The Secret to Epic Wedding Photos

You’ve seen them, a bride and groom, in the desert, perfect lighting, so in love, so epic and you’re thinking I want that for my wedding day!!! I’m going to let you in on a few secrets to getting those epic wedding photos! A few things you may have thought of already, a few may not make me any new industry friends and a few may help you when planning your perfect day! Ready to get started? Lets go!

Make sure what you see, is what you’ll get

Here is where I make a ton of people angry. Half the shots you see in magazines, Instagram, and blogs were not taken on a wedding day. Hell half of them aren’t even really brides and grooms!! They are from these lovely things called Styled Shoots.

Styled sessions are exactly what they sound like, a team of industry pros get together to create what they want to shoot, and because you book vendors based on images you see, this draws in a certain client. Problem is, this isn’t real wedding day experience. Almost anyone can take an epic portrait when all the conditions are controlled. So first things first. Make sure you’re expectations are where they should be. Both for your wedding day and for your photographer. If you book someone who has a beautiful portfolio made up of styled images, you may end up disappointed with your final results. I personally do not participate in many styled shoots because I want my portfolio to reflect real events.

wedding dress hanging in the door way

Make a plan, but remain flexible

Now that the uncomfortable part is out of the way, we will move on to the good stuff. Make a plan! Wedding Photos do not just happen. Sure, some candid moments can be epic and those are captured (especially if you have two photographers) but candid photos will not make it to the mantle. That epic wedding photo, is what makes it to above the mantle. Wedding photography can be an art, and result in amazing images you can actually decorate your home with! Talk to your photographer, tell them what images you love. Talk about where to take photos, get to know each other. The more comfortable you are together the better!

To throw off a successful wedding, you must have a plan! At the same time, you have to realize that all plans need tweaking and remaining flexible is half the battle. Recently, I had a bride who had a wedding day dress disaster. She stayed in the moment, and determined to not let this ruin her day. Because she overcame the potential disaster, we were able to capture amazing images! We had spoken at length previously about areas to take photos, things they expected, the way I usually work. We were 100% on the same page and the results were beyond awesome!

wedding couple silhouette


I’ve gone over a few tips for planning out your wedding day timeline before. If you’re booking me, you’re likely booking me because you see these epic wedding photos. Rarely does someone say I booked you because of that rad ceremony shot, or super fun reception shot, just being honest here. You want something magazine worthy, and that will make you feel like a super star. The best way to accomplish this, is to allow us the time to get the job done. I know, wedding days are hard to plan, they are expensive, everyone is coming at you with different ideas, Mom is asking again why she can’t invite the neighbor you haven’t seen since you were 3, etc etc… Now your photographer wants you to plan a cocktail hour, which just extends the reception time, and the DJ’s time and you’ll need to feed these people something while they wait on you to take photos… I know.

Good wedding photography takes time, epic wedding photos take even longer. Have I pulled off amazingness in a very short time frame, yes. So, it is possible. But the more time you allow for photos on your wedding day the more the creative juices will flow. It really takes time to switch from family portrait mode to dramatic bride and groom portrait mode. Be kind, at least an hour!

bride laughing on couch

Rome wasn’t built in a day

But Jessica, there is no way I can build that much time in my day, plus I really want that epic photo in the desert you talked about… Well you’re in luck! (kinda, cause the trip to the desert is gonna take some planning) All wedding photography doesn’t have to be accomplished, gasp, on the wedding day. Consider booking what some call a “day after session”. This is a photo session where we can focus on those epic photos, without the stress of the wedding. Yes it’ll cost a little bit more, but you are free to really focus on each other. We are also free to really focus on being creative and spontaneous! Create your own styled shoot! (image below from actual styled session, I paid to participate here folks, that’s how we got the location with the pretty windows)

bride looking out the window

Take it from those who’ve been there before

If the epic wedding photos are important to you, then follow these tips… it’s a great place to start. Remember plans may change, having a plan b or c maybe even d, isn’t a bad idea. Make sure you’re buying into a photographer able to capture these images on your wedding day. Or put that dress on again and have an amazing styled shoot of your own! I reached out to some former brides on Facebook to include their opinions, here’s what they had to say:

  • Don’t expect every shot that you fall in love with. Weather, location, time etc just may not work out. Moonlit rain shot..amazing but your photographer cannot guarantee moonlight nor rain. ~Kelly Wilson (Event Coordinator)
  • I would say write 4 words to describe your relationship… you’re awesome at shots and if you know they are more playful then kissy that will help ~Heather Schnellenbacher (Jessica Lea Bride)
  • Honestly I think the rapport with your photographer is key. Our professional photos from the wedding itself were stiff, and not at all “us.” But we also literally didn’t meet that photographer until he had his camera in our faces. On the other hand, you know how fabulous the shots from our TTD shoot came out – but we had fun, it was relaxed, and I trusted you guys. I feel like that shines through in the photos. ~Natasha Goldapple (Jessica Lea “day after” Client) 

Play it again Sam…

Remain in the moment. Remain flexible. Remember this is the start of a new life. A beautiful and wonderful journey. I will leave you with one last piece of advise and one last image:

  • Go with what the day gives you. The weather on our wedding day was a bit dramatic due to the recent hurricane (holy wind Batman), but my favorite shots from the day were definitely those where we just give into it.
    Also do multiple sessions with your photographer. I did a boudoir, engagement, and pre-wedding party. It let us get to know each other, I was more comfortable, and also familiar with your shooting style prior to the big day. ~Ginger Kelly (Jessica Lea Bride, Pinterest celebrity because of the following photo)

bride and groom disney dream cruise wedding sunset


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.