Wedding photography mistakes

Five things I wish I'd known about wedding photography when I got married

In a ‘time travel is real’ kind of scenario, some people dream of inventing Google, rekindling a romance, or steering the Titanic away from that iceberg (so Jack really doesn’t have to let go). Me? I’d redo my wedding photography.

Picture this: It was way back in *mumbles exact year – hush* and the hubby-to-be and I had a lot on our cake plate. 

(Literally. I was really getting into the cake-tasting part of wedding planning – one of the best bits, right?)

And amid our youthful enthusiasm and excitement, I’ll admit it … We made a few wedding photography mistakes. There are things I’d do differently if I could go back in time. 

Curious what I’d change?

Keep reading, lovebugs! 

Five things you should know before you plan your wedding photography

1. Give yourself time to enjoy your reception 

Our wedding photos were important to us. But they weren’t so important that they warranted missing out on our own wedding. 

‘Cause while our guests were leisurely sipping Pimms and soaking up the sweet sounds of our (really rather expensive) string quartet, we were being herded to and fro for (way too many) group photos and portraits. Which meant we barely got to rest our fake smiles and sip a drink, much less talk to anyone. 

(More on that soon.)

Pro tip: Don’t try to do too much. Build some free time into your day, keep it simple (and make sure your group photo lists are short). 

2. Make a list of your group photos (and check it twice)

If somebody said to you, “I can take this big, confusing item off your wedding to-do list and make your life a whole lot easier”, what would you say? 

You’d give it a big thumbs-up, right? Well, us too. And that’s exactly what we did when our photographer questioned us about our group photos. The convo went something like this. 

Photographer: What group photos would you like?

Us: Uh, err, what?

Photographer: The group photos. 

Us: Ohhh. The group photos. *Still no idea* 

Photographer: …

Us: Uh, can we have, er, photos of the … um … group, please?

Photographer: … Would you like to leave the group photos to me?

Us: ABSOLUTELY. *much relief*

Don’t do this. 

It seems like the easier option. And, sure, it’s way less confusing in the short-term. But wanna know what happens when you do it this way? You end up with loads of variations of the same group, multiple photos of the same groups of people in different places, and the wrong people in the wrong groups because your photographer knows nothing about your uniquely-complicated-and-highly-political-but-simply-wonderful-all-the-same family structure. 

It’s waaaay too much. (And an utter waste of time). 

Instead, sit down, take control and do the thinking now so you can reap the rewards later. ‘Cause the end result will be photos you actually want … and more time to enjoy your day. 

3. Walk down the aisle slowwwlyyy

Okay, so we knew not to sprint down the aisle after the ceremony. 

But what we didn’t realise was that even taking the aisle at a normal walking speed was far too fast for the moment it was. 

Our photographer only had time to get one shot, and it wasn’t a moment where we had dreamy expressions.

My advice now? Slow down, relish the moment, ham it up. Maybe even gift your guests the delight of seeing something unexpected. Hug your grandad, kiss your mother-in-law’s hand, high-five the person who introduced you to each other … and give your poor photographer a chance to get a decent photo.

4. Check if you’re allowed to get photos of your ceremony

I was outside the church, clutching my dad’s arm, with my adorable flower girl and page boy waiting in line behind me while the organist wrapped up playing, well, whatever he was playing, when my photographer hit me with the news.

“Sarah, I’m not allowed to take photos of your ceremony.”

I was disappointed, and I’d much rather have known in advance, but that was just the way it was. I couldn’t change it. 

But *you* can (maybe). 

Ask the person who’ll be marrying your what their house rules are. They’re each allowed to set their own, and you might even be able to negotiate. I’ve known churches to soften in exchange for a donation, or to be more flexible once they know the photographer is a professional they’ve already worked with (rather than a fam friend who has no idea of the concept of personal space).

5. Spend as much as you want

When we were researching wedding photographers, I found – and fell in love with – the work and style of a handful of photographers but scratched them off the list because they were ‘too expensive’. 

And then I didn’t blink an eye at spending the exact same amount on my dress. 

Now, I loved my dress. But I only got to wear it for a day. Not even 12 hours. But photos? They’re forever. 

I like my photos, but I settled, and I still wonder at what could have been. 

And if I could go back, I’d tell myself: It’s ok to ‘pay a lot’ for your photography, be bolder, and choose the photographer whose work you really love. 

Most important of all?

You do you. With hindsight, these are the wedding photography mistakes I’d avoid. But your values might be different. The important thing is to do your research, think it all through, and do what feels right for you.

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