For Brides: How to Get Beautiful Reception Pictures

This post is part of a series for brides (and grooms!) or for those who are helping someone plan a wedding. My goal for this series is to help you make informed and educated decisions about your wedding day so that it will be as beautiful as possible! If you're joining me for the first time, you can catch up here:

1. Should I Do an Engagement Session?
2. What Should I Wear for My Engagement Session?
3. Should I Do Bridal Portraits?

4. Making a Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5. How to Get Great Getting Ready Pictures
6. 6 Things Every Bride Should Get Ready for Her Photographer
7. Should We Do a First Look?
8. 5 Steps to Great Bride & Groom Portraits
9. How to Get Beautiful Ceremony Pictures
10. 6 Steps to Successful Family Formals
11. How to Get Beautiful Reception Pictures

How to Get Beautiful Reception Pictures

Honestly, receptions are sometimes one of my least favorite parts of the day to photograph because they are often dark and I have to use flash and I always prefer natural lighting to flash. However, I have had the privilege of photographing some GORGEOUS receptions!! I also love the fun, candid pictures you can get during receptions! This is list is by no means all inclusive, but here's a few tips on how to get beautiful reception pictures:

1. Consider lighting when choosing the venue
I know I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record because I talk about lighting in every post, but it's just that essential to photography! When you're looking at venues, think about the lighting. If your reception will be during daylight (or partially during daylight), try and find a venue with large windows and lots of natural light or a venue that's outdoors. Also consider any lighting that an be added to your venue, for example, find out if you can hang bistro lights or lanterns or some other kind of additional lighting. Additional lighting can add a lot to your pictures!

Highgrove NC Wedding Photographer

2. Consider lighting when planning the time of your reception
If at all possible, it's always helpful to have your reception before the sun goes down or at least partially before the sun goes down. That way, your photographer can still capture beautiful natural light in your pictures for as long as possible!

NC Wedding Photographer

3. Consider having your ceremony and reception at the same venue
Having your ceremony and reception at the same venue gives your photographer more time to capture your reception details. I usually take pictures of the reception details before the ceremony starts. If your reception isn't at the same venue as your ceremony, I highly encourage you to make sure you have a second shooter so that the second shooter can leave right after the ceremony and take all the reception detail pictures while the main photographer stays and takes family pictures. 

Greensboro NC Wedding Photographer

4. Make sure your photographer has time to capture the details
This is very important because most likely you've invested a lot of money into your reception and so you want to make sure that your photographer has time to capture all the beautiful details! I always plan to the bridal party in hiding at least 30 minutes before the ceremony (if the ceremony and reception are at the same venue) so that I can capture the ceremony and receptions details while they're untouched and before guests arrive. This gives me a very short window but I know exactly what I need to get and I quickly try to capture a wide shot of your whole reception, along with the cake, tables capes, gifts table, signs, and any other important details. 

5. Think about florals and decor
I may write a whole post about this later, but obviously the florals and decor you choose to use for your reception will add a LOT to your pictures. Don't worry, your reception decorations don't have to be super complex. A beautiful floral display can really speak for itself! 

Highgrove NC Wedding Photographer

6. Hire a Wedding Coordinator
Having a "Day Of Wedding Coordinator" is extremely important! If your venue doesn't provide one, I highly encourage you to hire a coordinator. The coordinator will make sure all vendors know what's going on and what's coming next. The coordinator will also make sure everything runs smoothly so that you don't have to worry about anything and you can fully enjoy your reception! I absolutely LOVE when my couples have a coordinator!

7. Make sure your DJ communicates with your photographer
I have found that one of the most helpful things for me to make sure I don't miss anything at a reception is when the DJ communicates with me and tells me what's about to happen! Even if you provide your photographer with a schedule ahead of time, that schedule may change slightly. Make sure your DJ tells your photographer when important things are about to happen like toasts, the cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.

NC Wedding Photographer

8. Consider Your Exit
I love pictures of the bride and groom happily exiting their reception! When you plan your exit, think about the time of day and what would look best in pictures. One of my favorite things to photograph during a daylight exit is bubbles! A few of my favorite exits to photograph at night are: sparklers, lanterns or glow sticks. Some other fun ideas i've seen or heard of are: confetti, glitter, rainbow sprinkles, streamers, and wild flowers.

Wedding Bubbles Exit

If you found this post helpful or interesting please share it and/or leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section below! Check back next Wednesday and I'll be sharing my next post in the "For Brides" series on where to get wedding pictures printed!