10 Expert Tips to Getting Amazing Wedding Photos!

Planning a wedding can be a little overwhelming and for most people, it’s their first time planning such a big event with so many details!  Having been in wedding photography for over 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of wedding day do’s and don’t’s so I thought I’d gather together some of the strategies that have worked in the past to help the wedding day photos (and the day in general) run super smoothly!  All it takes is a little planning and insight!  If you’ve been to a weddings where you’ve seen something that worked (or didn’t), feel free to post in the comments!


Lacy dress detail and wedding hankerchief...

#1- Consider a wedding planner

Weddings can be stressful when the friends and family are the ones responsible for keeping everything running smoothly.  A wedding planner can help everyone stay on the timeline, coordinate vendors, fix unexpected surprises and just make sure you have the best wedding day possible.

#2 – Plan a schedule of the day’s activities

Typically, we start with wedding day photos about 2-1/2 to 3 hours before the ceremony starts.  That sounds early, but that leaves time for hair/makeup photos, as well as the bride and her bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen separately or all together if you do a first look.  Talk to your hair and makeup person to make sure they have enough time to get you and anyone else that needs their services before photos start with a little leeway in case anything runs behind schedule.  Also, keep in mind that the guests generally start arriving around 45 minutes prior to the ceremony start time so we try to have all the pre-ceremony photos wrapped up by then!

First look

#3 – Consider if a first look is right for you.  

Check out our 6 reason to consider a first look blog post!  The first look can really add variety to your photos, capture the true emotions of your groom seeing you for the first time, and help you get to your reception quickly after the ceremony!  If you decide the first look isn’t for you, consider one with your Dad!  

#4 – Make a list

Make a list of family photos you’d like after the ceremony.  This is HUGE for helping me know just who to look for and keeps the photo process efficient and painless!  Here’s another important one- Let any family members that you want to stay after the ceremony know ahead of time so no one has to go out and search for them.  Also, consider large family or friends photos at the reception- this will get you and your guests- to your party much quicker!   Feel free to designate someone (an Aunt, cousin or friend) to get those groups together for you at some point during reception so all you have to do is jump in the photo once they’re ready!

Veil in the wind pinterest inspiration

#5 – Plan ahead but go with the flow  

Enjoy inspiration from pinterest but understand that the wedding is a fluid day so we can’t always work in a full board of photos.  I love when brides share their boards so I can get a feeling for the style of photos they have in mind, but maybe pick 2-3 favorites photos from your board to see if we can work into the wedding day!   Make sure we know what details, group photos and photo ideas are top priority to you so we can make all those wedding dreams come true!

# 6 – Get those bridal details together

On the wedding day, keep all your wedding details all in one place so they’re easy to find and photograph.  It also helps to keep things like jewelry, garter, handkerchief, etc. together so you don’t forget anything!  Encourage the groom to do the same thing.  Have him bring the cuff links, bow tie, shoes, etc. when he arrives so that we can get some photos of his special details and a few photos documenting him getting ready.


#7 – Help the Groomsmen with their details  

It’s a great idea to have a designated person ready to help the groom and groomsmen with their boutonnieres about 15 minutes before their photos are planned for.  If you have a wedding coordinator, this is a great person to handle that responsibility.  If groomsmen have to tie their own ties, bow ties or pocket squares, remind them practice beforehand.  It’s a small detail but bow ties can be tricky so make sure those questions are answered beforehand or you have an expert on hand to help!

#8 – Plan an escape route 

Plan an exit strategy after the ceremony so that you can get back for family photos as quick as possible.  As much as the guests would love to congratulate you right after you walk down the aisle, your bridal party and family will appreciate being able to take post-ceremony photos quickly so everyone can get to the party as soon as possible!

Sparkler exit

#9 – Make the sparkler exit shine!

Bring lots of lighters for sparkler exits and designate a person to tell the guests when to light them.   That way all the sparklers get lit at the same time.  Having the long lasting (2-3 minute) sparklers helps too so that they don’t burn out early.  As a safety tip, designate someone in charge of handing out sparklers and don’t give children or exuberant groomsmen too many sparklers at once.  Sparklers that are lit together will quickly turn into a fireball- something you normally wouldn’t think of but I’ve seen it happen many times.  Let’s help everyone leave the wedding with their eyebrows intact!  🙂

Relax and enjoy your wedding

#10 – Don’t forget to relax and smile  

Weddings can sometimes feel rushed but don’t forget to take it all in and enjoy your day.  Relaxed and happy couples look better in photos, so take a deep breathe when you need to and remember it’s all about love!

These are just a few tips that I’ve picked up over 10+ years of photographing weddings.  If you have any other suggestions to help a wedding day run smoothly, feel free to comment below!  

I’ll also be posting a Wedding Tips Part 2 soon because we had so many people share great ideas on our facebook page so stayed tuned for that coming soon!

-Katie Hart, Palmetto Duo

Are you getting married soon?  We’d love to hear more about your big day!  To set up a meeting or request a price sheet, just use the contact form below and we’ll be in touch with you soon!

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