The Top 20 Wedding Photography Mistakes Not to Make

Here's what not to do, according to the pros themselves.
The Knot
Updated Nov 15, 2018

Not to play favorites—because we love all vendors—but your photographer is one of the most important pros you'll have at your wedding. After all, they're solely responsible for the wonderful wedding photos you'll get to pore over, cherish and have as a keepsake forever.

And if you want those photos to be as perfect as possible, you're going to want to listen to what some professional photographers have to say. Read the biggest mistakes professional photographers have seen other couples make—so you can avoid them—below.

1. Not Finalizing the Wedding Day Schedule

"Talk to your photographer before finalizing the schedule for your wedding day. There's a lot to consider in terms of photographing and natural light. Certain times of day are more photogenic than others (midday sun casts harsh, unflattering shadows on the face while late-day sun casts a beautiful, warm glow on everyone)."—Hillary Harvey, Hillary Harvey Photography

2. Not Sticking to the Finalized Schedule

"Pay attention and respect the schedule you and your photographer discuss prior to your wedding. Being an hour late can make or break your images. Don't just assume it only takes 10 minutes."—Alison Clinton, Horizon Photo

3. Letting Relatives Get in the Way

"We have a name in the industry for a guest who shows up with pro photo equipment and takes 'unofficial wedding photos'—we call him Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob may think he's doing you a favor by taking more shots for the couple, but usually he just gets in the way and makes us miss our shots. Tell Uncle Bob to leave the camera at home and just enjoy his time at the wedding without working."—Sandra O'Claire, Eau Claire Photographics

4. Not Explaining How You Like to Look in Photos

"Beauty is really very subjective. I ask my clients to send a photo of themselves before the wedding that they like and one that they don't."—Dorie Hagler, Dorie Hagler Photography

5. Focusing Too Much on Taking Photos

"A good photojournalist can capture the story of their day and some artistic portraits while keeping time away from loved ones to a minimum."Alex Fagundo, Candidly Elegant Photography

6. Not Getting a Second Shooter

"Sometimes couples want to save a little money or feel it's too obtrusive for more than one photographer to be present on the wedding day. But consider this: The second photographer offers another unique point of view throughout the entire day that you would not have had photographed [otherwise]."—Chris Leary, Chris Leary Weddings

7. Not Getting Help Organizing Your Guests

"Designate someone [trustworthy who] knows your family and friends to be in charge of organizing people for portraits. That person can gather the people needed, direct them on what shots they'll be in, and then release them when they're done. It keeps things moving quickly, smoothly and enjoyably."—Erica Natali, Natali Photography

8. Trying to Make Things "Perfect"

"Just have fun. Whether it's getting a little cake on your face or some detail didn't turn out 100 percent like you'd hoped, go with it, have fun and keep smiling."—Jennyfer Huff, Florida Weddings Photography

9. Skipping the First Look

"[In my opinion], a first look is so much better than trying to rush couple portraits after the ceremony—especially if your ceremony runs a bit late, which most do. You end up trying to rush to get to the party."—Ashley Nardello, Cleopatra Photography

10. Trying to Pose

"A good photographer gives direction for a reason: to get the best moments and shots from the day. The best thing to do is relax and act natural. Be in the moment. Be hopelessly in love with each other—the pictures will turn out [amazing.]"—Brook S. Hollis, Lucent Photography

11. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Photographer

"If you find a great photographer, book them! Good photographers book a year or more out and won't be available forever. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing a wedding photographer and then finding out that they booked your date a week prior."—Jeff Livengood, Digital Dreammakers

12. Looking at the Camera All the Time

"Some couples want candid photographs, but they always feel like they need to look up at the camera and stop what they're doing. It could be an instinct, but remember—unless the photographer asks you, try to act natural for the best journalistic shots."—Dina Konovalov, A Dream Picture

13. Not Providing a List of "Don't Takes"

"Let the photographer know before the wedding if there are certain photos you don't like. It can be anything from 'I don't like the photos you took of us not smiling' to 'I don't like wide-angle close-ups.' It totally throws off a photographer's creative approach when a bride or groom spills their feelings while you're in the zone."—Tony & Natasha, Artistique Photography Productions

14. Asking for Too Many Shots

"If clients have done their homework and choose an experienced, reputable wedding photographer, then chances are that photographer doesn't need a two-page spreadsheet of every combination for family portraits."—Millie B., Millie B Photography

15. Not Choosing a Photographer You Connect With

"Make sure we get along. I work with clients for sometimes two years or more. If we don't get along, it's going to be a very long and bumpy ride."—Gillian Reinhardt, Carolina Studios

16. Skipping the Engagement Session

"Engagement sessions increase the confidence and comfort level of the couple in front of the camera and allow them to practice having their photo taken in a fun, no-stakes atmosphere. Ultimately, an engagement session will let the couple see why the photographer might tell them to do something funny, and this leads to wedding day comfort and trust in the photographer."—Heather Cook Elliott, Heather Cook Elliott Photography

17. Not Hiring a Professional Photographer

"Choose someone who's a professional, not just anyone with a digital camera and a website. Make sure the photographer you choose has an education as a photographer, has apprenticed or interned with other photographers and paid their dues, or has the experience and ability to consistently capture the moments of your wedding no matter what situations may arise."—Chris & Dawndy, Bendet Photography

18. Falling for Photography Trends

"Too many times, to-be-weds fall for something trendy in photography. It's critical your wedding images stand the test of time and are valued for each following generation. Trends are fun but rarely last. Look for a photographer with a [generally] classic shooting style, and be wary of too much Photoshop and digital tricks and manipulations."—Brie Castell, Castell Photography

19. Forgetting the Details

"Think about spending a few minutes to decide what other elements are important to photograph. Did your sister make special wedding favors? Are you carrying important heirlooms with you? Bring an extra invitation and try to keep those special elements easily accessible for photos."—Nick Coleman, Dave Cross Photography

20. Not Smiling—All the Time

"Tell all of the individuals walking down the aisle to look up and smile. If they're too nervous to smile, they should at least keep their head up and stare down the aisle. This helps keep the face from the [unflattering angle] that happens when you stare at the floor while walking."—Christin Berry, Blue Martini Photography

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