Congratulations, your wedding is coming up!! I’m sure you’ve been given all sorts of advice (probably a lot you didn’t ask for), but maybe not so many about getting the best wedding photos. So, I wanted to put together some helpful wedding planning tips from a photographer’s perspective. These are designed to give you the best wedding photos and help avoid things that could be distracting in them.
You can really never be too prepared for your wedding day. The more planning and decisions you make ahead of time, the less you will need to worry about on your actual wedding day. If you’re planning on going to offsite locations for photos, arrange transportation in advance. Either book a party bus or limo or decide who is driving before the wedding day. In addition, make sure everyone involved in photos has a timeline so they know where to be and when.
Be prepared for all weather
After all, we do live in the Midwest! Make sure your venue has a backup plan for rain if you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, and make sure there are spaces inside for photos if you don’t get the chance to take any outside. If it’s going to be cold, consider bringing along hand warmers for you and your wedding party to hold while you’re outside getting those photos. Clear umbrellas can also be a cute addition if it’s going to be rainy and you had your heart set on outdoor photos.
Be mindful of distracting details
Try to minimize anything that would stand out in photos. This includes tan lines, bra straps, hair ties, fitness watches, etc. Also, be sure to take all cell phones, wallets, and keys out of your pockets before photos begin. If you have transition lenses in your glasses, I recommend getting a backup pair. These things are difficult to edit out of photos and will make your photographer’s job harder. This can also increase turnaround time. Also, try to keep the getting ready spaces as clutter free as possible. I know this can be difficult and not 100% avoidable, but it’s something to keep in mind.
How to get the best photos: details and getting ready
It’s helpful for your photographer if you have all of your details in a box or bag ready for when they arrive. This way, these photos can get done first and in an efficient manner and those items can be returned quickly for getting dressed. When I say “details,” I mean jewelry, ties, shoes, perfume or cologne, invitations, or anything else you want included in a photo together. Giving your photographer more items will give more variety in the images. Also, consider getting matching hangers for all dresses or suits if you are wanting any photos of those together for consistency. Make sure there are no wrinkles! A small portable steamer is only about $25 and worth the money! Matching PJ sets or robes are a cute addition as well. If you’re doing any steaming, however, make sure your hair isn’t already done!
How to get the best photos: Ceremony
When walking down the aisle, be sure not to walk too fast and remember to smile! If you have a bouquet, try to hold it at your belly button for consistency. Before you grab your flowers, make sure to dab any water off the ends as this can cause wet spots on dresses. While walking, allow enough space in between each person walking so that the photographer can get a few good photos.
As for your actual ceremony, I suggest asking your officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony. Have them ask that all electronic devices be put away. This is especially important for the aisle seats. The guests sitting closest to the aisle are the most crucial because they will be in every photo. The last thing you want is someone’s phone blocking your face as you walk down the aise! Also, consider asking your officiant to move to the side during your first kiss, and make sure your kiss is a few seconds long. This way, your photographer has many chances to get the perfect shot of just the two of you. Another cute photo is when you are coming back down the aisle after you’re announced. When you get near the end, kiss your partner with all of your guests behind you clapping!
Lastly, when standing at the front, make sure you hold hands with your partner when you can! The photos look a little awkward if you’re standing super far apart and have your hands at your waist.
How to get the best photos: Reception
If you or your wedding party are planning any fun entrances, make sure you let your photographer know where the best place to stand is. Also, make sure everyone in the wedding party is on the same page about where to “perform” their entrance at.
I always recommend that vendors are served dinner promptly after the wedding party so that they can get back to work quickly. This is especially important for photographers because often the speeches or dances will begin while everyone is finishing dinner. Serving your photographer first will make sure they are prepared when the action picks up again! If this isn’t an option, consider doing some of those formalities as soon as you walk in so the photographer is already prepared. If your vendors are seated somewhere away from guests, make sure someone lets the photographers know when the action is picking back up.
Consider hiring a day of coordinator
Day of coordinators can be incredibly helpful in making sure your photos turn out how you want them. If you don’t have a coordinator, that role will likely fall on your photographer since they’re with you most of the day anyway. But, if they’re trying to coordinate and take photos at the same time, things may get missed. This is especially important if you value more of those candid moments. Let your photographer be searching for those moments instead of worrying about who’s pinning on the boutonnieres. Coordinators will also help keep you on schedule so planned photo ops are not missed.
When to consider a second photographer
Many photographers offer a second photographer in their packages, but it’s not always needed. A second photographer’s job is to capture a second perspective of the day or fill in gaps where the lead photographer needs help. For example, if the two parties are getting ready in separate locations, then a second photographer can help ensure nothing is missed. Also, if you have a large venue, two photographers can cover more ground. Or, if you just want extra photos and value the smaller details, ask for that second photographer!
Here’s a good example of a second photographer being beneficial: one time, a church I was shooting in had a balcony, so I asked my second photographer to get the first kiss from up there. My couple was given two perspectives of their first kiss: up close and personal and wide and up top!
How to get the best photos during your sparkler exit
If you’re planning on doing a sparkler exit, I have a few really important tips for you!
- Make sure you buy the long sparklers (20-36 inches) and not the short ones (8-10 inches). The short ones will not last long enough for a photo-worthy exit and are really just meant for kids to play with. The longer ones will ensure a longer burn time and might even give you a couple tries at the exit!
- Make sure you have a lot of lighters and people to light them. Once you get a few lit, guests can help each other out and light those around them. But, having enough lighters will help get things moving and ensure you have a fully lit exit.
The most important thing to remember
HAVE FUN and don’t rush! There is almost a guarantee that not every single thing will go as planned, and that’s okay. Your photographer will be ready to adapt to changes and be your friend to lean on throughout the whole process. Make sure you take time and space to enjoy the moments happening in front of you. Don’t stress about the timeline or the small details, everything will fall into place.
Check out these links to items that will help you with some of these planning tips! I hope you learned a little bit more about how to get the best wedding photos on your wedding day!