Picture Perfect – Photos You Must Have, and the Ones You Can Live Without!

Every bride’s priorities are different, even when it comes to wedding photography. Your wedding photographs will probably be the most lasting and cherished mementos of your wedding day.  Your wedding photographs are unique to your wedding. Wedding photography packages can quickly take a huge chunk of your budget, so you will want to get the most for your money.  Consider hiring a photographer that will throw in a free engagement shoot or trash the dress photography session when you book them for your wedding.  There are plenty of must have photographs as well.  Here are some ways to get the most out of your wedding photographs.

Engagement Sessions

Engagement sessions are not necessary but can be extremely useful if you plan on personalizing many aspects of your wedding.  An engagement photograph can be used on an easel with your seating chart to greet your guests.  Many favors and wedding decorations allow a picture to be used as well.  You can send save the dates and custom wedding invitations that feature your engagement as well.

First Look Photos

This is the name given to the photos taken of the groom’s reaction to seeing his bride all dressed in her wedding attire for the first time.  Even if the groom has seen the dress and all the accessories, chances are it wasn’t all at once, on his bride with her hair and makeup done.  This is where two photographers come in handy if you have them! One to shoot the bride’s entrance, the other for the groom’s reaction.  Some people save first look for when the bride is walking down the aisle for maximum surprise, but you can often get a much less restrained reaction from the groom by doing the first look in private, which can make for some amazing pictures.

Wedding Ceremony Photographs

You will want to discuss any restrictions your ceremony venue has for photographers with your officiant in advance.  Some rooms of historical venues and some religious venues do not allow flash photography.  If your wedding is in a zoo, certain rooms may have the same restrictions.  Even if you think it is obvious, provide a list of must have shots for the wedding ceremony to your wedding photographer.

Some common shots that appear on brides must have lists include:

  • The bride’s entrance to the venue
  • The groom waiting at the altar or end of the aisle
  • The members of the bridal party entering the venue
  • The exchange of rings
  • Pictures of any readers
  • The first kiss
  • Any floral arrangements or décor that are specially placed for the wedding
  • The bride being “given away” by her father or whoever has the honor.

There are many other shots you may want that are unique to your wedding or priorities.  Be sure to communicate with your photographer about the memories you want captured on film in as specific terms as possible.

Pre-Wedding Prep

Some photographers will follow the happy couple all day to capture every moment of the happy day.  Pre-wedding photography can include pictures of hair and makeup being done, pictures of the wedding party’s attire while still on the hangars and pictures of floral arrangements as they arrive.  You can also get pictures of the bride and groom with their attendants in advance of the ceremony in order to save time after the ceremony.

Formal and Casually Posed Wedding Party Shots

These are prearranged photos of the bride, the groom, the bridal party and the couple’s parents and possibly grandparents.  They are posed and can be formal or casual and playful. You will want photos of the bride and groom individually, with their respective attendants and family, and combined with the same. Be sure to have someone assigned to helping gather people as they are needed by the photographer and to dismiss them after the photographer is done with them to speed up the photo shoot.

Candid Wedding Party Shots

These can be some of the best photos. Candid shots of guests at the wedding ceremony or wedding reception.  A good photographer can move throughout your venues without being intrusive and capture lots of candid shots of your guests having a good time.  Stray tears, sneaked kisses and children being children can be some of the most memorable candid photographs.

Wedding Reception Shots

The reception will get you plenty of candid photos.  If it will save you money consider having the photographer leave after the important and must have shots are taken.  Some shots brides commonly consider must haves during the wedding reception include:

  • first dance between bride and groom
  • mother of the groom dancing with the groom
  • father of the bride dancing with the bride
  • first toast
  • wedding cake
  • reception decorations
  • bouquet and garter tosses
  • any other special dances

Trash the Dress Photo Shoot

This is also called a rock the dress photo shoot. It usually occurs after the wedding. In this photo shoot you take pictures in your wedding attire in candid poses in locations you normally wouldn’t for fear of ruining your dress.  It is a second chance to wear your dress for photos.  Many brides choose a different hairstyle and different accessories than they wore on their wedding day.  How beautiful would your train look floating on the water of a creek while you stand in the water barefoot slowly releasing rose petals from your hands? How about leaning up against that awesome mural downtown?  You don’t need these photos but they are pretty and fun.  As long as you don’t go too crazy, chances are you can still have the dress cleaned to look good as new.  If that isn’t a concern, another great shot list consists of pictures of the bride cutting off her train and the bottom of her dress and then shots of the bride running through a field.

Bridal Photo Shoot

Whether or not these are a must have depends on your location.  Southern brides have known to hold these pre-wedding photo shoots to be more important than photos on the actual day of their wedding! These are shots of the bride alone in her bridal attire.  The sole purpose is to capture gorgeous shots of the bride, something that there may not be much time for on your actual wedding day.  Once a tradition solely practiced in the southern United States, bridal photography sessions are slowly gaining steam because of the pure practicality and amazing results.  You may not need so many pictures of you in your gown, but there is no denying that a stress free photo session can yield some amazing photos!

Boudoir Photo Shoot

Boudoir photo shoots are done before the wedding and are gaining popularity all over America. They have been popular in some European countries for years.  Boudoir photos are pictures of the bride in lingerie and other risqué clothing.  They are generally done as a present for the groom.  They are a great way for the bride to take some time away from the tension of wedding planning and remind herself what the end goal of all the stress really is.  An album of boudoir pictures is a great surprise present for nearly any groom.

Other Wedding Photograph Tips

An experience photographer probably knows what the important shots they need to capture are.  It is still a good idea to provide them with a list of moments you want immortalized on film. You may want something they don’t normally think to capture.

On the flip side, once you have communicated your desires to your photographer you need to trust them! Discuss everything in advance so you can enjoy your day and let the professionals do their jobs!

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