Wedding Planning and Budget Basics

Wedding Photography Tips From an Industry Insider

Trustworthy advice on finding that special someone to capture your big day.

By Sarah Stebbins
Married couple kissing on the stepsSarma Ozols1 of 4

How can couples ensure their photographers get all the right shots? Does it help to provide a detailed list?
I have strong feelings about “the list.” For formal photos, I supply a general form with a rundown of the group shots I will take and we can modify that based on the clients’ wishes, family dynamics, etc. This is the only list I want to work from. While I encourage couples to tell me what’s important to them, when they give me a sheet spelling out everything they want photographed—the bride with Aunt Martha, the bouquet on the farm table—I’m not seeing the wedding day anymore. Instead, I’m looking at a piece of paper worrying about checking things off. If clients have someone special they want photographed outside of their immediate family and wedding party, I ask that they flag me down when they’re with that person. As for the rest, if you’ve hired a reputable photographer, and you can see yourself in his or her work, chances are you’re going to be happy with the results. And we will probably photograph the bouquet on the farm table anyway.

Do you recommend taking formal photos before or after the ceremony?
I respect when couples want to have that experience of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. But if they’re open to it, I love to get the formal shots done beforehand. We often set it up so the bride and groom meet first and have this wonderful, intimate moment that we document. Then everyone else shows up and we do the group photos. The whole shoot usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. It’s great because once the ceremony is over, there’s nothing left to do except have fun. When we do pictures post-ceremony, people sometimes get impatient because they’re sacrificing social time and the bride and groom end up missing the entire cocktail hour.

 
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Lanterns

Talk to your venue before renting any items. Ask if you’ll be charged additional fees for using outside vendors and if the site can accommodate additional setup and breakdown time for special lighting, ceremony chairs, or hanging lanterns.