I’m sure everyone has heard the saying, “The flowers die, the cake gets eaten, but the photos last a lifetime.” It may be overused on photography blogs, but it’s so true! Your wedding photos are important. They’re what make your memories last! And it’s not just up to the photographer to create beautiful wedding photos. There are lots of things brides can do to guarantee they have great photos at the end of the night.
1. Hire your dream photographer
This is probably the most obvious yet most important tip for guaranteeing great wedding photos. A good photographer can make a DIY wedding in a church reception hall look like a million bucks, and a bad photographer can make that high-budget wedding look a cheap, backyard affair. It’s important to choose a wedding photographer whose work you admire and whose personality you connect with! Without a good photographer, every other tip on this list is pointless, so make sure you do your research and invest in a professional to capture your memories! I’ve actually written a entire blog post devoted to choosing your dream photographer. Check it out here.
2. Choose a venue with a style you love and lots of natural light
Simple. A pretty venue makes for pretty photos. The venue will set the tone and theme for your entire wedding gallery since it will literally be the backdrop for every photo taken that day. It’s important that it fits the style you’re going for and that it has places to take photos that have good natural light. Consider the lighting at your ceremony space. Will there be strange shadows on your faces? Will you be standing under dim, yellow lights? If you happen to choose your photographer before your venue, it’d be a good idea to consult with them in order to make the best decision about lighting! This is the place you’re going to marry the love of your life. You want it to be special, and you want it to be a beautiful place for your photographer to capture your memories.
3. Create a timeline that allows adequate time for everything
Your wedding photographer can definitely help you with this, or your planner/coordinator, but the timeline is what can really make or break your wedding experience. Nobody likes feeling rushed or late, and that awful feeling is intensified on your wedding day. Not planning enough time for things like hair and makeup can push the entire day behind, and unfortunately, the first thing that gets cut when things are running behind is portrait time. So be sure to start your day early and schedule enough time for every event. Ask your photographer how much time they’ll need for portraits and make that a priority in your timeline! Check out my blog post on How to Create a Timeline for a Stress-Free Wedding for tips and sample timelines!
4. Choose quality vendors
All those pretty details you see in wedding galleries like stationary, bouquets, painted signs and place cards, all of those are the work of talented vendors! Pinterest and DIYing can only get you so far. It’s important to hire quality vendors who can help bring your vision to life. At my own wedding, I had an idea of how I wanted my decor to look, but it was my talented wedding planner who really took my vision and ran with it. She made every detail of my day so beautiful and helped me choose quality vendors who would help make my dreams a reality. If you want pretty photos, you need pretty things to photograph! So do your research and hire the right people to make that happen.
5. Invest in real flowers
I get it, florals are expensive. They’re often the first thing to go when brides are trying to cut down wedding costs. While friends and wedding blogs might advise you to get fake flowers claiming they look just as nice, that’s just not true. You can tell the difference in person, and especially in your photos. Real, beautiful flowers arranged by a talented florist will seriously elevate the style, beauty and elegance of your wedding. If you can’t afford to dress your whole reception hall in floral arrangements, which is totally understandable, I suggest at least investing in a real bouquet for yourself and your bridesmaids. I promise the investment will pay off in your wedding photos!
Photos like these wouldn’t be possible without real flowers!
6. Make sure your getting ready space is well-lit and clean
The room a bride gets ready in can easily become a hectic space. There’s makeup all over counters, clothes strewn on the floor in addition to bags, snacks and accessories. But when the photographer arrives, try your best to tidy up the space. Remove everything unnecessary from the counters, pick up items from the floor and throw away all trash and food. You don’t want those things cluttering up your getting ready photos. When you’re looking at places to get ready in, also consider the lighting of the room. It’s best if the room has light colored walls and considerable natural light from a window.
7. Consider having a first look
This is a hot topic among brides, and I promise I’ll have another blog post soon discussing the pros and cons, but since we’re talking solely about getting good wedding photos, I would suggest having a first look. A first look will allow you to take all of your bridal party photos and a majority of your couple portraits before the ceremony. Your photographer will have more time to work their magic, and you’ll be relaxed, happy and not worried about keeping your guests waiting at the reception. You’ll also get adorable, intimate pictures like the ones below!
8. Walk down the aisle with your head high and bouquet low
When I was younger, my mom and I used to watch “Say Yes to the Dress” together almost every weekend. After watching these brides go through the emotional task of choosing the perfect wedding dress, my mom would be left yelling at the tv “put your bouquet down!” as they walked down the aisle because we couldn’t see their beautiful dress! Brides and bridesmaids have a tendency to hold their bouquets up in front of their chests. Holding your bouquet this high distracts from your face in wedding photos and keeps people from seeing the top of your dress. So when you’re walking down the aisle, hold your bouquet at hip height with your elbows tucked in.
Some brides and bridesmaids also have a tendency to look down while walking down the aisle because they’re nervous. As soon as you start walking, lock eyes with your soon-to-be husband and hold that gaze until you get there! It’ll keep you from thinking about the people looking at you, and it will intensify the emotions between you, which will make for sweeter pictures!
9. Create a list of family photo combinations beforehand
This is something your wedding photographer will guide you through, but it’s an important task to make sure your family formals after the ceremony run smoothly. A few weeks before your wedding, sit down with your fiancé and type out every combination of family members you want photos of. For example, bride, groom and grandparents, bride and brother, groom and parents, etc. That way your photographer has a list to go off of and nobody gets forgotten. There’s nothing worse then realizing the next morning that you forgot to get a picture with your grandma! Creating a list for your photographer will take all the stress off of you to remember everybody in the moment.
10. Do a sparkler sendoff (or any kind of sendoff)
Sparkler send offs make for beautiful photos. The bright lights, cheering faces and happy couple create the perfect picture to cap off your wedding gallery. They’re also a really fun way to end the night. If your venue won’t allow sparklers, other options are bubbles, confetti, rice, glow sticks or just a tunnel of jazz hands like the image at the top of the page! Whatever you decide, doing a send off will make for adorable images that you’ll cherish.