Wedding Photography – Tips to Enjoy Your Wedding and Get Amazing Photos

Your Wedding is Once in a lifetime, it’s one of the biggest celebration in your life. Not only will you spend your money, but you will also spend a good amount of time and energy to plan for it. At the end of the day, when your wedding cake and the guests are gone, what’s left is the memories captured by your wedding photographer. In this article, I will share some tips so that your wedding will be enjoyable and you will get amazing photos of your cherished moments.

I originally wrote these tips to share with my clients to set the stage for their wedding day, and as expected, these tips comes with “photography” in minds, so if some of these doesn’t make any sense to you, or don’t apply to your situation, just skip it!
(For example: Weddings in Pittsburgh don’t usually come with “grooms cake”, so if I mention it below and you have no idea, just forget about it).

  • Hire “the photographer” The first step to get amazing photos for your wedding start with “The Photographer”. Make sure you hire a professional photographer who knows what he/she is doing, and also make sure that you really like his/her photography style. You have to know that every photographer is not the same, they have different taste in color, angles, perspective, etc2. Spend your time to check his/her portfolio and you will be able to see similarities from the many different weddings that he/she covered in the past. Also make sure that he/she can give you references from his/her past clients (and make sure to contact them!), as you don’t want to hire someone who never return calls/emails, or even risk the possibility of him/her running away with your wedding photos!!.
  • Beautify and Amazify your party, your venue, and yourself While a great photographer is needed for amazing photos, he/she can only do so much without the subjects.. so plan ahead to make yourself look fabulous, test your hair and make ups, find some accessories that will match with your dress, beautify the venues with lights, ornaments, center pieces, etc2.. choose a unique wedding cake, surprise your husband with a grooms cake, present gifts to your bridesmaids/groomsmen, make a great theme for your wedding and be as creative as possible. This doesn’t have to be “expensive”, but it definitely needs your attention to details. If your wedding is as “plain” as vanilla ice cream, the photos won’t come out as “strawberries” or “cookies and cream”, no matter how great your wedding photographers are.
  • Create an Itinerary/Timeline. Ok, you have the best venue booked, and you signed with the greatest photographer around, got the dress, got the cake, everything is in place and ready. Good! now.. what you need is to create a timeline. Just imagine yourself of how you want your wedding day to flow and write them down. Make several copies and give it to everyone that needs to know about it ahead of time (wedding photographers included). This way, everyone is informed and will be on the same page.
  • Create Contacts and Addresses list. Write down all addresses along with the contact name for all the vendors you have for the day, make several copies and distribute them to everyone that you hire. This way, they can connect and work together more easily on your big day. This will also avoid vendors showing to the wrong place or coming late because of a wrong address.
  • Create a list of Formal/Family Pictures. If you want to have a traditional/formal family picture taken after the ceremony, make a list of them. (Older persons such as your grandparents should be at the top of the list, the bridal party should be last). Imagine the approximate time of how long or how short the list should be considering there might be another service at the church after the ceremony. Also, notify the persons who is on the list that their presence is needed. It won’t be so funny if your dad starts heading to the reception, thinking that his duty for the day is done as soon as he finish taking you to the altar while his presence at your side is still needed after the ceremony. Make several copies of this list and give it to the photographer(ahead of time, if possible), and your Maid/Matron of honor, along with the best man. Also bear in mind that if you have a receiving line after the ceremony, it will take a good 20-30 minutes until you finished hugging and greeting everyone, and that precious 20-30 minutes might means less time for the formal pictures.
  • Find your photographer’s whereabouts from time to time. If you like a “face on” photo (meaning you are looking toward the camera), you might want to occasionally look toward your photographer. Just because you like “candid” doesn’t mean all your wedding photos should be all candids. While the photographer might ask you to look toward him/her, it might be a good idea to remind yourself to simply “find” where your photographer is from time to time. I’m not suggesting that you have to see your photographer at all times, but during special moments such as dances, ask your partner to take a quick glance toward the photographer so that he can snap a quick “face on” photo of the two of you. (note that I mention partner, meaning this also applies to mother/son and father/daughter dance as well). The thing is, you might appreciate the “face on” photos of you and your partner, but if the two of you never look at the photographer (or just one of you look toward him/her), then that moment never happen, it’s up to you to make it happen (or not). The photographer might “make it happen” by giving signals but that will mean an intrusion to the moment, which should be avoided when possible.
  • TAKE YOUR TIME! When you walk down the aisle (to and from the altar), take your time.. Today is the day, it’s the moment that you’ve been waiting for, why such a hurry? tell your bridesmaids/groomsmen to do the same. Remember to take your time, smile to the guests, and embrace the moment. If possible, when walking down from the altar as new husband/wife, stop in the middle of the aisle and start kissing, this shot will always be the one that you won’t remember it being taken but will be so glad that you have it. (note: re-staging this shot is impossible due to the fact that all your guests are gone!)
  • While taking a long “french kiss” is not recommended, I would say that a short and quick smooch will definitely NOT work for great images. Give yourself and your new husband/wife a deep, passionate kiss between 2 or 3 seconds.. that way, it is leaves ample time for the photographer to “click” his finger to the shutter button. Sure, some might say that great photographer will still catch quick smooches, but adding 1-2 seconds to it will increase the chance, and since it’s a “controllable” situation, why not just make sure you have it? So take your time when you kiss, whether the kiss is asked by the photographer, guests, or your own initiatives. (it’s a good practice for your marriage life anyway)
  • Bring FLIP-FLOPs, Crocs, Sandals, etc2. If you can’t stand your beautiful shoes and you plan to have an outdoor session in between the ceremony/reception, plan ahead and bring your flip-flops with you. I’ve seen some fancy flip-flops that also looks great on pictures, so go ahead and find a pair. (it’s a hassle to carry, you said? read the next tips)
  • UTILIZE Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen!! I can’t emphasize this enough. you are the ones who picked them and they should be there for you on your big day, right? they are there to help you and you should utilize them!! Ask them to help you with your gown, carry your purse, your bouquet, your shoes, etc2. I’ve seen so many brides having to carry everything herself with the dress and get frustrated with all other stuff, come on, it’s your BIG day, you are the King and Queen for the day and you shouldn’t work that hard! you’ve already work hard to plan(and pay for ) the party for them, let them help you!
  • Try not to be Late. If you can’t stand being hurried up, plan ahead and leave ample time for everything. This way, you will enjoy your day without the feeling of being hurried by anyone/anything. Your wedding will “fly by” so fast regardless, so why add more pressure to yourself and hurry it up?
  • Try to stay close to your Wife/Husband. You just got married and you walk alongside your groomsmen or bridesmaids and left your new husband/wife at the back… If at all possible, for this day *and hopefully all other days in your marriage*, unless you are going to public restrooms, the two of you should be “within a good proximity” from each other.. walk hand in hand, hug each other, embrace each other, this is the big day for both of you!!
  • Avoid Looking at different directions / Crossing Eyes during Formal portraits. When there are more than 1 photographer taking pictures, a situation might arise where everyone starts to look toward many different directions. (Most of the time, people will look  toward their “own” camera). It’s not that  an “exclusivity”  to take photos should be in place, but if  this gets out of control, it will take more time to finish the formal photos and the result will not be good (for all photographers taking the picture, not just the main photographer’s picture). So, remind your guests not to “distract” and “compete” with your wedding photographers since they are the one hired to do the job.
  • Try out your Wedding photographer! Go for an engagement session with your wedding photographer before the wedding, while this might add to the expense, the benefit will outweigh the expense. It’s a real try out for him/her. If the result is not what you expect, why would you want to stick with him/her? it’s never to late to cancel and find the photographer that will give you the result you’re looking for!. Your wedding is not a birthday party, it won’t be repeated next year. why settle for bad photos? so go ahead and ask for an engagement session, make sure he/she understand that you might cancel the contract if the result is not satisfactory.

There we have it!:)  I will update these tips and add more as I go out there and cover more weddings, but all in all.. if I can sum it up as the final reminder: “Your wedding is YOUR day (the two of you, not one, not in-laws, not moms-dads), plan it right together, be on time, embrace each other, savor the moments (not hurrying it), and remember that by the end of the day, when the cake and the guests are gone, only the two of you remains, it’s a new beginning! which hopefully start with a great honeymoon. If you have done all these, now it’s back to the photographer to do his magic and present you with a Truly Beautiful and Stunning images that Last Forever.

Things To Make You Look Great On Your Wedding Day

1. Choose your dress well in advance. Your dress is one of the most important items in your wedding plans, so make sure you take enough time to choose one that suits you – not your best friend, not your bridesmaids, and not your mother. For the day of your wedding, you’ll want a dress in which you can stand, walk and dance in without worrying about “wardrobe malfunctions” or causing you discomfort. Allow necessary time if you decide on having the dress made, but even if bought “off the rack,” you’ll need to factor in time for tailoring and any adjustments. Choosing a comfortable wedding dress will make you look natural on the wedding day, it also helps the wedding photographers and videographers to capture more great moments. Imagine if the bride has always to worry if her wedding dress will fall, she will not have a natural or pleasant facial expression, and it will make your wedding photographers and videographers have a hard time doing their job to capture the “great” moments.

2. Choose a classic hair style. You don’t want to overpower your dress and headpiece with a flamboyant hair style or color that overwhelms everything else. Keep it simple and classic, and remember to practice the look you want at home or with your stylist before the wedding day. When we recorded a wedding in summer 2011, a bride chose a hair style that her hair covers half of her face. This couple chose to do the outdoor photo/video session by the lake in downtown Toronto. As you can imagine, it is very windy by the lake, her hair flies everywhere…

3. Fix your nails professionally. Have your nails professionally manicured the day before the wedding. This is one thing you don’t want to do too far in advance. Reduce the chances of a broken nail, chipped polish; or, if using applied nails, reduce the risk of having one coming off by having your manicure as late as possible. If you are not inclined toward colored polishes or long fingernails, simply make sure that they are neatly trimmed, filed, polished, and buffed. Your hands will be the focus of attention when showing off that new wedding ring and for photos and video.

4. Enhance your beauty with makeup. Makeup is the last thing you’ll need to worry over. It is done on the big day itself but you should have a test run before this. Don’t try to transform yourself into a different person with dramatic eye makeup or garish lipstick. Simply make the real you look better! This is also going to help you look good on the wedding photos and videos.
• Use a slightly heavier hand than with your usual daytime makeup so that your photos won’t have you appearing washed-out looking, but don’t overdo it. And if your wedding is at night, with more subtle lighting, apply makeup as though you were going to a club or restaurant at night – a little heavier than daytime, but not too much! Avoid deep red lipstick as well as a too-pale pink. Frosted eyeshadows or lipsticks are definite no-nos. Taking your own photo with a digital camera or a camera phone is a good way to check your makeup before the wedding photos and videos.
• Also, if you have sensitive skin, this is not the time to try a new brand. The last thing you want to do is head for the altar with blotches or zits thanks to an allergic reaction.

5. Prepare in advance to feel your best.
• The night before your wedding is not the time for partying, so get eight hours of restful sleep. If you’re having a rehearsal dinner, or a bachelorette bash, make sure that it ends early. Drink moderately or, better yet, not at all. Bloodshot eyes and a banging hangover will not make for a fun wedding.
• Don’t gorge yourself the night before because we all know that there are strange forces at work which will try to make your wedding gown just a wee bit snug in the morning. Let alone the fact that it isn’t so pleasant feeling bloated! To overcome excitement and nerves, try taking a long walk – it can help with pre-nuptial jitters. A relaxing bath with soothing background music, a cup of herbal tea, and you should be ready to doze off with images of a happy future marriage in your dreams.

6. Be yourself. It is absolutely normal to feel awkward when you are surrounded by the wedding photographers and videographers on the big day, especially for those who marry for the first time. Just try to think there is only your and your love when they are taking photos for you. Modern professional photographers and videographers do not take lots of photo when they say “one, two, three, cheese”, instead, like our photographers and videographers, they capture the most natural moment by giving the couple some creative directions and then follow the flow to capture the great moments.

Tips on How to Look Great for Your Wedding Photos

Weddings don’t occur every day, so the still photos of this memorable event are very important. No bride wants to look anything less than elegant, on or off camera. However, a common misconception of wedding photography is that in order to not look like a china doll, a bride must wear layer upon layer of heavy foundation. Or to avoid the vampire look, eye shadow must be caked on so dark that she looks as if she has black eyes in real life. Wrong! This effect can be avoided by using a photographer who knows what he’s doing. A simple adjustment of the flash and exposure, and a bride can look as amazing in the photograph as she does walking down the aisle.

On the other hand, if you are intending not to put on any makeup, please reconsider. At least, pat some powder on your face for oil absorption and to avoid shine. Even if your skin is dry, it will give you a softer appearance and an even skin tone for your pictures. For greater coverage and convenience use a creme or powder makeup. A tiny bit of blush is alright too. Use a pale pink or choose a brown tinted pink so you can have a natural appearance. Do you have darker skin? Your colors should be brighter. If your eyebrows are naturally dark with long lashes, then you don’t need to put any makeup on your eyes at all. As an option, an eyebrow pencil can be used with or without mascara.

When dealing with lips, I realize people typically advice wearing clear lip gloss, however I think this is not really the best option. Brighten up your lips with a little color, especially if your skin tone is light to avoid a pale appearance. It doesn’t have to be a dark color, just enough to highlight the area and make it stand out a little. As a matter of fact, I believe if you decide to put on two makeup items, you should choose lipstick plus a creme or powder foundation. And certainly, try all of these suggestions to be sure you feel good about the way you look BEFORE your special day.