Wedding Do or Don’t: Pictures Before, After or Both?

A successful wedding day is all about good timing. There’s only so much you can do in a day (half of a day, really), so making sure you and your planner are on the same page about timeline and priorities is vital. This is especially true for photography — wedding photos are a big investment, so you want to make sure you have the time to make them perfect, without it taking up a gigantic chunk of your special day.

We talked to two of our favorite wedding planners — Kelly McLeskey-Dolata of A Savvy Event and Sonia Hopkins of XOXO Bride— and asked them this wedding do or don’t: When is the best time to take pictures? Before the ceremony? After the ceremony? During the reception? Or all of the above?

seaside real weddingPhoto from Bill & Blaire’s Beautiful Seaside Wedding by Dear Wesleyann.

Q: In your experience, what leads to a more seamless wedding: taking photos before the ceremony, after the ceremony, or both?

Kelly: I feel that doing photos prior to the ceremony allows for more time and a more seamless wedding flow. You are able to get all the photos out of the way ahead of time so you can enjoy your reception after the ceremony. I do however respect the wishes of my couples and if they choose not to see each other prior the ceremony I work with my photographers on a realistic photography timeline during the cocktail hour.

Sonia: Both! We highly encourage our clients to take advantage of the growing popular choice of “First Look” in their photography. We find the couple is able to capture so much more on film this way. But I also personally feel there is an opportunity to capture another moment on your wedding day: the walk down the aisle meeting at ceremony. The walk down the aisle is so special, but it’s also is so quick. It’s nice for the couples to have that time beforehand to take each other in for more than 30 minutes.

Photos pre and post ceremony also allows for two additional options that would not be available if the couple didn’t do a First Look. The first option is to focus more time on the bride and groom photos post ceremony, giving ample time for multiple locations. The other options is to take a short amount of time for bride and groom photos post ceremony and then join their guests for cocktail hour.

first look real weddingPhoto from Gina & Ryan’s Classic Villa Montalvo Wedding by Ashley Maxwell.

Q: What kinds of things should a couple consider before making this decision?

Kelly: I always tell my couples to think about whether or not they want to see each other prior. There are pros and cons to each. I loved an element of surprise, so for my own wedding it was important for me to see my husband at the ceremony. But, I know a lot of couples really like that intimate moment between the two of them when they see each other for the first time. A lot of times the decision is easily made by how many photos they are going to take and the fact they want to be a part of the cocktail hour. There really is no right or wrong way to do it, you just really need to think about what works best for the two of you and work with your planner and photographer to create a seamless timeline for the decision you make.

Sonia: Type of photos desired and the overall timing and layout of the venue will play a large role in this decision. If photos are important to the couple, which they are more often than not are, then planning for time to capture all of the scenarios with family, wedding party and all those fun bride and groom moments take time. We always recommend 1 minute per photo. If you count how many photos a couple would like during the day, those minutes add up quickly. It’s about maximizing the short amount of time you have in one day and not feeling rushed. 

eclectic real weddingPhoto from Julia & Jonathan’s DIY Block Island Wedding by Katie Slater.

Q: What do you find photographers’ expectations are for this? How should that factor into things?

Kelly: I know from experience that photographers love when the clients want to do the First Look — this is great for them, as it allows them ample time to get all the shots they need and not rush through a list of photos in 45 minutes. However, if you are working with both an experienced photographer and planner, they should be able to create a realistic timeline for your day that won’t feel rushed or delayed.

Sonia: Photographers are always wanting, needing and asking for more time. I make it my priority to map out a day that allows for the proper amount of time to give to the photographer to do their magic and not have the bride, groom, families and wedding party feel as if we rushed them throughout the entire day just to get a photo taken. Photographers love when I can give them at least 20 minutes for the First Look and 30 minutes post ceremony with just the bride and groom.

Tell us: What did you do for your wedding? Or when are you planning to take photos? 

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