For today’s post I am doing double duty! Not only am I sharing Brooke and Zach’s lovely Elora Wedding, but I also want to use this opportunity to talk a little bit about my approach to shooting weddings. Your wedding day is something to be remembered; it usually takes months of planning and for most people it is one of the only days of their life where they are surrounded by most of their loved ones. I want to start by saying that I do not take this job for granted. The fact that people trust me with documenting their wedding day is something that I will continue to be humbled by. I have and will always do my very best to document weddings as honestly and creatively as I can.
Getting ready with the guys and girls
I generally start my wedding day shooting with the groom and his party and/or family. When I arrived to meet Zach where he was getting ready I was pleasantly surprised. He and his family were getting ready at Brooke’s uncles house which sat on a lovely piece of land. I am not exaggerating when I say I could have photographed this house and the yard for the entire day. The eclectic house was full of books and treasures and made for a very interesting place for everyone to gather. The guys tend to be a little nervous and camera shy, so I generally come in and introduce myself and then move about the location taking shots from the background. I want the groom and his guys to feel comfortable with me and be willing to have some fun, so I set the stage early. We were lucky to be able to get all of the groomsmen’s and family pictures done there before I headed out to meet the girls!
Brooke was getting ready at her grandparents house, full of years worth of family photographs and memories. The family uses the house as a “cottage” now, but the fact that Brooke used this as her spot to get ready really spoke to their regard for family. As always, I came in and took some time to get acquainted with the house and introduced myself to anyone I don’t already know. The bridesmaids are usually my best allies for the remainder of the day, so I want to always make sure that relationship is solid before the day picks up! Just like with Zach, we were lucky to get all of the family pictures done with Brooke’s side before we left for the ceremony. I love when we get to do this because giving everyone something to do helps settle the nervous energy – and nervous giggles photograph adorably.
At this point in the day I usually head over to the ceremony space before the wedding party to get some shots of the décor and some of the guests arriving. These candid shots are always fun, everyone is greeting each other with big smiles and the excitement starts to build!
Brooke and Zach chose to be married in the same church as her parents and grandparents. Another lovely testament to their family and an added layer of sentiment. In fact, her parents were celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary that weekend! When the ceremony gets under way I try to find a seat in the front row on the aisle to get everyone walking down the aisle without having to stand in the way. That front row seat also gives me the best view of the groom watching his bride walk down the aisle to him.
During the ceremony I shoot as minimally as possible, but from as many locations as possible. I try to stay low and to the sides of the room so I am not disrupting anyone. I prefer to watch and wait – anticipating the reactions and moments – rather than shooting constantly to not miss anything. Brooke and Zach’s ceremony was traditional, yet full of many quirks that perfectly reflected their relationship and personalities – giving everyone a little laugh.
Following the ceremony is usually the easiest time to grab group shots. Family members have a tendency to scatter and disappear as the day goes on, so grabbing everyone right after the ceremony is always ideal. I love that Brooke and Zach got to take a traditional wedding portrait at the front doors of the church and hearing her mother behind me saying “We had the very same picture taken on our wedding day!” just about brought me to tears.
Bridal party portraits
Once the family pictures are done we generally get to have a little bit of fun with the wedding party. Sometimes that means boarding a bus and having a drink, and sometimes it means just going for a quick walk. Brooke and Zach wanted to head down the gorge for their wedding party shots so that is where we went! Brooke switched out her heels for Birks (my kind of girl!) and we made the decent! It was so fun to get everyone down there and take the iconic Elora Gorge shots. I really try to give my couples a good variety of shots of their wedding party. They are obviously very important parts of their lives so documenting them is important too.
I often will try to get some alone time with the couple and let the wedding party take off. This point in the day is usually the first moment the couple is getting alone together, so I do my best to take the shots I need, but also give them a few moments here and there to have a conversation and just breathe together. As a bonus, me standing back and allowing them those moments usually makes for some lovely, natural images of them.
My favourite part: the reception
I try to get to the reception space before the wedding party and newlyweds in order to get some shots of the details. It might not seem as important, but often times things like décor, table settings and layout are the things that take up the most time during the planning process, so having images of them is important. Plus, they often tell a good story of the couple and their history together.
Brooke and Zach’s speeches has me crying with laughter. Speeches are always my favourite part of weddings, and on this day they did not disappoint. Did I mention that I lived with Zach briefly when we were in university? Let’s just say, none of the stories surprised me in the slightest. As hilarious as they were, they were also very touching and heartfelt. Their families were already so close and seeing them all interacting together was really entertaining to watch.
As a general rule, I love to stand back at weddings and watch the day unfold, capturing the moments that are happening around me to tell your story. I am however, not afraid to take control when/if needed to get the shots you want. Weddings are busy and can often go in a blur, so I try my best to keep everyone on task to make sure vision is met. Every wedding is different, and the wishes of each couple are different, so by getting to know each other before the day we can work together to make sure I am able to deliver what you want. Shooting weddings is so fun and stimulating, and I am not trying to be overly cheesy when I say that they are full of emotion. I love the honest happiness that everyone feels, and I love that many people, like Brooke and Zach, use the day to honour their loved ones who have brought them together. The cheese literally gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling, and I leave every wedding feeling energized and grateful. (Now if you made it through that entire post and to the end you deserve an award. That got a little out of hand!)
If you are planning a wedding in SW Ontario, I would love to chat with you about your day and how I can best document it for you! You can contact me here today to get started! To see more of my wedding work, click here.
Brittany VanRuymbeke is an Elora Wedding Photographer specializing in fun, laid-back weddings throughout Southwestern Ontario.