Tips from a seasoned wedding photographer

From the many years I have photographed weddings, I have made mental notes when I see things that could help a wedding day run more smoothly and allow for even better wedding images.  Or things that couples and guests find more enjoyable.

Decisions that could be done differently to help keep the nerves in check.  Because if you eliminate all the possible things that can go wrong at a wedding you will be able to really enjoy the day with all your loved ones without having to stress. In other words, plan for the worst and hope for the best.

No doubt I will ruffle a few feathers from other suppliers in the wedding industry.  But if they do the right thing by their couples they will have nothing to worry about. I am sure there are things that photographers do in general that tick off other wedding suppliers. It’s blogs like this that has free and open discussion that can get other suppliers thinking. “Maybe we could do it a different way to help our couples day run smoother”.  “Or maybe we should explain to our clients why we do things the way we do”. Maybe other suppliers can do blogs to help us photographers better understand where they are coming from.  There are many, many fine wedding suppliers in all sectors. There is good and bad in every industry and what might be bad for you may not be bad for another couple.

So without further ado here are my list of things you can choose to do in order to help your day run more smoothly. In no particular order.

Allow extra time for hair and make up

  • Allow more time for hair and make up from what they may suggest.  All to often brides run late because hair and/or make up hasn’t allowed enough time to get the job done in time.  Make sure the hair and make know that your photographer will need at least 30 minutes to get shots after they have finished.  All too often they finish just on time and allow no time for shots afterwards.  So even though they have finished on their time.  It really puts undue pressure on you and your photographer to get shots of yourself along , your bridesmaids alone and all the other family shots. I would guess 80% of the time brides are late to their wedding and 90% of the time its because they are still sitting in the hair/makeup chair when they have to be out the door in the next 30 minutes.  There are many great hair and make up artists that finish with plenty of time and who know that changes will need to be made on the fly and so they factor this into the time needed to finish on time to allow shots’ afterwards.

Get a wedding specific email

  • Get a separate wedding specific email address. Such as jackandjillget  One that you can easily keep a track of all your wedding corresponds with the many suppliers you will be dealing with.  If you use your personal or work email address it can be so time consuming searching for a specific wedding related email.

Less is often more

  • This one is a contentious one because many couples think that having a bucket load of  videographers and photographers will help capture every possible angle of their special day. But keep in mind sometimes less is more


If you have a video or photography team that only consists of one or two who are experienced and know how to tell a compelling visual story then that may be more favourable than having a team of 4 or more videographers and photographers all getting in each others shot.

With a large team its hard not to get in the way of the guests uninterrupted view of the ceremony. Plus its also nearly impossible to capture a nice wide shot of the entire ceremony without having 3-4 shooters and 4-5 cameras with some on tripods and the others hand held spoiling the view for everyone.

Mostly they will be just off to the side and behind the couple with one two in the aisle. I often have guests come up to me and say how they couldn’t see and how they made my life difficult.

Tony Blay from blaycam is a fine example of how a videographer can tell a comprehensive visual story without turning it into a Hollywood production. Tony generally works alone or has one other person helping film at the ceremony.

Don’t hide yourself

  • If you can remember, carry your flowers down when holding them at all times.  For some strange reason brides tend to carry their flowers up in line with their head. So if I am trying to capture a nice candid image all I can often see is a bouquet on top of some shoulders.  When appropriate I will always say to drop your flowers down.  No drams if you don’t remember but if you can then sweet.


  • This one is not really for a smooth wedding day more of an observation. For the sweet tooth.  The only two wedding cakes I have seen fully eaten at a wedding with nothing left over is a Krispy Kreme donut cake and a Strawberry Watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry.  Just saying.

Know your stuff

Make sure the drivers knows every location they will be going on your day and that they know the way. All too often the drivers will come up to me and say “So where are we going?”  I have to stop capturing candid images and explain to them and often show them on their GPS.  Many times they don’t know the quickest way and so arrive to the location 20 minutes later than needed, eating into your photo time. On top of that they will come up to me and say “Hey buddy, we need to be back at the reception by such and such a time because we have another job to do”. So allow plenty of time with your driver so they can’t pull this one on you.  Usually if you go over time they charge in 15 minute blocs of overtime.  There are many great car companies who are on the ball and totally professional.  One of the best I have come across is Wedding Cars Of Distinction

The queen gets ready last

  • Have your brides maids get ready first.  That way it looks nice in the photos’ when they are helping you get in your dress for the last stages.


Go against tradition to enjoy the reception

  • If you or your partner is uncomfortable with public speaking and they dread doing their speech.  It could be a good idea getting the speeches out of the way straight away after entering the venue.  Chances are your guests would have had canapes so they won’t be starving and you will be able to hold their attention for a little while longer before their main meal.  But the main benefit is that if you are uncomfortable with public speaking chances are you will be thinking and worrying about your speech until its time to do it some 2-3 hours after you walking in.  Whereas if you do it straight away you can get it out of the way and sit back and enjoy the rest of your reception.

Be mindful

  • Ask guests not to hold their phones up while you are walking down the isle.  I say this not to be a party popper. But there have been quite a few times where I am capturing the bride walking down the isle and out pops Aunt Mary with her iPhone blocking my view and totally unaware that they are stopping me from capturing the best shot possible. In this situation I generally position my camera over Aunt Mary’s shoulder  and get the shot anyway but it doesn’t make life easy.

The rock of the reception

  • Get an MC. Seriously. You may not think you need one, but you do.  A good one can make or break a free flowing reception. Many times couples will have one of their guests do the MC job. Not only does that put unnecessary pressure on the guest and so not allowing them to really enjoy the occasion . More often than not they won’t communicate with suppliers.  As an example they will all of a sudden jump up on the microphone and announce speeches.  Here I am franticly pulling my pants up from going to the loo running through the venue to grab my gear start capturing the speeches. A season pro MC will be very meticulous nothing is left to chance.  They will also be able to inject some humour and life into the reception and make guests feel welcome and special.  The best I have come across is Jeremiah Hartmann. You just have to witness him in action to know what I mean. As he says in his email signature.  Presenter, Sizzle Guy | The ultimate onswitch to your big event.

Plan ahead to save time

  • Finally, when doing family shots after the reception its a good idea to have a list of the people you want to include in the shots.  Give this list to two people form each side of the family.  That way they can be rounding up the next group while we can continue shooting. Tis speeds up the process and allows more time for location shots.

Thats it for now,  I am sure there are others which I may do up in a part two.  So I hope I have given you some food for thought.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Oh and the most important thing. If little things do go wrong. Just don’t sweat it. You can’t change circumstances out of your control. You can only control how you react to them. If you let a little hiccup spoil the rest of your day, you will be looking back and asking yourself “Was it really worth getting upset and spoiling part of my day for that little set back”?

If you like this you may also like my post on questions you should ask when choosing a wedding photographer