Beach Weddings...Check the Tides

Beach Weddings...Check the Tides

     So you're getting married and opted for a beach wedding. Great! As I've stated many times before, beach weddings can be as simple or elegant as you want. From board shorts and Hawaiian shirts with a Ukulele player, to tuxedos and an orchestra in the background. But you have to check the tides. Tides in NC are semidiurnal. You have two high tides and two low tides within every 24 hours and fifty minutes. If you opt to have your beach wedding during high tide you might get something like this...



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Natural Light Photographers.

      I have to admit, I cringe every time I see a wedding or portrait photographer advertise that they are a "natural light photographer. " It's as if they have transcended every other photographer and they don't need to use artificial light, they are purer and more attuned to the natural world, but what I'm really thinking, is that they don't know how to use flash. I get it, if you're shooting natural light, you can lighten your kit, not having any big bulky speed-lights or mono-lights to contend with, no softboxes, no assistants, just you, a camera and a couple of lenses. But, are you really giving the client what they think they're paying for? C'mon you can do a lot with even an on-camera mounted flash. If the conditions are right...natural light, if not flash goes a long way to making an image pop.

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A Small Intimate Wedding on Wrightsville Beach, NC.

A Small Intimate Wedding on Wrightsville Beach, NC.

     Over the weekend I had a wonderful small wedding on Wrightsville Beach, NC. The plan was a good one, get married on the beach in February when the beach isn't crowded, might be a little cold, but at least they'd have the beach to themselves. Unfortunately, it didn't quite turn out that way.

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The Best Training for a Wedding Photographer

The Best Training for a Wedding Photographer

I frequently get asked how to become a wedding photographer. Most aspiring photographers who want to get into weddings think that trailing or (2nd shooting) a wedding is the way to learn. I guess that could be valuable but I never second shot a wedding... I got into shooting weddings by another route, sports! Wedding photography is multi-faceted. In a span of a couple of hours your shooting architectural, macro, candids, large groups, action, you can't have a bad day and you've got to be "up" and ready to perform.

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Why I love sunrise weddings.

Why I love sunrise weddings.

Beach weddings are fantastic, they can be as formal or informal as you like. Anything from tuxedos to board shorts. The dress? Anything from a large wedding gown to a little tea length slip-on. Super easy and casual. The problem with beach weddings is that most beaches are public. Sure, people are usually nice and they'll move to accommodate a wedding ceremony, but not everyone will cooperate, sometimes they'll stay near the wedding just to be annoying.  Parking can be expensive for your guests, as some beaches, charge a hefty fee for parking. Unless you know someone with a private strip of beach or you rent a venue with their own beach such as the Oak Island Golf Club, you're going to have deal with beachgoers. There is a solution although not always a popular one. A sunrise wedding.

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A Stormy Ad-Lib Wedding in Surf City, Topsail Island, NC.

An Ad-Lib Stormy Wedding on Topsail Island, NC. 

Part of my continuing effort to showcase weddings in Wilmington and area beaches. This was a very ad-lib wedding on a Friday, around noon, it rained on and off all morning and they decided at the last minute to change locations and do the wedding inside the surf center instead of the beach. 

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Terraces on Sir Tyler Weddings. Wilmington, NC.

Terraces on Sir Tyler Weddings. Wilmington, NC.

Continued effort to showcase weddings and wedding photography in Wilmington, NC, and surrounding areas. This is a wedding that took place on Terraces at Sir Tyler by Billy Beach Photography

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Wedding Rust....January Weddings.

Wedding wedding vendors can struggle with early season weddings. Billy Beach Photography.

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The dress doesn't always have to be white.

Two very memorable weddings I shot in the past year involved brides that were thinking out of the box by wearing dresses that weren't white. But first a little shallow history. In the 19th century and about midway to the 20th century women wore their best dress to get married in, whatever the color. The notion of buying a special dress to wear for only one day would have seemed ludicrous in those more austere times. In 1840 Queen Victoria wore a white satin dress on her wedding day. Slowly over the next 100 years or so, women with money followed the trend. Fast forward to the end of WWII. After the deprivations of the depression and the boom that followed World War 2, and with a little help from the wedding marketing machine, brides started to opt for a one time use dress. Many brides crafted dresses from the WWII parachutes their boyfriends wore into battle and others bought their dresses in the trendy color of white. The dress manufacturers pushed the color white to symbolize purity and innocence. This is paraphrased from an awesome book called Brides Inc. If your interested I posted a link at the bottom of this post. 

Back to my two wonderful brides of the past year. They really surprised me by their dresses and the weddings were great. Don't feel limited by the bridal shops. Many shops are offering a wide variety of colors, or purchase a dress that can be worn for more than one day off the rack. I'm speaking to western brides as many Asian countries use the auspicious color of red. Here are a couple shots of my thinking out of the box brides and their husbands.

Buy the book..... Great book if your interested in general wedding lore or the wedding industrial machine.



A very beautiful bride in very non-traditional dress at a beach wedding with her equally non-traditional husband in the back. Carolina Beach, NC.



Beautiful bride in a green dress on her wedding day at Greenfield Lake in Wilmington, NC.

Wedding Photographers....Always carry a camera with you.

A couple years ago I'm driving down to Ocean Isle Beach, NC to take some real estate pictures for a friend of mine. My phone rings. "Hello, this is Billy." A guys voice on the line asks "Do you do wedding photography?" I'm thinking "duh, that's why I'm Billy Beach Wedding Photography". I say "Yep! I'm all about the weddings. When are you getting married?" He replies "Today." I say "what?" He replies "It's a long story, I need a wedding photographer at the Oceanic on Wrightsville Beach in an hour." I say "I can be there". He asks, "How much do you charge?" I reply "$200 per hour." He says, "Perfect, Get here!" 

Fortunately I had my kit with me. Camera, lenses, flash, backups...the works. I did a quick u-turn and headed for the Oceanic. I got there within the hour met the groom and got the story. It seems that a friend of the Bride was going to do the pictures. When it got down to the actual day she either got cold feet (it happens, wedding photography is not for everyone) or she showed up and told them she was going to charge them some outrageous amount, I can't remember the full story, possibly a combination of the two. It turned out to be a great wedding. The ceremony was literally 3 minutes long, great people, beautiful bride a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

What I've learned from this. Always, always have a camera with you. I routinely have at least a minimalist kit with me. A camera, a couple of lenses, a flash and a backup. (I'll confess my backup for my emergency kit is a point & shoot, although a good point and shoot). I keep my main gear in my office as I don't want to haul it around, but my lightweight kit is always with me. 

You never know when your going to get a call to cover an event. Things happen. Someone gets in an accident, gets cold feet or forgot to contact a photographer. Also if I'm driving down the road and see something I think is photo worthy I've got the gear to get a decent shot. Cell phones are great and getting better generation to generation but they still con't replace a dedicated camera.

Bride walked to her wedding ceremony by her Dad at the Oceanic Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Bride holding her bouquet and her father is holding her hand.

Walking to the ceremony with her Dad on the Oceanic Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Wedding Ceremony on the Oceanic Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

The ceremony. Quick nuptials, lasted about 3 and a half minutes. Oceanic Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Husband kisses wife on the cheek after the wedding ceremony. Bride holding bouquet with the Oceanic Restaurant in the background. Oceanic Pier, Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Quick kiss on cheek with the Oceanic Restaurant in the background. Oceanic Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Husband dips wife after wedding ceremony. Oceanic Pier, Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Quick dip under the pier at the Oceanic Restaurant in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Walk on the beach after wedding ceremony in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Holding hands and bride holding bouquet Beach and Ocean in the background.

Taking a walk on the beach post ceremony in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Bride and groom walking on beach after the wedding ceremony at Wrightsville Beach, NC. Candid moment, holding hands with Ocean and beach in the background.

Candid shot of bride and groom walking on Wrightsville Beach, NC after the ceremony.

Reenacting a proposal on Wrightsville Beach, NC. Groom is on one knee taking bride hand. both are looking at each other with beach and ocean in the background.

Reenacting the proposal on Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Silhouette of bride and groom with foreheads touching with sun in the middle. Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Silhouette of bride and groom with sun and rays in the center. Wrightsville Beach, NC.


Candid kiss on Wrightsville Beach, NC.


Bride and Groom sharing a candid moment on Wrightsville Beach, NC.


Monochrome image of bride and groom sharing a kiss with the Oceanic Restaurant in the background. Wrightsville Beach, NC.

To veil or not to veil.

A super short post about veils. About 30% of the weddings I photograph brides opt to wear a veil. In a problem, on the beach...not always good. Bridal veils come in different styles. According to my admittedly shallow research, veils started in ancient Greece and Rome as a way to guard against evil spirits. Also in arranged marriages it prevented the groom from seeing his bride before the ceremony. As religion started to enter weddings the veil became a symbol of modesty and eventually style.

As I market to the beach wedding brides I have some thoughts on veils. Although beach weddings are beautiful, most days at the beach are accompanied by a breeze. Long veils absolutely don't work except in the calmest of days but you might get away with a short veil. Veils are expensive and I've had countless brides remove the veil within 5 minutes of hitting the beach.


Gusty Wind

Wind was blowing in the wrong direction. Shortly after this shot, the bride removed the veil. Ceremony was short, in hind site she should have switched places with the groom.

While I'm on the subject of the wind, hair is another consideration. Doing photos at the beach we're frequently at the mercy of the wind. When we take pictures we want the ocean and beach in the photos, not the trash cans or the condos in the background. Short hair, no problem, long hair...sometimes a problem. With long hair we have to go with the direction of the wind. When beach brides (and anyone who will be in the group pictures) have their hair long and it's moderately windy it can make it twice as long to get pictures and not always successfully. Normally I'll shoot with the background that's best and then have to turn the group to photograph with the direction of the wind regardless of background. Results are not always optimal. 


Windy Day

Barely keeping the veil under control. Bride removed veil shortly after this shot. We got some nice dramatic images.

Quick Recap: If your getting married on the beach, please think about your veil and your hair. The beach can be quite breezy and the wrong veil can screw up all your other preparations. Nothing worse than reciting your vows and no one can see your face because a veil is blowing. After the ceremony we usually do some family/group photography. Nothing worse than 9 people in a group looking fantastic and one person has hair blowing in their face. The little details matter. If you ever have any questions give me a shout....Billy ;)