How to Take Wedding Photos That Slay

5 tips for insta-worthy engagement and wedding photos.

Recently, the internet has been enthralled with a newly-married couple’s wedding photos. These pictures are intimate, full of happy-tears and close-up shots of true love. Perfection!

I’m engaged and I keep thinking about how badly I want my wedding pictures to turn out this nice.

So, I’ve compiled all my best tips from my own engagement shoot, other photo sessions, and even advice from my favorite photographers to make sure you (and I) can have viral-worthy couple photos.

Guess you could re-wear this 😍 dress as a Cinderella costume… 😘👑📷: @3photographytoronto

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Check out photos from the same venue

A great way to prepare for your session is to look up past photos from the location you’ll be taking pictures. Whether it’s your wedding or an engagement shoot, you’re probably not the first one to take pictures there.

Look up photos online, find what looks best to you, and share them with your photographer. You might get some good lighting ideas or find some great backdrops.

If you’re still picking out a venue, this is a great way to narrow down locations. Maybe a couple took “okay” pictures in the garden at one place but another couple took super cute pictures on a swing set at different locations.

It will help give you ideas and narrow your choices.

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Come prepared with poses

An engagement shoot might be you and your beau’s first time taking professional photos together and it can be a little awkward to have someone take pics of you being cuddly.

If you have some poses in your back pocket, you might feel more comfortable.

With that being said, of course, your photographer will have pose ideas, but you still want to come to your session well-educated. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity for a great shot.

Look on Pinterest for some good ideas for poses. While you’re there you might get ideas for themes or even props you’ll want in the picture. A sign with your wedding date? Great! A picnic basket and blanket? Perfect!

And beyond the ideas online, you’ll want to pick something all your own. If he always kisses you on the forehead, tell your photographer you really want to get some shots of that. It’ll be personal and special to you later, and it will feel natural.

During my engagement shoot on the beach, the photographer asked if there were any poses we wanted to do. We ended up leaning against a large rock— only because it felt natural to us. Those ended up being some of our cutest photos because (as silly as it sounds) it was so “us.”

We never look the way we do in most of the pictures (of course—the pics make us look better) but it was nice to have a few photos of us “in our natural state.”

Take pictures in the outfit beforehand

You already know you shouldn’t wear large brands or bold patterns (or anything that takes away from you.) But even if you think you’ve found the perfect engagement session outfit, you’ll want to take it for a test run.

I’ve worn dresses that I thought looked great, only to find they looked horrible in pictures. A dry run is important because photos will pick out details you might not catch— you would hate it if your bra strap were showing through the back of your shirt the whole time, or if your skirt billowed out too much.

Take pictures in a few outfits before your session. And if you can, take those pics at the location you picked. Move around, take candids, try to do everything you will do on the shoot day.

This is helpful if you’re choosing between outfits, too. You can see what colors look good with the background, and narrow down your choices.

While you might not want to take your wedding dress to the location to take pictures, it’s smart to take photos from every angle in the dress you want. Even when you’re picking a dress, have someone take candids of you, so you can see how it looks on camera.

Tell your photographer how you want to look

Your photographer isn’t a mind reader, but she does want you to be happy. Any feedback you can give will make both of your experiences better. Showing her photos of couples beforehand is great, but remember to use your words during the shoot too.

If the photographer keeps telling you to pose a way you don’t like, tell her that. Maybe you don’t like that angle, or you aren’t crazy about lifting poses. Also, if you want the shoot to be more funny than romantic, say that. If you are aiming for soft looks and poses, with a lot of close ups, let her know.

Also, if you’re comfortable with it, tell the photographer you want to do candid shots. It’s fun to take some time to walk around and talk to your significant other and let the photographer click away. Get comfortable and act the way you would normally. Those are the best shots.

Sorry in advance but y’all are going to be seeing a lot of photos of these two because 😍

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Check yourself

Ask if it’s possible to see a couple of shots on the camera screen during the shoot, just to make sure you look the way you want.

I hate this one curl in my hair that always pops out, so before I take pictures, I bobby-pin that sucker down. But outside, in the middle of a shoot, my hair might move, and I would hate to have that one curl sticking out in all my pictures. Sure, things can be changed with Photoshop, but it’s important to feel confidant during the shoot too.

You should also bring a bag with a mirror, some tissues, and maybe a little bit of make up. If you’re a crier, you always want to be prepared. And if you do see a problem, you’ll want to fix it ASAP.

Planning a wedding? Love TV’s got your back in sickness and in health. Read more about planning for love that lasts a lifetime. 

Saving on Your Wedding: The Best Money-Saving Tips from a Poor Grad Student

It’s no secret that weddings can get expensive, but you don’t have to empty your savings to fund the day of your dreams.

It’s no secret that wedding costs have gotten a little out of hand. Every time I watch Say Yes to the Dress I’m shocked at how much people will spend on a single gown. Each time I see Four Weddings I gawk at the priciest events, wondering who has that kind of money.

And the truth is, the amount you spend on your wedding doesn’t really matter in the long run. How tall the cake is doesn’t say anything about how big your hearts are and the length of your train doesn’t show how much you love each other.

Still, weddings are expensive even if you’re not going for a luxury wedding. Costs add up and even the most basic features can really drain your bank account.

I realized first-hand how pricey weddings can get when I began planning ours, and as a poor grad student. The only way we could make it work was  to use my money-saving skills to keep the big day reasonable. I learned a lot about what corners to cut and how to save a few bucks, and in the end, I found a great balance.

Here are my 8 best life-hacks for saving money on your wedding and still having the day of your dreams.

1. Before you do anything else, take account of what you have

First things first: decide on what you need and what you already have.

From flowers, to wedding favors, to your dress, to centerpieces, things can really add up. However, you might not need to spend full-price on every item on your list. Doing some things yourself (instead of using a vendor) can save you a lot of money. But be careful… sometimes DIY can end up being even more expensive. The secret is to use what you’ve got.

I’m pretty crafty and I have a lot of friends that drink wine. So, I looked online for instructions on how to take the label off of empty wine bottles and how to paint them. Then I stuck some flowers in the bottles, added some tea candles, and boom, centerpieces: done.

But maybe you’re really good at baking and can make your own “cookie bar” for dessert at your reception. Or maybe you’re great at sewing and could do the alterations on your dress, or even make the whole thing.

I knew a woman whose family owned honeybees and they gave little jars of honey to wedding guests as favors. It was cute and personal, and cheaper than a comparable wedding favor.

Don’t be afraid to be creative and use what you have.

2. Reach out to friends for help.

When I first started planning my wedding, I wished I had friends in the industry. I thought it would be easier to hire people I trusted, rather than just depending on Yelp reviews to find all my vendors.

As it turned out, I did know some people in the industry, but I had to dig for them. I knew a girl in college who was starting a business as a wedding coordinator. Since she was a friend and just starting to do weddings, I got a serious discount when I hired her. Plus, I got someone I trusted to help me plan the big day.

Later on, I realized through Facebook that another old friend had a floral business. I got a great deal on some beautiful florals and got to connect with an old pal.

Then, I remembered my cousin used to take calligraphy classes. As a wedding gift, she helped me address my invitations, and they looked incredible.

Look up old friends on social media and ask around, you never know who’ll you’ll find.

3. Know which kinds of shops you’re going into. If they give you champagne… run.

I started my dress search at a cute boutique. The shop had lovely decorations and beautiful, sparkly dresses on display all over the place. When I walked in I was given champagne and shown into a giant dressing room. It was such a great experience…until I saw price tags.

Remember that some shops are “premium” shops, with premium prices. You might enjoy the fancy look and the royalty treatment of some stores… but you’ll pay for it.

I ended up looking for more hole-in-the-wall bridal salons near me. It was less like going to Tiffany’s and more like going to a neighborhood jeweler… but it was worth it. I paid a low price for a dress I loved, which is something I wouldn’t have gotten at the glitzier place.

Know what kind of shops you’re going into. If you want to try out one of the fancier salons for the experience, go for it. But don’t think those five thousand dollar dresses are your only option. Also don’t think they won’t have the same dress for a smaller price at another shop.

And when it comes down to it, just remember, you’ll only wear this dress for the one day. While you might want to look perfect, how you feel on that day, and the love you share with your partner, are much more important than what you wear. Your smile and the way you look at your spouse, will make you look perfect no matter what you’re wearing.

4. Use a friend as an officiant.

Usually, the services of a priest or rabbi will only require a donation to the church, but most officiants can cost around $500-$800.

You might need a certain officiant based on your religion, but if not, think about getting a friend to do it. It only costs about $20 to $40 to get ordained online and you could end up having a really great officiant who knows you both really well.

It could make your ceremony as special and unique as your relationship.

romantic wedding couple

5. Forget about the extra flowers.

Do you need flowers on the aisle seats? No. Do you need flowers on the table where people collect their name cards? No.

Look, flowers are expensive and all those extra arrangements can really add up. Many people spend at least five thousand on their flowers…and for many of us, that’s just not realistic.

See if a florist can do an à la carte service for you: just the bouquets and boutineers. It will cover what you need but will also keep your bill low.

As for decorating the ceremony and reception space, you can find some lanterns for cheap online or put together some cute pictures (in fancy frames) of you and your spouse on tables. Don’t be afraid to stray from those traditional flowers: it might end up making your decor even more special and personal.

6. Skip the photo booth: it’s a downgrade no one will notice.

Photo booths are a fun way to get your guests feeling wacky and it gives them a fun party favor to put on their fridge. But photo booths are super expensive, so what do you do?

Try to apply the same idea to something less pricey. Your guests will have just as much fun posing with props in front of a cool background. Put up a poster or some balloons and set out some fun hats and accessories. Or even put disposable cameras on tables. People will have fun posing and posting their pics and it won’t break your bank.

7. Ask for vendors instead of gifts from your close family.

Trust me: you can totally go without that pressure cooker you put on the registry. Or at least, you can wait until after the honeymoon to go get it yourself.

One great way to get the wedding of your dreams is to ask your close family and friends for a special wedding gift: something you can enjoy on the day. Ask your sister for the gift of the bridal bouquet (which usually costs about $100-$150) or ask your aunt for an hour or two of music from a DJ.

Most close friends and family will probably spend about $100 on your wedding present, and if you think they’re close enough, or not too traditional about gift-giving, ask for part of your wedding to be their gift. You get to save money, you won’t end up with eighteen sets of silverware, and your guest doesn’t have to wrap anything: win-win-win!

8. Make it a rule: no plus ones.

When I first made my invite list, I made a rule: no plus ones.

I know this can be unpopular, but plus ones are expensive and if you’re on a budget, this should be the first thing on your chopping block.

Your cousin might be upset that he or she can’t bring a date, but you probably don’t want some stranger (or someone you don’t know very well) at your wedding anyway.

Of course, if your guest is married, invite their spouse for sure. Or, if your best friend has had this boyfriend or girlfriend for many years, consider inviting their mate. Just don’t spend money on a random date someone scraped up for your event.

Weddings can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams of having your ideal day. Use these tips to save money in style, and save up for that honeymoon!

15 Ways to Model Your Wedding Just Like Meghan and Harry’s

Are you still swooning over the fairy tale romantic morning that was Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding?

If you’re anything like me, you are still obsessing over every minute detail of the royal couple’s gorgeous wedding at St. George’s Chapel.

Whether you were smitten with the gaggle of children walking behind Meghan or the way Harry wiped tears from his eyes when he saw his bride for the first time, it wasn’t hard to get caught up in the absolute loveliness of it all.

For engaged couples getting married soon who want to emulate Meghan and Harry’s elegant and romantic style, here are 17 ways to do so.

1. Gather up your favorite kids as your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Meghan and Harry used godchildren, nieces, nephews and children of their best friends. Sit down with your fiancé and think about what little ones you’d want to walk up the aisle with you. Family and friends may be surprised by your decision but it eliminates a lot of drama and money that bridesmaids and groomsmen would have to spend.

2. Use white flowers.


It may seem boring, but white flowers offer a gorgeous, romantic and clean aesthetic. The royal couple used white roses (one of Princess Diana’s favorites) and white peonies (Meghan’s favorite flower).

3. Choose a simple, classic wedding dress.


Part of what made Meghan look so incredibly amazing that day was her wedding dress. By going quite simple in Givenchy, she created a timeless style that would work in eras past and for years to come. In other words, if you want to create the romanticism of “my future daughter could wear this someday,” make like Meghan and go with a classic style.

4. In lieu of wedding gifts, offer the opportunity to donate to a charity.

Meghan and Harry asked for donations to their favorite charities instead of wedding gifts. They chose a diverse group—a charity for children who have lost a parent in the armed forces, a children’s HIV association and Surfers Against Sewage (perhaps a nod to Meghan’s home state of California). Think about your favorite charities and make a list for donations in instead of wedding gifts.

5. Think about sentimentality when it comes to your jewelry.

For her second outfit of the day, Meghan jetted off to her reception in a show-stopping Stella McCartney dress. What many noticed though was what was on her finger—Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring. Many speculated it could have been a gift from Harry and Meghan’s “something blue.” If you have heirlooms like this in your family collection, your wedding day might be time to think about wearing them.

6. Get married early in the day.


There’s something to be said for the song “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady. The excitement and anticipation from the morning wedding at St. George’s chapel helped nerves to get out of the way early and allowed for partying all day long. Also, there’s less of a chance of bad weather in the morning!

7. Consider marrying in a church.


Neither Harry nor Meghan are particularly religious, but they married in the historic, 500+ year old St. George’s Chapel. If you crave the beauty of having your wedding ceremony in a church just as Meghan and Harry did, consider marrying in a religious building.

8. Incorporate both of your backgrounds into your ceremony.

Part of what made Meghan and Harry’s ceremony so beautiful was that it included traditional British wedding songs and prayers, but also included Bishop Curry and his sermon that went viral and a gospel choir singing a version of “Stand By Me” that caused many to shed a tear. If your fiancé and you are from different countries like Meghan and Harry, your wedding is a wonderful time to showcase what makes you who you are.

9. Incorporate your cultures into your reception in a clever way.

Guests at the royal couple’s reception said that table names revolved around different pronunciations of the same words by Americans and the British. There was potato, tomato and oregano just to name a few. Consider fun ways like this to mash up your two families’ backgrounds.

10. Honeymoon in a quiet, secluded place.

Nothing is worse than having so many people around that your privacy is threatened, and Meghan and Harry know this all too well. They were at first rumored to be heading to Namibia, but now rumors are swirling the couple will be visiting a secluded resort in Alberta, Canada.

11. Recreate the royal couple’s wedding cake.


The lemon elderflower confection was one to remember. Luckily, if you want to budget for your wedding, HGTV offers a copycat recipe to make on your own.

12. Honor your family.

Harry is close to his brother and father and Meghan and her mother have a deep relationship. If you have that special friend or family member, don’t forget to thank them and let them know how much you love them. Harry and Meghan gave speeches, but you could always handwrite a letter to your loved ones and deliver it on your wedding day.

13. Do things your way.


When Thomas Markle turned out to not be able to make it to the wedding, Meghan opted to walk herself down half of the aisle before she met up with Prince Charles. It was a strong statement of modern feminism and showed the royal family exactly how she planned to live her life as an ex-pat. Don’t be afraid to shun tradition and plan your wedding your way.

14. Make music a central part of your ceremony.

There’s a certain romantic and emotional nature to music. It can bring you back to certain times in your life, making you remember both good times and bad. Consider adding touches of music to your ceremony as Meghan and Harry did. From the Kingdom Choir to 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, everything was picture perfect at St. George’s Chapel that day.

15. Don’t be afraid to show your affection.


Weddings don’t have to be stuffy! Harry and Meghan are known for their adorable PDA and single-handedly have made kissing and holding hands in public sweet again.

Meghan and Harry ushered in a new generation of British royalty when they married.

It was hard not to get caught up in the breathtaking, romantic wedding that was Harry and Meghan’s big day. If you are getting married soon or newly engaged, these 15 suggestions are great ways to model your nuptials just like the modern fairy-tale that was the royal couple’s.

Can’t get enough Harry and Meghan? Check out this essay on how the duo are the perfect example of a modern, empowered couple.