Picture Perfect: How to Take Gorgeous Wedding Photos

Beautiful wedding photos make for everlasting memories. Here’s how to capture each and every special moment in glorious light and detail.

  • Savor the Quiet Moments

    Savor the Quiet Moments

    A pensive moment: “This image is so still and quiet that it allows the viewer to experience a variety of emotions,” Messina says.

    “A wedding is full of emotions and beautiful moments, and it’s the perfect place to create meaningful photographs.”

    Tip: Remeber that there’s more than one way to shoot a wedding. What’s your style? Do some research to find work that speaks to you.

  • Be Impulsive

    Be Impulsive

    “Weddings are the heart and soul of a couple’s love story,” she says. On the spur of the moment, Messina drew a heart on the chalkboard wall backdrop. “I am always following little impulses like that. The important thing is to be open.”

     

  • Use Photos within a Photo

    Use Photos within a Photo

    This couple took turns taking portraits with a Polaroid camera, then used the pictures as props. “I thought it would be cute to take a portrait of them holding each other’s images.”

    Tip: Before you book, consider: Do you go for dreamy, candid imagery and natural light, with lots of emotion? Or are formal, posed portraits more important?

  • Dress Up Your Flower Girl

    Dress Up Your Flower Girl

    A flower girl is transformed into a tiny angel. “I often bring a bag of props,” Messina says. Essentials include fabrics, vintage cameras, signs and crowns.

    Tip: Typically, photographers cherry-pick their best shots for their web sites. Ask to see a full range of photos from a wedding to see how the work is carried through from start to finish.

  • Reflect Upon the Moments Before the Ceremony

    Reflect Upon the Moments Before the Ceremony

    The time right before a ceremony is so full of emotion and beauty, Messina says. Taking advantage of this tender moment, she had her bride look toward a window as the sun sets.

    “I don’t think of shooting wedding portraits as a job but rather as an honor that’s been bestowed upon me. Capturing everything from the tilt of a bride’s head as she puts on her shoes to the color of the sky on the day a couple gets married to the bouquet the bride carries down the aisle—these are subtleties of the day that carry meaning for the couple and are important to document.”

  • Change the Focus

    Change the Focus

    A delicate floral crown is the focal point of this ethereal image. Veil by Delphine Manivet.

    Tip: “I like to start shooting at least two hours before the ceremony,” Messina says. That’s if she’s not doing group shots ahead of time, but only images of the bride getting ready and some detail shots. Otherwise, she begins her work three or even fours hours ahead.

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  • Add Fun Props

    Add Fun Props

    This charming metal heart is crafted from a piece of an old wine barrel. “The heart acts as a frame within the frame and accentuates the light on their faces.”

    Tip: Ask your photographer to provide you and your fiancé with a detailed shot list for review prior to the big day. (See a sample at bridalguide.com/shotlist for ideas.)

  • Take Advantage of a Rainy Day

    Take Advantage of a Rainy Day

    Although rain is not ideal for a wedding day, it certainly can add to the beauty of an image, especially when printed in rich sepia tones.

    Tip: Set up in-person meetings with any photographer you’re considering. You’ll be spending hours with her on a whirlwind of a day, so the chemistry has to be spot-on.

  • Get Silly

    Get Silly

    Props can be used to help tell a story or add another dimension. This “kiss” sign from modern-letterpress.com is one of Messina’s favorites.

    Tip: Your photographer should be in on the creation of a wedding-day timeline. Make sure your shoot schedule coordinates with your event schedule.

  • Don

    Don't Forget the Details

    Glittery wedding shoes are paired with a crown and vintage books from Messina’s whimsical collection.

    Tip: Consider behind-the-scenes moments and details like flowers, seating cards, the cake—all can be memorable images.

 

Adapted from The Luminous Portrait. Photos © 2012 by Elizabeth Messina; text © 2012 by Elizabeth Messina and Jacqueline Tobin. Amphoto Books, a division of Random House, Inc.