Twelve tips for great wedding pictures (twelve more tomorrow!)

I recently blogged **here** about planning your wedding day timeline with photography in mind and it got me thinking about a lot of other simple and easy things you can do to get better wedding pictures (other than hiring a kick-a** wedding photographer of course!). Without further ado, here are some of the things I've learned over the years:

1. When choosing your wedding location consider how it will look in photographs. Beautiful high white ceilings/tents are beloved by photographers for bouncing/foofing/reflecting. Dark, brightly colored or wood panelled walls and ceiling can be a little harder to deal with.

When I arrived to photograph a wedding at Belle Mer in Newport, RI I almost wanted to hug the white walls and blow kisses at the high white ceilings - they reflect strobes beautifully for soft flattering light:

2. Consider lighting design and decor. Tiny twinkly lights and/or lots of votive candles will look beautiful in pictures and add to the ambiance. And don't forget to check out my post on uplighting which is a lot more affordable than you might think!

3. When you're planning your timeline, consider scheduling time for an intimate "first look" session for the bride and groom alone followed by wedding party and family pictures to extend the time spent together on your wedding day. Then you can head off to the ceremony feeling calm and relaxed, knowing that all of the pictures are done and you can thoroughly enjoy your wedding! AND you get to enjoy a glass of champagne and all of the fabulous appetizers at cocktail hour - brilliant! I swear I didn't tell Tom to look at his watch, I think he was just so excited to see Linda:

4. And speaking of timeline planning, for an outdoor wedding ceremony try and avoid 11:30am - 3pm. The sun is super high and bright in the sky and unless you want big strobes and flashes going off in your face to overpower the sun, you'll likely have some pretty harsh shadows in the pictures. Beautiful midday wedding but it's tough to deal with the strong shadows that the sun will cast:

5. Choose a wedding dress you feel comfortable in. Can you jump up and down without having to hitch it up? Will you be able to throw your arms up around your new husband's neck for "the kiss" without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction. Strapless dresses can look divine but if you would feel self-conscious going out for dinner in a strapless dress why feel that you have to wear one on your wedding day? Extend the same courtesy to your bridesmaids who will likely come in all shapes and sizes. Your bridesmaids will probably thank you for straps! You can select the colors but let them choose the style (hello this makes for comfortable and happy bridesmaids who can run and jump like this:

6. At your rehearsal/rehearsal dinner remind your wedding party/family of the time and location for group portraits. If family members are on time, family portraits will go much faster! If you have a shot list for your group portraits, give a copy to a member of the wedding party (preferably someone somewhat organized, who knows who the people are) to help round them up

7. If you have everything available, I can get lots of beautiful detail shots while you're getting ready - your dress on a satin hanger, shoes, jewelery, flowers, copy of all of your wedding stationery and the wedding rings (I hate asking you to remove them after you've got married!). Also have one of your bridesmaids do a little sweep of the room where you're getting ready to clear out dress covers and random junk!

8. It's great to get ready in a room with large windows and lots of flattering natural light. You might want to consider this if you're getting ready at home or perhaps ask for a corner room if you're in a hotel - check out more getting ready shots taken in the lovely room below *here*:

9. Take the time estimates for hair and make up and then add at least an hour to them. Hair and make up ALWAYS take longer than you expect and are probably the #1 cause of delays to the timeline. And that can cause you to have to rush photographs and/or miss more of cocktail hour. So plan extra time!

10. Remember to eat on the day of your wedding! This has nothing to do with pictures but a lot of people forget!

11. You might want to consider adding a note to your wedding program to limit guest photography during your ceremony saying something like "It is requested that guests do not use cameras/flash/camera phones during the ceremony" I don't mind at all but you risk your ceremony having a paparazzi-like feel with guests holding out cell phones in the aisle! The little beeps and red pre-flash and flashes can also be distracting when you're trying to say your vows. Plus it's kind of nice to know your guests are listening to the ceremony and not looking at the back of their cameras :)

12. Consider transportation for your photographer. I have my own car but if we'll be starting the getting ready shots and ending at the reception in the same location then I'll sometimes ride in the front of the limo or trolley so that we can make impromptu stops for pictures. Imagine missing a shot of your groomsmen with a random lobster because your photographer is looking for a parking space:

And check back tomorrow for twelve more suggestions including tips for walking down the aisle, cake cutting, if/when to feed your photographer, the best pens for guest book signatures and much more. But...I'm only posting part II if I get at least 5 (update, changing this to 12 as all my lovely blog readers are coming out of hiding) comments. At last count I have 700-900 blog readers each week, so don't be shy! Say hello, add your own tip or leave a suggestion for future blog topics! Just click on "view comments for this post", choose name/url from the drop down box and then type away!


  1. great tips leah!!! love the pics.

  2. What do you when the bride asks for you to be in one of the pictures? Love all of these...waiting for more! :)

  3. oh please let us hear part II!

  4. Leah, all your fantastic detail shots are making me think ahead as to what I'll want to include, shoes, rings, meaningful doodads...I feel like you're already making me a more organized bride! LOVE reading/stalking your blog.

  5. Haha, Leah you are too funny! *LOVE* all the blog posts with tips for wedding planning. It is VERY helpful for us! 2 months to go! Pretty please will you post part II?

    For a future blog post, I would love tips for for posing in pictures. I have heard to keep your shoulders back... any other advice?

  6. PS: What's with the lobster guy? That photo is *awesome*!!

  7. I am such a meanie and a comment wh*re!! I'm now looking for 12 comments.

    Thanks Kat & Tracy!

    Corey (corkins) - are you planning on getting married again?!?! It hasn't been 12 months since I shot your first (and surely only) wedding! I would shoot yoru vow renewal with Isaiah any day!

    Lindsay & Neeta - you'll have awesome wedding pictures without a doubt! And love the idea on a posing blog post, I'll always give direction as needed but it probably helps to see pictures too.

    What do I do when the bride asks me to be in a picture? I'm shy in front of the camera so stay behind it as much as possible! But if I have to get in front of the camera I photoshop the hell out of myself so I look awesome.

  8. Oh and the lobster guy? (and a second comment from the same person doesn't count - I'm strict with this game!) I think he was the chef/waiter at a seafood restaurant. He was having a cigarette break and I saw him. It was Halloween but maybe he dresses like that everyday? I like a little humor in pictures and have been known to feature sailors, a man made of grass and a chicken alongside my newlyweds.

  9. These comments and blogs are super helpful fo me!! I'm sure I will have tons of questions for you when we see you for our engagement shoot!! I am so looking forward for you to incorporate all these awesome ideas you have into our wedding
    Stephanie :)

  10. I second Neeta in wishing for tips on how to pose; I don't think I'm particularly photogenic and I do NOT want to sully the photos from her and Rich's wedding! %)

  11. oh, and by the way, your detail shots have fueled my shoe obsession something fierce!

  12. great tips, thank you!!

  13. oh, more please :)

  14. I know I'm slightly biased!! but these are really beautiful pics with such clever comments/tips. Even I can't wait for tomorrow's blog and I'm never going to be a bride again!!

    Your Mum

  15. As a bride 4 months away from her wedding these are some great tips! I have just started thinking about my timeline and I didn't think of some of these eating haha Hopefully we get to see more tomorrow!

  16. I think you got your 12, but I have to comment anyway. Leah, since I couldn't get you on my wedding day, I Went out and got another kick a** photographer as per your suggestion so I'm on the right track! These are great and will only make her beautiful pictures even better! Need to go back and read your scheduling post, and can't wait for tomorrows!

    Your Faithful but silent reader


  17. The next 12 includes the following tip, right? "If you do not consider your fiance to be photogenic, please consider replacing him or her in advance of the wedding day. It can cause great confusion to the families when the substitution is made immediately before the ceremony."

    (For those who don't know me, it is safe to assume that I am kidding. In front of Leah's lens, everyone looks good.)

    - Marshall

  18. Leah, I love the blog post! It has been great for me to read since I am learning about photography. You are so awesome!

  19. Anonymous, Liz and Amanda - thank you!

    @Stephanie -so looking forward to catching up and shooting you and Tim in July!!!

    @Karen - one of my objectives for Neeta & Rich's wedding is to get you a kick-a** picture for your facebook page :) even if it's just one of your shoes! which I'm sure will be awesome!

    @my Mum - I think I'm coming home for a week in July and can't wait to see you, Dad, Ian and Nan. L xxxx

    @Diana I saw your engagement pics and you guys look amazing! I'm watching for your wedding photos. Thank you for reading!

    @ Marshall - that's seriously funny. Please comment freely in future without the need to explain. You probably haven't read the blog post I did where I interviewed myself in the style of Ellen, Oprah and someone else after I'd had a couple of glasses of wine.

    @Regina - start blogging! I'd love to read your photography adventures! Hi to Mikey!!

    I have a big smile on my face as I read all of these comments :) Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself so it's lovely to know that people are reading!

  20. Love the post from your Mum! Wish we'd thought of "Lobster Guy" for Corey's wedding - so New England!