creating a documentary-style feel for your wedding day

So you aspire to have those enchanting, in-the-moment, lived-in photographs on your wedding day, but find yourself uncertain about how to attain them? Yes, choosing a photographer proficient in that particular style of photography is crucial, but it’s equally essential to carefully plan and consider the flow of your wedding day.

What are documentary style photos? They tell a story. You look back on your day + you feel something. They put you right back in that moment. Guidance can be given in some regards to still achieve this, but overall these photos will be a true story of your day unfolding. All the emotions felt.

Take these photos, for instance; they unfolded entirely organically. I remained attentive and prepared to seize such moments as they arose during the evening. Yet, if you seek genuine documentary-style photos, you must orchestrate these moments on your wedding day. For instance, if you spend the entire evening on opposite ends of the room, such moments won’t have the chance to be captured.

You might think: isn’t it my photographers job to capture these moments? Yes it totally is! But again these moments aren’t able to be captured unless they happen. So how can you make them happen?

First off, make sure you let your photographer know that moments like this are important to you. It is possible to have a mix of documentary style photos + posed photos. That’s where my personal style + specialty falls, somewhere in between. Most of my couples want these in-the-moment photos, but posed family portraits are still important to them.

You need to leave time in your wedding day timeline for these moments. If your timeline is jam-packed + filled with 6 hours straight of taking photos, it is hard to feel like being in the moment. Having time set aside with “nothing” happening (photo-wise) is how you get these organic moments.

Another great way to achieve photos like this + have real moments from your day to remember is by setting aside time for each other and/or activities on your wedding day. You might be thinking “umm isn’t there enough activities on a wedding day, you’re telling me I need more??” Not exactly. For example, this couple of mine decided to do a private vow reading to each other before their ceremony. I snapped a few photos of this interaction + then ducked out so they could have this moment completely private.

Another great idea is to have a private cake cutting. I have never actually had a couple do this- but LOVE the idea. Some couples opt for a private dinner together, but if you don’t want to be away from your guests for that long + find the cake cutting a little awkward anyway- buy a small cake (you can have cupcakes or other desert options set out for your guests) + have 10-15 minutes set aside to share desert together + use it as some time to reflect on your day, just the two of you!

(okay, I have experienced a private cake cutting, but to be fair these two eloped just the two of them!)

If you choose to do a first look + want to have really sweet memories from that moment to look back on, I suggest reading personal vows to each other or exchanging a gift with each other! For most people, it take a little bit of time for the emotions to fully set in. Reading vows (I suggest out loud) to each other makes for beautiful moments like the ones you see above.

You want these in the moment photos with your guests? Try something like serving your guests desert! This makes for a super meaningful + fun interaction with your guests. If gives them a chance to come up + congratulate yall while also getting a yummy treat.

Biggest takeaway: talk with your photographer. Explain your vision + that you are wanting a less posed approach to your day. Work on coming up with some ideas of activities to include in your day that may be a little untraditional + create memories you want to look back on in 50 years.

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