How to get the best photos of Your Wedding, Part 3

Part 3: 5 tips for the Wedding Ceremony

Welcome to the third part of "How to get the best photos of Your Wedding". If You haven't read the previous articles yet, You can find them linked at the bottom of the page.

This article debates about the most important, exciting and moving moment of Your Wedding Day: the Ceremony.
Whether the ceremony is religious, laical, or symbolic You've been waiting for this moment for all Your life: that long wait will concentrate during all Your getting ready and will result in the ceremony of Your union. A union that will change Your lives forever.

So, how can You get the best memories out of Your Wedding, without sacrificing candid moments and the naturalness of Your being? Follow my 5 tips!

A Civil Ceremony under a big old oak

A Civil Ceremony under a big old oak at Tenuta di Ripolo Wedding venue: Flavia and Valerio Wedding

1. Religious or Civil Ceremony?

I always give You an advice, conditioning everything about Your Wedding: be Yourselves! Wedding, in every aspect, has to represent You: in wedding dresses, hairstyles, bride's make-up, the party, decorations, flowers and in the ceremony as well.

So, if You aren't a believer, don't celebrate Your wedding in a holy place! Today You can choose among a lot of options for non-believer: a Wedding in the Woods, a Wedding on the Beach, an Outdoor Wedding, a Wedding in a Villa and so on and so forth.
You can really plan a ceremony in Your own image and likeness, so that Your guests will be amazed by it! Then You'll save a lot of time also because You'll never be busy in marriage classes: if You aren't a believer, it would be only a boring waste of time.

Instead, if You are very religious, feel free to choose the place that will host the celebration: prefer the one — and the celebrant too — that moves You the most. That little church of Your teens, where maybe You two met for the first time, is more important more than St. Peter Cathedral!

Whether is a Religious or Civil Ceremony, its location is special because of You two: when You'll see each other, your face and your eyes will sparkle, mirroring all the emotions You'll hold inside.

An enraptured bride looking his husband

An enraptured bride looking his husband, a moment later the fateful "YES"!

2. Design the decorations

After the choice of the ceremony place, spark your imagination and think about it as it was already set up with flowers and other scenic elements already. Ask professionals for suggestions and original decorations that really never occurred to You before.

From my heart I tell You: if they don't set You free to choose the decorations or to have the ceremony of your dreams, change location before it's too late! Feeling uncomfortable in such an important moment of Your life could be very, very sad.
It's more common than You think that a priest, or a venue employee — even the venue director — stands in Your way, just because he's used to work in a certain manner. Maybe he's close-minded or he holds personal interests. Impose Your ideas! Wedding is Yours and You're paying a lot of money for it: let it be just as You dreamed it!

A Civil Ceremony with very peculiar decorations

A Civil Ceremony with very peculiar decorations

3. Let it be Your Ceremony

Every religious or laical ceremony includes formulas and rituals that cannot miss and recur always the same since time immemorial. It's about tradition handed down from generation to generation: it will be pleasant and touching for You to finally live it firsthand. But what about some brand new rituals that can make the ceremony Yours and different from the others'?

A symbolic or civil ceremony provides greater freedom than the religious one, but You can distinguish every kind of Ceremony: You have just to try! For example, if You have a Christian Ritual, the one I know the best, You can:

  • choose the Scripture readings and songs during the mass
  • sing the songs, or play an instrument
  • use wedding wovs different from classical ones
  • be active part of the celebration, helping the officiant
  • involve some guests in reading Scriptures and prayers of the faithful
  • ask the officiant to add personal wedding wovs, maybe at the end of the ceremony

If You'll have a Laical Ceremony and if You can lengthen the ritual more than the 10 minutes for the redtape, You can go further then the Religious Ceremony:

  • dedicate each other a wedding wov — do it, trust me!
  • encourage Your guests in dedicating a speech — but tell them two months before the wedding day!
  • add some symbolic rituals:
    • the Ritual of Sand: pour two different colored sand from two little container into a bigger one
    • the Celtic or Irish Ritual: braid more ropes together or tie your hands together with a rope or a ribbon
    • the Ritual of the Candles: light a big candle with two lit little candles, one for each of you
    • the Ritual of the Red Rose: at the end of the Ceremony swap a red rose or any object that both of you had from the beginning of the Ceremony. It means that nothing changed and yet everything is different
    • plant a plant or bury a seed that has a special significance for You; You'll take care of it as a memory of your wedding day
    • the Rings Warming Ritual: give your wedding rings to the guests and let them touch and bless the wedding bands. They will warm them metaphorically before you wear them, protecting you and your union

Every couple is unique, every wedding is different: make it different, make it Yours also with the Ceremony, the cornerstone of one of the few days You'll never forget in Your lives.

A guest warming Wedding rings

A guest warming Wedding rings of Jessica and Thor

4. Setting up the scene

If You'll have a Religious Ceremony inside a place of worship, usually You'll have few chances to change the scenic design: religious officers are often strict about it, so the best You can get is being an active part during the celebration — changing your position — or speaking carefully with him about the scenic design of Your dreams, explaining him the importance of Your choices.

In case of a Laical or Civil Ceremony, You can choose among different scenic designs, breaking the rules! In traditional position bride and groom are expected to be both sitting and turning their back to the guests. Nonetheless You could stand one in front of the other or both of You in front of the guests, with the officer between or next to You two. In this way You can see the feelings of all Your guests, as they are more involved in the ceremony.
Then, if the ceremony will be eventful with guests' speeches and involvement, You'll feel like sitting around a round table and sharing emotions with Your guests.

The more emotional the ceremony, the better Your photos, as they will depict the feelings You will live during an unforgettable wedding day.

Spouses exchanging rings

Ylenia and Andrea sitting in front of the guests, that can see every detail of their emotions

5. The grand finale

Every ceremony has its grand finale. In Italy we celebrate throwing rice to the newly-weds: it means prosperity and good omen. We photographers love this tradition: if it's plentiful of rice, the visual power of a picture freezing every single grain of rice is astounding.

To achieve a highly successful rice throwing, You simply have to coordinate guests.

For Your Religious Ceremony is simple, because people spontaneously will come out from the holy place and will wait for You outside.
For Your Laical Ceremony You can have different kind of ceremony: outdoor or indoor, with seated or stand guests, in a large or a small place. If You don't coordinate guests, they would throw rice separately: impatient ones will throw rice as soon as they can, distant ones maybe will wait for You to move close.
Let the wedding planner — or a trusted friend — handle the ritual at the end of the ceremony: let spread out guests in a semicircle or arrange them like the walls of a corridor. In the first case You'll have a simultaneous throwing, otherwise a contiuous one, while You'll be moving forward through the hallway.

You have other options apart from rice throwing.
If You don't want to waste food, You could substitute birdseed for rice: after You'll move away, birds will surely clean everything!
You can also mix lavender and chamomile flowers with rice — or no rice at all — for an intense spring scent!
Another option is a lot of colored confetti: not only You can match their colors with the ones of the wedding, but also they will fall down slower than rice, with an astonishing scenic effect!

But if You prefer, You can completely change the kind of celebration: with enough space available, You can arrange a hallway made of people holding colored paper ribbons. You'll move through the hallway breaking all the ribbons, emerging from a whirlwind of colors.

You can also use the highly effective soap bubbles, but there's a side effect: wind can break the bubbles or send them away from You. Since You cannot know how strong the wind will be at the end of the ceremony, I suggest not to use exlusively soap bubbles, or use them in other moments indoor.

Rice throwing

Rice throwing after a Religious Ceremony in a Catholic Church

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