As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen a TON of ways to hold a wedding ceremony. I’ve attended ceremonies with different traditions, different guest counts, different decorations, you name it.
But across alllll of the unique wedding ceremonies I’ve filmed and photographed, there seem to be a few common themes! There are a few things that happen so often at wedding ceremonies that could be changed just a little bit to make the ceremony even MORE amazing.
So today, I wanted to talk about what to do and what NOT to do during your wedding ceremony! I’m going to give you my top tips that I’ve learned from all of the weddings I’ve photographed and filmed.
Take what you will from these tips – nothing is a rule, nothing is concrete, nothing is a requirement!! Your wedding day is YOURS to create and do what you and your partner want to.
So if any of these tips don’t feel right for you, that’s okay! You won’t be “wrong” if you don’t follow them. And don’t panic on the wedding day if you forget any of them, don’t stress about keeping track of them. They’re simply my own suggestions that I know could help make your ceremony just a little bit more amazing for you and your partner. Let’s get into it!
Oftentimes, I see brides and grooms walking down the aisle (whether they’re with a parent, a friend, or on their own) with their heads facing the ground.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed while you’re walking down the aisle and just stare at the ground because you’re nervous, or aren’t sure what to do.
But your friends and family want to see you!! If you have your head up while you’re walking down the aisle, you’ll be able to look around at your guests, and at the ceremony you’ve spent so much time putting together. You’ll be able to take it all in as you walk toward the end of the aisle, and your guests will be so happy to see your face during such a big moment!
And it’s okay if you’re emotional while you’re walking down the aisle, too! If you’re walking down the aisle after your partner, and they’re already at the altar, keep your head up so that you can look at them while you walk. Because that is such a special moment between you two that you’ll want to remember forever!
Now that we’re all too familiar with the term “social distancing” (thanks 2020🙄), remember that you don’t have to do it with your partner while you get married!
And by that, I mean that you’re allowed to hold hands during your wedding ceremony! I see a lot of couples who get to the end of the aisle and forget that they can hold hands and physically touch each other. They stand there, listening to the officiant, repeating their vows, etc. just standing a few feet apart and not getting that physical touch.
So remember that you have permission to touch each other! Holding hands with your partner will especially help if you’re feeling nervous – hopefully it’ll calm you down and will bring you back to the present. You’ll be able to focus on them and be physically connected while you marry each other. I promise it’ll bring the nerves way down and will make the ceremony much more special!
Ahhh this is a big one! When I get to a wedding ceremony, I see one of two things: either there’s some sort of sign by the ceremony site telling guests to keep their phones away and be present in the moment, or the ceremony is just filled with phone cameras waving in the air.
We all know how amazing smartphone cameras are these days – they might eventually put me out of a job, haha! But it can really hurt your wedding ceremony experience when all you see in your audience is phones up in the air.
Your guests mean well, they really do! They want to capture the moment that they’re so excited to be witnessing. But hey, that’s why you hired a professional photographer and/or videographer!
It’s my job to be behind the camera and capture what’s going on during the ceremony. And it’s your guests’ job to just relax, be present, and enjoy the moment. The ceremony will be so much more special when you know that your guests are present in the moment, and that the photos are being taken care of by your photographer!
If somebody in the front of the audience is holding up a big iPad, it can also get in the way of some of your most special photos. Especially if your ceremony is in a tiny space, a big iPad is hard for your photographer to work around, and your first kiss photos may end up with a bunch of phones/tablets in them.
Allow your guests to be present by having your officiant tell them to put those electronics down, or you can have a sign at the ceremony like this one!
Think about it: your officiant is standing right behind you while you’re getting married. So when you go in for that first kiss, your officiant will be right up close watchin’ it happen. Talk about awkward! And, your first kiss photos will end up with a random face between your faces while you kiss, or maybe will have the officiant’s arms sticking out from behind you. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t really want that super special photo to have a face behind my partner and I while we kissed🤣
Many officiants that I’ve worked with are very aware of this, which is awesome! They’ll take a brief pause before they ask you to kiss each other, and they’ll step away from the two of you. It’s worth asking your officiant to do this beforehand in case they weren’t already planning on doing it!
Take a look below at two first kisses as an example – both at the same location, but in the top one, the officiant didn’t move out of the way!
This one may seem obvious!
Not every couple kisses the same, I know. But remember that you’re allowed to enjoy your first kiss for more than a quick tenth of a second!
Your guests will be watching you, yes – but they all know you’re married. So enjoy that first kiss with your new spouse and take it all in. Be present in the moment!
This is also a big one just for the sake of your photos. I know how special photos of your first kiss are to look back on later in your lives, and to have as an amazing memory of your wedding day. But if you only kiss super briefly, it may make it hard for your photographer to capture that quick moment!
So be sure to enjoy that kiss and let it last for as long as you want. Then, time to go party and celebrate!
There you have it – those are my top 5 tips for your wedding ceremony!! I hope that simple list of what to do and what not to do helped you out and will make your ceremony as amazing as possible.
The key is to do everything you can to stay present in the moment and be as connected to your new spouse as possible. Enjoy it!
Wedding on the Cliffs of La Jolla, California