All the planning and all the preparations come down to this part of the wedding: the ceremony. It is the very reason both you and your partner, as well as your friends and family come together on this special day. Ironically, when you take the whole wedding day, it is the shortest part of the celebration. For me, this is the highlight and the most important event of the day – it is about two people showing their love and commitment for each other. When emotions flow during the ceremony, everyone is touched (and that includes me!).

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts how to get the best images during your wedding ceremony.

1 ~ Choose a location that represents you as a couple.

I like hearing stories from couple why they’ve chosen a location for their wedding ceremony. Jen & Kirby were married in the Sydney Botanical garden, overlooking Farm Cove – a place that was very special for Kirby’s dad who passed away a few years ago. Elyse & David love France and the French culture, so for their wedding ceremony, they chose Curzon Hall with its ‘chateau-like’ architecture adding a special touch to the French theme. Natalie & Liam, got married in country NSW, in the farm of Natalie’s grandparents under a majestic tree where she used to play as a kid and where her grandparents also got married.

For some, it is their affinity with what the place represents: Hunter Valley for those who love wines and appreciate the beauty of the vineyard, beach ceremony somewhere in the coast like Port Stephens (think white sandy beaches not far away from Sydney!) or garden ceremony for the couples who love the outdoors. Sometimes, it’s just the fact that you stumbled upon a place and you know that it’s the one. Whatever it maybe, if you absolutely feel that place of the wedding ceremony is just as you envision your day, it is bound to make your ceremony more personal, which brings strong emotions to the surface.

2 ~ Where is the light?

When getting married in a church there’s nothing much you can do about the lighting. That’s why it is important to choose a professional photographer who’s had plenty of experience shooting in all types of lighting. I spent my early days in Europe and have photographed weddings in Gothic churches where it is very dark, so I am very comfortable shooting in all sorts of conditions. I actually love the ambience and the intimacy of these type of churches.

When getting married outdoors, for example beach or garden, it pays to be mindful of the time of the day you choose your ceremony. Not only for photos, but also for the comfort of your guests. Having your outdoor ceremony when the sun is at its peak will not only give you unflattering shadows on your face, but will probably have your guests wishing for cover! On the other hand, you don’t want your guests looking straight in the sun behind you.

So what to do? The general rule of thumb is to go to your wedding ceremony venue at the same time that you’re thinking of having the ceremony. Stand at the same spot and observe the light. Is it soft? Look at each other’s eyes: are you squinting? Or are you comfortable? Then stand where the guests would be: will they be covering their faces to shield from the sun? Most of the time, my couples ask me for my opinion regarding the timing of the day, I also spot the location a few weeks before the wedding so we can decide on the best spot for their ceremony.

3 ~ Connection with the officiant is important.

Be it a priest, rabbi, minister or a celebrant, choosing who will officiate your wedding ceremony is the biggest part of the whole day. They are very important and the way they conduct your ceremony will change everything. Find someone you truly connect with and who wants to understand you as a couple; one who can make you laugh and one who can touch your hearts. All of these will show in your wedding photos.

And if you really love a church but feel that you would rather have the priest whom you know, don’t hesitate to BYO! Yes, you can! A lot of couples do this and the churches are generally happy to welcome your own priest.

4 ~ It’s smart to put the phones away.

More and more couples are opting for unplugged ceremonies. The difference in emotion between the guests who are fully present and listening to the ceremony, and the guests who feel that they have to record the wedding with their phone can truly be felt on the day. When you walk down the aisle, you want to see your friend’s faces: not the back of their phones or iPad.

Again, truly beautiful wedding images are all about emotions and the feelings that they will stir in you long after the day is over. True feelings cannot be made-up, it is either there or not, and my job is to capture those tears and laughters.