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Have fun and give your photographer leeway to capture the magic and joy of your wedding ceremony and celebration. Newlyweds Marie Segura and Jeff Java of Phoenix are cheered down the aisle at Nakoma Resort in Clio after a 16-year courtship. Photo by Bob Redd Photography

Look your best in photos on the big day

When it’s time for photos on the big day, you’ll already have most of the elements you need to look terrific in your wedding portraits.

Beautiful portrait essentials

You’ll be surrounded by people you love who are wishing you joy.

Everyone will be happy, smiling and wearing gorgeous outfits.

Hopefully, the weather will be great and sunshine will light up the day.

Hairstyles will be perfect, beards trimmed and makeup will be flattering and fresh.

Armfuls of flowers and adorable little attendants will brighten up the shots.

And the bride and groom will glow.

What more could you need? A friendly, helpful and accomplished photographer, for one. And a few tips to look your very best in all those portraits.

Lighting matters a lot

Your photographer should be skilled enough to handle all the technical details for you and take the lead to ensure good, even lighting is available to create the best portraits possible.

Help them plan ahead. Do an advance walk-through with your photographer. Tour the venue on a date when you can see the location at the same time of day that you’ve planned your ceremony. Know where everyone will be positioned. Lighting conditions, angles, obstacles and challenges should be discovered ahead of time, not on your wedding day.

Look younger with this trick

Many people have a soft jaw line or a bit of a double chin and neither will flatter anyone in a portrait.

Really good photographers will work with their subjects to de-emphasize physical things like that, but in case yours doesn’t suggest it, here’s a handy tip:

Stand up straight and stick your face out, kind of like a turkey might. Models know they simply need to lightly stretch their face forward by elongating the neck and tipping their chin down. Yes, it feels weird, but it really works. No more double chin.

Looking slimmer from the side

Turn your body three-quarters from the photographer with one shoulder back and, again, stand up very straight, tummy in, shoulders back. This is far more attractive than facing straight toward to the camera. Photos come out much better when there are depth and variety in the composition of the subjects.

Just about the worst kind of shots are those  “picket fence” lineups people seem to naturally fall into. So stand very close to everyone in a horseshoe formation, one shoulder turned away and the other forward toward the camera. Again, your photographer should have expertise posing you in groups, alone and as a couple.

Plan your makeup well

Makeup can make a really big difference, too.

Most brides have help from a stylist or friends for their wedding days. Be sure your skin tone matches your neck and collarbone area for the best effect in photos. Foundation that is too light or too different in shade will show up badly in portraits and is hard to compensate for with lighting.

Also, wear only bright shades of lipstick with a bit of shine because dark, matte lipsticks can have an aging effect in photos.

Watch where you stand

Try not to stand under directly artificial light if at all possible. It wreaks havoc with white balance, casts strange shadows on your face or clothing and can ruin even the best makeup plans. Again, your photographer will be watching for things like this.

The vast majority of good wedding and event photos are taken in natural light, or at least by a window or archway where natural light is coming through.

And never have your portraits done out under a noonday sun; everyone will have pockets of shadows under their eyes and look more like an Addams Family reunion than your joyous wedding day (unless, of course, that’s the look you’re going for).

Capture color, joy and more

Wedding day props really light up a portrait. But don’t pose holding a drink in your hand, except during the wedding toast.

Hold your bouquet about waist high when standing for the bride and groom shots. Try to let light shine through your veil.

Place a hand on the shoulder of your ring bearer and flower girl in group shots. These touches convey emotion and personalize the portraits.

One way to show the closeness and love of the bridal party, especially among the bridesmaids, is to put the bride in the center and group her attendants around her in a tight circle like the petals of a rose, everyone looking upward. Your photographer should be up high or overhead for this one.

For a close-up, bride-only image, hold your bouquet just below your chin and to the side, then tilt your chin down a little and your head very slightly sideways toward the flowers.

For groomsmen shots, take the serious shot like a rock band group and then get the guys laughing, pulling his tie apart and having some last-minute fun.

Don’t be camera shy

It’s your day, so make sure to be in lots and lots of photos. The more shots you are in, the greater the chance that friends, family and your professional photographer will capture fantastic, happy photos of you on you wedding day.

And laugh! Very often, the favorite photos from any special event, especially weddings, are the group shots where everyone is laughing at something funny.

So after the formal portraits are done, designate someone to tell a joke or make a wisecrack at just the right moment to make everyone crack up for a few seconds (and when your photographer is alerted and prepared). I promise you’ll love that one. Congratulations and have fun.

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