Forget feeling awkward and swallow the sarcasm — your wedding photos are a big deal. David Smiedt sets out the rules for capturing the precious moments of your special day
We get it, grooms – you’d much rather end your ceremony enjoying the overpriced cocktails you’ve already paid for on the lawn of the function centre. As opposed to maintaining a stiff grin as wave after wave of her second cousins emerge for a photograph. Each of which is topped off by a man you’ve never met before shaking your hand heartily and addressing you as Gary, when your name is Grant.
But you know what champ? You’ve got to suck it up, because that hour of strained smiles, flash bulbs, stilettos getting stuck in the grass and “all right everyone – move closer together” matters more than you might think.
Here’s why. First up, you need to dispense with the idea that formal photo sessions are a waste of time at a wedding because everyone has a camera on their phone and you’ve got one of those photo booths on site. Dispense with it like you did the idea of letting your “’sup-bro?” brother-in-law near the microphone.
Next, you need to realise that even though you may be the King of the Selfie, Prince of the Hashtag and (unofficial) Instagram Champion four years running, the man or woman at the other end of the lens is way, way, way more qualified than you will ever be.
‘Though you may be the King of the Selfie, Prince of the Hashtag and (unofficial) Instagram Champion four years running, the man or woman at the other end of the lens is way, way, way more qualified than you will ever be.’
This matters because the images he or she capture in an album will be pretty much the only thing about the wedding that lasts. Aside from the marriage, of course.
As tedious as this may seem in the moment, there will be times years hence when you drag down this dusty volume, flip its pages and come to the inescapable conclusion that not only did your wife never look happier, but that you resolved, from that moment on, to keep her that way. The fashion may and will change, but this sentiment will only deepen. What’s more, your children will surreptitiously do the same until they are teenagers – at which point nothing you do will ever be seen as remotely cool – and one day come back to the pictures as misty-eyed adults.
Then there’s your wife. Who has probably pictured this day and these pictures in far greater detail than you ever did. It’s a tad overwrought – not to mention a little patronising – to say that she’s dreamt of it ever since she was a little girl, but that noted you’ve got to realise this is her Grand Final and you’re on the team, so you’d better bring your a-game.
Apart from setting your face to perma-grin, here’s what you need to know. Don’t stress about the guests sinking free Champagne in your absence. They’ll keep. Take the time to get this right.
You may also feel that this process is a little too art-directed-verging-on-naff for your taste and that it can do with a little zaniness from you-know-who.
Put a leash on it. That means no “blue steel”, duck face or anything else that the assembled Kardashians may have taught you. All you need to do is beam. Like it’s the happiest day of your life to date.
You may also think that the poses the snapper gets you into with your betrothed – all that “stare into her eyes”, “hold hands and look back towards me over your shoulders” and (for country types) “take a seat on that hay bale” – are cheesier than a quattro formagi pizza. Granted you may never have actually done any of these things with your beloved and most likely will never again, but they have become standard tropes in the wedding image genre for one reason: they work. They have been tested over decades and hundreds of thousands of couples, so bow to greater wisdom.
If you need some sort of ADD release valve, most photographers with a bit of experience allow time for a few looser shots once they have the must-haves on the hard drives. Now’s the time to sweep her off her feet, bring in the dog, run through a shower of confetti, get the photographer to shoot through the church window, whatever floats your nuptial boat.
The theory goes that, having had a bunch of pics already taken beforehand, you’ll be a tad more relaxed and creative. If all goes to plan, you’ll most likely never have to do another photo shoot in your life, so make this one count. By which we mean try to refrain from grabbing her butt and staring at her cleavage instead of into her eyes.
Bridegrooms of Australia, if there is one thing people will tell you ad nauseam in the lead up to your wedding, it’s that the day will be over in a flash, a flick of the fingers, a first dance. And they are right. So if the photo part seems to drag on at certain moments, be grateful for the lag. And now you at least know how to make this time worthwhile.