Planning a Photogenic Wedding

Disclaimer: these are not, by any means, things I require of my clients...each wedding should be exactly how the bride has always dreamed and I will support anything she wants to do! These are just tips that I’ve found help make the day go smoothly and help keep the tension at a minimum.


I like to encourage doing  a “first look” so you get as many photos done before the ceremony as possible while you aren’t rushed for time. Reasoning:

  • It will help calm both the bride and groom’s nerves before all the attention is focused on them during the ceremony

  • Guests will appreciate not having to wait an hour for group photos to be done and you will have more opportunity to actually enjoy the event you spent so long planning (not to mention the people who came to support you!).  

  • You will get more (and better) photos as a couple because there is less of a time crunch and more control over the lighting. Speaking of which...depending on the time of the wedding it could allow for more photos to be taken while it’s still light outside

  • You get an intimate moment with your husband before the whirlwind of the ceremony and reception that is sometimes lost if the first time you see each other is coming down the aisle

Getting that emotional response from the groom when they first see their bride walk down the aisle is really important to some, and that is just fine! However, the same response will most likely happen during a first look and you’ll be able to savor it a little more (along with immediately telling each other how good you look instead of having to wait till after the ceremony!). Plus, most grooms still have a splendid reaction as the bride comes down the aisle because that’s when it sinks in that it’s really happening!


If not outside, choose a venue that offers lots of natural light. Think about this in choosing which rooms to get ready in as well.  Or if you’re just staging a few getting ready photos before you put on your dress, just plan to move yourself to a well lit room or close to a window.

I do use an external flash when needed, natural light just provides for a much softer light, typically coveted for wedding photos. Flash can also be very distracting during the ceremony if the room is dark. It is a balancing act for the photographer between not detracting from the beautiful service and getting well lit photos that the couple will cherish for years to come.

If the wedding is outside, the best time of day for lighting is the couple hours right before sunset.  This works the best if you do a first look and most of the photos before the ceremony so you aren't pressed for time during bridal party/family photos as the sun sets. 

Photo Coordinator

Designate someone outside the wedding party to read your list of photos during group shots.  They move much quicker and this makes sure that you and your photographer don’t forget to get the shots you really wanted. Especially when it comes to extended family, your photographer doesn’t know who everyone is or if someone is missing from the shot so this is very helpful!


If you’re wanting a good amount of bridal shots I would suggest doing a bridal session before the wedding at some point.  The bride is oftentimes so caught up in photos with other people that many shots of just her get easily overlooked.

  • Brides spend so much on how they look for their big day including hair and makeup, nails, the wedding dress, the shoes, etc. Not to mention any extra costs like waxes, teeth whitening, or gym memberships to prepare….or any of the smaller costs like garters and bouquets… plus all the TIME she spends to look her very best! All this to say, not having many individual photos of the bride after so much effort could be something she regrets and it might be worth looking into a bridal session soon before the big day. If you decide not to, just make sure to plan time for some bridals sometime before the ceremony!


Everyone’s wedding is different and a lot of planning for timing revolves around the people and how ‘on time’ their families typically function. Six hours seems to be an appropriate amount of time for a photographer to cover a usual wedding timeline with a reasonable number of guests and no full meal, from final ‘getting ready’ shots (including the bride putting on her dress) to ‘the exit.’  However, if you want more than a couple preparation shots, have a full meal planned, or expect the dancing to go long before the ‘exit,’ an eight hour or all-day timeline may be more suitable for you. Here are several sample timelines that I’ve seen work well for my brides (and me!).


Breathe, relax, and enjoy your special the end, the worst wedding catastrophe won’t matter because you’ll be married to the love of your life and that’s what counts! Plus, it’s usually the things that go wrong that are the most memorable and make the best stories later in life :)

Have some tips to share? Feel free to comment below!