Messina’s book focuses on capturing natural light to create the most engagingly gorgeous portraits.

Part of what makes folks fall in love with weddings—theirs and others—is the imagery. They scroll through blogs and flip through magazines looking for dress ideas or flower inspiration, and they’re struck again and again with these almost impossibly beautiful photographs. I don’t know if science has a name for it but there’s little room to refute the notion that women are about four thousand times as lovely on their wedding day, and men equally as handsome. Grandmothers glow, nieces and nephews become ridiculously cute.

And sure, that beauty comes from within. Without a doubt. But it also comes from the hand and eye of a skilled photographer. No doubt about that, either.

Many readers and colleagues have asked me about the fashion spread in the current issue of Seattle Met Bride & Groom, shot by LA-based photographer Elizabeth Messina. It is, indeed, a thing of beauty and we’re excited to have it in our magazine. Messina’s first book, The Luminous Portrait is available for preorder on Amazon now (it ships on April 24), and it strikes me that it’s as good a recommendation for soon-to-be-married types as it is for up and coming photographers.

The glow will come naturally, but will the ability to hold your body gracefully? Not all of us are completely at home in front of the camera, but in studying the portrait work of the best wedding shooters, couples should be able to glean angles that will work for them on the big day, and even ideas about what kinds of lighting they like best.

Of course, there are other ways to prepare. Go back through all those award-show images and watch how Rooney Mara holds her arms not in a triangle shape at her waist, but softly in front of her in a sort of relaxed air hug. And how about that grip and grin between Madonna and Andrea Riseborough? Their bodies make a slight V, not a straight plane. And even though Evan Rachel Wood is doing that hand-on-hip thing, she’s also making a pretty sweet S-curve with her body. If there’s one thing the red carpet can teach you, it’s that you really don’t even want to lock your knees and go stiff.

The photographer you hire can teach you a lot, too. Consider booking an engagement session if for no other reason than to practice your moves and work with him or her (or them; many top shooters are husband-and-wife teams) to learn how to meld your styles and come together as a team.