Breathtaking images that were crowned as  winners of the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards – from a surprise visit from a bird to couples’ death-defying stunts

Copper is the traditional metal to celebrate a seventh wedding anniversary but it’s all gold for a Canadian photographer, who took out top prize in the seventh the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards.

More than 1,700 stunning wedding photos by 300 wedding photographers, spanning across 11 categories.

However, the ‘grand winner’ photo was taken by Tara Lilly, who captured the moment jaw-dropping moment a bird landed on the bride’s head made itself comfortable while the groom reads his vows.

The unbelievable picture was entered into the Single Capture category, where it won first prize.

The winning photo was taken by Tara Lilly, who snapped the moment jaw-dropping moment a bird landed on the bride’s head made itself comfortable while the groom reads his vows.

Second prize went to  Italian wedding photographer Carmelo Ucchino, who captured the moment a newly married couple were embracing as water brilliantly fell around them

Second prize went to  Italian wedding photographer Carmelo Ucchino, who captured the moment a newly married couple were embracing as water brilliantly fell around them

Reflecting on the shot, Tara recalled the moment she saw the bird land on bride Mikaela’s head as the couple said their vows during their picturesque ceremony in Whistler, Canada. 

‘Just as Mitch [the groom] began his vows, a curious whiskey jack swooped in and landed directly on top of Mikaela’s head,’ she explained on the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards website.

‘Mikaela’s shock, surprise and laughter were not enough to dissuade this bird from his perch,’ she added.

The rules for this category require that entries cannot be manipulated or photoshopped beyond standard adjustments to color and exposure.

The runner-up was Italian wedding photographer Carmelo Ucchino, who captured the moment a newly married couple were embracing as water brilliantly fell around them, which was entered in the Dance Floor category. 

‘In this photo, water actually falls from the roof in an almost surreal context, it is a dance floor where the bride and groom do their first dance together,’ Carmelo explained. ‘I remember with amusement the slippery floor… A few slips and lots of laughter to liven up the story of this wedding even more.’ 

Other categories included in the competition included: Couple Portrait, The I-Do Crew/Group Shot, Black and White, Engagement/Non-wedding, Epic Location, From Above, Solo Portrait, Break the Rules, and Lit.

‘With the successful completion of the seventh Annual Awards we continue to provide exposure and a unique platform for wedding and elopement photographers to have their best images reviewed and judged by our team of highly awarded and experienced educators and judges,’ Luke Simon, the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards curator, said.

Jeff Tisman won the  I Do Crew/Group Shot where he crammed 16 people in the wedding party into the one unique picture

Jeff Tisman won the  I Do Crew/Group Shot where he crammed 16 people in the wedding party into the one unique picture 

The Epic Location photo was awarded to Aimée Flynn, who took an epic photo of newlyweds celebrating their marriage in a Superman style kiss - mid rock climb

The Epic Location photo was awarded to Aimée Flynn, who took an epic photo of newlyweds celebrating their marriage in a Superman style kiss – mid rock climb

Aimee Schaefer won the Couple Portrait. She said before the photo was taken they were all being pelted with rain, sleet, and snow - but then were treated to the 'prettiest and moodiest sunset ever'

Aimee Schaefer won the Couple Portrait. She said before the photo was taken they were all being pelted with rain, sleet, and snow – but then were treated to the ‘prettiest and moodiest sunset ever’

The From Above winner was Ben Lane from Tinted Photography - who snapped a picture of a bride and groom as the sun rose on the Lago Di Braies in Italy

The From Above winner was Ben Lane from Tinted Photography – who snapped a picture of a bride and groom as the sun rose on the Lago Di Braies in Italy

Traci Edwards won the Break The Rules category - entering an epic photo of a bride and groom under the stars in a hanging rappel down the middle of an arch for star gazing.

Traci Edwards won the Break The Rules category – entering an epic photo of a bride and groom under the stars in a hanging rappel down the middle of an arch for star gazing.

Shankhesh Jariwala snapped the best Solo photo in the competition, revealing there was a 'very interesting story' behind the picture hanging behind the bride

Shankhesh Jariwala snapped the best Solo photo in the competition, revealing there was a ‘very interesting story’ behind the picture hanging behind the bride

Van Middleton won the Lit category, snapping a picture in Worrowing Estate in Australia showing the newlyweds illuminated by a full moon and the videographer's LED lights

Van Middleton won the Lit category, snapping a picture in Worrowing Estate in Australia showing the newlyweds illuminated by a full moon and the videographer’s LED lights

Fabio Mirulla took the picture in Tuscany, putting it down to being in 'the right place at the right time'

Fabio Mirulla took the picture in Tuscany, putting it down to being in ‘the right place at the right time’

‘This year we saw an increase of an extra 200 entries from last year, which has come partially as a result of a return of closer to pre-COVID business as usual bookings for photographers. 

‘It’s exciting to see the industry bouncing back after some tough years.

‘Along with the Awards program we’re working to help photographers book more clients with the addition of a wedding photographer search directory for loved-up couples to find their other perfect match.

‘As wedding and elopement photographers we spend a very large part of this pivotal day with our couples, often as much or more of the day than they spend with each other, so it’s imperative couples have a place to find the right professional to capture their day.’

The winner of the 2023 International Wedding Photographer of the Year received more than $3,000, as well as products from sponsors including Prograde Digital, Holdfast Gear, Pic-Time, Narrative Select, Godox, Koi Knives and ImagenAi. 

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