Tips for Reception Seating and First Dances
A little reception detail that can be easily overlooked is the seating arrangement of your guests- primarily your family and closest friends. Emotional moments are my favorite thing to seek out and capture and that's one of the biggest reasons I absolutely love weddings. While you're thinking about seating assignments and table arrangements for the reception it's great to consider having your family and those you're closest to or have played a significant role in your life seated near the dance floor.
A beautiful picture of a moment shared by the bride and groom or father and daughter during their dances is great but documenting an entire moment or story within a single frame is even better.
My favorite series of the year happened at the last wedding of 2015. As Sam danced with her daddy her husband looked on in awe as her mama looked up with such happiness and her Godmother looked on.
The next one not minutes later was captured as the happiness nearly overwhelmed them and brought tears to their eyes. We caught some great moments of just Sam and her daddy but these two pictures are more than a moment but a story that truly represents the day and the relationship and bond of love that unite them all.
Other moments to consider are where people will sit or stand for the toasts - are they in close proximity to the bride and groom? If the mother of the bride is in the back of the room catching up with her friends while the toasts are being made it will be impossible to get her reaction and expressions to what's being said. Furthermore I hate anyone feeling like they were "left out of the pictures" and seeing their absence in the moments that were shared.
Furthermore I should also mention that I can't recommend highly enough to encourage your parents, grandparents, bridal party and second and third cousins from using their phones or cameras during the formal dances, toasts, and cake cutting or any other special "moments/events" that will be taking place during the reception. The electronics are a distraction and keep them from being fully present in the moment but also take a beautiful photograph of a moment and change the entire feeling and atmosphere of that image by being present. (Besides it's really hard to get a pictures of your mother in law's beautiful smile when she's holding a camera directly in front of it. :) )
I truly loved how in Sam and Neil's reception pictures everyone is present in their moment, the celebration, excitement and emotion. It's clear they were excited and celebrating something special!
I love this picture as well but you can see how even a little camera in the background can become very distracting. Imagine the moment with this being present and the gentleman having a giant smile that reflects the emotion of the lady next to him. The moment and emotion of the entire image would shift. Maybe I'm being petty but when you start observing details it's the small things that can make the biggest difference. The same is true if you plan on doing a formal exit. ie. Sparklers, bubbles, lavender, etc. Having your family and loved ones stand near the beginning of where you'll be leaving or at the very end will make my job easier in maximizing the odds of their smiling faces being joined with yours as you leave the party.
Have you been a guest at a wedding and seen other times when setting down the phone or camera could have enhanced the moment or the time shared with those around you?
Final Thoughts: If you've been invited to be a guest at a wedding it means that couple cares about you and is excited to have you celebrate with them. The biggest gift you can give them is your presence- being intentionally present throughout the day but most specially during the most special moments of their wedding. Setting aside the distractions and giving them your full and undivided attention is the best gift you can bring.