lush bouquet of pink & coral peonies with succulents
When I meet with potential clients, one of the things I share with them is a packet I've put together of tips for getting the best wedding images. I've developed these tips over the course of the 14+ years I've been shooting weddings, and each one has arisen out of a challenging experience on a wedding day. After the difficult experience, I've looked back and thought, "If only we had ..." and then filled in the blank with what became one of these 4 tips.

So without further ado, here are my top 4 tips for getting your best wedding images!

Tip #1: Plan out the timing of your wedding thoughtfully!

This tip encompasses a lot of factors that will greatly impact the quality of your photography AND your experience as a bride and groom on your wedding day. When I first discuss the timing of a wedding with potential clients, I oftentimes start out by asking if they have their hearts set on not seeing each other until the ceremony. Traditionally, the groom waits to see his bride on the wedding day until she is walking down the aisle. This tradition originated with arranged marriages so that the couple wouldn't have the chance to back out once they saw what each other looked like. Yikes! Even though today, couples marry for love, some still like to uphold this tradition. I would say that in only about 10% of the weddings I shoot, the bride and groom wait to see each other until the ceremony. And the trend is continuing to move in the direction of spending more time together as a couple on your wedding day which means seeing each other before the ceremony.

This is a decision to make with your fiancé, but I personally always hope my clients will choose to see one another before the ceremony. Here are the top 4 reasons that I advocate so strongly for a first look:
  1. You get a chance to connect with one another before the craziness of the day takes over.
  2. Your stress and anxiety are dissolved before the ceremony.
  3. Portraits will be as quick and painless as possible.
  4. You can plan your wedding near sunset without missing out on lovely, natural light. (For more about this, check out my post "Why Light Matters on Your Wedding Day".)
If you and your fiancé are debating whether or not to see one another before the ceremony, I strongly recommend that you read my post "To First Look or Not to First Look," which takes an in-depth look at each of these reasons!
first look on the wedding day
bride & groom first look at Saguaro Lake Ranch
bride & groom first look at Saguaro Lake Ranch
While we're on the subject of the timing of your day and your stress level, let me suggest that you always plan in extra time between the various events of your day. There always seem to be unexpected things that come up. Getting dressed on your wedding day will take you longer than it does on any other day of your life. Ladies do tend to underestimate how long it will take, but sometimes the guys are the most guilty of this! Planning in more time than you think you will need will help everything run smoothly.

Tip #2: Communicate to your photographer any "must have" shots.

I share a list of the formal portraits I typically shoot with my clients so they know which portrait groupings I will automatically make sure are covered. But I know every family is unique, so I encourage my clients to email me a list of any additional groupings they would like included in the formal portrait part of the day. It's so helpful to have a written out list ahead of time that has been well thought through!

You should also share any other "must have" shots with your photographer, although I also encourage my clients to not get too carried away with this list. I shared a blog post called "Why You Should Ditch the Shot List," which expands on this. The goal is to communicate your priorities and "can't miss" details without hampering your photographer's creativity by tying them to a long list of shots that need to be checked off.
wedding at Saguaro Lake Ranch
lush bouquet of pink & coral peonies with succulents
mismatched bridal party
Tip #3: Prepare your family and friends for the style of photography you have chosen.

My style is highly photojournalistic, and I'm around on the wedding day for a full 8 hours, documenting everything that happens. When a bride and groom choose me to shoot their wedding, they do so because they're excited that I'll be there to capture those special moments and all the details they painstakingly hand-picked. This has become more and more popular in recent years, but oftentimes the mother and father or grandmother's idea of "wedding photography" is a photographer who shows up to shoot a few staged moments, the ceremony and group portraits. Their expectations need to be managed so they can be happy on the wedding day and when they see the images.

Case in point: At the very beginning of my career, I was shooting a wedding for a wonderful couple who chose me for my photography style. I was shooting in the bridal suite as all of the girls got ready for the day. The mother of the bride arrived and was clearly uncomfortable having us there. She made comments about not wanting any photos taken before getting her make-up on. We did our best to focus on the bride, but it was also a small space. Finally, the mother of the bride ordered us out of the bridal suite because she became so flustered! The bride was visibly upset about this, but at this point there was nothing she could do about it. I felt AWFUL. The last thing I ever want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable!

Enter Tip #3! I encourage my clients to communicate their excitement about their choice for photography to their family and friends. Especially if the family is used to old-school wedding photography, I suggest that the couple write them an email and include my website, encouraging them to take a look. so that they will better understand what I am doing on the wedding day. It's also helpful when my client encourages their family and friends to ignore me as much as possible. I strive to be unobtrusive and my super-power IS invisibility (it comes and goes on the wedding day but a lot of times people don't even see me) but it still helps if people ignore me. If the people who are most intimately involved in the wedding do these things, I get much more natural shots.
finishing touches for the bride
bride getting ready
Tip #4: Trust your photographer!

This tip is quite simple and straightforward. There's nothing complex about it. The tough part is actually DOING it.

When you hire a photographer for your wedding, one of the most critical attributes to look for is someone you can trust. Hiring a wedding photographer can be scary. You are in essence, purchasing something that (at the time you pay for it) is invisible. You can't control the outcome and there are no guarantees. That is why trust is SOOOO important. But don't trust blindly! Do your homework up front. Check out my blog post "How to Choose a Wedding Photographer" for some tips on how to do this!

I work very hard to build trust with my clients because I know how scared they can be and how close this purchase is to their hearts. One of the reasons I have a blog is to build that trust over the long-term with potential clients. I want them to see the consistency in my work. I want them to see how involved I am in the industry. I want them to learn about my character and even a bit about my personal life. They deserve to know these things so that they can put their faith in me. I take the honor of photographing someone's wedding very seriously and know that part of my job is to make it as easy as possible for a client to trust me. I'm asking for a lot by asking for their trust. But trust is crucial in this relationship and I do my job to earn it.

So make sure to hire someone you feel you can trust. Then, when your wedding day comes along, TRUST THEM!! If you micro-manage your photographer on the wedding day, not only are you not in the moment enjoying yourself, you are going to cause a good bit of anxiety for your photographer in the process. As artists, we need to be free to get into a creative zone and work our magic. And knowing that we have your trust allows us to work with confidence and do our very best for you. So trust your photographer and enjoy what is sure to be the best day of your life!
-----------> If you are planning your wedding, and would like to have a timeline to start from, click here to take a quick 2-question quiz, and we will email you back with an ideal preliminary timeline based on the sunset time on your wedding day as well as whether or not you would like to do a first look!
4 tips to get the best wedding photos you can!
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