How to optimize your wedding day photography


We wanted to write an informative post on how to optimize your wedding day photography.  Whether you have chosen to use us as your photographer or another competent professional, these tips will be useful to you.  First things first in the world of wedding planning: establish your priorities and do your best to stick to those priorities!  Let me encourage you to set priorities that will benefit you years after your wedding.  You know what I’m getting at, photography!  After all the loveliness of your day has passed, your wedding photography is the lasting memory that lives on long after the day has ended.  (This of course goes for your wedding film as well, if you choose to invest in that.)  Being able to relive the joy of your wedding day is contingent upon how you have chosen to invest your budget and adjust your wedding timeline for photography.


1. Timeline

Working with your photographer to establish a wedding day timeline is very important.  You want to make sure you are on the same page and that there is plenty of time prior to the ceremony and before the reception for great photos.  There is nothing more heart breaking than a couple who chooses to rush to the reception and forgo time for bride and groom portraits.  These are the moments you will look back on and cherish.  Please allow adequate time with your photographer to capture those moments between the two of you, even 15 minutes with a competent photographer will produce wonderful images.  Another great way to allot time for couple photos is to have a “first look,” where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony.  When a couple wants to rush to the reception, they end up missing out on these valuable photos.  You will have 3-4 hours at your reception to eat, drink and be merry, you will have plenty of time to celebrate!  Another great idea is to shift your cocktail hour by 15-20 minutes later, so you have more of a buffer before your reception introductions.  Here is a general idea of what you can plan on, this varies according to your ceremony and reception locations etc.

  • 3-5~ Getting Ready (Also great time for a ‘First Look’)
  • 5-5:30~ Ceremony
  • 5:30-5:40~ Guests exit ceremony location
  • 5:40-6~ Formal photos with family at ceremony location
  • 6-6:30~Photos with wedding party and bride and groom at a new setting
  • 6:40-6:45~ Get Ready for Introductions to Reception
  • Sunset photos** 15 minutes or so
  • 7-10/11~ Reception

**Depending on the time of year and location, this is a wonderful (and brief) opportunity to get more photos of the couple.  This is especially great at the beach when it can be very bright after the ceremony.


2. Setting

Pretty is the perfect setting!  Photos of the bride getting ready in a dark church room pale in comparison to photos of the bride getting ready in a bright and airy bed and breakfast room.  Pretty settings near your ceremony or reception venue are wonderful for bridal party and bride and groom photos.  Places within a short walking or driving distance are ideal, so most of the time is spent getting photographed and not traveling.  Ask your photographer for suggestions and think about places that resonate with you as a couple.

3.   First Look

Another wonderful choice is having “first look” photos for the bride and groom.  This private moment where the bride and groom see each other for the first time is documented by your photographer, and yields beautiful images!  A “first look” takes place hours before the ceremony and allows more time for beautiful photos, as well as a chance for the bride and groom to spend a few intimate moments with each other.   We love when a bride and groom decides to do a “first look,” the photographs end up being some of the most honest and touching images of the day!

bald head island wedding photos

4.  Creative License

Give your photographer space to create.  A list of photos can be helpful when dealing with different specific group shots (i.e. sorority sisters, law school friends, friends from home, etc).   However, handing your photographer a long list of generic photos (usually printed off the internet) you want taken, can detract from his/her creative photography process.  Most skilled photographers pay attention to all the little details of a wedding day, allowing them the space to photograph these moments and details ensures honest, non-contrived images from your wedding day.  By all means, alert your photographer to meaningful and unique things that may be overlooked, but usually a photo list is rarely needed.

We hope this helps you plan for amazing wedding photography!


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