12 Common Wedding Photo Mistakes That Drive Photographers Crazy

Plus, expert tips on how to avoid them.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Dec 31, 2020

It's safe to say that you and your wedding photographer have the same goal: to create gorgeous pictures that capture the magic of your big day. After you've researched the photographer's work, met for a consultation and feel confident that they're a good fit, nothing should stand in the way of achieving that goal—except, perhaps, you.

Wedding photographers love their couples—they wouldn't be doing the job otherwise. Along with their dedication comes a desire to deliver the highest quality snaps possible. But that becomes increasingly more difficult when couples, along with their entourage of family and friends, sometimes create obstacles that make it harder for the photographer to do their best work (think: over-posing, taking too much charge or not allocating enough time to get the desired shot list.) On your wedding day, it's best to leave the picture taking to the pros. To help you avoid common wedding photo mistakes, we spoke to photographers to learn about the biggest mishaps couples make (along with their best tips for seamless photoshoots). 

1. Forgetting to Live in the Moment 

Forgetting to live in the moment is one of the biggest mistakes you can make during your wedding photos. You'll treasure candid wedding photos long after the day passes, but it can be hard for your pro to capture those shots if you're worried about nailing a specific pose or getting the perfect Instagram angle. "There are times when a couple is so used to doing things for TikTok or the 'gram that they forget to just live in the moment," says Nikon ambassador and wedding photographer Charmi Peña. "The best thing they can do is to hire a photographer they trust. Let it go and focus on the one you love. If you've hired someone who understands you want a romantic natural feel, they'll help you relax if you go back into 'content creation mode.'"

2. Practicing Too Much

There's nothing wrong with practicing your wedding day smile in the months leading up to the date. (In fact, we encourage it.) But be wary of over-practicing for your wedding photos. While it's important to come prepared with ideas, practicing too much can lead to some shots looking forced or strained. "I don't mind clients practicing for wedding photos, especially because they likely aren't standing in front of a camera all the time," says photographer Paulina Perrucci. "Because of this, posing isn't something they know off the top of their heads. What tends to happen if they over-practice, though, is they forget to have fun and go with the flow, which can end up looking stiff." An easy fix? Allow yourself to move freely without feeling confined to certain poses or looks. "Movement is key when it comes to capturing all of those gorgeous candid moments," Perrucci adds. 

3. Not Having a Clear Timeline

Having worked countless weddings, your photographer knows best if it's possible to capture all the family photos you've requested and still make it to your cocktail hour on time. A wedding day schedule is key for keeping the sequence of events moving smoothly, but it's also necessary for helping your team of pros execute their jobs. "Time management is so important for photographers," advises Perrucci. It's vital for your pro to know how much time they have to capture the photos you want, which will help cut down on any necessary stress for everyone involved. If you're not sure what a good wedding day timeline looks like, tap into your pro's expertise. "This is the first time most couples are planning a wedding, so they likely don't know what kind of time they need for any given part of the day," says Peña. "Utilize your experts. You hired vendors that you trust, so reach out for advice and let them give you feedback." 

4. Not Having a Backup Plan

Even if you have a clear wedding timeline, there's a chance things may not go according to plan. In the event that you find yourself strapped for time, know which photos you need to have, along with the ones you're willing to skip. "Running late may eventually end up with the couple having to make tough decisions about what to cut so they're not paying vendors overtime," advises Peña. Before the big day, work with your S.O. and your pro to identify the shots you want, along with those that are okay to cut if things get off-schedule on the day of.   

5. Having Unrealistic Expectations

It's great to know exactly what you envision your wedding pictures to look like, but don't forget to be realistic. For this reason, Peña suggests avoiding trying to replicate wedding photos from other couples. "I discourage my couples from sending me photos they want to duplicate," she says. "When they send me a photo taken on a California beach at sunset, I have to explain that we won't be able to capture that particular shot in New York City in the winter." 

Despite this, your photographer will still be able to capture wedding photos that embody your style. "Magic comes in all forms, and photographers are able to create other glorious shots," Peña adds. "To avoid wedding photo disappointment, find a professional you deeply trust. That way, you'll know they're going to take care of you."  

6. Denying There's Family Drama

While you don't have to dish the dirt on your family's private business, giving your photographer a heads up on potential drama can be a good thing. If they know which relatives shouldn't stand in close proximity, you'll be able to avoid a tense photoshoot or any awkward moments. 

7. Not Helping Pros Work Together 

Your pros will have to work together throughout the duration of your wedding day, so it's important for you to set expectations from the start. "Vendors who are on the same page tend to get along better with each other and work together in service of the couple instead of themselves," says Peña. This is especially true for photographers and videographers, who will work closely from start to end. "You want your photo and film team to feel that they are there in service of the client and not themselves." 

8. Inviting a Friend to Also Take Photos

When there's more than one person holding a camera, those in the picture don't know where to look. (Plus, the professional photos might be filled with people taking photos, not having fun—less than ideal). Since you're paying a pro to take the best pictures possible, politely ask your camera-loving friends to save their hobby for another time. Your wedding photos will look better for it.

9. Eating During Toasts

By the time you finally sit down to eat at your reception, you'll likely be famished. Before digging in, wait until everyone has given their toasts (or at least take small bites intermittently between speeches). Another tip: Ask your wedding planner, MOH or best man for a little plate before sitting down, that way you're not hungry during the toasts. Photographers want to capture your responses to the special words shared, and that's not alway possible if you have a mouthful of food.

10. Not Saving Them a Good Seat

It's a given that your photographer should be served a meal, but make sure their seat is located where the action is. If your photographer can't see what's happening during dinner, there's no chance to snap a pic when a spontaneous moment arises.

11. Not Giving Them a Break

Yes, you're paying photographers for their services, but that doesn't mean they don't occasionally need bathroom breaks and a chance to grab some food. Make sure the agenda allows them the little extra time they need, instead of having to rush through a meal.

12. Worrying Instead of Enjoying Yourself

Your wedding day only comes once. Instead of stressing about the little details, don't forget to relax and enjoy the experience. You want photos of yourself smiling, laughing and dancing, not stressing with your wedding party or worrying over centerpieces. You're marrying the love of your life while surrounded by family and friends. Soak up every special moment you can, and know that your photographer has your back.

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