Weddings are an absolutely joyful whirlwind! A time to celebrate love, build memories with closest friends and family, and of course, document all of the moments with photos and video. Photographers often get asked by brides, grooms, and wedding parties what they can do to prepare for photos on the big day.
It is wise to think about some of the things you can do to prepare for wedding photos so that when your special day comes, you are as relaxed as possible and really just able to enjoy as much of the day as you can. From a photographer’s perspective, there are several things you can think about and do beforehand to make the photography at your wedding as smooth and enjoyable as possible–
This post covers 10 tips to help you prepare for wedding photos.
1. Restrict the Prep Space
The backstage or prep space of a wedding is often the place to be in the morning hours while the bride, groom, and wedding party are getting dressed. This is often a great place for photography to start, but you definitely want to restrict access to this space. Too many people and too much commotion not only makes it difficult to shoot, but the photos will not have the same intimate feel.
Make sure the prep space(s) are restricted to the wedding party and those actually intended to be in those photos. There is nothing like a close up of the bride and her sister enjoying a mimosa, or a groom smoking a cigar with his best man to add something really special to a wedding album.
2. Keep things Clean and Tidy
Along the same lines as restricting the wedding space, you want to make sure that all prep-space stays clean and tidy before the wedding.
A lot of times photographers arrive to the venue and have to spend a fair amount of time cleaning up the back room where they want to shoot to improve photo qualities–this takes away time that they can be capturing moments. As a bride or groom you may not want to be cleaning up champagne bottles and makeup tables, but make sure you communicate to your party that it is in the best interest for photos and smoothness of the morning to stay on top of cleaning!
3. Meet with your Photographer Beforehand
I can not stress this point enough. Even if you were referred to your photographer by a friend or family member, or you are absolutely in love with their work, do not pass up the opportunity to meet with them beforehand.
In fact, if it is possible, you should really schedule a meeting on-site at the venue as well so that way you can talk about creative locations and other thoughts that you have together.
As you will see in the coming points, there are a lot of details you will want to discuss with your photographer beforehand, so if you do anything at all to prepare for your wedding photos, set up a meeting!
4. Make sure the Groom is Dressed (yes, really)
Nothing annoys a photographer more than showing up to the groom’s prep area to find him in a white t-shirt without pants on (this happens more often than you would think). While the bride may want some shots in pre-wedding dress clothing with her bride’s maids, this is not really typical for groomsmen/and the groom.
Be sure that by the time the photographer arrives the guys are dressed. This will make shooting them quick and productive so that more time can be spent on the intricacies of the bride’s suite.
5. Consider Shooting as a Couple the day Before
I know this violates tradition–but here me out. If you have it in your budget, time, and wedding-values, you may want to consider doing a private shoot with the bride and groom in the days beforehand.
I recently read this on a wedding blog, and at first I thought–why the heck would anyone get all dressed up and do that? Then I thought about it again, if you want to be sure you get all of the photos you want as a couple without taking up a ton of time for photos on the actual wedding day, this could actually be a great idea. A good time to schedule the shoot is before the rehearsal dinner.
This makes getting things like those Downtown Chicago photos, or the extra locations around the venue possible. Two primary considerations here: (1) seeing the bride/groom dressed-up before the actual wedding day (yeah, that would be a deal breaker for traditional folks) and (2) the cost of hiring the photographer for an extra hour or two the day before.
6. Make a List of Everyone that you want Photos With
Another way to help the photography team out is making a list of everyone you would like to have set photos with.
One of the biggest complaints brides seem to have is that they didn’t get a picture with person X on their wedding day. If you really feel like a photo with your college roommate would be special then let the photographer know and they will add it to their shoot list!
7. Collaborate to Make a Shooting Schedule for the Big Day
Wedding schedules are critical to making sure that things run smoothly. Granted, wedding schedules almost always run late, but it is good to have an idea of the order of things for photography purposes. A shooting schedule might look something like this:
- Photos in the bride’s suite pre-dress/hair/makeup etc
- Groomsmen doing their thing
- Bride getting dressed
- Wedding ceremony
- Married couple photos
- Wedding Party photos
- Friends/Family/posed photos
- Announce couple
- First dance
- Father/daughter dance
- Mother/son dance
- Cutting the cake
- Dance floor
This gives the photographer an idea of where they need to be so that they don’t miss any important moments.
8. Less is Often More
Similarly to restricting the wedding space, remember, less is often more! A wedding day flies by so quickly and set photo times can take up more of the day than you realize.
Some of the best wedding photos are action-shots of you actually enjoying your day. As you are deciding who, what, where, and when you want to include in your photo schedule–try to remember that you should prioritize the most important aspects of your wedding and the rest will fall into place organically.
9. Communicate Favorite Venue Features
Do you really like a stairwell or a tree or a bench at your wedding venue?
If you picked the venue because of certain characteristics, make sure to communicate those to your photographer. While most photographers are really good at exploring the venue space and coming up with creative shots, if there is something you want to include, make sure to communicate that!
10. Let the Photographer Know Your Favorite Dress Features
If you are the bride, you want to be sure to communicate what you love about your dress. Does it have buttons down the back that made you pick it? Is the train your absolute favorite feature? Does the bottom detach for the reception?
Communicating dress features can actually help the photographer get really creative shots that you can cherish forever–even though the dress itself is a one-time occasion.