How to Have Amazing Photos From Your Wedding Day

Everyone wants a beautiful wedding and of course wants to end up with beautiful photos too! You may be surprised to find out that there are 3 major things YOU can do to make or break your wedding day photos BESIDES choosing the photographer .


Ceremony set up in the shade

Ceremony set up in the shade




Heres the thing. Photos are super important—after the wedding is over—but on your wedding day, you want to be genuinely living in the moment, not stressing about photos getting missed or if you’ve gotten enough of them.

Of course, hiring an experienced photographer that you love and trust is the first step to relieving that wedding day stress, but there are 3 things that you can do/plan for in advance to make photos easy breezy and ensure that when you get your gallery back, it will live up to all of your wedding photo dreams and include all of the memories captured for you to look back on forever.

I’m first going to start with the biggest impacter, which also happens to be the most commonly overlooked factor (this first section is LONG, hang in there! I promise the other 2 things follow it but I have a lot to say about this first one, it honestly could have been its own post)


LIGHTING (+ staging + setup).

It seems obvious that lighting plays a part in photos, so why do we not carefully consider this when planning out the most photographed day of our lives?! (the answer is: If you’re not a photographer you probably haven’t ever paid much attention to what kind of lighting yields pretty photos—so that’s what this post is for, now you will know!).

Experienced photographers will be capable of shooting any lighting scenario in an acceptable way, but it can be tricky! Especially for things they have no directing control over (i.e. the ceremony). There are big chunks of your wedding day where the photographer won’t be able to ask you to “step slightly to the left” or “tilt your head up a bit”. They just have to work with what’s in front of them. SO. Why not make it easy for them to capture well-lit photos?

Not only will photos be greatly affected by the lighting throughout the day/night.. but your comfort as well as your guests will also be influenced.

If your guests are all sitting in chairs in the blazing sun during your ceremony, they are going to be hot and sweaty by the end, and they’ll have to spend the entire time squinting up at you and your groom as you say “I Do”.

Plus, you don’t want to be squinting either! You’re going to want your eyes wide open so you can take it all in!

ok, So how do you have an ideally lit wedding day?

If you are hosting an outdoor wedding—good for you! You’ll have the best light source of all (The Sun;)) So use it to your advantage!

First things first: Research.

Check the lighting throughout the day at your venue and plan accordingly— even lighting is most flattering. If you can plan for a ceremony that starts when the entire guest seating area as well as where the bride and groom will be saying their vows is in the shade you will not only avoid sweating and squinting but also guarantee nice easy lighting for your photographer to capture the entire ceremony

PRO TIP: As you’re planning, decide what is more important to you the time that things happen or the area things are set up in. i.e. If it’s really important to you to have your ceremony start at 5:00pm, you’ll be limited to what is shaded at that time. On the flip-side, if you are flexible on the time of day and you have a specific place on the property that you’re envisioning for the ceremony, plan the time of the ceremony around the time that that area of the property is in the shade.

As the light fades you’ll want the last activities in more open (and therefore more brightly lit) areas of the property if you want your photos to be exposed via natural light.

Note where the shade reaches at each time of day and consider what it will look like when you are doing all the highlights (cutting the cake, dancing, etc.)

Photo taken after dark, lit by an on-camera flash

Photo taken after dark, lit by an on-camera flash

Also note what time it gets dark. Photographers will bring in speedlights and other equipment so they can photograph in the dark—however if you want all of your photos to be brightly, evenly, and naturally lit, consider having an itinerary that ends about 30 minutes before its dark.

If you are having an indoor wedding—you’re working with way less light.

Just by being indoors you are adding in the presence of artificial light. Again, your photographer will have equipment to expose photos in indoor situations, but to maximize the amount of natural light she gets to work with, the earlier the timeline the better.

Try to find a venue that has lots of windows to let in as much natural light as possible throughout the day.

Venues with white or cool toned walls will help your photos not be orange (i.e. venues with red brick interior bounce red/orange light onto all the people in the room)

If you want photos of you getting ready, get ready somewhere fun—also with lots of windows.

think about photos as you’re setting up the cake, the dance floor, the dinner…

…On the subject of cake…

If you’ll be cutting your cake when there is lots of natural light— think about the windows, and cut the cake close to them. ** If the cake cutting will happen after it’s dark enough that your photographer will need a flash, you’ll want the cake placed away from windows, mirrors and other reflective backgrounds that will show hot spots from her on camera light source.

Also It might go without saying, but I just have to say it still — put your cake somewhere pretty (lighting isn’t the only factor;)) stay away from ugly garbage cans and exit signs…etc.

**If the place you want your cake displayed throughout the night is a place that looks good in real life, or is tucked out of the way to make room for celebrating but isn’t the most ideal spot for actually cutting it, you can always plan to display the cake in an out-of-the-way place for most of the night and then move the cake to a “cutting” spot in a more central and/or picturesque location.

Ok! You made it through all that info on lighting—-you’re a trooper. Now onto the other 2 things you can do:


The second thing you can do to get back the gallery you’ve been dreaming of is to plan for the details.

We’ve all seen the beautiful inspiration photos on blogs and social media. We have pinned endless wedding photos of beautiful venues, gowns, florals…you get it. But many times a huge contributing part to those beautiful photos is the tiny details that someone remembered to include on their big day.

PRO TIP: The thing that makes a difference between a regular wedding gallery and a “pinterest level” wedding gallery (assuming you have a good photographer), is the details. Not just the place settings and details throughout the entire event—which also contribute, but the small, sentimental personal details are the ones that often get forgotten. You have to bring those little details with you on your wedding day, or you have to assign it to someone reliable. A good way to do this is to pack up your box of “details” a day or two in advance. When it comes to the day of your wedding you can hand the box over to your photographer for her to stage and photograph. Remember to include things like: your announcement suite, the perfume you’ll be wearing, your ring, his ring, if you have your vows written down, your shoes, your gown on a pretty hanger for your dress, your honeymoon lingerie, your veil, your bouquet, any special items or jewelry, wedding gifts to each other, your hair pieces, etc. You can be in charge of the grooms detail box too, but give it to him before the day of so he has the things he needs to get ready, or just ask your photographer or a member of your bridal party to get him his things once they have been photographed.

For the other details that are spread throughout your event, the best plan is to have your vendors (i.e. florist, caterers, decorators, etc.) get everything prepped and ready to go early enough for the photographer to capture details before before the events begin. This is ideal if you want the details captured before people arrive and start moving things, eating things, etc. Plus, even though your reception might start after its too dark for natural light photos inside (or out), your photographer will have had the earlier, more abundantly available natural lighting to capture all those pretty things in advance.

ANd don’t forget about Time

The third contributing factor you can plan for to ensure you end up with the wedding photos you’ve been dreaming of is: THE ITINERARY.

Planning out time for photos and special moments throughout the day. If you want photos of you and your girls getting ready, plan and schedule it with your photographer, if you want to have a little bridal session and/or first look with your groom—build it into the itinerary! If you want lots of family photos or bridal party photos after the ceremony, make sure to give yourself and your photographer time to make that happen!

PRO TIP: Hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners are literally professional detail and itinerary creators, and having a talented planner will guarantee that nothing gets left behind or forgotten. She will work directly with you and your other vendors throughout the planning and on the day of so when your wedding day arrives all you have to do is GET MARRIED and HAVE FUN (which is the way it should be)

Check out Belle Bodas and Events if you’re in search of an amazing event coordinator, she is INCREDIBLE.

For more insight on the importance of an itinerary built around what’s important to you (whether that is photos or not), check out this blog post: HOW TO *ACTUALLY* MAKE YOUR WEDDING DAY “THE BEST DAY EVER

So. To sum it all up…

The Three Things that will make all the difference in your photos (besides the photographer) are:

1) Setting things up with Lighting in mind

2) Bringing details for your photographer to shoot and having everything set up early enough for your photographer to photograph the details.

3) Planning time in your day and coordinating the itinerary with your photographer so the moments and photos you want captured get captured.

These are all things in your control to help your wedding day experience and your photographer’s experience be smooth sailing (resulting in a good time and good photos)! However, most importantly, to have photos you will LOVE, you’re going to need a photographer that you LOVE.

Check out this post about how to hire the right person to photograph your wedding day here: Deciding Factors in Choosing a Photographer

I hope this was helpful! Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or insight in the comments!