Everything I wish YOU knew about your wedding photography

I photograph weddings because I am driven by creating meaningful visuals of people and relationships. I love that two people and their families join together. I love the promise and the commitment. I LOVE the access that my camera allows me – witnessing tears, joy, and laugher. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips that I’ve observed from extremely savvy and well-prepared couples. Please feel free to e-mail me at nicole@nicolechanphotography.com if you have more tips to add!


Tips your photographer wish you knew

Unplugged wedding
This trend is wildly popular. Couples kindly ask their guests to not only silence their phones, but also to turn off all technology (including cameras, phone cameras, iPads, etc.) so that they are device-free during their wedding ceremony. My couples have asked their guests to not be distracted by taking iPhone photos on their phones and instead, be fully present in all of the emotions of their wedding ceremony. There are lots of clever signs that couples display which ask their guests to not take photographs during the ceremony. By doing this, here are some incredible advantages:

  • I will be able to photograph what your parents and guests look like as they watch you get married. Many of my couples have told me that some of their most emotional photos are the moments that they don’t see – like the look of your dad’s face as he watches you get married. Wouldn’t that photo look better if he weren’t holding an iPhone also taking a photo of you?
  • You can guarantee that auntie with her iPad Pro won’t leap into the aisle to get a photo of the bride walking down, thereby blocking the grooms photo. The same can be applied to the first kiss photo. I have heard stories of missed photographs of the first kiss because a family member leapt out from the aisle, thereby blocking the photographer’s entire view of the first kiss.

Vendors eat during the same time as the bride+groom
Here’s the food hierarchy: Your venue will feed you you two first. Then, your guests. Then, your vendors – photographers, videographers, DJs, and band members. By the time your vendors START, you and most of your guests have finished eating. Usually, after the first bite of food, the venue coordinator tells us that it’s time for parents dances. We dash to the reception floor and shoot away. Sometimes, the dinner goes to waste because we don’t feel like there’s a good time to go back. We know now to bring tons of protein-rich snacks.

However, there’s a simple fix to all of this. Some venues understand the more efficient way: FEED VENDORS AT THE SAME TIME AS THE BRIDE AND GROOM. They know that if vendors are eating at the same time that the bride and groom are eating, that the reception timeline will go much more quickly. The guests are not waiting for the vendors to eat before the first dance set opens. Some venue coordinators have looked at me in shock when I suggest this. “No. That’s ridiculous. You’ll eat afterwards.” (Then they walk away.) What you don’t know is that sometimes, venues run out of food and your vendors don’t get fed. Our team would never say anything because we’re not that high maintenance. We just pig out on burritos or late night Chinese after the wedding.

Additional “vendor-photographers” will be in your photographs
Yes, we understand your vendors wants photographs of their setup and how awesome the party is. We are more than happy to photograph and share them with our vendors. We always do. Here’s the biggest fib that we hear, “We’ll be out of your way”. Often during dancing, we shoot with wider lenses so that we can capture all of the action and energy. It’s inevitable that they’ll be in the background of your photographs and it’s often cost our couples many additional dollars in retouching so that the vendor-photographers are not in their album photographs.

Your gown will get dirty. Get over it!
At the end of your wedding day, you will have your partner for life and your wedding photos. Is it worth it to you to be holding up your wedding dress in all of your wedding portraits? The bottom of it might have grass stains. No one’s looking at the underside of your dress. People may step on it accidentally. It’s okay. Dust can be taken off easily with baby power. I’d probably stay away from red wine and toddlers with sharpies, but all photographers worldwide would love for our couples to focus on each other on the day rather than a pristine dress. It’ll lend for much happier expressions.






Get organized with a timeline planning meeting
I am unapologetically Type A. I love spreadsheets and staying organized. Helping my couples build their timelines allows me to understand where we’ll be and what the light will look like so that I can properly prepare (and thus also have a plan B). Please use my team and I as a resource. We prefer in-person planning meetings, but videochat/Skype and phone work well, too! We’ve all been to hundreds of weddings and have lots of advice as to how much buffer to pad your timeline and ideal times to photograph your portraits. Here’s some more information on how to Wedding Timeline Planning for a Stress-Free Day

Add in buffer time to everything
Add in one hour from the end of your makeup/hair to when you have to leave for the reception
Allow for 30 minutes for typical family formals
and another 30 minutes for bridal party formals
and another 30 minutes for bride and groom formals
Add in another 15 minutes to get to your car. You’ll be surprised how many people will stop and hug you on the way to the hotel elevator.
Find out what time sunset is. Sneak out for 5-10 minute sunset or twilight portraits! Be sure to tell your DJ so he doesn’t play your favorite song while you’re gone.
Typically, my couples need 90 minutes of reception dancing. The dancing after that is the same (photographically speaking), except just sweatier.

Hire a Day of Coordinator
Note: A venue coordinator is NOT the same as a Day of Coordinator (DOC). A venue coordinator has one main objective: Make sure that food service runs on time. A day-of-coordinator is there with you the entire day, sometimes assisting during the week or the month of the wedding. This DOC will double check on timelines, re-connect with vendors, confirm floral and table/chair/linen delivery times, and make sure that family members are corralled to the right places during the portrait session. They’ll have an emergency kit to fix everything. They’ll handle your ceremony and reception details to make sure that it’s how you want them. There will be many hiccups that you’ll never know about because your DOC has taken care of it for you.

Have a makeup and hair trial
Feel great going into the start of the day. Your makeup artist and hair stylist already know what you love, because you’ve already talked and connected. No stress. No wondering. No back and forth of whether it should be darker, lighter, whatever. Solidify all of those decision before hand. Sit back. Relax. Get beautified. Selfishly, if makeup and hair runs late because we’re re-doing it, it ultimately eats up into our portrait time.

Prepare for bad weather
It’s Boston, people. Get fun rainbows and umbrellas for you and your bridal party. Embrace the rain and snow! If you have a rain location for your portraits, call ahead to make sure that you have permission to photograph there!

Inform your photographer if there’s family friction 
It would’ve been great to know that Mom isn’t a big fan of stepmom. That way, I know to not put them in the same family portrait together. We won’t go into details of the drama that sometimes happens at wedding. You can use your imagination for that. All we ask is that you let your photographer know of combinations to avoid so that we can keep people at different corners of the room.


Personal care and Beauty

Men, your skin matters too.
Lots of my grooms get a quick airbrush, so that you’ll be a little less shiny on the day of.

Pee by straddling the toilet
For my brides that are donning ball gowns or other poofy dresses, they tell me that it’s easier to pee if they straddle the toilet, rather than backing up your behind like your normally would.

Don’t change your routine
Stick to the same moisturizers and skincare. While it might be fun to try a new facial or new tanning treatment the week of your wedding, don’t take chances on how your skin will react to it.

Salt and spicy foods make you retain water
Self explanatory.

No facials or eyebrow threading/waxing within 72 hours of the wedding
Redness, bumps, irritation, and all other sorts of yucky-ness

Drink lots of water
Stay hydrated! Your skin will thank you. 8 cups of water per day is recommended! (8 cups of 8 ounces of water = 64 ounces per day)

Guys can get makeup, too. 
A little powder and concealer can go a long way. Check with your makeup artist. This is highly recommended for men who are bald.



Clothing / Shoes

Ask your tailor to tailor in a bra
It just feels better. Plus, there definitely won’t be straps showing!

If they’re new heels, wear a pair of socks, then your heels. Wear them around the house to break them in!

Bring an extra set of shoes for reception dancing
Whether it be wedges, flip flops, or sneakers, it’ll be nice to change into a different pair of shoes after the reception formalities! Guys, you too. It’s cool to change into a pair of more comfortable shoes. We know that suit shoes or tux shoes aren’t the most comfortable.

Emergency Kit

Must haves:
Straws – Drink water often, but don’t feel the need to constantly re-apply lip color
Sewing kit – I personally have sewn in many brides into their dresses. It happens.
Safety pins – Not sure why, but I’m always giving these out
Tiny scissors – cutting off tags, straps for dresses, etc.

The rest of the emergency kit:
Bandaids – For blisters and paper cuts
Breath mints / Gum
Blotting paper
Clear nail polish
Nail filer / Nail clipper
Stain remover
Double-sided tape
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Baby powder
White chalk
Allergy medicine
Super glue
Lint roller
Hair elastics
Bobby pins
Eye drops
Bug spray
Granola bars
Tampons, panty liners, pads


Odd stuff

iPad and iPhones 
Ask your officiant to not use their device during the ceremony. I’ve found that digital devices (particularly large ones like iPads) give off a cold blue-ish light. Depending on the environment, especially if you’re indoors, their faces will be lit with a blue light in all of your photos.

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