From a Photographer to a Bride

After most weddings, we always say, “If she only knew.” Then, we realized that we should be the one to tell you. These aren’t rules; simply a list of ideas that we believe will make this moment in time less stressful and will garner breathtaking images that will last a lifetime.



  1. Figure out what is important to you. And, stand by your guns. This is your day; not your parents, your friends and not the wedding coordinator’s day. 

  2. First look. Consider seeing each other before the ceremony. Weddings are fast-paced events, and honestly, you won’t remember much of what happens until you get your images. The first look allows you both time to slow down and enjoy one another. We never coordinate this; we never prompt this. We allow the moment to unfold naturally. And afterward, you’ll be surprised how the nerves fade away. This is one of the most important decisions that you will make that will ensure you day will run smoothly.

  3. Personalize your wedding. Let your uniqueness shine. Be authentic to who you are as a couple. We have seen adorable cozies, and we’ve also seen personalized M & M’s. Shine!

  4. Think about the little things. Bring a wooden or stylized hanger for your dress. Clean up the getting ready room or just put everything in another room to avoid unnecessary mess in the photos. Hold your bouquet at your belly-button (with both hands). An outside window in your ready room is the ideal light. Walk slowly. Savor each moment of the day.

  5. Hire a day-of coordinator. Hire someone that is not involved in the wedding (i.e. bridesmaid, aunt, or parent) to help move the day along and stay on the timeline.

  6. Have an unplugged ceremony (or as much as possible). Let your guests be in the moment. We often fight with cell phones or video cameras at arm’s length in the aisle. Cell phones and other devices date your images in the years to come, but more than that, they ruin photos. We do our best to avoid them but it isn’t always possible. Whatever you don’t want to see in your professional images, ask the officiant to have the guests put them away. We understand that they want to capture the moment, but we are curating your first heirloom. You don’t want Uncle Bob’s cell phone taking over a spectacular shot.

  7. Eat and drink during the day.  It's important to stay hydrated.

  8. Hair and make-up trial run.  The engagement session is the perfect time for a trial run. When planning your hair and make-up on the wedding day, it always takes longer than you think. Build in time, at least an extra hour so that you can finish early and enjoy time with friends. Everyone goes before you. You’re the grand finale.

  9. Emergency kit. You’d be surprised at the magic created by a piece of tape or bungee.

  10. Timeline. We reach out to you months in advance as you begin working on your timeline. Get as much done as quickly as possible. We know the time you will need for the images you feel are important. Listen to us and understand that we want you to be happy with the final product.

  11. Family portraits are hard. No matter how extensive and accurate the list, corralling a big group of people is difficult on a wedding day. Just be ready, for at that moment, you might not be the happiest of campers. We’ll take care of it, along with the coordinator or Aunt Sue. That’s why it’s important to have a coordinator or a family contact who will know faces. The photos will be worth it in the end. Make sure everyone knows when they should be there and the location. Don’t assume they know. Contact all family members to make sure everyone is included; don’t let the wedding day be the moment they complain that someone isn’t there. Suggestion: If you're not going to have all your group shots before the wedding (to us, it's the best time), group photos are best after the wedding ceremony. We start with everyone and whittle down, leaving only the bride and groom remaining. Then, that’s our private time with you if you haven't had a first look.

  12. Don’t forget your portraits. Build in time for your intimate portraits, a minimum of 20 minutes. Ask that no one else accompany us or be around during this session. This is your time. And in the end when you only give us 5 minutes because time is tight, please understand you’ll get one location and one shot. We can’t manufacture time!

  13. You have that many friends! Excellent. Make sure they know where and when they need to be for group shots. And remind them to use their listening skills.

  14. How much time? Time is the greatest thing you can give your photographer. You don’t think about your photography on your wedding day; you will afterwards. So to make sure you have what you have asked for, give us the time. Here’s what we suggest;

                                                Details: 60 minutes

                                                Bride/Groom prep: 60 minutes

                                                Bridal Party Photos: 30 minutes

                                                Bride + Groom Portraits: 30 minutes

                                                Family Group Photos: 30 minutes

                                                Reception Décor Photos: 20 minutes

                                                Ceremony Décor Photos: 20 minutes

       If you have a large party (4+ bridemaids/groomsmen) or large or extended families, add 20 minutes to the    

       suggested time.

15.  Be comfortable in your dress. And, we promise, your dress will get dirty by the end of the day. And again, we  

       promise, you won’t care. Have a pair of flat shoes to wear during your reception especially if you’re wearing heels

       for the ceremony. Be willing to go to unthought-of locations for unique photos and wear those flats during     

       portraits, too.

16,  Look for the light. If your venue is an extension of you as a couple, look for the light. Look for shaded areas.

       These are the locations we will be seeking when taking your portraits and even group shots. Avoid mid-day start

        times; evenings are most comfortable for you and your guests. The best lighting, always one hour before sunset.

17,   If the bridesmaids wear robes, iron them. In fact, iron everything that will be photographed.

18.   Guys, we can see your cell phones in your pockets. Leave them behind.

19.   Surprises planned? We need to know ahead of time. Gifts? Notes? We need to know it all.

20.   Shooting details. It’s the first thing we do when we arrive at the venue. We need at least an hour. Have

         everything ready: invitation suite, dress, shoes, sentimental items, jewelry, perfume, etc. We’ll take it and run!

21.   Ignore the camera on the day of your wedding. We are storytellers. We’re telling the story of your day. If you

        look on our website and social media sites, our clients are rarely looking at the camera. We want you to enjoy

        each other and be in the moment. Our formal posing is infrequent, and besides, we’re looking for those in-

        between moments that take your breath away.

22.   Consider a faux exit. As odd as this might sound, it works fabulously and everyone enjoys it. Have an exit

        (sparklers, bubbles, streamers, etc.) about two-to-three hours (or less) into the reception, allowing older guests

        and others that might wish to leave the chance to experience every moment. Then, those that remain, can tear

        up the dance floor and stay as late as the venue allows. Guests do leave early whether you think they will or not;

        we see it every wedding.

23.   Most importantly, we’re here for the entire journey. With gratitude, L + J

©2020 Seeing Southern LLC. All images and text appearing on this website are the exclusive property of Judy and Len Garrison dba Seeing Southern LLC unless otherwise stated. Two Coots Travel, Judy Garrison Writer, Seeing Southern Photography are part of Seeing Southern LLC. All images and text are protected under the US and international copyright laws. Images and text may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Seeing Southern LLC.