Church wedding ceremony pictures: everything from the aisle to your exit

During your wedding day, your ceremony is probably the most important moment of the day. It is often the reason that motivates couples to find a talented wedding photographer in Twin Cities, in order to receive great portraits and a souvenir of this moment.
Religious and traditional rituals are usually pretty codified with strict rules, and don’t offer a high degree of liberty for unexpected events.
Nevertheless many authentic moments can be caught and creating good memories.

The ushers

The usher role became significantly famous during these past years. The usher is usually a good friend, or a family member you couldn’t include into your bridal party, but that you cherish and want him/her to be part of your wedding. It’s not rare that they are dressed with the same style as the bridal party, but usually with a small difference. Ushers are usually men, but I have already seen women doing it.
The photographer can take interesting photographs when ushers convey your guests to their respective seats. Indeed, when people just arrive, they are both time lost, impressed and extremely excited.

The Groom Waiting and Crying

Depending on what scenario you will choose, the groom can stay close to the altar and wait until her fiance joins him. Or he can walk down his family members, such as his mother, his grandmother, or sometimes the bride’s mother.
A great picture I like to capture is the groom’s reaction, and especially when he starts crying. Indeed, I am usually standing very close to the groom when he first discovers his beloved one entering the church. And if he starts crying and will have some memories!

The Bridal Party Entrance, Flower Girls and Ring Bearer

There are many possible options to choose for your bridal party order. Usually, each groomsman enters with a bridesmaid.
If you want to include kids (like your nephew or niece), they can drop flower on the ground, carrying wedding signs, or bearing the rings. They are then called flower girls and ring bearer. If they are toddlers under three years old, I would recommend their parents train their kids before the D-Day!

The Bride Walking Down the Aisle

The father walking his daughter on the aisle is probably the most popular image when you are thinking about church wedding ceremony pictures. Also it is one of the most important pictures for your wedding photographer to catch. To help him capture great images, you could do three things.

  1. First, ask your guests prior to the wedding not to stand in front of the photographer when the bride walks in. Indeed, you don’t want the picture to be rotten by your aunt standing in the middle of the central path struggling to take a picture with her smart phone.
  2. Second, ask someone to close the door after you enter. Indeed, sunlight is usually much brighter than the indoor low light, creating a strong back light.
  3. Third, walk slowly. When there is not a lot of light, cameras can struggle to properly adjust the focus. So take your time and walk slowly.

Kids Messing Around

If most of your guests usually behave correctly during the ritual, kids are the ones who remain wild and natural, they are just curious and want to play. Their parents’ faces would be a mix of shame and desperation trying to discipline them, in vain. Also this contrast usually creates some very funny situations that your photographer will be more than happy to seize. The more kids you have, the funniest it is. You can let them set all in the same corner to encourage interaction and unexpected events.

Tears

If weddings rituals are often quite identical, it doesn’t mean that these are not highly emotional moments. So, all depends on the bonds between people and their sensibility. But it’s not rare to see at least wet eyes and even better (for the photographer) some tears. You can be sure we will enjoy capturing this moment. That’s true from the bride and the groom, but also and mostly for their parents and their siblings!
Most women would appreciate waterproof makeup and after the ritual they would probably plan five minutes to fix the eyes’ mascara and the foundation.

Laughs

In some serious situations, some people, such as the groomsmen (or even the officiant) for instance, could face serious difficulty restraining their laughter. It’s always a great moment.

The Wedding Ring Exchange

This is another key moment during your union’s ritual. Some couples would allow the photographer to come close to them (a couple of feet) to catch a close up shot of the ring exchange, but some would prefer not to. In fact, they would favor to reproduce the scene after.

The Bride and Groom’s Kiss

The second most popular image that comes into your mind when you speak about pictures during a ceremony at the church is the bride and the groom kissing at the end of the ritual. Usually the priest, or pastor, would introduce you as a husband and wife and ask you to kiss each-other.
The longer the kiss lasts, the most spectacular it is for your guests, and the more time your wedding photographer will have to catch pictures from several points of view with his camera.
Also, you may want to negotiate with your officiant that he/she stands on the side during you kissing, so you don’t have her/him standing just behind you on your pictures.

The Bride and the Groom leaving the church

Another famous image is the bride and the groom leaving the church with all their guests gathered around the door and throwing flower petals in the air. Some alternatives to petals are soap bubbles or confettis (check with the church, what is allowed or not). Some culture might also enjoy musician playing music.

Those exit are very photogenic and convivial for your guests, so I can recommend them enough.

A large group picture can also bet set-up, especially if your church has lots of  steps (such as the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, or the Cathedral of St Paul). In such a situation, the use of a ladder could be needed so I can see every single heard clearly within my camera.

Other kinds of pictures where you can take advantage of your church

It’s pretty common for people getting married in church to take group pictures immediately after the church service. In such condition, it’s better to inform the concerned people prior to the D-Day (and eventually to remind it to them the day before). In this way, you have more chances people stay for the group picture and don’t leave immediately after the church service to enjoy the cocktail at the wedding venue!

  • The organ and the balcony. Several churches have a nice balcony with an organ, that your photographer could use to take pictures. Make sure the stair’s door is open on the D-Day.
  • Stained glass. Some churches have amazing stained glass, you may wish to take a picture with them, such as the silhouette kiss for instance.
  • Some churches are extremely beautiful, some less. Old churches tend to be more beautiful than modern ones. Of course if during your wedding preparation you have the choice between two churches, photographers would highly encourage you to pick the most photogenic one.
    If you have to choose between two similar churches, then take in consideration the lightening. Indeed, depending on the type of artificial light installed in the church, light could look white, green, or orange.

Tips for Better Pictures During Ceremonies at the Church

After the reception, your union ritual is one of the strongest moments of your wedding day, and we want to picture it perfectly. Following these recommendations should help you and your vendors in this achievement.

  • Veil. If the bride chooses to wear a veil, then, it must be taken off after the processional . The father can do it, or the groom. There is no rule. But don’t expect the officiant to tell you, because he won’t. I have already seen a bride having her face covered under her veil during her entire ritual. No need to say it’s not the best way for catching the expression of your face.
  • Flower Basket. If you want to add a flower basket, please take off the packaging. Indeed, plastic would reflect the flash light and create a disgraceful light.
  • Handkerchief. If you think you will cry, you can prepare some nice tissue.
  • Ring cleaning. If you want a detail photo of the wedding ring and the engagement ring, then you may want to have it professionally cleaned before your big day.
  • Balcony. Another option that could be great is to have access to the balcony. It’s usually for one picture (so that’s really not a priority).

Make Sure the Officiant Is Professional Photographer Friendly

All the officiants are not in love with the idea of having a camera taking portraits and moving around (even is they remain quiet). Indeed, as a professional photographer, I have faced several circumstances where I was not allowed to take the pictures I would wish to (in Catholic Church weddings and in Lutheran Churches). First I was not allowed to use flashes (which is pretty inconvenient when the lightning is not good), and second, I was stucked in the adjacent ails, and in the back raw.
No need to say that taking photos from far away is not the best way to capture a close-up shot with facial expressions,  and thus it’s complicated to properly document the moment.
The reason given by the priest and the pastor is usually that they don’t want the photographer to distract the attention.

Quiet photographer respecting moment

Be reassured that a professional photographer operates very quietly, uses the flash only when he really needs it. But above all, he captures pictures of  great moments so you and your family can enjoy this day again, even after everything is done. In other words, photographers help to keep this important moment alive in your memory.
What I believe is that good priests and pastors, who know how to create lively and dynamic speeches, are not afraid of people being distracted. Indeed, when the speech is great people are absorbed and concentrated on what’s happening and don’t care if a photographer is taking pictures. But of course, when the ritual is extremely boring, people would tend to find a way to escape. They would look at the church’s decoration, the bouquet, check their phones, speak with their partners.
Anyway, before choosing your church, make sure your officiant is wedding photographer-friendly, and that your photographer won’t be fastened one hundred feet away from you.

Negotiate with your officiant

Even if the officiant is not photographer-friendly, there are three points you should absolutely negotiate.

  1. That you and your fiance seat facing your guests (and not facing the cross), otherwise there is really nothing I would be able to do, except taking some pictures of your back.
  2. That the photographer can use the entire church alleyway side (and not only the first half starting from the back). It means that the photographer can go up to the sanctum’s side (and maybe around the chancel if there is a way to take pictures through pylons).
  3. That the wedding photographer can take pictures everywhere he wants when you walk in, and when you walk out. And also that he can use the flash at this moment if he needs to. (Sometimes they just allow him to take pictures 10 feet away from the main door, and not going inside the central lane, close to the groom.)