So, you’ve spent a lot of time and money making sure everything is perfect for your wedding day. You’ve hired a great, professional wedding photographer to capture the day and you want to make sure you get fantastic images. What can you do to help make that happen? I’ve photographed a lot of weddings in Tampa and St. Petersburg (over 200) and I spend my days looking at wedding pictures. Before we jump into the list, I want to make it clear that these are suggestions. Some are simple and some are really, “…in a perfect world” kind of suggestions. It’s a fun list and don’t think for one minute that failure to comply with something on it will invoke the wrath of your wedding photographer. These are just things that I see a lot and I suspect that most people have no clue that they are affecting their wedding images. I thought you might enjoy reading about it. So, here’s my list of:

10 Things You Can Do To Get Better Wedding Pictures

1. Make a list of the family members you want to be photographed with immediately following the ceremony.

The biggest “time crunch” at your wedding is the hour after your ceremony, the “Cocktail Hour.” For starters, it’s frequently not an hour because things got started late. Three things have to happen in that time: Family group portraits, bridal party portraits and bride and groom portraits. I’ll let you guess which of those three is most important to your photographer (Hint: You probably didn’t pick your photographer because you loved his family group portraits.) So, the faster you can do the group portraits and the wedding party portraits, the more time you’ll have for the romantic stuff. If you’ve made a list of the family groups you want (Both sets of parents, both sets of grandparents, etc) everything will move faster. You may be thinking, “Doesn’t my photographer have a generic list?” Well, yes, but no two weddings are the same. I’ve had weddings that spent 40 minutes on groups and others that spent 10 minutes. If you have a list made by the bride, you don’t waste any time.

2. If you want something special, tell your photographer before the wedding

Maybe you saw this great picture on Pinterest and you want your photographer to duplicate it. That’s great but don’t wait until you are in the middle of your wedding to tell him about it. Send him an example of the shot before the wedding so he can be ready for it. Which leads me to another little point: Trust your photographer. If he’s an experienced pro, he already has a list in his head of shots he wants. If you suddenly hit him with something he has to figure out, you are going to lose those other shots. If the sun is setting and your photographer is rushing to get as many shots as he can in the few minutes he has, maybe you don’t want to stop everything and spend 10 minutes trying to get a cute image you saw online yesterday. Or, maybe you do if it’s that important to you. Just know that you may be sacrificing 5 great shots so you can get that one you want.

3. Get an Engagement Session

 engagement photo If you are at all nervous in front of the camera, an engagement session will put you at ease. By the time your wedding arrives you will have spent hours with your photographer and you will feel more comfortable and relaxed.

4. Clean Your Room

Almost Ready All of your “Getting Ready” pictures will be better if your hotel room is neat.

5. Wear the Right Wedding Dress

Here are some things to consider when picking out your wedding dress that will result in better pictures: Can you walk in it? Are you getting married on the beach? Don’t buy a dress that you can’t wear on the sand. Also, don’t buy a dress with a train if you don’t want the train to get dirty. Don’t be the bride who is walking out to get married with her dress in her hand because she can’t walk in it or doesn’t want it dragging in the sand. And if you are planning on wearing the dress again for a reception back home, buy two dresses. It’s hard to get stunning wedding pictures on the beach while wearing a dress that can’t touch the ground. :)

Wedding Dress

Reconsider the veil.
Not always a good idea, especially for outdoor ceremonies. There’s always wind at the beach so if you are getting married there, lose the veil. Personally, I’m not a fan. I like seeing faces and emotion. I recently shot an outdoor wedding where the bride had a veil. She stepped out of the car, the wind pulled her veil and without hesitation she grabbed it, ripped it off and handed it to someone. I wanted to marry her myself.

Consider Straps.
I know that 99% of the dresses you tried on were strapless but try on some strapped gowns as well. Unless it is perfectly fit (and tied) to your shape, you will spend a lot of time pulling up on your dress. I have seen many a great image ruined because the bride is pulling on her dress with her elbows flying out like chicken wings. Plus, there’s the issue of back fat and arm fat (that’s right, I said it). Strapless will not make you look thinner, I promise you. You will be wearing that dress for 6 hours, don’t be afraid to get some support.

Sirata Resort Wedding St. Petersburg 15

6. The Bouquet – Less is More

burlap bouquet

If you have a bouquet that takes two hands to lift, you have a bouquet that is too big. It’s an accent, not a focal point. You don’t want to be carrying a shrubbery all day and you don’t want it to be a distracting object in your wedding pictures. I’ll take a small group of flowers over a two-handed magnolia bush any day.

7. Spray Your Hair.

If you are getting married outside, you need your hair up and you need a thousand bobby pins, some super-glue and epoxy cement on your head. Your hair should have the tensile strength of a professional football helmet. Wind is your enemy. While I’m on the subject, the same applies to your bridesmaids. I recently shot a wedding party on the beach and only had 1 shot in 10 where a bridesmaid didn’t have a hand in her hair or on her face. I can’t say this enough: No loose hair on the beach.

8. Un-Plug The Ceremony

wedding guest

I have a folder on my computer that has nothing but images from weddings where a guest has stood up and ruined a picture. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, they just stand out as the only people standing in the picture. Other times they move around and really ruin an important picture (like the first kiss) because they absolutely must get a shot on their Ipad. I’ve written about this before but it’s probably the single thing that wedding photographers hate the most because it’s completely out of our control. I once had a guest walk onto the dance floor during the first dance and stop the bride and groom so she could get a picture, then continue to stand there while she looked at the image on the back of her camera. Meanwhile, the song is fading….

9. Be Silly, Be Sexy, Have Fun

silly bride and groom

If you want your wedding photographer to take fun candid pictures and sexy romantic pictures then you have to be fun and sexy. Smash the cake, laugh, have fun and when he says, “Look at your husband,” look at him with every bit of love and desire you have. It will show in the pictures.   Don’t look at your feet when you are walking out and don’t look at the photographer unless he tells you to. During your first dance as man and wife, look at your husband, be in that moment. (The exception is that I occasionally get a bride who will look at me during the ceremony and it’s always a great shot…. just don’t keep looking at me the whole time. :)


emotional bride

10. No Laser Lights

wedding laser lights Tell your DJ not to bring those pinpoint, colored laser lights to the wedding. They but dots on everyone and they look awful. Because of those lights, your photographer will be forced to shoot from the same side of the room all night to avoid having those dots on everyone’s faces. So there you have it. 10 Tips for Better Wedding Pictures. Remember, these are just suggestions, not rules. A good photographer will get you great pictures no matter what you do! If I left any out, write them in the comments section!