The biggest consideration I ask of you is to really think about the time of day your ceremony is taking place, especially if it's outside. More specifically, think about where the sun will be in the sky in relation to your ceremony space. If your wedding is during the summer, then the sun will be making much wider, straight over your head arcs through the sky and be present longer in the day. If it’s winter, the opposite is true and the sun will be mostly low to the horizon with much fewer hours of daylight offered. Here are two things you should consider when planning your ceremony:
- Direction of sun in relation to your ceremony space is very important. People and objects look more dimensional when side lit at a 45 degree angle or 90 degree angle in relation to the camera. I’m primarily shooting in the direction that most of your guests are looking at you as they’re seated (with other side and behind angles as well), so if the sun is positioned in the sky so that light falls on you from the front or off to the side by 45 degrees in either direction, that's really nice and flattering for both color rendition and exposure. If the sun is behind you and back-lighting the scene, it's harder to get more accurate and natural skin tones on your faces because it's mostly in shadow. I can expose for your faces, but then that overexposes the rest of the scene. There’s other techniques I use to help mitigate this both in camera and in post, but it's always advisable to have the sun falling on your faces from the 45 degree sides if possible.
- The arc of the sun in relation to the time of day is also very important. Ceremony start times at high noon during the summer are generally considered the worst time of day from a photographic standpoint. The sun will be high overhead, casting very unflattering shadows on your face. Typically during summer time, waiting until 5pm, or 3-4 hours before sunset is highly recommended. If you can’t plan that and the ceremony needs to be earlier, then try and have the ceremony in complete shade as a better alternative (not dappled shade such as from a lone tree, which is worst case scenario as you will have tiny sun spots randomly hitting the scene everywhere – think all or nothing). The closer your ceremony time is to sunset, the lower the arc of the sun, and the more flattering the light. BUT, also consider any obstacles in the direct path of the sun, such as high rise buildings, large hills and mountaintops, huge oak trees, etc. Another reminder is to consider Daylight Savings Time. Once, I had a client whose ceremony time was 1 week after Daylight Savings Time ended and the clocks rolled back by an hour. This was Fall season and the ceremony was nestled in a valley in some foothills starting around 6 p.m. It was nearly pitch black by this time of day outside and the venue offered up no extra outdoor lighting. Luckily I had planned for this and had brought two Ikea lamps and extension cords to help them out. It was barely enough light to capture an exposure. So always remember to check with your venue about properly lighting a ceremony if the start time falls after sunset.