How to get the best photos of Your Wedding, Part 5

Part 5: 5 tips for the Reception

Welcome to the last part about how to get the best photos of Your Wedding. If You haven't read yet previous articles, You can find them links at the bottom of this page.
After debating Bride and Groom's getting ready, the Ceremony and couple portraits, time has come for the Reception and the Party!

How to get the best photos of Your Wedding

The amazing party of Ylenia and Andrea

1. Lighting the hall

Photography needs light, good photography needs good light, for every kind of reception You'll plan: at lunch or dinner, outside or in a hall. My style is photojournalism, so I try to not use light modifiers like speedlights. But even if You'll hire a photographer with a different style, I'm sure He will thank You if there is a good lighting of the place of the reception.

When I talk about "good lighting", I don't mean stadium lights pointed to the tables. You could have dinner lit just by candlelight — with a lot of candles — or by rows of vintage light bulbs: in these cases You'll have intimate and romantic photos, with strong contrast between light and shadow.

If You're tinking about a peculiar lighting, talk with Your photographer: He will provide the best advices for any context, in order to get both the atmosphere You're looking for and the best lighting for his work.
Talk to him even about everything that will happen during the lunch or dinner: speeches, games, breaks, flash mobs. He should work indeed in the best possible environment to give You the best result!

Now I tell You something that could be a banality: You can have the best lighting, but if You have an ugly hall or environment, it remains ugly. So, if You cannot be there in person during a real Wedding, ask for pictures of that hall or environment in such state: it's the only way You have to judge the words of the venue manager.

A couple of guests kissing during a reception

A hall with a romantic and effective lighting

2. The cake cutting

An highlight of the reception is the cutting of the cake by Bride and Groom. If I have to be honest, I don't consider it an artistic moment, especially if You will simply:

  • reach the cake — usually on a table with no special decorations —
  • cut the cake in front of your guests
  • uncork a bottle and make a toast
Surely there are more fascinating ways to reach the cake or even to make it! Yes, some italian venues let Bride, Groom and a couple of guests assemble the Wedding cake — they call it Show Cooking —, then the cake will be cut and served to guests. It's funny seeing Bride and Groom in their wedding dress/suit and well dressed guests put on chef's hat and apron, getting their hands dirty of flour, icing sugar, fruit, custard and cream!

But You can also make a grand entrance in a hallway made of people holding sparkling candles, fairy lights or colored paper ribbons.

Anyway when You'll reach the Wedding cake, usually a tall one, try not to hide behind it, but cut it slightly sideways, in order to be visible by both photographer and guests.
But if You're thinking to shower your guests by champagne, please warn in advance your photographer: a wet and sticky (hopefully still working) gear can take him away his good mood for the rest of the evening!

Bride and Groom assembling the wedding cake

Bride, Groom and a couple of guests, in cook's uniform, assembling the wedding cake!

3. After lunch/dinner

I advice You against getting pictures of your guests during lunch or dinner: people is eating, dishes are full or dirty of food, tables are messy. It's better to take pictures of the guests just before food is served or when they surely will go around chatting. More fascinating moments will surely be after lunch or dinner, during moving and funny stages.
But if during dinner there will be important moments, You can be sure that Your photographer will be able to give You amazing memories of them!

You should plan many activities after lunch or dinner, but You and your guests should be driven by fun, so don't worry if You'll miss many of them. In addition to classical ones, like your first dance, the bouquet throwing, You can plan: karaoke, photobooth, tasting rum, whisky and cigars, fireworks, games for couples or everybody, a treasure hunt, but there could be also surprises from guests that You don't know!
In this moments You'll completely forget that You hired a photographer: all your attention will be turned to celebrations. And when You'll see the pictures, You'll find out a lot of details You've missed: You'll be amazed and amused over and over again looking Yourselves and your friends or relatives in high point of your party!

A Bride trapped in a big transparent plastic ball

A very peculiar moment: the Bride is trapped in a big transparent plastic ball and the Groom in a strange yellow shell!

4. Bouquet throwing

I have to write about the bouquet throwing in this dedicated section of the article: consigning the bouquet to a dear bride-to-be it's important for many Brides.
Sometimes it is so important that the Bride quits the throwing and delivers it by hand. In such case make sure to notify your photographer about it before delivering the bouquet: maybe he could be busy (changing a battery, a memory card, a lens) and if he doesn't know it the moment is gone.

If You prefer a traditional bouquet throwing, here are my tips:

  • Plan the throwing immediately after the cake cutting or when your guests finish the dessert: You'll be sure that all your guests will be still there: elderly people will start going home shortly
  • Before throwing the bouquet, have a couple of fake throws: your friends will move, so your photographer can have a hint to take the best shot for the real throwing!
  • Think different! Tie some colored ribbons to your bouquet and give their ends to the brides-to-be; slowly, dancing and turning to the rhythm of music, holding your bouquet high over your head, cut one ribbon after another: last ribbon will be the one of the person to whom the bouquet will be delivered. To make the show more fun, let the Bride be blindfolded!

Instead if You'd like to throw Your bouquet, but You don't want to lose it, there's a solution: let your flower designer make a second bouquet just for the throwing! And if You want to surprise your brides-to-be, have a bouquet made of smaller bunches: when You'll throw it, bunches will split and You'll make more people happy!
But remember, dry out Your bouquet upside down: it will last for years as your memories of that unforgettable day.

The bouquet throwing

An unusual bouquet throwing: Bride and Groom trow together it towards all the guests!

5. Dance floor

After the dinner, the cake, the desserts, the first dance, the bouquet throwing and other moving and funny activities, You can't miss music and dances! If You'll have live music or a DJ, if You'll choose rock'n'roll, hard rock, latin-american, country or retro revival, it is imperative for You to have fun: go wild!

But, in order to get the best photos of Your Wedding during your dances, is essential to have a powerful lighting system, even better with some effects as lasers or a smoke or fog machine: You'll have an amazing atmosphere and your photos will reflect it, being very different from environment without any special lighting.

Bride and Groom dancing in a an very well lit environment

A lighting system and a smoke machine make the difference!

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