We know how stressful wedding planning can be.
As a married couple, we've gone through the ups and downs that come with wedding planning.
As wedding photographers, we've seen dozens of other couples go through a lot of the same stuff.
Between remembering all the emotions we felt and the conversations we had together in our planning phases, talking to our couples today – we realized there was room for us to give some advice when it comes to helping to sort things out in the photography department (that is, after all, our specialty!) So, with that in mind, we put together 27 wedding photography tips for the brides.
These tips will help you prepare better so that wedding photography can be one thing you don't have to worry about. There's more than enough of this on your plate!
(For wedding photographers: this is also a great list to check out to get a better idea of what your clients might be thinking about!!) 1. Pick the wedding photographer you want. It's pretty obvious, but it's so crucial to get right.
We hear of a lot of people hiring a photographer they don't want because of budget restraints and even pressure from the family to go with a certain person.
As hard as it can be when faced with such scenarios, know that marriage is (hopefully) a one-time event. Having someone you can click on and like the work you do will make it much easier for you to get away from your own wedding with photos that you're going to love for a lifetime.
2. Raise your wedding photography budget if at all possible In the budget area, it's important not to look at wedding photography as a cost-effective one if it's important to you.
Don't get us wrong, some people just don't care about being photographed or having memories in this way (you know: by a professional) – and that's all right!
But, if this is something you value, having a better quality service will usually be found with more established wedding photographers who tend to charge more than you might want to pay.
Note: your financial situation is yours.
We know not every couple can afford a $5,000 wedding photographer.
Use your best judgment and assess your budget to see what makes sense.
One thing you really need to consider is what else you're planning to buy on a big day.
For example, if you set aside $1,500 for wedding photography, but found a photographer charging $2,000 that you really like — it might be worth putting the money on it instead of dropping $500 on a chocolate fountain.
3. Hire a reputable wedding photographer You don't just want a photographer, you want someone you know to do a great job for you.
Wedding photographers with a good reputation are most likely to come through for you. It is very important to have a proven track record of being easy to work with, having a positive attitude, and producing great images for many clients.
One of the downsides of the wedding photography industry is that there are many, many newcomers joining each day. A lot of people with a camera see it as an industry they can jump into to make a quick buck, and to the extent that's true. But, there's more to wedding photography than just taking pictures.
Please know, that doesn't mean that you can't hire a newbie. Once, we were new, too! Heck, we even hired a relatively new photographer! But, we can admit, it's still more of a gamble than going with someone who's already built the credibility.
4. Seriously consider a wedding photography team As a husband and wife team, we're a little bit predisposed – but for good reason ... having 2 photographers is better than one. Here are some reasons why: The main photographer gets an assistant – this helps speed up set times, coordinates family formals and other shots, and so on You'll get more photos – with two people taking pictures, it's easy to see why you'll get alternative perspectives – one of the best parts of having two photographers capture the same event is getting multiple vs. Read the photo service contract and understand it Before our clients sign a contract with us, we would like to remind them to "make sure you read and understand the contract." We always say, "Don't sign until you understand it and are comfortable with it." This is an important practice in any area of your life.
We recently bought a dishwasher – and we're sure to read the contract (as tiresome as it was) to make sure we understood what we were signing for.
In the case of wedding photography, if everything is not explicitly discussed at a meeting with your photographer, the contract should spell out things such as: timing of photo delivery Extra charges that may arise If there are sneak peaks What add-ons you will receive (such as albums, prints, print credit, etc.) 6. Make sure your personality is compatible with the photographer Ideally, before you book, you should take the time to meet your potential photographer.
This could be a phone call, a Skype meeting, or in person.
Usually, when you inquire with a photographer, they will ask you to set up a consultation to discuss the matter further. It's time for you to come prepared with questions, concerns, and so on.
It's like a job interview in a lot of ways. Just keep in mind, the photographer is probably checking for you, too!
When we meet prospective clients, we always check to make sure that we are compatible with the people we're talking to, and that we can reasonably offer a service that's right for them.
Some things we're looking for in a client: they come prepared with questions They have similar interests to us They respect our work and time (ie: note that likes our portfolio, don't ask for discounts, etc.) When we hired our wedding photographer, some things we thought about: is the photographer ready to meet us?
Does the photographer seem to love what they're doing, or is it just a job?
Is wedding photography a specialty, or do they do a lot of photography work?
Does the photographer communicate with us effectively?
It's a simple matter, really ... if you have any red flags, the best step is either to get clarification or to go another route.
The relationship between the photographer and the client is extremely important for the success of the wedding day. Unlike most other wedding vendors, you'll see the photographer most of the day, and they'll be "in your space" a lot of this time. You want someone with whom you can successfully click!
7. Communicate your needs to a wedding photographer before the wedding Communication is the key to a great relationship with your photographer.
While the wedding photographer is supposed to start some conversations to get to know you better and understand your needs, they're not readers.
Photography can sometimes be a deeply intimate relationship between you and a photographer.
We've all taken pictures of us that we've found to be unflattering. From time to time, we all get self-conscious. Great photography will make you feel beautiful, even if you don't always feel that way.
If you have any special things that your photographer wants to keep in mind, it's important to let them know.
We had clients asking for more photos from a straight perspective vs. a side perspective as they were self-conscious. It's a reasonable thing, and while we're trying to reinforce that they don't have anything to worry about, the last thing we want is someone paying us hard earned money so that we don't respect them, at least to keep that wish in mind.
8. Have a wedding timeline in place – and try to follow as many of the wedding timelines as you can make your wedding.
In the past, we've worked with photographers who don't use wedding timelines, and unfortunately this technique doesn't really work. Sure, things could go smoothly and smoothly once in a while, but after 20 + weddings a year, we know with 100% certainty that if we didn't have a timeline, things would be all sorts of crazy.
If not put together by your photographer, your wedding timeline should be reviewed.
In our little world, we actually put together timelines for wedding photography with our clients in advance of the wedding. This helps us to set expectations as to where we will be (and where others will be) and at what time.
In our experience, we also found that timelines help reduce stress on the bride, groom, and their families and friends.
As you know, planning a wedding can be stressful. Timeline is a way to help visualize how the day is going to unfold.
9. Get support from your fiancé While the focus of this article is to provide wedding photography tips for brides because ladies tend to be the ones doing most of the planning, it's important to remember that you're in this together with someone else.
In our experience, the best wedding photograph is created when both the bride and groom are on board and excited!
10. Work with your photographer to draw up a list of shots
We often talk to other photographers about some of the things we're doing to run our business successfully, and the recurring theme we're going on is how important it is to set expectations. A lot of people have heard about this, but it can be hard to know how to take action to get people to have reasonable expectations.
To effectively set expectations, we do a few things: be proactive Voice our opinion Be empathetic Do things to benefit our clients, but NOT at our own expense Find common ground Let our clients have a say!
Let's be real for a minute: some wedding photographers can get freaked out by a list of shots.
We can admit, it can be daunting as we've read the stories of some photographers being approached by clients with extensive film lists that basically want to emulate every photo they've ever seen on Pinterest.
In practice, shot lists can reasonably be a very useful tool to get all the necessary and best shots when they are put together.
In fact, we have a set shot list that we always refer to, which helps us have something to physically check to make sure we get the shots we want.
We've also put together a family formal list of shots with our clients – let's know all the formal family pairings.
From there, we write down anything else that is a special request.
Why is that so important?
You won't remember every photo you want in the heat of the wedding day.
Brides, grooms, photographers, spectators — everyone is scattered at some point in the day. It's an event with so much going on, so little time, and we all want it to be PERFECT!
By putting together your must have shots and pairings, you're going to make things much easier!!
11.-11. Do not focus solely on having a "Pinterest-perfect" wedding Pinterest can be a great source of wedding photography inspiration for brides. Heck, on occasion, we even check it out for new ideas!
But, like any kind of social media, it also has its pitfalls.
In general, wedding photographers can not replicate images taken by other photographers. There are so many things that go into the look of an image, such as: The couple themselves The location and the surrounding environment The weather The lighting (this one is huge!) Definitely feel free to give your Pinterest board to the photographer, but it's not reasonable to expect them to replicate the images.
Twelve. Choose a venue that will contribute to your wedding day vision Since you're looking at wedding photography tips for brides, it's most likely that you've already chosen a wedding venue (congrats if that's the case!).
Still, it's worth mentioning that choosing a venue is one of the most important choices for a big day.
If photography is something you really care about, it's extremely important to have an environment that lends itself to being photographed.
We shot at locations that are just so photogenic that we were in awe from the moment we pulled into the parking lot. Others ... not so much ... that's not to say that a photographer won't be able to find some photogenic spots anywhere (trust us when we say: we could get some nice shots in the landfill). But, some of the venues are simply stunning on their own – no window dressing needed. Keep this in mind, but in the end, choose a place that works for you!
13. 13. Hire other vendors on the basis of how they will contribute to the look of your day Your other wedding vendors will end up contributing to the look of your pictures in both large and small ways.
Sure, the catering and food present probably won't make too much of an impact, but the florist and the DJ will – sometimes in very significant ways.
Vendors like these who play a major role in the esthetics and vibes of your wedding are particularly important to get right.
14. 14. Plan enough time for hair & makeup (it tends to take longer than you expect) We know how important the wedding morning hair & makeup sessions are to many of the ladies out there. You want to feel your absolute best, and so many of these artists are doing a stunning job.
We love seeing the results of all this work as wedding photographers. But one of the big setbacks that we often encounter is the rush to get the bride in her dress, to snap a few portraits, and to take some more photos. Worst of all, we've had hair & makeup run by an hour over time – totally eating away in time for the First Look and portraits (Yes, we managed to do it, but it wasn't fun for us or the couple).
Once you've received a timeline that you've solidified with your photographer, be sure to inform your hair & makeup artists of the timing. You may need to make sure that ALL of that work needs to be done quickly, otherwise it will have a negative impact on your photo schedule.
15. 15. Have all the accessories together at the beginning of the day When your photographer first arrives to greet you at the beginning of the day, the next step for them will naturally be to start taking pictures of the details. These are things that matter to you that you want to be immortalized as part of your photo day.
If you don't care about these types of shots right now, just think about how they can help improve your memory of the day 10, 20, and even 30 + years from now!
Some of the common detail items we photograph include: Wedding dress Rings (wedding + engagement) Shoes Bouquet Perfume necklace + earrings Borrowed-and-Blue Anything else of special significance Oh – and don't forget to mention this to your fiance, as the details for the guy can be just as important as: Suit Shoes Watch Cufflinks Ti This means: less stress on trying to find every last item.
It's 16. Understand the best time for photography, and schedule around it if possible If you really want romantic looking portraits, it is highly recommended to schedule time for them during the Golden Hour.
This is the hour before sunset when the sun is on the horizon. This creates a light that looks really soft and glowing. It will come in the best days, paired with the colors of the sun setting like bright red, pink, and orange. Less days, it's still a great time just because the light is more diffuse. It's really the most flattering time for anyone to take pictures.
While photos can be taken at any time and be beautiful, photos can not be fully replicated during the Golden Hour – even in Photoshop!
It's 17. Be prepared to be a little uncomfortable to get the best shots As beautiful as wedding clothes can be, it's not always the most comfortable or easy to get around. We've seen some BIG dresses in our time – and while they're photographing like magic just struck from the sky – sometimes taking some time to get our bride to the right spot for a PERFECT photo.
It's often the funny thing that we've got with our couples about the "behind the scenes" stuff that nobody's going to see.
With photos published in magazines and blogs, no one really sees the hills that we've had to climb, how we've been walking in really bad weather, the pot holes that we've been through, how Chris repeatedly falls in mud ... you get the point ... sometimes, getting the best photographs possible means being willing to get a little uncomfortable. Of course, don't do anything you really don't want to do (and no photographer should be pushy about it!) – but if you're getting ahead, it might help you get ready when the time comes to say, "Yes, I'm going to climb up this hill in my wedding shoes! "The 18. Choose a limited number of locations to shoot on the wedding day It can often seem that the more variety of locations you have, the better your photos turn out to be.
While there is some truth that diversity in your photos (whether posing or actual location choices) can enhance your wedding photo gallery, it can also be harmful.
Having too many locations in mind means that you spend less time taking pictures, and more time rushing from spot to spot.
Our recommendation: if you have any specific areas where you would like photos to be taken, please let your photographer know. Then, give them the rules to choose any additional locations! We're working just like this, and it seems to be a perfect approach.
19. 19. Let family, wedding party, and friends know when they're needed for photos While most people think "wedding photography" is primarily about the bride & groom themselves – the reality is that the vast majority of photos you get will end up with family and friends.
You've got your formal photos first. For these, it's super important that you let the people you need know they're going to be needed. Going back to the wedding timeline we talked about earlier, you should be sure to lock up a specific timeline when they're going to be needed, too!
Most of the other photos of these people will unfold naturally throughout the rest of the wedding day. But if someone isn't included in the formal shots that you want a picture with, be sure to list them and let them know. Even if it's just a quick text message, "Hey ... at the reception of my wedding, can you make sure that we get a picture taken together by our photographer? "It's things like this that will make sure you get away with all the photos you really want.
Twenty. Know that a good photographer can make a drab location look great.
One of the most important wedding photography tips we can offer brides is this: even if you don't find a place to be all that attractive, photographers often have a different way of looking at things.
Living on the East Coast, we face months of gray skies and brown landscapes. It's getting pretty boring. But we've learned how to work with this as photographers. All we need is a patch of color, a little bit of contrast, a little bit of architectural curiosity, and we're good to go.
If you're wondering how this could be, we wrote another post about how photographers can make even unattractive locations look great!
21.-21. Schedule additional wedding portraits after the wedding Because the wedding day can be hectic, it's sometimes easier for the bride and groom to plan another photo shoot to capture their portraits together.
For many of our couples, we're going to shoot portraits on the wedding day, then do what we call the "Day After" session, where they're going to get back into their wedding clothes and get more photos taken together. These are honestly some of our favorite shoots, and our couples are going away feeling wonderful to relive their wedding day like this.
From first-hand experience, we actually did the "Day After" shoot ourselves. We loved our wedding, but we got dressed again and went for a long hike up the mountain to get some sunrise shots. It's hard to beat it, and we've all been smiling together all the time.
22. 22. Always make time to be present on your wedding day. On the one hand, you should want to maximize your wedding photographer's time. You spend good money on this service, after all.
On the other hand, this is your wedding day. You've only got one of them!
This is an area where balance is important. But, in conversations with our clients, we often like to repeat how important it is for them to be present. They're supposed to enjoy their time so they feel less like a really expensive photo shoot, and more like a day they've chosen to bind themselves together.
This is where structuring your day with a timeline and being open to your photographer will definitely help. We've got a lot of couples who tell us, "We'd like to be around for most (if not all) cocktail hour so we can mingle with our friends and family we haven't seen forever ... is that okay? "Our reply? Yes, it's all right! We're going to make sure we can get all the photos we need so that you can be happy with the results.
No matter who your wedding photographer is, they're going to want to give you the opportunity to have the experience you want.
23. 23. 23. Have a "no photos" policy during the ceremony A big wedding photo tip for the brides – have an unplugged ceremony.
This means: no cameras, no cell phones. And Aunt May, you don't know how to use a tablet computer.
One of the greatest distractions on the wedding day is people taking pictures. Not only that, but they often get in the way of wedding photographers who are there to do a job – documenting a wedding. One thing you don't want is a ceremony of photos filled with people on their phones.
A few ways to enforce this ... Let people know in advance Assign some people who will be attending to ask others to turn off their electronics Put up a sign at the entrance to the ceremonial space Let your officer remind everyone 24. Try to have reasonable expectations A very important thing that we think about, as wedding photographers, is to make sure expectations are reasonable and realistic.
Every once in a while, a bride might leave the deep end. Sometimes there are too many special requests for photos to look like those from Pinterest. Other times, all portrait photos are expected to be taken in 5 minutes.
An easy way to make yourself a great bride to be photographed is simply to ask, "Is what I'm asking for reasonable, or do I seem a little crazy? "From there, have a conversation with your wedding photographer to talk about it.
It's always okay to ask something in our book. But, you're not supposed to just assume that something can be done just because you asked. However, it is up to the photographer to help you understand what is reasonable and what is not. Sometimes it's not always clear that you don't have too much experience with photography or the flow of weddings!
Also, your photographer knows that you feel a little stressed and anxious. It's perfectly normal! Just know, it's all going to be great!!
It's 25. Ask your wedding photographer to take special photos as you think about them on the wedding day. With all the pre-planning you've done to help your wedding photograph get along without a hitch, you're bound to forget something. That, or you've just got a great idea coming up right now. Whatever it may be, make your voice heard.
One of the common things we do on a wedding day is to remind the bride (and groom) that we're there for them. They can take a picture of us at any time. This happens a lot of times at the reception to take group photos or shots with their friends. Sometimes they have a good idea for some extra portrait shots. Whatever it is, it's pretty cool. Your wedding photographer is supposed to be up for any of it!
26. 26. Treat your wedding photographer well Photographers will often try to get above and beyond their clients. But, as you might expect, when we are treated with respect (or better) it reflects on our work. Simple things like saying "thank you" when a photographer gets a special shot or letting them grab a bite to eat at dinner can make a difference.
27. 27. Give your photographer some freedom of expression The last wedding photography tip for the brides we've got is just to let your photographer do their job.
If you fell in love with their style of photography by looking at their portfolio extensively, you should trust that you are in good hands.
They're going to create a job that you're going to look back on with love for the day and love to be married!!
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?