Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride walking toward an outdoor wedding ceremony in Pebble Beach, California.

27 Expert Wedding Photography Ideas

Preparing for the Perfect Shots
BY C&C EDITORS / 08 01 22
Photo by Chard Photographer

As the age-old saying (er, silly slang) goes, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” On your wedding day, you should be focused on having one of the best days of your lives, but with that, comes the pressure to make sure that every precious moment is documented for eternity—not to mention, social media, if that’s part of your plan. With so many wedding photography ideas out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about what to tell your photographer, what to look for in selecting everything from a photographic venue to your wardrobe, and even how to figure out what styles of photography you like.

To help couples feel more prepared and confident, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wedding photography ideas and advice from trusted pros in the industry. 

Pre Wedding Photography Ideas

Devising your photography plan comes with several questions all couples need to answer, starting with a big one: to first look or not to first look? There are several pros and cons to consider. Pros: You can take most of your photos prior to the wedding (meaning more time with your guests at the reception), and have a special, intimate moment with your partner captured by your photographer. Cons: Some couples want to see each other for the first time at the end of the aisle, in front of their family and friends (plus, first look photos can sometimes feel awkward or cheesy…) If you forego a first look however, keep in mind that you’ll need to budget time to take wedding portraits during the cocktail hour and/or reception. 

Here are some must-know pre wedding photography ideas that can help you think through your overall plan, vision and schedule leading up to your big day:

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride smiling while putting on an earring on her wedding day.

Think Through Those Getting Ready Moments

When planning out your day-of wedding photography ideas, work with your photographer to capture some pre-ceremony, getting-ready shots of you putting on anything that has meaning, such as a family heirloom. Some of your most cherished photos will be taken during the morning of your wedding, so make sure you scope out the more photogenic areas in the space to determine where you can position your photographer.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride and groom almost kissing in a grassy area with forest trees and mountains in the background.

Work With Your Location’s Natural Backdrop

Sometimes it’s best to let Mother Nature do all the talking. Get the perfect first look portraits by scouting the most picturesque backdrop at your location, like this couple did at Amangani in Jackson, Wyoming.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A wedding couple walking away from the camera, along a tall hedge plant-lined walkway.

Look for Natural Framers

Let the natural landscape or architecture of your venue frame your candid first look. Docuvitae elegantly captured this bride and groom mid-stroll in between towering hedges on the grounds of the Sunset Tower Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride looking out on a balcony at a wedding venue in the UK.

Take Advantage of Backdrop Views

“If you picked a venue with a view, showcase that with an epic bridal entrance shot that will ‘wow.’ The photographer will have seen your venue in advance (either online or with a location scouting) and will be able to advise if this is a feasible option (such as: if there is a balcony, a terrace, or a staircase where the photographer can stand). Alternatively, you can have a big group photo with that view and your photographer can use different vantage points from above to capture both your breathtaking backdrop and your day-of portraits.” —Roberta Facchini, wedding photographer

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride and groom looking at each other while standing on a ledge at an opulent library.

Scout Your Venue for Art

Consider a walk-through with your photographer pre-wedding day to find any areas of your venue that showcase murals or paintings for clever first-looks and artful portraits. The library room at The University Club of New York created the most iconic backdrop for photographer Joanna Toto to shoot the bride and groom.

Wedding Photography Ideas: An all-white room in a restaurant with open shelves, a gold chandelier and a bright yellow booth seating option.

Go the Non-Traditional Route

Look for unique restaurants or storefronts that embody your distinct couple style, as well as the character of your location. Phillipvn Photography captured the vibrant yellow setting of Storico in New York City, which served as the scene for a modern Manhattan wedding.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride posing for a portrait with her six bridesmaids, all of whom are wearing gold sequined dresses and holding white bouquets.

Set Plenty of Time Aside for Formal Portraits

When working with a large wedding party, make sure you set an ample amount of time aside in your day-of schedule to prioritize all of the formal portraits you wish to capture with your photographer. 

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bird's-eye view of a rooftop, where a wedding couple is standing on a carpet as guests watch from couches, high-top tables, and other areas.

Understand the Pros of a Second Shooter

“Depending on the location, your venue’s natural landscape may offer overhead angels or additional floors with balconies that are perfect for overhead shots or drones. This is a great reason to have a second or even a third photographer that can be in these different positions or operate the drone while your main photographer can be on the ground. Having two photographers on-site can lend to different images from different angles and solve the problem that your photographer can’t be in two places at once.” —Edward Winter, wedding photographer, READYLUCK

Portrait Wedding Photography Ideas

These are the photos you’ll end up having framed for decades, so you want to feel and look as natural as possible—but that’s not always easy. It’s totally understandable to be a little camera-shy or not exactly sure about how to pose. Look at photos from other weddings, and think through how you want yours to look. Are you a fan of more candid, natural shots? Or do you prefer having more formal portraits taken? A combination? Talk through your wedding photography ideas for posing with your photographer to ensure you have everything you want on your special day—and be sure to hire one who is comfortable giving you direction, if you think you’ll need it.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A groom in a cowboy hat, wrapping his arms around a bride as they smile at each other.

Integrate Accessories That Embody Your Couple Style

Whether it’s a cowboy hat as a nod to your southern venue or an heirloom as your “something old,” documenting accessories that speak to who you are as a couple in your day-of portraits is a great way to showcase your couple style.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A candid moment showing a wedding couple laughing while holding hands.

Emphasize Your Desire for Candids

Some of the best wedding day photos come from moments unplanned and unanticipated, like that “just married” moment between you and your new spouse.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A wedding couple smiling at each other while holding their own bouquets.

Communicate Posing Requests

“When deciding what photographer to hire, I would ask them questions like: ‘We aren't a traditional feminine/masculine couple, what pose ideas would you be able to do with us?’ ‘We would love our wedding gallery to feel strong/powerful/intimate/romantic/full of connection [insert whatever descriptors feel most affirming to you]. Could you send us example images with that feeling before we make our decision?’” —Tia Nash, wedding photographer

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride and her bridesmaids, who are wearing various shades of blue, tossing their bouquets high into the air on a beach.

Play With Props

Create a fun and natural feel to your big group portraits by adding movement to your photos with props.

Outdoor Wedding Photography Ideas

Natural light, golden hour…you’ve likely heard of these key elements in relation to taking any photo, but mapping out how to optimize them for your outdoor wedding photography ideas is incredibly important. Depending on the timing of your wedding, and whether or not you decide to have a first look, you can talk through your shot list and timeline with your photographer to take advantage of the best sunlight hours—and angles. From there, you can decide which outdoor wedding photography ideas are best for taking the portraits, candids, and other photos you and your partner want.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride looking back at the camera as she and the groom cross a New York City street.

Hit the Streets

One way to really embody your chosen city is to work with your photographer on a safe portrait session on your city’s street grid. Sometimes an early morning portrait session is best to avoid the heavy flow of traffic. When photographer Shawn Connell was part of Christian Oth Studio, he captured the excitement of this couple with a timeless NYC skyscraper backdrop.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride smiling at her bridesmaids, who are wearing black dresses and holding white bouquets, in Chicago.

Take Your Wedding Party Photos Outside

As equally important as your day-of couple wedding photography ideas are your wedding party shots. Consider going outside to capture the backdrop of your location with your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Rebecca Marie did just that when photographing this Chicago bride and her bridal party on the grounds of this cityscape-friendly venue. Optimizing the natural light and going outdoors will allow your photographer to capture the essence of your destination.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A wedding couple kissing in Central Park, with a pond and skyscrapers in the background.

Utilize Iconic Landmarks

When marrying in a major city where there is an abundance of famed landmarks, consider one of these spots as the backdrop to your wedding day portraits. We love this New York City session where photographer Charlotte Jenks Lewis embraced Central Park’s quintessential setting.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A wedding couple smiling at each other in a portrait, taken in a grassy area overlooking a pond.

Don’t Just Focus on Cityscapes

But a great city photo doesn’t have to feature an iconic landmark or towering building to make it special. For this day-of photo session, Genevieve de Manio captured this Boston couple in an open-air space that featured an abundance of greenery and the natural beauty of the city’s lush surroundings.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A reception setup with rectangular tables, acrylic chairs, tall white and green centerpieces, and a hanging floral and greenery installation.

Highlight Grand Architectural Design

Skyline backdrops aren’t the only way to  showcase the uniqueness of your city and venue. Work with your photographer to highlight your venue’s standout architectural features, like this grand reception space at the Corinthian Houston, photographed by Kelli Durham.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A wedding couple smiling at each other on a rooftop in Los Angeles.

Make Your Way to the Rooftop

Sometimes all you need is a rooftop to capture the essence (and skyline) of your I-dos. Clear skies made this backdrop at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, captured by Sanaz Photography, the perfect addition to this bride and groom’s wedding day photos.

Wedding Photography Ideas: Two grooms holding hands on a farm as the sun is setting in New York.

Embrace All Times (& Light) of the Day

After-dark ceremonies can embody some of your city’s most magical moments, so don’t underestimate the power of a lack of natural light. As the sun was setting on this New York fête at June Farms, Sarah Sayeed made sure to capture this intimate outdoor moment.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride wearing a white gown with black accents, turning her back to the camera while standing on an outdoor staircase.

Showcase Seasonal Elements

Each season brings a unique natural element that can benefit your wedding day and ultimately, your day-of photos. Embrace the moment!

Other Wedding Photography Ideas

There are so many great wedding photography ideas out there, and sometimes, it’s all about the special details. Consider the “little things” you care about most—maybe it’s an artful shot of your day-of accessories, or capturing your sibling’s face when you walk down the aisle—and come up with a plan while chatting with your photographer. The big and small elements work together to create the perfect day, and there are so many angles, poses, and more to capture every possible moment:

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bar on a rooftop with a greenery wall with flowers and the couple's names on it.

Brainstorm the Most Picturesque Setups

Set up guest gathering areas (like your cocktail hour bar or an interactive station during your reception) in a spot that embraces your venue’s most picturesque setting. For this Louisiana setup at The Chicory, Greer Gattuso photographed a rooftop cocktail hour that gave guests an unparalleled view of New Orleans.

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bride and her father walking toward a wedding ceremony setup on a golf course overlooking the ocean in Northern California.

Discuss Drone Imagery Early

“If you have a vision for an overhead shot for your wedding, it’s best not to assume the photographer is going to have a drone ready to capture that for you without any notice. If drone photos are a priority, consider enlisting the help of your video teams who are shooting with a drone to get a still shot or two that your photographer can include in your gallery.” —Rich Lander, wedding photographer, Chard Photographer

Wedding Photography Ideas: A bird's-eye view of an outdoor ceremony with a long white aisle.

Consider Booking a Room With a View

“Look for potential areas where to execute overhead photos before the ceremony. For example, this photo was taken from the bride’s room where it overlooked the ceremony site. If these types of aerial shots are important to you, consider booking a room that offers a view to the ceremony site. Also, arrange access for the photographer so that he/she can access the room or rooftop during the ceremony for photos.” —Esther Sun, wedding photographer

Wedding Photography Ideas: A table marked

Prioritize Your Color Palette

Consider working with your vendor team on a color story that highlights rather than distracts from your location’s surrounding elements. Melani Lust captured the soft, blush color palette of this Big Apple wedding, a complement to the neutral colors of the New York Historical Society's brilliant exhibition of the 20th century Picasso, Le Tricorne.

Wedding Photography Ideas: An oversize leaf table runner on a table with a cream-colored tablecloth and.

Don’t Skip the Details

Even if the main event is your location’s scenic backdrop, don’t underestimate the power of your decor to set the mood. A large-leaf table runner captured by Jonathan Scott Studio helped emphasize the tropical surroundings of this Miami Beach reception at Fisher Island Club.

Wedding Photography Ideas: An overhead view of two brides looking at each other on a mountain with a larger mountain range beyond.

Venture to New Heights

Work with your photographer to coordinate shots that embrace the different views and perspectives of your location.

Wedding Photography Ideas: Two grooms and their guests looking out at fireworks overhead in Texas.

Inform Your Photographer of Major Moments and Surprises

If you have a coordinated ending to your first dance, a grand entrance, or an end-of-the-night surprise for your guests, make sure to inform your photographer prior to your celebration to better guarantee they can be in the right spot to capture the moment.

There isn’t a “right” way to plan out and take photos on your wedding day. But by thinking through your favorite wedding photography ideas, you can better understand what you need and want. It’s all about staying true to yourself, your partner, and the love you share. 

So, on the count of three…say, “Cheese!”