Ford Family Photography; Shutterstock
Sometimes it’s the imperfections that make a wedding memorably perfect. But there are imperfections, and then there are major gaffes that can throw your day—and the creation of those hard-copy memories—off-kilter. Here, from the image experts who have seen it all, are the top 10 mistakes that couples make with photography and videography.
1. Disregarding the weather possibilities
This is at the top of the list, experts agree. You can count on Mother Nature to some degree, but she can still create chaos even with our wonderfully temperate Mediterranean climate. (Remember the June thunderstorm we had this past year?) The remedy is simple: “If you’re having an outdoor wedding in February or March, you have to have a rain plan,” says Beth Baugher of True Love Photo. “If your wedding is in August, outdoors at 4 p.m., you need a heat plan. What if it’s 106 degrees that day?”
2. Not accounting for lighting
Factor in photography when you set both the date and the time of the ceremony. A winter wedding means it’ll be dark by 6 p.m.; a noon ceremony outdoors will be in full sun. Natural lighting can be your friend or your enemy, and your photographer can help you plan the best timeline. “The bride could be squinting into the bright sun and the groom standing in dark shadow,” says Christopher Kight of Christopher Kight Photographers. “When that happens, it’s almost impossible to photograph well.”
3. Hiring over the phone
Sometimes it can’t be helped. But try to make appointments in person—and show up with your significant other, says Christina Reffitt of ’Stina Reffitt Photography. “As soon as I meet a couple,” she explains, “I start envisioning photography, and painting a picture of the wedding day in my head.” That “first date” will help you and the photographer more quickly assess personal chemistry and come to a hiring decision.
4. Forgetting Aunt Myrna
Baugher has a suggested mantra: “Right place at right time.” It’s a way to make sure that everyone—your family and the photographer alike—gets the memo about when and where photography sessions will take place. “I recall countless times when the parents of the bride and groom were not aware of when and where they were supposed to be for photographs,” she says.
It’s helpful for the photographer, too. Because they are complete strangers to her, she likely will have no idea if an important family member is missing.
5. Not creating a detailed itinerary
Itineraries keep your professionals on their game and on your schedule. “It’s also helpful to be introduced to the event planner or the DJ—whoever will make the announcements—so we can do a walkthrough,” Reffitt adds. That way, the camera will be at the ready for a big moment such as cake cutting or the first dance. Include a dress code if possible. “Do you want us to dress formally? Is it Hawaiian-themed? Do you want us to blend in?” Reffitt asks.
6. Saving cents on the wrong stuff
Bear in mind: Images are forever. Baugher advises that you insist on seeing the galleries of full weddings when meeting with potential photographers. Any camera can take a few good pictures, but a full wedding will show you how the photographer works throughout the day. Also, ask how they process their images. Some photographers spend hours if not days meticulously processing images, whereas some may give you the images straight from the camera and do no processing, except for the ones you choose for your album. If you’re on a budget, a general rule of thumb is to choose what’s important to you—photography, food, flowers, music—and hire the best professionals you can afford accordingly.
7. Not checking their itinerary
This is your day—make it their priority. “Hire a photographer who can work within the schedule of the day,” Kight says, “not someone who has the attitude that the bride and groom are there solely for a six- to seven-hour photo shoot.” If you hire someone who tends to double-book their day, you’re competing with another couple. Reffitt knows of a couple (not her clients) who were surprised to find that the photographer they’d hired would only be at the ceremony—but not at the reception.
8. Not allowing enough prep time
“The biggest thing that gets in the way of a smooth day is not scheduling the beginning of the day well early,” Kight says. “About 70 percent of the time, the bride doesn’t plan enough time for all the girls to get their hair and makeup done. I’d rather see the bride and her girls dressed and ready and early than running late and making the bride stressed.”
9. Focusing on the lens
Don’t worry about posing, Reffitt says, or being aware of where the camera is at all times. “The photographs will come naturally, and that’s what will make great pictures.”
10. Not having extra hands
Anything can put a sudden crimp in your day, from a sudden downpour or a heat wave to your makeup artist getting into a car accident on the way. While you shouldn’t worry yourself silly over every last thing that could go wrong, you should have a backup plan in place for the larger obstacles. A helper—whether an event planner or a cousin acting as your runner for the day—can ease your mind by taking care of details while you focus on the big picture of your day.
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