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I capture the unspoken — the glances, the silences — drawing from New York's pulse and the richness of global cultures. Every wedding is its own intricate narrative. Rooted in theatre and life's everyday rhythms, I document moments both transient and timeless. 

Hey, I'm susan!

How to Capture Non-Traditional Wedding Photos That Feel Authentic

While traditions can sometimes be great, so can breaking with traditions and doing things that feel really authentic to you. If you are looking for these types of non-traditional wedding photos, I’ve got you covered. 

As a New York wedding photographer, I have seen my fair share of non-traditional weddings and love working with couples who want to break the mold and create something that truly feels like them.  

So, if you and your partner are looking for a way to get unique photos while also having a wedding that really reflects your personality and relationship, take a look at a few of my top tips for getting non-traditional wedding photos. 

Tips for Getting Non-Traditional Wedding Photos That Feel Authentic 

Break traditions if you don’t love them 

Weddings are entirely immersed in traditions, and while some of them are great for some couples, that might not be the case for you, and that is totally okay. While you are planning your wedding, if a certain tradition just doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. 

Not seeing your partner until you walk down the aisle is a great example of this. While a ton of couples still follow this tradition, many couples are now opting out of that and doing things like a first look or getting ready together. 

First looks are an amazing chance to get photos of you and your partner in a really intimate and one-of-a-kind moment. You can even decide to do something special and unique during your first look. 

Maybe you share your favorite drinks together, write each other a note, or give each other a small gift that reminds you of them. This small moment can be one of the most memorable and gives you and your partner a chance to relax and enjoy the moment. 

You can also just get ready together instead. I love this option, and it really allows you and your partner to have fun, let loose, and enjoy the day together. Grab some snacks, put on some music, and take time to appreciate this step you are taking together. A couple embraces tenderly on a secluded rocky shore, with a serene bay and lush hills in the background, highlighting a private moment during their tropical destination wedding

Incorporate the things you love into your wedding day and photos 

One of the best ways to get non-traditional wedding photos is to incorporate things that you love into your wedding day and photos. 

This can seriously be anything you want. If you love reading together, maybe you can take some portraits with your favorite books. Or, if you are gamers, you can bring your controllers along as fun props. 

Have a furry friend at home? Incorporate them into your wedding somehow, or just take portraits with them. Having your dog as your ring bearer or greeting guests as they come in will not only make for amazing wedding photos, but it will also lighten the mood and put a smile on everyone’s faces. 

When it comes to how to do this, you really can take the reins and incorporate as much of your personality and the things that you each love into the photos. The more out of the box you think, the more unique and memorable the moments will be! A couple stands beneath a fairytale-like chandelier in an enchanted forest setting, surrounded by twinkling lights and natural beauty, creating a magical wedding night atmosphere

Embrace the candid moments 

Candid moments are always some of my favorite ways to get non-traditional wedding photos. Whether this is out on the dance floor, in small moments as you are getting ready, or during portraits with your partner, these moments are so fun to remember. 

When it comes to candid moments, it is important to trust your photographer. They may be able to help you take a deep breath, relax a bit, and really start to feel like yourself. You can also just take the approach of pretending that your photographer isn’t even there or is just one of your close friends. I know during some parts of your wedding day, this may be a bit hard. But, when it comes to the other moments during your wedding day, just be yourself, don’t feel like you have to pose or look perfect, and enjoy the time with your friends and family – the candid moments will come. A bride and groom laugh heartily in a well-lit room with urban views, as the groom reads from an orange envelope, indicating a joyful, candid moment during their wedding day

Have a different reception outfit that you can have fun with 

If you are looking for a surprise element to your wedding that can also make for some really fun wedding photos, have a different reception outfit than your ceremony outfit. You can go as big or as low-key with this as you want. 

If you still want to be a bit more formal, you can still wear dressier clothes, but take it a step down from a full wedding outfit – shorter-length clothes, less formal layers, etc. You can even ditch the white and wear something that matches your wedding colors or something that really describes your personality. 

On the other hand, you can go super casual and comfortable with your reception outfit, too. Ditch the formal clothes for matching sweatsuits and Nike shoes. You can even get your whole wedding party in on it and make a grand entrance in all-new outfits!

Two grooms in stylish white and black suits pose in front of a vibrant graffiti wall, one with a contemplative expression and the other with a smirk, reflecting a modern and urban wedding theme

Come up with a fun shot list with your photographer

Inevitably, when you are planning your wedding, you are going to come across some wedding photos that really stand out to you and make you stop scrolling. As you are planning your day out with your photographer, talk about any of those images or poses that you loved and see how you can incorporate those into your wedding. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to copy the pose exactly – in fact, most of the time that doesn’t turn out how you want it to. But you and your photographer can take inspiration from that and come up with a fun shot list to create unique photos that you and your partner love! Two brides celebrate their wedding, one in a tuxedo and the other in a white dress, playfully opening a bottle of champagne by a wooden staircase, with joy and anticipation in the air

Add elements like fun lights, photo booths, or props to your reception 

Your reception is a great time to get more non-traditional photos. Not only are you a bit more relaxed after all the events of the day, but you have all of your closest friends and family there to celebrate with you. 

If you really want to elevate the party (and the photos) to the next level, think about adding things like fun lights, photo booths, or other props to your reception that you and your guests can use as you dance the night away. 

Photo booths always make people laugh and shine, so having one right off the dance floor can allow your photographer to capture some of these moments as you and your guests have fun. 

Colorful or string lighting can also create a really unique effect in your images and can give you pictures that make you feel like you are right back on the dance floor. A close-up, monochromatic shot of a newlywed couple exchanging rings, with a focus on their hands and the wedding bands, set against the soft backdrop of their elegant attire.

Remember this day and these photos are for you 

At the end of the day, these photos are for you and your partner, so make them whatever you want them to be. If you’re not into taking super formal portraits and that just doesn’t feel authentic to you, don’t do them. 

It is your wedding day, and you have control over how you spend it and who you spend it with. Try not to focus on things that other people are doing or saying that you should do, and create a day filled with things that you feel comfortable doing and that feel really good to you. Under the shade of a majestic tree, two grooms in cream suits share a joyful moment, with their hands intertwined, symbolizing their union in a lush garden setting

Have a post-wedding photoshoot 

Now, if you are looking to go a really non-traditional route, you can opt not to do portraits on your wedding day and do a post-wedding photoshoot instead. This can be really fun and unique for a couple of reasons. 

First, doing your portraits after your wedding day can make you feel a bit more relaxed and less rushed. While you’ll still have to do bigger group photos on your wedding day, you and your partner can take time on another day to do your own portraits. 

There are so many things going on that day, and you usually have to stick to a pretty tight schedule. Just trying to force photos in or feel like you have to run all over the place doesn’t create the images you are dreaming of. 

Doing a post-wedding shoot also gives you more time to actually enjoy your wedding with all of your guests. Usually, couples will miss out on most, if not all, of their cocktail hour doing portraits. 

While some people may be okay with this, you may not want to miss these moments with the people you love. Plus doing this gives you even more candid moments and lets you actually enjoy the amazing wedding you worked so hard planning. The newlyweds share a romantic dance in a rustic barn adorned with string lights and hanging greenery, their silhouettes illuminated by the soft ambient lighting, evoking a cozy and intimate reception

Be transparent and communicate with your photographer 

Finally, always be transparent and communicate with your photographer. If you are looking to capture something specific, make sure they know that. If there are things you just aren’t comfortable with, tell them that. 

Having this communication is not only going to give you better and more non-traditional wedding photos but also make your wedding day more enjoyable for you and your partner. A bride and groom walk hand-in-hand down a cobblestone alley lined with historic buildings, captured in a romantic black and white photograph, symbolizing a timeless wedding day stroll

Final Thoughts on Authentic Wedding Photos That are Non-Traditional

Hopefully, some of these tips for getting non-traditional wedding photos resonate with you and help you and your partner create a wedding day that feels really authentic and special to you. 

If you are still looking for the perfect photographer to capture these unique moments for you, let’s chat. I have been documenting incredible couples with unique personalities for years and can help you craft wedding photos that you will cherish forever!

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