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Photo Suggestions and Checklist

One of the most important arrangements you will make for your wedding day will be for the memory making photography and/or video. Sadly the flowers will die, your memories will fade & the day will just fly by way too fast for you to remember it all. Those beautiful photographs will be treasured for decades to come…..and the sights & sounds of your video will be anticipated over and over again. Not including these irreplaceable services into your plans, will bring deep regrets later on.

Being a professional photographer for over 20 years & covering hundreds of weddings, I will try to provide you with some insight for things to consider. Nothing made me happier than having a couple stop by to pick up their proofs or final albums & ooh & aah over the photographs. Many have told me most of the time they didn’t even know I was there & provided photos of events that had become fuzzy recollections of their busy day. It was no less exciting to watch couples squeal when they viewed their finished, edited video for the first time. You get to hear & see yourselves & all your guests having a wonderful time. Experiencing your vows again & actually getting to see the expressions on your own faces will be so much fun. Imagine not having these heirloom keepsakes to look back on…….

Below you can download & print out a checklist of some pretty standard photographs you should discuss with your photographer. Although most are standard photos, your situation may be different & they will not apply. Time and circumstances will dictate what photos are appropriate.

For example……if your mom or dad is not going to be present for your wedding, then of course there will not be shots of the bride sharing personal moments with them before the ceremony or dancing with them at the reception. If you are not having a limousine, then there will not be photos of you getting in or out. If the bride & bridesmaids are running extremely late after visiting the hair salon, there may not be enough time to do all the pre-ceremony photos I myself prefer to do. It is the photographer’s job to keep the day running smoothly & make sure you get where you need to be on time.

Here are some suggestions for you to help assist your photographer in providing the best coverage for your wedding day.

1)   BE ON TIME ! Have yourself, parents, & the wedding party where they need to be in plenty of time for pre-ceremony photographs. If you run late due to hair, make up or any other reason, you cannot expect your photographer to perform miracles & get all those highly desired shots when there is no time to do so. Make sure your bridesmaids are EARLY instead of late to your home or where you are preparing.

If the photographer is held up at the house too long, they cannot get to the church in time for some nice shots of the groom, his parents & the male attendants. Imagine not getting photos of grandparents & parents being seated just prior to the start of your procession…..that would be disappointing to you AND your professional photographer.

2)  Do NOT assume that photographs and/or video are welcome during your church ceremony. Many priests/pastors have policies on how much activity they allow if any at all.. While some have no concerns whatsoever, others refuse ANY part of the wedding ceremony to be filmed. Be sure to speak in depth with your officiant about your plans & arrangements & find out in advance what they will allow. Once you have a solid idea of what can & cannot be done, then inform your service providers in detail. No professional wants to offend a pastor or priest, especially on YOUR wedding day.

3)  If you know others will be following the professional’s lead as to some of those very important photographs & formals, make sure to ask them to PLEASE let the pro take their shots first. If the entire group is set up, smiling & looking at the photographer awaiting the flash, and someone else's goes off first, then the shot the pro gets is not going to be what was intended. Once the flash goes off, everyone relaxes & either turns their head, starts talking or worse begins walking off. You are paying your pro to give you his/her best, and well intending family & friends may hamper that effort. A kind but stern suggestion from you may make all the difference in what ends up in your album.

4)  Be sure to give all members of the wedding party directions to the church, formals location & reception….along with everyone else's cell phone numbers. If anyone gets lost or is late, festivities will also run behind, and particularly precious photographs may not be possible.

5)  If you desire photographs to be taken of the guest tables, be aware this is not always a standard with most photographers….and there are reasons for this. First the tightness of tables to each other in the reception hall is often not conducive to this being done quickly & easily. Often one table is on top of those next to it, and being able to photograph a small group at a single table may be extremely difficult.

Also, the only time guests are pretty much guaranteed to be seated is when dinner is being served. Prior to this, ladies can be found in the powder room or wandering around socializing. Gentlemen are more often than not socializing at the bar or visiting the men’s room. Once everyone is seated, they are anxious to eat while the food is still warm & some get a little cranky when they are disturbed for what might take some time to assemble…..understandably so.

A good idea is to provide a throw away camera on each table for the guests to take candid photographs of each other. Chances are they will get much more festive activities than a single still by a photographer.

If you have your heart absolutely set on a quality “portrait” of each guest table, then a formal announcement by the DJ, band or host/hostess informing the guests that it is the Bride & Groom’s wishes for everyone to be seated for the professional photographer to come around to each table for a photograph. This way it won’t be so much of an intrusion & they know it is to make the wedding couple happy. Even with a formal request, don’t be so surprised when you find family & friends missing from table shots due to bathroom visits or simply not wishing to be photographed.


6)  Your professional will be spending anywhere from 4-12 (or more) hours with you and your family recording your once in a lifetime wedding day….not to mention the travel time getting to your first location. There is no time to stop & snack while working. Have a heart & provide a meal at your reception for your photographer, videographer & their assistants. Do your very best to make sure they are seated in the same room during dinner just in case something memorable happens & you want it covered. If they do not get to eat at some point during the festivities, they are human & will not be at their best. Some may even leave the premises to find somewhere to eat nearby & may just miss something so very important. A lot of banquet halls insist on feeding the photographer, videographer, DJ/band etc after everyone else has been served. Please be aware that this is not exactly fair to those who are working for you. Plus if they do not have ample time to finish their meal, it is wasted money for you.

7)  If you have a specific list of people you want to either be included in the formal photographs or to have some semi-formal photos taken with at the reception, be sure to provide a list well in advance to your professional…..and also inform those people you are hoping to be photographed with. Don’t expect the photographer to know who your family members are if they have never seen them before.

8)  Read & understand your contract with your service providers. If you have contracted for 8 hours & things have run so far behind that you need them for another 2 hours to cover important festivities, then they are due overtime compensation. This fee must be paid before extended coverage begins, so be prepared in such cases.

9)  When choosing a location for formals, keep in mind the rest of the day’s schedule. If you only have an hour between church & reception, be sure to decide on a nearby location for these photographs. If there is too much travel time to get there, you will either miss out on some nice relaxed photographs or will be extremely late & will leave your guests waiting at the reception. Taking the formals inside the church is always a nice choice since everyone is there already & there is no travel time involved. BE SURE to discuss this option with your officiant beforehand for there may be another wedding or some other event planned for immediately after your ceremony.

10)  When you interview for a photographer, ask if this person will actually be the one covering your wedding....and if not, then INSIST on seeing the work of that particular person & on meeting him/her. If a studio says that is not how they operate, do yourself a favor & walk away. Many studios show you gorgeous albums of stunning photographs, but may not in any way reflect the quality or style provided by the person sent out to cover your wedding. They often hire freelancers who are available on certain dates, but may not quite qualify as "professionals". Plus, you want to make sure you can relax with the person who is literally going to be following you around all day. If their personality conflicts with yours, the smiles won't be genuine, and you will more than likely not be very satisfied with the photographs.

11)  Try to plan the fun festivities of your reception early enough so they can be covered by your photographer & enjoyed by your guests....especially if you are planning an evening reception. Older guests tend to tire early & may leave before the fun begins. Some weddings I worked had their cake cutting, bouquet & garter toss almost at the end of the reception, and by this time the majority of guests had already left.

Normally the cake cutting ceremony immediately follows dinner, for often the cake is part of the dessert. Once the couple is cleaned up, then the bride & groom's first dance is next.....1/2 way through the song inviting the entire wedding party to join them on the dance floor. The next important event is the Bride & her Father dance.....followed immediately by the Groom & his Mother. Once these events are done, then the garter & bouquet toss are done an hour or two later when the guests have had a little time to dance & celebrate as well.

Discuss this schedule with your DJ, band or host/hostess so you can also inform your photographer & videographer.

Click PDF to download our helpful photo checklist and work sheet

© 1983 by Dawn Gemme - Affectionately-Yours.com