Portland, Maine Wedding Photographer :: For photographers – Tips for shooting a wedding day start to finish

tips for shooting a wedding day, photography tips, portland maine wedding photographer

#1. Leave your house super early. You definitely want to get to the venue earlier rather than later. Plus, leaving earlier gives you plenty of time if you get lost, or there is traffic, or you get pulled over or something 🙂

#1a. Pack your bag the night before, and program the important numbers into your phone. Doing this the night before will ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything in the rush of the morning!

#1b.  Bring an emergency kit with you.

#2. When you get there, photograph the details first. This is prime time, in my experience, to do this. The bride and her bridesmaids are still getting ready, and it’s a good time to get photos of the reception area before it gets filled up with people. Don’t spend more than 15 minutes or so photographing these details, though.

#2a. Don’t be afraid to chat with the bridesmaids while they are getting ready – they’ll relate to you better and create that relationship with them!

#3. Pack a snack and water. You will get hungry and thirsty throughout the day and it is really important to stay hydrated and eat snacks when you get a chance.

#4. When you arrive at the venue, this is also a good time to scope out some ideal locations for formals and the bride/groom photos.

#5. During the ceremony, I try not to move around too much. Usually me and my second shooter will move around each other, and we try to be invisible during the ceremony. If you are shooting solo, a good place to be is in the aisle. You don’t want to distract from what is going on!

#5a. Be aware of any movement around you – you can often hear people sniffling, or moving their arms to wipe their eyes, etc. These are great opportunities to quickly grab a shot that is full of emotion.

#6. When it is time for formals, grab a bridesmaid or groomsman to help find the important people.

#7. During the formals, be polite but firm. It can be awkward to try to get things going, but if you just say to the bride and groom “Hey, if you’re ready, I’d love to go ahead and get these formal photos started so you can get to the reception!” Once they start to come over, the rest will follow. Keep an eye on this transition for some fun candids!

#8. When you are the reception – have fun! It’s okay to dance too and still get awesome candid photos 🙂 Don’t be afraid to play around with new techniques and lighting during a reception. This can be a great time to really capture the emotions of the day.

#9. Check in with the DJ to get an idea of what the order of events will be during the reception, so that you don’t miss any of the important parts.

#10. During the garter/bouquet toss, be sure to focus on the guys and gals who are doing the catching. In the words of Trevor Dayley, “that’s where the action is.”

#11. Get photos of the guests, but not while they are eating. No one likes that.

#12. Don’t forget to give the bride and groom a hug and say congratulations when you let them know you’re leaving!

Overall: It is really important to get a timeline from the bride and groom well before the big day. It is also important to go with the flow and maintain your professionalism at all times. Don’t pull out your cell phone, and don’t show that you are stressed or annoyed at any point in the day. You definitely have the power to solve messy situations, and be a big help throughout the day. You are not just a photographer – you are a boutonniere-pinner, flower holder, dress arranger, vendor locator, joke teller, and so much more on a wedding day. And it is so very awesome 🙂 I hope some of these tips helped in some way, shape, or form!


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You can usually find me adding books to my never-ending “to read” list; challenging myself to do things like not shop for a year; sneaking crispy m+ms from my secret hiding spot so I don’t have to share them with my daughter; and melting over seeing my children smiling at each other.

Oh and I guess I should mention - I’m a seasoned Portland wedding photographer who provides not only kick-ass wedding photos, but also a meaningful and laid-back experience from the time you book to the delivery of your final images. 

I share all things personal, business, tips, and life as a mom and business owner here on the blog!

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