How to get the best wedding photos for your evening reception

Welcome to the next instalment of the “How to get the best wedding photos” series. When you’re thinking about which parts of your wedding you would like to be photographed it’s not always straightforward! This next instalment is about ‘How to get the best wedding photos for your evening reception’. This is wonderful part of your wedding day to photograph. It’s the time when everyone starts to let their hair down and it’s great to capture all the fun on camera! 

If your still very much in the early planning stage and haven’t thought about which bits you’d like to be photographed, then do start by going through the rest of my series on this to help you make some decisions. It’s also a great way to see how I work and examples of my wedding photography.

Getting the best out of your wedding photos – getting ready before the ceremony

How to look your best for your wedding photos

Should you have a first look or not at your wedding?

Ideas for your wedding ceremony photos no matter the type of wedding

9 ways to get the best wedding reception photos

Getting the best out of your wedding photography – the speeches

How to get the best wedding sparklers photos

Which brings us to the evening reception and how to get the best wedding photos from your evening reception. Here are a few points to consider:

Sneak off into the sunset

I’m a big fan of organising your timeline well in advance  (obviously on the day its not set in stone and we roll with any changes that are needed). In my book, if we are lucky enough to have a sunset (or even if not) you definitely should schedule some time out so we can capture some gorgeous relaxed evening portraits, hopefully with a beautiful sunset. I like to give about 30 mins, so you can really enjoy this time and then get you back to your guests and be ready to join the party.

If you have a venue that looks amazing at night, why not get some extra photos of the two of you once the sun has gone down and the stars are out?

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How is your venue lit?

Once the sun goes down, you need to consider the lighting of your venue. You’ll need to speak to the venue to find out what the options are. Some venues offer up or down lights or have the option to dim lighting. The way I work for evening photos is to add light with flash, making sure to balance with the ambient so you still keep the mood and vibe of the space. To get the best photos of your first dance, the guests, and anything else you have planned for the evening part of your day, then the space benefits from being well lit (not necessarily bright, but interesting lighting). I recommend going with soft white or warmer tones of lighting. Amber, pinks, purples all work well. Blue can work if mixed with other warmer colours. Reds and Greens wouldn’t be my choice as they can be overpowering and make skin tones look very odd! Think Shrek!

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What kind of space do you have?

Before the wedding, we’ll speak about what you’d like photographed and where everything will be happening, so that there are no surprises when it comes to photographing your wedding. If you’re cutting the cake in the evening, this is often done on the dance floor, before first dance. It’s great if your band or DJ have lights and can highlight the area where you are cutting the cake. If you have a darker dance floor but you want great photos of guests throwing shapes, then have a chat to your DJ or band. They will generally have lights and its good to know what they will bring. I would normally shoot with flash when its dark, in order to capture all the moves!

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Cutting Your Cake

Cutting the wedding cake is often a big moment in your wedding memories, surrounded by your loved ones. To get the best photos of your wedding cake, and capture this moment, it’s best to liaise with the venue (and your wedding coordinator if you have one) on the best position for cake cutting. There’s lighting to consider, but also space around you as a couple. It’s best not to be tucked into a dark corner or put near to fire exits or radiators. No one wants photos with an ‘EXIT’ sign above your head.

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Get a packed dancefloor

If you’ve got evening entertainment happening, whether it’s a band or live DJ, you want your guests to enjoy themselves. The best photos happen when they do! To ensure a packed dancefloor you could add a song request option to your RSVP cards, provide cheap flip flops at the side of the dancefloor and make sure the dancing is not too far away from where you’re serving drinks and snacks. 

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Your creative details

You may have spent some time and budget putting together or making little details that you really want captured on your wedding day. This is important to let your photographer know, so that you have permanent memories of your hard work.

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Shoot the band!

I spoke to Freak Music, a great wedding band who told me: “Make sure to chat to your photographer about dancing photos. Do you want your live band or DJ in the shot? Do you want photos taken during slow songs only? Do you want your pictures to be just the two of you with your guests in the background? Unbelievable as it might sound but our acts often come back with stories of having to play songs again or even get off the stage for 20 minutes because the photography wasn’t well planned!” This actually surprised me as it wouldn’t cross my mind to stop the band! But then I always plan where I will stand and work out lighting and the best options for the dance floor. It’s one of the things I do during dinner or at the start of the evening reception. I always make sure to chat to the band or DJ, ask about their lighting and discuss plans for first dance. 

For first dance I tend to focus on having guests behind you, but I will often try to capture a couple of photos (if space allows) where its just the two of you and if your band or DJ have great lighting this is perfect for first dance photos. Once the rest of the dancing starts Im often in the middle of the action, capturing as many of the moves as I can. I will always make sure to get photos of the two of you (if you are on the dance floor), but like to get loads of guest shots too.

wedding dance in barn wedding photography with paper pom poms

Planning Fireworks or Sparklers? 

If you’re planning fireworks or sparklers at your wedding, then you definitely need to let your photographer know in advance. Like planning for the dancing, there’s a certain amount of planning needed to capture these. I’ll need to figure out the lighting on you two as a couple, and how best to capture the fireworks or sparklers to be photographed (with you in the frame or not).

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Hope this has given you some ideas for how to get the best wedding photos for your evening reception. Lighting and entertainment really are key to making evening receptions fun and photos great.

If you would like to chat about your wedding photography, get in touch

Thanks for popping by

Fee x