How to get the most beautiful wedding or elopement photos

Booking a talented wedding or elopement photographer to photograph your big day is just the first step. But how to make sure that your wedding photos will be stunning? And will definitely stand the test of time? You want your wedding or elopement photos to be timeless, right?

There are certain things to keep in mind if you want to make your wedding photographer’s job easier and your photos even more beautiful and memorable.

So let’s explore the way that you and your loved one could help your photographer create the most epic images!

Sunset golden hour wedding photos in Glencoe

Make the most out of your wedding or elopement photos

1. Declutter the getting-ready space.

The room where you’ll be getting ready for the wedding ceremony is crucial as it will the background of your portraits. Which is why it’s important for it not to be too cluttered. As much as wedding photographers don’t mind moving a couple of things here and there, it might not be possible for them to start moving all suitcases out of the background etc.

If the kitchen and living room space are connected, it’s also important to avoid dirty dishes piling up in photos! Or be left on the table where you’re having your hair and make-up done. Even the best bridal portrait can be ruined by a half-eaten bacon sandwich lying on the plate next to the make-up kit.

It might be a good idea to ask someone staying in your room or hanging around to try keeping the place neat.

Indoor bridal portrait by the window using natural light

Indoor bridal portrait by the window using natural light

2. Don’t ignore ambient light at the wedding venue.

This one is an important one for whoever’s considering an indoor elopement or wedding ceremony.

When choosing the venue or a supplier who’ll be responsible for decorating the venue, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. Choose colours like orange or yellow to make the space look warm and welcoming.

Candles can never get old either! Neither can fairy lights. They will help create a cosy and romantic atmosphere and will allow your photographer to capture the wonderful warmth of the day.

DJ lights on the dancefloor

What light to avoid? Good question. Have you ever seen wedding venue soaked in fluorescent, purple of blue light? It’s every wedding photographer’s biggest nightmare. And even if you book the most talented photographer to capture your day, they won’t be able to edit this type of light out.

DJ lighting is another thing that will affect your photos greatly. So, DJ laser beams and colorful disco lighting is one of the most challenging for any wedding photographer. As they are often multi-coloured and will affect the colour of everyone’s skin and clothing which again, cannot be edited out. Colorful DJ lights definitely guarantee great party mood, but are a negative thing from a photography perspective. But if you love the colorful lights and don’t mind people’s pink and green faces in the photos that’s ok – just get your DJ not to use these until after the first dance, so this moment can be captured beautifully.

And if no DJ lights, then what should we use instead? Warm, soft, orange mood light at the venue is a big YES. Also a lot of such sources of light will make it less likely that your photographer will need to use the flashlight which could potentially ruin the subtle, soft ambient lighting.

So something to keep in mind – following this advice will guarantee epic wedding party and evening reception photos!

3. Consider an unplugged ceremony.

Nothing spoils the fun than looking at precious life moments through your phone screen. Which is why the so called ‘unplugged’ weddings have recently become more and more popular.

Some newlyweds might also expect guests not to post photos on social media on the wedding day.

Additionally, it’s also a good idea to ask your guests in advance to refrain from bringing professional cameras with them. Guests with cameras are often focused on taking photographs of important, crucial wedding moments and can often interfere in the professional photographer’s work and get in their way.

I’ve heard a crazy number of stories about a guests wanting to take a photo of a big moment (such as walking down the aisle, confetti exit or cake cutting) and completely ruining it for both the married couple and the professional wedding photographer. What is more, your wedding photographer may not be able to cover crucial moments if prevented from the coverage of certain shots by wedding guests (such as someone walking in their way and obstructing the view).

If you’re not that keen on the idea of completely banning your guests from using their phones, then at least consider asking them not to take photos in the ceremony. You wedding photographer will definitely appreciate it – they will be able to capture the expressions on everyone’s faces without them being covered by their phones!

How to announce an unplugged wedding to your guests?

As mentioned before, you can ask your officiant to mention that prior to the ceremony. Option 2 – include this information on the wedding invites.

Lastly, you can use a sign ‘Welcome to our unplugged wedding! Please turn off your phones :) ’

4. Group shots / formals.

Having people lined up for group portraits can be tricky.

Personally, as a wedding photographer whose style is focused on capturing candid and natural moments, I always discourage couples from preparing long lists of group shots. What are the reasons for that? First of all, group shots are incredibly time consuming and steal the time dedicated to more fun parts of your big day. Second of all, most people tend to be stiff when posing for group portraits and emotions are not visible in most of them. Also, long process of having 50 group shots taken will  keep your guests from being able to start enjoying the day and celebrating with a glass of prosecco in their hand! Finally, if wedding guests have managed to disperse it might be difficult to gather them round.

So, let’s focus on how to make group shots easy and enjoyable!

Examples of group shots on a wedding day

First of all, my advice would be to limit the number of group shots to maximum 10. An example would be:

  1. The couple + one set of parents
  2. The couple + second set of parents
  3. The couple + all parents
  4. The couple + immediate families
  5. The bride + bridesmaids
  6. The groom + groomsmen
  7. The bride + maid of honour
  8. The groom + best man
  9. The wedding party = the couple, bridesmaids and groomsmen
  10. The couple + siblings

Another recommendation is to choose one dedicated person who will have an idea who is who and will help the wedding photographer gather people round for each group shot.

Additionally, it’s a great idea to share the final list of group photos with both the photographer and the person with the assistant role.

5. Reserve at least half an hour for an after-ceremony wedding photoshoot for just the two of you.

Your wedding photographer will know exactly when to plan for the couple photoshoot, depending on the weather. If you are lucky enough to get an epic sunset at the end of the day – then trust your photographer and let them take you for some photographs outside.

Unfortunately some couples don’t want to stay away from their guests for too long. And don’t assign enough priority to their couple photoshoot on the wedding day. Don’t make this mistake! It’s going to be such a fantastic memory for the two of you. Additionally, it will be these photos you want printed and hung on the walls!

6. Get the speeches right.

My advise is to never schedule speeches between courses or after dinner.

First of all, the majority of wedding guests doing speeches say that they can never enjoy the meal due to stage fright before having to publicly speak!

Secondly, sorry to be blunt – but it’s torture for photographers. We cannot sit down for a meal until speeches are done.

Another piece of advice is to keep speeches to a maximum of 3 and discuss how long will the speeches be with the people asked to give them. The longest speech I have witnessed at a wedding was 1.5 hours and since it was an October wedding. So everything ran past schedule because of it, we missed the golden hour with the newlyweds. Unfortunately it was too late to take nice photographs outside as it was already dark!

7. No photos at dinner.

As much as all wedding photographers would agree that we don’t photograph guests chewing their food during a meal, we always love to take photos of the table decor prior to dinner being served.

Make sure that the catering team serves your wedding photographer first, so they are ready by the time the speeches begin.

If the photographer is served last – as unfortunately some catering companies refuse to serve the photographer first, despite the newlyweds wishes – they might miss some of the speeches. It’s worth remembering that everyone needs a break, especially a hard-working photographer who keeps carrying kilograms of equipment, sometimes for 10 hours straight!

Lastly, it’s definitely a good practice to check with your wedding photographer whether they have any dietary requirements prior to confirming their meal with the caterers.

8. Add magic to your wedding day with sparkler exit, confetti shots or champagne tower

A perfect confetti exit at your wedding

Confetti or sparkler exit and champagne tower are elements that could make your wedding look even more special in photos!

Secondly, the best time for a perfect confetti shot is soon after the ceremony, before the wedding guests have managed to disperse. It’s also a good idea to ask the officiant to announce that the confetti exit will be organised by the wedding photographer shortly after the ceremony finished so that they don’t run away for drinks too quickly! Additionally, your wedding photographer will instruct the guests on how to throw the confetti the right way. It does sound simple, but it’s important that everyone throws it in the air instead of right in your faces!

Lastly, make sure that you’re allowed to have confetti shots at your weddings. Unfortunately some wedding venues do not allow it at all, and some have restrictions or requirements places on the locations or type of those.

A magical wedding sparkler exit

A sparkler exit is a perfect ending element of a wedding. I believe that the best time to organise it is definitely very soon after the sunset time, when it starts to get dark.

The crucial elements of planning a sparkler exit is getting the right sparklers. The best ones will be 18’’ – 20’’ wedding sparklers which remain lit for enough time for the photographer to take epic shots of guests and you with them. Also, they need to be smokeless.

What is more, it’s better not to use matches to light them up. The best way to do it is to have someone prepare a couple of candles so that guests can light their sparklers simultaneously and be prepared for the photo at the same time. No one should light their sparklers until instructed and until your photographer has managed to organise everyone in the right position!

Also, safety. There is always a bit of a risk of something going wrong. Or someone dropping their lit up sparkler on bride’s gown! So make sure to weigh pros and cons of doing a sparkler exit at your wedding.

Party like Gatsby – champagne tower

What is a champagne tower?

It’s a tower of champagne glasses prepared for guests to grab a drink of fizz immediately after a professional bartender pours it, usually right after the ceremony. I absolutely love them. Even at small weddings they can look very cool!

If you’re considering a champagne tower at your wedding, you need to make sure to discuss the idea with your wedding venue first.

The champagne tower looks super cool, the only disadvantage of it though is that it can get sticky!

Help your photographer create the most epic photographs

A perfect wedding day is definitely an investment. Which is why the elements described in this article are worth considering so you are truly happy with your wedding photos 5 or 10 years down the road. Also, remember that every wedding photographer will be happy to provide you with bespoke advice on your wedding planning.

Finally, it’s not about the money – it’s about making sure you have looked at your day also from the photography perspective. You don’t have to spend thousands of pounds to have incredible gallery of photos from your day. But you need to look at certain elements from photographer’s perspective. And you should discuss certain ideas with them!

Remember that sometimes small changes and a bit of flexibility on the day could help your photographer be more creative!

For more elopement and wedding guides visit this guide page.

Now let’s chat about your wedding plans – so drop me a message here!


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Elopement Photographer in Scotland

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