Here are some tips on working with a wedding photographer – from Mike Bacon (aka DJ Iron Mike of Ambient DJs) in Hamilton Square, N.J.
There are plenty of great wedding photographers out there, and here are some things I try to do at every wedding to help improve their experience:
1) I usually ask the photographer off the bat if there are any special shots they need me to help set up throughout the day. I typically get a “no, but thanks for asking.” In the case of big group shots, I usually have to announce and encourage all of the guests to join in on the big family-and-friends photo.
2) I make sure the photographer is in the room and or ready for the big moments. Things move pretty fast sometimes at weddings. Occasionally, photographers have to step out for XYZ or change a lens, etc. I’d rather not catch them off guard with something happening that they’re not fully prepared for in that exact moment.
3) Similar to No. 2, I’ve literally stopped what I was doing to notify a photographer that something important was taking place. At a recent wedding, all of the vendors had their meals in another room separate from the ballroom. I scarfed my food down so I could mix dinner music live. The photographers took their time because they have a much longer day than I do. During dinner, the groom and his grandmother shared a dance on an otherwise empty dancefloor. This wasn’t on the planner, it wasn’t scheduled, it happened organically. Knowing this was a special moment, I ran down the hall and told the photographer crew that the groom and grandmom are dancing, someone should probably get that shot. One of the three photographers grabbed their camera and got to the Ballroom in time to capture the dance. She was appreciative that I alerted her.
I’m in the trenches with the photographers. I look at this as a big team effort, even if we don’t come from the same company. That’s just how I am. I just had to point out some things that I’d love to change. The great camera people are ahead of the game – some, unfortunately, aren’t.
Do you provide an open mic for toasts?
Recently on Randy Bartlett’s Facebook page for 1% Solution, a question surfaced about what to do when a client insists on an open mic for toasts. The replies were varied. Judge for yourself:
“If one of my couples wants to add spontaneous toasts, I will announce during dinner that they would love to give the opportunity to toast to any guest who is interested. Then, when someone comes and signs up, I can put them in a spot in the order which will still flow. I generally start with the parents and end with Maid of Honor and Best Man.
“I show them good mic technique. I explain where to stand. And, because I’ve gathered their names, I can properly introduce them.
“Whenever I talk about the fully ‘open-mic’ toasts, I note to the couple that it always ends anti-climatically. In my best Ben Stein voice, I say, ‘Is there anyone else who wants to give a toast? Anyone? Anyone? Well, let’s move on to the first dance then.’ That usually dissuades them.”
– Alan Chitlik, Seattle, Wash.
“Let the guests know that toasts will be starting in five minutes. There are x-amount of people scheduled to speak and the couple would like to open it up to all of you. If you’d like to say a few words, please come see me to get your name on the list.
“This prevents any awkward moments of silence, gives people a few minutes to decide if they really want to speak, and if they do want to speak, they have time to gather their thoughts.”
– Eric Rhodes, Boise, Idaho
“When they insist, I prep the guests during cocktail or ahead of time. I simply say, ‘The bride and groom want to hear from those of you that want to wish them well. Please advise me if you wish to give a toast and I will add you to our line-up of honor friends and family giving a toast.’
“After toasts are done, I will again open it up and say, ‘Is there anyone else I missed?’ There’s a short pause. If no one offers a simple last toast, I move on.”
– Marc Summersett, Tucson, Ariz.
“I say, ‘Our bride and groom would like to open the microphone for anyone to say a few brief words this evening. Who would like to be first?’ Then I wait a second and go, ‘No one? OK, on with the party.’”
– Michael Walter, Old Bridge, N.J.
“I’ve only ever had a client insist on this once – surprise surprise, nobody wanted to get up to speak – and I began by inviting anyone who wanted to offer kind words to the couple to come up and use the mic on the stand. We left the floor open for under two minutes – which still feels super-long in the moment – while I covered some other announcements. Then, I finished with the Best Man or Maid of Honor or whoever was scheduled to be the ‘finale’ toast.”
– Ryan DeLap, Johnson City, N.Y.
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