You want amazing wedding reception photos, and your photographers want to provide them to you!
Here are some ways you can help your photographer out, giving them the setup they need to wow you with reception photos!
Tip # 1: Reserve Seats for Your Photographers
Reserving a seat for your photographers, preferably near the head table, gives them space to set down their heavy equipment, grab drinks of water, and eat a quick meal before the toasts, all within easy line of sight to the head table so that no important impromptu moments are missed! A special vendor table is fine, as long as it's still close to all the action! Even if you aren't assigning seats at your reception, we strongly recommend you specifically reserve seats for your photographers.
Tip # 2: Have Your Photographers Eat at the Same Time You Do
Let's face it, no one wants pictures of themselves eating. Having your photographers eat at the same time as you makes certain that there are no pictures of you eating (except at cake cutting time!) and that your photographers are done with their meals well before the toasts begin, so they can be ready to snap away. On that note, please know that every photographer I've ever talked with sure does appreciate the courtesy of a meal on a long work day (remember, there will be no other opportunities for your photographer to eat). It's also a good idea to check with your photographers to see if they have any special dietary needs (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, etc.) so that they can actually eat the meal you're providing them with. They will absolutely appreciate the courtesy!
Tip # 3: Follow the Light
Nearly all photographers prefer to shoot by natural light when possible, so if any part of your reception will be during daylight hours, you can take advantage by doing things like setting up the head table across from (not in front of) a window (so that you're well lit, not back-lit), setting up your dessert table in an area that has some pretty natural light, and making sure that all of your family and couples portraits are completed while there is still light to spare!
Tip # 4: Don't Surprise Your Photographer
If you're, say, having Bucky Badger come and surprise your wedding guests, or having someone jump out of a giant cake, or any number of fun and awesome surprise wedding reception events, just make sure that your photographer is in the loop on what's happening, and when it's happening, so they can best position themselves to get great photos.
Tip # 5: Designate a Go-To Person
This could be the Best Man, the Maid of Honor, the DJ, the Wedding Planner/Event Coordinator, or just some nice friend, but the person you designate as the go-to person for your photographers should be in know on reception timing and events, and be able to answer questions that arise, so that you can just sit back and relax, and your designated person can answer any questions that arise for your photographers on timing, events, etc.
If you follow these tips, your photographer will thank you, and you'll also get more amazing photos because of it!