Picture Perfect: Find a Photographer
Your photos will be only as good as the person who takes them, so first you need to find an artist who can capture you beautifully on film. Start by polling friends whose wedding shots you love. Browse local bridal magazines and online portfolios, looking at photographers' work and noting what styles appeal to you. Do you like lush, romantic images, something inspired by fashion photography, or shots with a photo-journalistic bent?
Make a list of your top contenders, and be prepared to see several before you make a choice. At your interview, peruse plenty of images (ask to see out-takes of a wedding as well as the album), but also make sure you have a rapport with the photographer. After all, this is someone who you'll be working with for an entire day -- one that's joyful but can also be stressful. Says top portrait photographer Philippe Cheng, "It's a collaborative effort. Look for someone who you think you can work with as a team."
Get Him Prepped
Once you have picked a pro, let him know as much about your wedding -- and your expectations -- as possible. Discuss your ceremony and reception sites, the time of day the event will take place, and when and where you might want your portraits taken. You may even want to scout the event locations with your photographer, who can sometimes find an interesting backdrop you may have overlooked.
Show him photos of your gown if possible and point out any details that are worth focusing on. Says portraitist Terry Gruber, "One of the key things I need to know is how much skin will be showing." Make it clear whether you want posed portraits or candid ones. Many photographers advise doing a little of both, with an emphasis on spontaneity. "I'm always happier when there are only ten to fifteen staged shots," says Gruber.
Some experts even suggest that a posed formal portrait of the bride be taken before the day of the wedding. Says wedding photographer Meg Smith, "Why not do it on a day when you don't have so much going on? I like to shoot the bride beforehand at a location we pick together."