As the photographers, we want you to get all the amazing pictures you're hoping for on your wedding day. Here are some tips for great wedding pictures that you can use while planning, as well as the day of the wedding to give yourself the best possible chances of getting the pictures you want.
-Know your sun - When planning your ceremony and reception times, do a quick lookup for sunset times that day. Obviously, we'll have lighting to shoot whatever and whenever, but if you specifically want bright, daylight pictures, be sure to plan your schedule accordingly. And while the schedule is usually driven by the ceremony and reception times, try to avoid scheduling outdoor pictures at mid-day. Direct overhead sunlight isn't very flattering, so the closer to sunset the better.
-Know where you are - This is tied in with the "know your sun" advice. We've had multiple times where somebody has sent examples of their favorite type of wedding pictures - say, a bride and groom in a pretty field - and then they tell us that they're getting married downtown. Or they'll say they love gritty urban scenes and are getting married at a plantation. Just keep in mind what's in the area of your wedding locations, and/or build in lots of extra time to go to any out of the way locations to get different looks. Photographers can come close to working magic with lighting and camera angles, but turning a city into a field requires tons of (expensive) Photoshop work.
-Good things take time - We want you to get great pictures and enjoy your reception time to the fullest. Doing as many pictures as possible before the ceremony helps. From the photographer's perspective, first looks are always recommended since they allow for so much more time. If you want those creative, fun shots of you and your bridal party, build in plenty of time. We're happy to help with the schedule.
-Don't be late - Ok, nobody really plans on running late, but it almost always happens because hair and makeup takes a little longer than expected, getting dressed takes a little longer than expected, somebody got lost on the way there, or any one of a million reasons. Picture time is always the first thing to get eaten up when other things run late. Save yourself some stress and make sure you get the pictures you want by allowing more time than you think you need. Worst case when you build in extra time is that you get to relax and hang out with your friends for a few extra minutes. Worst case when you don't build in extra time is that you end up running late for your own wedding.
-Know the rules - Ask your venues about the photography policies. Some venues (ahem...churches) have restrictions and the photographer will work with whatever those limits are. We just don't want you to be surprised when they you only get 10 minutes on the alter for pictures or the photographer can only take pictures through a window across the street.
-Appoint a wrangler - Recruit somebody who knows a lot of the people in the formal pictures to help gather others. Having them help and call out names can make that whole process go faster so we can move on to more fun pictures or you can get to the reception if we did other pictures earlier.
-Smile! You'll probably be doing this all day, but often, such as when walking down the aisle, people forget about faces. It doesn't have to be a big forced smile the whole way down, but look happy! Alternatively - Cry! Emotion is totally cool, just let it out. As long as they're happy tears...
-Make the first kiss last - You don't have to make out, but something more than a quick peck will let you get a couple more pictures. I want to capture the real moment, not recreate it later.
-Give orders - Grab the photographer if you think of more pictures that you want during the reception. Some people say they feel "bossy" when dragging the photographer around to get shots with their guests. It's ok, really. Don't hesitate to grab us for any pictures you want. That's what we're there for.
-Help the photographer - Everybody has a camera and they love to use them at weddings. They love to use them so much that they'll jump into aisles in front of the photographer, so instead of a really nice picture of you walking down the aisle, you get a grainy-blury one from someone's phone, and a beautiful picture of the back of that someone's head. If other people are snapping photos during formals, you end up with people looking in all directions. Some brides go so far as to tell their guests "no cameras," but we don't want that, just for you to help if there's somebody hanging on our backs or jumping in front of us all day. We'll ask people directly first, but if it's really a problem, we'll let you know.
and of course...
-Just be happy! You're getting married!
Past brides - If you have any advice you'd like to add, feel free to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.