How to love your gorgeous authentic self in your wedding photos
Inspired by and with all images by London wedding photographer Jordanna Marston
It’s not always easy to love every photo you see of yourself. With a wedding on the horizon, sometimes the pressure can pile on. There’s an expectation to be the very best version of you – and from the wedding mags and websites that appears to mean perfect makeup, perfect hair, perfect tailoring and a perfect figure. (spoiler alert: that’s not it at ALL – but bear with me)
All the pre-wedding build up gets overwhelming. We get that – and we also get that lots of brides AND grooms are going to feel nervous about looking their best on the big day. The worries about looking great in your wedding photos are real. It’s a big deal. They’ll be your forever memories, the day goes by in a blur, you’ll look at and share those photos for the rest of your lives, even your great grandchildren will see them… they’re Big and Important. So if you don’t already love yourself in photos, it can be scary thinking about how you’ll look in your wedding photographs.
It shouldn’t be, and it doesn’t need to be. And we can help you to learn to love yourself in photos, ready to fall head over heels in love with those wedding pics.
Pre-condition yourself for it…
If you’re worried about how you’ll look in your wedding photos, allow yourself some time to consider those worries. Where do they come from? How can you come to terms with those feelings? Can you overcome them in time for your wedding?
The secret is to get used to seeing photos of yourself first – way before the Big Day. Don’t even think about ‘wedding photos’ at first – get used to everyday photos of you. We all have wibbles about our bodies – it’s really common to hate bits of ourselves, but understand it’s something we’ve been conditioned to do. It comes from influences outside of us: the photos we see, the media we consume.
And because it’s conditioning that makes us super critical of how we look in photos, we can decondition ourselves. It takes a conscious effort and some time, but by unburdening our minds to what we’ve been forced to learn about how we look, we can change how we feel when we see ourselves in photos.
That feels a bit sciencey. Let’s break it down…
Learn to love yourself
Look at photos of you. Even take more photos. Take selfies, snap a pic of yourselves when you’re out in the park, and don’t shy away from looking at old photos of you.
Ask your other half which photos of you they like best, and why. Go through old pictures together. Agree to pick out the positives in each image, nothing more. Look at those parts of yourself you’re not comfortable with – but focus as well on everything and everyone else in the photo.
Look for things you do like about yourself. Your eyes, your smile, the way you forget everything else when you throw your head back and laugh. Maybe there’s a photo of the two of you together, and it takes you back to a special moment.
Think about the photos you’re seeing of yourself. Understand what you like and dislike, and what makes you feel bad, and good, when you see them.
We’re conditioned by (social) media
Instagram can be a bitch. Like, your worst school bully kind of bitch – and it hurts. Insta can make you feel inadequate, imperfect, even abnormal – the more “perfection” you see, the worse it can be. But unlike a bully, you can zap and block out the bits of insta which make you feel like sinking into a hole in the ground. Stop looking at photos of so-called ‘beautiful’ people. Especially stop following people who use filters all the time to look ‘better’. Do it now – mute and block are there for a reason.
Think of your insta feed, and even your TV and magazine habits, as your “visual diet”. Those retouched and filter-heavy images are the fuel that feeds your mind… and if every image you see is of posed perfection, you’ll come to expect that from yourself.
Those expectations are as unreal as an old pair of Snapchat bunny ears.
So change your visual diet to a healthy one. Block or mute the filters and posers, the fashion accounts and celebrities. Discover and follow body positivity accounts and ‘real’ people. There are some amazing motivators out there from gorgeous plus size yoga practitioners to mental health bloggers and more.
Find a new, authentic stream online.
Look for the real, the authentic and filter-free images on insta – this is your new context for living your life.
Follow a documentary wedding photographer – someone like Jordanna Marston. What do you see?
I love following photographers who focus on telling a story. Documentary wedding photography captures people at their best – being natural, sparkling with inner beauty, not perfectly primped and posed.
And when I say sparkling, I really do mean it – you can see the look of love in a couple’s eyes as they laugh together, the absolute joy of being with the people they love best in the world.
These are the wedding photos I love best. I’ve seen thousands and thousands of wedding photos in my years as a wedding blogger, and they’re the only ones that don’t date. Photos that tell a story, that capture love and joy and happiness… wedding photos with soul.
And that soul, that authenticity comes from happiness and confidence, not from physical perfection.
The joy, the sparkle in your eyes will come from being around people who love you, it’s almost a mirror of emotion, a spark or a warm fuzziness between families and the best of friends.
Back up a moment to pre-conditioning yourself to shine
Try a few things this week:
Take some ‘doing’ photos – pictures of you doing what you love, or simply photos of the two of you chilling at home. Capture a moment in time: your decor, the way you sit with your head on her shoulder, your favourite mugs or whisky glasses in hand, reading a book or watching a film. Little moments in life. Walks in the park, cuddles with your pets.
This will help you to focus on who you are and what you do. Take photos of your personality, the things that make you interesting – not your clothes or make up. Learn to see yourself through a different lens – no ‘flat’ photos of you staring back at the camera or fixing on a perfect insta smile. Just the genuine, authentic you.
Have a pre-wedding shoot with your photographer. Almost all wedding photographers offer this – it’s a way to relax in front of the camera, to get to know how they work, how they talk, and to just spend some quality time as a couple laughing and enjoying each other’s company – and to have your real selves captured in beautiful images. I promise, you’ll love the experience and the images will capture your very own magic. If you’re nervous about having a pre-wedding shoot, all you need to do right now is book it in with your photographer: it only takes a quick call or an email. Leave worrying about the shoot itself until later!
You’re in this together
Perhaps one of you is fine with photos. Perhaps you’re both nervous and try to avoid having your photos taken. Either way, remind yourselves that you’re in this together.
Your wedding photos are about the two of you. And when you look at a photo of you together, what do you see? You see them, not you. You see the human being you love like nothing else in the world. You see their soul, the way their eyes shine with fun and love and laughter.
So what do you think they see, when they look at a photo of you both? Quick and easy answer: they see the same, because they love you back.
It’s absolutely possible to turn that love back on yourself and to learn to see what they see, when you look at photos of you.
A few last – essential – tips for loving yourself in your wedding photos
Choose the right photographer. This is MASSIVELY important. (Like, capital letters important. Who even does that any more? That’s how important it is.) Choose a photographer whose images capture real people, shining and smiling and being natural, real live humans.
What you need is a reportage or documentary wedding photographer. (Not fine art wedding photography, not fashion style wedding photography.) If you’re not sure, most will make it clear in their ‘about’ pages exactly what they do. Follow their instagram, read their words. Look for honesty in their images, and honesty in the words they write underneath.
And remember – your wedding isn’t a visual show you’re putting on to entertain your guests. You’re not stars on a stage, you’re not models. You’re amongst friends and family. They’re not coming to see your perfect hair or makeup or figure. They’re coming to see you two declare your love, cry happy tears and beam with happiness.
Your wedding photos will tell that story. And they’ll tell it with soul and with joy – and that’s what you’ll love seeing in your wedding album in 10, 20, 50 years’ time.