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Have I mentioned lately how much I adore Amber Vongsamphanh?!  🙂  This talented lady always has great ideas and fun tips to share and I’m so excited to feature her here!  Is wedding photography stressing you out?  Read on for Amber’s tips to make your photography dreams come true!  Take it away Amber….

So you’ve been stalking Style Me Pretty and all the “it” wedding blogs since the day he put the ring on your finger?  Here are some suggestions for helping make your wedding photos all you want them to be and more!
(1) You may have noticed that many of the photos on SMP and the like are taken in natural light.  Keep this in mind when choosing your venue.  As a matter of fact, you may want to tour your venue around the time of year and time of day you are wanting to have your ceremony, if possible, just to get a good feel for how the light will be on your special day.  The brighter the venue, the better, since most photographers do not use flash for the ceremony, either by choice or by venue rules.  This is also a big factor when choosing the time of year you get married – if you love natural light get married in the summer when the sun stays up until late in the day.  Alternately, if a winter wedding is a must and you still want that beautiful natural light, you need to have a daytime wedding. 

(2) Have your make-up professionally done.  Yes, I’m sure you do a lovely job on your own make-up, but do you really want that added chore on your wedding day?  I know.  I’m a control freak, so I really do know how hard it can be to let go of something as important as your face on the day of your wedding, but it is worth every penny.  Find someone who is reputable (I can make suggestions!), do a trial run, and let go!  You will be so happy you did!  Not to mention there is something I just love about photos of the bride while someone else is applying her makeup.   

(3) Think about where you will be getting ready.  If it is at the venue ask to see the room when you are touring.  What should you be looking for?  Big beautiful windows!  I can’t tell you how many times we have photographed a wedding and the bride is getting ready in what could equate to a bomb shelter while the groom and his groomsmen get ready in a room with lovely, large windows.  It should be the opposite – ask to switch, you won’t regret it.

(4)  Stick to your timeline.  If you are a person who is always late (don’t deny it – most of us are either early people or late people.  Own it.), tell the person preparing your timeline about this so that they can pad it with extra time to allow for your lateness.  Sticking to your timeline will do great things for your photos, such as allowing more time for creativity.   Additionally, if you are running on time you will look more relaxed and happy in the photos vs. hurried and stressed.
(5)  Smile!  I realize that sounds like a no-brainer, but weddings can be stressful and the last thing you want to see is a stressed scowl across your face in your candid photos.  If you are a person who tends to get stressed out (or even if you are not), please consider hiring a planner, or at the very least, a day-of coordinator.  Bonus!  A good planner/DoC (again, I can make suggestions!) will also help ensure your day runs on time, a la tip #4.  Do not let stress turn you into a grumpy bear in your wedding photos!  

(6)  Don’t stress the dress.  It’s the only day you will ever wear it (unless of course you book an after session, which I highly recommend), so have a little fun!  Consider sitting, yes sitting, even on the ground!  There’s not much more romantic than a bride and groom all cuddled up together post-ceremony.

(7) Allocate plenty of time for photos.  This kinda ties in with the timeline bit above.  I am a photographer who does not care if you see each other before the ceremony or not.  That statement is pretty much blasphemy in some photography circles, but it’s the way I feel about it.  However, you do need to understand that if you choose not to see each other beforehand your guests will need to wait longer between the ceremony and reception while you have your photos taken.  It’s a trade-off and you just have to decide what is most important to you – the first look when coming down the aisle or not having your guests waiting at the reception for 1 to 1.5 hours while photos take place.  Just please don’t opt out of photos before the ceremony and then expect all photos to magically be finished up in 30 minutes after the ceremony.  Not. Gonna. Happen. 

(8)  It’s all in the details!  You know those wedding blogs love their details.  And if you, in turn, love detail photos, make sure to HAVE details at your wedding for your photographer to capture.  Invest in custom paper goods (again if you need a graphic designer, I have suggestions).  Think outside the box in terms of activity stations at your wedding, consider doing something a little different than the standard candy bar.  Engage your planner in this – they will likely have some great ideas to help you out!       

(9)  What does the ceiling look like?  Ok, really, this is just me being overly picky.  My shooting style is that I like to bounce flash off the ceiling at the reception.  So if your reception site has a tall, black ceiling that’s gonna make things a little bit trickier.  It can be done, I just don’t prefer it.  Give your photog a break and book a reception site with a white ceiling or use a white tent.    

(10)  Dance, too much booty in the pants, dance, dance dance!!  WHEW!  Sorry for the old school rap reference there, but I couldn’t resist 🙂  This, of course, only applies if you are having a dancing reception; and if you are, you need to get your booty out there and dance!  Everyone looks to the bride to set the tone of the reception, and if you are out there having fun, then they will be too.  I just love a good candid dance shot of everyone out on the floor having the time of their lives.  L-O-V-E, love it.

Amber, Thanks so much!  Brides searching for a wedding photographer: contact Amber S.T.A.T!  Tell her we sent you! 😉