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Talking to your wedding officiant

June 7, 2011 , Tips

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Your wedding ceremony is one of the most amazing moments of your wedding day. Committing yourself to your partner in front of all your friends and family is truly what the whole day is about. And for most people, they can’t wait to see their ceremony photos. But what most couples don’t realize is that there are sometimes certain restrictions on photography during the ceremony that will have a major impact on how your images look. Sometimes, officiants won’t allow photographs at all (Which I ran into at one wedding 5 minutes before the ceremony began. The couple was cool and invited me to enjoy the ceremony, but no one needs that stress moments before their ceremony). I updated my facebook page with the tip to always talk to your Officiant about photography restrictions and got some responses that made me realized I needed a full blog post.

So the bottom line is, as you’re interviewing Officiants or talking with your childhood Rabbi/Pastor/Etc, bring up photography in the very first meeting. If your ceremony images are important to you, express that to your Officiant. Ask if they have any restrictions on photography and let them know you’ll want them in writing, so everyone is clear before you sign a contract or officially ask them to officiate your wedding. Often, an Officiant will assume a certain photography act is not ok, that everyone knows that, and not mention it to the couple. So here’s a few common restrictions I have encountered that you should mention to your Officiant:

  • Most Officiants will not allow flash. This doesn’t present an issue when your having an outdoor, afternoon ceremony. However, if your having it in a church/inside/reception hall, close to sunset or after sunset this may present a problem. Having done dozens of wedding ceremonies without flash, we can discuss the best way to work around this.
  • Some Officiants have strict rules on where photographers can shoot. Some refuse to let anyone past the back pews. Some are ok as long as I’m not in the aisle. Some just don’t want me running up and taking a shot 5 inches from the couple’s faces (uhh…ya, I get that restriction). So talk to your Officiant, look at your ceremony location (if the Officiant says it’s ok to go around the sides but your squeezing your ceremony chairs in so tight I would have to long jump over guests heads, then I’m stuck taking photos from the back) to make sure all the restrictions make sense, and talk to me.
  • Some Officiants are super duper strict. As in, “You get to shoot standing from that one spot, you can’t move, and if you do, I’ll stop the ceremony- I have done it 3 times” (yes, that was real). Remember, my goal is to be as unobtrusive as possible. I want to blend in. I’m not doing hand stands in your aisle. So if your Officiant is nervous about me going crazy, cause they have seen it before, feel free to have them give me a call.
  • Any restriction placed on your ceremony photography is something we should discuss months before your actual wedding to explore all the options and have time to do anything extra.
  • Also, any concerns your Officiant has with photography should also be translated to the guests. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked up to a Officiant, who has told the couple no flash photography, and mentioned that they should make a quick announcement about no flash photography only for them to look at me and say, “You think people will take pictures?!?!”. Uh, ya. A lot of them. And they get upset if the guests start flashing away with their cameras because no one told the guests anything. I have seen ceremonies stop because of this, and the Officiant ask them to stop taking photos. No one wants that situation. Which is why everyone needs to know what the restrictions are and everyone can enjoy the ceremony.
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