Ok, so Mr. Wonderful finally popped the question, you've found the perfect ceremony and reception site and have a big spiral binder filled with check lists and planners to help you plan your day. You have set the date and have some shiny bling which you can't stop looking at all day long. You even found the perfect photographer to capture you day below are 3 free tips to help get you started to help you have a picture perfect day.
1. Plan the photography location with your photographer: If your photographer has not shot at your site before it is very helpful to walk the site with them even if you have to pay a fee for their time to go over location and photo ideas. Most photographers will charge a half day fee of around $500.00 to spend a few hours walking site. If this is not possible due to financial scheduling or time constraints draw them a diagram and give them a description of the site location, and lighting conditions and possible interesting places to shoot as a back drop. Good photographers can shoot in any location and any lighting situation and are good at making decisions on the fly so don't worry if you have made the right choice in photographers. It never hurts though to give them a little help. Provide them with a brochure with images from past weddings and take a few digital images on your own if you have a camera. A good rule of thumb is to give them three or four different locations that may be possible choices for creating portraits after the ceremony and note them on a photography info sheet at least a month before the wedding. The earlier you provide them with info about the site clearly written the better. This gives them an opportunity to review it in the midst of shooting 30 or so other weddings for the year and to ask you any questions they may have. And, it also helps you to be more relaxed the closer you get to your wedding day. If the location has a website it is helpful to provide that to your photographer as well. Give them as much information about the site and lighting conditions as you can. Visit the site and look at lighting at different times of the day.
If you are having an out door wedding be sure that you are not back lit at the time of your ceremony and you are not in direct afternoon sun. If you visit the site and the sun is behind you from where you photographer will be shooting you are back lit and should consider facing a different direction. Your photographer can help you walk through this is you give them a good description over the phone. They can also suggest the best times of day for lighting. The more info you give them the more excited they will be about your location and the better opportunity you have to get more creative images.
2. Build a relationship with your photographer: You will get back from your wedding photography experience what you put into it. If you click and really get along with your photographer your formal images will be better. It is well worth the addition time and expense to go out on location with your photographer and spend some time doing an engagement shoot. Many photographers are more than happy to suggest some great shooting locations where you can go out and spend an afternoon getting to know them and their shooting style and them getting to know you or are happy to have you out to their studio. They are also often willing to travel to your favorite special place for your engagement shoot. Use the time to get to know them as a person and to get your self ready for your day. Their shooting the day of the engagement shoot will be similar to your photography the day of the wedding. Don't be afraid to have fun on your shoot and practice different poses. If your photographer gives you proofs from the entire shoot it is also helpful for you to see which way you shoot best by looking at the proofs afterwards and can be very helpful to you, and can go a long way towards making you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Ask them what to expect the day of the wedding as far as how the flow of the photography will go. Will they be stopping you throughout the day for formal portraits or will it all be completed right after the ceremony. Do they mind people asking for additional portraits through out the day? Ask them what they will need throughout the day. Will they need a work table or an assistant to help get everyone together in your large family? Plan with them to make sure they have enough time to do all of the group shots you would like with out being to rushed and provide an assistant for them to help gather everyone from a list of friends not in the wedding party, who knows everyone. Don't provide them with a mile long list of portraits or images you found on an internet site. Each shot takes about 5 minutes to create. You will hamper their creativity and they will spend much of their day trying to complete your list. Ask them if they have a list of basic group shots and go over with them a list of a few shots that you might additionally like.
Ask your photographer if they any special meal needs when you send out invitations to the rest of your guests. You should treat your photographer as a valued guest and make them feel that they are an important part of your day.
3. Be organized: For a photographer, the bride being on time is of paramount importance. If you are behind in schedule it makes their day much more difficult. Do yourself and your photographer a favor by creating a day of the wedding time line with added time built in case of little emergencies and send it to them ahead of time and ask them if they have any suggestions for the schedule and if you have included enough time for them for their photography activities. Give a copy once it is finished to your mom and your bridesmaids and ask them to help you by being on time as well. Hair and make up are biggies. If you are going to be late, 9 times out of 10, it will be because your makeup and hair take longer than you expect. Be sure to plan in an extra hour for these activities and be ready when your photographer arrives. If you are stressed it will show in your formal images if you are doing any before the ceremony so make sure you plan in some time to rest and be a princess as well.
These three wedding tips, if followed, will help you have a worry free wedding day from a photography perspective. Best wishes for a wonderful wedding day.