Little changes will improve your wedding photos! Let’s be real: despite what the Hallmark channel shows us, life is just not a long string of perfectly photogenic moments with perfect light and perfect backdrops and people who always know what to do with their hands.
And weddings? Honey, if I could reach into my computer’s recycle bin and show you all the getting ready rooms with awful lighting, the crying flower girls, and the derp faces from the first dances…well, I still wouldn’t. Because that’s not what this blog post is about.
But trust me when I say this: there are some really simple things that you can include in your planning & preparation that will make a humongous difference when your photographer is capturing your day. So read on for tips for better wedding photos!
Everyone loves those gorgeous flatlay photos with all the sweet details you designed for your wedding suite, your jewelry, florals, shoes, and heirloom pieces. I send a list to all my couples to inspire & remind them what to bring, and I’m going to share a couple key things in a little more detail here!
Floral clippings. I really can’t emphasize enough what a big difference it makes to have greenery and blooms available that coordinate with your floral design! I promise your florist will have a few extra things, and I promise he/she is accustomed to being asked to leave some for the flatlay. So right now, while you’re thinking about it, drop them an email and ask if that’s something they’re willing to do for your wedding day! Keep the florists’ start time and your photographer’s start time in mind – in order for this to work, the flat lay photos will need to be happening after the florist is scheduled to arrive.
Invitations. Step 2 to improve your wedding photos is having extra copies of your invitation suite and any other paper products you have for your wedding (programs, monogrammed napkins, menus, etc). Your photographer will be doing his/her best to use each piece in a way that makes sense and is beautiful, and sometimes that means using the backside of something for an accent or stacking a few of the same thing together.
Think about some small, personal things. There are SO many great inspo photos for flatlays on Pinterest. Don’t feel like you need to have it ALL, but some looking around might give you some great ideas for things your photographer could incorporate. I’ll bring the things I have in my flatlay kit, but some other accent pieces you could have available are:
Another really sweet way to incorporate something very personal is to have your calligrapher write your first dance song’s lyrics or part of your personal vows to each other on a pretty card that matches your invitation suite.
Light. Clutter and space in the bridal suite don’t matter nearly as much as the light matters! When you have your venue picked out and you’re thinking about where to get ready, add “good window light” to your list of qualifiers. If your venue has a bridal suite but it’s small & dark, I’d recommend just not getting ready there! This may seem really obvious, but I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve walked into a room with zero light (or with great big windows, but the hair/makeup artist set up in a dark corner with LED lights). Some great and really attainable options would be a big hotel suite, a bright AirBNB, or a friend’s airy home. You can even send photos of the places you’re considering to your photographer for their opinion!
If your photographer turns off lamps or overhead lighting, leave them off! Window light (or even flash) and most incandescent/LED bulbs have different color temps, and I promise you’ll be happier without the mixed lighting.
Clutter. Okay, I know I said clutter doesn’t matter as much as light, but clutter does still matter. Designate a couple of bridesmaids to sweep through the room before the getting ready photos start so that there aren’t empty water bottles everywhere and someone’s running shoes in the middle of the room.
This is your photographers’ most hands-off part of the entire day, and rightfully so. I’m there to capture what occurs, not to make it perfectly photogenic! But here are a few things that I know my sweet couples don’t always think about. If you forget these things, don’t sweat it! The most important thing during the ceremony is for your focus to be on your new spouse.
Smile. Right now, while you’re thinking about it, I want you to set a reminder on your phone. It should be set for 1 hour before your ceremony time on your wedding day, and it should say “Remind wedding party & friends to smile as they’re coming up the aisle!”
Positioning. When you get to the front, if you think about it, check on where you’re standing in relation to your arch/backdrop (you want to be relatively centered) and how far you’re standing from each other (you want to be close enough to hold hands down low). You could even put a marker on the ground ahead of time so you know where to stand without having to worry about it!
Recessional. At the end of the ceremony, halfway up the aisle during the recessional is a great time to kiss, dip, high five, click heels, fist pump, or whatever suits your fancy! Your guests will all be turned looking at you, cheering and smiling and it will be a great photo! It would be wise to tell your photographer what you plan on doing ahead of time so that they can be prepared.
Table decor. I am a huge proponent of gorgeous, over-the-top table decor! It’ll definitely improve your wedding photos, and makes for a great guest experience too. But one place where you might consider keeping your florals lower to the surface is your sweetheart table. Especially if you’ll be seated there while your family & friends give their toasts! Tall floral arrangements & candles will be right in front of your faces and will mean I can’t get good photos of you two while you’re laughing, crying or hugging.
Cake. Every time I see a cake table with a beautifully crafted cake tucked into a dark corner with a thermostat or air return vent on the wall behind it, my soul cries a little. Pull that cake out and make it a focal point! I love to see cakes right in the middle of all the action and your guests will too. Stick a spotlight on it! Make it count! I’ve been known to turn a cake table (so carefully) to put the rest of the room with gorgeous centerpieces and twinkly candles behind it instead of a blank wall for photos. If your room layout just won’t let you move it to a position like this, try to just leave a good amount of space between the cake and the wall behind it (or put up a fancy decorative wall behind it with a faux hedge, floral wall or even ribbons)!
First dances. During your first dances, I know the temptation for a lot of people is to take the opportunity to have a conversation. Sometimes you haven’t seen this person all day and you want to tell them about a funny thing that happened while you were walking to the chapel, or some variation. But whether it’s your first dance as husband and wife or your dance with one of your parents, can I be the first to encourage you to not talk, and just enjoy it? Listen to the words of the song, look into each other’s faces, hug, or even cry? Before the wedding, tell your mom/dad/spouse that this is what you’d like to do and then try to remind yourself to get into this frame of mind before you walk out onto the dance floor. I know everyone’s relationships are different and a 2-3 minute dance might be too awkward for some without chatting a little, but let me just put it like this: the more you talk, the more derpy talking faces your photographer will have to dig through just to find one good photo of each of you.
Formal exit. If you’re doing a sparkler exit, make sure you’re getting the long, 36″ smokeless wedding sparklers. Some of my clients have ordered from here and they’ve been great. Just definitely don’t get those little 12-inchers from your local fireworks stand! They won’t last long enough & there will be so much smoke. And while we’re on the topic of sparklers, can I share with you how incredibly gorgeous sparklers are riiiiiight at dusk when sun is just barely down? If you’re not doing a sparkler exit and opting for something else that doesn’t light up (rose petals, confetti, etc), consider doing it more like a celebration tunnel as you leave your ceremony in the daylight! I can always use flash to light these kinds of exists up at night, but it doesn’t always translate well (for example, birdseed looks like handfuls of sand being tossed in the air when it’s lit by flash). Also, doing it this way isn’t as risky as a faux exit (where you have your guests leave the reception to line up & ‘do an exit’ and then half of them think the wedding is over & leave no matter how many times you tell them it’s not over). Doing it this way, your guests won’t have even gotten to see the cake yet and they’ll feel like they’re just sending you on to the reception, not sending you away for the night!
This post has been a blast to write, and I know it’s going to help a lot of couples think through some things that you might not otherwise, and improve your wedding photos! Your wedding is going to be so amazing, and I can’t wait for you to experience it!
Corrie Childers is a sought-after Northwest Arkansas wedding photographer, Arkansas engagement photographer, Arkansas bridal photographer and Arkansas proposal photographer. Corrie has a natural passion for classic, timeless wedding photography in an elegant and relaxed style. Corrie is currently booking Arkansas weddings in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Eureka Springs and all of Northwest Arkansas, as well as Little Rock, El Dorado, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City and beyond!
Improve Your Wedding Photos