1. Consider an engagement session. A pre-wedding session will help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And, it will prepare your photographer for your wedding day by allowing her to see how you two interact, and get a feel for your best features.
2. Plan your morning carefully. Choose a room with abundant natural light to get ready in. If possible, choose a room with neutral colors, and try to keep things neat and tidy throughout the morning. This will help your photos stay cohesive and clean-looking. If details are important to you, have everything you’d like photographed laid out and waiting for your photographer — a full invitation set, special jewelry, a vintage handkerchief, etc.
3. Share your morning. “Specifically invite your closest loved ones to be with you when you’re getting ready for your wedding. And encourage them to get totally ready beforehand, because most people like photos of themselves more when they look their best. It could be your mom, dad, a special relative, or simply your closest friends, but I love the idea of intentionally making them feel special by sharing those moments with them.” This is a wonderful way to create an opportunity for those spontaneous, sweet, intimate moments to happen — the ones we want captured on our wedding day, but can’t really plan for.
4. Create a generous timeline. If photographs are important to you, build in as much time as possible for them. Generally speaking, the more time your photographer has with you, the better the photos she/he will be able to produce. If you’re not sure how much time you’ll need for portraits, check with your photographer.
5. Consider doing a first look. I completely respect those who want to see their significant other for the first time at the end of the aisle, but if you and your fiancé are ambivalent, I’d definitely consider doing a first look. That way, you can take care of the majority, if not all, of the formal family groupings pre-ceremony, leaving extra time for bride and groom portraits or to attend cocktail hour post-ceremony.
6. Do not create a ridiculous shot list. Please, for the love of sweet tea, do not create a shot list with specific poses or moments. (You know the ones I’m talking about: they include things like “Dad whispering last minute advice to groom” and “bride’s parents whispering to each other during dinner.”) Remember why you hired your photographer, trust her, and give her room to let her creativity shine.
7. DO create a formal shot list. On the other hand, it’s important to think carefully about the formal groupings that you’d like captured either pre- or post-ceremony. Try to keep the list to ten or fewer combinations (i.e. bride and groom with bride’s parents, bride and groom with all siblings) to avoid impatience and stress. When you give the list to your photographer, be sure to include names — this will help her direct the portrait session smoothly and kindly!
8. Communicate with the VIPs. Once you’ve got that great shot list, be sure to share it with all the people involved. Email them a copy in advance; print out more copies for the day of – whatever it takes! Make sure they know where to be, when to be there, and what they should be wearing so you’re not scrambling after everyone on the big day.
9. Plan for capturing the details. In addition to gorgeous portraits, many of you want your photographers to capture the details you’ve worked so hard on. This requires communication, too! If possible, work with your planner/venue/special helpers to set up the reception space as early as possible, so that your photographer can snap the details either pre-ceremony or during cocktail hour, before guests have entered the space and ideally while there’s still natural light outside.
10. Ask questions. My last tip for working with your photographer? Ask them! “Is there anything I can do to help you do your job better?” Photographers, like all wedding vendors, try their hardest to be flexible, and they’ll do the best they can under whatever circumstances they find themselves in. But, if you do what you can to provide the optimal environment, they’ll probably produce their optimal results.