Weddings are one of the most special days of most people’s lives. You get one crack at capturing your wedding photos, which become memories that will last a lifetime — that’s no small feat, to say the least. Enter Jamie and Jeremy Manstrom, the kick-butt married couple (who also share the same birthday — how cute is that?!) behind the breathtaking wedding and engagement images of Manstrom Photography.

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These Grand Forks, North Dakota-based babes are globetrotting wedding photographers who spend their days capturing moments for happy couples around the world (lucky!). We caught up with them between gigs, and they kindly sat down with us to let us in on their top 10 essentials for taking killer wedding photos. Whether you’ve gotten wrangled into taking photos for a buddy or you’re interested in enhancing your photo game with tips from the pros, read on, rock on and get to shootin’!

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1. Coffee: While Jamie and Jeremy love running their own business, it can still get tiring once in a while. They tell us, “Running your own business is awesome, but wow, does it take a ton of energy!” They take their work super seriously and won’t give their clients anything but the best, so even when there is a ton on their plates, they fuel themselves with coffee and keep on truckin’. They cite Intelligentsia (pick some up on the ‘net no matter where you are!), Blue Bottle Coffee in LA and Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. at home as their go to’s, for a really rad reason: “Those folks are detailed, exceptional and above all, passionate about what they do. Passion is contagious and inspirational regardless of what field it pertains to.” (Photo via Mighty Missouri Coffee Co.)

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2. Location Scouting: This one is a can’t miss. The Manstroms cite location scouting as “hands down the easiest way to improve your wedding photography at no cost.” Great light is what you want to keep your eyes peeled for. Be sure to give yourself lots of time, ideally the day before, to get this done. “Grab a coffee, take a walk, check out the area surrounding the ceremony and reception venue and you’ll be amazed — great locations are everywhere if you’re willing to put in the legwork!” And if you need something cute for your coffee on the go, this iced coffee tumbler will do the trick perfectly.

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3. Wiggle Room: “Rare is the wedding that runs on time from start to finish,” the Manstroms told us, so keeping on top of your schedule is absolutely essential. One way to do that is by adding wiggle room — “It’ll make the day run so much smoother.” Since scheduling can be, well, a challenge sometimes, consider investing in a pretty and ultra nifty planner like this personalized beauty.

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4. Camera Strap: “A full-frame DSLR with a 2.8 70-200mm lens is heavy, not to mention expensive,” say Jamie and Jeremy, so they strongly recommend a sturdy camera strap. The design of the HoldFast Gear MoneyMaker Multi-Camera Harness ($210) distributes the weight across your back and securely holds cameras at hip level, keeping them swing (and therefore damage) free. Huge bonus: It’s pretty darn stylish too!

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5. Books: While the Manstroms say that you can learn tons about good photos from movies (think the perspective and lighting trends people are loving in the moment), books are high on their inspo list too. “Books force your mind to fill in all the visual details. A good book is inspirational in a whole new way. Plus, you’ll know what really happens to Jon Snow way before everyone who just watches Game of Thrones.” Of course, Amazon is the perfect place to stock up, no matter where you are on the road.

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6. Comfortable Shoes: “We’re always moving, and sometimes the terrain can get a little dicey — sand, mud, ice, rocks, spilled drinks on the dance floor. They all happen, so you should have a shoe that can deal with it all.” The couple has fallen for the Onitsuka Tiger line by Asics ($23+), because it provides the essential combo of long-lasting comfort and a professional vibe. Plus, it comes in all kinds of colors and varieties, so you’ll never get bored. Not to mention, “Everyone respects a person whose favorite animal is a tiger,” according to the Manstroms.

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7. Gym Memberships: One thing you might not have guessed about wedding photography is that it’s actually a pretty physical gig. “You don’t need to be fit enough to do a full Ironman, but staying fit, active and healthy will go a long way toward helping you and your body deal with the demands of wedding photography.” For the Manstroms, that translates to a good gym membership, but if you’re not gym kind, their advice is to just get a good pair of running shoes — like these Newton Running Gravity ($53) beauties — and make sure you get out and about when you can.

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8. Travel Bag: “We photographers have a ton of equipment, none of it is cheap, and it can all be broken with a little mishandling.” That means you need a sturdy and reliable bag to transport all your stuff from exotic location to exotic location. Jamie and Jeremy rely on their trusty Think Tank Airport International V2.0 ($390) rolling bag. “It keeps everything protected, locked down and organized. It makes traveling with spendy gear about as easy as it can get and it counts as a carry-on, so the airlines losing your luggage is a non factor here.”

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9. 6-in-1 Reflector: If you really want to take your shots to the next level, the Manstroms suggest picking up a six-in-one reflector. “They do a ton, and don’t even need batteries! We always bring one along — you can bounce in as much light as you want, or just a little fill light for the unwanted shadows. The diffuse panels provide some relief from the sun when you’re photographing during the less-than-ideal times of the day.” They also cite these magic diffuse panels as a key way to capture couples when they find a moment to step away — “weddings are all about capturing those beautiful, honest moments.”

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10. KIND Granola Bars: Weddings can get long, and sitting down for a proper meal isn’t always an option. In order to combat hunger and keep energy up, Jamie and Jeremy rely on KIND bars to tide them over. “They’re super healthy, all natural, made from actual food and taste amazing.” They got hooked when they photographed a wedding in Naples, Florida for a groom who worked on the KIND team, and now they can’t do without ’em, especially their favorites: maple glazed pecan and sea salt or the dark chocolate chili almond. (Photo via KIND)

What are some of the coolest wedding photos you’ve ever seen? Share ’em with us on Instagram @BritandCo with #iamcreative!

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