Wedding Planning // Preparing for your Wedding Ceremony

One of you popped the question, the other said, “Yes!” Now, it’s time to say, “I do!” In your eagerness for this long-awaited day, it’s easy to fly through the wedding ceremony and miss the details. It’s natural. You’re hopped up on adrenaline, and before you know it you’re joining your guests at the reception. However, one of the most common questions I get from couples is how to ensure beautiful ceremony pictures. The moment flies by, so you’ll want emotive, heartfelt images to remember it by. I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve to make that happen:

How to Get Priceless Wedding Ceremony Pictures You’ll Cherish Forever

wedding ceremony guide by Hanna Walkowaik

1. Stay in the Moment

It’s normal to feel a little anxious on your wedding day. You may find yourself scanning the room to make sure everything is in place or checking on your crew. But remember, the only thing that truly matters—and what you and your guests will remember—is that you’re getting married! Don’t forget to make it about each other and live in the moment while you have it. Your memories will stick better, and you’ll have amazing wedding ceremony photos to show for it.

2. Smile Down the Aisle

The big moment is finally here—you’re ready to meet your other half across the aisle (or whatever setup you may have). With all eyes on you, it’s tempting to put on a poker face and race your way down. Instead, look up, meet each other’s eyes, and take your time. (Plus, it’s an excellent way to get those heart-tugging teary eyes from your other half.) Use the walk down the aisle to soak it all in. Your friends and family are there to celebrate with you, so it’s acceptable (and encouraged) to smile at your guests as you walk by. Remember to refocus on your partner and smile as you get toward the end.

wedding ceremony guide by Hanna Walkowaik

3. Make the Most of the Wedding Rehearsal

If you haven’t seen each other in a while, it’s easy to spend the rehearsal chatting and catching up. But don’t forget to do a little reconnaissance at the venue, too. During your rehearsal, practice centering yourselves. Place tape down to mark the positions for you and your wedding party. Ask your officiant to help make sure you’re all centered when they take their place.

Positioning yourselves becomes especially important if you use an arch or alter where you’ll seem noticeably off-center. If you don’t want tape showing on the floor, you could also consider putting a marker on top of the arch. Spacing is critical in photos, and it will look awkward if you and your partner are not standing in the correct spots—it’s not something we can easily edit.

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4. Coordinate Timing with Your Wedding Party

If you plan to have your wedding party sit for part of the ceremony, make sure there’s a point where you ask your wedding party to remain standing while your guests are seated. That way, we can get several clear photos of the full wedding party by your side without guests in the way.

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5. Pass the Bouquet

If you are carrying a bouquet, pass it off to someone before you reach your partner at the end of the aisle. You could choose to honor someone special or hand it off to a loved one in the front row. Then, you will be free to hold your partner’s hands during the wedding ceremony.

Believe it or not, the more you hold hands during a ceremony, the better! While it may feel weird to reach out and grab each other, it will make your ceremony photos seem more personal and special! As a wedding photographer, I always encourage human connection through body language—it photographs beautifully!

wedding ceremony guide by Hanna Walkowaik

6. Avoid the Temptation to Look at the Officiant

As polite humans, we naturally look at someone when they’re speaking. During your wedding ceremony, that person is your officiant, so you end up turning your heads away from the camera and away from each other.

However, the ceremony should center around the two of you and your commitment to one another. Don’t feel like you have to look at the officiant the whole time—they understand! Instead, turn your heads toward each other and look into each other’s eyes. Use this moment to focus on each other.

7. True Love’s Kiss

When I began my career in wedding photography, I thought The Kiss was the most important shot of the day. However, I quickly learned that isn’t necessarily true! The candid moments throughout the day turn into some of the most meaningful photos. However, you still want great shots of “The Kiss.”

So, when it comes to that paramount moment, here is my advice: practice! Literally practice. How often do you kiss in front of a room of people cheering for you? It may feel awkward and strange, so try it out ahead of time. You could even record yourselves for reassurance to work out all the jitters.

8. Step Aside

Speaking of “The Kiss…” Many couples ask the officiant to step out of the way for that moment. Even if your officiant is someone near and dear, your first-kiss portrait and video will look so much better without awkward eyes peering over the two of you.

Practice the timing during your rehearsal. You don’t want your officiant to announce the kiss and then have photos and video highlights of the officiant walking out during your kiss. Instead, ask your officiant to step to the side before announcing the kiss. That way, they aren’t moving across the background.

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9. The Walk Out

Caught up in the excitement, I’ve found that most couples tend to RUN down the aisle. Remember to slow down, grab your flowers, and do a little happy dance at the top of the aisle. Be sure to take your time walking out, and look at all the people there to celebrate you! Then, if you want to run, go for it! Those photos are fun, too!

wedding ceremony guide by Hanna Walkowaik

10. After the I-Do’s

Once your epic walk back down the aisle is complete, go ahead and visit with your guests. Greet your loved ones, hug them, and take a moment to appreciate the support and love from everyone in the room. If we have family portraits on the schedule, we can take them after. Taking time to celebrate your guests is so important, and it makes for some pretty magical photos you may like even more than formal portraits!

11. Unplugged

If you and your partner decide to do an unplugged wedding ceremony, have someone announce this at the beginning once everyone is seated. When you only have a sign at the front, many people “miss it” and don’t realize they should put their phones away.

*Note: Doing an unplugged ceremony is totally the couple’s choice. I can work with whatever you prefer.

wedding ceremony guide by Hanna Walkowaik

12. Confetti & All that Glitters

I love a good send-off! First, check with your venue on permissible send-off materials. Although the rice myth has been debunked—it does not, in fact, harm birds—some venues or states prefer not to do that. Others may not allow materials that leave a mess, even if they decompose (like confetti). Whatever grand send-off you settle on, be sure to announce this to your guests—the more, the merrier! Some alternatives to rice and confetti include bubbles, flowers, or sparklers. These make for gorgeous and fun exit photos!

Craving More Inspiration?

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Wedding Planning // Preparing for your Wedding Ceremony

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