Photography Primer: Must-Know Wedding Day Photography Tips

Congratulations! You’ve booked a wedding! The couple is the perfect match, they’ve spent months planning their dream wedding, hired you, an up-and-coming wedding photographer, and now the big day is here! Here are some wedding day tips from an experienced wedding photographer that will help the big day run smoothly. You may be surprised how the smallest of details can affect the outcome of the wedding day images.

First-time photographers, ensure the perfect day is captured perfectly with these wedding photography tips!

Before the ceremony

The gown: Ask the bride to bring a wooden or decorative hanger for the wedding gown photo. This makes for a prettier shot of the wedding dress, an increasingly popular shot among new brides!

For more information, see our post on how to photograph a wedding dress.


Photo via Hazelwood Photo

The ladies: Make sure the bridesmaids and mother know that they should have their hair and make-up finished by the time the bride is ready to put on her gown. Everyone in bride’s prep room should be dressed for this moment otherwise they may be unhappy with the candid photos.

The room: Clutter can ruin a great photo. Ask the bridesmaids/groomsmen to put all their belongings in one area, so they are not photographed.

Details: It’s a good idea to ask the couple ahead of time to have an invitation suite, both the wedding rings and the bouquet already in the room if possible.

 Wedding Invitation Suite

Design by Royal Steamline


Lighting: Knowing where the sun will be and which way the bride and groom will be facing during your ceremony is important. If either the bride or the groom is facing the sun and the other is in the shade, this can be un-photogenic.

The best angle for the sun is behind the guests at about a 45-degree angle. However, you can’t control when the couple plans the ceremony. Knowing what lighting you will be working with will allow you to plan for the ideal spot for snapping pictures, instead of scrambling mid-ceremony to avoid awkward shadows.

Fans and Parasols for a Wedding Ceremony

The walk down the aisle: Images of the bridal party with their heads down and no smiles on their faces is unfortunate and this does happen… unless, they are reminded that they are having their photos taken! Before the processional begins, remind the wedding party to walk slowly, keep their heads up and to smile. Bridesmaids should also be instructed to lower their bouquets as they tend to creep up, obstructing their chin and mouth. When reminded, bridal parties do great!

First kiss: The first kiss can be a little nerve-racking for bride and groom — emotions are high. It’s one of the wedding moments you definitely don’t want to miss! Check in with the couple prior to the big day to find out if they have any ideas how they want that moment to be captured, so you can catch the magic moment exactly how they always dreamed!


Grand entrance: Give yourself time to get inside the reception area, so you can capture the bride and groom’s big entrance. You could suggest that their grand entrance flow directly into the first dance. It provides a fluid and dramatic moment, plus all the guests are attentive and excited, making for some really great photographic moments.

Toasts: Discuss with the bride and groom where they would like the toasts to take place. Toasters are rarely photogenic in front of a podium or with their backs to a wall. The middle of the dance floor or in front of the head table works well. The bride and groom can stand next to the toaster or sit among their guests. This way your photos will capture everyone’s response in a flattering way.

Wedding Guests Toasting the Couple

Bouquet/garter toss: The bouquet and garter toss happen very quickly. Tell your bride to take her time to build the suspense and excitement. Perhaps plan for her to do a “fake out” where she first pretends to throw her bouquet. This is always fun and also gives you two opportunities to capture some great shots of family and friends angling for that bouquet or garter.

 Women Catching a Bride's Bouquet

The cake: The cake is usually one of the last events of the reception. Try and set some sort of time or cue with the couple, so you are ready when the cake cutting happens — and so you are able to get snapshots of the cake design before it is devoured!

With a these tips and plenty of preparation, you can rock your first wedding and many there after. Be sure to keep learning new techniques to keep you work fresh. Try taking a Craftsy online photography class, like Documentary-Style Wedding Portraits, for an easy and affordable way to master amazing photo skills to give you an edge!

Experienced photographers, what wedding day tips would you give to a photographer shooting their first wedding?

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