35 Wedding Day Tips from an experienced wedding photographer!
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Stephanie's Wedding Day Photo Tips and Notes for working with me:
to help things go smoothly on your big day!
Your photography schedule for the day will be determined together by you and Stephanie! We'll review it again and confirm it, along with the rest of the day’s schedule and details, as your wedding day nears.
Get familiar with your dress: Before your wedding day, make sure that you and the person/people helping you get dressed know how to put on your dress - including corset backs, ties, bows, bustles, buttons, and your veil. Trying to figure this out on your wedding day can take extra time. Make decisions ahead of time and practice, practice, practice with those who will help you get dressed!
If you are planning to bustle your dress at any point, make sure your bustle is strong - I've seen so many bustles break during the reception while you're getting down on the dance floor or someone steps on a part of your train! I have loaned more than a few brides my ponytail holder for an emergency bustle! HA!
Comfortable shoes are a great idea!! As the bride, you're on your feet most of the day, and dancing into the night. Many brides wear sandals, slippers, chucks, flip flops, or other comfy and cute shoes. Your feet are the last thing you need to worry about – and in most cases, won’t even be seen under your wedding gown. You can always slip on something different for a photo, if a 'shoe shot' is important to you.
Rented tux shoes can be uncomfortable. Sometimes the guys buy their own shoes that look like the tux shoes, but actually feel good. If nothing else, plan to have comfortable shoes to slip into at the reception, or invest in a pair of insoles for the rentals. Cowboy boots, chucks, and others are popular options for the more casual wedding.
Have a Personal Attendant! This person can help you with all the details of your day so you don't have to run around trying to figure things out. During photos, she can bring you something to drink (i.e. bottle of water), lip color, powder, a mirror, kleenex, and any other items you may need during pictures. This will save us time from running around looking for things you need during photos. They won't need to help fluff your dress - I handle that because I know how I need it to lay for each pose. An aunt, colleague, or very organized friend who isn't part of your wedding party is a great choice. Having your Personal Attendant answer questions, run interference, or help with issues on your behalf is a great idea and allows you to not only focus on pictures, but ENJOY YOUR DAY!!!
Delegate! Let others handle the details and chores for you, leaving you time to enjoy your day. Make them a list! Host Couples are great for this to save the two of you, or mom or dad, from having to do all the work.
Make sure you eat! We definitely don’t want anyone fainting during pictures or the ceremony! EEK!
The best thing you can do to lessen stress and rushing for photos on your wedding day is to be ready on time! If things run behind, we may not be able to take all the photos we planned on.
Make sure everyone else in your wedding party and family also understands the importance of being on time. The photo schedule is tightly arranged to include everything you need, as long as no one is late. Guests usually begin arriving 30-45 minutes before the ceremony, and the bride and groom will need a break and a refresh before the wedding starts!
At the scheduled start of photos, the bride & groom should be fully dressed & ready, have the groom’s boutonniere on, bride’s bouquet in hand, and rings on (we are pretending you are already married for pictures).
Make sure your attendants/family have their bouquets or corsages/boutonnieres, etc. pinned on/ready in time for their photos. Designating someone to be the 'Flower Attendant' to take charge of this task is very helpful. Having to stop photos to pin everyone’s boutonnieres/corsages on takes away time from photos.
If you have any altar candelabras/candles that you want lit for photos, let's make sure they are lit for the start of formals. It is wise to have a second set of candles so you can have your candles lit during formal photos, and then use fresh ones for the ceremony.
Formals will begin with the Bride & Groom’s First Look (if requested), followed by Bride & Groom photos, then Wedding Party Photos, then Family Photos (this includes your immediate family and grandparents). If there is any extra time at the end of photos, we will do additional Bride & Groom photos or other photos you request at that time. Give everyone a specific time to be there, according to the schedule you receive from your photographer, and if you have friends or family that usually run late, tell them to be there a half an hour earlier. Discuss with your photographer any frail family members or anyone with special needs, so we can plan accordingly to make everyone as comfortable as possible.
Let your wedding party and family members know what time they need to arrive for their photos. Feel free to give them a copy of the schedule we create for your day!
Please instruct everyone who is involved in photos to stay nearby in the sanctuary/photo area during photos. Wandering people – including a wandering bride or groom - just takes time away from the photographer’s job of taking your photos while trying to track them down, and wasting time results in rushing, and fewer photos. Please remember that the bride and groom will be involved in ALL the scheduled formals, so plan accordingly.
It is important to try and focus on getting photos taken during scheduled photo times. Multiple interruptions with questions from others, etc. only serves to distract the photographer, and the bride and groom, from getting photos completed in a timely manner. Delegate wedding day issues to your Personal Attendant to limit disruptions so you can focus on pictures.
This goes for your wedding party too - please ask them to be cooperative and follow instructions given by the photographer. I will do everything I can to help, but in the end, attendants who don't cooperate, follow instructions, or insist on messing around during pictures only waste your valuable wedding day photo time that you have paid me for and can, in the end, ruin a once in a lifetime photo. It surprises me too, but from time to time there has been an adult wedding party member who insists on acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum during photos. Haven't figured that one out yet! *shrug emoji*
Wedding Day Makeup: Even if you do not usually wear makeup, please consider wearing at least a foundation and powder to reduce shine and even out skin tone; eyeliner or mascara so eyes stand out in photos; and just a touch of color to your lips. If you normally wear makeup, enhancing your daily routine is perfectly acceptable. While there is no need to overdo your makeup, adding extra mascara and lip color is preferable. Try to use a little powder or blotting paper so you aren't shiny! If you intend to wear sparkle powder, glittery makeup or glitter on your hair or body, it is best to wait until after photos to put this on - it can catch the lighting and cause spots.
If wearing a strapless gown, hold your arms slightly away from the top where your armpit is, to avoid the little wrinkle of skin under your armpit, but also, don't hold it out too far so that you look like a body builder.
Bouquets should always be held lower than you think, both for photos and when walking down the aisle – a good rule of thumb is to rest your wrist/lower arm on your hip bones with your bouquet in the center, at low hip level, with elbows slightly bent. There are two reasons for this: 1. Elongating your arms is the most flattering pose, 2. It shows off the top of your dress.
It's so important to have good posture and stand up straight! Slumping and rounding your shoulders is especially obvious when wearing a strapless dress. Standing tall will flatter your body; please don’t slump!
Don't be afraid to be yourself... if you can relax during photos and just be yourself, your photos will come out looking more natural! Feel free to ask for goofy, serious, funny or even glamour poses – whatever reflects YOU!
If you feel your smile getting stiff and fake, make a face, stick out your tongue, or make exaggerated chewing motions. Open your eyes really wide and then relax them. The object is to loosen up the muscles in your face. Even if the photographer seems to be on a roll, just ask for a break. I won’t mind! :)
If you or someone in your wedding party or family wears glasses, consider asking your eye doctor for a pair of empty frames just for photos. Lighting/Flash can bounce off of glasses and often causes glare.
Not every image needs a big grin. Happy is great, but big, cheesy smiles tend to cause you to squint. Don't be afraid to ask for some softer/smaller smiles (we'll suggest them sometimes too) or even a few serious shots.
On the other hand, if you don't like to smile, remember: these photos are going to last a lifetime and will be the sole memory of your wedding day - consider me your paparazzi for the entire day! It is important to let your happiness show, all day long! It’s fine to take a few unsmiling shots, but a wedding is a happy occasion, and my personal opinion is that the photographs should reflect this.
When choosing your bouquet, consider the weight of the flowers. Real flowers can be fairly heavy; keep in mind that you will be holding them for the entire time you are taking pictures. Also, on occasion I have seen dark colored flowers stain a wedding gown. Just be aware of keeping your bouquet from rubbing on your dress.
Long receiving lines after the ceremony can take some time. Consider going back into the sanctuary as soon as you walk up the aisle, to greet your guests yourselves at each pew as they leave. Have your parents greet your guests as they leave the church lobby area.
If you plan to keep your guests waiting at the reception for a considerable amount of time, it is a kind gesture to let them start eating the meal or provide a cocktail/hors d'ouevres hour before your arrival. They will appreciate it, and once you arrive, the DJ can announce you and you can cut into the food line immediately with your wedding party.
Plan to cut your cake either immediately after arriving at your reception, or immediately after you and your groom finish eating. If you get these few pictures quickly, you’ll be free to enjoy your reception and visit with guests without worrying about the photographer or DJ pulling you away - and guests can enjoy the cake sooner!
If you choose to drink excessively on your wedding day, that is certainly your choice; remember your photos are forever and the expression on your face at every point of your day will be captured on camera!
Feel free to send me a photo of your gown, bridesmaids gowns, bouquet, etc. This helps me get a head start envisioning your day in photos ahead of time! Also, feel free to send me your any special photo requests (or “Don’t Take” requests), or share any photo ideas you have seen and loved or even send me your Pinterest boards!
Be sure to give me a heads up about any unique or special customs or activities during your day that would be important for me to know about!
Last but not least....It's YOUR day: ENJOY IT!