Do-it-yourself (DIY) Wedding Photography

Your wedding photos are the most cherished part of your wedding. You get to see your big day with all your close friends and family, dressed up, looking great and happy. The only problem is that wedding photographers can charge a lot of money – and sometimes the photos don’t turn out quite how you imagined. It turns out that wedding photographers can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000! You can save yourself a lot of money by limiting the use of a professional photographer for the formal poses or foregoing a professional photographer altogether. The Wedding Lens can help! Here’s how!

Tap into your network

Do you know a photography enthusiast? They might have invested in a nice digital SLR camera or maybe they’ve even framed a few of their best shots. Or maybe you know somebody who is a photography student.

Invite three or four of these friends to be your wedding photographers. Pick one of them to be the “lead” photographer. After all, you don’t want to have your photographers running around aimlessly.

Ok, so now you have your photographers. But you’re afraid that you won’t get all the shots you would get with a professional photographer. Right?

Create a list of poses/people that you want

Here’s a check list of photos you want to make sure that your photographers get, adapted from Weddings Galore.

Before the wedding:

  1. Bride arriving at wedding site
  2. Groom and Best Man arriving at wedding site
  3. Bride alone in mirror
  4. Mother adjusting Bride's veil
  5. Bride pinning boutonniere on Dads lapel
  6. Bride pinning corsage on Mother
  7. Bride alone looking out window
  8. Groom alone (full length)
  9. Groom alone (3/4 length)
  10. Groom alone (head & shoulders)
  11. Groom profile
  12. Groom profile with hand to chin
  13. Bride looking at Groom's ring
  14. Groom looking at Bride's ring
  15. Bride and Mother
  16. Bride in foreground with Father (or Father & Mother) looking at her from background.
  17. Groom and Mother
  18. Groom in foreground with Mother (or Mother & Father) looking at him from background.
  19. Father kissing Bride on forehead (or cheek)
  20. Bride and Father
  21. Groom and Father
  22. Groom pinning boutonniere on Dads lapel
  23. Groom pinning corsage on Mother
  24. Mother pinning boutonniere on Groom
  25. Bride, Mother and Father
  26. Groom, Mother and Father
  27. Bride and Flower girl (looking at each other)
  28. Bride and Flower girl (looking at camera)
  29. Flower girl admiring Bride's gown
  30. Groom and Ring bearer
  31. Bride giving bouquets to Bridesmaids
  32. Bride and Maid (or Matron) of Honor (full length)
  33. Bride and Maid (or Matron) of Honor (head & shoulders)
  34. Groom and Best Man
  35. Best Man showing Groom watch
  36. Best Man wiping Groom's forehead with handkerchief
  37. Bride and Bridesmaids
  38. Groom and Groomsmen
  39. Groomsmen dragging Groom to wedding site
  40. Bride and Groomsmen
  41. Groom and Bridesmaids
  42. Individual portrait of each Bridesmaid
  43. Individual portrait of each Groomsman
  44. Mother putting Garter on Bride
  45. Maid of Honor putting Garter on Bride
  46. Guest book & Attendant
  47. Guest signing guest book

During the Ceremony:

  1. Ushers seating Groom's Grandparents
  2. Ushers seating Bride's Grandparents
  3. Usher seating Mother of Bride
  4. Usher seating Mother and Father of Groom
  5. Soloist and/or musician(s)
  6. Bride, Father, and attendants lined up ready to enter wedding ceremony area
  7. Groom and Family (Mother, Father, siblings)
  8. Bride and Family (Mother, Father, siblings)
  9. Groom with siblings
  10. Flower girl & Ring bearer coming down aisle
  11. Individual Bridesmaids & Groomsmen coming down aisle
  12. Bride with siblings
  13. Bride & Father coming down aisle (front view)
  14. Bride & Father coming down aisle (back view showing full train, if one)
  15. Time exposure from back of venue, during the ceremony
  16. Bride & Groom exchanging rings
  17. First Kiss as Husband and Wife!
  18. Bride & Groom with flower girl and ring bearer
  19. Bride and Groom returning down the aisle
  20. Exterior view of wedding ceremony venue

Formal poses:

  1. Bride posed alone (front view-full length)
  2. Bride posed alone (back view-full length)
  3. Bride posed alone (front view-3/4 length)
  4. Bride posed alone (back view-3/4 length)
  5. Bride posed alone (head & shoulders)
  6. Bridal profile
  7. Bride with Grandparents
  8. Bride and Groom together looking at camera (full length)
  9. Bride and Groom together looking off camera (full length)
  10. Bride and Groom facing each other, holding hands (full length)
  11. Bride and Groom together (3/4 length)
  12. Bride and Groom together looking at camera (head & shoulders)
  13. Bride and Groom together looking off camera (head & shoulders)
  14. Bride (w/back to camera) facing Groom (both looking off camera - head & shoulders)
  15. Groom with Grandparents
  16. Bride and Groom with Bride's Parents
  17. Bride and Groom with Bride's Grandparents
  18. Bride's Grandparents (together)
  19. Bride's Grandmother
  20. Bride's Grandfather
  21. Bride and Groom with Groom's Parents
  22. Bride and Groom with Groom's Grandparents
  23. Groom's Grandparents (together)
  24. Groom's Grandmother
  25. Groom's Grandfather
  26. Bride and Groom silhouetted against beautiful background
  27. Bride and Groom with officiant
  28. Bride with attendants looking at ring
  29. Time exposure of Bride and Groom looking at rings
  30. Time exposure of Bride and Groom kissing
  31. Bride and Groom kissing with wedding party peeking from background
  32. Bride and Groom with wedding party
  33. Bride and Groom leaving wedding venue (running through rice, bubbles, flower petals, etc.)

Reception & other photographs:

  1. Bride's Cake alone
  2. Bride and Groom cutting Bride's cake
  3. Photograph(s) of Bridal table setting
  4. Bride feeding Bride's cake to Groom
  5. Groom feeding Bride's cake to Bride
  6. Groom's Cake alone
  7. Bride and Groom posed in front of the wedding venue
  8. Entire wedding party posed in front of the wedding venue
  9. Bride and Groom cutting Groom's cake
  10. Bride feeding Groom's cake to Groom
  11. Witnesses signing marriage license (if applicable)
  12. Groom feeding Groom's cake to Bride
  13. Bride and Groom at dinner table
  14. Wedding party at dinner table
  15. Food & cake servers
  16. Bride and Father dancing
  17. Bride and Groom with wine glasses
  18. Best man toasting Bride and Groom
  19. Close-up of hands, rings
  20. Close-up of hands, rings, napkin
  21. Close-up of hands, rings, flowers
  22. Gift table alone
  23. Gift table with couple
  24. Groom removing garter
  25. Groom throwing garter (posed, looking at camera)
  26. Groomsmen & other men catching garter
  27. Bride throwing bouquet (posed, looking at camera)
  28. Girls catching bouquet
  29. Spotlight of the invitation and bouquet
  30. Bride and Groom dancing together
  31. Groom dancing with his Mother
  32. Groom dancing with Brides Mother
  33. Bride dancing with her Father
  34. Bride dancing with Grooms Father
  35. Photograph of the Disk Jockey or Band
  36. Candid photos of any special friends of Bride & Groom
  37. Candid photos of each table at reception
  38. Outdoor, romantic poses of Bride and Groom (full length, close-up, etc.)
  39. Wedding Party/Friends Decorating Bride & Grooms Car
  40. Decorated car ready to leave
  41. Bride with Groom looking on from background
  42. Groom with Bride looking on from background
  43. Candid of soloist
  44. Bride with friends
  45. Groom with friends
  46. Parents hugging/kissing couple good-bye
  47. Bride and Groom with car decorated (exterior view)
  48. Groom carrying Bride in arms (with decorated car in background)
  49. Groom holding car door open for Bride
  50. Bride and Groom in car ready to leave
  51. Bride and Groom in car leaving ceremony venue or reception
  52. Bride and Groom looking out rear window of car
  53. Any Large Family Groups

Obviously you can do silly versions of each of these to add character to your will-be-photo album. And your lead photographer can divide up who does what – or more than one photographer can take some of these photos from slightly different angles.

Now, you have all these photos. What do you do?

Upload the photos

Your photographers can upload all the photos onto a site like The Wedding Lens – an online photo sharing site designed specifically for weddings. You can then send an invite to your guests to view the photos and select their favorite ones. Or you can take your time, look at them, and download the best ones.

Why are you downloading them?

Create your wedding album

After you’ve downloaded your favorite photos, go to another site like Professional Weddings Albums or Wedding Albums and More, both of which sell leather-bound wedding albums that you design yourself.

Voila! A beautiful wedding album without the cost of hiring a photographer!

If you’re worried that your friend-photographers won’t do as great of a job, here are some tips and tricks for great photography.

Tips and Tricks for the Photographers

Be sure to turn off the sound on your camera. The last thing you want is stark silence filled with the click of your camera.

Digital Photography School gives great advice for things your photographers should know or figure out before starting to shoot. For example:

  • Do some research on photography and figure out exactly how your camera works.
  • Work with the couple to figure out if there is a particular style of photograph that they prefer or if there are specific photos that they really want.
  • Come up with a shot list (see above!) and take it with you so you can check off each photo and you're sure each photo was taken.
  • Create a master schedule of which photos will be taken when. Make sure you assign at least two photographers to take each shot.
  • Learn to use diffused light. There may be places where you can't use a flash, so you should either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or increase the ISO.
  • Consider the background. Look around the location in advance to see what would be a good background. “Look for uncluttered areas and shaded spots out of direct sunlight where there's unlikely to be a wandering great aunt wander into the back of the shot."
  • Don't delete anything! You might be able to crop or fix some of the photos later and there might be something beautiful that you're not initially seeing.
  • Take shots at different angles, like down low, up high, wide angles, etc.
  • Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and prepare to take a second photo right after the formal one. Often that captures the photo the best.
  • Consider fill in flash. Particularly in backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill in flash is a must.
  • Expect the unexpected – and keep taking photos! When things go "wrong," like it starts to rain, keep taking photos. Even though it seems stressful, these photos will add to the memories and can be the perfect addition to the photo album.

Remember, your friends should be sure to know a lot about their cameras and your expectations. If you need more help figuring out how to frame a shot, what kind of film to use (if you are using film), exposure, lenses, etc, then check out the tips on Christopher Maxwell Photography, which has an amazing list of tips.


My wife and I used WeddingLens for our wedding last year, and we got ~1000 photos within about a week (our wedding had about 60 guests). Well worth the price.

Leo & Grace | Maui, Hawaii

May 24, 2009