Wedding Photos Guide

My guide to AWESOME wedding photos

Disclaimer: Seriously there are NO rules. My best advice is DON’T LET EVERYONE TELL YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING – Including me. I have a bunch of tips below giving you ideas, but NONE of this is required – please do what suits you. Change the timeline, don’t have getting ready photos, or do (okay I love them). Have a huge bridal party, or have no bridal party. Your wedding doesn’t have to be unplugged, you don’t need to wear shoes, you don’t have to have bonbonerie’s, you don’t have to play the Nutbush – Just do YOU!!


Just do your thing and don’t worry about the photos. Just be excited with your friends and family about everything that is happening that day. It’s best to let your friends/family also know not to worry about the photos, because there is always that one bridesmaid or family member that feels they have to come up with ideas for photos. During the getting ready stages it’s best to let things unfold as they do, and I’ll be there to capture all the laughter and the tears in between.

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Music always helps with the mood, so make sure you allocate a bridesmaid/groomsman to organise this.

As for where you choose to get ready, window/natural light is always best and much better than having the “orange” down lights on. But even if you have no choice than to get ready in a dark motel inn, I’ll make it work!! It’s not about the room you get ready in, it’s about the little moments and interactions that happen between your family and friends. However if you have the budget to get ready in a well lit, spacious masterpiece I definitely wont be objecting!

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Getting ready photos get you used to ME, and the camera, so it’s important not to skip this part (yes I am looking at you 99% of grooms who say they don’t want getting ready photos).

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Remember, there are no rules! (okay if you get married in a church, there are some). One of the weirdest things I find is when the Bride/groom comes down the aisle to finally meet their fiance at the other end, and they stand there like strangers at an arranged marriage. Hold hands, squeeze hands, hug, KISS. The first thing I did at my wedding when I got to the end of the aisle (besides laughing/crying the whole way down), was hug and KISS Brad, because I hadn’t seen him seen him all day and I was so HAPPY to see him. You really don’t need to be so formal. But again, each to their own for sure!! And families do have certain expectations and traditions.

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Unplugged ceremonies are my fav, and they are great for you too, as you’re not met with a sea of iphones. Nobody has EVER taken a good ceremony photo with their iphone, and if they did, you never get to see it. It’s also better for the professional photos if everyone is present and actually watching you both get married. It allows me to get great photos of your guests smiling and crying rather than a photo of them holding up their iphone.

Oh, and throw confetti or petals! BEST.SHOT.EVER.

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DONT.SKIP.THIS. This is the first hing that gets cut from the schedule by wedding planners/photographers because they want to fast forward to family photos and location photos.  But that’s so SILLY because you get the BEST photos of your guests during this time. Everyone is so excited for you guys, running in for a tearful or excited hug, squeezing you way too hard, smooshing your makeup, it really is the best.

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To be honest, there is never an easy or quick way to do this. But we have to do it because family photos are super important. The hardest thing about this is your family and guests don’t realise that the bridal party needs to get away for location photos, so they like to stop and chat to 5 different friends on the way over to where the family photos are happening. Or uncle Bob has gone to the bar, and Aunty Flo has gone to freshen up her makeup.

It’s suggested you make a list of family photos covering everyone that is important to you. Don’t give me the list, because to be honest I don’t know who everyone is, but do give it to a loud and bossy family member or a Bridesmaid/Groomsman who can quickly round people up. Each combination will require 3 to 4 minutes (to get people in, remove all the sunglasses and unwanted objects from their hands, and get their attention to look at the camera). You should allow about 20-30 min in your timeline for family photos, but if you have a HUGE list, it may be more.

The big group photo – well I never recommended it. It’s a bit of a mood killer for all the guests, takes a lot of time, and everyone’s face is tiny and people are hidden. Instead of trying to move 150 people into an awkwardly big group, we could be shooting more mingling and hugs and getting really good photos of lots of people, instead of a not so great photo of 150 tiny heads together with most people hidden. Unless you have previously sussed out a super tall ladder (a step ladder doesn’t cut it) or high standing point then I really don’t recommend this shot.

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I recommend 60min of actual shooting time, and this DOESN’T include the 20 minute drive between A and B. 30min with you guys AND the bridal party, and 30min with you guys alone, chilling out and celebrating the fact that you just got MARRIED!! If I only get 10min, I’ll work with that, but lets aim for 60 so we can get some non-rushed relaxed photos of you and your best friends.

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Yes I know you don’t like photos, always look awkward in photos, and you hate looking at the camera. But please relax and put your trust in me. Yes I WILL get some standard posed photos, for Mum, Dad and Grandma, and trust me you WILL appreciate these after the day. But then we can have some FUN! I will have you hug, kiss, walk, spin, run, pop champagne, listen to my bad jokes, and more. It can feel awkward at first, but sometimes that is a great thing because it actually gets you laughing at yourselves and each other, and that’s when I snap snap snap!! I don’t want perfection (what even is that anyway?), I want YOU, showing your personalities, laughing at each other and just enjoying each others company. I will of course remind you to pop your chin out, move your arm so it isn’t squished against your side making it look double the size, and adjust your dress if need be. I have plenty of actions for you to do and jokes up my sleeve to get you feeling super relaxed – so embrace the awkwardness!!  Emotion over perfection, every time! There is nothing you can do that’s wrong.

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I’ll even catch all the silly moments as well! These can be some super funny memories to look back on.

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Oh and I nearly forgot, get your dress dirty! This is why dry cleaners exist. If we need to jump that fence, or cross that paddock to get an amazing shot, I think we should. But again, don’t let me tell you what to do ;).  After my wedding my dress was SO DIRTY at the bottom. It came up good as new after the dry cleaner (even the red wine stain came out!).

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The more light the better in my photographic opinion. I’m not saying set up huge flood lights so it looks like day, but do embrace festoon lighting, fairy lights, candles etc. It makes for much more interesting photos rather that a black background with massive flash on everyone’s face. It also looks super cool on the dance floor if you have festoon or fairy lights. But just tell the DJ to wait until the first dance is done before he/she cranks the laser lights – otherwise you come up all spotty in your first dance photos.

And what do I do at the reception? During dinner time I have a little food break myself, but I make sure I snap all the details (cake, tables etc), snap as many reactions during the speeches as possible, and if there is any crazy dancing going on I am there!

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DO have me stay for some dance photos. Because they really are the best!

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You’re probably wondering about logistics and timing, so I’ll start with a very basic timeline that most couples go by for 8 hours coverage. Every wedding is different however and we can certainly adjust the timeline accordingly:

12:30 – Groom Getting Ready (As I shoot mostly solo, the groom is documented super early, SORRY GUYS. But you can get undressed again after I leave).

2:00 – Bride Getting Ready

4:00 – Wedding Ceremony, signing, and congratulations from guests

4:45 – family photos

5:15 – Location photos with the newly weds and bridal party

5:45 – Location photos with JUST the newly weds

7:00 – Enter into your reception and PARTTYYY

8:00 – Photographer finishes (but you should seriously hire me for longer, to get DANCE SHOTS!!)


Thanks so much for showing interest in having me document your day. If we haven’t already, lets meet in person to chat about exactly what’s most important to you about your photography and wedding. As the day gets closer I work with you to form a timeline that suits your wedding day perfectly. After shooting over 100 weddings in the last decade and being married myself in 2019, I truly have seen it all and happy to give advice wherever I can ♥

Mel Silva xoxo


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