Tips for Planning Your Wedding

This is more like a photographer's wish list. It's a list of things you can do to ensure that you get the best images possible. And a few side tips too!

A Variety Pack

Black and White, Color, or a vintage feel. We love to give you lots of options when we edit each photo.

All The Details

Every little detail, every side story...we capture it all. We shoot all of our weddings as though it was our own.

All the Emotions

I love those moments where everyone lets there walls down and they just allow themselves to fall into that exact moment. It's the emotional part of the story.

Images by the Thousands

We get asked all the time...How many pictures do you take? The answer...on average we take 2000-5000 images

Husband and Wife Team

We first fell in love with photography. Then many years later we fell in love with each other. We combined our passions and found a way to spend more time together. An innovative photography company prevailed.

Eddie's Blog

Eddie has his own blog too. It's another perspective on our photography adventures. You can find his blog at lyfephotography.blogspot.com.

Planning Your Wedding...A Photographer's Dream

Posted by Amy Kirkpatrick On Monday, October 12, 2009
How is a bride to plan the perfect wedding. Almost every bride is planning their first wedding which means that they know very little about the ins and outs of their wedding. Sure, some brides have wedding planners, but there are a lot of you who don't. We thought we would answer some of our clients questions and share them with all of our readers. We have included 12 rules that we love. In other words...this is our wish list.

1. If we only had more time...
I think it's obvious that a photographer will take every ounce of time that a bride + groom give them. We are kind of greedy like that...but it's for good reason. We know that every minute can help them capture that one incredible image that isn't just great but utterly amazing. Ideally you should plan to spend a 1/2 hour to an hour doing just the couples portraits. For those couples who are able to give more than that will just be blessed with having a surplus of great images. Since this is our wish list we say one hour for couples pictures. We'd highly recommend it. Also, the very best time to take pictures is about 30 minutes before sunset. Please avoid timing for portraits for mid afternoon...the harsh sunlight is difficult to work with and squinty eyes are just not attractive though we can make it work.

2. Six to Forty it's all the same...
Let's be honest...group photos can be a bit stressful, but they are an important aspect to the day for those couples who choose to do them. If you need to plan where you might have your group photos look for places with enough shade to cover your entire group and backgrounds that are not distracting. Also, if you have extremely large groups then stairs will help everyone to be more visible. We also recommend that you use our shot list so you can mark the shots that you want to ensure that we get everything that you want. Are you planning on taking pictures indoors? There are so many elements that make indoor group shots more difficult so we hope to get an advance warning so we can plan accordingly.
If you want an expert opinion do the family portraits outdoors in a nice even shady area that is large enough to shade your entire group.

3. Three to tango...
We love to shoot the dancing portion of the reception so you better believe that you will see us on the dance floor capturing everyone busting a move. The best way to get some incredible images is to be aware of where we are and dance for us. Maybe you can open the circle or start a dance off so we can join in and get your guests really showing off. We have seem some incredible dancers come out of their shell only because their "special" song came on or because someone forced them into the circle. After that they were stealing the show. So encourage your guests to show off and let us join in so we can capture every step.

4. Sensitivity and integrity...
Being the female half of a husband and wife team I think it's obvious that I will be the one photographing the tender moments in the bridal suite. Every bride is different and reacts differently to changing in front of a stranger. I have had brides who have no problem flaunting what their momma gave them and some that change in the bathroom. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable is okay with me. I do want to express that I never take a photo of anything that shows bra, panties or anything less. If so it is deleted right there on the spot and never even gets to our computers. The point...we don't want to miss the lacing of the dress or you putting on your garter because you can't trust your photograph.

5. The bouquet and garter scenario...
When it comes time to throw your bouquet and doing the garter toss it can either be absolutely hilarious or a real dud. First, have fun with the camera and your guests. Do a fake toss without anyone knowing so we can ensure we got a couple of shots of you throwing the bouquet. Plus it's pretty fun to watch your girls falling over themselves for a fake out. Two, get your single guests ready to actually catch the garter. The guys love to pretend like they don't want the garter so maybe you can make it a little interesting by encouraging them with incentives. Three, have fun with it. One of our grooms danced over to his bride singing "She's my cherry pie" and played with the garter on the bride's leg for several minutes. The brides reaction was priceless and it made for some amazing pictures.

6. Preparing the Bridal Suite...
Photographs of the bride getting ready are some of the most precious moments of a wedding and my favorite. There are some things you can do to ensure that you get every moment captured just as they are naturally. First, pick a room that has lots of space and is very pleasing to the eye. If the room needs some updating or seems a bit cluttered think about replacing things like the curtains, decorations or extra stuff around the room. Second, keep the room clean. Wedding messes are okay since they help tell the story, but items like soda cans, plastic bags from the dresses, and wrappers all cause chaos in an image. Third, think about the lighting that will be available in the room. If at all possible lots of window light is always best, but you can always add ambiance by bringing white string lights to put up around the room or candles are always beautiful.

7. Put lights on the situation...
Great lighting can define the mood of your reception. The best lighting for photographs is globe lights, string lights, candles, and string bulb lights. They all add a beautiful and romantic feel. If you are planning an outdoor reception then you might want to consider getting a tent. A tent helps your photographer to bounce their flashes off of the white fabric so they can get a better over all glow on the reception and dance floor. Without a tent you will get your guests lit up with all black back grounds. If you choose not to have a tent then you can always think about stringing lights over the reception as mentioned.

8. Strobes, spot and disco...
Most DJs offer moving and color lights as part of their packages. These lights can completely destroy the images captured on the dance floor. Because the lights are so unpredictable and varying in color there is little that a photographer can do to avoid moving lights, adjust settings, or take out spots in post editing process. The only option for a photographer is to use extremely bright flash to wash out the strobe lights which makes the background of the images completely black. We have tons of pictures that we just love, but their are giant colored spots all over the subjects bodies and face. If you want to avoid light spots in your images you can ask your DJ to avoid using those kinds of lights or think about shining them on the ceiling.


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9. Photographer vs. Videographer...
As a photographer we understand that videographers have the same exact goal as we do. To capture every aspect of your wedding as beautifully and naturally as possible. Because of that we are always tripping over each other and competing for the best spots. We advice that you always let your photographer or videographer know who you think has first priority to the important moments. That doesn't mean that the primary person should push the other out. In fact if both of your vendors are professionals they will work very well together and plan out their strategies as a team. If you don't make your expectations clear then you will find that one person is always on the outside or shooting over shoulders. We have experienced tons of moments where we got an amazing shot and the videographer or his equipment is smack dab in the middle of the image. Deciding who comes first would be a huge blessing to everyone involved and would make things a lot less stressful.

10. Energy boost...
By far the most awkward par to of our jobs is to handle the to eat or not to eat issue. On average we spend 10-14 hours covering a wedding and almost never have food until dinner. We hate even mentioning it, but we figure that it will clear up some of that awkward feeling if we go ahead and put it out there. As tradition goes it's customary to feed your vendors especially if they have been with you all day. Most photographers will go ahead and serve themselves because they just expect it, though an invite is always nice. It's good to know that we at least have the couples permission. It's also best for your photographers to eat at the same exact time as the bride & groom. One, it puts us on the same schedule as you in case you choose to do an activity that will need our attention. Two, people HATE photos of them eating and so more than likely this will be the first bit of downtime that we will have all night.

11. Location, Location, Location...
We will never encourage anyone to spend beyond there budget in order to get the very best location. There are a lot of gorgeous locations, venues and parks that cost very little, but are extremely pleasing to the eye. The setting for your wedding will be the stage for your story. Think about what your location offers. Beautiful architecture, lots of space, lots of natural light, sunsets, large windows, lawns, fields, etc. Think about potential picture spots. Are there any? We have shot ceremonies at the foot of oak trees that made for a gorgeous setting. Something so simple offered an infinite amount of picture options and was a gorgeous as the sun started to drop. Think about your personal style and what kind of images you would want on your wall. If your location doesn't offer what you had hoped we recommend that you think about changing locations for at least your portraits. Maybe you can take photos at that dream location for just bridal party and couples photos.

12. Your officiant...
There are a few defining moments that really tell the story of your ceremony. As a photographer we know when to be ready and what kind of defining moments that are important to capture that story. We recommend that you ask your officiant to stand to the side for the kiss or putting on the rings. The first kiss is often ruined by an officiants face peering through the images of them lip locked. Not very romantic!

13. Beautify Yourself for Pictures...
Women spend hours prepping themselves for the wedding. They want to look gorgeous for the big day....but what about while getting ready. In a typical morning I will shoot 1,000s of pictures and most of them are photos of women without their makeup on. I know scary right? You can imagine the threats get from moms, "you better not take any pictures of me until my makeups done!" I would recommend planning to have your makeup artist arrive before your hair stylist to ensure that everyone has their faces all done up. People just photograph better with makeup on...it's that simple. So, I could then shoot away as the stylist does the hair, as every helps the bride and they laugh together on the couch without any threats. I think everyone involved would appreciate it as well. It's just another way to make sure that you are looking your best at all times.


We hope that helps a little. If you have more great tips feel free to leave a comment for other brides to read.

1 Response to "Planning Your Wedding...A Photographer's Dream"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    These tips are great! We are going to use some of these for sure!