By Emily Bartell with Emily Bartell Photography

You’ve posted the pictures online, got accustomed to wearing a ring on your finger, and finally got used to calling your significant other “fiancé.” Now comes the fun part, planning your big day! The wedding of your dreams doesn’t just happen, it takes careful thought and planning. The same goes for your photos! Take some time to review and apply the following tips, and we promise you will be glad you did!

Emily Bartell Photography photos richmond wedding tips photographer signature
Emily Bartell Photography

1. Wedding Day Details
Gather and set aside all of the details you want pictures of in one central location. This will help your photographer to get through those detail shots quickly without disturbing the getting ready process. This also ensures that you have everything you need in one location, so you’re not stressed trying to find something last minute.

Here’s a checklist of typical wedding day details:

THE DRESS – Photographers will want a shot of the bridal gown, as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses. Try to have the dresses out of the bags and already hung on any special hangers you may have.

YOUR ACCESSORIES – Shoes, all rings (including his), jewelry, veil, bouquet, perfume, and family heirlooms.

HIS ACCESSORIES – Shoes, cuff links, tie, belt, watch, cologne, and boutonnière.

Emily Bartell Photography photos richmond wedding tips photographer signature
Emily Bartell Photography

THE INVITATION SUITE – The invitation suite is an important part of the wedding day! Don’t forget to include the entire invitation suite, including the envelope showing off any calligraphy or special seals used.

ANY LOOSE FLORALS –- Consider asking your florist to set aside some loose florals and greenery from your bouquet to elevate the look of your detail photos.

“If we had to choose one most highly anticipated moment of our wedding day, it would probably be our First Look. Something about seeing him in his tux moments before we were to be married really just made me stop and appreciate how much the day meant for both of us. It was such a nice moment with just the two of us before the rest of the day unfolded.” – Addie N.

2. Choosing Your Bridal Suite
When choosing your getting ready location, look for a room with windows and lots of natural light. It will make a world of difference in your photos! If your venue has a dark bridal suite or has lots of distracting colors, consider getting ready at a hotel offsite. If that’s simply not an option, make sure your photographer is aware. This information will help them to plan ahead. The photographer may need to use additional lighting and/or use an alternate location to stage your key getting ready shots.

3. The First Look
More and more couples today are opting for a First Look. During this time the bride and groom enjoy a private moment to see one another before the ceremony. A wedding day flies by so quickly and a First Look gives you some time alone together to help soak it all in.

4. Reception Details
Make sure to allow time in the photography schedule to shoot the reception décor untouched before guests arrive and start laying down coats and purses. You will be investing a lot of thought and money into your wedding decor, so make sure it is documented beautifully and free of clutter.

If the ceremony and reception are in the same vicinity, the photographer should need about 20-30 minutes to photograph the reception décor at some point before the ceremony.

If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, consider having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible, so that your photographer can take photos of the space before the night begins.

Emily Bartell Photography

5. The First Kiss
The First Kiss is a huge moment! Remember to stand in the center of the aisle so
that the photos look balanced and well composed. Consider asking your priest or officiant to step aside right before the kiss, so they are not in the photos. Of course, this is personal preference, but it will look much cleaner with just the two of you in the frame. And try to remember to hold the First Kiss for 5 – 10 counts. Enjoy the moment, it only happens once! This ensures your photographer has time to nail the shot from multiple angles.

6. Family Portraits
Your photographer will probably send you a list of traditional family photo groupings from which to choose. Make sure to let your photographer know if there are any non-traditional groupings you would like to include as well. Do you have an aunt who was more like a mother figure or a sibling you don’t see very often? You might want to have a photo of just the two of you together. Remember, this can also be taken during the reception in the interest of saving time between the ceremony and reception.

Bonus tip: Unless the photographer is a close friend, they won’t know who your family members are by looking at them. All they have is a list of names and groupings. Consider putting a family member in charge of helping to make sure everyone is where they need to be when the time comes for them to be photographed.

7. Sunset Portraits

Sneak away with your new spouse for some gorgeous sunset photos before/during the reception. Around 7:00 pm is ideal during the late spring, summer and early fall. At this time the light will be beautiful and golden, and you’ll be so glad you took the time to include them!

Emily Bartell is a Virginia based Wedding and Portrait Photographer passionate about telling your story through beautiful images that will stand the test of time. She focuses on getting to know you before you step in front of the camera, capturing your true personality. To learn more about her services visit her website