It’s the #1 question brides ask: What can I do to get the most amazing photos on my wedding day?
Having been through the in’s and out’s of countless weddings, I have LOTS of tips to share. In fact, check out all of my wedding planning advice articles in From the Experts!
Of course, getting beautiful wedding photos begins with your photographer, and nothing will replace their ability to create stunning works of art. BUT after you’ve hired someone you totally love, what can you do help?
Let’s get right to it…here are 10 things you can actively do to get most amazing photos possible on your wedding day!
1. Book an Engagement Session
An icebreaker where you walk away with gorgeous photos of you and your handsome man? Sign me up!
Think of engagement sessions as a practice run for the wedding day. Unless you’re a fashion model, chances are you aren’t professionally photographed every single week, so give yourself the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be photographed with your fiance and to become comfortable in front of a professional camera.
Jeff and I fall into a rhythm with our couples when we’re shooting, so it’s awesome when our couples can experience that rhythm at an engagement session months before the wedding instead of during the height of the festivities.
The more relaxed you are on the wedding day, the more natural and beautiful you will look in your photos, and an engagement session will do just that!
2. Choose a Venue That You ADORE
From getting ready location to reception, do your research. Do you prefer elegance over urban flair? Do you envision an outdoor garden reception draped in market lights or an indoor ballroom reception lit by candles and chandeliers?
Whatever your tastes may be, there is a venue out there that fits your personality and that you will fall in love with!
Visit locations and keep an eye out for the photographic potential of the venue. Search online for examples of weddings that have been photographed at different venues to find one that provides the look and feel you’re desiring.
Then communicate with your photographer what you love most about your venue. Is it the greenery in the gardens? The modern architecture? The classic ballroom? The natural rustic feel of the meadows?
The more you communicate with your photographer, the better.
3. The Early Bird Gets the Worm… and Best Photos
If you know anything about Jeff and me, you know that we’re BIG believers in not rushing through your wedding day, so we always advise that you start your photography coverage early.
You’ll be more relaxed, you’ll remember more, you’ll enjoy yourself, and it’ll counter any schedule issues that may arise.
The earlier that you are dressed and ready to go, the more photographs can be taken. And if you end up having extra time, kick back with your bridal party over some champagne.
You’d rather be ready too early than too late! (Learn more about Savoring Your Wedding Day)
4. Hire Awesome Hair and Makeup Artists
Your wedding is going to be a long day and you want your face and hair to look fresh in your photographs from morning until night. You don’t want your foundation sliding down your face or your hair flying about by the time you get to the reception.
Find professionals who are experienced and equipped with the tools to not only create a beautiful look, but also one that can withstand the demands of a full wedding day. (Can’t decide on wearing your hair up or down? Check out our thoughts here!)
Schedule a trial-run with your chosen hair stylists and makeup artists and be open about your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind if you aren’t feeling the look! Regrets over not speaking up about what you really wanted is the last thing you should be feeling when you look at your photographs years from now.
5. Prepare for the Unexpected in Your Schedule
Jeff and I always say that “Spontaneity is the reward of preparation.”
So prepare for the unexpected during your wedding and include valuable cushion time in your schedule for the day. You’re thinking it will take 30 minutes to get from the hotel to the ceremony site? Add a 15 minute cushion to account for getting into the cars, unforseen traffic, and people running late (or slow).
There will always be something that will come up – late bridal party members, lost family members, someone forgetting something, etc. These can all cause the schedule to come to a pause, so you’ll be in a much happier place if you create buffer times in your schedule.
Looking for the perfect wedding day schedule? We’ve created the wedding day timeline of your dreams!
6. Have Your Details Ready
Jeff and I begin your story by photographing all of the little details while you’re getting ready.
The shoes, the dress, the jewelry, the garter, gifts to your wedding party, mementos from generations passed, and (don’t forget!) the invitation… collect all of these little details and have them set aside in the room where you are getting ready.
The cherry on top is a pretty silk, wooden, or personalized hanger for your dress.
7. Consider a First Look
We LOVE First Looks because they’re incredibly intimate and special.
Just picture it: your groom waiting with his back turned in a beautiful, private location. With the light illuminating the space perfectly, he turns around and sees you for the first time. In an otherwise crowded and busy day, this is when you get 10-15 minutes to just hang out — laugh together, cry together, and just be together.
Your man gets the space and freedom to feel his emotions and gaze upon his gorgeous bride. You get the time to check out your soon-to-be-hubby and show off your stunning dress.
And best yet? You get all of those joyful, candid moments caught on camera. Learn more about why we love First Looks!
8. Golden Hour Light
That hour right before sunset is known as the Magic Hour for photographers – and for good reason.
This warm, soft light is a photographer’s #bestie, so you definitely want to take advantage of it by scheduling your couple portraits during this time.
Typically the best time to schedule this is between the ceremony and reception, but if your schedule doesn’t allow for it, consider taking 5-10 minutes to step away from the reception with your groom to be bathed in some golden light.
Nothing says love like a gorgeous sunset, eh?
9. Be Honest With Your Photographer
It’s so important to communicate with your photographer about your vision for the wedding day. Let them know what moments you are most excited about, if there are any guests or family members that you definitely want photos with, or any details that you don’t want missed.
Also, let them know what you love about your body – do you love your smile? Your hair? Your arms? If you don’t tell your photographer, then they won’t know how to pose you in a way that you will love.
And it’s ok if there’s something you’re less than excited about – maybe you don’t love yourself in a certain angle or you have a scar you want to hide. Don’t be afraid to be honest with them so they can help you look and feel as beautiful as possible!
But remember – it’s really important to focus on the positive when it comes to body image. The more you tell your photographer what you LOVE versus what you DON’T LOVE, the more confident you both will be to capture it.
I’ll let you in on a secret – as a photographer, it’s much easier to bring out your most beautiful features than it is to hide things! So help them focus on your best features, and you’ll be a happy subject!
10. Trust Your Photographer
So now that you’ve chosen the perfect photographer to document your day and communicated with them your likes and dislikes: trust them 100%.
I don’t mean trust them kind-of-sort-of or hand them a large list of images from Pinterest to recreate.
I mean really trust them.
A wedding is the ultimate documentary assignment. Nothing can be recreated, but everything has it’s own importance in the story of your wedding day, and you’re hiring them for their eye and how they interpret the story.
Let them tell your story.
By relinquishing control, you’re telling your photographer that you have full confidence in their storytelling abilities. What a gift!
*BONUS* You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
I just can’t sign off until I say this: Joy is contagious!
On your wedding day, surround yourself with people who bring out the BEST in you – those who you can be yourself around and who make you smile.
Stress and tight schedules can easily turn your dream wedding day into a less-than-perfect experience (read tip #5), so this is when turning to your soon-to-be husband, best friend, mom, or your goofy little nephew can help remind you of the true purpose of the day: Celebrating your legacy with the love of your life!
Smile through some of the stressful moments, even if it feels unnatural, and it will become completely genuine! Your joy is your most beautiful feature!
Looking for more wedding planning inspiration and advice? Learn how to plan the perfect day with all of our Tips & Tricks articles in From the Experts!