They say one picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand pictures is worth only one . . . ENOUGH! Don't get me wrong, photography by a professional photographer is a must for your wedding. And, any professional will know when it is time to allow the couple to enjoy their day without having to pose for the camera. I am talking about the amateur photographers who stand in the way of the professional to get their version of the perfect picture, or those loving aunts who constantly ask you to "say cheese", or simply everyone in the room with a cell phone snapping at you for a post to "Snapchat and Instagram". It is okay to say, "ENOUGH".

Here are a few tips for capturing the best pictures of your wedding while still having time to make the memories captured for the album.

  • Engagement Photos - Taking engagement photos should be strongly considered, if not a must, when choosing a photographer. This is your opportunity to not only capture pictures for your engagement celebration and save-the-dates, but to assess the expertise of the photographer you have selected. If the engagement photos are not up to par don't stay the course, find another photographer for the wedding. There are no do-overs in golf or weddings!
  • Photo Lists - Prepare one comprehensive list of all the photos that reflect your vision, as well as, capturing the VIP guests. Then separate the full list into categories and label them, ensuring the photographer knows which categories are on the A and B lists for time allowed to photography:
    1. Couple Only - Discuss your couple's photos in great depth with your photographer and your event planner/venue. These professionals will know where and at what time to capture the photos of you and your spouse that will make a memory to last a lifetime. Make notes on how/when you would like them taken. Should they all be done in advance (I am not a fan of the posed first look, but that is your choice) or do you want to capture an intimate photo of the two of you throughout the entire day (this is a memory that lasts longer than the first look).
    2. Formals - Include the Bridal Party and Parents. Grandparents would fit into this first group too, as they may need to leave early (or just want to party!).
    3. Traditions - Take note of all the special traditions you have included in your day - ceremony hand-blessing, choreographed first dance, toasts, welcome speech, dinner blessing, parents dances, cutting of the cake, your thank you message to your guests, garter and bouquet tosses, dollar dance, shoe game, slideshow, and the list goes on and on. In my professional opinion having seen many, many weddings, pick a few of the numerous wedding traditions that best suit you as a couple and get to the dancing quickly! The dance floor is where the best memories are made.
    4. Guest Photos - No one wants a camera shoved in their face, so remember to tell your photographer whether you want posed photos of guests or spontaneous shots of all the interactions and reactions to a day filled with excitement and good times.
    5. Group Photo - Yes, the formals will include several small group photos, but be sure to express your thoughts on that larger group photo of you surrounded by all your guest. I suggest it for two reasons - one, it is a permanent record of who came for thank you purposes, and who was a no-show to a wedding - and two, it will be revisited every anniversary, family gathering, or sadly, funeral to remember all the good times with all the good people that fill your lives with love and laughter everyday.
    6. Last Photo - Yes, there will be a last photo of a day that took between 9-months and 2-years to plan and save for. Make this a photo to reflect your joy and make a statement about how you started your married lives together. This may be a photo of the last dance, but more importantly should be the first moment you realize your dream did come true . . . 
  • Be respectful of Mother Nature - The season and time of day you choose weigh greatly on the photography. With respect to the lighting (let your photographer take care of this) and in consideration of your wedding vision. Remember if you selected the Fall for the colorful foliage and you choose to get married at 5:00 PM in late October, chances are the color you will see most is the black of night. Plan earlier to capture the flaming foliage and end the reception in daylight - then on to the late-night after-party.
  • Don't let your wedding photography go to the lowest bidder - Budgeting is important, but make sure you have a little wiggle room just in case the cheapest photographer is not the best photographer to capture your personalities. Every planner has lists of recommended professionals who have provided their clients with outstanding service and photographs that capture the essence of their wedding. I suggest you take those recommendations and think long and hard before considering an outside vendor - after all, your planner is your advocate and has seen many a day gone wrong because of an outside vendor. Take his/her advice and a guarantee that the vendors recommended will go above and beyond your expectations.
  • Remember the big 4 in selecting a Professional Photographer - fondly referred to as the AARP of photography (it's not what you are thinking).
    1. Availability - The first question to ask any professional you are considering for your wedding is if they have your date available - you do want to love them and then have to leave them because they are already booked.
    2. Attitude - Yes, there are those professionals who think they're better than others, or that it would be your privilege to have them shoot your wedding. And, some may be right. But, in my experience attitude is everything, so choose a photographer that fits your personality and is willing to capture your vision of the day not theirs.
    3. Reviews and Recommendations - Don't just let the photography speak for the photographer. Read the reviews by other couples. It is not just about the photography, its how you both interact with the photographer on the best day of your lives and about the photographer's ability to know when enough is enough. Don't hesitate to ask for references from other professionals, especially your event planner. We can tell you stories that will make your hair stand on end - not a good thing to see on your wedding day and we have seen it.
    4. Price - Sticking to a budget is important, so share the dollars allotted with the photographers you are vetting. They may consider your budget even if it is not at their standard rates based on their availability on your wedding date and their vibe about you as a couple. It is much easier to photograph a couple when your personalities are in sync.  

The photography shown in this article was taken by Photographer Bill Cardoni - one of the Stroudsmoor Recommended Photographers and a photographer I have had the great privilege to work with for many years. I can personally guarantee that Bill will go above and beyond to capture your vision and ensure your wedding photos will arouse a wonderful memory in your heart each and every time you revisit them.  if you would like to learn more about Cardoni Photography visit www.cardoniwhite.com

Thank you Megan and Michael for sharing your wedding day with us - it was an honor and a privilege to play a small role in the planning of your wedding celebration. Visit Megan and Michael's Real Wedding Story at www.stroudsmoor.com

The Wedding Warrior