Your wedding photography:
It shouldn’t be a snap decision

How to get the wedding photos of your dreams

By Amy Newman

  • Cameo Productions
  • Dolce Vita Photo Boutique
  • Sugar Six Photography
  • Cameo Productions
  • Erica Rose Photography

Chances are, your wedding day will be one of the best days of your life. But once it’s over, your photographs may be all you have left to bring back those special moments and memories. That’s why planning to get the right images is so important. Unfortunately, it’s not until after the wedding that many couples truly realize this. So how do you get the wedding photos that you'll cherish (not regret!) for years to come? Here’s what the local wedding photography pros want you to know.


Some former brides have a few

Here’s what several Alaska brides regretted about the photography on their wedding day.* Their true confessions – and hard-won wisdom – may help you avoid making some bridal blunders of your own.

*Based on a 2013 survey of 40 Alaska brides.

I regret...

“not hiring a professional photographer.”

“not having a picture with my mother while I was getting ready.”

“not having a photo taken of the whole wedding party.”

“not getting more photos of my husband and me due to the time limit.”

“not taking that ‘first look’ photo with my husband. I wish I had that private moment with him.”

“not taking more fun photos.”

“not getting any pictures of just me in my wedding gown.”

“not taking more time with the photographer.”

“not getting a picture with my maid of honor, just the two of us.”

“not getting photos of all the special details of my wedding, such as the decorations that I handmade.”

“not utilizing the whole facility we rented for wedding photos. We had an outdoor wedding at a beautiful historical mine in Girdwood, and there were so many buildings and trails I wish we would've used for photographs.”

“not planning out our wedding photos. I didn't get any photos with the family.”

“not giving the photographer a list of shots that I wanted. I didn't get a whole group shot of all my guests like I wanted.”

Choose the right photographer

Getting the right wedding photos starts with choosing the right photographer. But besides the ability to take beautiful shots, what else should a couple look for?

Experience. Weddings are expensive. But when it comes to your photographs, resist the temptation to hire a photographer with little or no wedding experience simply for the sake of saving money.

“A wedding day is its own animal,” explains Kim Walker of Cameo Productions. Emotions are high, the weather can wreak havoc on outdoor shoots, and even the best laid plans often go awry. A studio photographer who is used to being in control of everything may not be able to roll with the punches, she says.

An experienced wedding photographer also can predict what is going to happen before it happens, which results in more authentic photographs.

“You can’t react in wedding photography, you have to anticipate it,” Kim explains. “That’s when you get some fabulous shots.” That means knowing that the bride will cry as she walks down the aisle with her dad – and being at the end of the aisle before the procession starts to catch it.

Personality. The wedding photographer is there to tell the story of your wedding. So make sure you choose someone who puts you at ease.

“If you can’t relax with them it makes it really hard for the photographer to get genuine photos,” says Erica Rose of Erica Rose Photography.

She suggests interviewing several photographers to determine whether your personalities click. Even better is to see the photographer in action before the wedding.

“Work with them on an engagement shoot to make sure you’re comfortable with them,” says Mark Porter, who owns Chelle Shots Photography along with his wife Michelle. If it’s not a good fit, there is still plenty of time to choose a different photographer.

Style. Whether you want classic or modern images, a traditional or journalistic approach, choose a photographer whose images and style resonate with you, says Michelle. You’ll be unhappy with even the most stunning images if you and the photographer have different ideas of what your wedding photos should look like.

Allow enough time for photos

When the wedding is over, many couples regret not taking enough photos, or missing out on certain shots.

“I wish we had more portraits,” former bride Jenna says. “The time limit (at our venue) prevented us from going anywhere to do more couple shots.” Another former bride, Katy, was saddened when she realized she missed getting a photo with her 96-year-old grandmother. “It breaks my heart still to think about it,” she says. “When we were taking photos it was so chaotic that I didn’t realize that my grandmother had left.”

Creating a timeline can help.

“Try to plan as much ahead as you possibly can, and leave room for the photography,” says Sonja Stafford of Dolce Vita Photo Boutique. “If you don’t leave that time, certain shots might be missed.”

This timeline is especially important if the wedding and reception are at two different locations, or if you are doing a location photo shoot, says Kim. If the photographer, the couple and the bridal party are rushing, it will show in the photos.

“If you allow yourself the time, you’ll always get better images,” says Kim.

Make it about you

Every couple wants their photos to stand out. But rather than trying to replicate something you found somewhere else, let the photographs tell your story.

“There’s only one you and your husband,” says Erica. “So doing something that’s meaningful to a couple is the best way to make your photos unique.”

That means incorporating wedding details or aspects of your relationship into the photographs. If the bride spent a lot of time on the decorations, Stafford makes a point to photograph them. Mark and Michelle photographed a soccer-loving couple holding soccer balls, while Erica incorporated a vintage American flag into photos of a couple who met and married on the 4th of July.

“Make it specific to your personal story,” says Erica. “That’s the only way to really personalize something.”

Break from tradition with a ‘first look’

Tradition holds that the couple’s first glimpse of each other should happen when the bride begins her slow walk down the aisle. But if you are willing to break from that tradition and do a ‘first look,’ you will be rewarded with some phenomenal photographs, Kim says.

In a first look, the bride and groom are photographed alone before the ceremony, anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. The intimacy of the setting results in what Kim describes as “off the chart pictures.” “The bride will never look more beautiful,” Kim says. “She’s not cried out, hugged out or danced out.”

Many photographers follow the first look by photographing the bridal party and family. This helps the day run more smoothly and minimizes the possibility of missed shots. It also allows the couple to go straight from the wedding to the reception, so they can enjoy themselves and not keep their guests waiting, says Mark.

Perhaps the best piece of advice about wedding day photography comes from a former bride: “Don’t short yourselves here, ladies! This is what you look back on that stirs all those wonderful memories!”