A great question that I get asked all of the time is how to set up an outdoor ceremony to get amazing photos in any conditions. In this post I want to go through my tips and tricks. Some may be obvious but I’m sure you will learn something new along the way.
Tip Number One: Consider the Sun
The biggest enemy of outdoor ceremonies is the sun. So much can go wrong from your guests fainting from heatstroke, your bridal party starting to sweat or your photos being blown out and too white. To fix these problems there are a few things we can do;
Put the sun behind you.
You definitely don’t want to be standing at the front looking straight down the barrel of the sun. That’ll make you go squinty eyed and just not look good in photos. Plus the sun casts uneven shadows on your face & dress which will impact the photos even more. It’s always good practice to backlight the photos in this setting to make the best photos. Sometimes though you just cant avoid it (for example your getting married at midday) and that’s what the next tip is for.
Stand under a Tree or Awning.
If you’re getting married in a garden there is more than likely a big tree around that you can get married under. This not only looks great in Photos but also saves you from getting super hot in the sun. If you are getting married out in the open maybe consider building or bringing in an awning, even if its just a cloth over four posts it could be lifesaver especially in summer. If your wedding ceremony is in the morning or afternoon you may find shadows cast by trees or buildings where you can set-up and still be in the shade. Of course if you have to get married in full sun don’t worry, your photographer has plenty of tricks up their sleeve for this.
Sunrise/Sunset wedding ceremony.
These aren’t too common but not because they dont look beautiful. On the contrary. Sunrise/Sunset ceremonies look gorgeous but you have to know which direction to set it up. In the first point I said to put the sun behind you whereas if you’re getting married at sunrise/sunset it’s always best to have the sun off to the side. If the sun is behind you it will be to dark and in front you’ll be squinting so 90 degrees off to the side works perfectly in these situations.
Tip Number Two: It’s all about the Backdrop
One of the perks to an outdoor wedding ceremony is that you can get some of the most incredible backdrops and the best part is they’re free. Whether you’re up against a garden, the hillside or the ocean, nature offers some of the most amazing backdrops you could ever want. It’s not complete smooth sailing though as there are some things to consider.
Your colour scheme.
This is very important when choosing a backdrop. If you’re getting married on the beach, it’s probably not best practice to wear light colour clothing like cream or champagne because they will blend into the sand and bright ocean. Similarly if the men are wearing black suits, a super dark forest backdrop won’t be flattering because you’ll lose the boys in photos.
Look for natural symmetries in the garden to set your ceremony in front of. Maybe it’s a building with an arched roof, or an arbour in the rose garden, or even right in front of a beautiful tree. All of these make for great backdrops and frame the ceremony really nicely down the middle. If you don’t want one central backdrop consider plain backdrops like the ocean or a line of trees because less is definitely more when it comes to backdrops.
Bystanders and random people.
Garden weddings are gorgeous but sometimes you don’t have exclusive use over the entire garden, rather just on section. Exactly the same on the beach or other public areas. You don’t want anyone walking behind where you’re getting married as you lean in for the first kiss which is why I always advise you stand near a line of trees or the waters edge which will create a natural barrier.
If you’re anything like me then you get terrible hay-fever in springtime so you don’t want to be getting married in a garden full of flowers that will send you into a sneezing frenzy. Also be carful of bees and other pollinators at springtime because you don’t want any of your bridesmaids or guest jumping around because they are allergic.
Tip Number Three: Clear the Space
Step back from the Guests
Outdoor weddings are great because you can space everyone as much or as little as you like. Of course it’s nice to have the guests nice and close to you but if you want those full length photos of the dress make sure you move the front row just a little further away so your Aunt’s hair-do doesn’t interfere with the shot.
Don’t crowd the aisle
Again, make the aisle nice and wide so you can walk down and your dress has room to move. Plus this way people can walk two-a-breast and not be running into any guests who will be clapping and cheering profusely.
Make space at the back
This is more a tip to help the Photographer and Videographer move around. Leave plenty of open space around the chairs at the back and sides so the Photographer move about and get every angle without walking in front of anyone. Plus the best photos are always the landscape shots where you can see the whole service in one frame. You can’t do this with trees in the way.
So those are all my tips. I hope you found these helpful and can use them when planning your incredible outdoor Wedding Ceremony. Outdoor weddings are super fun and unique so I am sure you will have a blast designing your dream set-up.