Overview of an intimate backyard micro wedding outside of Portland, OR. The kinds of photos we captured. The schedule of events. And why micro wedding photography make for some of the best and most intimate wedding images.
In recent years, a new trend has emerged in the wedding industry that celebrates intimacy and simplicity: micro weddings. These intimate gatherings, typically with a guest count of 20 or fewer, have become increasingly popular, giving couples the opportunity to create a deeply personal and meaningful wedding experience. Alongside this trend, micro wedding photography has also gained recognition for its ability to capture the unique beauty and emotions of these intimate affairs. In this blog, we delve into the world of micro wedding photography, exploring its significance and the magic it brings to couples on their special day.
In fall of 2022, I was hired to shoot a beautiful backyard micro wedding in a rural town outside of Portland. The wedding events and ceremony took place at a stunning home ranch on a sunny day in October. The day started with getting ready photos in the bridal and grooms suites. Because this was an intimate backyard wedding the accommodations were cozy but I think that makes for some really intimate wedding photos of the bride getting ready with her mom, sisters and close friends. A single window in an otherwise dark room can create really elevated and moody bridal portraits. And of course this is a great opportunity to grab some candid photos of the bride and groom but details of the outfits.
Let's examine the reason for this shift toward the smaller wedding:
A Shift Towards Intimacy: With the increasing desire for more intimate wedding celebrations, couples are opting for smaller guest lists and venues that allow for a closer connection with their loved ones. Micro weddings foster an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy, where every detail carries personal significance. This shift towards smaller-scale celebrations presents an ideal canvas for photographers to capture the genuine emotions, intricate details, and heartfelt connections shared among the couple and their closest companions.
Telling an Intimate Love Story: Micro wedding photography goes beyond documenting the events of the day; it tells a unique love story that unfolds in a more concentrated setting. From the bride's radiant smile as she walks down the aisle to the tears of joy in the groom's eyes during the vows, micro wedding photographers excel at capturing those fleeting, heartfelt moments that often go unnoticed in larger weddings. They embrace the role of storytellers, weaving together images that reflect the couple's love, their personalities, and the essence of their day.
A Focus on Details: In micro wedding photography, attention to detail takes center stage. From meticulously arranged table settings to personalized wedding favors, every element holds significance. Micro wedding photographers have a keen eye for these details, adeptly capturing the delicate intricacies that contribute to the overall ambiance of the event. Whether it's the delicate lace of the bride's gown, the handcrafted centerpieces, or the emotional exchange of vows, these details create a rich tapestry of memories that will be treasured for years to come.
A Personal Connection: One of the most significant advantages of micro wedding photography is the opportunity for photographers to build a more personal connection with the couple and their guests. With a smaller guest count, photographers have the luxury of spending more time interacting with the couple and their loved ones. This connection allows them to capture authentic moments, genuine emotions, and the true essence of the couple's relationship. The resulting photographs reflect the couple's unique personalities and the intimacy shared with their closest circle of family and friends.
Flexibility and Creativity: Micro weddings often take place in unconventional venues, such as private residences, scenic outdoor locations, or quaint historical sites. These intimate settings provide photographers with greater creative freedom to explore unique angles, experiment with lighting, and capture the couple's love story in the most enchanting way possible. Micro wedding photographers are adept at adapting to different environments and utilizing the available surroundings to create stunning and distinctive images.
This was one of the most fun weddings I’ve gotten to photograph because of the openness of the wedding party. The entire party on both the bride and the grooms side was all in on fun and creative group portraits. The boys were bringing ideas and fully committing to moments like the first look with bride and the groomsmen (highly recommend as an alternative to the traditional first look photos. Read this article on why you should scrap the traditional first look wedding photos for a fun alternative).
Micro wedding photography has become an art form that beautifully captures the essence of intimate celebrations. From the genuine emotions to the intricate details, micro wedding photographers possess the ability to weave together a narrative that truly reflects the couple's love story. By embracing the intimacy and personal connections that micro weddings offer, these photographers create images that are filled with warmth, love, and authenticity. Whether it's an enchanting outdoor ceremony, an intimate backyard gathering, or a cozy elopement, micro wedding photography ensures that every precious moment is immortalized, allowing couples to relive their special day for years to come.
I love a micro wedding photography for so many reasons. Especially as a candid and documentary-style wedding photographer, the more comfortable a couple is on their wedding day, the better the photos will come out. And getting married in a familiar setting - especially one as familiar as your own home with your closest family and friends - can make for some of the most stunning and intimate photos in a wedding gallery. And if you're going to have a micro wedding, what better place to do so then at your own home? Allow me a quick three pointer on why you should have your wedding ceremony in your backyard (from a photographer’s point of view).
Personalization: When you have your wedding in your backyard, you have complete control over the space. You can decorate it in any way you like, and you can create a wedding that truly reflects your personality and style. You can also add personal touches, such as family photos, that might not be possible in a more formal venue. And that means that whatever you’re envisioning for your photos in terms of backdrops, colors, and decorations can be possible with a little imagination and elbow grease (and of course a bit of budget). But if you’re looking for a super specialized, one-of-a-kind wedding experience and the photos to match, a backyard wedding can be the perfect venue - especially since you can put the money you saved on an expensive classic venue to deck out your space however you envision.
The bride decided to go a little untraditional with first looks and do a first look photo session with the groomsmen followed by portraits with friends and family. Doing some of these group shots ahead of the ceremony gave the newlyweds more time to enjoy the evening’s events. Front loading group shots like this also leaves more time during the soft light of the late afternoon and golden hour for newlywed portraits and the ceremony itself. Wedding day timeline is going to be unique for every couple based on priorities and location but if you want to base your wedding day timeline around what’s best for your wedding photos there are a few things to consider including. (Read more about how to schedule your wedding day for the best wedding photos).
Flexibility: As a photographer, this word is music to my ears. When you have your wedding in your backyard, you have complete flexibility over the schedule. You can start and end the event whenever you like, and you don't have to worry about strict venue rules and regulations. This can be especially useful if you want to have a longer ceremony or reception, or if you want to have your wedding on a specific day or at a specific time.
Intimacy: Backyard weddings tend to be more intimate affairs, with smaller guest lists and a more relaxed atmosphere. This can be ideal if you're looking for a more low-key, casual wedding. It can also make it easier to spend time with your guests and make the most of your special day. Having your wedding in your backyard can create lasting memories that you'll cherish for a lifetime. You'll always have a special connection to your home and your backyard, and every time you look outside, you'll remember the day.
After the first look photos the bride and groom headed separately down to the ceremony area which was set against the backdrop of a huge tree in the middle of a clearing with a lush green forest on one side and the rolling hills of the Oregon countryside to the other. The bride prepared for the ceremony with the bridal party while the rest of the guests took their seats. The groom and groomsmen congregated nearby and I used the opportunity to snap some pre ceremony shots of the bride and groom on either side of the tent doors. These pre ceremony no look photos can be some of the most poignant and memorable images of a wedding day. They’re often one of the very last images a couple will take together before they tie the knot and it’s so sweet to capture the emotion of a bride and groom moments before they see each other in their wedding best and say their vows. I always recommend a pre ceremony no look photo session for brides and grooms where it makes sense in the timeline and schedule.
This wedding ceremony was one of the most beautiful I’ve had the pleasure to photograph because of the lush green backdrop of the Pacific Northwest but also because of the simple but striking decorations of the lights in the tree. It made for the most magical candid wedding photos in an intimate backyard wedding venue setting. The ceremony also started at the perfect time in the late afternoon for the soft light of golden hour. The newlyweds took about 30 minutes after the ceremony to take more group photos with the families and guests just as the sun was going down.
Some of my favorite wedding photos to date were taken with the bride and groom and the wedding party right after the ceremony. The couple wanted to incorporate bubbles into their ceremony and the bubbles were an amazing addition to the photos. The wedding party lined up and blew bubbles toward the bride and groom as they ran and celebrated in the middle.
As the sun went down the party regrouped back at the main house where the newlyweds and wedding guests danced and ate cake under the PNW moonlight and the twinkle of string lights in the trees.
Picking a photographer for your intimate micro wedding photographer
A backyard wedding is a wedding like any other but it typically takes place on a smaller, more intimate scale. This kind of wedding requires a specific skillset when it comes to wedding photography. Backyard weddings typically won’t have the space or budget for extensive photo lighting setups or a crew of backup shooters and assistants bustling around. When you’re looking for a photographer to shoot your backyard wedding keep an eye out for these three things.
Candid or documentary-style shooting vibe. Backyard weddings tend to be a bit less structured and rigid than larger more traditional ceremonies. Because of this, the best backyard wedding photographers are the ones who specialize in candid and documentary-style wedding photography.
Strong use of natural light. Look for photographers with experience shooting outdoor weddings: Photographers who specialize in outdoor weddings will have experience working with natural lighting and outdoor environments, which can be unpredictable - especially in the Pacific Northwest. Ask for samples of their work to see if their style matches your vision.
Attention to detail: Backyard weddings are often all about the details. A good backyard wedding photographer will have a keen eye for those detail, and will capture every moment of your wedding day, from the smallest fashion elements to the biggest moments.
Friendly communication skills: Because a backyard wedding is such an intimate experience, it’s important to find a photographer who is friendly and easy to be around. A good micro-wedding photographer will be able to communicate effectively with you and your guests to ensure everyone is comfortable and relaxed. They will also be able to direct you and your guests for group shots, without being intrusive.
If you’re looking for a Portland wedding photographer who specializes in documentary-style micro weddings and backyard ceremonies, reach out to book a consultation for your 2023 or 2024 event.