Weddings are AWESOME, and as a wedding photographer I should know. I’ve been to quite a few! They are always happy occasions filled with life, laughter and most importantly, love. As a wedding photographer, it is my huge privilege to be invited to document the most important day of anyone’s life and be allowed unlimited access to all the emotions that are involved.
I always do an engagement session beforehand for every wedding I shoot. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a number of months before the wedding itself I get together with my brilliant couples for an afternoon, we go out for lunch and we then spend the afternoon in a nice park or somewhere that has some romantic significance (whether that’s nice walks in the park or beachfront picnics) and take some relaxed, informal and fun photos. There are two reasons for this. The first is obvious: the couple get some wonderful pictures. Pretty straight forward! The second reason is even more important: it allows us to get to know each other!
If you think about it, your wedding photographer is the one person who is going to be there the entirety of your wedding day (I always photograph from the getting ready in the morning to the leaving in the evening). They’ll be there longer than the florist, the hair and make-up, the DJ, even the master of ceremonies. So if you find your photographer irritating or (dare I say it) creepy it’s going to have an impact on your day! So the engagement shoot allows my couples to get to know me and how I work as well as allowing me to get to know them and what makes them comfortable which makes the wedding day itself run MUCH smoother.
As mentioned, the engagement shoot gives my couples the opportunity to have some lovely extra images as well as their wedding photos and these images can be used in all sorts of unique creative ways throughout their wedding. One way is by using one or many of the photos in their invites or save the date cards. This is brilliant but doesn’t happen all that often because by the time we get to the engagement shoot, my couples have usually already sent out their invitations. However that definitely doesn’t stop them using them at various other points during their wedding.
One of the most common ways to use the pictures is on the order of service. I met up with Tom and Sarah and we did an engagement shoot on a beautiful — if very cold — day at Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa (the same place they had their beautiful reception). They used three of their favourite images in black and white as subtle opaque images behind the text on their order of service. The text stands out against the images perfectly and it’s a completely unique look. Love it!
Another common use for engagement photos is a signing frame. You may have seen (or even signed) one before! It consists of a large photo in an even larger frame with a big border around it. All the guests write a short note around the photo which can then be hung in your home after the wedding so you can see the wonderful messages while you’re eating breakfast! Laura and Jim did one for their wedding however they picked a green border with gold pens so it doesn’t show up well on this photo…
By far and away the most popular use of engagement and wedding photos (besides having them on your wall!) is on thank you cards. Thank you cards come in all shapes, sizes and awesome designs. But there is nothing more personalised than using one — or many —of your favourite photos from the day. They give friends and family (who you may not have immediately shared the photos with) an opportunity to see some of the nicest photos often of a part of the wedding that guests don’t get to see – where the photographer goes off with the couple to take some wonderful photos of them away from the busyness of hundreds of guests!
Some are plain and simple like Barney and Hannah’s, they used one of the photos from the signing of the register. Some use a collage of photos like Tim and Vanessa – we shot some photos on an awesome bridge in the middle of a road! Some, like James and Sam, go a step further (this is becoming more and more popular) and brought a home made “Thank You” sign secretly to their wedding and when we shot the photos of the two of them we did a few extra with them holding the sign that they could then use to make thank you cards later! Impressive organisation!
There are so many ways of using photos not just in an album after the wedding but in the planning before and afterwards as well! Get creative and do something amazing!
Mike Macdonald is a national wedding photographer. If you’d like to see more of his work have a look at www.macmacphotography.com or head over and like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/macmacphotography and if that’s not enough take a look at his blog too! http://blog.macmacphotography.com (if you’re insatiable he’s got twitter as well!)