LDS (Mormon) Wedding Photography Tips and Guidance for Photographers
Like many religious traditions, LDS (Mormon) weddings have their own set of customs and rituals that are followed. While the specifics of these ceremonies can vary somewhat depending on the specific church branch and region, there are some commonalities that are observed throughout the LDS community. In this article, we’ll give you tips and tricks for capturing Mormon Weddings. For more information see this Wedding Maps article on Mormon Weddings.
This article was originally written in 2008 and updated in 2022 with more tips and better imagery.
Summary of Timeline
- Temple Sealing can’t be photographed; instead, take documentary/detail shots of the temple grounds and waiting guests.
- Plan a grand exit with the waiting guests for the bride/groom.
- Family/wedding party portraits after exit.
- Couples session on property.
- Ring ceremonies generally follow a typical non-denominational Christian ceremony structure.
- Reception coverage similar to other receptions for western cultures
(More) Mormon Wedding Photography Tips
We asked our SLR Lounge Ambassadors, Jessie and Dallin, Utah wedding photographers, to provide more tips for photographers new to photographing Mormon weddings.
The Temple Exit
Mormon wedding ceremonies are one of the few ceremonies that do not allow photographs or video during the actual ceremony. In fact, only practicing “temple-worthy” members that are invited by the couple are even allowed to attend the ceremony. It is considered a sacred moment between the bride, groom, and their God to be witnessed only by practicing members of the church.
Instead of thinking about this as a limitation, we can use this to our advantage by looking for the right expressions and moments during their exit from the temple. This is the couple’s first step into the world as a married couple after an emotional and spiritual ceremony; and this is evident in their facial expressions and body language. Furthermore, if a close family member was not able to attend the ceremony, this could be a great opportunity to capture an emotional moment with the bride and groom.
You might think that such a moving event would need very little directing as a photographer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. On any given Saturday at a popular temple, there are up to a hundred couples getting married; so you can imagine how many family members will be around waiting for exits. Although the temples have waiting rooms; and they announce upcoming temple exits, not all family members are always staying aware of the timing. As the photographer, it’s important to be aware so that, if needed, you can be the one to gather everyone around the door when the time comes. You can imagine the moments you would miss if the couple exited the temple to find their families and friends dispersed around the temple grounds.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, if undirected, these family members and friends will crowd around the exit in no particular order and with no organization. It’s important that you make sure the immediate family is in the front, and that they leave room for the bride and groom to walk. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be creative and fun.
Family and Group Photos
After the couple makes their exit from the temple, it typically leads to family portraits. Oftentimes these family photos will include large groups of family and friends, and also smaller immediate family photos. Our advice for the smoothest experience with family photos at the temple is to hire a photographer who will help you make a plan. Creating a family photo list ahead of time that lists out the names of the people in each photo combination makes a world of difference.
For Photographers: Creating a family photo list ahead of time makes a world of difference for all weddings, but especially for the large groups you’ll find at temple weddings. Send out a questionnaire to the couple ahead of time and use their responses to create a list that the couple can then approve and add on to before the wedding day. Bring that list with you to the temple to make family photos easy!
Photographers should scout out the temple grounds to find an area that can accommodate a large group photo that may include upwards of 50 people. On a related note, because temples can be busy, photographers need to be prepared to be patient while they wait their turn for places like staircases that every group wants to use for large family photos.
After you finish family photos at the temple, oftentimes couples will have a luncheon at a different location followed by a ring ceremony before the reception. A ring ceremony gives temple wedding couples the opportunity to experience something similar to a traditional wedding ceremony. Make it special and an event that can give extra meaning to your wedding day.
One of the most popular traditions in recent years surrounding LDS temple weddings are formal sessions. Formal sessions are a couple’s portrait session in their wedding attire that happens a few weeks before the wedding day. Some couples will choose to go to beautiful locations with epic views, and others will choose to spend their session on temple grounds.
The other bonus to having a formal session is that couples are able to get photos in their wedding attire in perfect lighting! Oftentimes sealing ceremonies at temples happen before or around noon, which means wedding day portrait locations are more limited and the light outside is harsh.
A third reason couples choose to book a formal session is for the chance to have a first look. When a couple gets sealed in a temple, they aren’t able to have a first look beforehand. Having a formal session a few weeks before their wedding day gives them that opportunity.
Utilize the Beautiful Architecture
Mormon temples are some of the most beautiful structures in the world. Use them for incredible backdrops in your photos.
More Mormon Wedding Photography Images
Here are a few more images for your inspiration.