10 Essential Tips for Perfect Wedding Day Photography

wedding portrait at sunset

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. You have a lot to worry about: what you’re wearing, the location, the ceremony, the reception, your wedding party, RSVPs, catering, etc.  The last thing on your mind is probably wedding pictures and how to look and feel good in them. Wedding pictures are one of the most important parts of the whole event, as that’s how you’ll remember and share your wedding day. Here are our 10 tips to ensure you take the best wedding photos possible.

Choose the Right Photographer

wedding photographer

First things first, great wedding photos begin with a great photographer. This goes beyond just good reviews; you should also seek out a photographer that is deeply familiar with weddings, and more specifically, your venue. This will allow them to know the ins and outs of a successful shoot, as well as the best lighting and photo opps based on the time of day and year.

It’s also important to find a photographer with whom you have good chemistry. Don’t be afraid to interview multiple candidates ahead of time, and select the one you personally feel most comfortable with.

Know What Style Wedding Pictures You Want

grayscale wedding portrait at beach

We recommend getting familiar with photography, if you aren’t already. This goes right in line with preparing a shot list and figuring out what you want (more on that below). After looking through a photographer’s portfolio, you might like what you see but have no idea why. Being able to articulate why you like their images will help your photographer better understand what you want. Here are the top 3 styles of wedding photography:
Documentary: Candid or spontaneous pictures (not styled) of people, decor and the action.
Portrait: Posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops.
Fine Art: Artistic angles, creative lighting, unique compositions and post-production techniques to create imagery with artistic flare.

Ask Your Photographer the Right Questions

Ask how many final images you’ll receive, both edited and unedited. Will they be high resolution (for print) or low resolution (for your Facebook)? Will the proofs you see be the retouched versions, or are they retouched after you select? Will you get the unedited images too? If you want extra images retouched, how much will that be?

These questions can help you figure out if you’re getting the most bang for your buck and if the photographer will be helpful throughout your wedding journey.

Create a Plan

young couple's wedding photo showing shoes

Think ahead about which photos you really want. Do your research and print out or pin examples of poses or locations you really like, then make a list of shots you know you want. By giving your photographer a list of photos you must have on your big day, it will help them focus on just the important stuff. Plus, your photographer will appreciate that you have an idea of what you want already. If you’re hiring a photographer that has shot many weddings before, they should have a similar list or examples they shot before in their repertoire of tools.

TheKnot has created this list for 85 Great Wedding Photo Suggestions, but it’s also important to let your photographer know what shots you DON’T care about, like a shot of escorts showing guests to their seats.

Provide Your Wedding Photographer With the Most Important Information

bride carries colorful wedding bouquet
To make things easier for yourself and your photographer, provide a timeline of wedding events, listing the major important moments like your ceremony, first dance, toasts, and when you plan on doing formal portraits.

  • A list of the most important things you want captured at your wedding: things, people, or moments.
  • The names of your wedding party and the members of your family who will be in formal portraits.
  • Your general expectations for your wedding photography and what you want them to focus on; details, decorations, the guests, the ceremony, the reception? It’s important to remember that while they are professional photographers, they can’t read your mind.

Practice, Practice, Practice

young couple hug at wedding
It may sound silly, but practicing your smiles and poses in front of a mirror (alone and together) can help take the nervousness out of the big day. It will also help you get to know which poses work best for both of you and get your comfortable posing for pictures together. Practice your “smize,” Tyra Banks’ term for smiling with your eyes. When you smile, your eyes squint, the corners turn up, and you look happy regardless of whether you are smiling or not.
Bonus tip: Schedule an engagement photo session with your photographer – the purpose of this is actually not the shots at the end (though that is of course a bonus as they can be used for invites, save the dates, or for your wedding website), but rather to build rapport with your photographer and learn how to feel comfortable posing in front of a camera.

Know Your Angles

If you’re like most people, you likely don’t have much experience being photographed professionally. Because of this, having wedding photos taken seems incredibly daunting. Before the big day, get to know your best angles:

  • You might have a “good side,” since no one is perfectly symmetrical. Get to know your good side by having someone else take photos of you from a distance.
  • A slight tilt of your chin and turn of your cheek (to your best side) will help to make your face look more chiseled.
  • Push your face forward, towards the camera, which helps you look slimmer.
  • Turn your body so it’s at a 45-degree angle in order to put your body’s depth (not width) on display.
  • Put the arm closest to the camera on your hip to accentuate your waist and slim your arm.
  • Stand up straight! Great posture helps you look happier and healthier.
  • Practice the “celebrity pose”.

Get Close

young married couple at sunset overlooking lake
Get closer than what feels natural when posing. Don’t be afraid to snuggle up to one another. Gaps between the two of you can look like there’s a lack of intimacy once on camera. Again, it helps to practice and look at photos of other wedding photos beforehand.

Ensure Your Makeup Is Right

make up brushes, lipstick and foundation
It’s best to have it done professionally – as a well-trained makeup professional will be mindful of things like makeup that is too orange or the dreaded flashback that can occur from certain SPF products or powders. For the big day, professional makeup artists will apply more makeup than you usually wear because cameras tend to tone down makeup. If you’re doing your own makeup, apply a little more than usual. Make sure you use eyeshadow primer and waterproof mascara so your eye makeup won’t smudge. Keep your lipstick close for any touchups.

Be Mindful of the Time

young couple's wedding photo in the forest
The last thing you’ll want on your wedding day is to be feeling stressed, which will show through your expression in the pictures. Make sure you plan a schedule that allows plenty of time for photos and stick to that schedule.

Consult with your photographer about setting up the schedule – they should be able to tell you exactly how much time (typically 4-5 minutes per shot) you’ll need based on your preferred shot list and help you create the perfect day-of timeline. Keep in mind that photographers don’t just take ONE photo and move on, they will likely shoot multiple captures to make sure they get the best shot of you two.

Most importantly, have fun!
This is your big day and it’s all about celebrating the two of you . Your photographer will capture you in candid moments and posed moments; either way, it’s best if you relax, have fun and smile. The key is to smile and act like you do in real life, so the photographer can take shots of you and your new spouse in organic, natural ways to cherish forever. Congratulations!