There is at least one thing that all of my brides have in common: photography is high on their priority list.

They’ve found their photographer, but it doesn’t end there. To receive the experience and high quality photos they are seeking, their actions during the next few months are crucial. I offer the following suggestions to each bride to make her photography experience memorable.

Take advantage of an engagement session.

Sure, an engagement session is great for displaying a few photos during the reception, but the overall session is far more important than many couples realize. More often than not, it’s the first professional photographs they have ever had taken (a pro session is way different than having a few snapshots taken by your best friend!), so it can actually be more awkward than you anticipate. Your engagement session not only allows you to learn to relax in front of the camera, but it lets you and your photographer to get to know each other. While it’s important for a photographer to understand manual camera settings and lighting, it’s just as important to learn about their clients. Getting to know each other is a crucial part of great photography – for both the couple AND the photographer. If you leave your engagement session feeling as though you’ve just spent an hour with a friend, your wedding photos are going to rock!

Reading PA Engagement Photographer

Consider a first look – but don’t feel obligated.

First looks (seeing each other before the ceremony) are becoming widely popular. So popular, that couples are feeling forced to do so, often thinking it’s the only way to have gorgeous photos. That couldn’t be further from the truth – timeline is everything.

Ask for recommendations.

Planning for an outdoor ceremony or formal photos in the garden? The times you select are more important than you may think. A 1:00 pm ceremony on the patio may sound like the perfect time, but the light is horrible. You may end up with guests paying more attention to shielding their eyes than the ceremony, not to mention sun rays across your body. Consider asking your photographer’s advice prior to nailing down any times.

Keep in contact.

There’s nothing wrong with excitedly emailing your photographer a picture of your dress or asking for color scheme suggestions. While I can’t speak for all photographers, my brides have noticed that our strong relationships have made a huge impact on the result of their wedding photo and overall experience.

Reading, PA Engagement Photographer

Pass on the cocktail hour.

Some brides opt to add an extra hour in their day (after the ceremony but before cocktail hour) reserved solely for photos. Of course not every wedding will have this option, but it doesn’t mean that you will have to miss out! Consider using your full cocktail hour for formals, while guests continue to mingle. Remember, this day is only going to happen once and you’ll never have the opportunity to have these photos taken again. Taking the time for formals versus rushing through a list in 10 minutes makes a huge difference – I promise.

Take some time alone.

Once the family and bridal party photos have been taken, I encourage everyone to enjoy cocktail hour – leaving the bride and groom behind. This allows a more relaxed and intimate setting for the couple, allowing them to be themselves in front of the camera. Additionally, there is possibility of another camera’s flash interfering or any confusion as to which camera to look at. A private session with the couple alone allows me to focus my attention completely on the bride and groom, enabling me to provide them with even more personality-filled images.