Weddings during COVID-19 have gotten smaller. But, if you ask the experts, that means the wedding photos are getting better.

Fewer guests and less pomp and circumstance, some photographers say, creates opportunities for them to capture intimate, unscripted moments that are harder to get when the schedule is crammed.

“Small weddings are enjoyable in a different way,” says New Orleans-based photographer Michael Caswell. “Usually I’ll be able to spend more time with a couple doing portraits, as opposed to a big day where I’d only have 10 minutes.”

Heather Schneider, who owns Dark Roux Photography with her husband Jamie, has experienced the same thing.

“The smaller weddings are great,” she says. “If you’re trying to shoot a big event, you have eight hours and there’s 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen to shoot, you have a long to-do list, you have to get to the church at a certain time and to the bus a certain time, so you’re far more restricted.”

Small weddings are a totally different story.

“It’s just so fluid,” says Schneider. “If we don’t get something done the first time around, it’s fine. It’s the same 20 people at the event all day, so we’ll just do it later. We can just go with the flow and it’ll give us more opportunity to be relaxed. It gives us more time to be creative instead of just ‘Get it, get it, get it.’ We can examine the surroundings, see things from different angles and do something different.”

Photographer Tracie Morris shot a recent wedding at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. During the drive from the church to the reception, the wedding party was halted by a raised drawbridge near the lake. 

Disaster? Not hardly. In fact, the unplanned moment turned into a highlight of the day — and a great photo opp.

“It seemed like traffic was going to be a while, so I jumped out of the car and then got them out of their car,” says Morris. “So now we’re on the bridge. That can be a stressful moment for a bride, being stopped by a bridge or a train. You’re looking at the clock and trying to get to your reception — but we were able to take that moment and make it fun.

“Their friends were honking their horns, groomsmen ran up the bridge to toast them. We took a bunch of photos and turned it into a nice memory. It’s not something you would ever plan but when it’s a small event you can just wing it.”

Plan for Success

No matter the size of the wedding, proper planning still leads to perfect performance.

Caswell’s biggest piece of advice for couples planning their Big Day? Just assume everything is going to take much longer than you expect.

“Don’t be overly optimistic about scheduling things during the day,” he says. “If you think hair and makeup are going to take an hour and a half, it’s going to take two hours. If you think it’s going to take 20 minutes to get into your wedding dress, it’s going to take twice that long. If you make a realistic schedule, the day will go a lot more smoothly.”

Schneider’s top suggestion, meanwhile, is to make sure to meet with your photographer in advance to clarify your objectives.

“Make sure you talk to them first on the phone or FaceTime just so you can get an idea of their personality and get your vibe together,” she says. “Our approach is more hands off but we still need to know information about family dynamics and what couples find important on the wedding day. Do not just shop solely by price.”

One pandemic-specific piece of advice from Tracie Morris is to plan a series of smaller events on your wedding day so you can include all your loved ones while keeping things at the right size. The wedding at the New Lakefront Airport ultimately changed venues several times so that the older folks could participate in a safe environment and the younger crowd could dance all night.

“This way, you don’t have all the pomp and circumstance,” she says. “You just have the bride and groom and you get to know them and see their love for each other — and that’s what everything circles around.”

Follow those suggestions and check out our Bride New Orleans rules for perfect wedding photos and you will be delighted with your results.

Tracie Morris Photography