I’m not that extra. Sure, I enjoy Instagram as much as the next person and won’t shy away from a good photo op, but I’ve never been the drunk birthday girl stumbling around the bar in a tiara. If I had a dog, I probably wouldn’t dress it up. And I don’t rock a Kardashian Kontour at the gym. But when it came to my bachelorette party, I’d say I went a little over the top. (I mean, it’s allowed, right?)

Team Bride decorations for bachelorette

As a bride-to-be, unless you have a full-service planner, there’s not much about getting married where you can just sit back and enjoy the ride — except the bachelorette. I picked the location (Miami), gave my bridesmaids and friends a loose idea of what I wanted to do, and they totally nailed it. I wanted to be super chill about the whole thing, but I write about all things style and plan photoshoots for a living. So for me, a bunch of my besties + a tropical location meant an opportunity for great photos. And so I did maybe the most extra thing I’ve ever done: I hired a professional photographer to document my bachelorette, and honestly, it was the best money I’ve spent in a while. If getting pro pics of your celebration sounds like something you want to try, scroll for my tips here’s how to get the best shots — and make the most of your money.

Bachelorette Party decorations

1. Find a photographer and settle on a rate. If you’re traveling to a new city, use local message boards or service sites like Thumbtack or TaskRabbit to find a pro in your budget with good reviews. Ask any local friends (and their friends) for recommendations. Most photographers have some flexibility, and you can negotiate up to a point. If someone’s day rate is out of your price range, suggest hiring them for a few hours instead. Make sure your package includes light retouching and gallery access so you can order prints and share images easily with your guests.

Bachelorette Party guests

2. Choose an inspiring setting. For me, travel is a major source of home decor inspo, so we honed in on an Airbnb with Instaworthy wallpaper, a royal blue kitchen, and a sitting room straight out of my boho chic dreams with floor cushions, crystals, and a hanging chair. If your hotel or house is less than photo-worthy, you can always supplement with a free public location like a beach, park or even a collection of artsy wall murals. “Having activities that can be naturally photographed is your best bet,” says photographer Alee Gleiberman, who specializes in wedding and event photography and shot my bachelorette party. “Opening Champagne, maybe lounging by the pool with fun pool floats, matching jackets as you walk down the city street, or grabbing tacos with your girls are all good examples.” Yes, you’ll get some stares as you and your squad pose. But remember, you’ll probably never see these people again.

Bachelorette Attendees in pajamas

3. Start your photo session before people begin aggressively drinking. “A few drinks here and there is a ton of fun to capture, but no one wants photos of themselves as a sloppy mess,” says Gleiberman. Point taken. My group started our session at the house around 11 AM with mimosas and a fun toast in matching pajamas. But after that, no one really had alcohol until we finished shooting and sat down for lunch.

Bachelorette Party guests

4. Write a shot list. Having a loose list of what you want to get pictures of is clutch for a few reasons. You can be more in the moment if your photographer knows what you want out of the session. And trust me, it’s much harder to think of ideas on the spot. Plus, photographers appreciate when you are organized. They want to work — not watch you figure out what to wear or where to go. I wrote my list on the plane down to Miami, and it was pretty much as simple as: candids of us in the house in matching PJs, pictures of the decorations in the house, candids walking around Wynwood Walls, and group shots and individuals at the murals. Cliché, sure, but I got exactly what I wanted because I communicated it beforehand.

Bachelorette Party guests

5. Coordinate, collaborate, and listen. Okay, the first part of this one is super extra. But if you have friends who get into photo-taking or will indulge you *just this once,* go ahead and make the ask for coordinating outfits. You wear white, they wear black, or maybe everybody has matching jackets. Or in my case, everyone wore fun patterns, but the colors were in coordinating families. As silly as it sounds, the pictures will look better. And be open to taking suggestions from your photographer. I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator than Gleiberman. She knew the area and what was feasible in our time together, offered advice on how to “be natural” in the photos, and she even gave us a ride to the place where we wanted to shoot. She also volunteered to shoot a few extra images at a cute pie place we stumbled into for a snack. The best part of hiring a photographer for your bachelorette? You’ll have these pictures forever, and you can frame a shot for each of your guests as a thank you. (And even better: No asking random strangers to get you all in the same shot.)

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(Photos via Alee Gleiberman Photography)