One things for sure....
Kids will be kids - even on your wedding day. The fact that it's "your special day" means diddly squat to a 5-year-old. I've seen loads of scenarios over the past few years and each wedding I go to, I pick up some awesome tips to share with you all.
To start off I have to admit, I bloody love kids at weddings. They are hilarious and unpredictable so being a little flexible with your day's itinerary is key to not getting stressed if they don't play ball. And believe me, at some point during the day, they won't.
WALKING DOWN THE AILSE
From experience (and I know not all kids are the same) but this is usually the first hurdle.
Kids suddenly get nervous, especially flower girls who are usually expected to walk down alone looking adorable. But with everyone looking and "awwwing" this can be really nerve-wracking. Hell, I've been a bridesmaid 5 times and I was nervous walking down the aisle every time and I was an adult.
They may suddenly not want to hold their flowers or wear that pretty head band you bought them. My advice is don't sweat the small stuff. If they are happier let them walk down with an older bridesmaid or sibling. That way you are more likely to get the happy faced pictures you want.
But as a photographer I can't help but love the photos I get when things go a bit wrong (evil laugh).
This little lass had a last-minute attack of nerves at Megan and Howards wedding in June but mum to the rescue. I still love this photo. I'm not sure if I'm mean liking a photo of a child clearly upset but she is still so cute, and it documents how the day unfolded.
Hollie and Jordans little girl decided last minute that she didn't want to hold her bouquet. It made no difference to her photos she still looks incredibly adorable.
Kids and formal group shots don't always mix. My advice is just go with it and let them be themselves. Even if they face the opposite way and refuse to look at the camera. At least you will get a funny photo to look back on and laugh at.
From experience if the kid isn't cooperating after the first 3 minutes they probably won't. I've seen lots of bribery tactics from family over the years, but they rarely work. The most used is Auntie Janet will say something like "smile for a photo and you can have some chocolate" this will literally work for ONE photo. Then they quite rightly wanna know where the hell their chocolate is! I would too!
Don't tease me with chocolate auntie Janet.
Other tactics that don't always work.
Getting a relative the stand and shout for the child to look at them, because they do exactly that... look at them - not me. I have known this to work if the relative stands right behind me, but it usually descends into chaos especially if other guests are taking photos on phones too as the kids end up looking at them instead of me.
And then if by chance I get one of the little one looking at me, I can bet you any money that one of the line-up will be looking at the child, checking if they are looking at the camera... Honestly if it isn't the kids, it's you adults (insert monkey covering eyes emoji here).
TOG TIP: I usually have my phone attached to the hotshoe mount of my camera and I have been known to play their favourite tv show on YouTube to get them to look straight at me and this can work a treat.
Or ask the little one if that can see the puppet / teddy / ballerina inside my lens?
but when it all goes wrong...
Just laugh! At least you get a funny photo to embarrass them with when they turn 18 or at their own wedding in years to come.
opt for fun
Kids a bit older, usually love doing something fun. I told everyone "bouquets in the air on the count of 3".
I definitely need to be clearer with kids in future as Rosie thought I meant throw them in the air. But the photo turned out great so well done Rosie.
TOG TIP: Keep that shutter held down after they have stopped "posing" especially if something went wrong. Often the reaction afterwards is the shot you are after.
The photos of your kids / guests children, doing what they enjoy and just being themselves, will be the most natural ones you get. This sassy pants very politely asked me to stop taking photos of her. Of course, I didn't stop but I did take them a little more sneakily. No forced smiles in exchange for chocolate - just happily playing with her bubbles.
TOG TIP: Don't be scared to not have a totally clear view. I love getting a bit of a door frame in the shot. It adds to the candid vibe.
family group shots
So, if the kids at the wedding are your own children it's absolutely understandable that you want some "nice photos" together. Most people's family pics are selfies or has one parent missing as they are the one taking the snap. I like the take them off as a family for these shots. In the same way I do for couples' shots. 15 minutes can be plenty of time and means loads of people are not watching and the little ones are more relaxed.
Also, by this point in the day the kids have been around you a bit longer and are getting used to you. I try to speak to the children as much as possible in the morning during prep so they are familiar with me and know I'm not a "scary camera lady".
Keeping it super relaxed and just asking them to play, sing nursery rhymes or play peek-a-boo will create these beautiful natural images for you all to cherish forever.
You don't all have to be looking at the camera for that iconic mantlepiece wedding family photo.
Here is Steph and Marc who totally read the assignment and opted for chilled family group shots.
TOG TIP: Here I just asked them to sit and snuggle and asked Immy to tickle daddy. They were having an imaginary picnic.
If there is one photo you specifically want
you probably won't get it... I get sent lots of Pinterest boards before a wedding day and while I will always try to capture everything a client wants on their wedding day, if the kids ain't playing ball you will end up with a completely different image. Basically don't get hung up on getting one specific photo as you will also receive a whole load you didn't plan for, that you will love too.
"I really want a picture of him sat on my dress"
You got it Emma! Ezra didn't get the memo that he had to smiling though... Bless him!
This is a typical example of how a specific idea just doesn't go to plan. But again, the evil cow in me thinks it's still dead cute. And with some sweets handed over we got there in the end.
This was getting towards the end of a long day for little Ezra, and he was nearing a nap - I know how you feel little man!
After a few cuddles and tickles - all was well.
Giving the kids something to do will not only keep them happy and occupied it will give you as a couple some chill time - not worrying about what they are up to. Not to mention great candid photo opportunities for us.
Steph and Marc provided hook-a-duck, giant connect 4, space hoppers and hoopla. These can be bought, hired and even be home made at very little expense.
Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you found it helpful for your wedding planning.