Wedding Day Tips and Advice

Location, location, location. If you have a great idea for a shooting location on your wedding day, I want to hear it! Experiencing a diverse location can be a great way to spend time with your bridal party. Consider rustic or urban textures to compliment the classic views such as a scenic lake or mountain top. If transportation is involved, think about traffic, parking the limo/shuttle, and the time involved to return on-time. The right location will create beautiful photographs and your wedding photographer will truly apprecitate it.

Don’t forget to eat. This is super important-brides tend to be running around and blame no appetite on nerves. Eat something rather than pass out at the prime time. Eat ‘normal’ foods throughout the day to keep the blood-sugar levels at a healthy level. A good breakfast goes a long way, but don’t skimp on lunch either, especially if are having a late dinner reception. Hunger pangs after the ceremony won’t make you feel your best and regular snacks and hydration will keep you radiant in your photos.

Drink water. It’s free, will make you feel well, and it goes a long way to nourish your skin, especially at higher altitudes.

Dressing room prep. Pick a dressing room with lots of room and natural light. Have bridesmaids clean up non-wedding messes like jeans and sneakers, but just don’t make the place too sterile. Store empty boxes and bags outside the dressing room and consider hanging the dresses and displaying the shoes and jewelry so they are ready to be photographed. Flowers look better in vases instead of cardboard florist boxes. In addition, good dressing room lighting is key. Caution: bright sunlight streaming in may look great to the eyes, but extreme brightness in a dark room creates harsh lighting. Blinds, drapes, or even a white sheet over the outside of the window creates nice diffusing light. North facing windows generally offer a bit softer light. If no windows are available, consider white lights or candles.

Delegate. Your bridal party will want to make your wedding day as memorable as you do. If you can’t find Uncle Bob for family photos and groomsmen are standing around with hands in pockets, put them to work to help out.

Stay connected. Type in important vendor phone numbers in your phone as you book them. That way, if you have to contact them on the wedding day, there’s no hunting for info.

Face the crowd. During the ceremony, face the people you love. If you intend to sit during your ceremony, sit together, not apart. Intimate moments between the bride and groom are difficult to capture when separated. If possible, choose to face the crowd or at least face them at an angle. Guests like to see a shared laugh or tear. I also want to capture those moments for you. We remember the joy on our wedding day looking out and seeing for the first time lots of family and friends all gathered together in one place at one time, which rarely happens. Also, having your own mental snapshot of your occasion can be priceless.

Don’t be afraid to laugh. Enjoy your day and have fun! If you soak it all in, you’ll enjoy ever moment that much more, which will show in photos.

Coordinated details. Color coordination for your reception and wedding details serve as a common visual thread in tying important details together. As a result, detail collages seem greater than just the sum of the individual details. Ask for recommendations. While magazines may offer great ideas, don’t be afraid to be daring and different.

Be yourself. In the wedding planning process, know there are rules and rules to be broken. Don’t feel you have to do a money dance, or bouquet/garter toss, or a receiving line if it isn’t your style. If you want to wear blue shoes, wear blue shoes. Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to have your wedding day a reflection of both you and your spouse’s interests.

Be prepared. Outside ceremonies are great, but not in a rainstorm. Finding a large tent at the last minute may prove challenging. In advance, discuss with your photographer back-up strategies in case nature takes a turn for the worse.

Avoid the receiving line. A line of meeting & greeting and hugs & kisses can drain your energy before you start off your party. Don’t limit your time with guests, as long waits can agitate guests, especially those with small children. Instead, save your energy for meeting and greeting at a cocktail hour.

Practice makes perfect. If you want great wedding photographs, knowing & connecting with your wedding photographer goes a long way. An engagement session gives you a chance to get to know me and become more comfortable in front of a camera. Unless you are a model, chances are the last time you had a professional photo taken was in those old school photos with the laser backgrounds.

Don’t experiment with makeup. Skin treatments or a facial the week of the wedding may not make your skin glow, as your skin needs recovery time. Start skin treatments a few weeks prior to your wedding day.

Be comfy. Seriously, it’s your day, so why not enjoy it to the fullest? Be sure you’ll be comfy in your dress standing and sitting. During your wedding dress shopping, go with a friend that will tell you the truth about how your dress fits. Consider packing a change of shoes for dancing and unwinding afterwards. Avoid blisters on your honeymoon by choosing a comfy pair of dancing shoes. Also, consider scuffing the souls for extra traction.

Rest up. Get plenty of sleep the week of the wedding and especially the night before. If you feel well-rested, you’ll be more natural & relaxed for your photos.

The anti-shot list. If there are any particular shots you want, feel free to tell me. I work for you and want you to be happy with your images. I prefer not to photograph from a “shot list” throughout your wedding day, as long lists and frequent requests for posed photographs reduce the capability to explore and obtain photographs of genuinely occurring moments. That being said, I do have a mini-shot list in my head including: bride & groom, b & g with bride’s extended family, b & g with groom’s extended family, bridal party together, bride with bridesmaids (and individually), groom with groomsmen (and individually). I also plan to photograph the little details throughout the day. You may want to designate an “event guide” to point out important individuals for informal or candid photographs.

Plan alone time. Thoughtfully plan your day in advance, including 20-30 minutes of bride & groom alone time for your portrait session. Private sessions also allow for greater creativity, minimize disruptions, and better enable me to capture the intimacy of being newly married. Competing with numerous flashes and suggestions to “look here” distracts from my efforts. Exploring an old barn, a nearby park, a scenic vista, or even an urban alley can create an array of creative possibilities. Plan extra time between your wedding events, as unexpected things may arise. I want you to reduce stress, relax, and enjoy your wedding day.

Know ‘where & when.’ Be as specific as possible and notify important members of your bridal party in advance of these details. Don’t forget to notify your wedding photographer of specifics before the big day… hunting around for a bride in a large hotel can waste precious time in documenting preparations. After planning out the timing of your wedding thoughtfully, create a ‘where & when’ sheet. Print off copies and hand out at the rehearsal. Emailing your ‘where & when’ sheet to the vendors is highly recommended to avoid surprises.

Share the rules. Please let me know up-front any church restrictions. Retrofitting wedding photography needs to restrictions, can be frustrating. To respect church rules, I have to know what they are.I normally choose not to go near the altar to avoid interfering with the ceremony.

Keep it simple. Whatever details, logistics, and choices to make might be facing you, keeping in mind one of the most important principles in planning your wedding: what will be important in 50 years? Do you really need extra fancy chair covers or an open-bar all night long? If things like that are important to you, great. If not, you might want to reconsider.

Don’t ‘Say Cheese.’ Explain to your guests that my style is journalistic, which means I am with you during your wedding day and photograph actions in real time. Many people are surprised to learn that they don’t have to look at the camera to get great shots. Share your enthusiasm about your choice for wedding photography to family and friends by sending an email to friends and family. You may want to include a link to so they can get a feel for my style. In the email, remind them to ignore me as much as possible. That way they will understand my wedding photography approach a bit better. To photograph natural shots, I prefer to blend in and be unobtrusive. Preparing friends and family with that in mind will go a long way in making them feel more comfortable and they won’t be compelled to “smile.” Let kids be kids during the event, event though parents plead them to “say cheese.” Kids do the darndest things at weddings.

Shoot formals first. Even if you have your heart set on not seeing each other until the ceremony, photographing the bulk of the family & group formals before ceremony is one ingredient for a smooth wedding day. After the ceremony, many brides would rather spend time with guests. In addition, gathering guests at the reception can be difficult and there’s always the risk of spilling drinks on attire, especially with kids (both, young and old). I prefer about an hour and a half for portraits, including 20-30 minutes with bride & groom alone, 30 minutes with bridal party, and 30 minutes with family. This could be shorter if we plan it well.

The First Look. If you are in the early stages of wedding planning, consider a ‘first look.’ The extra time will be on your side and the images will be that much better with a ‘first look.’ The tradition of not seeing the bride goes back to the olden days of arranged marriages (so if the bride is ugly, the groom didn’t have time to skip town. Bridal magazines often reference how a bride wants her images to look. Two ingredients need for this photographic style include ample time before the ceremony and wonderful natural light. Combined, these help set the stage for a more casual, relaxed approach in your wedding portraits. In addition, with a First Look, you have more control over location choice. Your hair, makeup, and clothing will be photographed while pristine and in plenty of time before ceremony anxiety and emotion. You’ll also have more romantic time for your groom to admire you in your wedding dress away from crowds. An added bonus: you will have more time with guests.

You’ll also appreciate the difference of natural light makes in your photos. Summer light lingers longer, giving a great chance at catching the warm light at a low angle. However, shorter days during winter months give little chance to photograph using natural, “pretty” light. If you are getting married in the evening where it is dark after the ceremony or during the months between November and April (in the Northern Hemisphere), we strongly suggest a ‘first look.’

Even if you choose the traditional approach of shooting the portraits after the ceremony, time your ceremony so there is natural light available. Ideally, plan the ceremony to end with at least 2 hours before sunset to get the best out of natural light.

Last, but not least:

Trust in your Wedding Photographer. You hired me because you trust me and we promise to do my best. Trust me to cover all the wedding photography details so you do not have to worry.

Above all, as your wedding photographer I want you to enjoy your day.