How to get awesome wedding photos

how to get the best wedding photosPlanning a wedding is a daunting task. Even if you’ve been looking forward to it your whole life. The guest list, the decor, the dress, the bridesmaids gifts, the details. Oh, the details. Whether you’re just starting the planning process or your wedding is just a few months away here’s how to get awesome wedding photos.

1. Choose the Right Photographer for you.

Choosing the right photographer for you means more than checking out a photographer’s online portfolio. Aside from liking a particular photographer’s style or finding someone who can take a good photo, there are a few other things to consider. After all, this is the first step in how to get awesome wedding photos.

Your wedding photographer will most likely spend more time with you than you’ll spend with your fiance on your wedding day.  Therefore, it is best if you and your fiance meet a few prospective photographers in person before you make your decision. Your photographer is there when you put your dress on and they are the first one by your side after your recessional. Therefore, getting along with your wedding photographer is a must.

On top of just having good rapport, if you get along with your wedding photographer on a personal level you won’t mind spending 8+ hours with them on your wedding day. Working with someone whom you genuinely get along with means that you’ll look relaxed and happy in your wedding photos and sometimes that’s half the battle. If your photographer can make you laugh and feel at ease, you’ll have some beautiful photos with genuinely happy smiles and expressions.

2. Working with Light

Unfortunately, beautiful light doesn’t always happen when you want it to. A outdoor ceremony at noon on a cloudless day is not the best idea. Why? The lighting is horrendous. You’ll be squinting and getting sunburnt all while saying your vows. Yuck.

Good light can mean the difference between ‘nice’ wedding photos and drop dead gorgeous wedding photos. Working with a skilled photographer means they’ll find beautiful light in any situation, regardless of the weather or time of day.

Trusting your photographer, being a little flexible and planning ahead will go a long way. It might mean you have to sneak away from your reception for 15 minutes, but we promise it will be so worth your while.

Twilight bridal portraits in the Canadian Rockies

Golden Hour

Being aware of Golden hour is another big one on the list of how to get awesome wedding photos. The best light of the day begins to happen at “golden hour”, or about 60-90 minutes before the sun sets or just after it comes up.  That’s when you get that soft orange-y glow that looks beautiful on everyone and in any situation and if you are lucky enough to have some portraits taken at this time of day, it’s like winning the photography lottery.  If you see your photographers rushing towards you with the giddy look of a kid in a candy store, you know its golden hour and well worth it to let them bring you out for some end of the day photos.

golden hour bridal portraits, southern albertaportraits-with-beautiful-light 3. Plan something fun

You are the most authentically beautiful when you are genuinely happy.  So, why not plan something fun to do with your wedding party on your wedding day? Your wedding photos don’t have to be about posing in a park somewhere for three hours in the blazing sun.  In fact, that really doesn’t sound like that much fun to us.  It’s better if you plan something fun for you and your wedding party to do together and then go from there.

Have a pint at a local pub, crack a bottle of champagne outside the limo or stop for ice cream and milkshakes.  If you work with your photographer to plan enough time to get those must-have wedding photos and then plan something awesome for everyone to do together, we promise the photos will be that much better for it

A calgary bride and groom have a pint at the NationalA Calgary bride and groom have a champagne toast at their ceremony

4. Ceremony Location

Doing a little planning for outdoor ceremony locations can go a long way. If you are planning a ceremony in an open space at high noon in July, you may end up squinting through your entire wedding ceremony. Everyone loves a bright, sunny day for a wedding …. well, except your photographer and possibly your groom and groomsmen who will be expected to stand out in the heat in a full suit. Here are some tips for selecting the perfect outdoor ceremony space.

Visit your ceremony space at the time of day you are planning to have your ceremony. Make note of where the sun is in the sky and make sure you won’t be staring into the sun during the ceremony. If possible, try to select a spot with open shade, which usually means in the shadow of some trees or an area with some sort of overhead coverage. Open shade with some sunlight filtering through can make beautiful, soft light, which is easy on your eyes and perfect for your photographs.

An outdoor ceremony space in open shade makes beauiful lightIf you are choosing to have your ceremony indoors, be mindful of the availability of light. Most venues have some natural light that photographers can work with. If there are no windows your photographer will need to use flash. This should never be a big deal, especially if you’ve hired a pro. Using off camera flash should be second nature, but it’s something they need to know.

Having a conversation with your photographer before your wedding day about your ceremony space can help.  Additionally, your photographer will appreciate allowing for some extra time before the ceremony to get their off camera flash gear set-up and tested before the ceremony begins.Indoor ceremony at Calgary's Hotel Arts5. Keep it simple.

There’s no need to spend your wedding day driving around to multiple locations for photos. A glass of champagne in the limo en route to your selected photo location is a great way to kick-start your wedding day celebrations. But, there’s no need to spend most of your time driving around to different locations. A professional wedding photographer will work with you to select locations that make sense. From there, they’ll scout the best place to take you and your wedding party that won’t eat up a lot of time on your wedding day.

Keeping this part of the day simple can ensure you get the maximum amount of value out of your wedding portraits without having to stress about time. After all, your wedding photos should reflect you and the connection you have with each other and your wedding party. It shouldn’t be about how many locations you can hit up before being late for your reception.

Beautiful wedding portraits– this couple was married at a summer camp outside of Edmonton. With beautiful wooded areas and great light, there was no need to go anywhere else for their wedding portraits

6. Wedding day timeline and schedule

The only thing we don’t have enough of on a wedding day seems to be time. Everything seems to take more time than you had originally planned and things tend to run behind schedule. Here are a few things to think about in order to try to maximize time on your wedding day for awesome photos.

– Allow an extra 30-45 minutes for hair and makeup. Just in case.

– Budget at least 20 minutes for bridal portraits before you leave for your ceremony or first look.

– Talk to your photographer about how much time they may need for wedding party and bridal portraits. Then, allow time for travel if needed.

– Make a list of must-have family formal photos. Try to keep it to immediate family and grandparents only. Your family formals should take no more than 20 minutes. By that time you’ll be getting tired of smiling.

– Try to budget some time after your first dance for your photographer to stay and grab some epic dance floor photos. Seriously, sometimes those photos can be the best of the entire reception.

7. Make-up

You’ll want to look like the best version of yourself on your wedding day and hiring a pro make-up artist will ensure that happens. A good hair and makeup artist will insist that you schedule a trial with them before your wedding day, giving you the chance to test out your wedding makeup ideas before your have to walk down the aisle.

An experienced make-up artist will know what looks best on camera and will accentuate your features accordingly. They’ll suggest a colour pallet that matches your skin tone and use the highest quality products that should last the entirety of your wedding day.

wedding day makeup that looks beautiful on camera– natural looking wedding day makeup that looks fantastic on camera.  Make-up by Nicole Richey, makeup artist.

8. Plan to get into your wedding dress early

The moments immediately after a bride puts on her wedding dress are some of the most precious of the whole day.  I like to leave about 15-20 minutes to capture some bridal portraits while the bride’s hair and make-up are fresh.  There’s nothing like the look on a bride’s face when she sees herself in her wedding dress and it finally sinks in that this is her wedding day.

A calgary bride gets ready before her wedding– a Calgary bride puts the final touches on her wedding outfit before she leaves for her ceremony.

9. Make sure your photographers eat dinner at the same time you do.

This is not a scheme to jump the line at the buffet, we promise.  Ensuring your photography team eats dinner on the same schedule you do, means they are back in action when you are.  The average wedding has approx. 100 guests, which means that you’ll be finished your dinner before some people are served.  This is a great time for you to get up and mingle with your guests. If your photography team has had the chance to eat it means they are photographing those moments.

It is also a great idea to have your photographers sit in the reception room with you.  If your photographers are in the room with you, they can jump up at a moments notice. Like in the photos below, for example.

A kid eats a cupcake at a wedding reception– the beauty of having your photographers on the same schedule as you at the reception is that it frees them up to capture moments like these.

Once your photographers have eaten, they usually hit their second wind. Which means they have energy for epic dance floor photos like these.

Epic wedding reception dance floor photos

10. For the love of the Wedding Gods – break in your shoes (and bring a pair of flats).

Here’s the thing. You’re planning on wearing your wedding shoes all day long. Or at least until you’ve finished your first dance.  That’s the plan, right? By my calculations, you’ve got at least 8 hours in those heels ladies. You better make sure you can make it down the aisle and back.  Wear your shoes around the house or office as much as possible before your wedding day.  Break them in a little.

Awesome wedding day shoes


Have a bridesmaid bring a pair of awesome flats. Save your feet and expensive wedding shoes from all the walking. If you’re wearing a long dress, chances are you won’t even see the shoes you’re wearing anyways. Your flats don’t have to be boring. Bring a fun pair of shoes for walking in, like this amazing pair of converse that came in the bride’s chosen wedding colours.

If you can walk in your wedding shoes, you can go off the beaten path a little, and get some amazing wedding photos.

You may have to walk a little bit to get awesome wedding photosBride and groom pose in front of a mountain landscape

For more of our two cents head on over to this blog post about reasons to plan a spring wedding in Alberta.


About Photographik:

Erin and Andrew of Photographik are full-time wedding photographers in Calgary, AB.  Andrew was named Canada’s Top 30 under 30 wedding photographers in 2014 by The Canada Photo Convention. Photographik strives to create natural, candid and genuine wedding photos for their clients.  To find out how to get awesome wedding photos with Photographik for your wedding, Contact Us for more info.

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