I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got to scream it from the rooftops. I have THE BEST CLIENTS of any wedding photographer ever.
More than once, I’ve been asked by brides and grooms:
- ‘hey, is there anything we can do that would make your job easier?’
- ‘what can we do to help you that will make our day run as smoothly as possible?’
- ‘how can we be gold star clients?!’
It’s super humbling to receive questions like this! It makes me certain that my clients have my back, as much as I have theirs 😉
In this article, I’m going to dive into the 17 ways that you can become the best client that a wedding photographer could ask for!
You’ll make your wedding photographer very happy, and that means the best possible photos from your joyous day. We’re making our art at your wedding and we love it when couples go the extra mile to make sure we have everything we need to do the best possible job we can.
So, what do wedding photographers really want from their clients? In an ideal world, what are the things that wedding photographers can’t tell you but wish they could?
In this article, I lift the lid on what you can do (and what to avoid doing) to make sure that your photographer is free to be their most relaxed, comfortable and creative on your big day – which means the best possible photos for your wedding.
There’s only one chance to get the best possible photos and what it boils down to mostly is communication. We want to make sure that our visions are aligned, and what you’re expecting is what we’re providing. With that in mind, let’s dive into the 17 steps to being the AWESOMEST BRIDE EVER!
Hungry for more wedding planning tips? I have a complete resource of all of my most helpful wedding planning resources at the link below!
Table of Contents
1. Trust the photographer you’ve hired.
Believe them when they say what you have in mind will not fit into the time you’ve allocated. I know it can seem insane when you really look at how long some of the wedding day activities take, but I promise you, we’re not trying to get more money out of you needlessly! We want to make sure your day flows without stress. There are timing issues you cannot possibly know about, that we’ve seen dozens of times. For more on this topic, check the link below about exactly how the timeline is created.
Learn a little about posing and loosening up for your photos at the links below. If you’re prepared to do some homework prior to wedding day, this allows us to do our best work. You can hit the ground running, already having some insight as to what we’re looking for when we approach you on your wedding day.
If you’ve hired a photographer that specializes in a specific style, it’s a good idea to find out more about what that involves and therefore what you can expect day-of.
If it’s fine art style photography, that might involve a myriad of assistants, light meters and extensive posing. If it’s photojournalism (the style we lean into, though we also straddle the editorial style), then that involves capturing all the little in-between moments and not setting up or staging quite as much. Read the article below for more about our house style!:
2. Work with a planner (or at least have a firm idea of the timeline that works for you)
I usually am the one to create my couples’ wedding photography timelines personally. That’s awesome, because I make sure there’s enough time for everything that each couple wants. It’s entirely possible, however, that I’ve misunderstood something. Or that your plans evolve and you take a different route.
Please let your photographer know if what they’ve sketched out isn’t fully aligned with your vision. It’s my pleasure to work on the timeline so it’s perfect for you.
I also recommend working with a wedding planner if you really want the smoothest, most seamless wedding experience. This is absolutely one of my best tips for being a great wedding photography client. What we want for you is a stress-free, fun day so you can be truly present. There is no greater way to achieve this than to pass the boring, stressful, not-fun work to a paid professional that has seen everything and always has a smile! They can preempt so many would-be disasters and leave you feeling happy and free.
And if you’re thinking, ‘but Zoe, we are only having a small wedding!’ – think again! This is exactly the kind of wedding (unstructured, often in unconventional venues, often working with lower budgets), that can benefit from an experienced planner. I’ve written an article about this below.
3. Make sure nothing on the schedule runs back to back
For more info, I’ve a detailed post on this here!
Basically you need to allow transition time between activities. When it’s time to go from ceremony to the reception venue, people do not immediately stop what they’re doing, turn on their heels and walk at their top speed. Some couples have been surprised how long is actually spent kind of hanging around, and being in those little in-between moments.
A little buffer time between activities ensures you (or your photographer or planner) are not harrying guests who are busy enjoying themselves. For more on how to plan your wedding timeline, click the link below:
4. Let the photographer know about sensitive family issues, or topics to avoid
Being part of an intimate event like a wedding means sometimes raw and personal things come out unexpectedly. To reduce any chance of embarrassment for anyone concerned, please tell us if there are issues to be aware of. That could mean recent divorces or folks who don’t get along.
I would never want to ask two people to stand next to each other who…. just shouldn’t. Or to say something innocent that’s inadvertently triggering to somebody present.
5. Inform your photographer in advance if you’re planning any surprises
It would hugely increase the likelihood of amazing photos if your photographer knows what’s going to happen. This means they’ll be in the right place with the right equipment, ready to capture! Examples include: gift exchange, performance, ritual, flash mob, sparkler exit. Let it be a surprise to each other (or to your guests!)
6. Tell me if you are self-conscious about a part of your body or the way you look
In reality the best images are the ones in which you look glowing and happy and like… yourself! Nobody else will notice that your arms look slightly thinner in this picture vs this other one. That said, we can try to minimize the appearance of anything you don’t love about your features. If you’ve a good side – tell me! Because I think all sides are good. There are no redos, and Photoshop is rarely an option, so speak up about any insecurities.
7. Send two copies of the wedding invitation to the photographer in advance
If you want styled photos that include your wedding invitation suite, send two copies in advance to your photographer. It’s one less thing to remember on the day after all! And less chance of them getting crumpled. This one is more of a ‘nice to have’, if you just bring two along on the day that’s totally cool. I ask for two so that I can photograph the back and front in the same photo.
Invitation photos aren’t important to everyone (you may not even be doing paper invites in the age of wedding websites and e-invites), but mentioning it just in case this is something you’d like documented.
8. Provide your photographer with a list of family photos & any special items you’d like photographed
Now, this is of course specifically the family groupings you’d like rather than the other wedding day events. If you are stuck where to even begin with the family groupings, start with my shot list link below! Anything that’s beyond the normal remit of the photographer to capture, we’d love to hear it!
Also if you have a particular detail (like these below) tell us! Whether it’s a special family heirloom, a pair of socks with a story, your grandmother’s handkerchief, these are items you should alert us about so they get the attention they deserve. Ideally, put them on the planning document rather than surprising us on the day when we’ve already allocated the time we have.
9. Avoid overly-prescriptive shot lists or Pinterest boards
Inspiration is great. Truly! It can be much easier to see visually what you’re most inspired by when it comes to wedding photography. Editing styles, poses, moods can be hard to describe! But it’s a fine line between ‘we like this vibe/ these poses’ to ‘we want our finished pictures to look exactly like this styled shoot not-even-a-real-wedding Pinterest board’.
And don’t worry about sharing photos from other photographers, it’s in no way insulting whatsoever! I love being inspired by wedding photography as much as you do.
Take inspiration from Pinterest – absolutely. But also be wary of having those expectations in the back of your mind that your photos are going to look the same as your Pinspiration boards.
Check out this reel for more information about this topic!
10. Appoint a point person who can get the right family members together for photos
A loud bridesmaid, friend or non-immediate family member is ideal to help us find who we need for each photo! For small weddings, this is not so much of a necessity. However, we save so much time at larger weddings when we find people we need quickly. You should not be the one retrieving family members. We need you positioned in one place.
Likewise it shouldn’t be a close family member who is in a bunch of photos. Importantly, make sure you inform your photo helper of their role in advance so they can spring into action.
11. Provide a meal for your photographer too when the guests eat
I only request a meal I’m covering for 5 hours or more. This should be detailed in a contract so it’s not a surprise. Check with your photographer as they may have different meal provision guidelines. One key point is that the photographer should be eating at the same time the couple eats.
I personally have NO issue with whatever food is provided – we’ve been fed an apple and a boxed sandwich meal, which is fine (though we would greatly appreciate a hot meal). It doesn’t have to be what the guests are eating. The timing is what I’m really getting at here.
This is so that once the speeches start, the photographer will be done with their food rather than leaving their plate (which always mysteriously vanishes) and rushing to the action. Sometimes, the plan is to rush out for sunset photos as soon as the couple has had a bite to eat. For this plan to work, the photographer and the couple must eat at the same time!
12. Provide a phone number for a point of contact on the day
A phone number of someone close to you that can track you down if needed is really helpful! Whether it’s locating you, some issue we need to tell you about, anything at all really – you do not want to be the one picking up the phone on wedding day morning!
You and your partner are definitely going to be busy having and hopefully not glued to your phones. I would not want to bug you if there is any way of avoiding it.
13. Be on time – aim to be early
With all the planning we’ve been doing, it’s lovely to see clients arrive right on time to give us a fighting chance of working our way through the schedule in a relaxed way! With this being such an important day, it’s worth allowing way more time than you usually would for traffic, weather, guest issues or any last minute delays of any kind. Definitely aim to be early – the worse that can happen is you get more time with your boo, your guests and even a few extra photos!
14. Tidy up the getting ready space before the photographer arrives
Keep all trash, bags, purses, jackets and any other bits and pieces out of the way. Have someone clear everything out, so it’s not in the background of any of your photos. Otherwise, your photographer will be spending their first 10 minutes clearing up. Some photographers refuse to touch trash and personal effects, and will have them show up in the photos.
15. Don’t sweat the small stuff
This is going to be a controversial one, haha. But hear me out. Please don’t worry about your shoes or hair getting wet if it’s raining. Or twigs or bugs getting stuck on your dress. The dress will get dirty. It’ll be brown and covered in leaves and bugs by the end of the night. Wearing tulle? You’re a walking bug net. And your gorgeous hairstyle will go frizzy (or your curls will fall out).
Don’t let a little rain dampen your wedding day joy! When the day is a distant memory, you may regret the photos that were never taken because you didn’t want to deal with bugs or rain! You only get this chance once – so savor it, no matter how irritating the small stuff seems at the time.
I’ve a full blog post linked below, all about how to TRULY let go on your wedding day! When you practice letting go, you give your photographer the best chance of getting an amazing, varied, and full set of images!
16. Back up your images so we know they’re safe
I actually have a detailed guide about how to safely back up your photos on this on this article:
Make sure you follow the instructions for best practices for storing and backing up (like, way more times than you think you need) your high-resolution photos!
I do keep back-ups but there will come a day when I’m no longer in business. At that point, it will be too late to ping me an email asking me to upload all the photos again. So please, make this an absolute priority on receiving the finished images.
17. Leave a glowing review on the platforms your photographer values the most
After you have digested your photos, I put out the feelers to ask for a lovely review! I have a template form that gives you some pointers what exactly to address in the review. This is all to make it easier and quicker for you (no sitting staring at a blinking cursor wondering how the heck to review a wedding photographer!) and helpful and informative for couples considering my services.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to writing an online review for your wedding photographer!
Be sure to ask your photographer where they’d love a review – it might be The Knot, A Practical Wedding, Yelp, Google, Thumbtack, Facebook… wherever they get their leads. I am truly grateful for your valuable time. A client sitting down and writing a review is a really big deal for me – even more valuable than a monetary tip, as it keeps on giving for years to come!
I hope that was helpful! It shows me how awesome my clients are that you’d take the time to read this. If you’re looking for more wedding planning articles & tips like this one, I have a curated selection of tips and hacks linked below.
And if you’re still looking for a Bay Area wedding photographer and want to consider me, check out more info about my services & pricing here and let’s see if we’re a match!
I just reached a million monthly views, which I’m super pumped about!