At Brides, it's our job to look at beautiful wedding photos all day long. And while we do love flipping through the images, gushing about the intimate moments, and admiring pretty things, there are some things that we do not enjoy seeing. Yes, there are a select number of mishaps and items that we do not wish to see on camera. In fact, when we see these tiny (but torturous) photography fails, we can't help but notice, and stare, and question them. Seriously, it's like, forget the table scape you spent months creating because all we can see is the bread and butter on the table, or the upside down glasses that aren't ready for drinking, or the tall object in front of your beautiful, smiling face!
(We could go on and on and on...)
And we are not alone! To ensure that we're not just crazy, detail-obsessed editors over here, we enlisted the help of someone on the other side of the camera: Patricia Lyons of Patricia Lyons Photography. She, too, agreed with us, and shared a few pet peeves, as well as tips of her own to help you avoid the above deadly sins.
So with that, we suggest that you keep reading to see our combined list of nine very small, secret things that can make or break your wedding photos. Read up, do your research, and pass along this article to the pros (photographer, venue coordinator, and planner) and VIP guests (your parents, wedding party, etc.). And don't worry if these details slipped your mind, as they can get the best of us. Take it from an anonymous photo editor, who after reading this article, told us: "My photographer shot my tables with bread and butter on the table...I needed a list like this!" Well, lucky for you, you have it.
Clutter in the bridal suite
You've likely booked a pretty suite or fluffed a room at home to get ready in. But, in the end, this room is just that—a preparation space, which means water bottles will inevitably end up on tables, as will half-eaten sandwiches and plastic hanging bags. "This can be a challenge in a small space where a lot of people are busy getting ready for an event," says Lyons. "I like to advise my brides to declare one area or room the mess-free zone, so that the getting ready photos are clean and clutter-free.
That way, I don’t end up using valuable shooting time to make beds or clear backgrounds. It’s also nice for the bride to have a quiet place to get ready anyway (in the good light, of course!)."
The officiant in the first kiss frame!
This one may be obvious, but kindly advise your officiant to step out of the way for this special moment. You want a picture of the two of you—not you, your partner, and your priest.
Wait staff in the background
We suggest having your photographer capture the feel of the setting, which often translates to a faraway shot of the reception space. You want this photo as it sets the scene in your wedding album and shows off all of your handiwork, but you do not want to see waiters running around in the background of said space.
Upside down glasses
Oftentimes, your photographer will shoot the majority of the day's detail shots before dinner is served. Which means the wine and water glasses are likely turned over to avoid dust, dirt, and critters slipping inside. (No one wants a fly in their water glass!) That said, it's obvious that these photos were not taken in real time when the table is indeed not set for dinner.
Or filled water glasses
Hello, condensation. Water glasses that are filled too early on a hot day can be a problem, leaving large, dark water stains on linens. Says Lyons, "Sometimes that can’t be helped, but when I can beat the wait staff to a table for my shot, I always do!"
Bread and butter on tables
Like Oprah, we love our bread. But please remove it from tables for the decor shots.
Tall table numbers
If the numbers—or candelabras and flower arrangements, for that matter—are too high, they can block the bride and groom’s faces during speeches.
Avoid brights lights, especially on or around the dance floor during the important dances. "I love to get some moodier, ambient light photos without flash during the first dances, but sometimes the magenta hue or lit monogram motif make that really challenging," Lyons says. Solution: Skip the effects at the beginning of the night and turn them up (literally) when the dance party really gets going.
Cell phones on the dance floor, in the aisle, on the table...
Ahhh, can we talk about cell phones? "I get it, I love taking photos with my cell phone, trust me, but what guests don’t think about is how it looks from the photographer’s view and ultimately in key photos," Lyons says. "They’re thinking, 'Oh, I have to get this first dance shot,' while I’m getting the couple surrounded by a bunch of small rectangles where faces should be, instead of them actually watching and experiencing this special time."
The takeaway: Have your guests put the phones down so they can watch and focus on the moment and you as a couple! Lyons notes that phones are also a major problem during the bride's processional and dinner service. "You’d also be surprised (or maybe not!) at how many guests start flipping though their Instagram, posting images, or checking messages during a seated dinner," she says. "I will be in a corner of the room, trying to capture the romantic scene by candlelight, and I start to see that familiar blue glow on various faces throughout the crowd!" No, no, no...