How I Set Up My Wedding Photos For Success

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This is the last blog post of my #jennajosephbridalseries filled with wedding tips! The next few posts will be more storytelling, and I can’t wait to share my experience of the actual day! I wanted to be sure to talk a little bit about how I set up my wedding photos for success, because this list is so valuable; I think all brides (and wedding photographers) can benefit from it! You see, if your wedding photographer shows up for your big day, and you’ve taken care of all of these things, you’re making their job so much easier. They can really work even more magic and will probably be so much more excited about your wedding that your photos will be amazing!!!

Here are five things I did to set up my wedding photos for success.

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1. Start With The Venue

From the very beginning, choosing your venue makes such a difference with your wedding photos! These are some things I looked for when venue hunting.

-A backlit ceremony site
If the ceremony is outdoors, and the sun is behind the arch in the afternoon, it makes for beautifully lit photos.

-Plenty of windows
For indoor ceremony venues, I checked for lots of windows! Turning on the lights inside is just not the same and often is not as flattering.

-White or light gray ceilings or walls
When the reception is indoors, your photographer can bounce the flash off of ceilings or walls for softer, more beautiful light. If you have colors like red or green, skin tones will reflect those colors too!

-A White Tent
If I were to have an outdoor reception, I would look for a white tent! This makes bouncing flash easy, and it also protects your guests from the weather.

-Venue Rules
This is primarily with a church. Some venues have limitations for photographers, so always ask before you sign a contract. When the church coordinator prohibits the photographer from standing at the front of the aisle for that moment you and your dad are walking to your groom, you want to know before you book there! Many churches don’t allow flash, but that isn’t really a big issue with the technology we have these days. Just speak with your photographer about the rules before you choose a venue, if you can! The photographer can let you know which policies will affect them and which are really no problem for photos.

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2. Get Ready With PLENTY of Window Light

Window light makes magic!! If your venue has a super cute bridal suite but there are no windows, it’s small, and you have a large bridal party, your getting ready photos will not be what they could be! My favorite getting ready photos are actually in a bride’s home, because we have so much space and can move things around!

I got married out of my hometown and had to book a hotel, so I visited many suites before making a decision. I ended up getting ready in my reception hotel, because they had floor to ceiling windows! I also requested a north facing room. This way the sun never shined directly into my suite, creating harsh light. It was perfect!

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3. Have A Separate Place for The Mess

A huge problem for wedding photographers is arriving to a bridal suite with hair products, makeup, bags, dresses, shoes, and girly stuff everywhere. Asking everyone to keep things together doesn’t work as well as just having a separate place for the mess. If I was getting ready in my home, I would have a room set aside for everyone to get ready in, and a room just for photos and the makeup artist.

Since I got ready in a hotel, I reserved an additional room for my bridesmaids to set down all of their things. The hair stylists set up in this room, and this is where everyone did their hair. The only thing I had in my room was my makeup artist (for final touches photos), and all the pretty things I wanted photographed!

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4. Timeline, Timeline, Timeline

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid timeline with plenty of room for the unexpected.

How does time affect photography?
When you’re behind, you’re stressed, and it shows in all of your photos! Not to mention, your photographer is just getting all the “safe” shots and has no time to be creative!

Be sure to ask your photographer for help with your timing. Also, your hair and makeup completion time sets the tone for the entire wedding day. Read more about hair and makeup timing tips on my last blog post here!

And just a little note, don’t feel like this timeline is constricting your fun. It’s allowing it! All you should need to do is communicate to everyone what the plan is for the day and what time to be ready by. Your photographer, planner, or MOH should be the one keeping track of time for you on the wedding day, so you can forget about schedules and enjoy yourself!

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5. Have All Of The Bridal Details Together

As I was planning my wedding, I had a large bag in my closet full of all of the bridal details I wanted photographed. When I got my shoes, my garter, rings, etc., I put them all in this bag and had it all together for my photographer when she arrived. Here is a little sample list of things you’ll want in one place for your wedding day!

-Dress
-Veil
-Shoes
-Garter
-Jewelry
-Rings (all of them!, including the groom’s)
-Special Perfume
-Invitations (all pieces and envelopes)
-Bouquets & Boutonnières
-Any other special details you want photographed!

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6. Family Photos

This is normally the most stressful part of the day for everyone, so planning ahead and communicating is key!!

A few easy tips to help plan for a more simple family portrait experience:
– Make a list and send it to the photographer
– *Personally* communicate to each person on the list, so they know when and where they need to be! Sending a group text or email means not everyone will read it. Either personally text or call before the wedding day and make sure you get a response from everyone!
– Keep it short! If you’re adding in all of your aunts, uncles, cousins, you’re not going to have any time left for bride and groom photo unless you did a first look! I did all of my photos with family members before I saw Justin at the ceremony, and so did he, so after the ceremony we only had one group photo for each side of the family, and we were done!

Family photos are one of those things that is very different for each family dynamic. Sometimes an aunt and uncle is like Mom and Dad, so you’re going to need to make a list that works best for you!

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I hope this list helps you plan your wedding day and provides a great experience for your wedding photographer, so they can do their best on your big day! If you missed the rest of my series so far, you can catch up here!

Week 1: How I Asked My Bridesmaids
Week 2: The Two Most Important Words of Wedding Planning
Week 3: Finding A Wedding Venue
Week 4: Choosing My Vendors
Week 5: I Thought Planning My Engagement Session Would Be Easy!
Week 6: 8 Little Wedding To-Do’s That Weren’t So Little (…for me
Week 7: Effective Wedding Communication Changes Everything

Vendor Love:

Ceremony Venue: Corona Del Mar Community Church
Ceremony Music: Marck McKay, Lindsey Cargill, Jullian Hernandez
Officiant: Steve Salomon
Reception Venue: The Wyndham Hotel Irvine
My Wedding Photos: Rachel Jay of France Photographers
Day-of Coordination: KC Designs
Styling, Florals, Calligraphy: Carla Kayes Floral Design
Bridal Hair: Jessie Kenney
Bridal Makeup: Raeleen B. & Co.
Groom’s Hair: Erin Heck
Tuxedos: Friar Tux
Bridesmaid Gowns: Rent The Runway
Custom Wedding Gown: Jennifer Sitchler of Eden Couture
Cake: Have Your Cake and Eat It
Cupcakes: Kiandra Chun
Donuts!: Krispy Kreme
DJ: Daniel Caban
Cinematography: Nearly North Visuals

11 comments
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  • SUCH GREAT ADVICE! Wish I had paid more attention to these things for my own wedding.ReplyCancel

    • contact@jennaphoto.com

      Thank you for leaving a comment Anna! So happy to hear that you enjoyed the post!ReplyCancel

  • Fantastic! Such great advice for brides. It’s these details that make all the difference.ReplyCancel

  • These tips are so, so valuable truly!! Great things! and beautiful images!ReplyCancel

    • contact@jennaphoto.com

      Oh, thank you for the sweet words, Lauren!!ReplyCancel

  • Whitney Coudray

    Great advice! All things I wish I would have known on my wedding day!ReplyCancel

  • Thank you for this post and your series! It has helped me a lot with planning my own wedding (happening next month) And has helped me to know how to better communicate with future brides/clients!
    ReplyCancel

    • contact@jennaphoto.com

      Aww that makes me so happy! Thank you for letting me know it has been helpful! I’m excited to hear you are reading!ReplyCancel

  • […] Week 1: How I Asked My Bridesmaids Week 2: The Two Most Important Words of Wedding Planning Week 3: Finding A Wedding Venue Week 4: Choosing My Vendors Week 5: I Thought Planning My Engagement Session Would Be Easy! Week 6: 8 Little Wedding To-Do’s That Weren’t So Little (…for me Week 7: Effective Wedding Communication Changes Everything Week 8: How I Set Up My Wedding Photos For Success […]ReplyCancel

  • […] So Little (…for me Week 7: Effective Wedding Communication Changes Everything Week 8: How I Set Up My Wedding Photos For Success Week 9: My Wedding Day – Getting Ready With My […]ReplyCancel

  • […] So Little (…for me Week 7: Effective Wedding Communication Changes Everything Week 8: How I Set Up My Wedding Photos For Success Week 9: My Wedding Day Part 1 – Getting Ready Week 10: My Wedding Day Part 2 – The […]ReplyCancel

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