Behind the scenes at a small, intimate wedding - flexible planning still is a must!

Just recently I was honored to be asked to photograph Jackie & Jason's wedding. What made this wedding so different was that it was a small, intimate wedding, with only immediate family in attendance.  However,  being small doesn't mean there wasn't a great time had by all in attendance.

Original plans sometimes change

The plan started off with the wedding to be held in the White Garden at the NC State Arboretum.  However, as we started to watch weather patterns, we started to get nervous that rain could ruin the day.  A good outdoor wedding plan will always take into consideration a "rain out". In this case, the bride & groom decided not to risk it and just move the wedding to Meridith College's beautiful Jones Chapel.

Even after moving the venue in case of rain, our plan was still to go back to the Raluston Arboretum at  NC State  and do our bride and groom portraits after the ceremony.  However, the weather report that special day was terrible. There was no doubt there would be rain most of the day, and the forecasters did not disappoint, it poured rain almost all day long.

As a wedding photographer that believes in through planning, I did a preview visit to the Jones Chapel to see if I could develop a good "plan b" for what looked like was going to be a rainy day. I found some outdoor possibilities all under cover and easily accessible from the indoors, as to be acceptable to the bridal party. However, you just never know what will happen that can change a plan.  When I did the preview visit I did not have full access to the entire building. However, on the day of the wedding, [Image] as I arrived before the bridal party, I found a room that changed my plan.  Behind this beautiful organ in the photo above, there is a large library, equipped with large leather chairs, a baby grand piano, and a large fireplace. My plan b was "out the window" and a plan "c" was quickly created.

When the bridal party arrived at the Chapel, I immediately showed her the room and ran down some ideas I had on utilizing the room for most of our groupings and some quick bride and groom shots after the wedding. She loved the idea, and plan C was now the plan of record.
The shot to the right is with Jackie at the baby grand, with an off camera light to give us some nice lighting for this particular portrait.

One thing I've learned as a wedding photographer, the best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted quickly.  I always have my eye out at a venue for these kind of ideas. We also quickly agreed that because this couple were NC State graduates, we still wanted to do formal Bride & Groom portraits at the Arboretum. We would just pick a date in the future to make this happen. Adjusting timelines on the fly is just another one of those planning items that need to be flexible to capture great photos on the most important day in a couple's life.

The best photos can be when you least expect them

Wedding photographers always come into a wedding with an idea of the photos they're going to take; Bride with Dad, Groom seeing  the Bride for the first time, Dad giving away the bride, etc..  However, for me, some of the most memorable shots that my clients love are those that aren't expected, those that truly capture the moment.  [Image]

In some cases, it can be as simple as a moment with one of her nieces who was one of the flower girls at the wedding. The image to the right was taken with Jackie and her niece in between some of of the formals before the wedding. Here's one of those great large leather chairs in the library I referenced earlier.

In this case, this image really captures the fun that both bride and flower girl were having at this wedding. Having a relaxed subject makes for great shots. How do you get a subject to relax?  Well, that's all about relationship and personality. For me, I already have the relationship with the bride from all the early pre-planning efforts. For the flower girl, I had just met her 30 minutes before taking this shot. I talked to her, laughed with her, and got her very comfortable with me that when she saw her Aunt Jackie playing with her veil, she totally forgot I was there.

In some cases, the best time is just before the wedding starts. [Image] I always looks for the children that are part of the wedding and get to know them. In this case, both flower girls (sisters) loved the camera (they were used to it, Mom took many many photographs). I had such a great time with these girls. Experiences like this not only make for great pictures, but also make for a great time for me as the photographer. It's truly a win win experience.

Weddings are the most stressful experience for any photographer. But with the right planning, right personality, right equipment, and the right skills (both technical and soft skills), it can be a rewarding experience. It always is for me!