The six-layer chocolate framboise wedding cake design is complete. You've had lace appliqué flown in from England to match Kate Middleton's dress. The choreographer finally taught your bridal party to dance in heels. Now if only you can get that wedding photographer to capture your day picture perfect. What's a bride to do to ensure that the day goes as planned and a month from now when the wedding is just a fading memory, her pictures tell the fairytale dream in all its glory?
Hire the right photographer! Ask a lot of questions and then ask some more and expect to be asked questions back by your photographer. Here are just a few queries that I've heard from prospective brides.
Q. My best friend just got married and there were more pictures of the guests than of her. How do I make sure I get the pictures I want?
A. While it's best not to give your photographer endless lists of shots, you can specify something like, make sure that at least 50 percent of the shots are of my husband and me. Your photographer may not know that you really don't care about hundreds of pictures of your guests dancing.
Q. I really want to get pictures of all the female relatives, but I don't see a lot of posed shots on my photographer's website.
A. All photographers allow for "posed shoots." These usually happen right after the ceremony while your guests are making their way to the bar.
You must allow five minutes for every small group shot (four to six guests) and 10 minutes for each large group. Why so long? A wedding is a living, vibrant event. Your guests are interacting with their friends, not standing at attention waiting for their picture to be shot. They need to be gathered and posed for each shot, and inevitably, even though everyone is instructed to look at the lens, there is always the wayward eye that gets distracted by your guest who has invaded the room with her $5 disposable camera.
And forget about a shot with your mom standing on your right with your husband on your left and then the same shot except with mom on the left and your husband on the right and even another with mom in the middle of the two of you. Edit your shot lists before you give them to your photographer. Those endless posed shots with slight position rearrangements went out of style decades ago.
Q. I'm kind of old-fashioned and I want to see a lot of posed shots. What should I do?
A. If you LOVE the endless posed shots against a wall, I have the perfect solution for you. Get a photo booth. Your guests can entertain themselves for hours standing in front of a background and you'll have endless permeations of all of your guests. Your photographer will be able to recommend someone or might even have staff that can do this for you.
Q. I spent months planning the details of my wedding down to the smallest touches. How can I make sure that my photographer captures my vision?
A. Look at your photographer's portfolio. Modern creative photographers will capture all the special details that make your wedding stand out from the crowd. It's also good to ask if they have a second shooter who can capture the ornamental details, while your photographer concentrates on you and your story.
Q. I want my photos in a photojournalistic style, but I only see a handful of shots per wedding on some websites.
A. Does your photographer's work tell a story? A wedding begins with getting ready or entering the church and should go through the reception. Look for a complete storyteller. You want someone with the wisdom to understand the vibe of your wedding immediately.
Q. How do I know that my photographer will capture my first kiss with my husband?
A. You must look at the photographer's portfolio; do you see kisses? Look for what you want. And if you love your photographer's work but don't see a certain shot, then ASK. Photographers can take about 1,000 shots at a wedding, maybe the one you like isn't online, but they can show you samples.
Q. I'm terrified of eating at my wedding because I don't want my dress to have spots in the pictures.
A. Any good photographer can remove food stains from photos -- some photographers include this in their basic package and some charge extra. Communication is key. You must find a photographer that you feel comfortable with. Do they answer your emails quickly? Are they upbeat when you ask questions? This is one of the most important days in your life -- you want to be comfortable with the person who will capture your emotions on that highly personal day.
Q. I had to invite my cousin to my wedding, but I really don't want her in any of the pictures.
A. Honesty is the best policy. Tell your photographer. While it may be inevitable that your cousin ends up in a few candids, they can do their best to fulfill your wishes.
Q. I want pictures of myself getting ready, but my photographer is a man and I'm a little uncomfortable.
A. The photographer doesn't have to be in the room while you are dressing. You can have a female relative cue them at the moment you zip up your dress to get that special shot.
Q. I'm really worried. I booked my venue on a budget and now I realize it's very dark inside. Will my photographer be able to make the room light up?
A. Professional photographers work with expensive cameras and lenses that work well in low light. In addition, they will use on-camera or off-camera flash to light up your room. Be sure to tell them about your reception hall and ask about their comfort level with dark venues. Remember, churches also can be very dark and hard to photograph. They also have restrictions on using flash, so you want someone who can handle your particular situation.
Q. I really don't think I can afford a Wedding Album. How do I find a photographer who will just shoot my wedding and give me the pictures on a disc?
A. Most photographers do offer a bare-bones package, but think carefully before you choose this option. Six months from now, when you have you friends over and you want to show off your pictures, are you going to sit them down in front of a computer while each image flashes on and off the screen? A beautiful album is something to be treasured and held and admired with friends and the family.