How to Get the Best Out of Your Wedding Day Photos

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So much of your wedding day is momentary; the cake will be eaten, the DJ will play his last song and the flowers will make the day for someone else, once donated. Photographs, however, are forever. They are the keepsakes you will hold dear to your heart once the memories fade.

We always recommend that you allot a decent portion of your wedding budget towards photography, so you owe it to yourself to make sure you are getting the best pictures you possibly can. We are talking about those golden hour photos, your first look and the send off.  Couples will often have a “shot list” that they share with their photographer before the big day, but before you do that, make sure to read on for some advice on the moments you may overlook. 

Golden Hour

Golden hour is when the sun is low on the horizon, typically about an hour before sunset. The light is warm and soft, creating a natural diffused light that reduces shadows.The shadows cast by trees and buildings directly after saying “I do” can take away from your images, but fortunately those shadows do not happen during golden hour. It is one of the most flattering times to take an outdoor photo, creating a natural  but magical moment.

Golden hour is the perfect time for wedding portraits, whether it is just the couple or the entire wedding party, the glow of the setting sun accentuates the beauty of your day.  We guarantee these are the images that will be displayed in your home for years to come.

The wonderful thing about golden hour photos is that the backdrop doesn’t matter.  Whether you get married at the foothills of a mountain range, in a vineyard or on a bustling city street, golden hour will consistently produce natural beauty. With the right angles and setting, any landscape can be transformed into a stunning backdrop for your wedding portraits. 

One piece of advice…golden hour is fleeting, so plan ahead with your photographer and wedding planner.  Arrange for about 15-20 minutes to take golden hour shots and make sure you know exactly when it will occur ahead of time. If you don’t have a strategic plan for your golden hour shots, the best lighting can happen during toasts, dinner and special dances, so planning ahead and making sure the important people are on board is key to being able to enjoy your reception while still having the opportunity to hit the jackpot with your wedding pics! 

The First Look

The tradition of not seeing one another before the ceremony is history as far as most weddings are concerned. It was considered bad luck to get a glimpse of one another pre-wedding once upon a time. Modern weddings have rivaled this custom with  rituals that would make our grandparents sigh. Today, most couples set eyes on one another before waltzing down the aisle…and we love it.  

A first look photo is not only a private and emotional moment for the couple, but from a planner’s standpoint it alleviates the rush after saying “I do” to get in all the important photographs before cocktail hour. This intimate moment offers candid photos of the admiration between the two of you in a moment that goes unmatched. 

Bonus: It alleviates those pre-wedding jitters! FIrst look photographs tend to free up some time in your schedule. You can include wedding party and family photos at this time too, as opposed to planning them during cocktail hour.  If you choose to enjoy every moment of your wedding, first look photos have benefits abound. Living in the moment is something we encourage all of our couples to do on their wedding day, and a first look photo session will lessen the amount of times the photographer will have to pull you away from the festivities.

The Send Off

A long held wedding tradition is the couple’s grand exit at the end of the night. The celebratory wedding exit is another age old tradition that has been modified to make it exciting and fun and an awesome photo op to boot. If a send off photo is something you have your heart set on, the first thing you need to do is ensure that your photography coverage continues through the end of the night. 

A send off photo can be a very special shot if you plan on doing something extra special as you exit. Whether you give your guests sparklers or maracas, we have come a long way from rice throwing, and the pictures are proof.  We have seen champagne showers, sky lanterns and smoke bombs…whatever you desire make sure that your photographer is there to capture this photo worthy moment.

Family Group Photos

We know that a Planner telling you to plan every moment of your group photos is quite ironic… but it’s the best piece of advice that we can give you on your wedding day. Remember that handy dandy shot list that we mentioned earlier? We cannot stress the importance of having a preset list of people for group photos and the specific groupings of your VIPs that you’d like photographed together. When a photographer has this list prepped and ready to go, it makes for a seamless family photo session and avoids any confusions or frustrations that can happen on the big day.

Our Planner Tip: Be sure to consult your parents about who they may want group pictures of on your wedding day as you’re compiling this list for the photographer. There should be no surprises about who should be involved in photos and who wants pictures with who that day, so make sure that your closest family members have a hand in planning for this as well!  

“A picture is worth a thousand words,”  we couldn’t think of a truer statement…especially when it comes to wedding photos. A day that is shrouded in love, commitment and happiness deserves to be remembered for decades to come, and photographs will guarantee that those memories last a lifetime. The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to make sure you know exactly what you want and plan ahead with your planner and photographer…from that point on it will work like a well oiled machine. Take a look here for some photo inspiration.

Are you debating about whether or not to do a first look?  Read our blog to learn more about this intimate and lovely wedding moment. 

Follow along for our best tips, tricks, and advice that we've gathered after almost a decade of making wedding magic happen! 



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