Living in Utah means shooting a lot of LDS temple weddings. If you’re not familiar with the Mormon culture, I’ll give you a brief run down. Weddings happen a little differently for LDS couples. They enter the temple and are led to a sealing room with their closest family and friends to make some promises to each other and to God. It is there that they are also legally pronounced husband and wife. However, not just anyone can enter into the temple for this special ceremony, and that includes photographers. Because of this, the wedding picture process is a little different for LDS brides and grooms. The photos start when the bride and groom exit the temple and have already been officially married. Everyone is waiting outside for them and there are lots of group photos to get through before the reception begins.
I’ve shot enough weddings that now I have a great system down for getting through all of those shots quickly and efficiently. It can be very chaotic outside of the temple, and usually there are multiple wedding parties waiting for pictures, which means you have to be fast and assertive. I’ll share with you below how I do it. 🙂
Unlike non-LDS weddings, with a temple wedding there isn’t an exact time that you can plan on the pictures starting. Instead the bride will tell you her sealing time. I’ve had brides exit the temple anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half after their sealing time. So you need to be prepared for that.
I like to arrive at the temple about 20 minutes after their sealing begins to make sure that I have plenty of time. While everyone is still in the temple I use this time to scope out the area. I find which side of the temple is going to be best for the group photos (temple weddings usually take place in the afternoon when the lighting isn’t ideal, so normally I’m looking for shady places with even lighting). After I’ve figured out where the best place for pictures is going to be, I walk around and get some detail shots of the temple grounds. Once I’m finished with that I either go inside to the waiting room, or wait outside the exit doors (depending on the temple and the weather).
I always ask my brides beforehand what their wedding colors are so I know who to look for outside the temple. Sometimes there can be multiple wedding parties with the same color palette, so I will usually just walk up to each group and ask which wedding they are there for until I find my group. Once I’ve found my group I start taking candid pictures of the guests as they wait. Usually this is when boutonnieres are being pinned on the groomsmen, bouquets are being handed out to bridesmaids, and friends and family are excitedly visiting together.
Once the bride and groom are ready to exit someone usually comes out and announces it. -At certain temples I’m able to wait right inside the doors and talk to the bride and groom for a minute before they exit. That’s always ideal. If I’m able to talk to them beforehand I always instruct them to each push open one of the doors, and excitedly cheer as they exit. I then tell them to kiss right outside the doors before walking down and hugging everyone.
Because there are no photos at the ceremony itself, these are their first pictures together as husband and wife and I want to make sure they’re good.
After they’ve exited the temple I give my bride and groom some time to quickly hug and receive congratulations from their friends and family. Most of the time I have a second shooter with me, so I’ll have my second shooter follow the groom while I follow the bride. This is where the emotional embraces usually take place and can be some of my favorite photos. Once the big hug fest starts to die down I lead the entire group over to whichever side of the temple I had decided on. I’ve had to work on making my voice loud and assertive for these situations, because otherwise nobody pays attention to me with all of the excitement and craziness going on.
I direct everyone to the spot for the big group picture and place the bride and groom front and center. I usually get parents and grandparents on the front row on each side of the couple, and then tell everybody else that they can just file in behind them wherever they can find a spot. I’ll have my second shooter help get the whole group in position so everybody’s face can be seen while I get my camera settings all ready to go. I take a few pictures where everybody is smiling and looking at the camera, and then I have the bride and groom turn to each other and kiss while everybody does a big silent cheer. (I say silent, because we are outside the temple and want to be respectful, and also because it’s a photo so the sound doesn’t matter 😉 We just need it to look good.)
After the group photos been taken it’s time to start with the smaller groups. I start with the grooms side (unless told otherwise) because traditionally the grooms family is the one in charge of the luncheon before the reception, so they need to leave sooner. So then I get these shots:
-Everyone who is here for the groom (tell brides family to hop out and take a break but not go too far)
-B & G with grooms family (anyone related to groom)
-B & G with groom’s immediate family (parents, siblings, sibling in-laws)
-B & G with siblings and sibling in-laws / just groom with his siblings
-Groom and his brothers / groom and his sisters
-B & G with groom’s parents
-Groom with his mom / groom with his dad
-B & G with groom’s grandparents
-Ask groom if there is any other important people from his side he wants a photo with
-Tell grooms side that unless they’re part of the bridal party (groomsmen/bridesmaids) they are free to go!
-Everyone who is here for the bride
-B & G with brides family (anyone related to bride)
-B & G with brides immediate family (parents, siblings, sibling in-laws)
-B & G with siblings and sibling in-laws / just bride with her siblings
-Bride and her sisters / bride and her brothers
-B & G with bride’s parents
-Bride with her mom / bride with her dad
-B & G with bride’s grandparents
-Ask bride if there is any other important people from her side she wants a photo with
-Tell brides family that unless they’re part of the bridal party they are free to go!
Boom. Easy peasy. I can usually get all of that done in a half hour if everyone’s listening to me. 😉 After I’ve taken all the big group family shots I take the bride and groom and their bridal party somewhere else for some fun bridesmaid & groomsmen pictures.
-B & G with all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen
* bridesmaids on one side, groomsmen on the other / everyone all mixed together / group hug / bride and groom kissing with bridal party in background / everyone walking towards camera looking at each other / etc.
-Bride with all her bridesmaids
*smiling at camera / looking at each other and laughing / holding out their bouquets / hugging / walking together / etc.
-Bride with maid of honor
– Groom with all his groomsmen
*smiling at camera / straight faced / looking off in different directions / fixing ties, cuffs, hair / all of their shoes in a line / etc.
-Groom with best man
-Bride with groomsmen
-Groom with bridesmaids
-Ask about any other requests for photos, if nobody has anything tell the bridal party they’re free to go!
Aaaaaand just like that we’re done with all the group shots. After everyone else leaves I usually take my bride and groom and get some good wedding shots of just the two of them outside the temple (even if we did a bridal shoot already). This is when I snag a couple ring shots with the bouquet, and get all the detail shots of them. All in all the entire process outside of the temple can be fit into a one hour period if needed, but two hours is definitely recommended. But with this list of shots in my head everybody is able to transition from one photo to the next easily and it flows seamlessly and efficiently! And if you’re a wedding photographer and have a different system that works well for you I’d love to hear it!