How to Get the Most Joyful Wedding Photos

If you spend even thirty seconds scrolling through the wedding photos on Jacqueline Connor's website, the first thing you'll notice is an abundance of joy. Image after image, you'll see sh*t-eating grins, hands in the air, silly faces, and laughter — exactly the kind of blissful moments you dream will fill your wedding day.

There's a Secret to Wedding Days That Are Filled with the Happiest Moments: Freedom.

And the good news is that you can make choices throughout the planning process, as well as on the big day, to get your own wedding liberation. Here are some tips from Jacqueline for making that happen.

Surround Yourself with Folks Who Let You Be Your True Self — Including Your Wedding Photographer

Growing up in the theatre and dance world, the LGBTQ+ community has always been part of Jacqueline's life. So she thought it went without saying that she'd be happy to photograph queer couples. But in speaking to her first lesbian clients, she heard a story that is all too familiar: that they had to ask all of their potential vendors about being two women marrying each other before booking their services.

Jacqueline doesn't want anyone to ever have to ask that question again. That's why you'll find her inclusivity policy front and center on her website. She says, “Those are all beliefs I hold very closely in personal life. I'm a feminist. I don't think that's a dirty word. I've always been involved in those communities. They've always been so deeply ingrained in my personal beliefs that I can't fathom running a business any other way. Those stories are so important, I always want to make sure there is a home for those stories.”

Everyone who has found their person deserves to celebrate that love in a way that's personal and meaningful. And the biggest moments of joy come when we are comfortable being our true selves. So bring your real self to your wedding and make sure your guest list and vendor roster are full of people who celebrate YOU.

Forget What the Wedding Industry or Your Mom Says; Choose the Wedding You Want

“I wish people would let couples celebrate in their day,” Jacqueline notes. She doesn't want you to miss out on enjoying your day because you are too busy taking photos. You're only going to have all those people in the same room this one time — so don't stress about the things that are supposed to happen; concentrate on figuring out the things you want to happen.

Those blissful photo-worthy moments happen when you're having a great time! So do what you want to do. Be open to ignoring the musts that are coming at you from all directions as you plan. Don't worry so much about what your wedding, or your wedding photos, “should” look like. In fact, Jacqueline wishes we'd all start questioning that concept — including wedding photographers. Why should a wedding look or feel or be photographed in a certain way?

The answer is that it doesn't have to! Jacqueline's goal is for you to feel like it's ok to do whatever you want; don't feel obligated to have things you don't want. For example, one couple she photographed didn't want a cake. What they did want was pizza. They were getting a ton of pressure from their parents to have a cake, so they decided to make everyone happy: with a cake that looked like a pizza.

“People get caught up on their wedding being 'wedding' enough, or in all the details. No one is gonna care if your napkins are ecru or cream. They care if you were happy and had fun.”

Hire a Photographer Who Assumes Nothing

“I don't care what a wedding should be,” Jacqueline says. “I want what my clients want. There's never an assumption about gender identity; we talk about pronouns early on. It's not bride-centric. We talk about what's important to both parties. No one is ever just a prop.”

Jacqueline believes in building up a rapport with each couple she photographs, and that starts by ditching any preconceived notions about who you are and what kind of wedding you might be having.

“I don't care what a wedding should be,” Jacqueline says. “I want what my clients want. There's never an assumption about gender identity; we talk about pronouns early on. It's not bride-centric. We talk about what's important to both parties. No one is ever just a prop.”

A photographer without assumptions is one who'll be able to photograph whatever you have planned — whether that's straight out of a wedding magazine, totally offbeat, or something in between.

Trust Your Instincts and Go with the Flow

When your wedding day finally rolls around, you've got to give up some control and trust your feelings. There's a freedom to indulging your flights of fancy. And in that space is often where the greatest photos happen. Allow yourselves the flexibility to do what feels right on the day, even if it's not exactly what you had planned.

For example, a couple Jacqueline photographed had a long gap between their ceremony and reception. They'd finished up their formal photos and still had time to kill. They could have stuck to the plan and headed to the venue early or taken more photos. But instead, they gave into the urge to go find some tequila. And that's how they ended up in a dive bar dancing to a terrible rock band in the middle of the afternoon.

If you're like one pair of brides, you might be getting ready on a very warm day at a venue with a pool. And that might give you the idea to just jump in and cool off at the end of the day. And if you're willing to go with your gut, and your photographer will come along with you, you'll get some ridiculously happy memories captured on film.

When you enable spontaneity, you set yourselves up not only for great photos, but for a truly excellent wedding day that you'll actually enjoy!

A Wedding Day You'll Love and Great Photos to Prove It

What Jacqueline would most like you to know about your wedding is this: It's ok to have the wedding you want. It's ok to have two women in suits or not to wear fancy attire or to go to a bar or to crowd surf.

It's ok to have your wedding reflect exactly who you are.

“There's not enough in the mainstream saying that it's ok if your wedding doesn't look like Pinterest threw up on it,” Jacqueline says. It's ok if that stuff makes up your wedding, but it doesn't have to.

If you want that traditional wedding, go have it! But it's ok to have the wedding you want, and you shouldn't feel like your wedding is any less because it doesn't meet some arbitrary standard that has nothing to do with you.

Ready to hire Jacqueline Connor Photography to capture your wedding day? Reach out to her and share your love story with her.


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CINDY SAVAGE

Cindy Savage is the assistant editor of Catalyst Wedding Co. and lead wedding planner and owner of Aisle Less Traveled, based in St. Louis. She helps independent, feminist, and LGBTQ+ people plan meaningful weddings while keeping their budgets and their sanity intact. She firmly believes that everyone who has found love deserves a great wedding, no matter what size their budget is — and to make that a reality, she invented Choose Your Own Wedding, an internet-based wedding planning subscription to offer comprehensive planning support at an affordable price.

When she's not planning weddings, she can usually be found living her best introvert life: reading books, crafting, talking to her internet friends, drinking wine, wearing stretchy pants, and exercising complete control over the remote!

Photo by Amanda Summerlin Photography