Seven Essentials For On-Point Wedding Photos - A FAB Guest Post From a Photographer Who's Seen it All

This article isn’t about how to look natural when staring into your fiancé’s eyes or which poses are best for eliminating double chins (it’s one I affectionately call “chicken-head”). If you hired a professional photographer with a mind-blowing portfolio, they should take care of all that and make you look your best on your big day. It’s what we do. 

What I’m talking about below are the other things… the non-photo-related factors that can so greatly determine the awesomeness of your wedding images. These are the top seven things that you might not even realize can make or break your photos. 

1) Make sure you get good vibes from your vendors. 
In short, don’t choose your wedding vendors based on price alone. Now, I know cost is not a thing we can avoid. I want furniture from Pottery Barn, but I generally end up at Target. We all wish we could hire whoever we want, regardless of price. A vendor might have a "special deal only for you if you sign on the dotted line right this moment" but consider how much time these vendors will be spending with you, how credible they are and how much trust you are putting in them. I’ve seen DJs not show up, hair and makeup go hours late, florists bring the wrong color bouquets, videographers block the ceremony view from the guests, and I’m not discounting the great number of horror stories from my own profession as well.

All of those factors lead to a lousy, frustrating wedding day, aka less-than-happy looking photographs. Determine your budget for each portion of your wedding day and then look at several vendors in that range. Take the time to meet with them and see if you mesh. If you find the golden vendor that is unbelievably affordable, it could totally be the real deal. Just make sure you do your research and listen to your intuition.

2) Consider hiring a day-of coordinator
In this DIY world of wonder, it's easy to feel like everything can be done ourselves. You're the bride - the last thing you want is to be checking your timeline and coordinating deliveries on your own wedding day. In the absence of a coordinator, too often the photographer gets tasked with keeping everything on track during a wedding day, and I'm pretty sure you'd rather have us doing what you hired us for – capturing gorgeous imagery. Make it easy on yourself and hire a day-of coordinator to keep everything going swimmingly. Even better: hire a wedding planner, which includes day-of coordination. 

3) Have an unplugged wedding.
Picture this: Great Aunt Sally. iPad with hot pink case. Center aisle as you’re walking towards your groom… Photoshop can only magic so much. Virtually every wedding we shoot these days has rows of brightly colored phone cases lining the edges of the aisle. Have your officiant make a quick announcement before the ceremony asking everyone to abstain from photos during that part of the day. Not only will you have infinitely better photos, but your guests will get to experience the ceremony fully and without distractions. 

4) Consider your wedding location and the time of year (aka, weather).
In my hometown of Las Vegas, summers are hot… like hairdryer on high, in-your-face hot. If you get married outdoors in hot weather, it’s likely you’ll be outside for hours during portraits – which means you might be sweating off your makeup and your groom might be sweating through his jacket. This doesn't mean you have to change your dream location or forget that perfect summer date you've always wanted, just make sure you’ve prepared. Choose your dress and tux carefully to make sure you won’t overheat, plan a break to cool off in between portraits and the ceremony, have fans, cold water, seek out shade and ask your photographer to have an alternate indoor location picked out. 

5) Make sure your hair and makeup artists have wedding experience. 
We all have undeniably amazing, talented friends who are makeup enthusiasts and salon stylists, but it’s vitally important (for the sake of your photographs and for your own vanity) to hire stylists with wedding experience. Two words are sacred to those who have worked with brides: waterproof and windproof. Wedding days have unpredictable weather conditions and emotional outpourings are no stranger to a bride and her entourage. No one wants tear streaks through their makeup or hair flying in all directions in their images.

6) Avoid getting too tipsy while getting ready for the wedding OR the night before the wedding. 
Listen, I love a double-mimosa just as much as the next girl, but you want to "feel all the feels" during the first look and ceremony. Getting too tipsy means you'll be a bit numb through it all. And even worse, you might feel hungover and headachey throughout your own wedding day. All of that totally reflects in your wedding photos and the emotions we are trying to capture throughout the day. Wait till after you say "I do" to throw back a few shots of Fireball… and let us document the shenanigans that ensue.

7) Hire a professional event DJ.
Using your iPod playlist or asking a friend who has speakers to play DJ creates all sorts of unnecessary stress for you on your wedding day, but you might not realize how difficult it also makes it for your photographer. In order to photograph things smoothly and get great shots of your guests going crazy on the floor, we need a DJ who… a) knows the flow of weddings, b) is an experienced emcee and c) knows how to motivate people to bust a move. I can tell you first hand: I’ve been pleasantly surprised with a premature grand entrance while setting my gear down in the other room, and I’ve sadly seen weddings clear out right after dinner because the music did not get guests dancing.

Pics + Post by the FABULOUS Kristen Hansen, Owner + Photographer, KMH Photography