plan photos

by Laurie Werth, owner and photographer at Werth Photography

Hello, wonderful engaged couple! Today I’ll be laying out some great information that will help you achieve those beautiful images you’ve been admiring on bridal websites and magazines!

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS GOOD PLANNING

I have to start off by saying that wedding planners are awesome. A highly rated, trustworthy planner is a person who will make your life MUCH easier leading up to the big day. You can always ask your photographer about planners they enjoy working with – they’re sure to have some great recommendations! If a wedding planner is not in your future, that’s okay too. Read on for some super helpful tips to plan your wedding for the best photography.

PLAN YOUR WEDDING IN ADVANCE

            This may seem a little bit obvious, but you’ll want to create a schedule of events well in advance of the big day. Your schedule should include all major events and locations – where you’re getting your hair done, when you’ll put the dress on, when you’ll head to the venue-you get the idea! If your wedding will include any extra traditions or rituals outside of the ceremony, put them on the schedule as well. You will ultimately be sharing this schedule with your photographers, and photographers like to know what’s going to happen!

SCHEDULE TIME FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

If photography is important to you (which it very much should be!) then you will absolutely need to schedule specific time slots for your photography. Set aside at least an hour for a one-on-one photoshoot with just the bride and groom. Matt and I like to call this the “Creative Session” – it’s when those striking portraits of the two of you happen! You will definitely want this portion to be separate from your bridal party and guests – believe me. You will be able to relax and focus without the stress of having to entertain family or answer questions.

The next step is to set aside another chunk of time for photographing your bridal party. This probably won’t take as long as your Creative Session, but that ultimately depends on the size of your bridal party. Have everyone gathered together in one area so you can simply call the group over for their photo session.

– If you aren’t sure how much time to schedule for your photography, just ask your photographers!

TIME OF DAY MATTERS

So you definitely want to have beautiful outdoor, naturally lit wedding portraits, right? That’s probably the thing every bride wants, no exception. These are also the memories/shots that photographers love to create! If you want to have the perfect dreamy light, you’ll want to pay attention to when you schedule your Creative Session because some hours of the day are better for photography than others. It’s all about the quality of the sunlight. Softer light is generally more flattering, which is why I personally love shooting in the morning and the late afternoon. Some brides also fail to remember that the sun sets at different times throughout the year. Check what time sunset will occur on your wedding day and schedule accordingly! Night shots are awesome, but you probably wouldn’t want all of your Creative Session shots to be in the dark. Ask your photographer when to schedule your creative session, and listen to their advice! They definitely have good tricks for shooting in the most beautiful, flattering light.

A FEW NOTES ON FAMILY FORMAL PHOTOS

“Family formals” refer to those straightforward shots of family and friend groupings. Many couples will have them right before or immediately following their ceremony. The best piece of advice I can offer here is to be selective – if there are people in the shot that you don’t know, do you really need a picture with them? Less family/friend formal shots mean more time for creative and fun photography! Be selective and keep that list concise. You can always ask your photographer to float around during the cocktail hour and capture more informal group shots of your friends and family members having fun!

– Always give your photographer a list of your desired family group shots. Be fairly specific. For example, “Bride and Groom with Smith Family” is a good way to list a photo. “Jen, Tom, Andy, Uncle Will, Bobby” is not a particularly helpful way to list the photo, because your photographer doesn’t know your guests by name.

– Make sure you are providing a realistic amount of time for your family shots. Larger group shots can take up to 5 minutes (each) to compose, and that’s assuming everybody is standing right there waiting to be placed.

– Tell your family members that they will be taking photos at a certain time and location. Ask them to stay nearby so that when the time comes, you won’t need to go searching for them (huge waste of time!). If there are a lot of family members to gather, appoint a bridesmaid or friend to gather people. This is an especially good role for an organized person who might like a job to do!

– If you have some particularly large family shots to capture, consider doing them during your reception. You can ask your D.J. or musician to announce the picture – they can easily call large groups to the middle of the dance floor for the shot.

ASK FOR HELP

Wedding planning can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of vendors to coordinate and a lot of things happening at once. Ask a friend who is also planning a wedding to help, or take mercy on yourself and hire a wedding planner. Ask for help when you need it – there are definitely friends and professionals out there who can make things easier!

A FEW PRACTICAL TIPS

– Allow time in-between events, no matter what! Things will run behind – it’s only natural. If you give yourself at least a 15 minute buffer between each event, you won’t be crunched for time if your hair appointment runs over (and hair appointments almost always run long!).

– If your Creative Session or any other photo session of the day involves travelling to a different location, you absolutely must budget a generous amount of transit time. It takes time to load people onto a bus, it takes time if you get stuck in traffic. Allowing a good amount of transit time means that you won’t eat into your photography time.

That’s all, folks! I hope these tips help you plan for amazing photography and a smoother wedding day in general. Check out our “For Brides” section for more helpful articles about engagement sessions, dressing for the camera and more!

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