5 Things to Tell Your Wedding Photographer Before the Big Day

Wedding photographers are often expected to read their clients’ minds on the big day. Even if they could pull off that kind of psychic connection, it would probably just be a window into mental chaos — like a hodge-podge of transcendent bliss, unexpected catering kerfuffles, ambitious first dance choreography and anxiety about bridesmaid drama. Somehow, there isn’t room in the midst of all of that for a note about documenting the reunion of the groom’s high school chess club over at Table 8 (the one with the giant rook centerpiece!). It’s hard to clearly communicate when you are multitasking, but the bride and groom should really be on the same page with their wedding photographer! Otherwise, the pages of that wedding album are going to be reminders of missed opportunities.

That’s because taking pictures at a wedding isn’t just a matter of being on the spot or having a lens that can zoom in on bridal sets like they were going to be used in a catalog (though that doesn’t hurt). It’s about knowing what the bride and groom’s priorities are, and who needs to be rounded up for group shots without disrupting the flow of the event. It can be as much about timing as it is about staging. Since you aren’t going to have the time or the bandwidth to communicate all of that on the day itself, here are five things to tell your wedding photographer before the big day.

1. Make Sure to Communicate Priorities

This needs to be both general (make sure to get lots of action shots of dancing) and specific (“If I only have one photo from the wedding, it needs to be of the exchange of vows”). This also includes indicating what isn’t essential: if that picture with all the groomsmen’s zany socks doesn’t include the fella who is running late, it’s not the end of the world! Oh, and if you have any creative ideas of your own, don’t be afraid to pass them along!

2. Keep the Timeline in Mind

If time is of an essence, make sure that a wedding party photoshoot doesn’t back into dinner. If dancing is important, make sure you aren’t having the DJ dismiss Cupid Shufflers to go wait against the wall while innumerable pictures are taken. And if the schedule changes and the bouquet toss gets nixed at the last minute, make sure that someone alerts the poor photographer who climbed up into a tree to get an aerial view of the floral fling.

3. Highlight the Key Players

When you get your wedding photos back, you notice that there are tons of pictures of an admittedly photogenic stranger. It was a last second plus one that your cousin brought after meeting him at the airport the day before. Obviously a charismatic dude, but you kind of wish there were more pictures of your grandma in the mix. The photographer needs to know who to focus on, but also who else at the wedding to consult as an advocate for what the bride and groom want. And, also, who can be counted on to round up the troops.

4. Take Notes From Their Previous Work

If you picked the wedding photographer because you liked the attention to detail, tell them that. Look through the portfolio of their previous work with them: “See these shots of unique oval engagement rings that you have as online samples? Yup, that’s the kind of thing that I want.”

5. Listen to Them as Well

There’s a lot you need to tell your photographer before the big day, but there’s a lot you can learn from them, too. Even if it feels like you’ve been to innumerable weddings, you probably don’t have their experience when it comes to unflattering style choices, awkward group photos and schedules that go off the rails. So if they have opinions about where to line up the exit tunnel of sparklers or how many bridesmaids and groomsmen can fit comfortably in a limo, it’s worth a listen.

When you’re relaxing on the beach on your honeymoon, you might decide to casually corral the next person walking by to take your picture. Or you might wait another 20 minutes. Or another day, since you’re planning on coming back to this exact spot tomorrow and on spending the rest of your life with the person lounging next to you. At your wedding, you are hyper aware of the fact that this might be the only opportunity to capture this group of people together. So make sure the photographer is prepped to make the most of it.