8 Things Your Wedding Photographer Didn't Mention about your Outdoor Ceremony

There are many reasons to choose an outdoor wedding ceremony; the beauty of the lakeside, glorious mountain views, comfort of a familiar private residence, or the calming atmosphere that comes with open air. However, there a few common barriers that can make shooting conditions tricky for your photographer. Although a seasoned photographer will have learned to avoid some of these obstacles, any photographer will thank you for the ability to work more creatively with their art. With a little forethought and clear communication you and your photographer can work together to ensure a wedding photography portfolio you are both in love with!

Ceremony site in Itasca State Park, Minnesota.

Ceremony site in Itasca State Park, Minnesota.


What is in the background of your ceremony? Will any distractions, like hydro wires, stray branches, large speakers, or parked cars end up in your photos? I have had to ask ushers to quickly move the bright red kayaks from the background, and groomsmen to trim away dead branches looming overhead. I've had bus drivers move party buses and guests move cars, just to name a few! Keep in mind that backgrounds are even more important than the details of your ceremony.

Your photographer is always looking at the background. With that same photographers eye, take a look around your ceremony grounds before the big day to help avoid potentially distracting objects that may end up in your pictures.



Balance is beautiful. When the bride and groom are standing under the arch off center, we can't interrupt the ceremony to center you beneath the arch. Or ask the wedding party to shift so they are standing evenly on both sides of the wedding couples. Too perfectionist? Maybe.

A simple fix is to take note of where to stand during your dress rehearsal.

During the rehearsal, ask someone view your entire wedding party from the back row for visual symmetry. Correct any misalignment, and take note of where to place yourself beneath the arch, and ask your party to take note of their placement as well. This makes it easy for everyone to fall into place on wedding day, and yes, makes your pictures just that much better.

Balance creates visually pleasing images.

Balance creates visually pleasing images.

Aisle Clutter

You have created a perfectly decorated center aisle to walk down and meet your adoring groom. And it looks amazing! However, there are a few items that commonly find their way into the photos as well-meaning guests settle into their seats. Guests are usually more than happy to accommodate moving their water bottles, purses, strollers, baby carriers or empty wheelchairs when asked. Although photographers are learned at working around objects there are more photographic possibilities when everything is picture perfect for your much anticipated appearance.

Ask someone to be on guard to help move any objects or distractions in the aisle so your pathway can be as beautiful as you envisioned.

Clean, simple pathway for the bride.

Clean, simple pathway for the bride.


Lighting is the most important aspect of photography. What kind of light will you, and your wedding party, be standing in during the ceremony?  Full shade, full afternoon sun or dappled light? Will the sun potentially be in your eyes, the eyes of your wedding party, or your guests during the ceremony, resulting in racoon eyes, a blown out wedding dress, squinty eyes or washed out skin?  An outdoor wedding photographer will be practiced in all kinds of lighting situations, however, controlled light always provides the most flattering results. 

Make sure to discuss lighting with your photographer before setting a ceremony time.

Your photographer will be relieved you asked, and can provide you with helpful advice.

Pop Up Photographers

Yikes! Where did Uncle Bob come from? There's nothing more discouraging for a wedding photographer than to miss that important moment because someone unexpectedly jumped up in front of them. We understand guests are excited and don't realize they took the shot for us. (Here's hoping it was a good one!)

Since you have hired a professional photographer, ask your officiant to invite guests to put away their cameras and enjoy being present in the moment for an "unplugged" wedding.

Is an unplugged wedding right for you? Find out more: Going Unplugged or Going All In

It's Bob!

It's Bob!

mind your audience

Turning your backs against the audience makes it difficult for your guests to watch and potentially difficult for your photographer to capture your unity ceremony. Unless you intend it to be a private event, make sure to keep your guests and photographer in mind by facing the crowds throughout the ceremony.
Be mindful of your positioning during your unity ceremony.

Facing the audience for your unity ceremony allows the photographer capture your expressions.

Facing the audience for your unity ceremony allows the photographer capture your expressions.

three is a crowd

Although it is a matter of preference, consider having your officiant step aside for your first kiss after being announced husband and wife. There is something more special and intimate about a first kiss that only involves the two of you in a frame. 

Kindly ask your officiant to take several steps to the side for the kiss photo.

The Insta-kiss

Even if you're shy, and don't want to kiss in front of the audience, holding that first kiss for at least 3 seconds is a good rule of thumb. Although this isn't something I normally have to tell my wedding couples ...

... savor that first kiss as Mr. + Mrs!

The camera, and your guests, will love it, too!

First Kiss at Wedding Ceremony

Photographer TIP

Don't be afraid to talk to your wedding clients about ways that will help you photograph their wedding with excellence. In my experience, many wedding couples don't realize what you need, and are more than willing to accommodate you in return for better pictures. Being clear about expectations helps both you and the wedding couple feel good about the final results!  It's a win - win.

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