Hire for Style
It's easy to obsess over wedding photography price points and packages, but do yourselves a favor and start your research process by nailing down a wedding photography style first. There are countless types to choose from -- from the more traditional, clean, straight-on shots to creative angles and inventive backdrops (think: garage door with chipped paint) and knowing the aesthetic you're after from the beginning will undoubtedly help you find a photographer you love for all the right reasons. Can't find a photographer you like in your budget? Call one you love and ask them to recommend a less-experienced shooter (maybe one of their assistants) with a similar style.
Streamline the Family Photos
Don't waste time trying to get every last combo of grandparents, siblings, and cousins. Invariably your little nephews will run off, his grandmother will get tired of waiting, and everyone will end up frustrated. Instead, put together a short(!) list of the must-have family shots you want (like the two of you with your immediate families) and then take one big family photo with everyone in it. Do it this way and you not only buy yourselves more time at the reception, you also free up your photographer to capture the more candid shots from the day.
Don't Sweat the Little Things
While it's totally fine to show your photographer the types of shots you like, it's even more important that you're flexible the day-of. So if it rains and you can't get that sunny shot of you in a field, grab big umbrellas and a pair of bright yellow rain boots and trust your photographer to find the right shot. Same goes for your schedule: If you're stuck in traffic between the ceremony and reception and don't have time to hit up all your favorite city sites with your bridal party, pick a few favorites and move on. Trust your photographer to keep you on-schedule, to frame the shots, and to know what will look best -- remember, that's why you hired them!
Choose Your Hues
Most likely, your photographer will be shooting with digital film, but if you love the look of black-and-white photos, it's a good idea to let them know that ahead of time. In other words, don't just assume that because the photos look great in color, they'll translate to black-and-white in the same way. Let your photographer know your color preference, and that way they can be sure the lighting and camera settings ensure a sharp, classic product.
Get Engagement Photos Taken
We know engagement photos are an extra cost, but scheduling an engagement photo shoot is well worth the money. Why? Besides the fact that you'll get gorgeous engagement photos to share with friends and family, you and your fiance will feel so much more comfortable having a camera pointed at you on your wedding day if you've already been through it. That confidence will show through in your wedding photos, so it's essential that you feel comfortable with your photographer.
Cover Your Bases
Don't get carried away, but providing your photographer with a top-five list of poses or moments you want is a good way to guarantee you get the photos you're hoping for. Bring in examples that you find online, or point out samples that they've already taken at other weddings. A couple must-haves we love? The just-after-the-recessional shot (when you're alone and married for the first time!); Mom and Dad at the ceremony (looking proud); and a large overall shot of your reception (to capture the feeling of the evening) are all good ideas. That said, it's still important to trust your photographer to know what will look right for you.
Add a Photo Booth
It's going to be virtually impossible to get a photo with every guest -- or even to guarantee that your photographer will -- so renting a photo booth is the perfect solution. Guests can let their personality shine, especially if you set up a visually interesting backdrop and provide quirky props (funny hats, fake mustaches, mini chalkboards for writing funny messages). The result is guaranteed to make a great addition to your guest book or wedding album.
Schedule a Day-After Shoot
Okay, not as essential as, say, engagement photos, but a great idea if you're worried about seeing enough of your guests. Instead of taking time the morning-of or during cocktail hour, schedule a session for the next day -- or even a week after -- to snap some couple shots. Yep, you read that right: Get back in the wedding dress (when you're bound to be calmer) and shoot the fun stuff so that you're not bogged down by it on the day-of. Do it this way and you'll also give your photographer time to shoot the candid moments of the day.
See More: Wedding Photo + Wedding Video