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Top 20 Wedding Photography Mistakes

We asked photographers from all across the country to weigh in -- here's what NOT to do!

Photo: Adrienne Page Photography, St. Paul, MN

1. Not Finalizing the Wedding Day Schedule

"Talk to your photographer before finalizing the schedule for your wedding day. There is a lot to consider in terms of photographing and natural light. Certain times of day are more photogenic than others (midday sun casts harsh, unflattering shadows on the face while late day sun casts a beautifying warm glow on everyone)."

--Hillary Harvey, Hillary Harvey Photography

2. Not Sticking to the Finalized Schedule

"Pay attention and respect the schedule you and your photographer discuss prior to your wedding. Being an hour late can make or break your images. Don't just assume it only takes 10 minutes!"

--Alison Clinton, Horizon Photo

3. Letting Relatives Get in the Way

"We have a name in the industry for a guest who shows up with pro photo equipment and takes 'unofficial wedding photos' -- we call him Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob may think he's doing you a favor by taking more shots for the couple, but usually he just gets in the way and makes us miss our shots. Tell Bob to leave the camera at home and just enjoy his time at the wedding without working."

-- Sandra O'Claire, Eau Claire Photographics

4. Not Explaining How You Like to Look in Photos

"Beauty is really very subjective. I ask my clients to send a photo of themselves before the wedding that they like and one that they don't."

-- Dorie Hagler, Dorie Hagler Photography

5. Focusing Too Much on Taking Photos

"A good photojournalist can capture the story of their day and capture some artistic portraits while keeping the time away from loved ones to a minimum."

--Alex Fagundo, Candidly Elegant Photography

6. Not Getting a Second Shooter

"Sometimes brides want to save a little money or feel that it is too obtrusive for more than one photographer to be present on the wedding day. But consider this: The second photographer offers another unique point of view throughout the entire day that you would not have had photographed."

--Chris Leary, Chris Leary Weddings

7. Not Getting Help Organizing Your Guests

"Designate someone that you trust and who knows your family and friends to be in charge of organizing people for portraits. That person can gather the people needed, direct them on what shots they will be in, and then release them when they are done. It keeps things moving quickly, smoothly, and enjoyably."

--Erica Natali, Natali Photography

8. Trying to Make Things "Perfect"

"Just have fun -- whether it's getting a little cake on your face or some little detail that didn't turn out 100 percent like you had hoped, go with it, have fun, and keep smiling. The photos will be so different if the bride is scowling at her new hubby, don't you think?"

--Jennyfer Huff, Florida Weddings Photography

9. Skipping the "First Look"

"A 'first look' [aka taking your couple photos before the ceremony] is so much better than trying to rush bride and groom portraits after the ceremony -- especially if your ceremony ran a little late (which most do). You end up trying to hurry up and get to the party."

--Ashley Nardello, Cleopatra Photography

10. Trying to Pose

"A good photographer gives direction for a reason: to get the best moments and shots from the day. The best thing to do is relax and act naturally. Be in the moment. Be hopelessly in love with each other -- the pictures will turn out smashingly!"

--Brook S. Hollis, Lucent Photography

11. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Photographer

"If you find a great photographer, book them! Good photographers book a year or more out and won't be available forever. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing a wedding photographer and then finding out that they booked out your date a week prior."

--Jeff Livengood, Digital Dreammakers

12. Looking at the Camera All the Time

"Some couples want candid photographs, but they always feel like they need to look up at the camera and stop what they are doing. It could be an instinct, but remember -- unless the photographer asks you, try to act natural for the best journalistic shots."

--Dina Konovalov, A Dream Picture

13. Not Providing a List of "Don't Takes"

"Let the photographer know before the wedding if there are certain photos you don't like. It can be anything such as 'I don't like the photos you took of us not smiling' or 'I don't like wide-angle close-ups; they make us look weird and fat.' It totally throws off a photographer's creative approach when a bride spills her feelings while you are in the zone."

--Tony & Natasha, Artistique Photography Productions

14. Asking for Too Many Shots

"If clients have done their homework and have chosen an experienced and reputable wedding photographer, then chances are that photographer does not need to be provided with a two-page spreadsheet of every combination for family portraits."

--Millie B., The Studio Weddings

15. Not Choosing a Photographer You Connect With

"Make sure that we get along. I work with clients for sometimes two years or more. If we don't get along, it's going to be a very long and very bumpy ride."

--Gillian Reinhardt, Carolina Studios

16. Skipping the Engagement Session

"Engagement sessions increase the confidence and comfort level of the bride and groom in front of the camera and allow the bride and groom to practice having their photo taken in a fun, no-stakes atmosphere. Ultimately, an engagement session will let the bride and groom see why the photographer might tell them to do something funny, and this leads to wedding day comfort and trust in the photographer."

--Heather Cook Elliott, Heather Cook Elliott Photography

17. Not Hiring a Professional Photographer

"Choose someone who is a professional and not just anyone with a digital camera and a website. Make sure the photographer you choose has an education as a photographer, has apprenticed or interned with other photographers and paid their dues, and has the experience and ability to consistently capture the moments of your wedding no matter what situations may arise. You should expect to spend between $2,000 and $6,000 for any decent wedding photography."

--Chris & Dawndy, Bendet Photography

18. Falling for Photography Trends

"Too many times, brides fall for something trendy in photography. It is critical that these images stand the test of time and are valued for each following generation. Trends are fun but rarely last! Look for a photographer with a classic shooting style, and be wary of too much Photoshop and digital 'tricks' and manipulations."

--Brie Castell, Castell Photography

19. Forgetting the Details

"Think about spending a few minutes to decide what other elements are important to photograph -- did your sister make special wedding favors? Are you carrying important heirlooms with you? Bring an extra invitation, and try to keep those special elements easily accessible for photos."

-- Nick Coleman, Dave Cross Photography

20. Not smiling -- All the Time

"Tell all of the individuals walking down the aisle to look up and smile. If they are too nervous to smile, they should at least keep their head up and stare down the aisle. This helps keep the face from forming the 'evil double chin' look that happens when you stare at the floor while walking!"

--Christin Berry, Blue Martini Photography

-- Justine Lorelle Blanchard