Once you’ve picked a date, a photographer and your venue, it’s time to celebrate.

Those are some of the toughest decisions in wedding planning and you can cross them off your list—woo-hoo!!

It’s time for the fun stuff, like taking engagement photos.

Why you should take engagement photos

An engagement session is about capturing casual photographs of you and your fiancé… however, there’s a hidden perk:

It’ll help you get more comfortable in front of the camera.

Taking professional photographs can be intimidating. So if you’re not sure where to put your hands or how to stand, that’s where your photographer comes in.

He or she will share tips for posing in a way that looks candid, so you feel like a pro by the wedding day.

These sessions are also a great way for you to get to know your photographer better.

That way they’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you and your partner interact, and how to photograph you in the most genuine way.

Engagement Photos Brian Shannon

Consider taking lifestyle engagement photos

To me, an engagement session should reflect the uniqueness of each couple and be more than just a way to get save-the-date photos.

If you’re worried about your photographs looking cheesy or aren’t into taking pictures at a park or beach, consider doing a lifestyle engagement session instead.

What’s a lifestyle engagement session?

Rather than just taking pictures at a pretty location, a lifestyle session attempts to capture and document real-life events, such as an activity you both enjoy or even a typical day in your lives.

You can use props (like a violin if you’re a violinist, hiking boots if  you love trekking along park trails or a bottle of vino if you’re both wine connoisseurs) and plan around a theme that you can design with your photographer or have styled by your wedding planner. 

I love to plan sessions with the couples I work with around activities or interests they really love.

Here are a few examples:

Also: Just add flowers!

A tip if you’re interested in adding some flair to your engagement session: Bring flowers!

Have your florist make a smaller mock-up bouquet for the session.

Not only will it look beautiful, it also gives you an idea of how your wedding version will look—it’s a win-win.

When should you take engagement photos?

If you’re looking to use your images for save-the-dates, the traditional time to take them is 6-8 months before your wedding.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take them earlier or later!

There are no hard rules for it: I’ve had some couples take their photos a few days before their wedding (it’s great to get warmed up for the wedding day) and others who decided on more than two years in advance!

If you’re having trouble deciding when, start by choosing a season (If you’re interested, I have a handy guide on choosing a wedding date that talks about the advantages and disadvantages of each season. You can find it here.)

With that in mind, it becomes much easier to talk to your photographer and narrow down a date.

Here in NYC, spring and fall are the most popular seasons for engagement sessions.

Engagement Photos

Where should you take your engagement photographs?

While a gorgeous backdrop always helps, I’d say choosing a location that has meaning to you and your fiancé is more important (even if it doesn’t have the most breathtaking views).

A spot that has special significance to you both makes your images that much more unique.

That being said, sometimes we all need a little bit of inspiration.

If you plan on taking your photographs near NYC, here are a few of my favorite spots.

Keep in mind some of these locations require a permit fee to photograph there. Be sure to look into it before your session!

  • Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
  • The Village / West Village
  • Belvedere Castle in Central Park
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • The Highline
  • SOHO
  • New York Public Library
  • The Top of the Rock
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO (check out my handy guide on taking photos in DUMBO here)
  • Pier I, Upper West Side
  • Forest Hills, Queens
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Washington Square Park
  • The Met
  • Prosser Pines, Long Island
  • Fire Island Lighthouse, Long Island (great alternative to Montauk if you love the beach)
  • The Vanderbilt Museum (one of my favorite spots on Long Island)
  • Bear Mountain (a little over an hour from NYC, great if you’re into hiking or nature)

If you plan on taking your engagement photographs outside of the New York area (or these spots above don’t resonate with you), feel free to email me—I’d love to help you find the perfect spot for you.

Bear Mountain

Engagement photos: what to wear

It’s totally normal to be a little lost when it comes to what to wear—how casual or dressy should you be? What colors should you wear?

Here are my top tips to make sure you both look and feel great:

1. Wear clothing that feel like you. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable during the session.

If you wear something that doesn’t feel authentic to you, it’ll make it harder to act natural, which will show in your pictures.

The goal with your engagement session outfit is to look like the best version of you. 

2. Choose solid, neutral, lighter colors that complement your surroundings. In general, light grays, whites, blues, pinks, and tans work with any surrounding.

Wearing dark or bolder colors will often overpower the scene and can distract the viewer from the real subject of the images—you!

3. Try to complement each other, but not match. It’s best to choose colors that work well together, rather than matching patterns or prints.

Think homogeneous or complementary colors, and avoid clothes that have logos or patterns. 

Engagement Photos

Alexis & Reuben chose to wear neutral blues and browns during their session in Yosemite National Park. These colors are complementary colors, so they look great together!


4. Formal is better. Classic, formal clothing helps add a date-night elegance to the scene.

For men, dressing in fitted layers (a blazer and a dress shirt, for example) with dress shoes is best.

Try to avoid wearing just a t-shirt or shorts if possible.

For women, I recommend finding a dress that makes you feel amazing.

Adding a few accessories such as earrings, necklaces and rings is also a great way to add dimension.

Flowy dresses (like a maxi dress) look great with a bit of movement or wind.

If you’re not sure where to start, a temporary subscription to Rent the Runway is a great way to feel like a million bucks without having to spend it!

If you’d like a few more examples, I put together a Pinterest board for some visual inspiration. 

Hair and makeup

The day of your engagement session is a great time to plan a wedding hair-and-makeup trial.

That way you’re able to get the most out of giving your wedding day look a test drive.

Plus, it has an added bonus of giving you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera!

Central Park Engagement Photos

Time of day matters (a lot)

The best time to take photographs is during the hour before sunset (or the hour after the sun rises, if you’re adventurous!)

This is when the light is best, and you can get that soft, warm glow in your pictures.

Depending on the time of year and your location, this can range from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Oh, and another quick tip—try to avoid outdoor winter sessions, if possible (unless you’re looking for snow).

I personally try not to do any photo sessions outdoors if it’s colder than 50 degrees fahrenheit (10 degrees celsius). It’s much harder to look good if you’re freezing!

It’s ok to be nervous

Understandably, many couples I work with are nervous when they arrive to to take their engagement photos.

In fact, we know how it feels! When Heather and I had our photos taken in NYC, we both were super nervous as well!

Feeling nervous is completely normal—but don’t worry!

Taking pictures together shouldn’t be some some stiff, formal event.

It should feel more like a fun date activity, a real representation of you and your fiancé, which will result in more than just pretty save-the-date photographs. 

After the first few minutes, you’ll completely forget about the nerves (I promise) and you’ll find yourself simply enjoying the special time together.

As long as you have a great photographer, they’ll give you tips on how to look natural in front of the camera, and they’ll make sure that none of your photographs look stiff and overly posed. 

Heather and Tom

A photograph of me and Heather from the session I mentioned above. Definitely worth the small bit of nerves in the beginning!


How long does the session last?

This’ll vary depending on your photographer, but most engagement sessions usually last between an hour and an hour and a half.

With the couples I work with, I like to start around two hours before sunset (or at sunrise), as this is when the light is best.

I find that after about an hour and a half or so most people start to get tired (it’s not easy being in front of the camera) so unless you’re doing a destination session or a session with multiple locations, that amount of time works great.

If you’d like to incorporate more than one outfit or location, make sure to let your photographer know so they can figure out the best way to get the most out of both!

Speaking of destination sessions…

Think about taking destination engagement photos

Do you and your fiancé love to travel?

Why not incorporate that into your session?

Few things bring me as much joy as taking photographs in new places does, and if I can make it work logistically, I love to capture new places with the couples I work with.

Not all photographers will offer this, and although I do recommend having your wedding photographer take your engagement photos (that way you can practice working together), if it’s not possible, you could always look into a local photographer while traveling.

P.S. Here are more free tips and resources on all things wedding planning, from whether to do a first look to how to create the perfect wedding timeline for you & more! 

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So you just got engaged—congratulations!

While everyone’s probably already asking you, “WHEN’S THE WEDDING?!?!” you might be a little unsure of where to start and how to pick a wedding date. Also: Which season should you get married in? So many questions!

Here, a few tips to set you off in the right direction.

How to Pick a Wedding Date: Getting Started

Figuring out when you’d like to get married can be challenging. Each season has unique characteristics that’ll affect not only your pictures, but also the best times and locations for your wedding to take place.

Here’s a nifty little infographic provided by WeddingWire that shows the percentages of weddings by month:

Date popularity

As you can see, certain seasons are more popular than others (spring, summer and autumn are more popular than winter in the Northeast). Because of this, dates for your favorite vendors could book up over a year in advance.

Though this can seem daunting, try not to let it stress you out. With proper planning you’ll have an amazing wedding, no matter what day you choose.

Here are a few things to think about when deciding on your date:

How to Pick a Wedding Date: Choose a Season

The first step is deciding on a time of year. There are disadvantages and advantages to each season:


Planning your wedding during the colder months of the year can be beautiful, especially with a little bit of snow on the ground. That white glow will give your pictures a magical, snow-globe-like effect.

The challenging part about a winter wedding timeline is daylight. Depending on where you live, the sun can set as early as 4 p.m.

This means, if you want to take photographs without flash, all of your portraits will need to be done before then.

This isn’t a problem if you’re having a late-afternoon wedding. However, if you’re planning a late-evening wedding, you may have a bit of downtime after photos, from about 4 p.m. until the start of your ceremony.


Also, to state the obvious: Winter can be COLD! That means you could be standing outside in freezing temps and your photo session might need to be cut short so everyone can head back inside to warm up.

This is something most people don’t think about, but it can have a significant impact on how much you enjoy taking wedding photos.

If your heart’s set on a winter wedding and you’re down to brave the cold [insert Frozen reference here], make sure you, your bridesmaids and groomsmen have extra layers on hand. For example, you could add a shawl or faux-fur wrap to your wedding wardrobe.

Also, here’s a pro tip: Keep hand warmers with you throughout the day (and tell your bridal party to do the same!) to help you stay warm.

If taking light and airy photographs outside is important to you, it might be best to choose a different season. Depending on your wedding location, this time of year often means brown and barren trees without snow that just don’t have the same look as when they’re lively and green.

How to Pick a Wedding Date Francesca & Brendan


During this time of year there’s tons of daylight, giving you much more time to take photographs. Sometimes the outdoor light will last until 8:30 p.m. or later.

The one downside of a summer wedding is it can be very hot and humid during the day (especially in July). Keep that in mind if you’re planning on having a midday outdoor ceremony.

If you can, choose a ceremony later in the day, closer to sunset.   

For any season, the best time of day to take photographs is the hour before sunset. Because of the late sunset time during summer, you might need to slip out of your reception for photos to make sure you capture those glowy, sun-soaked portraits.

True Love


With flowers and trees in bloom, spring gives you lots of beautiful background colors to work with.

Spring is probably the second most popular season for weddings (especially May and June). Mid-May is when the trees finally get their color back here in the Northeast.

It’s often the perfect temperature for outdoor portraits as well—not too hot and not too cold.

This means your guests will most likely feel comfortable taking photos outside. It also means it’s the perfect time of year for an outdoor ceremony.

Sunset times can vary dramatically in the spring (especially with daylight savings time), so keep that in mind and make sure to talk to your photographer when planning your wedding timeline.


Autumn is the most popular season for weddings, with September and October being the busiest months. You’ll love the just-right temperature (so will your guests) and the brilliant colors of the trees.

If fall color is your thing, the best time to get married is generally from mid-October until the first week of November. After that, the leaves start to fall and your pictures will have more of a winter feel.

To capture photographs with fall colors though, all you really need is one nice tree! From there your photographer can shoot from different angles to bring the essence of autumn into your wedding pictures.

Like spring, your portrait time will vary depending on your wedding date, so make sure to chat with your photographer as you go about planning your timeline.

As I mentioned before, late fall (I would say after November 10th or so here in New York) can start to look and feel like winter, so consider some of the tips associated with winter, above, to avoid freezing and ensure you capture photos in line with your wedding vision.

How to Pick a Wedding Date Double Exposure

How to Pick a Wedding Date: Choosing a Day of the Week

Once you’ve chosen a season, it’s time to figure out what day of the week works best for you. For the most part, weddings here in the U.S. are held on either a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.


Definitely the most popular day of the week to hold a wedding, you’ll most likely pay a bit more for your venue if you’re looking for a Saturday. However, there are many advantages for your guests.

Since most people work Monday through Friday, having a Saturday wedding gives your guests a break. They will most likely not have to work the day of/after your wedding. More energy = more partying and having a good time!

It’s also easier to plan a multi-day affair for your wedding: If you’re planning a destination wedding or your guests are traveling from afar, this is a big benefit to a Saturday wedding.

For example, having the rehearsal dinner on Friday, the wedding on Saturday and a farewell brunch on Sunday makes it much easier for friends and family to attend.

How to Pick a Wedding Date Erin & Michael


Friday is the second most popular wedding day in the U.S. Similar to a Saturday wedding, many of your guests will most likely have off the next day and as such will be more inclined to party and have a good time.

However, many of them may work the day of the event, making it more difficult to plan any events during the afternoon, such as your ceremony or family photos.

One other point to consider is since guests most likely came straight to your wedding from work, they might be tired and less inclined to get out on the dance floor.


Sunday weddings are not as common as Friday and Saturday, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be as fun! For the most part, couples elect to have Sunday weddings in the afternoon.

Since many guests will be working the next day, this gives people ample time to enjoy the day and not feel time pressure to get home and prepare for the week.

However, because it is a day wedding, it will be a bit more difficult to get your guests up and dancing. If dancing and partying are an important part of your wedding, I would recommend choosing a Friday or Saturday wedding instead.

How to Pick a Wedding Date: Next Steps

With a time of year and a preferred day of the week, it’s time to start looking at venues. Availability will vary wildly, so plan to go in with at least 3-4 potential dates in mind.

If a particular date holds more weight for you, I recommend viewing multiple venues or beginning your wedding planning more than a year in advance.

Here are a few more tips to help you finalize your date:

Consider Your Budget

One of the easiest ways to save money with your venue is selecting the right date.

In the Northeast U.S., a Saturday wedding in the most popular months (June, September, October) is going to cost significantly more  (sometimes even double!) than a Sunday wedding in April, for example.

Decide if choosing a more popular time of year is important to you when planning your wedding budget.

Mabel & Troy

Planning Around a Holiday

Though it might be tempting to schedule your wedding around a holiday, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Certain holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day, are some of the most popular dates of the year for a wedding. These dates will most likely book up well over a year in advance, so plan accordingly.

Christmas and New Year’s occur during the colder months, so keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of planning a winter wedding.

Congratulations again on your engagement. This is such an exciting time of your lives—I hope these tips help to make the journey to your wedding a bit easier and more stress-free.


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Did you know that on your wedding day, you may end up spending more time with your photographer than your family (or even your fiancé 😳)?

Wedding photography is unique in that it’s an active part of your wedding day. Unlike other vendors who do most of their work behind the scenes, your photographer will be frequently interacting with the people closest to you.

His or her personality and style will have a big impact on the overall energy and mood of your day.

Not only do you deserve beautiful images, you also deserve an amazing photographic experience!

Here, the 3 most important traits to look for in your wedding photographer.

Wedding Photographer Battery Gardens

1. They understand your wedding vision

The best photographer for you totally gets your style and expectations.

It helps to find someone who has a similar vibe to what you’re looking for—who understands that you might not want overly posed or traditional photographs, for example, but rather a more candid and natural feel.

It’s also important to find someone who really takes the time to learn your values to personalize your experience.

They should be a resource for you as you plan, helping you craft the perfect photography timeline and giving you tips on how to look amazing in your photographs.

One of the ways I do this for the couples I work with is by providing them with a questionnaire. In it, I ask specific questions that both relate to the details surrounding their wedding as well as the atmosphere they are trying to create.

With that knowledge, I’m able to approach their wedding with an open mind and in a way that aligns with their vision (such an important part of feeling relaxed in front of the camera is that trust!).

Wedding Photographer double exposure

2. They’re supportive and encouraging

It’s almost like they’re part of your bride (or groom) tribe

You’ll see pretty quickly that having a photographer who’s part of your support system before, during and after your wedding day makes a world of difference.

I often joke with the couples I work with that my goal is to be like an extra bridesmaid or groomsmen by the end of their wedding (but don’t worry, there’s no need to invite me to your bachelor/bachelorette party 😂).

For me, it’s so important that I’m available to answer questions, give wedding-planning advice and be there when you need me!

Planning a wedding is not easy (we know firsthand: Heather and I are in the process of planning one ourselves!), and I’ll use my experience to help you with planning any way I can.

They help you create a timeline

Another sign that a photographer wants you to have the best experience is when they work through your timeline with you to figure out the general flow of the day.

This saves you from unnecessary stress—that way you can focus on enjoying the moment (because, hey, isn’t that what your wedding is all about anyway?).

In that same questionnaire I send to the couples I work with, I ask for the locations and times for the major events surrounding their wedding.

With that knowledge, we can work together to craft a timeline that allows you to take amazing photographs and also be present during the day.


They’re sensitive to family dynamics

A great photographer will have a system in play to capture all of the must-have family combinations while making sure to avoid accidentally creating any awkward family dynamics.

Although I generally don’t work off of a physical shot list on the day of the wedding (I have a mental shot list of what I need to capture), I’ll use one when photographing the families.

This ensures we don’t miss any combinations and we’re able to set the proper amount of time beforehand for family pictures.

Once you and your photographer have created a rock-solid timeline, next it’s about actually taking great pictures.

Wedding Photographer Dog

3. Your wedding photographer puts you at ease

Even if you’re not super comfortable in front of the camera (there’s few of us that are!), it’s your photographer’s job to make you feel comfortable so you appear relaxed—and you look like you.

Many of the couples I work with tell me they have two main concerns:

  • They want their pictures to have a candid, behind-the-scenes feel and not look stiff or overly posed.
  • They want to make sure their photographer isn’t rude to their family and friends and is easy to get along with on their wedding day.

That’s why helping you to feel comfortable is my top priority.

They value making an authentic connection with you

I’ve found that simply learning about you and your fiancé as people, not just as clients, is the best way to tackle those two concerns at once.

That is why I prefer to do a video chat or meet in person instead of a regular phone call when discussing your wedding details, and why I always recommend doing an engagement session before your wedding if possible.

Having that time to chat and really connect is the best way to ensure you feel comfortable in front of the camera. This naturally leads to authentic, candid-looking images.

Wedding Photographer Nicole joe

It should be fun working with them!

A great photographer will feel more like a wedding guest than just another vendor.

(Remember, they’ll be frequently interacting with the people closest to you.)

You want them to be a calm and uplifting anchor, not a cause for unnecessary stress.

As the famous photographer Alfred Eisenstadt said, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

This mantra is a core value of what I do and a necessity to capture images that don’t feel stiff or forced.


More than anything, you’ll remember how they made you feel

Often we connect images with how we felt when they were being taken.

Think for a second about a photograph that has a lot of meaning to you.

It is the most professional of photographs?

Most likely not.

That’s because truly great photographs take us back to a moment in the past and allow us to ever so briefly relive it.

If your photographer is pushy, aggressive, stressed out or just plain old unkind, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the images are.

Years after your wedding, when you look back at those photographs, you’re going to remember how you felt when those photographs were being taken.

Though a beautiful photograph can make that memory that much more special, the most important thing is that you find a photographer whose goal is to make beautiful images *and* ensure that you feel amazing as they’re being taken.

These three skills—aligning with your vision, being an uplifting source and putting you at ease—are at the core of why I became a wedding photographer in the first place. 

Do these values resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear more about your wedding. Let’s chat and see if we’d be a good fit!


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Want more wedding inspiration? Check out these boards on Pinterest.

Your wedding photographer will often begin the day with bride getting-ready photos.

This is the part of the day where it all starts to sink in. You’re getting married!

You might feel a little nervous (don’t worry, that’s totally normal) and ready to get the day moving. Try to soak it all in though—your wedding day will fly by so fast!

Why bride getting-ready photos are important

As a wedding photographer, my goal is for the couples I work with to look at their wedding photographs and really be able to relive the entire day.

The getting-ready portion is an essential part of your wedding story.

Though it might not be as glamorous as other parts of your wedding, there’s still a lot to document and a whole lot of love from those closest to you that can be captured.

Getting the most out of your bride getting-ready photos

Just like the other parts of your wedding, a little bit of planning beforehand will go a long way to ensure you can enjoy this portion of the day—and your photographer is able to capture the best photographs possible.

For example, the location you choose to get ready at can have a dramatic impact on the way those images look.

To avoid common pitfalls and make sure you end up with images that fit your wedding vision, here are a few of my top tips.

Wedding Timeline Flowers

How to find the perfect location

Many people choose to get ready at a hotel that’s near their wedding venue.

While some hotels are gorgeous, many will force you and your bridesmaids into tiny rooms with limited (or sometimes even no) windows (a big no-no for photography).

Depending on the size of your family and bridal party, this can be a bit of a nightmare (think the beginning of Home Alone, when everyone’s running around the morning they’re supposed to leave for Paris).

Plus, the morning of your wedding you might want some privacy. That’s hard to achieve if everyone’s crammed into your hotel room!

Hotel alternatives

Another option is to get ready at your venue instead of a hotel.

This means less driving around, more space (most venues will have multiple rooms you can use to get ready) and an aesthetic that’ll match the rest of your wedding (your pictures will look more cohesive if everything is captured at the same location).

However, this isn’t always possible.

Some venues might have multiple events per day or even an event before yours. (As a side note, be careful of venues that have other events going on at the same time as your wedding. That often means you and your guests will be limited to how you can use the property).

Other venues don’t have a getting-ready space or might need time beforehand to setup, so they’ll ask you to arrive later in the day.

If you’re unable to get ready at your venue and you’re looking for an alternative, I always recommend using an Airbnb instead of a hotel.

Double exposure Bride getting ready

Why an Airbnb is a great place for bride getting-ready photos

It’s less expensive

A quality Airbnb can sometimes cost less than half that of a fancy hotel, and they have better elements for taking getting-ready photographs.

You’ll have more space

With an Airbnb, you can rent out an entire home, which gives you access to many rooms.

This’ll give you the space your family and friends need to get ready while still being together.

There’ll be less chaos

Airbnbs can also be more intimate than a hotel.

You, your family and friends are the only ones there, and you won’t have to deal with other hotel guests.

Especially during popular wedding weekends, there may be four or five wedding parties using the same hotel.

This can be chaotic and stressful when trying to coordinate with family and friends.

You’ll have more control

Thanks to the pictures and reviews, you’ll have a good idea of what each room looks like in an Airbnb before you stay there. If you’re unsure of what to look for before you book, just check in with your photographer!

bride getting ready walking down stairs

Make sure there’s plenty of space

If you’re unable to secure an Airbnb, just make sure the location you choose has plenty of room.

Not only will your friends and family thank you, but with a bigger space you’ll get more variety when taking pictures.

Smaller rooms also make it challenging to capture images that show off your full dress, since there’s little space to move around.

Finding the right room

If you’re getting ready at a home or an Airbnb, the best room for this is usually the living room.

Often furniture can be moved around to make the most of the space and to capture a variety of different poses.

Some hotels have common areas that can work well. This can be a challenge when photographing in a hotel though, so be sure to keep that in mind when choosing your getting-ready spot!

Bride getting ready hannah

Choose a location with soft, neutral wall colors

Believe it or not, the color of the furniture and walls can have a dramatic effect on the color of your skin in pictures.

In general, rooms with soft pastel or neutral colors work best.

If possible, avoid darker-colored rooms with distracting patterns or wallpaper.

Here’s why: When light comes in through a window, it bounces around inside the room, which causes the colored walls to reflect light back onto anything or anyone inside the room, making skin color shifts that may not look natural.

Seek out rooms with white or neutral, bright colors to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Big windows are a must

Taking amazing photographs begins with having amazing light.

The quality (which is often different than the quantity) of the light in the room will make or break your getting-ready photographs.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your room has great light.

Bigger is better

When it comes to window light, the bigger the window the better.

Windows that stretch all the way to the ground are the best-case scenario, but any large window that faces outdoors will almost always work great.

Bride Getting Ready Window

By having a window in the bridal prep area, your photographer can create beautiful portraits, like this one of Lindsay. These photographs often look better with natural light than with flash, so the more windows the better!

More than one window

I’m going to get a little technical here for a second, so bear with me.

If you prefer that light-and-airy look in your photographs, it helps to have at least two windows at a 90-degree angle to one another.

This is called clamshell lighting (as the positioning of the lights looks like a clam with its shell open) and it’s my favorite type of light for bridal-prep pictures.

Most of the getting-ready pictures you see in this post were taken with this type of lighting.

Here’s an example of how the windows would be positioned in a room:

I created this incredibly detailed drawing (haha) to demonstrate the best window positioning for getting-ready photographs. Each of those lines would be a window and the circle would be you. If your getting-ready location has a room with windows like this, that means your photographs will have a gorgeous light-and-airy look to them!


Hotel tips: facing east

If you do plan on getting ready at a hotel, here’s a trick to make sure you get the best light: Ask for a room with windows that face east.

This is the direction that the sun rises, which often means more light will come through in the early morning.

Another thing to keep in mind, especially in hotels—try to avoid first-floor rooms, as sometimes the buildings that surround them can block out the light.

The wedding day

Ok, so you’ve chosen a getting-ready location and followed the tips above.

Now it’s your wedding day and your photographer is on the way.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare.

Turks and Caicos Destination Wedding

Getting your details ready

For many photographers (myself included), the day often begins with bridal details.

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day because it allows me to prepare and get my creative side warmed up. I try to photograph details in a way that matches and showcases the style of the wedding day.

If you can, try to have all of the details you’d like your photographer to capture gathered in one spot. This makes it easy for him or her to start right away.

Here’s a list of the most common bridal details. (Keep in mind you don’t need them all—just the ones that have meaning to you.)

  • dress
  • veil/hair pieces
  • rings (all three)
  • shoes
  • bouquets & boutonnieres
  • jewelry
  • perfume
  • invitation suite
  • family heirlooms

How to add more personality & meaning to your bridal details

Depending on the theme and look of your wedding day, keep an eye out for extra elements that you could include with your details.

For example, if you’re going for a rustic theme that includes wood elements, maybe save a small piece of wood for your photographer to use when they’re capturing your rings and jewelry.

If you’re having a beach wedding, some shells and sand can be really photogenic.

This ties together your theme and makes for beautiful, consistent wedding album spreads.


Don’t forget to hold on to the rings!

The most common detail missing when I arrive are the rings—often they’re already with the best man.

However, it’s actually better to hand them over to the best man during the bridal party portraits later in the day, so that your photographer can capture some great ring images with your other details.

A flower delivery tip

If you can, have the bouquets and boutonnieres delivered to the same location (even if the guys won’t be there) at the same time your photographer arrives.

This way your photographer can incorporate them into your detail and portrait photographs.

The number one reason weddings run behind

It’s often because hair and makeup take longer than expected.

Schedule your makeup and hair early enough so that there’s plenty of time for you to be ready (or nearly ready) by the time your photographer arrives.

My tip is to double the time you think you’ll need for hair, makeup and travel.

This way you’ll be able to take portraits before the wedding without any time pressure.

Groomsmen prep

Depending on where the groom is getting ready, your photographer may be able to cover it on his/her own.

This often works great if you’re getting ready at your venue.

If there are separate locations at the venue for the bride and groom to get ready, it’s easy for your photographer to jump back and forth while you’re getting into your dress, or while hair and makeup is finishing up.

Daniel with his mom

When to book a second photographer

If you’re planning on getting ready at separate locations and it’s not possible for your photographer to cover both, it might make sense to have a second photographer cover it separately.

Cheers to the most gorgeous bridal-prep photos!

I hope these tips help you to enjoy every moment as you get ready on your wedding day—rest easy knowing that, with a little planning and preparation, you’re going to have incredible getting-ready photographs.

P.S. Here are more free tips and resources on all things wedding planning, from 3 tips to look amazing in your wedding photographs to how to create the perfect wedding timeline & more.

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Your wedding ceremony—the moment everyone’s been waiting for!

Imagine this: the music is playing and the guests have been seated.

The coordinator is lining up the bridesmaids (or bridesmen) while giving the musicians a five-minute warning.

You’re about to walk down the aisle and see the love of your life at the alter. You’ve probably dreamed about this moment for a long time.

Vows will be shared and promises will be made—this is what it’s all about!

Getting the most out of your ceremony

As a wedding photographer, my goal is to make each couple’s wedding look incredible in their pictures.

Throughout the day, I often give them tips and guidance to ensure variables like lighting, colors and posing look great.

The one part of the wedding day your photographer will have little creative control over, however, is your ceremony.

Since your wedding ceremony is more of a photojournalistic event (as in, your photographer will be documenting it as it’s happening, rather than giving you direction), to get the best photographs possible (and to just have a beautiful ceremony in general) proper preparation is a must.

Here are a few tips for creating a beautiful ceremony—and getting the best wedding photographs possible.

Wedding Ceremony Kate Ryan

1. Find the right officiant

Finding the right officiant is so important to ensure you have a true-to-you wedding ceremony.

I recommend hiring an officiant you connect with who also has a sense of humor. A few jokes here and there can help you relax and really be present.

An added benefit of this are pictures where you and your guests look happy!

Although everyone may feel over the moon, without a few smiles and laughs here and there it can be hard to convey those emotions in your wedding pictures.

2. Great lighting is important

The way your ceremony is lit is one of the most important factors, especially if it’s going to be outdoors.

As a general rule, the lower the sun is in the sky, the more romantic the lighting.

For example, if you’re thinking about getting married outside at noon, the light will create harsh lines on your faces, and you’ll also be squinting!

Because of this, I’d try to plan the ceremony later in the day, if possible.

If that doesn’t work with your schedule, talk to your wedding planner (or day-of coordinator) to ensure the area is set up so the sun is behind you during the ceremony.

This is the best way to reduce the harsh lines and prevent you from squinting.

Crabtree Wedding Ceremony

The best light

The ideal time to schedule your ceremony is about two hours before sunset (if you plan on seeing each other beforehand).

This gives you plenty of time for a beautiful ceremony—and to still enjoy the soft, romantic sunlight afterward (and possibly grab a few photographs with that gorgeous sunset light!).

If you don’t plan on doing a first look, I would recommend having your ceremony three hours before sunset (although, if you’re on the fence about a first look, I definitely recommend doing one—find out why here.

If the first time you see each other is during the ceremony, you’ll be taking most of your photographs after the ceremony, so you want to make sure you have plenty of time afterward (with a little bit of padded time in case the ceremony goes longer than expected). 


If you’re having an indoor ceremony, my number one tip is to avoid vibrant-colored uplighting—it’ll make your skin look unnatural.

Another thing to think about: If there are only two spotlights (on you and your fiancé) you two will be very bright and everyone else will be dark. 

Even though the focus of the day is on you, it’ll look so much better in your wedding pictures if the lighting is soft and evenly spread out.

Brooklyn Wedding Ceremony Venues

3. Consider an unplugged ceremony

An unplugged wedding is when you kindly ask your guests to put away their phones, iPads, cameras and other devices for the duration of the ceremony.

I always recommend unplugged ceremonies, for a few reasons:

For one, your guests will be more present during the ceremony, rather than focused on taking pictures.

Guests holding their iPhones and sometimes even iPads (it happens more often than you’d think!) can be very distracting.

For example, imagine it’s your wedding day, and you’re beginning your walk down the aisle. What would you rather see—your guests beaming with happiness as they watch, or a bunch of phones and iPads blocking their faces?

Walking Down aisle

Your photos will look better

Distractions aside, your ceremony photographs will look more professional without the clutter of electronic devices in the audience.

Though they mean well, eager guests might not realize the position of your photographer during the ceremony and might accidentally block them from getting the photo during key moments.

How to make it work

If an unplugged ceremony sounds like it’s for you, here’s how to make it work:

  • Tell your guests in advance
    Let your guests know ahead of time that you’ll be having an unplugged ceremony with a sign at the entrance or a message on your wedding website.
  • Have your officiant make an announcement
    Before your ceremony begins, have your officiant make a friendly announcement asking your guests to refrain from taking photos.
  • Plan a moment in your ceremony for guests to take photos
    Here’s one tip I’ve seen that’s a great compromise for your guests: Ask your officiant to take a moment during the ceremony to pause and have you both turn to face your guests. This can be any time during your ceremony, but I’ve found right after the bride walks down the aisle works best. During this time, guests can take pictures before putting their phones away for the rest of the ceremony.

Turks and Caicos Destination Wedding

4. Face the audience!

One of the easiest changes that has the biggest impact is facing your guests during your ceremony.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a ceremony mistake I see way too often.

Talk to your officiant and ask them to make sure you face the audience instead of the alter.

If you’re nervous about facing your guests for your entire ceremony (I understand, I would be too), your officiant can switch between having you face each other and face your guests (but never toward the officiant! You want to make sure your guests can see your lovely faces, and not just the back of your heads).

This also makes for better ceremony pictures, so it’s a win-win.

Adirondack Wedding

5. Consider hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator

If you want to enjoy planning your wedding as much as possible, yet you don’t want to get too caught up in the details or overwhelmed with decisions, a wedding planner makes total sense.

Having an expert there to take some of the pressure off of you and be a guide throughout your planning can totally change the vibe of the whole process.

They’ll help you stay organized and work with you to bring your unique wedding vision to life.

Taking pressure off of you

Without at least a day-of coordinator, there’s a really good chance the responsibility of solving any dilemmas will automatically fall on your maid of honor, your mom, the photographer or you!

When a photographer is in charge of all of the coordination, it tends to pull us away from our main focus of capturing your day.

Many of the most stressful wedding situations I’ve seen could have been avoided if there was a wedding planner or day-of coordinator present.

It’s your day and you deserve the space to be able to focus on your special love and commitment to each other, rather than worrying about details of the day!

Battery Gardens Wedding Ceremony

Final thoughts

Proper planning before your wedding ceremony will ensure everything looks incredible and your guests are having a great time.

Here’s one final thought: In a world full of wedding blogs, Pinterest and bridal magazines, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and consumed by the “prettiness” of the event.

While details do matter and planning is necessary, it’s important to never lose sight of the real purpose of this amazing day—the connection and love you share with your partner!

P.S. I hope you enjoyed this article. Here are more free tips and resources on all things wedding planning, from whether to have a first look to how to create the perfect wedding timeline for you & more! 

You may also like…

Want more wedding inspiration? Check out these boards on Pinterest.

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