Photography is one of the largest investments you will make on your wedding day. Not only in cost, but the memories that last for a lifetime. In the 6 years we’ve worked in weddings, there’s been many common factors that allow us to operate smoothly and to maximize your return on investment. Here are some tips to keep in the back of your mind. Follow them and you’ll be amazed at the quality of your images and make most of your photographers.

#1 BUFFER YOUR SCHEDULE

There’s going to be at least one thing that will not go as planned on your wedding day. Falling behind schedule can mean your photographers are left waiting instead of taking the next great photograph. If you buffer your schedule during schedule creation, you’ll be in a much better place when something unexpected happens. Things like delayed delivery of cakes, late bridal party members or someone forgetting their dress or make up can cause unforeseen delays in your day. Makeup and hair are always longer than what’s planned. A schedule with plenty of time will allow you to relax and enjoy the day.

#2 BEGIN EARLY

This goes back to #1. We always recommend starting your day earlier rather than later. Preparing for the unexpected means having the extra time on your wedding day to relax and enjoy the day. Getting ready earlier also means there’s more time for us to do bridal portraits, a first looks or any other photos you might want before the guests arrive.

#3 HAVE A ‘FIRST LOOK’

We love first looks! This is a chance for the couple to have an intimate moment for the first time on their day, away from prying eyes of guests and have some alone time to reflect with each other. A first look also yields amazing photographs as the couple has the opportunity to express their emotions in private, rather than in front of a large audience. If first look is not your thing, a “first touch” of the day where the couple share a touch of hand divided by a door or a wall also works great! Many of our couples even write a letter, a card or share a prayer for their future spouse to make the moment even more sweet.

A first look provides more return on your time as it allows you to get some of the formal photos out of the way now, reducing the possible need of a cocktail hour or to provide more time for family photos between ceremony and reception.

#4 REMEMBER THE LIGHT

Good light is a photographer’s best friend. To make the most of your bridal photos, schedule the time for posed portraits within the golden hour. This is the hour before sunset and it provides gorgeous, warm, and flattering light. Typically, the best time to schedule this is between the ceremony and your reception entrance.

A tip from our friends at BEWED: schedule sunset portraits in your timeline during reception, so you have 15-45 minutes near sunset to get some beautiful imagery.

#5 TRUST YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

On your wedding day, your photographer is going to ask you to do all sorts of weird poses or positions, and they may ask you to do something that may be out of the ordinary. Trust that your photographers have your best interest in mind. The dress can be dry cleaned, and the suit can be repaired, but your wedding photos are a once in a lifetime deal. Don’t let something temporary prevent you from having great photos that will last a lifetime. Trust that your photographers will do everything in their power to make sure the photos are as epic as your wedding day.

#6 HAVE AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION

Having an engagement session allows you to see how you will connect on a personal level with your photographer on the day of your wedding. The last thing you want is to feel awkward and uncomfortable on your wedding day. An engagement session is a great opportunity to get familiar with the person pointing a big camera at you as well. For the photographers, this is an opportunity for us to see your personality and to incorporate it into your wedding day photos. This is also a chance to see your photographer’s work with you as the subject instead of somebody else.

If you can’t or don’t want an engagement session, that’s okay too! Schedule a in person consultation, so you can spend some time with your photographer to get familiar with them.

#7 SMILE / LAUGH

Although it may seem that laughing and smiling would be natural, stress and tight schedules can make your day not as enjoyable as you have dreamed of.

Having everyone in high spirits will yield more and better images. Laughter is contagious, and it also creates the best smiles. Keep your wedding day as lighthearted and carefree as possible. Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, those who make you laugh, and those who you can be yourself around. Who knows.. maybe some of those moments will make it into a blooper album!

#8 HIRE A SECOND

Second shooters are common in wedding photography. It’s a considerable amount of effort to photograph an entire wedding solo, so when you’re in the market for a photographer you may want to consider finding one that includes a second. The price for an additional photographer at your wedding has a great return on investment and will allow you to have a fair amount of additional images. A second photographer is great for grabbing candid shots and generally ease the work load of the primary photographer. Furthermore, second photographers also act as lighting assistants during posed portraits. This assistance to the primary photographer will expedite the work flow.

photo courtesy of BEWED

#9 HAVE AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY

An unplugged ceremony allows your guests to stop worrying about capturing the day and actually be able to share in the moment with you. You invited them to share your special day! This goes back to #5 as well for building trust in your photographer!

Having no phones during the ceremony also ensures your photos will be timeless. Five years from now, everyone will have new iPhones, and looking at your wedding photos where everyone is holding an iPhone 6 will stick out like an eye sore.

#10 HIRE A GREAT DJ

A DJ’s responsibility goes beyond simply playing music. They are the drummer of your vendor band and they keep the pace of the wedding on schedule. It’s also their job to keep the guests at your reception having a great time for long as possible. Couples typically spend the largest percentage of their budget on reception venue and reception related events and decor. A good DJ will play the right music, but a GREAT DJ will make sure you get your return on investment at your reception venue. In addition to that, a great DJ will ensure your guests are having a great time, which will facilitate amazing reception photos for the photographers. 

Great DJs will also have several add-ons such as a mic for your officiant, an audio board for your videographer to get speech audio and little things like special requests. Some DJ even provide their own light and fog effects.

#11 HAVE A WEDDING PLANNER/COORDINATOR

The last thing you want on your wedding day is to worry about anything going wrong that may come up. Investing in a good coordinator ensures your wedding day runs smoothly. The planner will also take care of communicating with your vendors. A GREAT wedding planner will create a great timeline which will help you handle #1 and #2 of this blog post. They will also consider thoughtful things such as a quick break for a bite to eat and rest between ceremony and reception, or sunset photo session to maximize your photographers. We find that a professional wedding coordinator will make a wedding day go smoother and will return more photos for the couple. Many coordinators also have connections within the industry and may be able to get a better deal on other vendor services, help you to make the best of your budget.