A couple’s wedding day is the most important day of their lives as they begin their marriage. It’s a day to honor their love, share their vows and celebrate among family and friends.

But with a rush of activity to get ready beforehand, the time it takes for the ceremony — and all of the guests to meet and greet, wedding days can become chaotic, and couples don’t always get to soak it in the way they’d like.

Capturing all of the special details throughout the day is crucial, as it allows the couple to look back on their wedding day, cherishing every moment for years to come. And while it may seem like selecting a photographer is completely intuitive, there are a number of things to keep in mind to get the best wedding photos to treasure and look back on years down the road.

Planning Ahead

As you begin your search for a wedding photographer, make sure you find the one that best fits your needs. There can be many variables throughout a wedding, from lighting to weather to changes in the schedule. “It’s important to hire someone who has experience with weddings and can handle any situation you throw at them,” said Kira Baron of Kira Baron Photography. “You want to hire a photographer you love. Don’t just pick anyone. You want to pick someone you can trust completely and know they are taking the best photos for your personal preference in style.”

Once a photographer is selected, the planning doesn’t stop. According to Baron, it’s helpful to create a day-of schedule so you’re prepared. “You want to make sure you set aside time for bride and groom photos, bridal party photos and family photos,” she said. “It’s nice to have a plan, and it will help you relax more on your wedding day.”

While working on your schedule, make a list of everyone you want to get photos of, as well as photos with. “Think ahead and write a concise list of all the combinations that you both will want for family portraits,” said Ashely Loyer, owner of Ashley Loyer Photography. According to Loyer, it will also be helpful to designate a trusted person to call out photo combinations ahead of time so your photographer can place people where they need to be, snap the photo and keep things moving.

As you plan, be sure to consider lighting and how it might affect your photos. Think about the lighting in your venue and where you’ll be standing throughout the ceremony. “Although dim lighting can really set a mood, flash from a camera can most certainly kill it,” said Loyer. “Your photographer will love you for setting them up with good lighting (string lighting counts) so that they can be a fly on the wall to capture you and yours as you interact and celebrate your amazing day.”

The Big Day

Once your photographer arrives at the venue, making sure everyone is set and ready to go is crucial, especially if you have a tight day-of schedule. If you’re getting ready in a bridal suite and you want those moments captured with your wedding party, tidy the space ahead of time. “Be sure to clean the bridal suite,” said Baron. “If you have plastic packages, purses, shoes, clothing, duffel bags, etcetera, all over your bridal suite, this will definitely be in all your photos. Try your best to keep the room looking nice or at least designate everything to one corner.”

Tasking your photographer to capture detail shots of items you’re incorporating into your wedding may be important to you as well but do some preparation ahead of time for this, too. According to Baron, it’s helpful to have all of your items out of their packages and ready for pictures so you’re not interrupted during the day.

As you plan the locations of where you’d like couple and group photos taken, be sure to consider sunset photos. “Sunset is often called ‘the golden hour’ in the photographer world, and it is the best time of day, aside from sunrise, to take photos,” said Baron. “Usually sunset photos won’t take too long. It’s not a huge time commitment and it’s completely worth the photos.” Baron also suggests getting creative on your grand exit from your reception. Many couples are trending toward more of a staged exit so they can still get unique photos using colored smoke, bubbles, sparklers or anything else they choose, but then they can go back to dancing the night away. According to Baron, it’s a great idea to have the DJ announce that you’re doing a staged exit.

But while you’re prepping ahead of time or considering what needs to be done day-of, perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind for getting your best wedding photos is to relax and go with the flow. Not everything will go perfectly according to plan throughout the day, and people will be running late, or the weather will change. It’s important to stay nimble on your feet. “A good professional photographer will do their best to adjust the schedule and/or find a great place to take photos regardless of the situation,” said Baron. “It’s important for you, the couple, to not let anxiety seep in. Keep your mindset positive. Your positivity will show in the photos.”

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