So my fiancé Jon proposed last August (!!) and I’m currently in the whirlwind planning stages for our wedding this upcoming September. Over the next few months, I want to share some insight and advice with fellow brides about my experience as someone who has photographed/designed for weddings and is now planning one as a bride.
Now while I know the venue is almost always the first thing a couple decides on (after picking a date of course), I want to start with the topic near and dear to my heart: photography.
What Every Bride Should Know About Wedding Photography
Choose a photographer whose editing style you like
There are likely numerous photographers in your area with beautiful portfolios, and chances are many have similar pricing and packages. So how do you pick? I would start with editing style (also known as post-processing). Different photographers edit their photos various ways. Some prefer more pastel or muted tones, others like applying a high-contrast, HDR look. One style is not better than the other, it’s just a matter of preference. I personally like images that have vibrant colors, interesting angles, and wide shots of people that show off the environment. I picked a photographer whose portfolio showcased all those elements.
Also, think about the favorite photos of yourself and your significant other. What did you love about those shots? Is it because they captured your quirky side? If so, look for photographers who show fun, quirky shots of the couple. Those shots imply that the bride and groom felt comfortable enough in front of the photographer to show that side of themselves.
Choose a photographer whose personality you like
Most likely your photographer is the person you will spend the most time with as s/he documents your wedding day. You don’t want to discover on the day itself that you find the photographer too aggressive or too quiet for your liking. This is why that initial phone call / Skype session / face-to-face meeting is so important before booking your photographer. You can only gather so much about a person from their website bio or email messages. Personal interaction is key, which is why many photographers, myself included, like to photograph your engagement session as well as your wedding. It’s the best opportunity to get to know each other firsthand and work out any communication issues before the wedding.
Choose a getting-ready location that lets in lots of natural light
Natural light streaming in from a window is your best friend because it’s incredibly flattering on your skin. When it comes time for you to put on your dress and veil, try to do it in a room with large windows or glass doors to let as much light in as possible. I promise this will help you get those lovely bridal portraits you see online. The hotel suite I picked has floor-to-ceiling glass doors for this very reason.
Another tip is to have your bridesmaids tidy up the room so there are no distracting elements in the background, such as handbags or articles of clothing.
The First Look will not take away from the Ceremony
If you’re hesitating about doing a First Look because you think it will make the moment when your Groom sees you walking down the aisle less special, I can tell you from firsthand experience that is not the case at all. The grooms I’ve photographed were just as happy and emotional during the ceremony, even though they had just seen their bride an hour or so before. First Looks are a great chance for the bride and groom to share an intimate moment before being swept up with everyone else once the Ceremony and Reception start. It’s also another opportunity for photographers to take more Bride and Groom portraits in a less rushed setting, which allows for more creative shots. Jon and I have chosen to do a First Look specifically because we know how much time formal portraits actually take.
Pre-Ceremony Photos are much more relaxing and fun
Pre-Ceremony is an ideal time to get photos with your entire wedding party and your immediate family. It’s your chance to do those jumping shots or funny portraits with these special people. Usually when all formal portraits are saved for after the ceremony, it feels a bit like high-school picture days where people are just quickly swapped in and out in front of the camera. Pose, smile, next! Pre-Ceremony shots are much more relaxed. Plus, the more photos you take before the ceremony, the more time you’ll have for bride and groom portraits and a higher likelihood you’ll have time to mingle with guests during cocktail hour.
Communicate who your VIPs are
Try to give your photographer both the names and photos of the Very Important People attending your wedding. This is less about the wedding party since they are quickly identifiable based on their outfit. It’s more for extended family or out-of-town guests who you definitely want a picture of or with. I may never know that your beloved grandma is seeing you for the first time since you moved away 10 years ago unless you tell me. But once I know, I’ll make sure to get more coverage of her, especially reaction shots as she watches you walk down the aisle or as she cries during your first dance.
Feed photographers at the same time as your guests
I worked a wedding where I was served much later than the guests, and once I sat down to eat, I heard the announcement that speeches were about to start. Of course I got up so as not to miss it. If we’re fed around the same time as guests, the bit of downtime that occurs as people receive and eat their food is the perfect opportunity for us to recharge. Besides, most people don’t enjoy having their photo taken while eating.
You do not need every photo that was taken
Do you really want those 15 shots I took as I repositioned your shoes by the window light to showcase the sparkly bling? Trust me, you don’t. Between me and my second shooter, we can easily take almost 2000 photos over an 8 hr period. We take so many in order to find the best angle, exposure, and composition for a scene or subject. Then we edit down to only the absolute best so that you don’t have to. You won’t miss the photos that are unflattering, have bad lighting, are blurry or have someone blocking the camera.
Plus, when it comes time to create a wedding album (and I sincerely hope you make one), it’s so much easier to sift through 400-600 amazing shots than over 1500 photos that are a mix of amazing, good, and meh.
I hope you found this helpful! There are many other great tips out there regarding wedding photography but these were the top ones I’m concerned with as I plan my own. I’d love to hear any questions from brides or tips from other photographers. Let me know in the comments below!