The Ceremony

Capturing the Heart of Your Celebration

Outdoor wedding setup in Ottawa with wooden benches and a floral arch near a pond.
Intimate Ottawa wedding ceremony in an art gallery with colorful paintings and a floral backdrop at Orange Art Gallery
Ottawa wedding with bride and groom exchanging vows under pergola, with a serene park backdrop at Orchardview.

This one is all you! Although I'll be stepping back to let your ceremony unfold naturally without interference from me, I'm here to share some insights on how to capture those effortlessly candid and heartwarming moments you adore on Pinterest. By focusing on the genuine emotions and interactions of your special day, we can create a collection of images that reflect the true essence and beauty of your love story. Remember, the most magical shots come from simply being present in the moment and embracing the joy and love surrounding you.

If you're getting married in a church setting, I'd love to attend the rehearsal (if I'm available). Each church wedding is so unique with verrying requirements, so it's useful for me to understand the flow of your ceremony and any restrictions ahead of time.

If your ceremony is taking place inside, I try my best to use available natural and artificial light to properly represent the scene. I rarely use my flash during ceremonies since it's very intrusive to your guests to see pops of light every 5 seconds. If you have any lighting concerns for your ceremony space, reach out to me and we can discuss.

Unplugged Weddings

An unplugged wedding is where guests are asked to put away their phones, cameras, and other digital devices to fully engage in the ceremony and festivities, leaving the photography to the professionals.

In today's world, the concept of an unplugged wedding is well-known, and I highly recommend it. Photos can be significantly less appealing with unexpected guest technology, like an iPad, making an appearance. It also helps to curb unpredictable guest behaviour. I once had a guest go around the altar as my couple was exchanging rings to get an image from the other side, luckily I'm pretty good at Photoshop and I was able to remove him but I don't want to see that happening to you during an important moment!

In my experience, you can put up as many signs as you want letting your guests know that your wedding is unplugged but what works best every time is having your officiant announce it before anyone starts walking down the aisle.

At the end of the day, I don't lean in any direction on preference for an unplugged wedding, I just want to educate my couples so that they're not shocked when they get their wedding gallery and see all the phones present.

Ottawa couple at altar, exchanging rings with wooden arch and floral arrangement overhead.
Bride walking down the aisle with father, joyous expressions, in a sunlit Ottawa venue, Umbrella Bar
Smiling bride escorted by father at Ottawa ceremony at Lago, autumn bouquet in hand, guests watching.

Ceremony Layout

Your ceremony layout has a huge impact on your wedding photos. If I'm working alone, I move around all throughout your ceremony, essentially making a half-circle around your whole ceremony site. I've seen ceremony layouts where there isn't space at the end of rows for me to move around, so I'm forced to cut in front of the front row which is a bit distracting for your guests. If you're able to, ensure that there's ample space for me to move around the ceremony site. Having this space allows me to capture your partner reading their vows to you and vice-versa instead of having all your images from straight out because I'm limited to just standing in the aisle.

Joyful bride laughing during ceremony, with officiant and bridesmaids in background, Ottawa wedding.
Emotional bride reading vows to groom in blue suit, Ottawa forest wedding backdrop.

Walking Down the Aisle

As for the aisle walk, both you and your bridal party should take it slow and remember to smile. Often, people forget to smile, looking down or focusing on their steps instead. Keep your bouquets at belly button height, I often see wedding party members get nervous and hide behind them; if I see you before you walk down the aisle, I'll remind you about that placement. If your flowers are fresh, they'll most likely be in water before the ceremony and therefore be wet when you take them out. Have some paper towels on hand to dry the bouquet ends so that they do not leave a wet imprint on your dress.

Let's pivot to timings, I've seen both sides of it. Some wedding parties hurry for the aisle and others take their sweet time, savoring the moment. Always opt to leave ample amounts of time between each individual or couple coming down the aisle so that I have enough time to grab photos of them without the next person rushing in behind them. The same thing applies to walk back up the aisle at the end of the ceremony.

And if you're doing something at the end of the aisle, like a high-five or shot, let me know so I know to anticipate that moment.

Bride escorted by loved ones at Ottawa wedding, joyous expressions with guests in background.
Bride walks down the aisle with family at Ottawa venue Strathmere, the Farmhouse, anticipation in guests' focused gazes.

Where Do I Stand?

During your rehearsal, make sure you're standing center under your arch or altar. Off-center positioning can impact your photos since most of the time I'll have limited space to move around to grab all the different angles. If needed, mark the spot with a taped X using painter's tape or a stake in the grass. This comes in handy not only when you walk down the aisle, but also when you come back from signing your registry (if applicable).

Shoutout to wonderful Bean Town Ranch, who places a carpet down so their couples know exactly where to stand after they walk down the aisle!

Elegant Ottawa wedding ceremony inside a grand church, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica with a starry blue ceiling.
Bride in a lace gown and groom in military dress standing under a floral arch in Ottawa venue Bean Town Ranch

The Finishing Touches

Have your maid of honor or person of significance straighten out your train, veil (if applicable) and take your bouquet once you're in place, showing off your gown at its best. If your maid of honor doesn't want to hold your flowers during the whole ceremony, they can place it on the table where you'll sign your registry if you're doing that during the ceremony. Don't forget to grab them before you walk back down the aisle! If you are signing your registry, have your maid of honor re-straighten your outfit before your first kiss and subsequent walk back down the aisle as newlyweds. Trust me, it makes all the difference!

Bride in a white veil walking down the aisle in a vibrant Ottawa church ceremony.
Smiling bridesmaid in a champagne dress holding a red and white bouquet at an Ottawa wedding.

Exchanging Rings

When it comes to the ring exchange, capturing the perfect shot can be challenging due to the rings' small size. To ensure these pivotal moments are beautifully documented, consider taking a bit more time than usual to put the rings on. Additionally, if possible, hold your hands in a way that the rings are clearly visible to me. This might involve slightly adjusting your position or pausing for a moment longer, allowing me to capture the detail and significance of the rings being placed on your fingers. This small adjustment can make a big difference in capturing the symbolic and intimate moments of your ceremony.

Bride and groom exchanging rings, intimate close-up of hands during wedding ceremony in Ottawa.
Bride and groom exchanging rings at Ottawa wedding ceremony with officiant in background.
Close-up of a bride and groom's hands during ring exchange in a forested Ottawa wedding setting.

Signing the Registry

This section isn't applicable to everyone, some couples pre-sign their wedding registry ahead of time. If you're signing your registry during your ceremony, you can place your wedding flowers on the table for some added decor. If you'd like to get a photo of all the signees on the registry, so you, your partner, and your witnesses, I'll be there ready to grab it before you head back to wrap things up.

Groom leaning affectionately over bride as they sign marriage certificate at Ottawa venue, with floral arrangement
A bride in a white dress with a delicate floral hairpiece signs the wedding register.
A bride in a classic off-the-shoulder white gown signs the wedding documents.
Groom leans affectionately over the bride as they sign the marriage certificate at an Ottawa wedding venue.

The First Kiss

While it might not always be possible, asking your officiant to step aside for key moments (like your kiss) can make a big difference. They can step to the side right before the kiss, ensuring they're not in the background of this crucial photo. I usually check in with your officiant prior to the ceremony so I can remind them to do so.

Oh and speaking of that kiss, make it last a little longer than it usually would. That allows me to grab a few different photos from that one moment and most importantly, it lets you savour that all important moment.

Bride and groom sharing a kiss under a floral arch by a tranquil pond in Ottawa.
Bride and groom kissing in a green Ottawa forest, with the bride's bouquet echoing the groom's blue suit.
Bride and groom share a kiss under a floral arch in an Ottawa woodland.

The Exit

I LOVE coaching my couples to do another kiss halfway back down the aisle. My recommendation? I like to see an elegant first kiss, and then the dramatic one halfway up the aisle. If you're going in for a dramatic dip, make sure to practice this safely. My tip? Drop your arm and have your bouquet down so it doesn’t block your face or hit any of your guests.

By going in for another kiss, it allows me to grab another photo with all your guests in the background looking so thrilled for you both. Don't forget to also hold this part for a little bit longer than you would so I have a chance to grab a bunch of photos. I'll be walking backward to get these photos so it helps me tremendously if you don't rush at me.

It also doesn't have to be a kiss, I've seen high-fives and chest bumps, so feel free to get creative!

One last note on your exit: Giving your guests a role can add a magical touch. Having them throw white petals during your walk down the aisle can create a beautiful exit shot. While bubbles are an option, they might not reach you in time, and confetti could complicate immediate post-ceremony photos. Placing a pail of petals at each row's end, with a prompt from your officiant, ensures a romantic and photogenic send-off.

If we’re doing family photos immediately after the ceremony have your officiant announce where the location will be.

Couple kissing with guests throwing confetti post-ceremony, rustic barn setting, joyful Ottawa wedding.
Bride and groom share a kiss amidst applause at their Ottawa wedding ceremony outdoors, surrounded by nature and guests.

The Group Photo!

Recently my couples have requested a group photo to be taken immediately after the ceremony. It's a great way to capture all your guests and it really takes no more than 15 minutes to organize. If you'd like a group photo to take place, let me know and I'll ensure that I either bring a ladder to stand on or coordinate with your ceremony location so that one is available. If you're doing a group photo, let your officiant know as well so they can announce it to your guests.

A jubilant wedding group gathers outside a charming stone chapel in Ottawa, their cheerful faces lit by the summer sun.
A festive and diverse wedding party stands together for a group photo in an elegant tented venue.
Large wedding group in formal attire poses for a photo at Loch March, with autumn trees providing a colorful backdrop

Farrah Sanjari Photography // Ottawa Wedding, Engagement & Portrait Photographer