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Wedding Day Tips from an "Expert"

Being a photographer for over 10 years photographing well over 300 weddings I have seen a few things and wanted to share some tips that will be helpful to you in planning your big day!

Getting Ready Photos

If you have time for getting ready photos with me as your photographer I always start with details. Be sure to have everything you want photographed in one box and ready for when I arrive. 

Typical items photographed:

  • Invite suite

  • Rings (engagement & both wedding bands)

  • Shoes

  • Jewelry 

  • Special family heirloom

  • Garter

  • Perfume or cologne

  • Bouquet or extra flowers leftover

Also be sure to have your wedding dress out of the bag and on whatever hanger you wish to have it on for the photos. I will likely take your dress and put it somewhere for the pictures but just having it ready to go helps save time :)

With those two things done, that will help same precious time so we can move forward with everything else we need to do.

First Look

Should I do my photos before the ceremony?

Yes. I strongly suggest a first look to every couple. It takes a lot of pressure off of everyone and gives you time to actually enjoy the cocktail hour.

We will start with the first look and couples photos for roughly 30-60 mins then we move on to the family photos and bridal party. Family & bridal party move quick at roughly 15-20 mins each so make sure to tell people their time slot so we can rock through it quickly.

Reasons to consider a first look:

  • You want to enjoy cocktail hour

  • You don’t want to be rushed after the ceremony

  • You are getting married at or after sunset and it will be dark during cocktail hour/the photo block.

  • You only have one photographer and detail shots of the reception space during cocktail hour are important to you.

Family Photos

Family photos can be the BIGGEST time suck of your wedding day. I make sure that we have a solid plan of what you want photographed and, as long as you leave me in charge, we will rock through them quickly.

When you receive your shot list questionnaire from me, really think about what’s important to you. If you have family members who will have a strong opinion, reach out to them as well to see what they may want so we can avoid a ton of requests day of.

Don't just check off everything on the list because, day of, if we have checked off grandparent photos and there are no grandparents at your wedding (or alive) its gonna be awkward as I rattle off the list. I have had a handful of couples just check off everything... don't be that person.

If you have additional photos you want taken or have a family member who likes to request, let me go through our agreed upon list first and then once we are done, we can do requests if we have time. If we try to mix things into the list it WILL slow us down significantly and there is a stronger chance things will be missed from your original shot list.  My shot list questionnaire will have a section for you to add additional family or friend groups so we can be sure to get everything you want!

Hair & Makeup

While I know everyone wants to look handsome/beautiful on their wedding day, you really need to consider a few things with your hair and makeup...

  • Do.A.Trial. - 100% do a hair and makeup trial. I have seen it too many times where the bride (or groom even) has their hair or makeup done without ever meeting their hair or makeup artist and then hating what they have done then having a bridesmaid or family member redoing what was paid for with their personal bag of tricks. Do a trial and do something that fits who you are.

  • Have an honest friend or family member with you for the trial. Make sure the makeup matches your skin tone, its sweat/tear proof, doesn't make you look crazy... You know... all those things... lol.. But seriously. It is important to have someone you know tell you if you look awesome or crazy.

  • Know your hair. If you have hair that goes flat easily or poofs and you are getting married in a particularly warm or rainy time of year... consider putting your hair up. Too many times I have seen curls go flat or hair poof out and then your entire look just goes. Hair makes a big difference and sometimes the weather can cancel out any amount of hairspray you use.

  • Makeup is typically heavier for weddings than normal life. You will feel like you have a ton of stuff on your face because you do. Typically you go a little more dramatic than normal for your wedding because it helps pop your features in the photographs. Pop the eyes with a set of good lashes, good foundation to smooth out skin tones, draw in the eyebrows a bit and a good lip color goes a long way! But... with that said... do what you are comfortable with... have your artist do a more dramatic look and a natural look in your trial so you can see both options and make a decision based off of that.

  • Pinterest is your friend but it is not your face or your hair. Definitely search for ideas for hair/makeup on Pinterest but know it is not your face, your skin texture, your photo edit or your hair. It will not 100% match and will be your version of whatever you have chosen.

Couples Photos

This will be the easiest part of your day. You basically follow me around and we take awesome pictures and have fun! I like to keep these candid in nature where you will interact more with each other than stare at me. We will obviously do the "grandma pose" which is you both looking at me in random locations as we change spots up, but I want to have the two of you looking at each other and laughing naturally because your faces are so close together.

Typically I like to have an hour so we aren't rushed but I can get couples photos done in 30 minutes easily. Sometimes we split the time up if you have a pretty sunset location. If you are doing a first look and want to split time, we will do a handful of individual portraits and then a few couples shots in roughly 15-12 mins and then around sunset we will do another 15-20 mins. If you are doing everything after the ceremony split time might not be doable depending on the time of year. If we can split it, we will do similarly to the first look timing but you will go enjoy cocktail hour and I will drag you back out when the sun looks pretty ;)

I offer different speciality photos to choose from:

  • Sunset photos - if this is important to you, make sure that your venue coordinator &/or DJ knows this is important so speeches or dances aren’t planned during that time. I will watch the sun and drag you outside whenever it is perfect. Ideally, I like about 15 minutes for this.

  • Backlit Night Shots - these are taken once it is dark outside. The time is flexible for this so if you really love a song that’s playing or don’t feel like it at that specific moment, we can shift as needed.

  • Champagne Pop Photos - these are also typically taken at night but with a cheap bottle of champagne that I provide. Again, this can be flexible so just let me know what you want to do ;)

Bridal Party Photos

Bridal party photos get done really quickly. I typically start with individual shots, bride side, groom side and then entire party. Another pretty simple time of your day. We do some nice standard shots as well as fun ones :)

A few options I offer:

  • Bride (or partner 1) with each individual party member

  • Groom (or partner 2) with each individual party member

  • Bride side together

  • Groom side together 

  • Bride with groomsmen

  • Groom with bridesmaids

  • Entire party together 

  • Individual head shot of each party member

Reception Space Detail Photos

The biggest note I wanted to make with detail photos is, if we are doing all photos during cocktail hour, it is very unlikely I will be able to capture the reception space without people in it at all.

A big note I have that I have seen a lot of recently is centerpieces that are too tall or big on the sweetheart table. This is only something I am noting because as you are doing toasts, photographers want to see your faces. If your centerpiece is too tall blocking you, you either won’t be in the photos at all or we are forced to be in a weird spot that could block the view of your guests.

Details that are typically captured:

  • Seating display or card set up

  • Centerpieces

  • Favors

  • Cake & dessert table

  • Sweetheart table

  • Memorial Table

  • Entire reception room

Aside from the special details of the space for your reception I focus on candids. The reception is my favorite part of the day because everyone has completely let loose and they are just enjoying the rest of the day.

Things to Pack in your Wedding Day Bag

Every single wedding I am at, people forget something that would be useful.  Below is a list of a few items most commonly forgotten that you should pack.

  • Scissors

  • Headache/pain/tummy medicine

  • Tampons or pads

  • A hanger to hang the dress on if you want those photos - it doesn’t have to be a fancy one with a name but anything other than the plastic one that comes with the dress is better for photos

  • Slippers, comfy sneakers or flip flops for the reception - you will thank me

  • String and thread for the guys that matches their jackets - more buttons than I want to admit have popped off of jackets.

  • Shawls or jackets, depending on the weather

  • Hot hands if its cold

  • Hand held fans if it is hot or cooling towels for the guys

  • Umbrellas for bridal party or family members if you are set on doing outside photos if it is a cute drizzle


This is the one topic that is interesting to talk about for all photographers. We all have our own editing style and our websites should very much show that off, I know mine does. I am a more true to life/slightly bright and vibrant editor. I want my photos to look like the day you had, no crazy filters, no yellow tints... just natural.

A few things I always and can do on request:

  • Edit out acne or stains for the bride & groom

  • Skin smoothing on portraits

  • Color correct and lighting fixing

  • Glasses glares

  • Removing of people from photos (typically not something I do often but if needed) Random tip - if you have family photos done, ALWAYS do one with "significant others" and one without.

  • Fixing clothing issues - if you can see a bra strap or zippers are down

Things I don't do:

  • Weight loss editing - you are beautiful as the person you are, I do not resize humans. I know how to angle people in the most flattering way. Please make it a point to wear something that is flattering to your body type... if you don't like your arms, consider a cute shawl and so on...

  • Deliver RAW/unedited photographs - they are huge files, they are mostly ugly and they are not a representation of my work. You will receive a gallery of the edited and pretty high res files that are plenty big to print up to 20x30 prints.


I love Pinterest and use the crap out of it... I have a spot on your shot list questionnaire for you to share a pin board but... Pinterest is not your exact wedding day, not photos of you, not the lighting that is at that exact moment, and, in a lot of cases, not your venue. If you share photos with me, I will use them as inspiration. I will likely show you some of the poses to recreate day of but just know that it will not be an exact replica of that picture and I just want you to be aware of that.

Uncle Bob - Family Member Photographers...

In my photography contract I am to be the sole photographer but I totally understand that you may have family members or friends who want to take their own photos. Typically this isn't an issue but I have run into a few situations occasionally where they have been more obtrusive. Below are a few rules I like to have these people follow during the events I am a part of...

Things to keep in mind...

  • During the ceremony, no other photographer (unless its my second shooter or the hired videographer) is allowed to stand while the ceremony is happening. They will either be in your photos or will make my job more difficult to work around them, especially if we already have a big team working for you. They are also not allowed to use flash during the ceremony. If we are inside, typically there are rules, but if not, it can effect our shots and has potential for us to miss a special moment like the first kiss. If someone jumps in front of us during the first kiss, you will receive the photo of that persons back unfortunately. Please let whoever may be considered an "Uncle Bob" or "Aunt Pat" that is what they are supposed to do.

  • During family photos I honestly don't care if they stand to the side to take pictures but they are not allowed to order people around, request/collect groups unless told to by the couple or myself/my second shooter, pose or stand in my way during the time I am leading the photos.

  • During couples photos I don't allow family members or friends to tag along. It ends up creating too much extra distraction and I want it to be easy going. I don't even like to have a bridesmaid join us to fluff your dress. I got you, we don't need assistants ;) I have also experienced family members or friends trying to pose the couple or make comments as I am doing things which will throw my game a bit and we don't want that at all.

  • During the reception I don't care if they take photos but during the specific moments like the first dance, cake cutting or any other event to be photographed they need to stand with the guests and not with myself, the second shooter and video.

  • If there is a situation where a family member gets in the shot, unless they stand in front of me blocking the photo, I can do my best to edit them out but there is no guarantee I will be able to remove him/her cleanly. If you receive a photo with a random photo bomber and you want them removed, please let me know and I will do my best to get rid of them. I do try my best to remove people who look out of place before you receive anything.

I think that should cover it! Its a lot, but this is the most special day for you and your partner. I want the day to run smoothly and flawlessly. With me, I got you. I have a solid system that works for my weddings and as long as everyone plays along, we will get some incredible photos!

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