21 Wedding Photography Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

Avoid these top photography faux pas our pros see all the time.
Couples wedding photoshoot
Photo: Parilov / Shutterstock
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Jacqueline Mann
jacqueline mann headshot
Jacqueline Mann
The Knot Contributor
  • Jacqueline writes articles for The Knot Worldwide that cover an array of wedding-related topics.
  • She previously worked as a marketing manager for a wedding venue where she learned the intricate details of wedding planning.
  • Jacqueline graduated from Bluefield University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications.
Updated Nov 28, 2023

As you browse through wedding photo inspiration it's easy to get caught up in all the styles and poses you see online. Or maybe you're considering hiring a family member to take your photos to save a little money. These wedding photography mistakes and more are seen time and again by wedding pros. Couples often make decisions they think will improve their wedding photo experience, but end up with the opposite result. To help you avoid these common prewedding mistakes, we gathered expert tips from Bo Shim, owner and wedding photographer at Bo Shim Photography and Jenny Fu, owner and wedding photographer at Jenny Fu Studio. These New York City-based photographers, who boast over 20 combined years of experience, laid out the top wedding photography mistakes and how to prevent them from happening.

1. Not Hiring a Wedding Professional

Your Aunt Betty may take great photos with her digital camera, but that won't cut it for your wedding day. Not hiring a professional means relying on someone with no wedding experience to capture memories of the most important day of your life.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: Search for a myriad of skilled wedding photographers on The Knot Vendor Marketplace. Browse styles, budgets and galleries to find the right photographer for you and your partner. You'll also feel at ease knowing your photos are in the hands of a knowledgeable professional.

2. Booking a Photographer Based on Recommendation Alone

We understand that researching vendors starts to feel overwhelming. It might seem easier just to book a photographer because your cousin or best friend recommended them. However, you may end up with a photographer who doesn't match your envisioned photography style.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "During the process of choosing a photography style, it's crucial to dedicate some time to explore diverse portfolios and discover photographers whose work deeply resonates with your preferences," Shim said. "Don't settle for a photographer just because your family member used them for their wedding or because of your parents."

3. Omitting Buffers in Your Wedding Timeline

A top wedding photography mistake to avoid is not adding extra time to your schedule. If an event on your timeline takes longer than planned (and something most certainly will) everything else in your day shifts off schedule.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Integrate 15-minute buffers throughout the day to accommodate unforeseen delays," Fu said. "Allocate 45 minutes for couple's portraits, 30 minutes for the wedding party, and 30 minutes for formal family photos to ensure a relaxed and punctual schedule."

4. Giving Your Photographer a Long Photo Checklist

It's easy to fall in love with a plethora of poses and styles you see on Pinterest. This results in handing your photographer an exceptionally long photography shot list that's unrealistic with your wedding day timeline.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Instead of providing a lengthy list of specific photos for your wedding photographer, trust in the expertise of an experienced professional," Shim said. "Investing in a skilled photographer ensures that you won't have to worry about missing any special moments on your big day. By allowing them creative freedom, they can capture the essence of your wedding without the distraction of checking off a list. Hire a photographer you trust and let them work their magic."

5. Not Considering Venue Lighting

It's difficult to achieve the photography style you want if your venue is working against you. For example, choosing a venue that doesn't offer a lot of natural light when you're going for bright and natural photos.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: Pay attention to the lighting details as you tour different venue options. "Choose a venue aligned with your preferred lighting style, whether natural or flash, to enhance the photographer's preparation and deliver the desired aesthetic," Fu said.

6. Missing the Moments of Your Celebration

Getting caught up in the minor details means you'll miss the special moments of your wedding. Aiming for perfection takes the joy out of the day.

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Wedding Photographer's Tips: Trust your team of vendors to take care of any unexpected snafus and focus on the excitement of getting married. "Prioritize enjoyment over perfection, savoring the fleeting moments of your wedding day," Fu said.

7. Not Looking Through a Photographer's Wedding Gallery

Browsing through a few photos on Instagram might give you a sense of a photographer's style, but it doesn't provide the whole picture. A wedding photography mistake seen often is couples booking pros without thoroughly reviewing their work.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "When deciding on your wedding photographer, take the time to review their complete wedding gallery," Shim said. "While their portfolio showcases their best work, it's crucial to see how they capture the entirety of a wedding from start to finish, allowing you to determine if their style aligns with your vision and expectations."

8. Not Sharing Wedding Surprises With Your Vendors

Planning a surprise for your partner or guests adds to the magic of your wedding day. One common wedding photography mistake is not letting your photographer in on the surprise, leaving them unprepared and possibly causing a hiccup in your timeline.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: Don't leave your photographer in the dark if you're planning a wedding day surprise. "Inform your photographer of planned surprises to ensure preparedness and optimal capture of these special moments," Fu said.

9. Over Posing for Wedding Photos

Every couple wants to look great in their wedding photos. But focusing too much on how you look may result in stiff and unnatural poses.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: Instead of worrying about how you're posing, focus on your partner and let your body language happen naturally. This often results in sweet, candid photos that capture your love for one another. "Encourage natural, joyous expressions and genuine emotions, allowing for more meaningful and timeless photographs," Fu said.

10. Not Hiring a Second Shooter

One photographer can only move around so much throughout your wedding day. A common wedding photography mistake is choosing not to hire a second shooter. This often results in missed moments and fewer photos of your wedding.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: A second shooter fills in where your main photographer can't. While your photographer is focusing on you and your partner a second shooter can photograph your guests and other wedding details. Two wedding photographers are also able to capture your first look, first kiss and more from different angles giving you a variety of perspectives of your important moments.

11. Not Meeting Your Photographer Before Your Wedding

Oftentimes couples don't prioritize meeting with their wedding photographer before their wedding. This wedding photography mistake may cause awkwardness between you and your photographer on your wedding day, and results in photos that don't truly showcase you and your partner.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Before your wedding day, it's beneficial to meet your photographer and establish a connection," Shim said. "While we might only meet on the actual day, taking the time to get to know each other beforehand can greatly enhance the quality of the images. Since we'll be spending the entire day together, building a rapport allows for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, resulting in better photographs."

12. Having a Disheveled Getting Ready Space

You and your wedding attendants are likely hauling a lot of necessities into your getting-ready space. Clothing, accessories and leftover breakfast trash may litter the background of your photos. Instead of enjoying your getting ready photos later, you won't be able to help staring at the empty mimosa glass vying for attention.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Designate a tidy spot (preferably near a window) for those getting ready shots," Fu said. "It's a win-win–photographers love it, and your moments look even more stunning."

13. Micromanaging Your Wedding Vendors

We understand that you want everything to run as smoothly as possible on your wedding day. However, micromanaging your vendors not only makes it harder for them to do their job but also creates unnecessary stress for you.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: When you hire a wedding photographer you're trusting them to handle the little details. "Hire passionate vendors, respect their expertise, and let them perform their roles, ensuring a seamless and successful outcome," Fu said.

14. Choosing an Inexperienced Photographer to Save Money

Sometimes the cost of a wedding photographer gives couples sticker shock. Avoid hiring someone with little to no wedding experience just to save a little money. You may end up with bad wedding photos that look unprofessional, blurry and unusable in your wedding album.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Instead of spending your entire wedding budget on everything else, prioritize investing in an experienced professional wedding photographer," Shim said. "They will not only capture your special day but also create lasting memories for you to cherish."

15. Failing to Express What You Don't Like

Another wedding photography mistake is shying away from telling your photographer the types of photos you don't like. By not speaking up you could end up with tons of shots that don't match your style.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: While you probably have a list of photo inspirations that you love, take note of poses and photo ideas you don't like as well. Share both of these lists with your wedding photographer before your wedding. This also gives them a sense of your style and helps them better prepare for your event.

16. Not Setting Aside Wedding Details

Imagine you're sitting in your hair stylist's chair when your photographer tells you they're ready to take photos of your wedding details. Now you have to stop what you're doing and scramble to find your shoes, invitations, vintage handkerchief and other items for the photos.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Prepare and set aside items like invitations, jewelry, and shoes beforehand to streamline the photography process upon the photographer's arrival," Fu said. Ask your wedding attendants to provide the photographer with these items when it's time to take the photos.

17. Choosing Lighting Before Consulting With Your Photographer

There are likely several lighting options available at your reception venue. This could include colorful spotlights or chandeliers with different levels of brightness. Choosing a lighting scheme without consulting your photographer may result in bad wedding photos.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: Your photographer knows which lighting works best for your desired photo style. "Discuss lighting preferences with the photographer beforehand to ensure optimal conditions for capturing the evening and avoiding color reflections on faces," Fu said.

18. Not Booking an Engagement Session

Do you really need to book an engagement session? Skipping it may result in awkward wedding photography later and less confidence as you pose for photos.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: There are several pros to an engagement session that couples don't always think about. This session increases your confidence in front of the camera, allows you and your photographer to get to know each other better and helps you feel more comfortable during your wedding day photos. Plus, you'll have a sweet collection of pictures of just you and your partner.

19. Needing Immediate Access to Your Photos

You may feel anxious to see your wedding photos shortly after saying, "I do." However, viewing your entire wedding album right away may take away some of the excitement.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Hold off a bit," Fu said. "Let the anticipation build. Trust me, reliving the magic with a bit of time makes the photos even more special. You've got a lifetime to enjoy them."

20. Not Practicing Your Bow Tie Skills

Since most people don't wear a bow tie every day learning how to put on this formal wedding day attire is tricky for many. Fumbling fingers and a frustrated wedding party add stress to your day. You may also end up with crooked and sloppy bow ties in your wedding pictures.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Ensure bow tie proficiency before the wedding day to avoid unnecessary stress and delays in the timeline," Fu said. Consult a wedding pro, friend or YouTube video to find out how to tie the perfect bow tie. Then practice, practice, practice until you're feeling confident about your tying skills.

21. Thinking Your Venue's Coordinator Will Plan Your Whole Wedding

It's easy to mix up the difference between a day-of coordinator and a wedding planner for your wedding. While a coordinator is there to help you on your big day, a planner assists with all the major and minor details beforehand too. This could include booking vendors, reading wedding photography contracts and helping you manage your budget.

Wedding Photographer's Tips: "Distinguish between venue-provided coordinators and hiring a dedicated [planner] for your entire event," Fu said. "Opt for a personal [planner] to ensure a smooth timeline, reduce stress, and guarantee personalized attention on your special day."

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