Getting great wedding photos is sometimes completely accidental. I mean, most bride's and groom's don't really get to practice and most people don't really know what they can do to make sure their photos are great. In fact, I'm often surprised by the fact that many people think great photos they see are candids...just caught at some moment when everything was perfect. Those beautiful candids are mostly a combination of the photographer's know-how and directions given to the bride and groom. They are the most important photos you will have from your wedding--the ones you hang on the wall. They aren't accidental and here's what you can do:
First of all, make sure your dress is comfortable!!! I can't stress that one thing enough. If you are in pain it will show on your face. Make sure you can walk, sit down and move in your dress. So many wedding gowns are so restrictive that the bride can barely breathe. This insures that all your pictures will look the same. You will stand there like a pillar and we will change the people standing near you. No romantic seated embraces or twirling happy faced shots for the bride who is just getting through the day barely able to breathe. Don't just try on the dress at the dress shop and stand in front of a mirror...sit down, dance around, throw your hands in the air ...and if you pop out of the top or it feels like a straight-jacket, look for another dress! You will be so much happier and have so much more fun.
Do not tan right before your wedding!! Tanning can make you look like an oompah loompah on film and if the groom is ruddy and the bride is golden there is no adjustment that will help. If you must tan, do it a week or more before the wedding. Try a seaweed wrap or massage instead of tanning if you need to relax.
Men, don't get your haircut right before you get married. It's the one thing that can almost be counted on: the groom will get his hair cut the day of or before the wedding. A haircut needs a week to look it's best. Some short cuts actually make it look like your balding so no haircut less than a week before. Women, try out your hair and makeup before the wedding. Some hairstyles you see in a book may be disastrous on you! The only way to know is to try it out. Some truly lovely brides get hair styles that just don't go with their faces or bodies so get your hair done well before the wedding and try it out...twice if you don't like the first one. If you need to travel for your wedding, have your hair done at home until you love it and have someone take a picture of your hair for the stylist at the wedding location.
Makeup...those mineral makeups work very well for photos. They are light and natural looking and reflect a smooth surface back to the camera. For most people light lids and dark crease works the best for eye makeup. Don't let anyone do a dark lids on you--the corpse bride is the only person that works for. It makes the eyes look sunken -- most lighting will tend to do that anyway (deep shadows under the brow) and dark eyelid makeup will make it worse. On the other hand a fairly dramatic eyeliner will make your eye-lashes look lush.
Glasses...will sometimes reflect light and hide the eyes. Some people are uncomfortable seeing themselves without glasses but remember that these images are the kind that last...and probably will be cherished by your children and their children so take a couple without the glasses so people can really see your face. On the other hand, if you wear contacts, bring glasses to wear if your eyes get tired from wearing the contacts. Comfort is really important for having fun and looking your best so if you are not comfortable without your glasses, it will be fine, just wear them (and have fun)!
Finally, my personal favorite, take time...just a little more time with your photographer while everyone else is having a good time. Steal away for 20 minutes and allow yourselves to have pictures done while you are relaxed and having fun. I promise it will be worth it.