The Secret to Beautiful Wedding Photos
Congratulations on your engagement! I’m Caryn, with The Bird & The Bear Photography & Films. I’m a professional photographer with many years of experience, and I want to let you in on the secret to beautiful wedding photos! When planning your wedding, there are a few key things to keep in mind to be sure you will have gorgeous photos to look back on for a lifetime. An experienced professional photographer will be able to guide you in all sorts of ways regarding your photos, but sometimes these decisions are already made before you’ve even THOUGHT about hiring a photographer! I want every bride and groom to have the photos they’ve always dreamed of. The following are just a few of the many tips I would LOVE to fill you in on, starting at the very beginning of your wedding planning process!
1. Choose Your Venue Wisely
Choosing a date and venue are often the first steps in your wedding planning process. When you are venue hunting – look around and think about photo locations. For example, if you love string lights hung outdoors for reception photos – a hotel ballroom may not give you what you’re looking for. Ask your venue director where the sun sets in the afternoon, and try to think about how that will impact your favorite photo locations (for a beautiful, luminous look, you want the sun to be behind you). Ask the venue coordinator how the foliage typically looks there around the time of your potential wedding date! April, May and October are usually the most popular months of the year for weddings – for good reason! 🙂 Lastly, while no one wants to think about the possibility of rain on your wedding day – be sure your venue has a good rain plan! Do you love the way the inside looks, as well as the outside? In the event of rain and your photos having to be taken all indoors – make sure you’ll be just as happy! 🙂
2. Plan Your Timeline with the Best Light in Mind
Beautiful light makes such a huge difference in photos! Find out the exact minute of sunset on your wedding day, and plan around that. The hour before sunset is called the “golden hour” for a reason – it is just so warm and flattering on everyone. Taking photos outdoors in the middle of the day can often leave little shade, causing you and your bridal party to squint! If you are not planning to do a First Look and portraits before the ceremony, we suggest a ceremony start time of 2 hours before sunset.
3. Add Extra Time to your Schedule
On your wedding day, don’t be surprised if everything takes a little longer than you think it will! Unexpected traffic, hair and make-up delays – you name it, it could happen! Tiny little delays can snowball into knocking everything off track. One of the first things that is always cut is the bride and groom portrait time! Having 50% more time than you originally expect for other pre-ceremony details will help make your day more relaxed and keep you on track for perfect portraits.
4. Consider Scheduling a First Look
Want to do your portraits with the freshest hair and make-up when you know you look your best? Scheduling to do them pre-ceremony may be a great idea for you! Also, if you or your groom don’t want to miss out on cocktail hour, schedule a First Look before the ceremony and do a majority of your bride and groom portraits then! Even if you schedule a First Look for earlier in the day, for great photographs we still recommend 15 extra minutes during sunset (that beautiful light is so worth it)!
5. Make Note of your Priorities
Think about the photos you know you’ll really love, and be sure the key people involved know that those things are a top priority. If you know that the bride and groom portraits are most important to you – be sure to let your photographer and coordinator know! This will ensure you have plenty of time for them at the most ideal time of day for flattering light. Also, when you make your family formal list, ask yourself “Will I or my parents actually frame this?” and if not, it may be one you can skip! Trying to cram in every combination of aunts/uncles and family friends may seem like a great idea, but it may leave you and your spouse exhausted (with tired faces) by the time you finally get to the photos of just the two of you. If you aren’t planning to do a separate bridal portrait session, and having a few amazing portraits of you alone is important to you, be sure to plan for that in your pre-ceremony time (after the ceremony, you and your spouse will probably want to get to your guests as soon as possible)! Let your photographer know a few things that are most important to you – and trust them to do the rest! A great photographer will be able to quickly look around the venue and know the best locations for photos, so after you let them know the areas you personally love, ask their opinion and trust their expertise.
6. Work on that Body Language!
It can feel super awkward – but practice a bit of posing in the mirror before your big day! You’ll find your best angles, and know ahead of time what you feel looks great on you. Here are a couple of quick posing tips. Remember to have great posture – it is so slimming and makes you look confident. Don’t squish your arms to your side, and remember to subtly lengthen your neck. Walking down the aisle can be an anxious moment – but try to remember to look up and smile! Be sure your shoes (and your bridesmaids shoes) are easy to walk in (even in grass) so that you don’t have to look down while processing – it’s your moment to shine! Later, if you feel self-conscious with people watching you cuddle on your new spouse during your couples portraits, be sure to let your photographer know to politely shoo them away! A little bit of privacy can go a long way to getting natural, relaxed couples portraits. While you want to feel and look comfortable, a little bit of posing guidance from your photographer will make a world of difference, so be sure they’re skilled in helping place you in the most flattering angles!
7. Choose the Best Photographer For You
- – Look around and do your research as early as possible. Lots of amazing photographers are booked a little over a year in advance. Check out their website to be sure you like their work. To make the most of your time and investment, see if they happen to offer any of the other services you might need (videography, photo booth, engagement photos, display prints, etc.)!
- – Pricing varies hugely based on experience, location and the type of coverage they offer. In Austin, for example, talented and dependable photographers have wedding day packages begin at around $3,000 and go up from there. If you find a phenomenal deal that seems too good to be true – sadly, it just might be! You may luck out with a gem who is just starting out and does great work – but that is a risk you’ll have to consider.
- – When you contact potential photographers, talk to them about the style of photos you like (Outdoors with natural light? Indoors with dramatic flash lighting? Or strictly photojournalistic with no posing at all?). Let them know what’s most important to you, and a trustworthy photographer will tell if you if that’s something they can do, or they will refer you to someone else they think may be a better fit.
- – Ask for recommendations from your friends and wedding coordinator or venue contact. If you find a photographer you like but your coordinator doesn’t know them, you can always ask for references or links to reviews! All wedding vendors want their couples to be happy. A good reference from someone else in the wedding industry tells you that they are professional, prompt, easy to work with and leave their couples happy! You want to be just as excited AFTER the wedding (to get your photos and videos back) as you are in the months leading up to it! 🙂
- – Trust your gut! Bottom line – do you like their photos and videos, and do they make you feel happy? If you’ve fallen in love with a photographer’s photos and you love the work they produce – go for it!
Want to know more? We are a husband and wife wedding photography and videography team based in Austin, TX and we’re here to help! Contact Us!