"Keep in mind that photos that are pinned were done so because all the elements came together to create a pin-worthy image — the light, the moment, the clothing, the wind, the location, the laugh, the adorable couple, etc. Not every session will have gems of that caliber," Hebrank said. "If you do your homework up front — before hiring the photographer — you should be able to snare one whose style you love and whom you trust to do what needs to be done to capture images you will cherish forever."
Looking your best in wedding shots is up to the bride and groom, too, and luckily the experts have some tips on how to look like a million bucks.
Flatter your figure: The No. 1 tip for looking as slim as possible is to buy a dress that enhances your figure, Hebrank said. If you're lacking in the height department, aim for a dress with an unbroken line to create a longer, leaner shape. Ruching can do wonders in making your wider parts look narrower. Strapless dresses, though the most popular, are not the most flattering on all body shapes.
And if you're full on top, showing too much cleavage will only make you look heavier than you are. If you have thicker arms or robust shoulders, consider wide straps or capped sleeves. Veils that reach the elbows also are helpful for hiding thick upper arms.
If it bends, bend it: A woman will look slimmest if she places all of her weight onto the back leg (farthest from your photographer) and bends the front leg, creating an "S" shape with the body, Vensel said. The rule of thumb is, if it bends, bend it. You want to create as many shapes with your body as possible, but be sure to stand up straight. Facing straight toward the camera will add bulk so always angle your body slightly away from the camera. If your photographer doesn't suggest it, ask for him or her to shoot a portrait of you from above, Vensel said. You will look thinner when you have to look up slightly at the camera.
Fake sleeker arms: Instead of pressing your arms to your body or holding your hands behind your back, which will make arms and shoulders appear larger, hold them slightly away from the body, Hebrank said. Or, place a hand on your hip to create more of a defined shape, Vensel said.
Tip the chin: Even the most petite women can fall victim to the dreaded double chin. To avoid this, try moving your head forward slightly and lifting your chin, Hebrank said. You can also try touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth, but be sure not to tense up.
Take direction: When it's time for photos, don't overthink or the camera will pick up the gears turning in your head, Hebrank said. "If you hire a professional photographer, he or she should be able to direct you into poses that are most flattering," she said.
Take a breath: The last thing you should do before the shutter is snapped is take a deep breath and let it out, allowing your shoulders and neck to relax as the air exits, Vensel said. That will immediately make your neck look longer and remove the tension from your body.
Smile with your eyes: Tyra Banks' secret to stunning photos is to "smize," or smile with your eyes. If you feel your brow furrowing or that your smile is losing its luster, just close your eyes and take a deep breath, Hebrank said. Doing this will help reset your features and refresh your smile when you reopen your eyes. If you're going for a non-smiling photo, parting your lips can loosen up the tension in the jaw and prevent you from looking mad.
You blinked! Don't worry: If your photographer shoots digital, don't worry about blinking because doing so will only result in the deer-in-headlights look, Hebrank said. If you blink, your photographer can simply shoot another frame.
Beware of bronzer: Natural skin photographs more beautifully than tanned skin, Hebrank said. "If your groom doesn't match your level of sun-kissed, it will only be exaggerated once the saturation levels of the photograph come through. Depending on how your photographer processes images, tanned skin can look more orange than you'd want, so don't go overboard," she said.
Add a little extra: "A good makeup artist will make you look effortlessly beautiful," Vensel said. "Makeup tends to look much more toned down in photos, so in order for it to look like you are wearing any at all, you need to go slightly heavier and colors that have a tiny bit more pop." If you usually don't wear makeup, make an exception on your wedding day for at least mascara, blush and lipstick, or you will risk looking washed out in the photos, said Hebrank.
Glitter be gone: Skip lotions with shimmering elements or, worse, glitter, which can look like sweat in photos and easily transfer to dark fabrics like tuxedos when you hug or lean against them. "I've had several weddings during which time had to be spent wiping the groom's jacket off a bazillion times," Hebrank said.
Pose, then get silly: Formal portraits are a must, but be sure the photographs showcase your personalities, Vensel said. "Don't be afraid of being silly if you are a silly couple, and don't be afraid to have some romantic, elegant photos if you're more of the romantic couple. You want to be able to look at your photographs and feel like they represent you as a couple," she said.
Some other aspects of the photography are often not covered in the industry, Hebrank said: "Here are a few general tips that aren't necessarily about looking good in photos, but to help brides and grooms do their part to get good photos":
- If you are lighting the unity candle or having a similar ritual-like sand-pouring, plan ahead so the action is not hidden behind furniture or apparatus, or make sure it's set up so your back is not to the guests. The guests will want to watch you do this, and you most likely will want to get a photo of this. Churches tend to be very strict with where the photographer can go, so it is just something to look into ahead of time to ward off disappointment later.
- It sounds obvious, but if the bride and groom aren't together during parts of the day when they should be together, the pictures will look awkward. For example, during toasts or while visiting with guests, the bride and groom should be close, arms linked, holding hands or at least shoulder-to-shoulder. This will enable the photographer to get images of them in the same frame.
- For the first dance, don't be nervous. Parents might stare dreamily, but for the most part, guests won't be paying much attention. Loosen up, smile a lot, cuddle, cry, whisper sweet things, laugh, gaze at one another, but try not to talk animatedly or furrow your brow because this will be photographed. Images of your first dance should be beautiful, but sometimes, brides and grooms are so stiff, or focus too much on the dance they learned in ballroom lessons, that the moment is hardly photogenic.
- During the bride and groom portrait session, don't be overly animated. Sometimes nerves get in the way and you might feel you need to overact to achieve emotion. But if the photographer's suggested pose doesn't give you enough to go on, just rest your forehead against your beloved's forehead, look at each other's lips and smile.