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How to Get Better Wedding Photos

Congrats! You are getting married and jumping into a whole new life season. I knew when I married in 2008, we had NO IDEA what it really meant to have a family, move 6 times, have now three kids and switch careers multiple times. But that's all part of the journey. Enjoy it!

Weddings are an amazing time of emotional bonding, memories, fun and laughter. I want to make sure that your wedding day pictures show your personalities in a fun, classy and timeless way.

Here are some great tips to help you think about photos before your wedding day comes. Because after doing this since 2011, I will tell you that if a couple doesn't pre-plan for amazing photos to happen, the photographer will be rushed and stressed about the day and their work might suffer.

Your wedding photographer will be your secret weapon the day of the wedding. They are going to be with you all day, so make you LIKE the person and your personalities mesh well before you book them!

If you are booking a wedding photographer, just know a GOOD one will be expensive. That's for a reason. A good wedding photographer knows the ins and outs of working crazy, long day, all the while, smiling and being professional. A GOOD wedding photographer is prepared for rain, snow, sleet, weird lighting situations and awkward moments. They know how to flow the wedding smoothly. They know that they have to bring at least double than what they really need, just in case one of their piece of expensive equipment breaks.

The first thing you need to do before you start picking out linens, is making a timeline for the day. Always begin thinking about what photos you want. Look through pinterest or magazines to get ideas on what shots you really want. Each photographer is different and their style is unique, but giving them a direction of what you were wanting is really helpful.

People tend to shy away from "getting ready" photos, thinking that "no one wants to see me with out make up." But you have to understand that for the photographer, the getting ready portion is an important time for getting your rings, the veil, the dress, the shoes, the cufflinks etc. It's all apart of your story and the story of your love together. So don't skimp on that!

American weddings are traditionally held in the evening times, like after 5 or 6. Photographers will tell you that during your prime picture time (after 6) the sun (or the lack of sun) is not very nice for photos, especially if you want to take A LOT of time for photos, which you should! Good photos take time. My favorite time to shoot weddings is in the morning or afternoon, because the lighting is so nice and I don't have to rely on flash so much! Natural light is always best to make your subjects look and feel natural and beautiful.

I have had people wear the same bridesmaid robes while getting ready, or I have had all the men drink the same beer for a shot. Bring whatever you feel like is special to you all and have me take a picture of it!

I know some people are going to hate me for this. But doing a "first look" is so important to the flow of the day. It also allows more time for the photographer to take pics of just the two of you! These will be your FAVORITE photos of the day, believe me! The worst is when you just did the ceremony and you want to hang out with your family at the reception and you have to stay back for two hours worth of pictures. Your guests will miss you and get bored.

I did a first look at 9:00 in the morning and then we did all of our family photos at a garden for my wedding. Later on, we had lunch as a bridal party and just chilled out until the ceremony at 5. Then when we got married, it was already dark and chilly outside, and it started to rain! So thank God we did all of our photos already. So all we had to do was go to the reception and do our first dance!

A good DJ will have cool lights! I love this, but make sure that they don't have laser pointers or green dot lights. These are not cool to edit out in post-processing!

Make sure your wedding has some memorable moments. Have a first dance with your daddy, wash each other's feet, stuff cake in each other's face, do something fun. I've each had a male dancer do a little lap dance for the bride (really funny and somewhat inappropriate, but whatever).

When people tell me that they don't want to have the traditional stuff at the wedding, it makes my heart sad! First dances, flower tosses with "Single Ladies," and Karaoke songs are all part of having a FUN time!

Please, please, please, let your guests know to put their phones down and get out of the photographer's way. The photographer should have the best view and shot at the wedding. I don't mind the occasional selfie with the camera phone- I can't be everywhere at once! But please don't get in the photographer's way when the special moments are happening! I have had "Uncle Bob" rush up to the stage to get the "kiss" shot and completely block me out! EEK! I've also had so many flashes going off that it messes with my picture and the first dance is a blur of different red dots and flashes! No!

Let your guests understand that the photographer will be the main person taking the photos of the evening!

Always let the photographer know your expectations for the wedding. Be very specific where you want them to be at what time. The worst is when you, as the photographer, want to finally go to the bathroom and you feel like you can't because you don't know what is coming up next!

You should do this at least 6 weeks before the wedding so that you can schedule time for everyone you want photos of. It's too much for the photographer to take 2 hours of family photos, but only leave 5 minutes for the bride and groom (this HAS happened!) By that time, you and him will be exhausted!

Always have in writing the shots you want the photographer to take. But be realistic with the time and the space provided. It's not realistic to expect the photographer to take 200 pictures of the reception space and all the details, but yet you only put 10 minutes in the schedule for doing so.

To get good photos of your wedding day- you should put in your schedule the following time slots:

  • Getting ready photos/ details (30 minutes-1 hour)

  • Bridal Party Photos (30-45 minutes)

  • Family photos (30-45 minutes)

  • Bride and Groom photos (30-45 minutes)

  • Reception detail photos (without guests there if possible) (15 minutes)

  • Ceremony details photos (10 minutes) (without guests there if possible)

  • Cocktail hour- table photos (15 minutes)

  • Reception photos (1 hour to 2 hours, depending on the number of things you want to photography to take pictures of)

I know it seems like a lot of time to hire a photographer- but good photos take TIME! You can't rush art like arranging a picture and the lighting for the perfect shot!

The Venue should be really thought out. I know people want to go cheap and get a Moose Lodge for their wedding, or a school gym. But pictures are forever! Pick a place that is all inclusive with catering and will look beautiful for photos. If you really don't have a good venue in your price range, then consider doing photos at a garden or a nice spot right before hand, like my husband and I did. Our little church was not very good for photos and we are SOOO glad to have some great pictures of us before!

Even if it rains, walk under an umbrella. If you get mud on your dress, just let it happen!

Expect thing to go "wrong" for your wedding. But your photographer, if you hired a great one, will be ready for whatever happens! Just know that a good photographer will be able to roll with the punches. I've dealt with drunken groomsmen that don't show up for pictures, grandma who needs help being lifted onto the sand by three random beach dudes, an officiant being an hour late to a ceremony, a male escort doing a lap dance- I've seen it all!

Please hire a professional wedding photographer, even if it's not me. Don't rely on Instagram to capture your special day! You will regret it! Don't get a "friend" to take the pictures with your camera- you will regret it later!

If you hire me, I will make you laugh at corny jokes. I will jump around you to smile. I am crazy, just deal with it and smile, you are getting married!

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Christal

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