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3 Tips for Getting Must-Have Wedding Photos

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Photographs are what last after your wedding day, second only to your marriage. These days, most of the images you receive will be candids, photos that freeze uninterrupted emotional moments. But a little planning is still necessary to get the photos you'll cherish most. Follow these three tips to ensure your wedding album includes must-have photos -- and ones that often get overlooked.

1) Don't underestimate the value of formals

It's hard to imagine key people in your life getting left out of photos -- siblings, grandparents, your best friend from childhood. However, this is a rather common mishap. I met someone recently who invested a good amount in a photographer because she loved her style, but when her hundreds of photos were delivered there was not ONE photo of her sister!

As well, be sure to get formals of you and your spouse with both sides of the family. These photos can take time to organize; however, they will come in handy for certain occasions. At my brother's wedding, for example, the photographer took formals of our families in a great forested location. They were beautiful, BUT didn't have all the right groups of people. Come Christmas the bride's side of the family wanted to send out a card featuring the newest addition to the family, but there wasn't one!

If you take the time to get great formals, at least you know you have everyone's presence covered, then all the candids create the great story of the day. Some photographers may resist spending time on formal photos because they lack the skill to organize groups or illicit natural expressions from their subjects. Be sure to ask potential photographers about their mastery of these skills.

2) Favor pre-ceremony coverage over all-night coverage

When planning the hours of coverage with your photographer, put an emphasis on having him or her cover the time leading up to the ceremony rather than staying until the last dance. For some, this may seem counter-intuitive, but here's the deal: In the couple hours leading up to your ceremony who's with you? Your closest friends and family. At the end of the night who's still there? The biggest partiers. They may or may not be close friends and let's be honest, depending on how much they've had to drink, they may not look their best.

Yet family and friends in the bustling of preparation, pinning boutonnieres on each other, straightening hair, setting up the ceremony space are all precious moments when caught by a talented pro.

I recently shot a wedding where the bride's siblings were very shy, and they were wallflowers for most of the reception, only coming out to dance for a song or two. However, they were part of the joyous chaos beforehand, delivering flowers, adjusting her veil and ogling over family heirlooms, so I captured many precious sibling moments that just didn't happen once the big party started. If I hadn't been there early, the whole set of photos would have lacked their presence.

3) Plan your dream shot into the day

Do you have a dream shot? If you don't have answer right away, then answer this question: why did you pick your venue? For the great view of the city? For the neo-classical architecture? For the wide open field? For the carousel by the park? Every venue has a special feel that in a sense matches the personalities of the couples who get married there. What place, image or pose would show what that place, or certain part of your personality as a couple, is all about?

You're hiring a pro, so take advantage. Tell your photographer what you dream of -- a true artist will always love a challenge! On the other hand, you may need to work with your wedding site coordinator to access a location, or create the right timeline.

This March, I shot a wedding at the Hyatt Haborside in Boston, which has a breathtaking view of the harbor and the city skyline. The couple who got married that day are totally enamored with Boston, and wanted to cherish that view and share it with friends and family. Knowing this, I advised them about their reception timeline (this happened to be a daytime wedding) so that the party ended just as the sun was setting and the city lights were coming on. I captured them with that orange glow that only lasts a few minutes on a late winter's day.

Are you getting married soon? What types of photos are you planning into your wedding day?