The number one question I am asked has to be “What can I do to get the most amazing photos on my wedding day?” It’s not a short answer, but I’ve compiled a list of things you can do here.
Plan a good timeline
Planning a timeline is no easy task, but it is so important. It’s THE most important tip I can offer. Even wedding planners may not plan the allotted time that we need for the types of photos you want so we strongly encourage you consult with us before nailing down the final timeline. If you are having a videographer, this makes some things take longer, like portraits and detail shots. Please let us know if there will be a videographer and who they are. One thing you can do that will help is to plan MORE time than you think you’ll need for everything. Weddings are unpredictable. Timelines hardly ever go exactly as planned. Plan a timeline with wiggle room for dress bustling, makeup, groomsmen running late, finding your brother for formal family photos, etc! Avoid having to cut your photo time short in order to make up for time lost somewhere else. If your hair/makeup person says she needs an hour, plan an hour and half (hair & makeup typically runs late). If it takes 15 minutes to get from your hotel to your ceremony site, plan for 30. Call me. Email me. That’s what I’m here for! I will help you plan a custom timeline that will save you lots of stress! Here is an 8 hour timeline in excel you can use to get a general idea
Be on time (and lie a little!)
So you’ve planned your wedding day timeline and have vowed to stay on track all day… great! The tricky part will be getting everyone ELSE (bridesmaids, groomsmen, vendors, family, etc!) to arrive on time. Tell everyone to be there 15-30 minutes earlier than what you’ve planned. That way, everyone will be there when you need them to be. And don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us. ;)
Do a 1st look
Doing a 1st look isn’t for everyone. With that said, this post is about getting the BEST photos possible on your wedding day. More on that here
When it comes to getting great reception photos, professional lighting is THE most important thing you can do. Lighting creates a mood and makes everything — including your centerpieces, cake, tables, etc. — look better. Professional lighting is not as expensive as you may think and in our humble opinion it is worth every penny. More on that here.
Plan a cocktail hour
You’ve spent countless hours planning your wedding details, so we want to be sure and take photos of all of your hard work! Planning a cocktail hour (in a different room/location from your reception area) is the best way to ensure we’ll be able to take photos of your place settings, center pieces, etc. before your reception area is full of guests, beer bottles and purses on tables, jackets on chairs, etc. A cocktail “hour” isn’t necessarily an hour long – sometimes it needs to be longer (sometimes shorter) depending on how far your ceremony site is from your reception site, how many family photos we’re taking after the ceremony, etc. I’ll help you plan a custom timeline that will allow plenty of time for photos of your reception details!
Do a practice run!
There’s a reason all of our packages include engagement photos. Short answer, they are super important! Engagement sessions are fun, low-pressure situations where we can get to know and become comfortable working with each other. Our photography style is candid, relaxed, posed and unposed — which always requires some time for our subjects to “get comfortable” in front of the lens and learn our shooting style. Brides/grooms who shoot with us PRIOR to their wedding are more relaxed in front of the camera on the wedding day because we’ve tackled that awkward, get-comfortable stage ahead of time!
Don’t stress the dress!
Brides, this one will be challenging… but try not to worry about getting your dress a little dirty. That dress is to be worn once, maybe twice if we do bridal portraits. So, lets get some great shots with you in it! The good news is, no one will see that little bit of dirt on the bottom trim. We will never ask you to do something you’re not comfortable doing, so decide ahead of time that a little bit of dirt is okay. Breathe easy and think about the amazing photos you’ll have when we ask you to walk into an open field.
Tell the fam to stick around
We typically take formal family photos immediately after the ceremony at the ceremony site. Be sure your family knows this ahead of time! Rounding everyone back up can be time consuming, and we want you to get to your reception as quickly as possible. If you do a 1st look, we can knock out all portraits pre-ceremony! More on that below…
Trusting your photographer is such an important part of getting amazing wedding photos. It is crucial that you feel at ease and trust our ability to capture your big day. It happens all the time… a bride (after seeing her wedding photos) says to us “I had no idea WHAT you were thinking when you took that photo… but now I get it and I LOVE that shot!” If we put you in front of an unusual background or pose you in a way that seems strange at the time, trust our vision! On that note, it is not helpful when someone else is constantly directing you for us or suggesting poses …or complaining from the wedding party! Boooo! I know that what we see thru our lens and what you think it looks like are vastly different, so trust us, please!
Show our photos to your wedding party
Our shooting style may be different than what your bridal party is expecting. Be sure they’ve seen our work ahead of time so they know it’s ok to relax and have fun in front of the camera. Please tell them to be supportive of you on your wedding day by not complaining :)
Photos are better when a couple is genuinely having a good time. We think taking photos should be a fun experience! So be playful with each other – hug, kiss, talk, dance… forget about the camera as much as possible!
Don’t overdo it
Don’t wear too much makeup or do something with your hair that is not “you.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you need lots of makeup for photos! You should look like yourself, only slightly enhanced. On the same note, self tanner is NOT your friend and glitter just looks like dirt on camera.
Let’s determine when your floral needs to be delivered to ensure any pre-ceremony detail shots and portraits will have all the bouquets, boutonnieres and other personal floral. You may even want the reception area photographed earlier in the day and this can really only be accomplished if the floral is delivered and setup in time.
Check out this handy how-to video on pinning a boutonniere. If your florist gives you 2 pins per bout, you use them the same way, just with one pin higher and one lower. Most of the time, one pin is fine. This just makes the bout more secure and is preferred if you have a large or heavy boutonniere. If your florist will not be there to pin them, show this to the person who will be doing this.
- SMILE! Remember to smile when you see each other for the first time in the isle. I know one another’s beauty may be jaw-dropping, but that doesn’t always translate well on camera and I will be getting some sweet close-ups of both of your reactions.
- LOOK AT EACH OTHER! It happens A LOT. The groom is repeating what the officiant told him to say, the bride is sweetly looking at him while he, well he is looking at the officiant! So, look at each other when you are exchanging your vows. It’s easy to want to look at the person telling you what to say and you are both nervous, but it’s so much better to look at your spouse as you say it…that way I won’t be screaming at you in my head to ‘look at her!!!’
- THE KISS! If you and your sweetheart are sharing a kiss at your ceremony, hold it for a few beats. No quick pecks, please. Make the moment last a little longer and we can get a variety of shots of your first kiss as husband and wife. Usually the kiss happens at the end, but we’ve been surprised before, as well as the couple. So, it’s not a bad idea to ask the officiant at what point you will kiss. Catholic ceremonies in particular have been known to surprise everyone.
The Grand Exit/Sendoff!
Planning something fun for your guests to send you off? Confetti, lavender, sparklers, rose pedals, bubbles, ribbon wands? Whatever it may be, remember these tips:
- First, stay together, as in don’t go faster than your spouse! It’s not a race and your photos will look best if your faces are the same distance from the camera.
- Second, I suggest that you stop halfway down and kiss, maybe even a dip/kiss if you like…or a high five! This should ensure at least one great pic if all the rest involve one of you with eyes closed or bubbles in your faces, etc.
- SPARKLERS! We love sparkler sendoffs! If you go with sparklers, go with the 20″ gold wedding sparklers.
- BEWARE: The short ones will burn out too soon and the longer ones are not necessary and don’t look as good.
- THE DANGEROUS KIND are the short, usually colorful ones that produce tons of smoke (terrible for photos), burn more like a flare and have been known to explode especially when more than one are lit together. They come in a variety of deceptively fun colors, wrapped in fun paper.
- THE GOOD:The good kind are solid grey, but the magic is revealed when lit! I’ve taken the guesswork out of which sparklers ARE good :) Check out this local supplier
- BUBBLES! Avoid those cute champagne bottle bubbles. The neck is so tiny which makes for tiny wands that don’t allow for good bubble blowing action and you’ll be lucky to get 2 bubbles in your photos. The traditional little plastic ones for weddings work great, or even a bubble machine.
- Consider something fun like bubbles, confetti or rose pedals for right after the ceremony, when you say “I do”! Daylight sendoffs are so pretty and hardly done anymore. Great for an outdoor ceremony or for when you exit the church! If you do this for when you exit the church, this is great way to get it cleared out for your formal portraits!