As a bride, you have a lot on your wedding-planning plate. The payoff of all your work, when your big day arrives, should be a wedding that goes off without a hitch (other than the one you’re aiming for)!
An important aspect of achieving a smooth, stress-free day is having solid plans in place for your photography – since, after all, you’ll dedicate more time to it than almost anything else. And as a photographer, I have some advice for ensuring your wedding experience is truly picture perfect:
Consider a first look.
It can be hugely advantageous for you and your groom to see one another and take most, if not all, of your posed portraits prior to your ceremony, especially if your reception will follow immediately afterward. In addition to having more time to set aside before the ceremony than after – thus possibly increasing the quantity and quality of your images – you’ll also avoid making your guests wait a lengthy amount of time for you.
If you do decide against a first look, though, one way to ease any resulting stress is to establish clear, realistic expectations with your photographer concerning how long you’ll allow for portraits after your ceremony, rather than planning simply to get them done as quickly as possible.
Choose photo locations carefully.
When deciding what setting to use for your wedding portraits, it’s important to keep in mind that most locations aren’t equally good at all times of the day. Light is a huge factor in image creation, and while you may not be able to schedule for ideal light, you can choose shooting locations that make the most of whatever your lighting circumstances happen to be.
It’s understandable you may not know how to go about selecting those spots, but your photographer should. Even if s(he) doesn’t offer up-front guidance in location selection, it’s worth asking for input on whether the place you have in mind will work well for photos during the time of day you’ll be there.
Prepare for family portraits.
These ideally can be done pretty efficiently – but a lot of that efficiency comes down to ensuring everyone involved knows to be at the right place at the right time. Also, it’s very helpful to have a list of photo groupings prepared ahead of time (Even if your photographer has a standard shot list, you might need to modify it to fit your family dynamics).
In addition to keeping you from having to come up with photo groupings on the fly, a list also is good for gauging how much total time to allow for these portraits. Your photographer should be able to come up with an estimate by looking at the number of shots and the number of people in each group.
Pad your timeline.
In a day with so many moving parts, even the most carefully planned timeline can get off-track. This is why it’s helpful to error on the side of allowing more time than you think you’ll need for certain parts of the day. If you think your preparation will take two hours, for example, allow two and a half. Then, if it takes a little longer than expected to do your hair or makeup, you’ve planned for that possibility and won’t be putting your entire day behind from the start.
In terms of photography: This approach might mean choosing a package with more coverage time than you feel you absolutely have to have. Your budget may dictate whether this decision is viable, of course – but if the photographer you choose has two packages within your price range, you might opt for the one that provides more coverage, even if you think you could get by with less.
Pick a pro you trust.
This point probably seems obvious! But it’s worth stating: You need a photographer whose expertise and experience give you peace of mind. Lots of little decisions go into putting your day into picture, and the more confident you are that the person you hire can handle those, the more stress-free your experience will be.
If you aren’t sure what skills to look for, keeping these questions in mind while examining your options might help: Is the photographer experienced with shooting in a variety of conditions, including low light? With shooting large bridal parties (at least as large as yours)? With making in-the-moment decisions and/or accommodating for less-than-ideal circumstances (such as rain, timeline adjustments, etc.)?
I'm a print-journalist-turned-wedding-photographer who fully believes in the value of telling true stories beautifully. By means of a camera, I am a curator so my clients can be keepers of their most important moments.
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