YOU KNOW THOSE THINGS THAT YOU DON'T EVEN REALIZE YOU DON'T KNOW? Well considering it's not every day that you get married or take professional photos (or maybe you do, and this article might not be for you), there might be some things in the myriad of details leading up to the big day that might miss the check list and could make the day a little less easier, and the photos a little less fabulous (which we don't need, right?). So, lets go through a few things to keep that from happening.

engagment session


This is generally the beginning of your relationship with your photographer. You might have chatted via phone or Zoom or exchanged multiple emails, but in general, this is the first meeting. While you photographer might be worrying about posing you, the location of the photo session, and the weather, your main focus should be on feeling relaxed, feeling happy (how else is it going to show through in the photos?), and warding off wardrobe malfunctions.

I could wax on for a while regarding wardrobe malfunctions. Mine, others, mine again. However, this is not going to happen to you since you read this article. First way to avoid such a calamity? Know what you are going to wear prior to the shoot. I know it is not as exciting or stressful to run around right before you are supposed to be somewhere while trying to find a certain clothing item or going to put something on that might not fit as well as it one did (that damn washing machine), but preparation really is key. Days before the date, know what you are going to wear. Is it clean? Does it need to be repaired? Does it fit? Oh, btw, do you know what your partner is wearing? Know these things so you don't arrive disheveled, stressed, and not able to best channel your inner model.

Do you know what else is important to think about with engagement sessions? Shoes. If you decide you are going to be wearing shoes for you shoot and not doing the barefoot-boho look, it is generally best if the shoes don't cripple you in the process. I have watched as brides-to-be have suffer in agony trying to hobble from one location to the next during their engagement session. If you want to wear the beautiful shoes, great, let's do it, but let's also bring a pair of comfy flats or sandals to walk in. I have no problem carting around your extra shoes, and I am sure your betrothed-to-be won't either if it means having a better and more comfortable experience. Oh, and one more thing, back to the wardrobe preparedness part, check those fancy potentially uncomfortable shoes out prior to the excursion. I have had more than one lady who has had a broken shoe during the shoot which can definitely lessen one's engagement photo experience


THE WEDDING DAY AND THOSE WEDDING PHOTOS


Getting ready & pre-ceremony


Ah, yes, we finally made it! The day is here. And what starts the beginning of wedding photography usually? Yes, those getting ready photos. Whether its a small group or a large wedding party, those photos are some of my most favorite. However, do you know what ruins beautiful getting dressed photos? A mess. The best camera lens in the world can't get a mess out of the background. I know it's hard, especially with destination weddings with everybody's bags and clothing crammed into a small room, but maybe try keeping everything together or place in the closet prior to onset of photos. Also if photos are to be done at one's house, try to consider locations for hair/make-up/dress where there is space and good lighting.

You know those fantastic photos of wedding gowns and wedding invitations with all of the bride's jewelry and bouquet? Maybe some have the ability to spontaneously making these amazing images occur, however in my experience, these types of images generally require a smidge of planning. Let's begin with the dress. It is gorgeous, it is magnificent, you feel so beautiful in it and want it to be captured elegantly and beautifully in a photo and/or album so you (and generations) can admire and ooh and ahh over how amazing it is and was. So do you leave it on the plastic/wire hanger that it came on? NO!!! I can't state enough how much that horrible hanger will ruin the image of the dress hanging. This doesn't have to be a ridiculously expensive hanger (unless that's your thing, and I totally support you.), but I must repeat- No wire (or paper hangers)! Multiple hangers are available to present your dress best. It could be a classic solid wooden hanger or hanger that is customized with your name- just not the hanger your dress came on (have I mentioned that yet?!).

So we have all seen those great images of the jewelry, the flowers, the invitations. I personally swoon when I see those how some are able to get those images to perfection. However, once again, there was planning prior to that photo simply falling into place. If this is an image that you would like, make sure to discuss it with your photographer so that he or she is prepared as well. Have all of your items in one place (This is not a scavenger hunt!), and ideally a place where there is a decent-sized flat surface and good lighting.

POST- CEREMONY/PRE-RECEPTION


The wedding is over, and it was fantastic. Moving, beautiful ceremony, so many great images already, but here it comes, time for the wedding party/family photos. Let's make a plan. Who do we want in these photos? How do we want these photos to look? Do we want the classic everybody standing up in a group together, or do we want something more posed? If there is a large wedding party/family, is there someone to assist herding everyone to where they need to be? Also let's take a minute and think about this. Do you need a photo of the bride and/or the bride and groom with every member of the wedding party and every family combination known to man? I know family is complicated, and that some members of the family aren't going to want to be in certain pictures with other members of family. However, you need to think of the time and resources that are be expended when taking a hundred wedding party/family photos. Wow, you are thinking, that seems harsh. No, I'm being objective. I want you to have the best photos possible of your day and spending the majority of the time taking these every-person-combination photos isn't gong to make it happen. I always think of this one wedding that is an example of such. It was fantastic. The ceremony was in a gorgeous historic church prior to equally beautiful reception. The bride was to have fifteen minutes after the ceremony for the wedding party/family photos since another wedding was starting shortly after. The wedding party was large (six bridesmaids, six groomsmen) and a decent amount of family was present. Not only did the bride run over her fifteen allotted minutes (which made the keeper of the church start tidying up behind her in the pictures and meant a bit of extra photoshop for me since he was in the background of about half the photos) but I kept thinking as I took these monotonous pictures of her with every bridesmaid and groomsmen combination, and then had to repeat again with her husband, and then repeat again with the two of them and the individual members of the wedding party, what great photo ideas I had that I could have taken of the group if she had let me have a bit of creative reign. But alas, those pictures didn't get taken and some of the most repetitive wedding party photos in my opinion were taken instead.

And while on the subject of group photos, can we all agree the sunglasses and airpod earbuds should not be in these wedding party/family photos? Maybe a quick heads-up from the bride and groom prior to the photos (doesn't have to be the day of, maybe at the rehearsal dinner or the day before) so it doesn't seem so harsh coming from a stranger such as moi?

RECEPTION/post-wedding


Whew. We made it. Time for a drink and to have some fun! Go, go have fun. Don't worry about me. This is when I do my best work taking the candid and detail photos that I love. But wait. What is that? Is that a photo backdrop? Oh, well that's interesting. And you want all of your reception friend and family photos against it? Okay, I'm game but, wow, I wish I had known since it is going to be such a big part of your, um, photos. I have no prejudice against a photo backdrop. Again, this is your wedding, and I am here for you. However, if you are imaging this fantastic background, and it doesn't come out as you hoped since there was no pre-discussion first, please don't feel let down by your photographer. Let's talk about it. Let me have some input. I'm not trying to control your creative style but maybe a heads up on the lightening situation and so one can be prepared to make the best photos for you.

And that my friends bring us to the conclusion of our journey of tips for making your engagement and wedding photography easier and better! I hope you picked up some helpful tips, and don't forget your photographer is your guide. Don't hesitate to always reach out and discuss your thoughts and concerns so that the best images can be made for you.