About 30 minutes to an hour before the sun sets is typically the best lighting for photos. Photographers refer to this time as the “golden hour” because of the warm, glowing look that the subject gets when the sun is starting to set.
When you start planning out your wedding day, I always suggest that you find out what time the sun sets and let that dictate what time your ceremony should begin. Also, make sure to give yourself enough time for couple’s portraits within that hour window before the sun sets. Living in Indianapolis, however, I know that this isn’t always possible. With Daylight Saving Time, the sun may set too late in the evening. In that case, I like to plan for a quick sneak out right when the sun is coming down. I make sure my equipment is ready to go so that the couple can get back to their guests as quickly as possible.
2. The First look
This plays into the first tip because if the sun sets too early, then I would recommend doing a first look to take advantage of getting those golden hour photos. In addition to getting some amazing sunset photos, doing a first look allows you to knock out the majority of photos before the ceremony.
Personally, my favorite thing about doing a first look is that you have the opportunity to take all of your family photos before the ceremony as well. This saves you a good amount of time after the ceremony when things tend to be a little chaotic, not to mention trying to get everyone in the right place at the right time can be challenging. When taking the family photos prior to the ceremony, you have the ability to let everyone know what time to be there and have them waiting on you instead of you waiting on them. There are many other reasons that I love when my couples do a first look, but ultimately it is their decision and I am just happy to be there documenting their day.
3. Get yourself a good photographer!
This one might seem obvious, but if there is one thing you don’t want to skimp on, it is definitely the photographer. This is typically one of the biggest regrets that brides have when they are going through their wedding photos.
When looking for a photographer, make sure you get someone who has a portfolio with many different lighting conditions. Anyone can take a good photo when the lighting conditions are perfect, but you never know what Mother Nature will have in store for you at your wedding. Make sure your photographer is well acquainted with off camera lighting techniques. When you know what you are doing with flash, you can get some amazing results no matter what the lighting conditions are. Here is an example where we had an overcast day and the couple was really hoping for a sunset photo. Luckily with a little flash wizardry, I was able to give this couple their “sunset” photo. For more help on finding a good photographer, check out my blog on,
Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to force a few fake laughs out. You will be surprised at how fast they turn into real ones. It also helps if your photographer has a few jokes up his or her sleeve, too, so it doesn’t feel so awkward. I personally have a bunch of terrible dad jokes that I am notorious for telling. But hey, if it helps get out some natural laughter I am all about it!
5. Don’t drink alcohol the night before.
Unfortunately drinking may cause facial bloating and let’s face it (no pun intended), that’s not a good look. Try to avoid alcohol the night before your wedding and make sure to drink a bunch of water.
Tips to get the best photos at your wedding.
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