Wedding Planning? here are some top tips to help you get the best photographs of your special day

This month my husband and I are celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary.  Our wedding day was one of the most wonderful and memorable days of our lives.  It was a lovely relaxed day with family and friends.  We were 21 and didn’t have a lot to spend and I was so lucky that my very talented sister was there to capture our day – on film! Can you believe digital photography was only just becoming an option in 2003!

Our wedding party in 2003 - shot on black and white film -remember when that was a thing?

Our wedding party in 2003 – shot on black and white film -remember when that was a thing?

These days reports suggest Australian’s are spending any where from $10 000 to $65 000 on their big day with the average in 2012 being $36 000 – a far cry from our $5000 wedding in 2003 (and that included our week long honeymoon), all the more reason for couples to make sure that the lasting mementoes couples have of their weddings are truly beautiful.

Since that beautiful wintery day 12 years ago I have been fortunate to attend many weddings as a guest and as a photographer and I have a few tips I’d love to share with you so that you can look back at your photos in the decades to come and remember such a special day.


In the planning of your wedding there are a couple of decisions you can make that will ensure you have some amazing photos.

  1. Timing – any good photographer will be able to capture your wedding at any time of day, however the fact is the light around sunset is the ‘best’ light – it makes everyone glow and gives the photos that special something. Look up the time of sunset on your chosen wedding day and discuss timing with your venue and photographer.  You will want to have between 1-2 hours from the end of your ceremony to the start of your reception depending on if you can use your ceremony location for photos or if you have to travel.
  • Do you want to have photos taken right on sunset?
  • Is your ceremony taking place inside? Undercover? If outside – will it be out of direct sunlight? Even at 3-4pm in the afternoon the Western sun can cause quite harsh shadows to fall which can affect your photos.
  1. Where are you and your partner getting ready? Many photographers will charge travel fees if the two wedding parties are getting ready more than 30 minutes away – or you might want to hire a photographer with two shooters so one can be with you while the other is with your partner.
  2. Transport – Is transport important to you and your partner? If so, when booking your transport factor in some time to ensure you get photos with your mode of transport – either before the ceremony or afterwards
  3. Details – it is the little touches and special details that make for a truly touching and memorable wedding.


There are two main things I tell all of my wedding clients and their attendants;

  1. Smile – all the time. Pretend like you are on a reality tv show and keep that smiling face on all the time.  Why is this important?  Your photographer will be photographing every moment of this day – that’s what you are paying them for and nothing ruins an image like a bridesmaid with a grumpy face in the background during the reception or the bride scowling at her husband during the speeches.
  2. Touch – touch is so important in photos. It shows relationship and tells a story.  When you are with your partner – hold their hand, touch their shoulder – kiss often – you’re married! When you see a family member, hug, kiss, reach out and touch their hand – whatever you are comfortable with.

Getting ready?

Whether you are getting ready at home, at someone else’s place or a hotel there are a couple of things that will help you get some stunning ‘getting ready’ shots.

  1. Choose a room that is light and airy. Your photographer and make-up artist will thank you
  2. Try and limit background clutter including televisions
  3. Make sure you tell your photographer if you have any special jewellery and point out what your old, borrowed, blue and new things are if you want them photographed.
  4. Leave putting on your jewellery, dress and shoes so your photographer can capture every moment.
  5. Make sure your attendants are dressed completely before you, so the photos of them helping you get ready look polished.
  6. Are you hoping to get some of those lovely images of your rings, shoes and flowers? Then make sure the rings are with the bride and her attendants while they are getting ready


This is the part where people get nervous.  Take some deep breaths and s..l..o..w.. down! This is the moment you have planned for months or even years for.  Enjoy it.

  1. If you are having young children in your wedding party consider having them go out between the attendants and the bride rather than first – or have them hold hands with the attendants
  2. Remind your attendants to smile and look up when walking down the aisle and to s..l..o..w.. down!
  3. Same goes for you! Walk slowly, take time to look at the people around you, at your partner, at whomever is walking you down the aisle.
  4. When you reach your partner, stand close to each other, touch each other – hold hands
  5. If children are going to be part of the ceremony then you need to be prepared for them to be kids and embrace the simple joy they bring to your ceremony

Post – ceremony shots

There are two part to the post ceremony session.  The formal group/family shots and the creative post-ceremony session.  The formal  group shots will normally always be taken at the ceremony location.  We all love Pintrest and it can give you some great inspiration for your post ceremony session.  In most circumstances where you have your ceremony and reception will decide where you can have your post ceremony session so consider this in your planning

  1. Devise a list of formal group shots you would like. Be specific. Although it seems monotonous now, planning this list now will stop you missing anyone else and getting bogged down having photos with everyone separately.
  2. Discuss with your wedding venue if you are able to have the post ceremony session on location (if it is suitable). If not – ask them where some popular locations are nearby
  3. Talk to your photographer – they may have some suggestions for you.
  4. Consider if you want your whole bridal party with you or just you and your partner.
  5. These are often the WOW images that you will treasure for years to come.  Be aware that the location you have your photos taken will really dictate what the final image is.  Look through magazines, photography blogs and Pinterest and see what images you really love.  Beach, field?  Is it that silhouetted image right on sunset? Is it an image with a fantastic view or background behind?  Is it an urban photo with a landmark that you both love?


  1. Think about the possibility of having a mock first dance and cake cutting. It will give your photographer the best opportunity to capture some lovely shots for you without all of your guests watching on.  They may also want to stay on to capture the real first dance with the guests and the parents.
  2. Are you being announced into the reception? If so remember – slowly 🙂  Give your photographer time to capture you and your partner entering together for the first time since being married. – and tell your attendants to do the same!
  3. Speeches – have the person making the speeches come out to the bridal table so that the photographer can capture both the speech maker and your expressions at the same time.
  4. On that note – now is not the time to discuss with your partner that your feet hurt or that great aunt Joan made some inappropriate comment – your expression during the speeches can make or break an image.
  5. Night shots – talk to your photographer about taking some night shots, especially if you are paying them to stay until you leave the reception. If you are too tired or busy meeting with guests – perhaps your bridal party can have some fun with sparklers and create a memorable light painting for you.

Most of all remember; although there is all this pressure to have a perfect day – in ten years time you won’t remember that your veil got dirty or that one bridesmaid broke her shoe and had to wear runners under her dress.  What you will remember is marrying your partner, enjoying your first day together as a married couple and being with friends and family.  Enjoy…..

*Sacred Moments Photography Australia supports marriage equality*