6 Tips for Photographing a Micro-Wedding

Dear fellow wedding photographers.  2020 has forced us all into a new way of thinking and planning out weddings.  Am I right?! If you are like me, most of your couples have decided to officially postpone their weddings to the following year due to the unfortunate 2020 pandemic.  However, some are deciding to still hold what this year has categorized as ‘Micro-weddings‘.  Brides.com explains HERE what they are for couples and if they are the right choice for them.

So, what exactly are micro-weddings? They usually consist of a ceremony only, portraits of the couple, and possibly a small reception with less than 50 guests (although the number allowed has changed this Summer unfortunately).  In fact, many this year are immediate family members only.  For a lot of couples, including many of mine, having a large wedding and reception, usually 9-10 hours, suddenly wasn’t as important to them as being married.  Making it official was all they wanted, even if all of their extended family and friends couldn’t physically attend.  To be honest, the couples who I have spoken with about these micro-weddings thus far have been very open about how this year has made them realize what is truly important. They didn’t want to wait to start their marriage.What I’ve realized, after photographing a few so far myself, is that my preparation and approach for these micro-weddings seems to be very different from what I’ve experienced in the last 10 years. There are things you can expect, and then there are things that you don’t know will happen or could have never predicted.  However, if you have photographed weddings before, you know that as a photographer, having more than one ‘plan’ is not just extremely important, it’s required.

We have to predict the unpredictable.

We have to expect the unexpected.

Most importantly, we have to be there to serve our couples in the best way we can EVERY SINGLE TIME.

So what can WE, the photographers, do to help prepare for this new age of documenting weddings?

Here are 6 tips I can suggest for you right now.

1. Create a plan A and then follow it up with a plan B and C…possibly even D.

In addition to checking the weather and having rain back up locations, we now have to prepare for location restrictions.  Until all of the parks and beaches and river walks are available again, we now have to consider backyards and neighborhood streets for portraits.  On top of that, we have to make sure everyone can get there safely AND if the couple even wants to take photos there. Do your research.  Talk to your couple and be prepared with a few options.For my first wedding this year, we had actually found a few spots in the downtown area, close by to their church, for portraits.  But after family and friends showed up and surprised them, time got away from us (expect the unexpected).  My couple chatted with people they weren’t expecting to see and I documented it, gladly.  Afterwards, we decided to head back to their neighborhood where the sunset was absolutely perfect for pictures in their backyard. 🙂

 

2. Think outside the box and get creative when it comes to photos.

I honestly feel like we should ALWAYS be thinking outside the box for any type of wedding.  But this year, I think it’s important to help our couples see that even without their big wedding and reception, this day is still going to fun. Get creative and think about new ways of posing, props to use, vendors to suggest for props like balloons, prompts to give, etc.

One of my brides got so excited when we talked about getting confetti and popping champagne.  Amazon actually sells biodegradable confetti for an affordable price.  Check it out!

The best part? YOU WON’T BE RUSHED.  Read that again.  You won’t be rushed.  Without a big reception to get to, you have more time to slow down and enjoy the photos.  Didn’t get that first one right? Do it again! Now let’s add in some champagne and try it from another angle. Honestly, I am LOVING the portrait time during these smaller, more intimate weddings.

3. Be ready for any changes if – and more likely WHEN – they happen.

As a photographer, we have to be alert and always watching.  I’m always scanning the room and area for people searching for, well, me.  Yep! I get the hand gesture or the point and mouthing of words “can you get this?“.  On top of what you have planned to photograph for your couple, you now are in charge of catching moments for all of their of family and guests who they invited.

With micro-weddings, this concept of BE READY doesn’t change.  It actually enhances.  For example : I’m sure you have seen the videos of the birthday drive by where family and friends in cars drive by and honk and drop off gifts during this social distancing time. Weddings are no different.  Family and friends could be outside the church, or in front of the house with signs and cameras wanting to sneak a peek of the newlyweds.  It’s OUR job to make sure we catch all of those moments (even if they weren’t planned).

Why? Because this has now become part of their wedding day. These are moments that the couple might be so surprised by that they will forget the specifics until they see the photos. In a time where our couples have had to change everything for their wedding, these little moments BECOME the new everything that will be so important to capture.

4. Remember we are all in this together.

Just as this year has been a struggle for us as photographers, learning a new way or dealing with postponements and big business changes, it has been even more so for a lot of couples.  So many have had to make hard choices on who they can and cannot have included on their guest list.  They have had to cut back on amazing vendors that are no longer needed for a big reception.  They have have had to change their date, some 2 or 3 times, because of city changes and new restrictions.  So many NO’s after saying YES to a wedding and planning for so long can be devastating.  A time that was so full of joy has been tainted by disappointment.

Enter in the photographer! 😉

Are we struggling with the unknown too.  Yes, of course.  But as a photographer, it’s so important to remember that these photos will be the light and the end of a dark tunnel (so to speak) for so many couples.  We get to provide the positive outlook during a not so positive time for so many.  That in itself is such a beautiful concept. It makes me love my job all the more.

5. SAFETY!

Safety is key and so important now more than ever.  I have talked about my own policy in a previous post.  Every photographer should discuss with their couples their safety guidelines when attending weddings this year.  For me personally, I wear a mask, keep a safe distance, and keep hand sanitizer in my camera pouch.  We all need to be aware of what is allowed and what is not in our areas.  Be open with your couples about your concerns and make sure to listen to theirs.  Mutual respect is key.

6. Have fun!

Just because weddings have changed doesn’t mean they are less fun.  In fact, many of these smaller, intimate weddings have been some of the most fun I’ve experienced in a long time.  I’ve witnessed small, emotional moments between family members, watched couples be able to enjoy their own home for their big day, photograph surprise visits from friends and the surrounding community, and even watch the family dog become so involved.  If anything, these micro-weddings have inspired me and made me fall in love with photography all over again.

To all my couples and new ones out there.  Keep planning.  Keep enjoying this time.  Keep smiling. We are all in this together and remember that LOVE IS NOT CANCELED. <3

To my fellow photogs, if you have any other tips, send them my way! I’d love to share more!

Sending virtual hugs to you all. CHEERS!

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