Wedding Venue • photo • video

golden horseshoe

How to prepare for AH-MAZING wedding photos!

AH-MAZING Wedding photos are what all couples dream of for their wedding day!  (And it’s what your wedding photographer is dreaming of as well!)  So what can you do to prepare for the very best wedding photos possible?  After photographing hundreds of weddings, I have learned a few things about what helps a wedding couple achieve the very best photos possible.  So let me share my VERY BEST suggestions for getting those amazing and dreamy wedding photos…

Finding a photographer who is a great fit:

  1. Skill and experience.  Weddings are notoriously difficult to photograph -they are fast paced, emotional and involve special moments that only happen once (the first time you see each other…the kiss!).  You’ll want to find a photographer with experience.  They’ll know how to budget their time wisely, and how to anticipate the important moments to capture all the shots you are looking for during the day!
  2. Personality!  This may not seem important, but trust me… it is almost more important than anything!  Your wedding day is an experience, and no one will be with you throughout the day more than your photographer…from getting ready, through the ceremony, all the way until your grand exit.  Having a photographer you click with (oh guys, pun intended!), with a calm, joyful, reassuring presence, will add so much to your experience of the day.
  3. Editing Style.  There are several ways to shoot and edit wedding photos.  Make sure you love your photographers style.  You won’t want to hire a photographer who shoots in the “Light and Airy” style (like I do) if you prefer a “Dark and Moody” look to your photos.

Helping your photographer make the most of the day:

  1. Provide a Wedding Day Timeline (let them know how you plan the day to run, which will help them budget their time wisely).  You can go a step even further, and include your photographers input in the creation of the timeline.  They’ll be able to guide you through how much time it will take for posed photos, how long to plan on for family photos, and what time to start your ceremony to take advantage of the day’s best light.
  2. Stick to your timeline!!!  Make extra sure you have planned out the correct amount of time to “get ready”.  Know how long hair and makeup will take, and then add in 30 minutes extra for unexpected delays. Also know how long it will take to put your dress on (dresses with a long string that laces up the back of the gown can take almost 20 minutes to lace) and add in a little extra time for that as well.  It is so much better to be ready “too early” than to be running way behind.  Being ready early, will give your photographer time to take some beautiful bridal portraits in the dressing room before your ceremony.  These photos will have to be skipped for a bride running way behind on hair and makeup.


*BONUS TIP – make sure your hair and make up team know what time you are aiming to be fully ready by.  I have seen many hair and makeup artists ask what time the ceremony begins and then work right up until that time.  Make sure you communicate that the ceremony start time is different from the time you aim to be fully ready 🙂

3. Create a family shot list.  This is a list of all the family groupings you would like photographed.  A good rule of thumb is that it takes about 2 minutes for each family grouping (this includes rounding every one up, posing them and getting the photo).  I recommend no more than 10 formal family groupings (which would take approximately 20 minutes).

*BONUS TIP – use both the name of each person and the relationship when listing each grouping.  Keep in mind that your photographer will be meeting a whole lot of people on your wedding day and may not be able to remember all the names and relationships  Eg:

Group 1 – Bride, Groom, Mother of Bride Sheila, Father of Bride John, Brides sisters Lola, Judy and Isabel.

*BONUS TIP – make sure your photographer is aware of any family tensions, recent losses, re-marriages etc.  For example, if you’ll have both a mom and stepmom at your wedding, make sure your photographer is aware.

4.  Make sure you are totally happy with the fit of your wedding attire, prior to the big day.  A too tight jacket, a too long hem, a dress that is too tight and creates the dreaded “back fat”, for example, can really impact how confident you feel during photos.  I have seen so many brides who have not tried on their full attire (meaning gown with correct undergarments and shapers and shoes) only to discover on the morning of the wedding that their bra straps show, or their dress is too tight, or their shape wear doesn’t do what they hoped it would, or the hem is too long with their wedding shoes on.  Your wedding attire is such an important part of the day, give it its full due, and make sure you try all items on ahead of time.

5.  Let your photographer know how you are feeling while taking photos on your wedding day.  They’ll be thinking about so many things…exposure, composition, fluffing your train, completing the list of requested photos…they’ll also be trying to gauge how you guys are doing…if you are getting tired, need a drink, need a break, need to take your shoes off.  If your anxiety is acting up, if you are feeling overwhelmed, or too hot, or need a little break – let your photographer know – they want you to be happy and comfortable!  Communicating those things to them, can help make the experience great for all of you.

6.  Give a little thought to how you want your wedding captured and by whom.  Do you want all your family members snapping away on their phones during your ceremony?  Experienced wedding photographers are used to working around this, but guests can be notoriously unaware of the impact they are having on the professional photos, when they lean way out into the aisle to get cell phone pics of “the kiss” or decide to stand in the background of the entire wedding processional to film a video on their phone.  Many couples are opting to have an “Electronics free ceremony”.  This can be accomplished by a small sign in the venue, and a friendly announcement made by the officiant just before the wedding ceremony begins.  Something like “Ladies and Gentlemen, before we begin, BRIDE and GROOM would like to invite you to be fully present with them during their wedding ceremony, and respectfully ask that all phones and camera’s are put away during the ceremony” 

Many guests with phones can also make group photos challenging.  If a group has been posed by the wedding photographer, and 3 or 4 guests are also holding up cameras, group members don’t know which camera to look at and you end up with photos with mismatched eyelines.  This can also realllllly slow down the amount of time it takes to complete family groupings if your photographer has to stop after each group photo to let everyone else capture the same shot.

This can be avoided with a friendly announcement from bride and groom, letting guests know they will be sharing all the family grouping photos on their wedding website, once they are ready.

7.  Embrace the creative spirit of your day!  Your wedding will have its own unique feel, spirit and energy.  Your photographer will be able to use their creativity to create the best photos that represent your day.  Some couples end up providing a long list of Pinterest photos they would like to copy.  This can end up stifling your photographers creativity and prevent them from capturing the unique elements of your day and your personalities!  Trust that your photographer will have lots of creative ideas and try to limit your Pinterest ideas to just a very few favorites.

8.  Finally, if you would gather your special details and have them ready in morning – your photographer will be able to get beautiful detail shots for you.  Things to gather together might include: your veil, both wedding bands, your engagement ring, any other wedding jewelry you are wearing.  Any sentimental items you have brought with you – an heirloom handkerchief, a locket attached to your bouquet, a lucky sixpence for your shoe.  Making sure your photographer is aware of these special items and has easy access to them, will help them capture these details

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful!  Wishing you the most magical wedding day photos!

-xoxo Heather

Featured In

Magazine May / June 2021 Issue