Thanks for checking out our guide to help you make the most of your wedding day photographs. We appreciate you taking the time to read through all of this.
We will go over everything from getting ready to couples photos to timeline examples. These are just suggestions, and ultimately, we want your wedding day to reflect y’all, so take everything we say with a grain of salt. We are down for whatever you want!
Heads up: we are about to go over a lot of information, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s get going.
PS: We just revamped our Pinterest boards, and we will be adding to them quite a bit! So if you want more wedding inspo, go HERE.
These are some of our favorite to take photos on wedding days– there’s so much hustle and bustle going on, and you can just feel the love and excitement in the room. However, these emotions can be overshadowed and cluttered by bad lighting and stuff in the room. Let’s talk about how to fix this...
Cleanliness. This is so important. The beautiful and intimate moments that occur while you are getting ready can easily be cluttered by leftover Starbucks cups, gym bags, and shoes lying around. In order to make the most of these photos, make sure the room is clean by the time we arrive! Trust us– it makes a huge difference!
Lighting. The first thing we will do when we get there (besides hugs, obviously) is turn off all of the lights, if there is sufficient light in the room. It might seem counterproductive, but trust us– working with clean light is important and saves us hours on editing (so you’ll get your photos back sooner!). It means no orangey lighting. Also, choosing a location that has lots of natural light is definitely ideal.
Room Aesthetic. Lighting is so important and can make or break getting ready photos. Lots of natural light is vital for good photos. Clean décor and white walls are also great, but we can work with just about anything. If you are not able to find a space with natural light, you might consider renting an Airbnb or finish getting ready outside– once you have your dress on, you can do finishing touches outside. We know it sounds crazy, but trust us-- we love natural light for a reason!
Here are some examples of good getting ready areas, vs. bad ones.
Lauren got ready in a space that had bright, neutral walls, and was full of windows, allowing for that beautiful natural light. She also listened to our advice and cleaned up her getting ready area. This made for beautiful getting ready photos, with natural colors and allowed for the focus to be on these sweet, intimate moments shared with your best friends and family.
Dorothy got ready at her venue, and used their bridal cabin, which as you can see, has orange walls and very little window light. There were also paintings hung everywhere, and they did not clean up their getting ready space. This resulted in cluttered photos, and the orange bounced off their skin, creating an unnatural orange-glow in their photos. The tight spaces and paintings hung everywhere made it harder to get these photos as well.
Anna decided to get in her dress, and have her friends zip her up and put on final touches outside, since the place she got ready didn't have great lighting. It not only made for better photos, but it made for a fun experience!
We feel comfortable working with any light. This is just what's ideal for photographers!
HMUA. (hair and makeup artists): We suggest setting up right in front of a window for hair and makeup– it creates that clean light we were talking about and the pictures turn out beautifully.
Consider getting ready together. This is definitely untraditional, so we totally understand if you aren’t down, but these are some of the sweetest moments we’ve ever captured-– her tying his tie, him zipping up her dress, sharing laughter and love and soaking in the day together. Just the two of you preparing for your big day.
Details. Most of our work emphasizes the bride and groom and their love for each other, but as we say over and over again, our goal is to capture your story– from the details to the big picture (lol pun intended). We suggest bringing your paper details (invitations, save the dates, RSVP cards, etc.) to where you are getting ready. Please also have both rings, your veil, shoes, and your dress with you. Also, if you have loose florals, they help make detail photos all the more beautiful. Bringing these things with you to the place you are getting ready is incredibly helpful and helps us stay on track with your timeline!
A first look gives you and your love a chance to each other before the wedding in a more private and intimate setting, and allows you to soak in the moment together. A lot of photographers push first looks, but we understand that it your day, and we want your day to reflect your wishes. However, here are some reasons that we highly recommend first looks.
It takes the pressure off. There’s a lot of pressure and nerves going into your wedding ceremony. As a couple who chose to do a first look, we know that a lot of that has to do with the anticipation of seeing your soon-to-be-spouse. We chose to see each other before the wedding, and it totally took away the nerves and pressure. We were able to relax and party for the rest of the day. It was a sweet and intimate moment, just between the two of us.
You’ll have better photos. Often, brides assume that their love will cry when he sees her walking down the isle. Of our experience, that doesn’t happen often, and it happens regardless of whether or not he sees you beforehand. Most of the time, if the tears up during the first look, he will again during the ceremony! We definitely capture more emotions when it’s just the two of you, as opposed to when 100+ people are around (let’s be real– it’s hard to capture an intimate moment when that many people are staring at you!).
It frees up the timeline. You got that right! We usually do all of the bridal party and family photos beforehand, so after the ceremony, we will just take 20 minutes of photos for the two of you and then you are off celebrate with your friends! That way you won’t have to worry about anything after the ceremony, when you are so excited to be with your then-husband. We will take a few minutes to get photos of you two and your giddy-just-married- emotions, and then you can party all night!
This is something we really harp on. This is a moment for the two of you (while we stand back and capture it for you). When other people are watching, it creates distractions. Often, the bridesmaids will “aww” or cheer, making it harder for you to focus on each other. So we will tell everyone to hang back while we create a sweet moment just for the two of you.
If that didn't convince you... look at these sweet reactions from the groom. (And yes, they also cried during the ceremony!)
We love portrait sessions, because let's be real, these will be some of your favorite photos to look back on.
Makeup. It’s not always true that if “the makeup looks heavy in person but it will look better on camera”. We use natural light, and our style reflects more truly what is there, so we suggest that if you want to look like yourself, don’t overdo it! Sometimes it can be difficult to edit when you have on a ton of makeup, and we can’t see your eyes. Obviously, this is totally a personal preference, so you do you!
Spray tans. Spray tans are not all around bad, but we recommend getting them done at least one week before your wedding! Otherwise the tan can bleed onto your dress, which we don’t want!
Privacy, please! Again, we ask that this portrait session is reserved just for us and you (and your maid of honor so she can help carry your train). It just helps take the pressure off and allows us to hang with you in a more natural environment, hopefully making you more comforable.
Groom photos. We ask for privacy during the groom session as well, just so we can get it done quickly, because if we're all being honest, we know how much grooms hate having their photos taken, so we want to be quick and efficievnt!
Bridal Party + Family Photos
While a majority of our day is focused on unplanned and candid moments, we understand how important traditional photos are to you, and we take them very seriously.
We will talk as we get closer to your wedding date, but we usually suggest getting photos with immediate family only or keeping it to no more than 10 groupings total. We know that it can be hard to narrow everything down, but we highly recommend finding out which arrangements are most important to you and sticking to those. These are often the most stressful photos to take throughout the day, so let’s keep it simple so you can focus on partying with your friends! If there are still family photos you want, we can always snag people during the reception!
Both bridal party and family photos work best before the ceremony!
It can be difficult corralling everyone after the ceremony, and it can cut into your time, making you run late to your reception. Prior to the ceremony, the bridal party and family are usually around getting ready and decorating, so they are already all together, making it easier to do everything beforehand.
If you decide not to do a first look, please, please, please communicate a place for everyone to meet up directly after the ceremony. Make sure it is communicated clearly, because if someone lags behind, it makes the photos run behind.
We will find a nice location for a backdrop, but please understand lighting is more important than scenery! We want the lighting to be flattering for everyone.
You spend so much time and effort on planning your perfect outdoor ceremony only to realize that your planning was in vain because you get photos back with dark shadows, harsh lighting, and squinty eyes. Let us help you with that...
Backlighting. This is super important if you are planning a midday ceremony. This means setting up your ceremony so the sun is behind you and your guests are facing the sun.
Sunset is best. With little exception, we plan portraits an hour before sunset. The lighting is absolultely dreamy during this time. So, depending on the length of your ceremony, we suggest planning it an hour and a half to 2 hours before sunset, so we can do portraits during golden hour (the hour before sunset). Trust us- it makes the couple portraits absolutely stunning!
Mic stands. Microphones are helpful, but make sure that a mic stand isn’t blocking anyone’s view of the two of you. It can be distracting and draw the attention away from y’all!
After the ceremony. Please have a central location that is away from the ceremony site, and as mentioned before, please have everyone who is taking photos after the ceremony meet there. If we just walk back into the sanctuary, people will stop you and talk to you, and usually, we just don’t have time for that. We hate to have to pull you away from your guests, so it’s better if we find a place away from everyone to meet! Please communicate that with both of us and anyone who is taking photos afterward. We won’t have time to hunt down stragglers! If anyone is missing from the family photos, we will have to move on without them and try to get photos with them during the reception, so PLEASE make sure everyone knows where to be!!
Please, please, plEEease consider going unplugged!
We cannot tell you how many ceremony photos have been ruined because someone stuck their hand in the aisle to take photos with their cell phone. If someone has a nicer camera, it is in our contract that we will ask them to put it away since it’s an industry standard, it can create brand confusion, and even if they promise they won’t get in the way, 99% of the time, they do (feel free to ask us about this in person), so if there is someone who might bring theirs, we suggest telling them in advance. However, we cannot ask people to put down their cellphones. So we ask that you make it clear that your ceremony is unplugged– you can either have a sign, or have the officiant announce it (we suggest doing this so it’s crystal clear), or both!
Here’s why we aren’t a fan of “plugged” weddings: (and FYI- in some of these, it is impossible to photoshop the cellphones out)
Bride + Groom Photos
Bride and groom photos will always be our favorite. We love capturing love and the giddy emotions that encompass wedding days. These are the photos you are going to share over and over again– with family, friends, your kids. We got married a little over two years ago, and these photos are becoming more and more important to us. They are the ones you’ll look back on continually and the ones you will hang all over your house.
So with that said, let’s dive in to how to make the most of these photos, and make sure that they are memorable and reminiscent of your day.
Relax. This is definitely the most important tip out of all of them that we have shared. Be prepared to goof off and have fun during your bride and groom photos. When you are down to have fun, get goofy, and feel vulnerable, that’s when we are truly able to capture your emotions. Tell your groom to have some “dad jokes” up his sleeve, and understand that we will probably ask you to do some goofy prompts. We want this session to feel fun and life giving! No need for stress. We have a lot of fun during this time. Also, be prepared to get a little vulnerable. We will ask you some questions to hopefully evoke emotion. We want y’all to feel comfortable around us because the more real we are together, the better photos you will receive.
Sunset is best. You’ll probably hear Kat squeal a bunch during golden hour, and talk about how beautiful the light is. There’s a reason that most photographers opt to take photos during this time of day– the closer the light gets to the horizon, the more diffused the light is, and therefore, the more even it is. There’s less harsh lighting, which means less harsh shadows on your face. We recommend starting your session one hour before sunset. We also prefer at least thirty minutes together (preferably more) -- so we can capture your love and take our time doing so.
Post ceremony. We do a first look before the ceremony, and we will take some bride + groom portraits afterward, but we prefer to take a majority of your couple photos right after the ceremony. While this isn’t totally necessary and we can do all of your photos before the ceremony, after is better for a couple of reasons: 1. the lighting is better and 2. y’all are way less nervous and can relax. Plus, you’ve got those just-got-married-feels going on!
Just the two of you, please! We know that everyone is so excited and wants to be part this time, but it can be a huge distraction. This is an intimate moment between the two of y’all, and we’d like to keep it that way.
We prefer to use the light that is already available in the room as opposed to breaking out the flash, but we absolutely can if we need to-- most receptions require it in some way or another. However, there are definitely some things that can make the lighting a lot better during your reception.
Adequate lighting. If you are going to go with candles (which can be so beautiful and romantic), please have string lights as well! Just candles is usually not enough light, and can cause grainy or orange-y photos. Plus, if you don't have adequate lighting, cameras tend to have a harder time focusing. For outdoor receptions, please use string lights! We can work with whatever, but this is ideal for photographers.
DJ lights. Let's talk DJ lighting. They definitely set the mood for a party, and can get everyone out on the dance floor. However, when you use DJ lights, we will have to break out the flash to attempt to offset the blues, greens, and reds. While we love a good DJ light, we aren't crazy about some of them- the ones that cast dots or designs cannot be edited out and can be a bit distracting. That said, if you love them, go for it! It's your day, so you do you!
Here are some examples of well lit receptions vs. poorly lit receptions:
A well lit reception. Cassie + Alex listened to our advice and decided to forgo the DJ lights, and had natural uplighting, allowing for clean colors and less distracting reception photos!
A poorly lit reception. The uplighting here was white and blue, which wasn't bad. But the DJ lights made the photos distracting, and these lights are not able to be photoshopped out.
Another well lit reception. The lighting was white and there were white walls, which bounced beautifully on their skin. During the dancing portion of the night, they dimmed the lights, but still kept it natural.
Their uplighting was purple and red, which you can see reflects in their skin. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do besides put the photo in black and white. (also, these two are easily some of the funniest people we've ever worked with. Love them).
Just so you are aware. We are 100% comfortable breaking out the flash! While we prefer natural light, we always have backup lighting available. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
One last word about receptions: please, please, please feed your photographer! Most wedding days for us are 8+ hours, and we are constantly on our feet. We hardly get to take breaks for more than a few seconds at a time, and if we are lucky, we have just enough time to scarf down a protein bar. Please make sure we have a hot meal! Also, please tell the coordinator ahead of time that we will eat when the bridal party eats, that way we don’t miss anything, since nothing really happens when the bride and groom are eating! (please also make sure we have a seat so we can rest our feet!)
*note: Kat is gluten free // if you can have a gf option, that would be great. If not, let her know a few weeks in advance so she can bring something!
After shooting weddings for almost five years, we have a pretty good idea of how long everything will take. Here are some
suggestions for each area:
First look: 20 minutes
Family: 20 minutes
Bridal party: 15 minutes
Bridesmaids: 15 minutes
Groomsmen: 15 minutes
Bride: 20 minutes
Groom: 15 minutes
Bride + Groom: 30-60 minutes
1:00- getting ready
3:35- first look
3:55- entire bridal party 4:10- family photos
4:30- finish photos
5:00- ceremony 5:30-6:30- bride + groom photos 6:30- party!
* Final note about the timeline: Please make it clear to everyone that they need to be on time! When one person runs behind, everything runs behind.
Frequently Asked Questions
You seem to have a lot of opinions regarding our timeline. Is it okay if we make some suggestions? Of course! We know that this information is overwhelming, but we promise that we have your best interest at heart! We understand that not every wedding day is the same. However, based on our experience, these tips will allow for adequate timing for your wedding day and have your best interest in mind when it comes to beautiful lighting for your wedding day photographs.
I’ve always imagined my fiancé seeing me for the first time as I walk down the aisle. I’m still not sure I see the point of a first look. Any advice? We understand. We were the same way until our photographer convinced us otherwise! Now, those are some of our favorite photos from our wedding day. We’d encourage you to go back and look through the reasons why we believe doing a first look is important. But please remember, when it comes down to it, it’s YOUR day and YOUR decision, and if you’ve always pictured the moment he sees you for the first time while you’re walking down the isle, then let’s do it that way.
Our reception is planned as the sun is setting, but we don’t want to do a first look. Is that a problem? It sure is! ;) Without a first look, we still need at least 20 minutes for family photos, 20 minutes for bridal party photos, and 30 minutes for couple portraits. We’ddefinitelyrecommenddoingafirstlookorbumpinguptheceremonytotwohoursbefore sunset. Otherwise, we will be forced to take your portraits during the dark, which is absolutely not ideal. We have done them before and feel comfortable doing them, but please be aware that it is not our area of expertise as natural light photographers.
I really want photos of my groom getting ready too. Is that possible? ONLY if y'all are getting ready at the same place. If you are getting ready in different locations, even if it's only 5 minutes away, we won't be able to do that because C and I work as a team, and splitting us up can cause difficulty throughout the day. That said, we can absolutely do some staged ones for y'all!
We are getting ready at a different place than where we are getting married. Will you charge for gas? It depends on how much driving we will be doing on the day of your wedding. If it is more than 20 minutes total, we might. Let's talk about it during our consultation!
One Last Word of Advice
1. Don't be anxious! We make sessions a ton of fun. Try your best to get excited rather than nervous. If you're dreading your session, you will probably be able to tell. So go into this with a fun and refreshed attitude!
2. The first 15 minutes of anything is awkward. Embrace it! We swear you will warm up as we go, and you will feel like total models by the end of it.
3. We do a lot of goofy prompts, so be prepared to laugh a bunch and let loose!
4. DO WHAT FEELS NORMAL! Don't listen to your mom's advice to stay still and smile. If we put you in a pose that feels awkward or posey- STOP. Make it your own!
5. The more movement the better-- if you're staying still and we snap 5 photos, they will all look the same and you'll only get one back. If you move a bunch, you'll get more variety. And hey, that means more photos!
6. Don't panic if we aren't tell you what to do. It's a good thing! It means you're nailing it, and we are making sure we are getting the perfect shot.
7. IT'S A COMBINED EFFORT TO MAKE THESE PHOTOS MEANINGFUL. Be yourself. Have fun. We promise it'll pay off!
8. Remember to relax. Getting photos done doesn't have to suck! :)
9. Embrace whatever craziness comes! We cannot stress this enough-- HAVE FUN! Try not to stress, especially about something you have no control over. Nothing is ever truly "perfect"- something will probably go wrong. That's just how wedding days work. We will work our hardest to make sure everything runs smoothly, but it is most important for you to sit back and relax, be present, and ENJOY your wedding day! When you do this, not only will everything fall into place, but you will truly enjoy your wedding day and get the most amazing and authentic photos back.