While you could easily ask your maid of honor to bring her trusty old point-and-shoot to capture your vows, you won’t get the same archival images as you will by hiring a professional photographer. Nothing is more of a delightfully dizzying experience than your wedding day, and you’ll want to ensure that heads don’t get chopped and that your tough-as-nails dad shedding a tear as you walk down the aisle won’t be obscured by shaky hands.

Mesmerizing photos aren’t just about smiles and perfect lighting. Objects and props that you incorporate into your pictures reflect on your relationship and will lend themselves to more interesting, unique images. Photographer Gabrielle A. Chapin (940-8525, GChapinStudios.com) likes to get to know the couple to fully encapsulate their personalities with each photo she takes.

“I think the best thing that any couple can do to make their day more authentic and uniquely “them” is to pause and take a look at their relationship. I ask my clients a lot of questions to help them get started,” says Chapin, including: “Where and how did they meet? What do they like to do together? What memories stand out throughout your relationship? Are there any extra-special gifts you’ve given one another? What are your “pet” names for each other, and if they’re unusual then how did that start? It’s amazing how blank they are at first, then when I start asking questions and they just start talking, and talking, and before you know it we’ve gone off in a direction that could only be found within the bounds of their unique relationship.”

Most brides opt for traditional portraits, whether it’s for engagement photos or at the ceremony itself. But to truly capture atmosphere and raw emotion, photojournalism style has become quite popular. Photographer Sabree Hill (495-4100, SabreeHillPhotography.com) has a photojournalism background that she utilizes to create powerful images that showcase the essence of her subjects. While she loves documentary style, she understands that it’s hard for people to get away from the more posed, traditional portraiture of the past. However, photojournalism style captures a more exciting sense of nostalgia when you look back on your big day 20 years from now and feel that spark all over again.

Incorporating a little local flavor is a decidedly simple way to guarantee dynamic memories on film. Hill explains that “brass bands and second-lines are great for a quintessential NOLA feel and good subject matter for photos. They’re exhilarating and fun for guests. The majority of people here want to have a party and are down for having fun. There’s lots of dancing.”

Sandra O’Claire of Eau Claire Photographics (432-7879, EauClairePhotographics.com) also enjoys crafting enduring images by capturing fleeting moments such as “a dip on the dance floor, a tear you hoped no one else saw or a split-second laugh.” Bringing a fresh perspective to each of the 400 weddings she’s photographed, O’Claire offers timeless images with a fun edge. Having started her business in 2001, Sam Hanna joined her in ’09 and the team is available for weddings worldwide.

If you are looking for playful candids, fine art photographs and photojournalistic shots, Bob Bradford (943-2622, BobBradford.com) has amassed an outstanding reputation based on his ability at customizing portraits to accommodate a variety of tastes and styles. Not only is Bradford board-certified, but he also earned a Photographic Craftsman Degree from the Professional Photographers of America.

“Being a professional in the industry, I really knew that photography was the most important to me,” photographer Nikki Rinaldi ((860) 830-9594, NikkiNicolePhoto.com) proclaims about her own wedding. “My grandmother’s wedding images are the most important photos I have, and I wanted my own photography capture to be timeless like hers. I felt that having a classic style with a modern feel was important, for that’s similar to how I photograph and like. So I guess my own style highly influenced what I like.” She continues, “I also knew that lighting makes a huge difference at the reception: it sets the mood for the event, so we hired Luminous Event to set hundreds of candles around the fountain, on the tables and in the trees to create a romantic, soft ambiance.”

Having insider knowledge proved invaluable for Rinaldi and helped her avoid some common pitfalls that many brides make. “Time management is a crucial part of getting the shots you want without compromising having fun,” she says.

“You don’t want to be tied up standing still for portraits while your guests nosh without you. Give yourself some wiggle room and factor in extra time, especially if you have to travel from the church to the reception venue. And even though she was “off the clock,” Rinaldi chose to snap some of her own photos. “I had an old Polaroid camera and went table to table photographing our guests so I would talk to everyone and have an image of all our guests to remember.”

For Doug and Cheyenne Keese, the husband and wife team behind Arte de Vie (592-3522, ArteDeVie.com), the key is to pour on the personality. “Doug and I are both all about tailoring our photos to the couple’s personalities,” says Cheyenne.

“The more we get to know a couple, the better we can portray their real personas in the photos, instead of just some crazy poses we thought up. We feed on what our clients give us. If they tell us they want fun but then they’re quiet and don’t offer up suggestions of what fun is to them, we don’t necessarily know what direction to go in then. However, if they say they want fun and they ask if they can jump in a pool at the end of the session, now we have a better idea of what fun means to them!” While couples usually need some assistance posing properly, Doug and Cheyenne encourage couples to make it their own. Cheyenne claims that “I’ve found when they follow this advice, the photos end up having a much more natural feeling when you view them.”

Keepsakes with deep sentimental value make great subject matter as well. When she recently tied the knot, Cheyanne wore a special bluebird pin her grandmother gave her when she was 9 years old. It was a sweet way to honor her and a quirky way to incorporate “something blue.” These tokens of affection will be beautiful images to include in your own wedding album. It might be time to unearth your own treasures from grade school, or sneak into your mother’s jewelry box and surprise her with a special photo of you adorned in her favorite earrings. Memories like that can only be relived if picture-perfect.