1. Nice hanger
Yes, maybe not the most important one on the list but one of the most simple. This helps the photographer get really great shots of the dress before the wedding. If you are tired of seeing dresses on the bed, like the rest of us, get a real snazzy hanger (yes I just said snazzy). Check out this one from Etsy.
2. Find venues with natural light
This isn't always easy in a small city, like the one in which I live. It doesn't matter how good your photographer is with artificial lighting, sunlight is always favorable. Sunlight can create a beautiful glow on the bride during the ceremony or make for great photo ops before all the festivities get started. Pick a room for your bridal dressing room that has windows. Also, if you can, get a seat near the window in the salon. Ask your photographer if they suggest any places in your area.
Feel weird about the more serious pictures but love the romantic feel? Practice in front of the mirror. The photographer is there to help you look your best, but it helps to build up your confidence by smiling in the mirror. It sounds strange, but if you know what you are going to look like in front of the camera, then you'll be confident. That confidence is going to make for great pictures. Also (#9) the engagement shoot is GREAT practice. That's why I always include them in my packages.
4. Smile, relax and be confident
Confidence is going to be the key to your satisfaction with your pictures. If you work the camera and KNOW that you are awesome, then those pictures are going to be awesome. You've already picked your photographer knowing that he or she is going to do a good job, so no worries! The one thing that stresses brides out the most is being on time for their ceremony. I've had a few brides get a little nervous about being punctual, but I always tell them this, "This is your day. It can't start until you are there and no one is going to think twice about it." I only say this to assure my brides, but really I've never had a bride be late to the ceremony. Actually, I usually have the opposite and my brides spend a long, anxious time waiting around for the ceremony to begin. It rarely happens that anyone is late. Smiling isn't that hard on the happiest day of your life, but you'd be surprised how the stress can get to you. Take a deep breath, relax and focus on the most important thing of the day: being wed to the love of your life. Nothing will change that. A destroyed cake, the power going out, or missing rings will not keep you from marrying that special person. If you just focus on that, you will not stop smiling the entire day.
5. A Revealing
If you aren't sure what a revealing is, I plan on writing more about it in my next post. This moment, where the bride reveals herself to her groom, is shared by no one but the two of you (and your photographer). Having a revealing before the ceremony will not only calm nerves but it will also make for really amazing pictures. The only time you will be alone with your husband/wife during your wedding day will be during this brief time (unfortunately). Weddings are fast paced, and it's nice to have a quiet moment to spend time with the person for which you are doing all this. I will go into more detail about a revealing and why it makes for great photos in my next entry.
6. Start the dancing as soon as possible.
The more people on the dance floor the better the dancing photos. The longer you wait to start the dancing, the more people there are that will leave without a chance to kick it out on the floor. Even those who might have planned on leaving early in the reception might stick around for a couple of dances once the music starts playing.
7. Give your photographer time to take pictures
Wedding photographers understand that the day will be fast paced, and we plan for it. If you give your photographer time to shoot the wedding party and bride & groom pictures, your photographer will have time to be creative. If you give your photographer 10 minutes to do everything, your photographer will only have a short time in which to cram tons of pictures. Plan for a least two hours of photos. 45 minutes-1 hour of family photos (if you are going the traditional route) and 1 hour for wedding party portraits. If you have more time- GREAT! Plan for more time if you can, and if you get burnt out, then let your photographer know that you are at your absolute limit. The last thing your photographer wants to do is cause more stress.
8. Hire or make sure you have a second shooter
As much as I wish I could be at two places at one time, I can not do it. A second shooter is a must for a variety of pictures. For example, if I'm in the chapel before the bride walks down the aisle, I'm getting all the pictures of the mother of the bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen but I'm not getting any shots of the bride behind closed doors. This is a very special moment. I only had one photographer at my wedding, because my husband and I were on a extremely tight budget, but if someone would have told me the importance, I would have got a second shooter. Before I walked down the aisle, my dad started crying. If there had been a second photographer their with me before I walked down the aisle, then that moment could have been captured. That moment wasn't captured, but I've learned from it, and I encourage my brides to have a second shooter.
9. Give your photographer ideas for photos and have an engagement shoot
Some photographers hate when you suggest photos or poses to them, but I'm actually inspired by it. Some of my brides will says, "I saw this one pose I really liked," or "this ad in Vogue had (...)." It tells me what style of photography my bride likes. If you are someone that is particular, I would recommend doing this. A good photographer will take those poses and put their own creative twist to it. The one thing I do ask is that you don't expect it to be exact, because your photographer honestly wants to give you unique photos. The best way to get images that you want is to do an engagement shoot and let your photographer know what your favorites were from the shoot. This way your photographer gets an idea of what you like and then can expand on those ideas for the wedding session. Think of the engagement as practice for the wedding.
10. Have a post-wedding shoot
Honestly I suggest these post-wedding shoots to my brides because I love doing them. When a bride isn't worrying about getting her dress dirty, the photographer can shoot some amazing pictures! Have you seen shots in a field with the bride and groom are sitting in the grass? Or how about a shot of the bride in the ocean? These are more than likely from a post-shoot, or a "Trash the Dress" shoot. Most brides won't sit in their dress until after the ceremony, let alone sit in a dirty field. I realize that you paid hundreds or thousands for your dress, but you will only wear it once. The pictures you can get in a "Trash the Dress" shoot are completely worth the money you might spend at the dry cleaners.
I hope this helps with your planning! Best wishes!