bride looking in mirror while getting ready for her wedding with two bridesmaids watching
Olli Studio

You’ll likely pose for more pictures on your wedding day than ever before, so if there’s a good time to learn how to look good in photos, there’s no time like the present. If you’ve hired a photographer with loads of experience, you’re taking the right first step towards ensuring that your wedding photos will come out just how you hope. A professional who’s photographed plenty of weddings knows all the right tricks of the trade, proper angles and tactics for achieving the perfect shot.

We asked top wedding photographers to share their best-kept secrets on how to look good in wedding photos.

Trust your photographer

In addition to choosing a photographer who’s shot their share of weddings, you’ll want to select someone who you’re compatible with. “If you like your photographer, you are more likely to trust their recommendations and your photos will look better,” says Kesha Lambert, a photographer in New Rochelle, New York. She suggests trusting your gut. “Your photographer's work should not only excite you, but also excite the person behind the lens,” she adds. “When you choose someone whose approach to capturing your wedding day fits in with your personal style and vision, it translates to comfort in front of the lens.”

Schedule an engagement shoot

Once you’ve chosen a photographer for your big day, book your engagement shoot with them as well. While it might seem unnecessary and merely another expense, experts agree that it can serve as a well-served practice run and a way to learn how to look good in wedding photos. “Doing an engagement shoot before the wedding is important not only to capture that beautiful chapter of your love story, but also because it gives you and your photographer time to build a rapport and get comfortable with one another,” says Leah Gunn Emerick of LGEmerick Photography in Los Angeles, California and Lee's Summit, Missouri. “He or she will learn what your best angles and poses are while you learn what it is like to be in front of the camera.”

Get your hair and makeup professionally done

No matter how much you love doing your own hair and makeup, most experts agree that your wedding day is not the day to take control of your beauty situation. Instead, leave it to the pros. “Makeup looks quite a bit different on camera than in person, so some brides will think they are wearing too much makeup, especially if they're not used to wearing makeup and then look at their photos and realize they just look flawless,” explains Joanna Moss of Joanna Moss Photography in Port Coquitlam, Canada. Hair and makeup professionals truly understand how to look good in wedding photos, and can help you make it happen.

Maintain great posture

It sounds simple enough, but in the heat of the moment, with all the chaos surrounding your wedding day, you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to stand up straight in your photos, experts say. “Standing up tall with the shoulders back and down not only makes people appear taller, it also makes them look much more confident,” says Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers in Boston, Massachusetts. “Additionally, it makes you look more relaxed when your shoulders are down rather than tensed up toward the ears.”

Try not to lock your joints

While keeping good posture is important, you don’t want to overdo it either. Natural is key when it comes to how to look good in wedding photos, so you want to allow your body to move the way it naturally does merely without slouching. As Phillips puts it: If a joint bends, bend it. “Joints were made to bend, so try putting soft bends at the elbows, wrists and fingers to keep your body language looking softer and more realistic,” he says. “If a bride holds a bouquet and completely locks her arm out, it looks very stiff and unnatural.”

Stay relaxed

Given the sheer volume of photos, and the time it will take to shoot them, it’s no surprise if you feel a little (or a lot) exhausted throughout your big day. But try your best not to let this show in the photos. Phillips suggests taking a few seconds in between takes to have a sip of water and relax your jaw so you that have a more natural look. Don’t underestimate the power of real smiles! If you keep yourself laughing, then your whole face will stay relaxed and natural. Just have fun! If you must fake a smile, fake a laugh first. It will relax your face, and your shoulders too.

Know your good side

If you have a preference for a particular side, cue your photographer in so he or she can photograph you from that side more than the other. “Faces are rarely symmetrical and usually they have a side that looks better than the other,” says Phillips. “I figured out that my left side is the side of my face I prefer because it has a slightly larger eye (yes, that’s a good thing in this context) and my cheekbone seems to look better on that side.” Not sure which side you prefer more? Have your partner snap a few photos of both with the same background so you can easily compare.

Stand in the best lighting

Photographers agree that lighting can make or break wedding photos. “Gloomy lighting can be tough, but one safe bet is to find a nice, bright, window,” suggests Stephanie Vegliante of Stephanie Vegliante Photography in Massachusetts. “Natural light is forgiving to blemishes and is so much more gentle and flattering than harsh flashes or strobe lights. There is nothing quite like a magical sunset or a soft glow outdoors, but if you don’t have the luxury of either of those just run to the nearest window.” This tip extends to selfie use too!