I met Sabrina Lightbourn some years ago, we found each other in similar spirit and immediately became dear friends. She is a woman with a gentle way to her. An energy that can disarm and put the most high-strung individual at ease. A trait that certainly works well in her favour, especially when photographing brides and grooms on their wedding day. Such a day, when pressure is high, and tolerance is at times understandably low. I wished to see how she would recommend couples minimize stress on their wedding day, and how she would draw on their photogenic qualities while also encouraging them, above all else, to have fun. Here are her top seven tips for couples preparing for their most photographed day in the history of their lives.

Form a relationship: “When choosing a photographer you of course want to love his or her style and creativity, but it’s also important to make sure that you choose someone you enjoy working with. You and your partner want to feel comfortable being yourselves in the presence of the photographer and you want to have fun in the process. If time or geography don’t allow for an in person meeting then set aside time for a Skype session. You can also go a step further and ask industry professionals for their opinion as there is a chance they have worked with the photographer, especially if they both operate within the Bahamas.”

Book an engagement session: “I am such a fan of engagement sessions for so many reasons. First off, it is a great way to experience how your photographer works and what to expect on the big day. You will have some beautiful images of you and your significant other that you can use to post on your wedding website, or you can use them on “Thank You” cards. I’ve also had request from couples who wished to blow them up and display them on their wedding day. This is also the time to get really creative with props, and again you won’t have the time constraints that are unavoidable on your wedding day.”

Create a shot-list: “This is a must, your photographer will help you establish a realistic shot list for the day. This is the important time to communicate with your photographer if there are any “must have” images and to point out any family heirlooms that might be on hand that day that are important to you. Also ask your parents if they have any “must have” images. Your photographer will capture those important moments but it never hurts to communicate the ones that mean most to you.”

Create a realistic timeline: “You and your photographer will work together to create a time line for the day. Keep in mind however that there are going to be many unforeseen delays, which often mean that the time line gets edited as the day unfolds. Once the time line is established, it’s a good idea to email it to all persons who will be in the photographs, as well as the main players who are making your vision a reality that day. I would also suggest printing it out and having a few extra on hand so that when any questions come up to do with where and when (and trust me they will) you simply can simply point to said time sheet.”

Consider a big reveal: “Let me first say, I am a traditionalist at heart and I love when the groom’s eyes sweep down the aisle and he sees his bride for the first time. That said, as a photographer, I am also a huge fan of “the reveal” and taking as many group photographs as possible before the ceremony. The bride and groom still enjoy a magical moment and they free up more time for themselves, and their families, to promptly return to their guests after the ceremony. At the end of the day though, it is a very personal decision and your photographer will make it work which ever you decide.”

Utilize props: “Props are a lot of fun, especially in an engagement session. Some of my favorites are: palm fronds, balloons, sea fans, hats, pineapples, shells, umbrellas, dogs and horses. You may find that incorporating props on the wedding day is a little more challenging as there are already so many other factors to account for but if you and your photographer communicate before hand then props can easily find their way into your wedding day images as well.”

Trust your photographer: “This is where it is really important that you trust your photographer, and where experiences like an engagement session are really helpful because you have already established a posing language each other. If you trust your photographer’s eye, then trust them when they “pose” you. Remember, you’re not seeing what they’re seeing, so if they request you to lean forward towards the camera for example, while it might feel a little strange, it might be the difference between an okay image and a great image. At the end of the day though it’s all about having fun and enjoying your special day. So whether you lean forward or not, if you are having fun and enjoying the moment then that will be reflected in your images.

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