Every couple wants gorgeous photos of their wedding day. Beautiful images are the result of multiple things – the skill of your photographer, the depth of emotion on the wedding day, and pretty details, to name a few. But there are some things your photographer never gets the chance to tell you. Here are my personal top seven tips for brides-to-be:

1. TALK WITH US BEFORE SETTING YOUR CEREMONY TIME.
There’s nothing worse than sitting down with a bride several weeks before her wedding, and finding out that the ceremony is going to be at 6pm, sunset is at 6:02pm, they don’t want to do a first look, but they want pictures outdoors in a park (no matter how great of a photographer you have, they can’t make the sun come back up once it has set). I eat and breathe sunset times (seriously, give me a date and I bet I can guess sunset within 15 minutes). Call your photographer before you schedule your ceremony start time. Let us help guide you so you have the time to get the photos that are most important to you.

2. WEAR A VEIL.
I’ve never met a photographer who didn’t secretly want the bride to wear a long cathedral veil. It catches the sunlight and glows, it gives awkward hands something to hold onto and play with in photos, and it gives your mother a really special job while she’s helping you into your gown. The longer the better. You can even have discreet loops sewn into the edges for your arms, which holds your veil perfectly over your shoulders, even in the wind.

3. START HAIR AND MAKEUP AN HOUR EARLY.
Of everything on this list, THIS is the one I feel most passionate about. If this runs late, then everything else will run late as a result. Having your hair and makeup done professionally is essential – but pretty please, have your stylists start an hour earlier than necessary. There are a TON of reasons why styling appointments run late - a late bridesmaid, or a teary mom who has to have her eyes re-done three times, or an opinionated sister who changes her hairstyle after it’s done. When hair and makeup runs later than planned, everything else falls like dominoes. Your first look is late, then your portraits are late… and you know what ultimately gets sacrificed? PHOTOS OF YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND. Another option – ask your photographer for stylist recommendations! We only refer to people who are consistently finished on time, letting the rest of day stay on schedule.

4. LAUGH.
Guys. I got married too, and had a big fancy wedding. And you know what? Things went wrong. I decided I didn’t like my hair and had it redone (even though I had loved it in the trial). My husband gave me his grandmother’s pearl earrings, and I freaked out because they didn’t match the necklace I had planned to wear for a year (that was dumb – just wear the earrings!). A parade went right by our church and blocked several guests in a parking lot, forcing them to jump an iron fence to avoid being trapped (kind of hilarious in retrospect). But you know what? None of this matters at all. THINGS HAPPEN – and then the world goes on. Your photographer is going to be in the room (with a camera) to capture your reaction. Laugh it off! Not only will it make you feel better, and make everyone around you more comfortable, but a laughing bride is always a pretty bride. I don’t know why – it’s like the flaws we see in ourselves disappear when we laugh.

5. CHOOSE A GOWN THAT MAKES YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.
Please be honest with yourself and make smart choices here. If you are super self-conscious about your arms, then wear a gown with sleeves (or better yet, an amazing lace bolero). Worried about back fat? Don’t choose a strapless dress. Hate that you are the same height as your groom? Wear flats. When I have to take into account a lot of personal insecurities, it severely limits my options to make amazing photos – and there have been plenty of times when the opportunity for a shot is abandoned because I know it will accentuate something that makes the bride feel self-conscious.

6. STRING UP LOTS OF LIGHTS!
Market lights, twinkle lights, white lights, colored lights – ANY lights make me jump for joy. On a practical level, lots of lights make my job significantly easier because they provide light for me to focus my camera. In terms of guest experience, people love the romance of dancing and dining in a room glowing with twinkle lights. Artistically, your reception photos will be even more gorgeous when the background is a wall of lights, instead of darkness.

7. CLEAN YOUR ROOM.
It doesn’t matter how gorgeous of a hotel suite you are getting ready in – if it’s strewn with dress bags, plastic cups, and purses, it’s going to look junky. We recommend to our clients that they have one clean space and one clutter space. That way, your bridesmaids can all toss their stuff into a back room, while you keep the master suite clean and ready for photos.

About Me: Aislinn Kate owns a photography studio with offices in both Pensacola and Mobile. She loves red lipstick, golden retrievers, and irony. Also, taking pictures.