A year ago, who could have predicted that small, backyard weddings would be the biggest trend of 2020? But, here we are, and while it may not be the grand venue you had once envisioned, your own backyard is a great spot to tie the knot with your nearest and dearest by your side. Not all backyards are immediately set up for stunning wedding photos, but with a little help, you can have yours looking its best and as photo-ready as the fanciest of fancy ballrooms by your big day. Here are my top tips for getting great wedding photos at home, featuring a the stunning lakeside wedding of Yolanda and Dave that I photographed this August, at Dave's parents' home:
If you're planning not to see each other in your wedding attire before your first look or ceremony, designate separate getting ready spaces for you and your soon-to-be spouse within the house. This allows you to move around freely within your space without worrying about bumping into each other and ruining the surprise. At Y&D's wedding, she got the upper floor and he got the lower floor. Good getting-ready spaces should have great natural light - windows are a MUST for photos - and be relatively clutter-free.
Do a first look. Normally I'm very supportive of a couple's decision to wait until the ceremony to lay eyes on each other for the first time on their wedding day, but in the case of a backyard wedding, I strongly encourage you to do a first look beforehand. It prevents you from having to stay hidden within your getting ready zone for too long, and gives you more time to spend together. Also, once the guests arrive, the yard will get crowded and you'll have limited space to move around and take photos without constant interruptions. If you do a first look, you can get most of your photos out of the way before your guests even get there.
Have your ceremony in a shaded location or, plan to do it later in the day when the sun isn't as harsh and it's not as hot to be standing around outside. This will help prevent dark shadows and squinty eyes in photos.
Create pretty photo-op spots around the property for you and your guests to take advantage of. Y&D had an incredible flower-adorned ring, which doubled as the backdrop for their ceremony and a spot to take photos throughout the day. They also installed a beautiful swing overlooking the lake, which added some variety to their photos and was super Instagram-worthy for their guests! These spots should be shaded or placed such that the sun will be behind the subjects when they are being photographed. Again, this helps avoid harsh shadows and squinty eyes.
Embrace sentimental and personal touches! Nowhere is more personal than home, and adding in spots or objects that are special to you creates photos that are more full of emotion and tied to your memories not just from your wedding day, but from all the time you've spent at home.
Consider sneaking off-property for a few shots at sunset with just the two of you. It doesn't have to be for long; I promise your guests will barely notice you're gone, and you two get to enjoy a quiet moment as newlyweds.
Hire the professionals! Good planners, florists, decorators can turn even the most mundane backyard space into something magical and take already beautiful spaces to the next level. And of course, an experienced professional photographer is a must to capture it all!