Tips for Getting the Best Wedding Pictures

New England Wedding Photography
Fun Bridal Party Picture

The holidays provide a romantic backdrop for wedding proposals, so for all of you newly-engaged out there, here are some tips for getting the best wedding pictures.  And the most important tip of all: include your photographer in some of the wedding planning.  S/he can make suggestions about timing & locations to help make sure you’re getting the best pictures you can.  Good luck!

New England Wedding Photography
Bride Getting Ready for her Wedding

1.     “Getting Ready” pictures are fun – but not without makeup on.

The pictures before the actual wedding – when she’s zipping up her dress, he’s straightening his tie, and she’s putting on jewelry – are wonderful memories.  But before everyone’s makeup is on, hair is done and suits are pressed, the pictures can be a little…alarming.  Have your photographer arrive about 30 minutes prior to “go-time” and make sure you look your best when she arrives to capture those last minute details.

2.     Consider taking formal pictures ahead of time.

Many couples still treasure the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony.  But if you and your fiancée are flexible, consider taking your formal pictures FIRST – before any tears have been shed, while your hair and makeup are fresh and when you’re not rushed.  Doing formals first is a great icebreaker and ensures that you can enjoy every moment of the cocktail party!

3.     Make sure you carve out time for you and your sweetie to take pictures – alone.

Boston Gay Wedding Photography
Two Brides Share a Kiss and a Sunset Toast

Obligatory formal portraits are a must, but don’t forget to carve out at least 20 minutes for you and your sweetie to be photographed without family hovering in the background.  You can do this during the formal pictures time, or you can step out during the reception.  One way or another, find a quiet place where you can be alone (with your photographer, of course) and where you can let your happiness and love flow.  Those are the sweetest pictures and the ones you will treasure the most.

4.     Allow at least an hour for formal pictures.

You will be frazzled on your wedding day.  You’ll be nervous and stressed and overwhelmed.  So don’t rush the formal pictures.  It will only stress you out more to have to cut them short.  And your photographer needs time – to get the right light, the right background and the right poses.  So plan at least one hour for family pictures; 40 for your family and 20 for you and your new wife/hubby.

5.     Plan out your formal family pictures ahead of time.

To help make formal pictures go smoothly, plan them carefully.  A month before the wedding, sit down with your fiancée and make a list of every combination of family to be photographed.  For example: “Matt and Sarah with Matt’s parents…Matt with his parents…Matt with his brothers…Sarah with her sisters…Sarah with Aunt Judy…”  Line by line, this will make formal picture time a breeze and you won’t have to make any decisions in the moment.

Boston Wedding Photography
Groomsmen Strike a Pose for the Camera

6.     Dance together!

The first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance make for tender, loving photographs and work best when the two people are dancing close together.  Remember, we’re going for romantic and sweet here.  Dance cheek to cheek.  Kiss a little.  Look into each other’s eyes.  Laugh.  Hold each other close. Pictures are sweeter and more romantic the closer you are.

7.     Use dinnertime as photo time (but don’t forget to eat!)

It’s common for the New Couple to visit each table during dinner, greet guests and pose for pictures.  This is a great time for your photographer to get group shots of you and your friends.  Make sure your photographer is following you as you make the rounds and you’ll get a photo with nearly every guest.

8.     Front-load photography if possible.

Sometimes, after there’s been an open bar for 5 hours, the end of the night can be a bit…messy. People drink more, your hair comes down, your dress gets dirty.  Once dinner ends and the real party begins, you only need up to 2 hours of “party pictures.” Front-load the important things (cake, traditional dances, toasts) and let your photographer leave before you and your friends get too down and dirty.

9.     Assume that your wedding will run behind schedule – and plan with your photographer accordingly.

Weddings are big productions and are likely to run behind; assume that yours will.  Don’t plan to cut the cake at 9:45 and have the photographer leave at 10.  It’s not gonna happen.  As a rule of thumb, don’t plan anything too close to the end of the night; if you run late you may end up rushing or being forced to sacrifice special pictures.

Bride and her friends celebrate

10. Try not to pose…too much.

Your photographer is going to get a mix of formal and candid shots, so be just that!  Be formal sometimes and candid a lot of the time.  When you’re on the dance floor, with your friends, laughing at the bar, and dancing with Grandpa, don’t look at the camera.  We want to see the essence of your happiness, so “act natural,” and try ignoring the camera if you can.

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