Tips from a Professional Wedding Photographer

It’s the #1 question brides ask: What can I do to get the most amazing photos on my wedding day? As the Studio Manager here at BTL (and having been through the ins and outs of countless weddings), I have lots of wedding photography tips to share! It’s my job to help with your pre-wedding-day planning (and to be sure your wedding photos are 100% awesome). So let’s get right to it… here are 12 ways to get most amazing-rockin-fantastical photos possible!

Tip #1 – Plan a good timeline

If ever a bride asks “What is the ONE thing I can do to get the best wedding photos possible?”… “Plan a good wedding day timeline” is my answer. It is THE most important tip I can offer. “What makes a good wedding timeline”, you ask? Plan MORE time than you think you’ll need for everything. Weddings are unpredictable. Plan a timeline with wiggle room for dress bustling, makeup retouching, groomsmen running late, finding Uncle Leo for formal family photos, etc! Avoid having to cut your photo time short in order to make up for time lost somewhere else. If your hair/makeup person says she needs an hour, plan an hour and 15 minutes. If it typically takes 15 minutes to get from your hotel to your ceremony site, plan for 25 instead. Call me. Email me. That’s what I’m here for! I will help you plan a custom timeline that will save you lots of stress! :-)

Tip #2 – Be on time (and lie a little!)

So you’ve planned your wedding day timeline and have vowed to stay on track all day… great! The tricky part will be getting everyone ELSE (bridesmaids, groomsmen, vendors, parents, etc!) to arrive on time. Tell everyone to be there 15-30 minutes earlier than what you’ve planned. That way, everyone will be there when you need them to be there. And don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us. ;-)

Tip #3 – See each other before the ceremony

Seeing each other before the ceremony isn’t for everyone. With that said, this post is about getting the BEST photos possible on your wedding day. Doing a first look is huge because we have more light and more time, which leads to more creativity and (ultimately) more amazing photos. For more info about doing a first look, click here. NolanAndLarissa-1412-195

Tip #4 – Have professional lighting at your reception

When it comes to getting great reception photos, professional lighting is THE most important thing you can do. Lighting creates a mood and makes everything — including your centerpieces, cake, tables, etc. — look better. Professional lighting is not as expensive as you may think and in our humble opinion it is worth every penny.

Tip #5 – Plan a cocktail hour

You’ve spent countless hours planning your wedding details, so we want to be sure and take photos of all of your hard work! Planning a cocktail hour (in a different room/location from your reception area) is the best way to ensure we’ll be able to take photos of your place settings, center pieces, etc. before your reception area is full of guests.  A cocktail “hour” isn’t necessarily an hour long – sometimes it needs to be longer (sometimes shorter) depending on how far your ceremony site is from your reception site, how many family photos we’re taking after the ceremony, etc. I’ll help you plan a custom timeline that will allow plenty of time for photos of your reception details!

Tip #6 – Do a practice run!

Engagement sessions are super important! We include a complimentary engagement session in all of our wedding packages because they are fun, low-pressure situations where we can get to know and become comfortable working with each other. Our photography style is candid, relaxed, and unposed — which always requires some time for our subjects to “get comfortable” in front of the lens and learn our shooting style. Brides/grooms who shoot with us PRIOR to their wedding are more relaxed in front of the camera because we’ve tackled that awkward, get-comfortable stage ahead of time! The other benefit is that you’ll get to see images of yourselves long before the wedding, so you can tell us what angles you like and what shots you don’t care for.


Tip #7 – Don’t stress the dress!

Brides, this one will be challenging… but try not to worry about getting your dress dirty. The good news is, no one will see that little bit of dirt on the bottom trim (we promise!). We will never ask you to do something you’re not comfortable doing, so decide ahead of time that a little bit of dirt is ok. Breathe easy and think about the amazing photos you’ll have when we ask you to walk into an open field or next to a river, for example. :-)

Tip #8 – Tell the fam to stick around

We take formal family photos immediately after the ceremony. Be sure your family knows this ahead of time! Rounding everyone back up can be time consuming, and we want you to get to your reception as quickly as possible.

Tip #9 – Trust us!

Trusting your photographer is such an important part of getting amazing wedding photos. It is crucial that you feel at ease and trust our ability to capture your big day. It happens all the time… a bride (after seeing her wedding photos) says to us “I had no idea WHAT you were thinking when you took that photo… but now I get it and I LOVE that shot!” If we put you in front of an unusual background or pose you in a way that seems strange at the time, trust our vision!

Tip #10 – Show our photos to your bridal party ahead of time

We’re modern/fun photographers – our shooting style may be different than what your bridal party is expecting. Be sure they’ve seen our work ahead of time so they know it’s ok to relax and have fun in front of the camera.

Tip #11 – Have fun!

Photos are better when a couple is genuinely having a good time. So be playful with each other – hug, kiss, talk, dance… forget about the camera as much as possible!

Tip #12 – Do you!

Don’t wear too much makeup or do something with your hair that is not “you.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you need lots of makeup for photos! You should look like yourself, only slightly enhanced. On the same note, self tanner is NOT your friend! You’ll thank me later for that tip, I promise. ;-)

…there you have it! Twelve easy ways to get the most out of your wedding photos! Check out more of our tips for clients here!

Oh, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for daily wedding photography tips and advice!


Bend the Light Photography specializes in wedding photography and engagement portrait photography in San Antonio, Texas and surrounding areas. San Antonio Wedding Photographer.

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