A few years ago, I attended a workshop hosted by one of my photographic heroes, Cliff Mautner. Among the many valuable tidbits Cliff provided, he said something that really stuck with me when it comes to capturing great moments during wedding toasts. Cliff recommended that the seating be arranged so that person giving the toast is able to make eye contact with the couple. For the couple, eye contact means that the couple can really absorb what’s being said and enjoy the company of those they love. For the photographer, it means fantastic shots.
Let me explain…
At most weddings, the podium is at the end of the head table and the bride and groom have to leeeaaaan forward to see the speaker. I don’t intend for this to be a criticism because for the most part, this is the way it’s always been. As you can see from my “sketch” above, it’s difficult for the bride and groom to make direct eye contact with the speaker at the podium without leaning or moving their chairs to see around their attendants.
As a photographer, one of my favourite solutions to this problem is the “sweetheart table”. Sweetheart tables are usually smaller tables, for just the bride and groom, so they can enjoy each other’s company during the celebration. Chichi & Francis had a seating arrangement for just the two of them, that faced their guests and the podium. This resulted in photos that captured the bride and groom’s reactions to the speeches as well as the interaction between the B&G and the speakers. It gives the photographer room to maneuver and get interesting and unexpected angles. If you’re not comfortable having all of those eyes on you, you can change things up and have your sweetheart table nestled amidst the guest tables. There are no rules anymore!
If your heart is set on a head table, think about placing the podium at an angle where everyone at the head table can see the speaker during wedding toasts. See the diagram below.
Kudos to Chichi & Francis for thinking outside of the box! Here’s more from their fall, Glenmore Inn wedding, if you’d like to see.
Images of wedding toasts: Tara Whittaker Photography