Remember Chandler’s crazy engagement shoot smile in Friends? Don’t let that happen to you! Follow our top tips and banish photo fears in an instant…

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Have an engagement shoot

Most people hate having their picture taken, and if you’re one of them, you’ll need to get used to being in front of the camera before your wedding day. The best way to achieve this is by arranging an engagement or pre-wedding shoot with your photograph. Just see how it helped Chandler…

Speak face-to-face

You’ll be putting your trust in your photographer that he or she will ensure you look your bridal best, so it’s helpful that you get along with them! Once you’ve discovered someone online or in a magazine whose work you like, it’s paramount that you arrange to meet them face to face. Meet for a coffee, discuss your plans and get to feel comfortable with each other.

Laugh rather than force a smile

If you feel uneasy stepping in front of the camera, here’s a little mantra to remember for both your pre-wedding shoot and your wedding day – ‘it’s always better to laugh than to force a smile.’ Tell silly jokes with your husband or remember a funny story so that your smile comes naturally. Try smiling in the mirror at home. You might feel a bit silly at first, but if it helps you to feel more confident on your wedding day, it has to be worth it!

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Have a schedule

This is so important because you don’t want to be rushing about trying to organise things, or you’ll end up looking flushed and stressed. Schedule a time for your couple shots, portraits and group shots, and then get ushers and best men on the case to round up every- one else. Write down all the timings, either on a blackboard for everyone to see, or on a sheet of paper, which you can hand out to the bridal party.

Know your best side

There’s no shame in this, so be honest from the start. You know the way you look better than anyone, so if there’s something that you’re not 100% happy with, let your photographer know and they can discreetly work around it. If it’s good enough for Mariah Carey (she never allows anyone to photograph her from the left) then it’s good enough for you.

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Maximize natural light

Rooms with low ceilings can be dark, so avoid these if you can. Also, when you’re getting ready, choose a room with lots of windows and then sit near them! Remember it’s always best to apply your make-up in natural light.

Visit your venue

You need to visit your wedding venue with your photographer to find the best locations in which to have your wedding photographs taken. The photographer you book should offer this as standard, but if not, you must request it. By doing a venue recce beforehand you minimize the time you spend away from your guests on the day, and you can also make a plan for bad weather.

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Practice makes perfect

Spend some time before the big day practicing how you’ll stand together in ways that will flatter you both. Take a look at our real weddings for some inspiration. Show the pictures to your photographer, too, so he or she can understand the look you’re trying to create.

Hold something

Often couples say ‘I don’t know what to do with my hands.’ Well, for the girls it’s best to hold your bouquet. “I always tell my brides to hold their bouquets mid-stem – if you hold it too far down it can look a bit like a baton!” explains top florist Sabine Darrall from Glily. “Also tilt the flower heads down and angle them slightly, so you will always be able to see the full bouquet rather than a side profile.” You can also hold a wedding sign, a big trend for 2014. And right now there’s 20% off wedding signs in the Wedding Ideas Shop!

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Take it steady on the bubbles

The bubbles in Champagne can go to your head pretty quickly, and it’s not ideal to have squiffy eyes in all your wedding photographs. We’re not saying don’t have a glass in celebration, we’re just advising you to take it steady. After all, you probably won’t feel like eating a huge breakfast, especially if your dress is tight. You still want to look glamorous, poised and sophisticated all day long, not like some hot mess who couldn’t handle her alcohol.

Take deep breaths

“Before you get out of the car, take five minutes to take some deep breaths,” advises Bridal Coach Michele Paradise. “This will give you time to slow your heartbeat down and feel more relaxed before you enter the ceremony.” Feeling relaxed is key to looking good in your photos.

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Perfect posture

Think ‘long’ when you’re standing, elongate your body, extend your chin and think about pulling your body upwards to make you appear taller and thinner. Envisage pulling your belly button back towards your spine, as this will help you to naturally hold your stomach in. Also, if you turn your head slightly away from the camera it will draw the viewer’s eyes up and down instead of side to side – this will help if you dislike your ears. By posing at a three-quarter angle to the lens, your ears will appear smaller.

Troublesome arms

Many brides feel anxious about the way their upper arms appear in pictures, particularly if they’re wearing a strapless dress, but fret not. There are a few tricks you can do to minimize their appearance. Try not to stand with your arms hanging down by your sides, as this will squish your arms in to your body, causing them to look unrealistically large. Try to make a diamond shape instead – holding your bouquet centrally will help with this.

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Make me up

Arm your chief bridesmaid (or your mum) with blotting paper, lipgloss, powder and a hairbrush so she can help to refresh your look throughout the day. And don’t forget to refresh your make-up and hairstyle before your evening guests arrive. The official photos may be over but they will be snapping away, too, and you’ll want them to see you at your bridal best.

Want more top tips on perfect wedding photographs? Check out these 20 fun ideas for your bridal party and inject some personality into your wedding album!

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