Let Your Photographer Know about the Restrictions of Your Church Ahead of Time

Church restrictions pertaining to photography can vary wildly. It is very important that your photographer knows those restrictions in advance so they can properly plan your photography schedule and how to best shoot your ceremony. Some churches won’t allow photography at all during the ceremony. Others won’t allow flash or won’t allow the photographer to be in certain areas during of the church. Some churches won’t let photographers on the altar. Others insist they can only stand behind the last row of people, or shoot only from the balcony. Some locations request that the photographer pick-one-spot-and-stay-there during the ceremony. It can be done, but the couple should not expect a wide variety of angles.

Some photographers strive to be very frank with their clients about what they can accomplish, given tight restrictions. They feel their clients should know exactly how the restrictions are going to affect the photographs. For example, if the church will only allow a photographer to shoot from behind the last row of people, then the couple should not expect a spread of shots showing their facial expressions during their vows. If flash is not allowed then there may be some movement blur from using a slower shutter speed. There’s always going to be a repercussion.Churches often impose rules about where the photographer can stand during the ceremony.  


It is important that the couple face each other during the ceremony so that the photographer can still capture them in profile with a zoom lens. They should hold hands and be affectionate with each other. Many couples don’t realize that it is OK for them to do this and instead just stand there very stiff or stand with their backs to the crowd. You shouldn’t be looking at your minster when you say your vows; you should be looking at each other. You’re not marrying your minister.When lighting the unity candle you should position it so you can walk around it and face out toward the people so your family and friends can see you light it, and so your photographer can get a great shot of the moment. The same with the mothers when they light the two side candles.


Talk to your wedding official. They usually have the power to bend the rules. Sometimes the restrictions are outdated, sometimes they are not enforced, or the official is willing to overlook them, if you make a strong case. Many times the matter rests entirely on the mood of the person making decisions that day.The clergy person or justice who will serve as your wedding official, or officiant, needs to understand that your wedding photographer is not going to show up and cause a major disturbance. Perhaps that person has had bad experiences with pushy, inconsiderate wedding photographers in the past. It’s your job to let them know your wedding photographer will be respectful of the ceremony. Make sure the officiant knows that your photographer will shoot with a tripod and without flash, if necessary. Wedding photographers, by definition, are there to capture what’s happening as inconspicuously as possible —almost invisibly.


Another point to raise: the restrictions are usually placed only on the photographer—not the guests, who are all snapping (and flashing!) willy-nilly with their point-and-shoot cameras. That could be a big frustration considering wedding photographers often make every effort at being discreet—and will avoid using flash when asked (“it doesn’t look good anyway.”) If patient explanation gets you nowhere, then the couple must be willing to except the results of the restrictions. The images can be reposed after the wedding if necessary.

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