the guest tables and the head table and then to the cake table and the placard table, taking photos of everything else while the scene is perfect and untouched. I’ll also take an overview photo of the entire reception, which works best without people around.
This does entail that you have the reception set up in its entirety to work with the photography schedule. When everything is at the same location, the best time for me to take photos of the reception details is right away before the bride puts on her dress.
Lauren and Dylan’s wedding had so many wonderful details. The two were married at the end of October at Camp Pow Wow in Menomonee Park, a perfect place for a Wisconsin wedding in the fall. Sitting 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, it’s in the woods with changing leaves and had that cool, crisp Midwestern autumn air.
The pair loved Halloween, so it made sense for them to have a Halloween-inspired wedding. In the pre-wedding meetings, Dylan talked about how his favorite part of Halloween was creating and making decorations. They both wanted photos of all their decorations. Because there wasn’t a convenient place to get ready at the site, the two both got ready in separate rooms at the same hotel in Menomonee Falls, the Staybridge Suites.
The ceremony itself was inside a pavilion in the park, which had a kitchen area and bathrooms, but not much space to get ready. However, being surrounded by the woods, it was an incredible space as a spooky gathering for the rest of the wedding.
Using the environment they had a huge ghost hanging from the trees and pumpkins lining the sidewalk to the pavilion and even a skeleton that greeted guests in the parking lot.
Because of the decorations, I blocked out a time when I would leave Lauren and Dylan’s hotel 20-30 minutes ahead of them. I could use that time to take photos of the various decorations, like the skeleton-greeting guests, the coffin drink cooler, the pumpkins lining the tables and the ghosts floating in the trees.
I’ve been to several themed weddings in my time. In all of them, it’s incredibly helpful to have great buy-in from the guests and let them know to dress up specifically for the occasion in the invitations. Everyone was dressed up in their halloween outfits for this wedding.
As for Lauren and Dylan they had a costume change themselves. Lauren wore a black dress and Dylan wore a dark suit for the ceremony, but with a few tweaks, they turned the dress and suit into costumes for the reception by adding capes, a hat and a mask.
Focus on the emotion
With all the costumes and colors of Lauren and Dylan’s wedding, it was easy to get caught up in all the visuals as a wedding photographer. But, at the heart of what I do is capturing the emotions and the relationships of the day. I diligently take photos of every guest and every costume, but I still want to tell that greater story.
With that in mind, I paid a lot of attention to the swirling emotions on Lauren’s face during the ceremony: her first nerves standing up in front of her guests and then the relief and excitement after the pronouncement. I saw all of the quiet tenderness in Dylan’s face when he would hug Lauren and give her a kiss.
I saw the tears when Lauren talked during the reception about being relieved her mother could see her wedding day after battling several health issues and her mother’s tears in return.
I saw how excited and joyful Dylan’s two older sisters and mother were, how the sisters looked out for their kid brother and how Dylan’s mother teared up during the mother and son dance. I also saw Dylan brush away the tears as he thanked everyone for being there and how overwhelming it was to be that happy and to feel that supported on his wedding day.
That’s what wedding photography is all about, capturing that emotion and telling the story. I hope someday you give me a chance to tell your story, so that decades down the road, you can tell a similar story to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Hair: Elise Cleereman
Rings: Rogers and Hollands
Getting Ready Location: Home2Suites Menomonee Falls
DJ: DJ Goose