1. Read This Article
The things I’m going to cover in this post are simple and easy. Please, and thank you from photographer’s everywhere! Remember, we want the best photos for you as well! Let’s work together for us all to get what we want and for you to have a wonderful and stress-free experience.
2. Hire A Coordinator
If I could give couples one piece of wedding advice this would be it! Not just for you to have amazing wedding photos, but for you to have an amazing all around wedding experience. Even if you don’t have a wedding planner, having a day of coordinator is priceless.
Even at the most organized and planned out weddings, little things can go wrong, or run late, and little adjustments and time shifts have to happen. Hiring someone who is solely dedicated to coordinating the day, organizing the vendors and keeping your timeline on track will keep you from having to do these things yourself. It will allow you to enjoy your day without having to work out any problems or mishaps during it. I had to learn this the hard way when I got married, I hope you won’t!
3. Think Like A Photographer
Your photographer will be documenting everything in the time that they are with you. Consider the atmosphere of everything. Consider where you’ll be getting ready, sitting at dinner, giving a speech, dancing, and the list goes on. Think about what the atmosphere looks like and weather or not it will be conducive for great photos. (There is more detailed information on this in Section 6: Have An Attractive Atmosphere For Getting Ready, and Section 7: Create A Beautiful Reception Atmosphere.)
4. Avoid Looking Into The Camera
There is a time and a place for posed photos. Family photos are typically very formal with the traditional smile and look into the camera approach. It’s great to get a few couples photos in this style as well, but only a few. You don’t want the majority of your wedding photos to be you and your partner leaning your heads together and smiling for the camera. Try to relax and be present in the moment. Forget about the camera and let your photographer document you as you naturally are.
5. Do A First Look
If you are open to seeing each other before the ceremony there are a few great advantages! A first look enables your photographer to do all of your portraits before the party begins. This way, after you say “I do” and jaunt down the aisle, you get to immediately join the reception. If you don’t see each other before the ceremony your photographer has to take your photos after, which pulls you away from your wedding, and your guests. Doing the majority of your photos before the ceremony also gives your photographer much more time to get portraits (which usually means better portraits, and more of them!)
6. Have An Attractive Atmosphere For Getting Ready
I like to use natural light as much as possible. It is a preference, but I think it is so much prettier than flash. If you are able to get ready in a room with big windows, do it! Light spilling in from the window is some of the prettiest light there is. If you don’t have a room at home, with nice light and big windows, consider splurging on a room at a bed and breakfast or rent out an Airbnb!
While you are getting ready there will probably be a lot of stuff everywhere (clothes, gifts, hairbrush, etc.) To make for less cluttered pictures, gather any “eye soar” items that aren’t in use and put them out of view when your photographer arrives. Remember, whatever is in plain sight in the room, will be in your pictures. Also consider that what you choose to wear during this time is going to make it into the photos. Have your wedding party, family, or whomever is with you be mindful of what they are wearing, or perhaps gift them special robes or pajamas.
7. Create A Beautiful Reception Atmosphere
Once again, as a photographer I have to talk about lighting! When the sun goes down and the sky is dark you still want your lighting to be beautiful! One way to easily transform a space into something magical is to put up string lights! They look amazing on camera, and they add a lot of ambiance. Some venues will already have pretty nice lighting, but a lot of them don’t. It’s definitely a good idea to check out the venue at night to see how dark it may get and to find out what kind of lights will be available. Make sure to ask what comes with the space, and what you are expected to provide yourself.
Also, think about placement of the head table. Where will you be seated for dinner? What is in the background? Where will the toast givers be standing for speeches and what is in the background there? Think about this for dancing and cake cutting as well.
8. Be Prepared
While the majority of your images will be as natural and candid as possible in a photo documentary style, it’s also very important to capture traditional formal portraits as well.
Group shots are best when everyone is ready and fresh, preferably before the ceremony.Share your photography timeline with your family and wedding party and confirm that everyone who will be in group photos knows where and what time they are happening. This is so important to keep the flow of your day moving without any unnecessary delays. Also, make sure all flowers and boutonnieres are delivered on time and affixed to family members and to the wedding party in advance. You will want your flowers in the photos!
9. Don’t Overdo The Photo Lists
I have my couples make a list for their family and group shots. It can be as many or as little groupings as they wish. Some people want to get a large number of family photos, including individual shots with each set of parents and grandparents. Others prefer just a few shots, one of each family as a whole. While I leave this entirely up to my clients to decide, I strongly encourage them to only include groupings they really want and think they will use after the fact. I’ve seen people tire of posing for these photos time and time again. If you don’t want to be standing in one place and smiling for 45 minutes, try to keep your family photo list on the shorter side (somewhere around 7-15 groupings) and just stick to the essential shots.
As for as the rest of the photos… You’re hiring a professional photographer to photograph your wedding (at least I hope you are!) They know what they are doing. They’re going to get all those special shots that you may find on an online photo list, (bride getting ready, couple in front of wedding arbor, first kiss, couple walking down the aisle, etcetera.) If you want the best possible photos of your wedding, communicate what is most important to your photographer and trust them to take it from there.
I sincerely hope this article is helpful for anyone planning their wedding with a high regard for their photographs. Please reach out and let me know if it was useful for you!