One of my favorite parts of being a destination wedding photographer is helping couples capture the images they’re going to cherish for a lifetime, and by generations to come. And the fact is, your wedding day photos are arguably some of the most important photos you’ll ever take, because when the cake is cut and the flowers fade, your photos are the keepsakes that will remain. For that reason, here are some of my best recommendations on how to take better wedding day photos.
Invest in an Engagement Session
I love planning engagement sessions with my clients. Besides the fact that it’s an incredible way to celebrate and cherish your engagement, it’s without a doubt one of the best ways you can elevate your wedding day photos, and here are just a few reasons why.
Planning an engagement session with your photographer gives you the opportunity to connect on a more personal level. Collaborating on things like vision, location, and outfits allows you all to get to know each other better, and after your session, you’ll not only feel more comfortable with your photographer, but it give you and your fiancé the opportunity to practice posing in front of the camera together. Come your wedding day, you’ll feel like seasoned pros and capturing portraits will not only go faster, but will also feel more natural– resulting in the beautiful, authentic feeling images you’re hoping for.
Curate Your Wedding Day Details
When planning your wedding it’s easy to remember details like shoes and rings, but incorporating some of the finer details into your wedding day will really elevate your wedding photos. Consider things like your wedding invitation suite, anything customized for your day, family heirlooms, or a special, beautiful wedding day perfume. Planning your wedding details and incorporating them into your wedding photos also will help tell the story of your day, and help you remember the small details that are unique to your special day.
Plan Your Timeline With Your Photographer
Wedding planners are masters of the wedding day timeline. They include every tiny detail to a tee, often including names, locations, contact information and events scheduled down to the minute. Truly, they’re spectacular, but they’re not photo-focused. Consulting your photographer about your day of timeline is imperative to achieving the beautiful, luminous photos of your dreams for so many reasons.
First, photographers are masters of light, and understanding the way light changes in color, mood, intensity and direction are important considerations when planning your wedding day photos. Not to mention factors that are unique to each wedding, like location, venue restrictions, sunset, weather, special events, guest count and family formals lists. For these reasons it’s a great idea to at least discuss your timeline with your photographer to make sure you have enough time to capture all the beautiful details and memories you want to cherish.
Bring Your Photographer to The Rehearsal
If I’ve never photographed a particular venue before, I always like to visit in person before the wedding. This allows me to see the venue, scout locations for important events (like first looks, bridal portraits and family formals), and evaluate the movement of the light firsthand. Often, however, one thing your photographer can’t control, is the timing and location wedding ceremony. For this reason, I love accompanying my couples to their wedding rehearsal. This at least gives me an opportunity to weigh in on things like exactly where everyone should stand during the ceremony, and give guidance to the couple on how to achieve the best first kiss and procession photos.
Choose a Venue With A Beautiful Bridal Suite
A great photographer is practiced in the art of creating beautiful photos, even in less than beautiful locations, but keep in mind that a truly stunning bridal suite with beautiful natural light will elevate your wedding day photos dramatically. And, since a large portion of your day is spent getting ready, it might be worth it to you to give special consideration to the bridal suite your venue offers.
Keep Things Elegant with Fresh Florals
It can be tempting to try to save money when planning your wedding day florals, either by cutting back on flowers all together, or by substituting with artificial flowers. The truth is, it’s incredibly difficult to source silk flowers that genuinely look like the real thing, in pictures and in person. I always recommend my couples keep their wedding elegant with fresh florals, even if it means working with your florist to create fuller assortments with more greenery and filler, or creating ceremony arrangements or bouquets that can double as reception table centerpieces!
Getting Ready Robes or Pajamas for Your Bridal Party
Matching silk robes or pajamas are not only a lovely bridal party gift, they also do wonders to elevate the look of your getting ready photos, and your wedding day album as a whole. Imagine the difference between a bridal party getting ready in mismatched jeans and tank tops, and a bridal party getting ready in beautifully color coordinated pajama sets. Just remember to steam them beforehand! A few of my favorite places to source bridal party robes are BHLDN, Etsy, and Piyama.
Invest in Professional Hair and Makeup
By the time most of my own wedding plans were complete and paid for, I was tired of spending money and opted to do my own hair and makeup on my wedding day. And I can honestly say it’s one of my biggest three regrets. Now, as a professional wedding photographer, I combine both knowledge and experience when I tell my clients to invest in professional hair and makeup.
Firstly, I’d say it’s worth it to avoid the stress of doing it yourself in the first place, and for the amazing feeling of looking your absolute best. Also, makeup for camera is different than everyday makeup, and your professional makeup artist understands the importance of avoiding flashback (when your foundation reflects the light making you look greasy in pictures), and the nuances of applying the right amount of makeup to appear beautiful, but still natural, in photos. Similarly, a professional hairstylist will keep your tresses in place through hours and hours of photos and dancing.
Do A First Look
Whether or not you should do a First Look is a very personal choice for couples, but speaking strictly from a photography prospective, this is a great way to maximize your wedding day timeline for both photography, and partaking in your own wedding day festivities. I love this emerging tradition because it allows for a special moment between the couple and provides the opportunity to get most of the wedding party and family formal photos finished before guests begin to arrive, leaving more time for the married couple to relax and enjoy cocktail hour and the reception after the ceremony.
Prepare a Family Formals List
If you’re having a wedding celebration that includes your closest friends and family, you’re going to want to capture group photos of your most important people. Having a family formals list helps your photographer know who’s who, and which groupings are most important to you. If you have time to discuss any sensitive family situations with your photographer beforehand, it also helps things move more quickly and more smoothly–so everyone can get back to the party.
Have an Unplugged Wedding
If you can’t entice your guests to have an unplugged wedding, at least insist on an unplugged ceremony. There is nothing worse that hiring a professional photographer to capture the most precious moments of your wedding day, (like your first kiss as husband and wife) to then have several of your guests standing in front of them, cell phone cameras in hand. Believe me, it happens more often than you can probably imagine. Couples have come up with so many ways to ask guests to keep their phones away, like incorporating it into their wedding program, a ceremony welcome sign or even in their invitations and wedding website.