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Elopement Photo Tips

Updated: Jun 29

Everyone wants the best elopement/wedding photos possible. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your photos are all that you are wanting! These tips are in no particular order.


bride and groom at hampton park charleston sc blue bridal bouquet

Be in the moment! Don't stress about what happened before the ceremony, or what will happen after the photos. Enjoy the moment! Fixate on each other!


Smile! I really shouldn't have to say that. You may be shaking your head at me. But I cant count the amount of times I have to say "smile" during a photo shoot! Not sure of your smile? Practice a grin in the mirror. Once you have the look you want, move into a smile. I have had several brides and/or grooms have to do a giggle to get the right smile on their face for photos.


Since we are talking about smiles, let's discuss teeth. As you practice your smile in the mirror, take a look at your teeth. Grab a square of tissue paper and place it by your teeth. If you are not happy with the whiteness of your teeth, you can make a dental appointment and get them professionally cleaned and add in the whitening. Not enough time, or despise the dentist (or the dentist bill), then run to the store and get some Crest whitening strips (or any brand you prefer) and use them a couple times a week until you get the desired result!


funny wedding photo, groom grabs brides butt

Be YOU!! Since you are in the moment, and not stressing out, let your personality through!!! Want to climb in a tree? Grab each others butts? Skip down an alley? Run into the surf? Whatever it is, DO it!! Don't hold back thinking "oh thats not proper"... just be you!!


Wedding dress material. Here are a few cons to different materials: Bugs love tulle. You are outdoors, and small bugs will get into the tulle. Lace acts like a magnet. Lace will pick up anything it touches, and snag what it cant pick up. Common items picked up are twigs and leaves. Common snags are brick and cement. Satin wrinkles when you look at it. If traveling with satin, rent or buy a steamer so you can steam the dress. Just be aware of the material you are purchasing and how it will react to the outdoor environment.


elopement photo at Charles Towne Landing

Wedding dress length and width. You will see me cringe if you show up in a full wedding dress with the petticoat and long train for the Capturing Charleston package where we wander downtown. Not only is the bride worn out from picking up and carrying her heavy (and hot) train, but much photo time is wasted fanning out the train, and scooping up the train... Of course, as I said earlier, be you! LOL... Many brides choose to have a train for the ceremony, and a few photos after. Then we bustle the dress. If you want to bustle the dress, be sure that YOU know how to bustle the dress (or a trusted guest) and can give clear instructions to me if I am bustling it!


Wedding dress style. If you are uncomfortable with a certain area of your body, try to cover it. If you think you have flabby arms, get a dress with sleeves. Be sure to see the dress at all angles, to see if it creates "back fat bulge". I have seen this on many skinny women, so dont just assume, I am thin so I wont have back bulge. There is also the front "bra bulge", where the area next to your underarm and above your breasts does a bulge.


capturing downtown charleston elopement package

Undergarments. When wearing a white or ivory dress, you need to wear nude color undergarments. Make sure the bra you choose is not showing under the dress. If you are worried about your dress slipping down a bit and your bra showing, it will take you out of the moment, and you will be stressing out about it! If you are using the sticker bra things, try them out with the dress walking and siting and moving to make sure they are going to stay on, and work with the dress.


Professional hair and makeup. I use Karen and her team exclusively. She has over 20 years experience and is fully trained and licensed in her art. Although her main focus is brides, she also does services for Patricia of Southern Charm (our local Bravo reality tv show). You will receive celebrity treatment with Karen and her team! She travels to you to perform the services! You can view her work on our previous brides on our photo website. I dont make money on her services. I have her as part of my packages because I know she does excellent work and makes my editing easier! She uses airbrush to smooth out the skin, and uses makeup that can hold up to our humidity! She can copy any hair style (updo, half updo, etc) that you would like. (see more on hair style below)

bridal photo after hair and makeup lily bridal bouquet

Makeup. If doing your own makeup, practice. Watch youtube videos. Practice some more. (I am NOT knowledgable in this at all!) You may wear makeup everyday to work but for your photos, you need to have a heavier hand. You need to prime, create shadows and contours. You will need a double layer of mascara (Put on a layer, curl. do something else, then put on another layer of mascara after the first has set). I think they make an eyelash primer as well. If you have small or deep set (hooded) eyes, DO NOT line in black. It will not bring them out in photos. I say this as a photographer. I am clueless on makeup, and rarely wear it! When I am having a family photo shoot, I have Karen do mine!!


Hair Style. Whether doing this on your own, or having Karen do it, you need to think beyond "this is the style I want". Have 2-3 looks in mind. It is windy on the beach!! If you are having a beach elopement, then you need to plan on at least a half updo. For beach weddings, as a photographer, I love updos! Nothing ruins the photo more than hair blowing across the face, or into the grooms face... 2-3 days before the wedding, I am going to email you about the weather. If hot and/or windy, you may want an updo.


beach wedding isle of palms

Eyes. we covered the eye makeup. But whiteness is EVERYTHING. I happen to use an eyedrops called Lumify. It is more expensive then other brands. but it clears your eyes for 8 hours, for nice bright white eyes!! Add a layer (or 2) of mascara, and you can get away with that if you are a minimalist like me!!


Ceremony photos. You will see us circling around to catch every angle possible. We usually have the bride hold the flowers until vows are spoken. This way some photos show the bouquet, and then others will show just holding hands as it serious!! Close ups of each while vows are being spoken. Rings are exchanged (more on next point), and of course the kiss photo. Our officiants know, and are stepping out of the frame as they say "you may now kiss the bride". That moment is yours, not the officiant. I hate when couples bring in their own officiant that doesn't move and the kiss pic is of the couple and the officiants head.


beach elopement at Folly Beach

Rings. The officiant asks you to get out the rings. At this moment pause to see where the photographer is. When I am shooting, I go behind the officiant, so I am closest to the brides hand. This way I can get the close up shot of the ring being placed on the finger. Here is the most important part..... Hold the ring from the bottom, and slide it on the finger. If you do it from the top (over 75% do...) you cannot see the ring!! Typically the groom places the brides ring first. As the bride gets ready to do the same thing, again, pause a moment and check on the photographer. If I am moving from behind the officiant to the "audience" side, give me the 5 seconds to get into place!


elopement ceremony at Charles town landing

Immediately after the ceremony. You have kissed, hugged, kissed again! Now the confused look comes... Now what? LOL. Get your flowers. They were passed off during the ceremony. Now just a frontal shot of the two of you as husband and wife. Yes, you are married now (mostly)! I will be there for direction, but the next thing is to walk toward me, holding hands, and raise up your free hand in a YEA as you walk out of the ceremony. After you clear your guests, I will have you kiss again with the guests in the background.


We now give you a few minutes to get hugs and congratulations from your guests, before signing the marriage license. Yep, time to make it legal! Now you are officially married!!!


signing the marriage license

Group Photos. If there are particular group/individual photos with your guests that you want to be sure to capture, make a list! I will be placing a photo request form on the website, and you can email it to me anytime!


Communication. This is probably one of the most important items! If you feel you have a problem area, tell me! "Penny, I think I have flabby arms." I will then pose you at different angles, have you hold your arms differently, or have the groom place his hand over your bicep to cover it. Whatever I need to do to make sure your photos turn out as you wish! But I can't make adjustments if you dont tell me!!


Posing. I tell every couple, "If I pose you in a way that does not feel like you or is awkward, let me know!!" I would rather adjust the pose, or change the pose than take a photo that will scream "awkward"! I promise, you will not hurt my feelings. Let me know of any physical limitations. I dont want to ask a groom to pick up the bride when he had back surgery 3 months ago!!!


groom scoops up the bride for a cute photo

Your poses. have some poses in mind. You can view many poses on our website, on pinterest, or many other locations. Save the images and email them to me, save them on your phone, or print them out. The only caution I will put out there is be realistic. If the photo is of a groom that has the bride in a "dirty dancing lift ", please practice it first!!!



dirty dancing at wedding photo

I hope this advice/suggestions has helped out! If you have any questions, send me an email, and I will be happy to answer them!!

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