Essential Tips for Unbelievable Wedding Photos!

Award Winning Asheville Wedding Photographer reveals Three Essential Pro Tips that every Bride needs to know for Unbelievable Wedding Day Photos!

July 2020 marked my eleventh year working as a Professional Wedding Photographer & with all those years of experience comes a wealth of knowledge & expertise about all things wedding! I often share these invaluable tips with my couples & wanted to share a few of them with you — so, let’s get to it! 🙂

ONE: Day of Coordinators are INVALUABLE!

Listen, I totally get needing to cut a couple corners, weddings are expensive! But, girlfriend, please hear me when I tell you: the very last thing you’ll want to do on your Wedding Day is be the person that vendors, venue staff, family and friends are coming to for last minute answers and direction! That will distract you, stress you out and steal your JOY on what should be your Best Day Ever!!! The only thing you need to worry about on your Wedding Day should be making it down that isle on time! 😉

Day of Coordinators are arguably the hardest working people on your wedding day (next to your photographer, of course! ;)) and they are totally invaluable in my opinion! Not only will they work with you to create a “master timeline” ahead of the wedding that outlines your entire day including vendor arrivals and departures, deliveries & schedule down to the minute! But, they’re also on site hours before and after anyone else setting up & tearing down your dream day! They’re interfacing with venue staff and vendors, answering questions and providing direction for your family and guests. They’re checking in with you guys to be sure that you’re happy and have everything you need throughout the day and they’re handling logistics behind the scenes to make sure that your day goes according to plan!

How does this relate to your Wedding Photography? I’m so glad you asked! 😉 Over the last decade, I’ve shot more than a few weddings that didn’t have the budget for professional planners and/or day of coordinators & when those angels are not on site, the enormous burden of keeping your entire wedding party, your families and all the miscellaneous moving parts of your wedding day on schedule falls onto your photographer’s shoulders & that’s just not their job! You want your vendors, especially your photographer to be able to focus on the job that you’ve paid them to do!

Things we Love about Day of Coordinators: The best one’s run a tight ship while simultaneously keeping the vibe way chill! 🙂 They’re angels who check in with us to be sure that we have everything we need throughout the day & if for some reason, we get behind schedule, they coordinate with the necessary vendors and shift the schedule on the fly in order to keep the day running smoothly! They can handle any hiccups quickly, quietly and efficiently without the Bride & Groom ever even being aware that there was a problem! And, they can find the groom’s grandpa for portraits when he’s taken off to the bar after the ceremony! 😉

Trust me when I say: A Day of Coordinator is worth every penny!

TWO: Where are you (both) getting ready? It’s important.

You’ve put so much consideration into choosing the perfect venue for your wedding and you’ll spend months planning and preparing for this beautiful day… you want it to be perfect, right!? Where you (& your groom) choose to get ready before your ceremony should be pretty high on the list of things to consider!

Why? Because approximately 1-3hrs of your Wedding Photography will happen there! Depending on how you want to structure your day & allocate the time with your photographer, the following photos may (typically) happen at the location where you’ll be getting ready:

  • Details – Dress/Suit, Shoes, Rings, Bouquet + any special details (sentimental/special things, perfume, jewelry etc!)
  • Finishing Touches of getting ready / Hair & Makeup
  • Candids with Bridesmaids / Groomsmen
  • Getting Dressed (Fam/Bridal Party helping)
  • First Look with Mom/Dad
  • Possible 1st Look for Bride & Groom
  • Portraits with Bridesmaid/Groomsmen Group + Individuals
  • Portraits with Parents/Siblings etc.

As you can see, these are all pretty important photos that are going to happen in the first 1-3hrs that your photographer is on site! Personally, I tend to judge a venue by the thought / effort they’ve put into the bridal suit!

A few of our Favorite Bridal Suits in WNC are at: AC Hotel, Hyatt Place, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Chestnut Ridge Events, the Foundry Hotel, and The Inn at Tranquility Farm

If you’re thinking about a Hotel, or Airbnb to get ready prior to your ceremony… Some things you’ll want to look for as far as criteria for choosing a place goes:

Size – Ideally, you’ll want a space that’s big enough for everyone to get ready comfortably and it’s really important that there’s a dedicated space where your bridal party can put away their belongings so that the space we’ll be shooting these pre-ceremony portraits in is free from the tornado of food, drinks, bags and personal belongings that folks bring into the space!

Light – You should look for a bright, light filled spaces (this means lots of windows and natural light coming in!) Low ceilings and dark spaces are kind of a bummer for these pre-ceremony photos! 😉

Appointment – You’ll also wanna look for a space that’s aesthetically pleasing and well appointed (obvs!)

Landscaping – If you’re looking at renting an B&B OR Airbnb, you should definitely ask to see photos of the lawn & surrounding landscape to be sure that it’s nice and will be a suitable backdrop for your portraits! Your photographer will be looking for unique and pretty spots to photograph the details and to shoot portraits of you with your family & bridal party prior to the ceremony.

THREE: Time of Day Matters!

Oh Girl. I simply cannot stress this enough: VISIT YOUR VENUE AT THE TIME OF DAY YOU WANT TO GET MARRIED!!! Insist on scheduling your tours at the around the time that you’ll want to have your ceremony/reception so that you can SEE the light at that time of day!!

Bonus Pro Tip for those brides who have a whole year or more to plan: go see the venue in the season you want to get married too!

Why? If you’re thinking about a 2-3pm ceremony and the place you’ve chosen to have your ceremony has harsh, mid afternoon sunlight beaming directly on the ceremony site at that time…

Ask yourself:

How will the directionality of the sun at this time of day (if it’s a super sunny/hot day – you’ll want to plan for the worst case scenario) affect my guests? Will they be squinting into the sun, covering their eyes & sweating their butts off to witness our ceremony?

How will the directionality of the sun at this time of day affect US as we’re saying our vows? or taking family photos in that spot? Will we be sweating like crazy and will the directionality of the sun cast harsh shadows on our faces or will we be blinded by the sun directly (in) our faces?

Now, consider how the directionality of the sun at this time of day affect your photos? Will you have harsh, unflattering mid day light? Or will you have softer late afternoon or morning light?

TEN: Choosing the right Wedding Photographer is 1/2 the battle for getting Unbelievable Wedding Photos!

“I’m so glad that I bargain shopped for my Wedding Photographer… said no bride ever.” -author unknown

Let’s say that you’ve satisfied every single one of the considerations on this silly little list of mine and still turn up with disappointing wedding photos… I’m just gonna be real with you here: there are a literal million photographers in the world and new ones popping up or giving it a go every. single. day!! 😉 But love, in this business, you’re gonna get what you pay for. Yes, you might get suuuuper lucky and find a rising star who doesn’t yet know their worth and you may get an insane deal from them but more likely than not, you’re gonna end up in the 40% of brides who were disappointed with their wedding photography.

If you find a photographer who will shoot your 8hr wedding (including digital files) for less than $1500, there are a few things that you need to know about them:

  • This person most likely doesn’t have high end equipment or lighting and they likely don’t have backup equipment.
  • This person probably has not invested in their craft or professional development by attending educational conferences and joining professional organizations.
  • This person likely does not have licenses, permits or insurance and is probably not paying state/federal income tax as well as state and local sales tax (charging that little is not a profitable or a sustainable business model if you’re taking these very necessary and legitimizing steps toward becoming a power house!)

On the other side of the coin, you’re going to find a bunch of great mid-range photographers and high end photographers and you need to know a few things about them too:

  • They have more than likely invested years into honing their skill and ability in their craft. They’ve lived and learned and already made most of their mistakes. You’re not going to be their learning curve.
  • They have invested in their business and in their equipment. They have backup equipment, lenses & lighting should anything happen to their equipment in the middle of your wedding.
  • They’re reliable.
  • They’re experienced, competent, capable and confident.
  • They’re more than likely licensed and insured.
  • They probably have dozens of reviews from satisfied clients through the years to back up their claims for professionalism, creativity, skill and ability, etc.

So, how do we know who’s the right photographer for us?:

To begin, you’ll probably do all the things that newly engaged couples do. You’ll search the internet: google, facebook & instagram looking for a photographer in the area who’s style appeals to you & whose work you would love hanging on your walls for the next 50 years! 😉

Potential Pitfall Alert: Sometimes what you see online is not what you get…. people tend to put their best foot forward on the internet. #fact

Once you’ve identified a few photographers that peak your interest, I would suggest doing a deep dive into their website & blog! Look at all the galleries, read through their website & especially their blog! Reading a photographer’s blog is a great way to check out more images from a single wedding day rather than just the best ones or only their favorite ones displayed on their website or instagram! It also gives you a glimpse into their personality and rapport with their clients. I would also give their reviews from previous clients a look-see as well! A legitimate professional wedding photographer should have complete wedding galleries for you to look at as well, if requested.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few photographers, I would email each to inquire about pricing and availability to see who’s available and who’s collections fit within your budget.

Of course I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck! Of course I understand that budget plays a pretty significant role in choosing a photographer but I intentionally didn’t list this step first because it shouldn’t be your first or only consideration!

Once you’ve narrowed the field, you should request a phone call with them to get a feel for their personality because there are a few essential personality traits that you’re going to (need) from your wedding photographer: competence, professionalism, assertiveness, ability to multi-task, friendliness, focus, confidence, humor, relatability & efficiency just to name a few! 😉 You really should vibe with you Wedding Photographer because you’ll be spending like 70% of your wedding day with them!

After sifting through a few photographer’s online portfolios & reviews, after checking pricing and availability and after having a conversation with them, I think you’ll just know that they’re the one! 😉

Congratulations & Good Luck!



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