How to Prep for Beautiful, Relaxed Wedding Day Photos!

The 2019 wedding season is now in full swing! I had my first wedding of the year this last weekend (sneak peeks to come over on my Facebook and Instagram! Be sure to follow me and check them out!) and had an absolute blast! But I also know how stressful wedding planning, and the actual wedding day, can be for many brides… I remember how stressful it was for ME when I was planning my wedding, and it’s been almost 10 years! So, here are some tips that I’ve put together to help you prepare for your wedding day photos so that you can be as relaxed and care-free on your big day as possible!

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Wedding Photography Prep Tips

1) Hire a photographer that you trust and feel comfortable with.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many couples prioritize cost over comfort (myself included!) when it comes to their wedding photography. Your photographer is going to be with you for most of the day. They will likely be with you MORE than you are with your soon-to-be spouse. They will see you/photograph you in some very emotional moments, and possibly in an undressed state. You want to be so comfortable with them that you don’t even know that they are there!

2) Hire a photographer at a “normal” price point

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“Normal” is relative and depends on your budget, style, and coverage needs. What I’m mostly getting at here is don’t hire the “cheapest” option. Why? Because if something happens, and that photographer is no longer able to cover your day, you now can’t find another photographer for the same rate and may not have the extra funds set aside to increase your photography budget… which means S.T.R.E.S.S…. the thing that we’re trying to avoid! You’d be surprised at how many last minute booking requests that I’ve gotten from panicked brides because their cousin (who was going to do their photos as a gift) is no longer able to attend the wedding, or the photographer that they hired to do the whole thing for $200 isn’t returning their messages any more. I would love for you to avoid this situation!

3) Put together a “Shot List” for your photographer well ahead of time

There’s been a couple of times that I’ve requested a shot list and the couple has responded with “You’re the photographer… don’t you know what to shoot"?”. Yes, I 100% know WHAT to shoot on your wedding day, but I don’t always know WHO to photograph. When I say “shot list” I don’t mean that you have to give me a list that includes “bride putting on dress, first kiss, cake cutting”,. I’m talking more about the formal family photos. Do you want photos of you with your great-aunt Doris who came all the way from London? How about your parents? Are they still married or do you need photos of you with each set of families individually? How about extended family photos? Should your cousins be in the photos? Does your brother have a partner? Should they be in the photos, too? Or would you rather it just be biological family? Family dynamics and groupings are not usually things that your photographer is privy to, so is super helpful to outline to the best of your ability!

4) Once you have a “Shot List”, make sure the people on the list know it

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So much of my time during formal family photos is waiting for someone to track down Uncle Bob in the bathroom for the big family shot. Or waiting for Grandma to arrive to the ceremony venue an hour early for pre-wedding photos. Your photos (and your day!) will go so much smoother if these people know when and where to be places for photos ahead of time. I generally recommend that photos happen as much as possible BEFORE the ceremony (so that you can get your reception and have a class of champagne STAT), but this isn’t always feasible with the schedule for the day. So, for photos that include lots of extended family members that have no other reason to be at the venue early, save those until after the ceremony… and have the officiant make an announcement before AND after the ceremony “directing traffic” for large family photos!

5) Appointment someone to be your “coordinator” for the day

Whether this is a professional wedding coordinator, your Maid of Honor, or another special guest, have SOMEONE who can be the point of contact for your photographer. This person should know your family/guests so that they can help find people and point out special attendees to your photographer. Plus, as you’re getting ready for your day, you don’t (and maybe shouldn’t!) have your cell phone available, so if your photographer has a question and needs to reach someone, it’s a good idea for them to have a back-up contact.

6) Leave the posing and directing to the photographer… that’s what you paid us for

I give you permission to NOT be in charge of your wedding day photography. Leave that to me! (Or whoever you’ve hired to cover your day). Don’t worry about telling your sister to stand there, or your niece to look at the camera and smile. Don’t stress about it! I’ve got this, and everything will work out beautifully!

7) Plan for things to take longer than you think they will

It’s better to be ahead of schedule than behind it, right? Due to things like #4 above, or unexpected factors with other vendors, venue set up, important guests arriving late, etc., your day-of schedule may get off course… so build in a bit of extra time so flexibility is an option and not a stressor.

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8) Plan for you and your new spouse to get your photos taken TWICE

Most couples plan to have their formal photos taken just before or just after the ceremony. This is totally fine, but know that if this is the case, I will be pulling you aside sometime during the reception after you’ve had some food, spoken with your guests, and relaxed a bit. The photos that I get during this “second session” are often times SO much better than those when jitters and adrenaline are heightened! Plus, if the sun will be setting during your reception, the “golden hour” lighting can make for some stunning images!

If you’re still in need of a wedding photographer in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, reach out! I still have some dates available this year… and am also currently booking 2020 weddings!