After your wedding day is over and you start to get back in the swing of everyday married life, chances are you’ll be excitedly awaiting the day that you get your pictures back from your photographer and relive the day through their camera lens. To ensure that you’re happy with your overall wedding photography experience, you’ll want to take a few important steps along the way:
1. Choose your Photographer(s):
Make this decision together with your significant other, considering first the recommendations/references, style, value, price and availability of the photographer(s), and then (after meeting) their portfolio/work and personality. After all, their camera isn’t the only thing that should ‘click’ on your big day. You want to know them, like them, trust them and feel comfortable knowing that you’ll be with them for a majority of your wedding day. They’ll be coordinating the photos of the 2 of you, but also of your families and wedding party members. Can they take charge? Are they confident? Will they get the job done the way that you want it?
Note: There are many extensive lists online of questions to ask a photographer before booking. I like this one, but feel free to Google more if you’d like!
2. Sign a Contract:
Once you’ve found your photographer(s) and the right package, you’re ready to sign your contract. You’ll want this contract to include the location, the date and the times that you’re hiring the photographer(s). How many hours are included? How many shooters (do you want 1 person shooting everything or 2 so that you can split up the bridesmaids and groomsmen for some shots and get a few different angles for each important part of the day)? Ask important questions, including whether the photographer you’re meeting will be your main shooter on your wedding day, and what would happen if he/she were to get sick or be unable to fulfill the agreed upon duties? Do they bring extra batteries, lenses, cameras, etc.? What do/should they wear? What is included in your package for the price you’re paying? Will you get prints, an album, a disc with digital images, an engagement session? Hash out all of the details, get everything in writing, sign it with your photographer and keep a copy for your own wedding planning file. You’ll want to book your photographer(s) as early as possible, but don’t rush into it. You want someone you really feel comfortable with and excited to have on your team.
3. Start Dreaming:
Consider what you’d like your photos to look like. Do you have a vision for a fun wedding party picture with props? A glamorous formal shot of just the two of you? A whole board of pictures on Pinterest that inspire you? Collect your thoughts, dream and envision!
As you plan, think about whether you’d like to do a First Look or First Reveal with your significant other before the ceremony. This is a chance to see each other, one on one, the day of the wedding. It allows you to get some beautiful photos together without the time constraint that comes after a ceremony, and in turn gives you more quality time with your guests during the party. It also gives you time together to exchange words, notes, gifts, hugs and prayers, if you wish. You can go from the First Look into the Wedding Party photos and family photos, giving your wedding party the chance to enjoy the entire Cocktail Hour (if it comes immediately after the ceremony) and giving you the chance to join as soon as you’re ready.
Looking for ideas and inspiration? Not sure where to start?
Wedding Day- Bride & Groom Photo Ideas Pinterest Board
Wedding Day- Wedding Party Photo Ideas Pinterest Board
Wedding Day- Kids’ Photo Ideas Pinterest Board
Wedding Day- Pet Photo Ideas Pinterest Board
Wedding Day- Parent Photo Ideas Pinterest Board
Fun Other Pictures Pinterest Board
Have you thought about whether you want to crowd source photos from your big day or leave the capturing to the pros? Consider the options, then find a way to communicate your wishes to your guests.
Want friends/family to take as many pictures as they’d like? Consider a Supercharged Wedding.
Want to make things easier for your photographer? Consider an Unplugged Wedding.
4. Prepare & Communicate:
As you get closer, you’ll want to prepare yourselves, your family/friends, and your photographer(s) for the photos that are most important to the two of you. If there are props you need, get them well in advance. If you want everyone to bring along a pair of sunglasses or an umbrella, you’ll have to communicate that to them. If you need your Grandmother to arrive at a certain time to take photos, you’ll want to figure out how she will get there and let her know when you want her to arrive. It all takes a little coordination, but once everyone knows where to be and when, it ensures a smooth, enjoyable wedding day!
As the wedding day comes closer, share your vision with your photography team. Share your favorite Pinterest boards, your theme/scheme inspiration, and open the lines of communication for any questions and shared ideas. Get together and come up with a list of ‘Must-have’ shots (no more than 15-20), as well as a list of all the important little details you want captured in addition to the important people.
Consider how much time you’ll need for each set of photos and each part of the day. Start thinking about a Timeline and putting it together, based on your schedule, which may include (but not be limited to):
The Bride, the Dress (Bring a non-plastic hanger for your dress shoot)
(Gap between Ceremony & Cocktail Hour? Travel Time?)
Night-time pictures (Sparklers, Chinese lanterns, outdoor lighting, pools and ponds are great for these)
Must-Have Photo: The Golden Hour before sunset is the perfect time to get out and take some quick yet unforgettable photos.
Some Timeline Tips:
– Plan more than enough time for each part of the day
– If you’re having a Receiving line after the ceremony, plan at least an extra 30 minutes.
– Consider trying to sneak away during the Golden/Magic Hour. Not sure when the Golden Hour will be on your wedding date? This site makes it easy to find out!
– Start your Timeline with Girls’ Hair & Makeup Appointments, or even breakfast before that, if applicable.
– Plan a specific timeframe for couple shots, wedding party shots, family shots, and important friend shots. Decide approximately when they will start and end, and how long they will take.
– If your venue does not include a Coordinator, you may want to consider hiring one while you plan and/or for Day-of Coordination. This person will connect all of the vendors and keep everything running smoothly, so you don’t have to worry about the timeline (or even what time it is!)- you can just enjoy the celebration!
*Note the tips in pink above, which came from a great post by a Photographer-turned-Bride. Read more at 15 Wedding Tips
Check out this awesome post on my friend Steph’s blog, The Event Crashers, written by 2 photographers about 10 Things Most Couples Don’t Think About Regarding Wedding Photography. Amazing tips and a few more things to think about.
5. Help Prepare Them:
Be sure your photographer has been to your venue before. If not, offer to meet there in advance and show them around or suggest that they meet the coordinator if there is one. If possible on the day of the wedding, they should plan to arrive early to get situated, learn the layout of the photo spots and start photographing some of your details, as well as the venue itself. Most good photographers will do this, but you may want to suggest it and confirm their arrival time with your venue.
As the big day approaches, you’ll want to share your Timeline with your photographer, as well as your other vendors, your wedding party and your close family members. For the photographer, you may want to make a map or a Cheat Sheet of who’s who in the wedding party and your families (mainly MOH, best man, siblings, parents, grandparents, and their significant others). You can add pictures of each person if you’d like to help them get to know everyone faster. You can also share contact info for a few of them, in case the photographer needs to get in touch with somebody on the way or throughout the day. This is all especially helpful in family situations including past divorce, remarriage, loss of a loved one, etc. as it will help the photographer piece everyone together and show sensitivity to your family dynamic.
Yes, No, Maybe So?:
There may be certain rules for where, when and how photographs may be taken at different points in your day. Find out the rules for photography in your place of worship if applicable and let your photographer know asap if there’s anything that could make their job difficult (i.e. They aren’t allowed to take photos during the ceremony, They can’t use flash photography, etc.). Your reception venue may also have certain areas where photos may be taken, and others where they mat not. For example, the venue where I work has a Photo Trail right around the clubhouse where beautiful pictures can be taken, but wedding parties aren’t supposed to go out onto the golf course (as it’s a private club) or in certain parts of the clubhouse (for the same reason). If your photographer has this information in advance, he/she can plan a path and photos accordingly.
When it comes to photography, there’s not a whole lot you need to do on your wedding day. You’ve communicated all of your wishes, shared the Timeline and now you can just enjoy the day.
You may want to appoint a go-to person ahead of time who can help corral people for a picture or two if needed, and who can share any changes in the schedule as the day goes on, but otherwise, your main job is to get married and have fun! You make the memories, and the photographer(s) will capture them.
That being said, keep in mind that candid photos are sometimes so much better than posed shots, and your photographer has a great portfolio because he/she knows how to photograph those special moments best. Allow your photography team to make photo decisions and be the judge of the best setups. Remember that the photos you love on Pinterest probably didn’t happen because of another photo on Pinterest; They probably just happened and the photographer was in the right place at the right time with the right tools and skills to capture them that way. Trust them and relax. Oh, and don’t forget to feed your Photographer(s)!
Bringing Photos to the Wedding:
Having worked almost 100 weddings in the past 2 years, I’ve seen some incredibly creative brides & grooms and, in turn, some beautifully clever weddings! There are so many ways to incorporate photos into your wedding day, but here are just a few:
1) Include a framed picture (or a bulletin board of photos) at your Place Card Table
2) Display framed photos from your parents’ and grandparents’ weddings. Just be sure to include a little note saying who’s who! You can also take a photo holding a framed picture from your parents’ weddings, or (even better!) recreate their picture with the same pose, same angle, same facial expressions, etc.
3) Print and display photos from your Engagement session.
4) Include photos in your Centerpiece plan. I love when the table number corresponds to a picture of the bride and a picture of the groom at that age. I’ve also seen pictures of the bride & groom in different places for a Travel theme, or a pictures of some of their favorite spots to visit in a College/University theme.
5) Hang pictures across a string to make a sweet decorative banner.
6) Include cute bathroom/bathtub baby photos of the bride with the bathroom basket for the ladies’ room and the groom for the mens’ room.
7) Last, but not least, was the wedding with the photo place cards. The bride found a picture of each couple attending the wedding from their own wedding day and put it on their place card. For single friends, she took a favorite picture of them individually. She turned all of the pictures black and white and put them on a long table with a beautiful flower arrangement.
After the Wedding
Article from Offbeat Bride- What to Do with Wedding Photos after the Big Day
Have any other ideas about what to do with photos after the big day or how to incorporate them INTO the big day?!? Share them in a comment below!