By Mike Allebach & Offbeat Bride,
It should be one of the best days of your life — not a source of disappointment, regret, and buyer's remorse. So when I saw this comment from an Offbeat Bride on 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't, I couldn't help but shudder:
What to do if I really dislike my wedding photos? I've stepped away from them for a few months and come back and I still hate them. I've shown them to family and friends and they all think they aren't very good either… I hired a professional photographer and second shooter.
Without seeing the photos or meeting the bride, I can't solve her problem — but I can offer advice to help brides-to-be avoid wedding photo regret. Here are 11 ways to make sure you won't rue the day you hired your photographer…
Not only do you have to like the photos your photographer takes, but you have to like your photographer's personality as well. When you meet with a photographer, make sure you're meeting with the person who will shoot your wedding. Beware of wedding photography mills (they exist!) where you talk to a sales person, view their best sample images, and then get stuck with a minimum-wage photographer with minimal experience to match.
To avoid getting burned:
Experience is the best teacher, so hire someone who specializes in weddings and has shot a lot of them. Good wedding photographers use their Spidey senses to sense moments before they happen. Just because your cousin is an amazing food photographer, it doesn't mean he can document your wedding. (The reverse is true too — I'm not the guy you want to hire for food photography.)
Allow your friends and family to be guests at your wedding. Photographer friends may offer to take photos out of kindness, but I suggest turning them down. Here's a secret: They probably won't mind being turned down. Wedding photographers never get to be guests. It's refreshing to attend a wedding where we can leave the camera at home, hit the bar, and maybe do the Wobble. Besides, it's best not to mix business and pleasure, right?
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Mark Twain said, "Comparison is the death of joy." I'm sure he would have a thing or two to say about Pinterest. If you're expecting your photographer to emulate all your favorite photos on Pinterest, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed — because those weddings aren't your wedding, so your photos won't (and shouldn't!) look the same. So a week before your wedding, purge your wedding Pinterest boards. Sacrilege, I know — but delete your pins and let go. The planning process is over. It's time for your wedding. Your commitment to each other. Your love for each other.
Wedding day transportation always takes twice as long as you think it will — plan for it. If you forget to account for freeway traffic en route to your reception venue, you might cut your photo-taking time in half. Find out how much time your photographer will need, and work on a realistic time schedule. Photographers are magicians, but we can't actually bend time. Build a solid wedding day timeline with the help of a planner or coordinator, if you can. Nothing will eff up your wedding day photos more than rushing everything into an unrealistic timeline.
Do you look good with green spots on your face? No? Then kindly ask your DJ to kill the laser light show. Laser lights are pretty much the worst thing ever invented — they make your guests look like they have a mutant green skin disease. Oh, and those expensive lasers used in Electronic Dance Music can fry professional cameras on contact. Hulk smash laser lights!
Wait until after your ceremony and photos to go all Andrew W.K. I'm not saying you have to skip the mimosas, but keep hydrated and take it slow. Hate your drunk face? I can't fix that with photoshop. Plus vodka cranberry is hard to get out of a wedding dress.
The unplugged wedding: couples tell guests to put down their devices
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This topic has been heavily debated on Offbeat Bridealready. But I'm weighing in. The new trend of guests using iPads as video cameras is getting out of hand. I've seen guests holding iPads in front of grandma so she has to duck to see the wedding. Unless you want all of your ceremony photos peppered with people's iPads (which will look as silly as a Zack Morris cell phone in 20 years), ask them to put them away until after the first kiss.
Your caterer has a sinister plan called "hide the photographer." After the photographer's blood sugar hits rock bottom, they lead them into a dark hallway 100 yards from reception. At that exact moment, the DJ will announce that it's time for parent dances. I'm not sure where this awful tradition started, but there's an easy solution: Ask your caterer to feed the photographer at the same time as the bride and groom, so they're back in action at the same time you are. If possible, give them a table in the main reception room. That way if an epic moment happens, they're there to capture it.
[Click here for more thoughts on the importance of feeding your photographer! -Editors]
I've seen a DJ turn a bare room with four walls into a Vegas Nightclub with uplighting. Most professional DJs offer uplighting packages. Want to do it yourself? Check out this offbeat vendor.
What do you do with your wedding photos after the wedding?
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After spending money on wedding photos, please please please do not leave them in the digital nebulas and interwebs. When historians (or *cough* family members) dig through your attic, old broken hard drives with wedding photos will be useless.
Even if you're disappointed with your wedding photos, find the few you do like, and print them up. If it's literally only a couple photos, cherish them, print them, and hang them on the wall.
If you can find a few more, make an album. The process of choosing photos to print might help you re-live all the excitement of your wedding. You may never go through the 1,000 digital images that you hate on your hard drive, but you'll look at the certain photos that you do like in your album, or that one photo on your wall for years to come.