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How to Plan for Perfect Wedding Photographs

January 24, 2019

How an expert in the wedding industry rolls: The bride is wedding planner extraordinaire Sarah of Leila Ryan Events

A Fun Summer Wedding in Newport by Trish + Mariah: Owner Team



Wondering how to plan for perfect wedding photographs? Of course you are! Who doesn’t want perfect wedding photographs?!

We’ve known Sarah for quite some time and we were thrilled when she and her friend Katie got the entrepreneurial bug and created their company, Leila Ryan Events. I can’t think of two women better balanced and better suited to be be business partners and creative entrepreneurs! Take it from Trish and I, business partners and creative entrepreneurs since 2005 … we know a winning partnership when we see one! Success in our industry was imminent for Katie and Sarah and it’s been a joy to watch them blossom! #girlpower

Imagine our delight when Sarah contacted us to say that she herself was engaged! Obviously, the day would be beautiful and perfectly planned and we understood how important the photographs were to Sarah. It was an exciting honor to have Sarah, who has seen so much photography and met so many of the photographers in this area, choose us to capture her amazing day. Nothing short of perfection would do for our special bride!

However, you don’t have to be a wedding planner to have terrific photos on your day. Just take a page out of Sarah’s book to facilitate your own gorgeous images. I’ll walk you through all the little things this smart cookie did to ensure perfect wedding photographs.



Sarah had a copy of her invitation suite available to us when we arrived. She also had some greens from the florist and some extra silk ribbon from the bouquet to use in styling the detail images.

Little touches like this really help to pull the details together. The leaves and greens are a theme featured heavily in all of Sarah’s photos. This is nice because the images remain cohesive even as we move from one location to the next. The invitation photo is also a great way to begin your wedding album.


As we move through photographing the details, we’re keeping the palette, lighting and textures consistent because we had those additional little elements we incorporate which made a big impact.

Sarah and Katie set up all the details for us in a room that was uncluttered and had nice light. We didn’t have to go searching for all of her pretty bridal things because they had organized them before we got there. This saved a lot of time and meant I {Mariah} could spend more time photographing the details! Fun!!! P.S. I love velvet ring boxes! Get one! 😉


Sarah is a thoughtful daughter. She had sweet gifts for her parents. Giving these tokens to her parents made for some great candids later on. If you are going to give something special to your parents, make sure you wait until we are there so we can photograph their reactions!


Sarah and Katie hung all the gowns for us in this great spot. They had pretty hangers too (this is key), the hangers don’t have to be custom but they should be made of wood or fabric and they should all match! I didn’t have to wrestle with plastic, tissue paper and garment bags. There was no clutter from unfurling the gowns because it had been done before I arrived. Also- confession… I DO NOT like to unwrap the wedding gown. I don’t really want to touch it before the bride is in it. I had a traumatizing experience once … but that’s a story for another day.


Here’s the Queen! All hail Sarah! 🙂 Love her!

Wavelengths Salon created Sarah’s gorgeous bridal look.


Ah, the infamous robe photo. This image is sometimes the bane of my existence. Reason being, it often throws the schedule out of whack if the bridesmaids are not getting dressed because we are waiting to do a robe photo! That being said, this group was on time {early in fact} and there was plenty of time to do it. If you love the robe photo then just make sure there’s time to snap it as soon as the bride is finished with hair and makeup!


Sarah’s mom was dressed, ready and waiting to help Sarah get dressed! She’s a good peanut.


Meanwhile down the road, Trish was photographing this handsome guy getting ready. Nice light, a good mirror, and some choice mancessories make for perfect groom prep photos.


Photo hint: Man photos are better when the subject has something to do… like pouring drinks and toasting. Please do not do this with red solo cups. 🙁 We will be sad and then we will make all those photos black and white. LOL.


This vintage Ford truck was one of the best additions to the day. It made for a fun accent and great prop! It was functional too… there were metal buckets filled with ice and craft beers in the back!


See… men in action… good for photos! Boys get awkward just standing around.


Here’s Katie helping Sarah with her veil before the first look. This was one of my favorite moments from the day. I wonder how many times Sarah has done this for her own brides? Countless times I’m sure! It was so nice to see her being pampered and primped by her lovely friend Katie, who would NEVER let her traipse off to the first look with misaligned buttons and a wonky veil! That’s what {organized} friends are for!


That image on the left… Gah!

Sarah and Dan rented an hour of time at the Elms Mansion for their formal photographs. Sarah wanted that special opulent Newport feel, but she also understood that there were other perks to a location like this. Firstly, the location is {mostly} private. Also, the location had all of these great architectural elements that we could play with!


Seriously. Their expressions! So cute!


Weatherlow Florals created Sarah’s beautiful cascading bouquet.


Love birds!

Another fabulous thing about the Elms Mansion is all the shade! For evenly lit, flattering, soft portraits you need open shade. Not to mention… when it’s a hot summer day the shade is sweet relief! Especially for the members of the bridal party in suits!


Love turtles. LOL.

This fountain is fantastic. So are the people in front of it.


Even the neutral greenery type backdrops in this location are special.

Here’s Trish working her veil magic. There was no wind to blow the veil around so we created our own. 😉


The colors in these next photos make me so happy. Simple palettes are best. I love the colors of nature. They’re relaxing on the eyes.


The great thing about taking the bridal party off location for photos is that we are essentially holding them captive until the photos are done! LOL! Everyone understands the mission, no one wanders off to the bathroom or back to the hotel room, unknowingly messing up the photo schedule. We are able to breeze through our list of photos and even do extras like these which are so nice to have!


Of course it also helps when your whole wedding party is stunning. Notice that nice open shade in this image. No one is squinting, there are no harsh shadows either.


This is one of my favorite bridal party photos ever. The lesson here is ask only your cooperative friends to be in your bridal party. If you’re high maintenance, you need not apply for the job! Right? Haha!


In between moments like this always make for the best “portraits.” Formals don’t have to be boring and stiff. Have fun with it!


Getting those family pictures done too! Yes! We are seriously freeing up the cocktail hour right now! Sarah and Dan wanted to enjoy the cocktail hour but they also wanted great formal photos, so they separated the two! Thank you!!!


A last few photos with Sarah and Dan. The great thing about Sarah is that she totally trusted us but also wasn’t afraid to make some requests. We really want to make all of your photo dreams come true so if something strikes you as a good idea on the day of the wedding, shout it out! If it’s at all possible we’ll try!


Dan’s one request was ocean photos. We couldn’t call the formals a wrap without some special seaside images so we headed over to Brenton Point for some oceany romance.


Veils + ocean? YES!


Red headed hot stuff in cool blue. Rawr.


Dan also really wanted this trolley photo on the right. Check! Groom happy!


Next up … all of Sarah and Katie’s detail planning and reception styling becomes a beautiful reality!

Legacy String Trio was on hand for ceremony music. Kitchen Companion Caterer handled the catering at the event, JDP Cakes and Favors created the amazing donut towers, cake, and wall. Farm house Florist created the arrangements in the tent and cocktail hour while Weatherflow Florist created the ceremony arch, truck decorations and tent poles.

See how the simple fresh greenery  is the continued through all the details? Love it!

Sarah and Katie made sure their was plenty of time in the schedule for us to photograph the details before the guests arrived.


Sarah and Dan are actually more of a foursome than a duo. Fur babies Moose and Roo made a brief appearance before the ceremony for a family portrait. I wasn’t kidding when I said they are babies; Roo is literally a puppy and Moose… well he’s a momma’s boy through and through. Blue Flash video could not fly their drone in Moose’s presence because it sounded too much like a fly and Moose is afraid of flies. LOL 🙂 Despite the challenges, with the help of the handlers we got an awesome family portrait! If you plan on having your doggie at the wedding make sure that you have a handler to manage their every need (not to mention keep them from crawling into your lap)!




Guest streaming … always a crowd pleaser! It’s very exciting when the guests start to arrive!


Okay, enough fooling around, let’s get these two married already.


Love this moment between Sarah’s dad and Dan! Also, Dan’s dad performed the ceremony. It made it so personal and meaningful. If at all possible it is so nice to have a person who knows the couple well perform the ceremony. The officiant is literally standing right between the couple in all of the ceremony images. If it’s just a rando… well, it’s not as special.


Great emotions are what we’re looking for during the vows. Dan { a self proclaimed man of few words} really came out of left field dazzling us all with his heartfelt vows to Sarah. He said something to the effect that, “despite being a naturally introverted person, being with her made him want to be more engaged in the world.” I thought that was an amazing compliment. As an introvert myself, I know how difficult it can be to truly open yourself up like that. It was very touching. I was crying. So was everyone else. #danfanforlife


Taken Ladies, sorry.




Just walked down the aisle as man and wife? Time for selfies with your photographers!


Katie checking in with Sarah about the schedule. Sarah seems to want to throw the clipboard to the wind in this photo! LOL Just kidding she’d never do that! The clipboard is sacred.


Love “big picture” story telling like this.


Then closer up stories like this one… Once upon a time there was a sassy bride who loved to dance..

The great thing about having two photographers at your wedding is that you don’t miss funny moments like this while you’re waiting inside to take photos like …



I mean, you’d want both right? Of course!


It’s fun to see every one really relax into party mode. Even though there are still formalities to get through, the vibe of the post ceremony party is so great!

Don’t fret your way through your wedding reception! If the dinner is late, if the toasts go on too long, if you haven’t had a chance to visit all the tables … please try and enjoy and relax. The night goes by so fast, you don’t want to miss it! Plus you don’t want to have a stink face on the whole night. That’s not going to be good for pictures!


Sarah and her Gram. 🙂


Party time with Sultans of Swing!

P.S. Definitely don’t forget to dance your butt off.


Lastly, take a moment even if it’s just 2 minutes to breathe a little fresh evening air, take in your party from a distance, and give your S.O. a cuddle. Oh, and take us with you so we can get a great last photo for your album!


Sarah and Dan- We LOVE you guys! Thank you for choosing us to be your photographers. Thank you for trusting us, laughing with us, and selfie-ing with us! The wedding was epic! Cheers to so many years of friendship ahead of us with you both and Katie too! XOXO Mariah and Trish



  1. Sarah Heaney says:

    Oh my gosh this blog post is beyond epic! I think laughed out loud every time I scrolled down.. wait I know I did! HA! Thank you SO incredibly much for such an amazing memorable day you ladies are truly phenomenal and made our wedding day everything I could imagine and more! 💕💕<3 You guys are THE BEST! Now we’re boarding our plane to Thailand for our honeymoon and the door just closed to the plane and I was scrolling and reading as fast as I could to read every last bit of this amazing post! 💕💕 Ha!

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