Updated: Apr 25
There are many things you’ll wish you would have known when making big decisions. Learning these things upfront can be helpful and save valuable time in situations: getting the right wedding photographer, preparing yourself for the changes ahead in your love life, making your guests feel welcome and comfortable, communicating with whoever’s coordinating the vendors, or being prepared for how to handle unexpected surprises.
1. Your wedding is about you. Do what you want.
Rules are made to be broken: the age old phrase could not be more fitting when it comes to a wedding. There is so much tradition surrounding what has become our most popular day, and even though you might feel like you’re breaking with tradition, you need to remember that there’s a chance that your wedding photos could be in your family for 100 years. We all want to look good. This is why we get haircuts; wear makeup; or go shopping for clothes, but your photographer will almost always do anything to make sure you look great in the photographs – trust me! If you look back over your wedding photographs and you’re not happy with the result it’s very hard to say that it was the photographer’s fault, so don’t let anyone make you feel bad if they don’t approve of your decisions on the day. Not only should you trust yourself when it comes to selecting your photographer, but also when it comes time to drop breaking with tradition. Allow yourself have as much fun as possible on your special day, and don’t worry about maybe breaking with tradition – worry about whether or not you and your partner are enjoying yourselves instead.
2. Good photos take time.
Your wedding photos are among the most important memories of your big day, so give your photographer the time he or she needs to get them right. Your guests can wait a little while while you pose for an extra few shots in front of the gazebo, walk down some stairs, or linger outside during sunset. If needed, offer a return engagement where you and your wedding party will gather for more pictures after the formal photography is completed.
3. Get ready somewhere quiet and nice, and try to keep it clean.
Wedding prep time can be stressful, and it can be doubly stressful when you’re being crowded by a lot of (well-meaning) people. Try to cut the crowd down so that you can relax a bit, and so that your makeup artist and photographer can do their work without the pressure to get things done quickly.
4. Your dress is probably going to get dirty.
Who doesn’t love seeing photos of their wedding? They capture the day perfectly and remind you of everything you did (and everyone you did it with) to make your marriage happen. Wedding photo shoots can take place anywhere, but given your choice, wouldn’t you prefer a sunny field, a rickety old barn, or a beautiful garden?
5. Consider banning smartphones at the ceremony.
In my experience, I’ve found that some of the most hated guests at a wedding are “photobombers.” This is especially the case for those who use iPads or camera phones to take pictures of the ceremony. While these devices don't necessarily capture any more of the event than other cameras do, they can be particularly irritating because their flash often takes over during important ceremony moments, distracting you and your guests from enjoying the magical, special moment.
6. Write a list of family formals, and keep your photographer abreast of any family issues that might crop up.
Your photographer won’t know your family, so it helps a great deal if they have a list to work with when taking family photos. Let them know about divorces and/or deaths – this could help avoid some embarrassing moments. Most photographers will ask for this information prior to the day, but it pays to be ready if they don’t.
7. Pick the right photographer and ditch the other lists.
Family photo lists are great – shot lists, not so much. The worst thing you can do is hire a photographer to shoot like someone else. It’s ok to show him or her what images appeal to you, and to give him some examples, giving him a long list of images, you want taken is a bad idea …
8. Light is Everything.
Light. It can make or break your wedding photos, so it’s important to try to plan your wedding to give your photographer the good stuff. Late in the day is best for your wedding photos, specifically the hour before sunset. Try not to plan your photos in the middle of the day, or early afternoon. Strong sunlight = harsh shadows.
9. Give yourself some time alone on the dance-floor.
If you have a bridal waltz / first dance with your partner, make sure you allow yourself a bit of time on the dance-floor alone. It should be precious and memorable to you, so don’t let your guests smother you right away. It offers some great photos, too.
Weddings are stressful, and some brides have planned for their big day their whole lives. But when the day arrives, don’t sweat the details. Things will go wrong – they always do. Your task now is not to stress over minutiae, but to enjoy the day as it unfolds.
Be happy. Smile. Slow things down and enjoy all the moments. But mostly, enjoy the company of your new husband/wife. This is the first day of the rest of your life.
10. Enjoy your day – your photos depend on it.
Weddings are stressful, no matter who’s getting married, and some brides have planned for their big day their whole lives. Dressing, social events, makeup and hair appointments…the list goes on (and on) and on. But when the day arrives, don’t sweat the details. Things will go wrong – they always do. Your task now is not to stress over minutiae, but to enjoy the day as it unfolds.
Be happy, smile and enjoy the company of your new husband/wife.