1. Use a Professional
You might have a friend with a camera, but using a professional photographer will yield professional results. Professionals will have had the experience in dealing with the fast pace of weddings, plus the equipment to ensure your photos look the way you imagined, not to mention that he or she will know how to pose you and your guests. Also, by using the same photographer for both your engagement and weddings photos you may be able to bundle the packages resulting in a discount for you as well as the opportunity of working with and getting to know your photographer before your big day. Speaking for myself, I enjoy getting to know a couple before their wedding and I offer a discount when engagement and wedding photos are bundled together.
2. Make Lists
Your photographer may supply you with a suggested list of wedding photos, but you should make your own. While a wedding photographer will know to get the happy couple with their family, the photographer will not know who the parents are or what extended family members you want to make sure are in your photos. By making a list and giving it to your photographer you are ensuring you will get the group and individual photos you anticipate. Plus, it is one less thing that you have to consider on your wedding day.
I also encourage couples to do their homework and look online and in magazines of images that they would like to have of them. While I have standard poses and shots, having poses that are special to that couple are always welcome. It might be a shot where the couple hold a mirror reflecting the we wedding party, or a silhouette at sunset, or the couple holding each other’s baby pictures - the point is there may be something special for you as a couple that the photographer will not know until you tell them. So look for ideas that appeal to you.
3. Recreate Special Moments
Wedding days go by faster than you think and there may not be enough time to grab that special shot - especially during the ceremony. It’s okay to schedule some time to recreate some of those special moments. For example, I take shots throughout the wedding ceremony - but I can’t always get that exact moment that might be special to you. Let the wedding officiant know in advance that you might want to recreate a shot or two. This will allow for the close-ups or fast paced pictures to be taken. This is also true of the couple walking together or of the bridal party celebrating an event before the wedding. True, these pictures may not be spontaneous, but when you look back on them you will only remember what they represent.
4. Think About Light
Lighting is a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you want it not too hot and not too cold. It needs to be just right. Professional photographers will have lighting equipment, I travel with both an attachable flash as well as stand-alone strobes to use as needed. And, of course, I use natural lighting. But there are locations where light attachments can’t be used (such as during a religious ceremony) or a reception hall that is exceptionally dark so that even with a flash there may not be enough background light. While you may have no control over this it is something you might want to let your photographer know so that they can be better prepared. And you should know that dark locations are not the best place to get those special photos you really want.
Likewise, direct sunlight is not your friend. Harsh lighting will not only create shadows on your face, but may cause you and members of your wedding party to squint. If possible, standing in indirect light (or cloud cover) will yield better looking photos.
5. Limit Your Locations
It is normal to have a few different locations - such as where the wedding party is getting ready, where the ceremony will be taking place, and the reception. But if you have a number of multiple locations keep in mind that they will take more time. So, if possible, keep locations to a minimal, and if there are other locations what you want to include in your wedding photography use those for your couple’s pictures.
The One Must-Do:
Give Yourself Enough Time!
If I only had one piece of advice I could give a couple regarding their wedding photography I would tell them to allow themselves enough time so you can get the photos you want. Having a wedding coordinator will help with this, as well as discussing your photo shoot with your photographer beforehand. While each wedding is different, if you schedule about an hour for family and wedding party photos you can then have about an hour as a couple with your photographer.
A few ways to save time would be too have “first looks” and take some couple pictures then. Or to have family photos (either as a couple or individually) prior to the ceremony. Or, if you wish, you can see about scheduling a special photo shoot as a couple or individually prior to or after your wedding day. Again, this is something you can see if your photographer would bundle together with your wedding package.
Regardless, by scheduling your time and allowing enough time for all the photos you want it will ensure that you will get the results you desire - plus scheduling extra time will help you to enjoy the day because you won’t feel as rushed. Your photographer wants you to really be happy and giving yourself enough time and enjoying your day will be seen in your photos.
After all, this is your day and not everyone else’s.