7 Secrets to Great Wedding Photography

Many brides feel overwhelmed by budgets and deadlines when planning their wedding and could use a little help from a seasoned professional before hiring a wedding photographer.

So here are 7 tips for brides to make their wedding photography experience simpler and less stressful from the photography team at 2Bridges:

1. Decide your wedding photography budget beforehand...but be flexible.

Wedding photography can cost as little as handing your uncle your digital camera and as much as tens of thousands of dollars. How much is enough?

It's important to remember that the day after your wedding you won't have the venue, the music or the food...but you will have the person you married and the memories. Wedding photography should be prioritized accordingly.

A general rule of thumb is 10% of your total budget to be spent on wedding photography. That said, you're going to need to be flexible if you plan on spending less than $2,000 but want a quality wedding photographer. That may cover their time for the shoot and for the editing that takes place afterwards, but it probably won't leave enough room for a high-quality wedding book or prints for all the in-laws.

When shopping for a wedding photographer, don't just get a list of prices and packages...talk it over with her.

As a creative wedding photojournalist, we at 2Bridges want to find some way to give as much value as possible within the budget the bride has to work with. It's OKAY if a certain wedding photographer isn't a good fit for your wedding. But if you don't talk it out, you might miss out working with a photographer you really like.

2. Preview a wedding photographer's work before hiring them.

Wedding photography is all about the visual, but what if you can't meet with them in person?

Arrange to meet in person, but nowadays people are comfortable doing business online and over the phone. Most of the people who hire a professional for wedding photography choose services based on a website or a photography blog.

That's a great way to find a wedding photographer...as long as you can get a good look at his or her work online.

3. Decide what you really want to get out of your wedding photography.

Are you the type that wants a 30x40 black and white wall canvas in your bedroom? Or do you just want a small book for when guests come over? Do you want to remember the whole 'story' of your wedding day, from getting ready to getting in the limo? Or are you only getting prints as a gift to the in-laws?

It's good to sit down and decide what you want from your photographer and what you want out of the photography itself.

Is this day a holy moment? A wild and crazy celebration? A little bit of both?"

4. Act naturally...but add a little spice.

It's easy to tell when a bride and groom are relaxed for their photos. Whether before or after the ceremony, it's good to get away from the venue so that you can get great shots of your chemistry together.

Be yourself for your wedding photography...but maybe turn the volume of your personality up just a little bit. Spin around. Dance a little. Play.

In one instance, we did a photography session for a couple in Long Island. They did this cute 'peek-a-boo' thing around a tree in the park, ending with a kiss. Would they have done that if there wasn't a wedding photographer there? Probably not. But it ended up with some really cute pictures!

5. Remember the camera just a little bit when it comes to the wedding rings, the kiss, or any other important ceremony.

We once did a wedding where the bride and groom must have been going for the world record of fastest wedding kiss ever! Luckily we captured it.

You don't want to be self-conscious during your wedding, but there are a couple moments where you want to remember that it is a public ceremony. When you exchange rings, try not to keep your hands hidden.

Turn a little bit towards your guests and let them be there with you. This will make sure your wedding photographer records this important moment. And you might want to practice the kiss beforehand...or at least agree to kiss for about 3 seconds!

Do you have any unique moments or special ceremonies? Let your wedding photographer know beforehand.

At a recent wedding in Weschester, the bride and groom shared with us that they would have some older traditions that you don't see every day, such as 'handfasting' and 'jumping the broom'. I'm so glad they told us, because we were ready and those are a couple of the best shots from the wedding!

6. Have your wedding photographer get the whole story.

Many brides today want the more casual, photojournalistic style of wedding photography. Sure, you want the formal shots, but what you really want are the touching moments, unplanned surprises and spontaneous fun that happens to celebrate your big day.

Moreover, most people will also use the services of a professional cinematographer to shoot their wedding. It's best that your photographer and your videographer work together to capture the best moments of the occasion.

Ideally, the bride and groom will hire us for 6 to 8 hours, because then we know that we're going to be there when the bride is getting ready, through the ceremony and reception, all the way until they leave for the honeymoon. It's really great to be able to tell a story through the pictures you take. You don't want to miss an important chapter of the story!

7. Relax and enjoy your day!

It's a good idea to delegate responsibility. Is your mom supposed to be in this photograph? Send your brother to get her. Did you forget your earrings? Send your bridesmaid or wedding planner. Your job is to take a deep breath and enjoy the beginning of this lifelong love!

In the end, the most important thing is the marriage, not the wedding. No matter if things go according to plan or not, you're going to be okay. So don't stress about the details when your big day actually arrives. Just enjoy the moment, be in love and be happy!

Bonus Tip: Your enthusiasm and high energy alone will ensure the best wedding photography for you and your soon-to-be spouse.