Wedding of the Week

Small Ceremony, Big Love, by Stephanie Zakas

October 19, 2017

By Libby Peterson

© Zakas Photography

At an intimate wedding in Long Island City in Queens, New York, Stephanie Zakas of Zakas Photography (based in nearby Brooklyn) was lucky enough to be photographing a couple that placed a great deal of emphasis on photography throughout their day, allowing Zakas plenty of time for some creative portraits. For their engagement photos on the Brooklyn Bridge, the bride-to-be decked herself out in a red ballgown, Zakas recalls. "They were up for all of my crazy ideas and really loved shooting with all of the people around. We had a ton of fun and it was really obvious they were so in love with each other, so I knew that their wedding was also going to be fun to shoot."

The couple had a small ceremony that was hyper-personal. Before it began, Zakas says, the couple passed out a personalized note of appreciation to every single guest. When the ceremony began, they didn't have a single officiant, either; the wedding party held up signs for the guests to read the lines in unison aloud to marry them as a group. Cocktail hour consisted of hors d'oeuvres and handmade pizzas before the reception, which was held at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. "The wedding party had a flash mob dance," Zakas recalls, "after the bride change into her third dress—yes, three dresses."

The level of intimacy of this wedding stuck out to Zakas the most. "Sometimes, some weddings seem to have more of an emphasis on the event itself versus the celebration it is, and this wedding I feel like never had that vibe," she says. "They were so attentive to everyone there. It felt more like a giant hangout where everyone was dressed incredibly nicely. I also felt like part of the group, everyone was so welcoming to me and brought me right into the friend circle."

The small-scale also translated to a fairly tight space, however, which was a challenge from the photographer's standpoint. "I also knew that there was no officiant and nothing of a typical ceremony to give me the cues on what is coming next," Zakas says. "I knew that after they ceremony ended, as they were walking down the aisle the guests would be tossing confetti at them, and the bride really wanted a nice shot of that. I just made sure that during the ceremony that I could grab as many interesting angles as I could in the small space without disrupting the guests, so I ran backwards and kept shooting and hoping that I didn't run into the table that was holding the handwritten notes, which I didn't!"


Cameras: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 6D
Lenses: Canon 17-40mm, Canon 50mm and Canon 24-105mm—"This thing is my workhorse," Zakas says of the latter. "It is so versatile, so I really love shooting with it during ceremonies because it offers a lot of options for me without having to move around too much. I really, really try to be as invisible as possible, especially during a ceremony."
Lighting: Speed lights with MagMod modifiers