Lessons from a Wedding Photographer

I recently assisted a wedding photographer and walked away with lessons for all. 



Lesson #1: Timeline

When planning the wedding day, don’t just think about how much time it will take for hair, makeup, getting dressed, and transportation. Think about how long it will all take while being photographed. Some photographers shoot the day as it happens. Some stop every bit of action to capture beautiful moments, creating elaborate poses at every turn. And of course, most fall somewhere in between. Know your photographer’s style and allot some extra time for him or her to shoot the dress hanging from a tree in the backyard, the rings inside a flower, a gentle moment with your maid of honor, your vehicle before it drives away, and so on. It's your day. Make sure all of your vendors are working within your timeline.



Lesson #2: Vendors

DJs all have their own style as well. the DJ will of course introduce the new couple, notify the crowd of the bouquet toss, and other required announcements. Ask your DJ what other kinds of announcements he typically makes at weddings. He may like to encourage guests to pull out their cameras for special moments, like the first dance. Most wedding photographers are not going to like that kind of announcement. When you are coordinating a wedding, you need to keep in mind that all your vendors are there to do their jobs, which may sometimes interfere with another vendor. Vendors typically know how to work with each other, especially if they are specifically a wedding vendor, so keep that in mind when booking. For instance, there are plenty of videographers out there but make sure he or she knows how to shoot a wedding.



Lesson #3: Guest Photos

If guests are taking time away from you as the bride and groom to take a picture with them, they mean well, but they're really just making your faces hurt more - smiling all day is not as easy as it sounds! You'll be the midst of enduring possibly 12 straight hours of photographs – that your paid a lot of money for – and my guess is your don’t want to be in your guests' photos too. Plus, the photos your guests take on their cameras and cameraphones will pale in comparison to the professional photos.  And trust me, you'll never even see even half the photos your guests took. If it's getting bothersome, ask them to opt for candids instead. Make your guests aware that the professional photos will be available online, as most usually are. You can easily give the web address on the ceremony program, at the dinner tables, or in your thank you cards.



Lesson #4: The Wedding Party

Wedding parties who follow directions and are prompt and cooperative will spend way less time taking pictures and are almost guaranteed to enjoy the wedding experience more. It’s like the high school science project. You have those that do it right in the group and those who hold everyone else back. If everyone is attentive all the time for formal photos (it IS possible, I’ve seen it done many times), the pictures will be done in no time flat. Photographers will need to adjust where people are standing and make sure all the necessary players are in every picture. The best bridesmaids and groomsmen will be helpful – move when told, always are smiling, and set an example. Have a group that's misbehaving? You and your groom are the best ones to keep them in line. It sounds better coming from the bride than the photographer. Just remind them that when they're done, they can move on to the party. 



Lesson #5: Kids

If you just read lesson #4 and envisioned the person responsible for holding everyone else back, you already know who to exclude from your wedding party. If you’re an easy going bride and “que sera sera”, thes last two lessons may not apply to you. But if you’re the type of bride who wants everything to be perfect and would like to have kids in your official wedding party and/or as part of the ceremony, you may want to think twice. If you want to include little nephew Johnny, and you want him to smile cutely in every picture, Johnny better be a little angel child. If he’s rambunctious (as many kids are) or cranky (as many kids are), you might need more time getting that perfect shot. If you’d rather not deal with more standing and smiling to get it right (if you’re lucky), consider leaving little Johnny out of the official wedding party and including him in a few photos when he’s in the mood. He won't be offended if he's excluded.


I have no doubt that a photographer can make or break your wedding memories. My recent experience just reinforced that belief but at the same time made me more aware of some of the challenges they face. Hopefully these lessons will help you avoid them at your wedding!

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