What are wedding details?
By definition, details are anything that the bride and groom paid money for at the wedding. It is a personal decision that them and the wedding coordinator came up with. Details help tell the story. Twenty years down the line, you are not going to have the hardcopy of the wedding invitation. The flowers on the tables, the dress, the shoes, the bouquet, anything that was attached to the bouquet (like a locket), a copy of the menu, save-the-date cards, invitation, RSVP, linens, the plates, jewelry, the garter, napkins… Anything that was paid for that was a hard good, because these are choices and payments that they made. All the things that a potential bride down the line would like to see — these are the things that make a great details photo.
When are the details photos taken, and by when do they need to be ready to be photographed?
The details photos are all going to be taken while the bride is finishing getting her hair and makeup on. That happens during the first 15 minutes of coverage. The details should be ready and waiting by the time the photographer arrives at the bridal suite. It makes everything so much smoother.
Where are the details photos taken?
It is important to keep the location centralized, to keep the synergy of the album, for album and publishing purposes. It is going to be mid sunlight, so normally the best thing to do is put a sofa or chair at the opening of the porch, so that there is a lot of light coming in but not too much light.
What goes into preparing the room and details for photographs?
It helps a lot when florists have everything in a nice presentation, and when they get the flowers to the bride’s room on time. The florists should have the flowers delivered 10 minutes before the photographer gets there.
When I get to the bridal suite, I would like to have the rings, of the groom and the bride, including her engagement ring. Normally, the bride has the engagement ring on, but someone has the wedding rings — usually it is the groomsman. Knowing where the rings are is important.
The dress needs to be hung on a nice hanger. Placement is not as important — artistically, I like to find different places to hang it.
The Bridesmaids’ dresses
If there are 3 or more dresses, sometimes it is nice to shoot the bridesmaids’ dresses also. This adds another layer to the story.
One of the most important things — when the photographer arrives, they need the bridal suite to be impeccably clean. To get good pictures, you need to have the ability to shoot anywhere in the room, so that room needs to be a blank slate. I will take pictures of the scene, a wide shot of the getting ready room, a wide shot of what the view from the bridal room was that day.
Make sure to bring the envelopes. Details include pretty much any paper good that you created.
Before the photographer arrives, nothing should be given out as far as gifts to parents, gifts to bridesmaids. Don’t open anything. Everything should be photographed after bride has her dress on. I really like it when brides and grooms think about the important people in their lives, and when they write letters, and give them gifts — I like capturing these moments.
Special tips to keep in mind
What do you look for in getting good details photos?
I like to shoot details in an editorial fashion, where they would look good in a magazine layout, really simple. Hotel rooms are not extraordinary, so I will do my best to find an area with good light, etc. I always look for good lighting. Basically I just look for simplicity, I look for a blank slate, and the detail is the star of the photo.
Some details work better to photograph with the bride holding them . Some people like those photos better sometimes. For example, the bouquet — it’s always nice to get the bridesmaid to hold it. Some things don’t make sense to photograph on their own — I will often have the bride cup the earrings so that I can take a photograph.
What details increase your chances of getting published after the fact, if that is important to you?
Things that are in vogue at the time will better your chances of being published in a blog. If the bride has chosen anything unique — like signage, hand-burned, or chalkboard signs — there is often a great response to those details. As far as the bouquet is concerned, publishers are looking for creativity, and not the stereotypical bouquet. If you have a wow-factor in something, it is more likely to be published.
Gifts are also important to some publications. A lot of destination weddings will include party favors or “survival guides” of staying in Vermont, with a cocktail or something specific to the destination. However, it really depends in the publication. One of the brides I photographed created all of the details herself and she got into a DIY blog, but she probably wouldn’t have gotten into a glamour blog like stylemepretty. Overall, blogs want a cross-section of everything.
What are some unique detail ideas you’ve seen?
Some brides have the date of their parents’ wedding day stitched into their wedding dress. Anything engraved is great. I like shooting the perfume bottle, if the person has a smell or a perfume that they wear. Jewelry boxes like a Tiffany’s box, stitching, tattoos, lockets, anything that can inject feeling into their wedding day can be great ideas for details shots. Things that can get emotional… tears are good.
Hair-style is a detail. Things that you put in your hair can also be photographed. Lighting like twinkle lights, lanterns, or sparklers also make great details shots. Some weddings will have a signature drink, or a signature dessert, with the same colors of your wedding.
Some of my favorite details are engraved handkerchiefs, and personal gifts. I always tell brides to think about the people who are important to them on that day, and really make a point to express their love for them with a gift, letter, etc. One of the brides I photographed found an old watch from the year the groom’s grandfather was born. Another bride gave her mother a poetry book by Pablo Neruda, and it ended up being a detail shot, and the wedding ended up being published in stylemepretty. I am sure that those special thoughts that went into the wedding are why it got published.
Are those things published as well?
Definitely. It injects some personality about the day. They always publish the personal things — the handkerchief that the bride gives to the dad that says “Today a fiancé, tomorrow a bride, always your daughter.” You have to throw in moments that will evoke tears, and laughter.
What about the groom?
I like to have any of the groom stuff in the bridal suite. And then we can deliver it to the groom’s room after the photos are taken. I like the boutonnieres, every flower, and his rings all in the bridal suite for the photos. If he has the I Do stickers on his shoes, or a special detail like that, I will take a picture of that in his room. Cufflinks, or anything engraved is awesome.