If you’re looking at it from the outside in, getting the best wedding pictures can feel more like magic than art or science.

That’s partially by design.  As photographers, we want your special day to feel magical.  But the truth is, the best way to get great wedding pictures is to plan and strategize before the event even takes place.

If planning isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry!  That’s why you’ve got us. Here are a few tips to help you get the best wedding pictures:

1. Invite your photographer on a venue tour before the wedding.

Photographers love venue tours. I’ve never seen a photographer require them, but we love them. We like meeting the venue staff and wandering around the location. This is information that we can use if other clients are holding events at the same location in the future, so it’s pretty helpful for us in the long run.

However, it’s also helpful to you!

Seeing a location — especially if you can schedule a visit close to the time that the wedding will take place — can give photographers insight into the space and lighting requirements for the area.

I personally enjoy when clients can tell me what they’re thinking or how they’re envisioning the venue setup. If there are particular seating arrangements or table setups, I can gather more insight into how I’d photograph something and that can make all the difference on wedding day. If the bride or the groom really want wedding pictures at a specific location inside the venue, it helps to know where that is.

2. Create a list of “must have” wedding pictures and an image “wishlist”.

One of the most important things you can do before your wedding day is sit down and figure out which images are “MUST HAVES” for you. Photographers aren’t mind readers, and while they may have a few shots in mind, more insight is always better. If you NEED that shot of your father walking you down the aisle, tell your photographer that it’s important to you!

Likewise, be sure to create an image wishlist. These images are “nice to have” but aren’t considered essential. You’ll want this list as something to aim for while understanding that time constraints and external factors may prevent you from getting all the wedding pictures you want.

Give both of these lists to your photographer and discuss!

3. Create and share an inspiration board.

This is one of my favourite parts of wedding planning. Find a website you love and create an idea folder or an inspiration board. This includes wedding pictures that you like and ideas you might want to try out. It can be very broad or very narrow, depending on your preference.

Share this board with your photographer and talk to them about the images that you save there — especially the images you’re most excited about — and invite your photographer to do the same. If there’s a pose you want to try or a family arrangement you enjoy, many photographers can replicate it or expand the idea with a personal touch.

I recommend Pinterest for this, but there are other options. (You can find me on Pinterest right here!)

4. Provide your photographer with a family guide.

One of the absolute best ways to ensure great wedding pictures is to provide a family guide for your photographer. This is someone who you’ve shared your vision with but who isn’t a part of the primary wedding party and can tag along beside your photographer to make sure that everyone is properly photographed.

As your photographer, I may know you and your immediate family. I won’t know aunts, uncles, or extended family members. When the time comes to take family photos, having a guide who knows everyone can make a night and day difference between your photos.

(Also, it’s a good idea if this is someone who doesn’t mind standing up to other family members and kicking guests out of photos when they don’t belong. A cousin’s temporary girlfriend who won’t be around in a year probably isn’t someone you want standing front and center in your wedding pictures!)

5. Give your photographer access to private spaces.

Wedding days are big events with a lot of behind-the-scenes action going on. If the bride and groom are separated, allowing your photographer to access the preparation areas can provide some of the most powerful moments of the wedding.

If you restrict access to these areas, you’ll likely receive several shots of arriving and chatting guests but no coverage of the moments that you’ll most often remember from that day.

Be sure to check with your bridesmaids or groomsmen before allowing access, especially if your photographer is of the opposite gender from their subject. As a male photographer, I’ve seen hesitation from bridesmaids who were never told to expect a camera. The same is true for women photographing men.

6. Provide your photographer with a schedule of events.

It’s not strictly necessary to provide a schedule of events, but your photographer will appreciate knowing when certain things are supposed to take place.

If there’s a special cocktail hour after the ceremony but you’d prefer family wedding pictures during that time, too, you may have to choose what you’d like your photographer to cover.

Giving us the information we need to provide the coverage you want brings us one step closer to success.

7. Tell your photographer your secret plans.

Everyone except your photographer will love surprises on your wedding day. I always advise my clients and their guests to tell me in advance if a surprise is happening so that I can be in the right place to capture it.  Fun, unexpected surprises make for some of the best wedding pictures in the end.

This isn’t necessary, of course, but if your photographer doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s much harder for them to photograph it. If this happens at the ceremony or the reception, your photographer might be in a different location entirely!

Wrapping Up

Some couples shy away from providing photographers with wedding detail, either because they aren’t big planners or they want to be spontaneous.  

While no photographer wants to rain on your parade, the hard truth of it is that you’ll get better wedding pictures if you sit down and plan out your event.  This is something we often stress because regardless of the planning, photographers are still expected to return great results.

And those wedding pictures you get back from an unplanned and spontaneous event might be great — but they might not be as powerful or as meaningful as they could have been.  No photographer wants that to happen!  We want to help you create an amazing story that you’re proud to call your own!

If you’re in need of a wedding photographer drop us a line.  We’d love to chat with you.