how to get the most out of your wedding portraits if you can’t do a first look

September 29, 2017

Last week I shared with you the top 5 reasons that I love first looks!  I truly love it when my couples do first looks, but some couples choose not to do them, and I totally understand! While the best way to get the most portraits is having one, we can still work around it and have beautiful images even without a first look. All it requires is a little creativity! Today, I’m sharing how to get the most out of your portrait time if you can’t have a first look!

1. Know what time the sun will set on your wedding day

I believe that aside from the ceremony, the most important aspect of the day is your couple portrait session! The main thing to take into consideration when planning your wedding is the time of the sunset. I can take a few specialty shots with a flash when it is dark, but we simply can’t do a whole portrait session with no sunlight! If you are not having a first look, you have to be sure that your ceremony ends at least an hour before the sun sets so that there is time to take all of the portraits before we run out of light! The great thing is that you can google the sunset of the date of your wedding in the city where the wedding will take place. If it has always been your dream to have an evening wedding, then you will need to have a first look or plan a honeymoon session after the wedding day.

2. Have a cocktail hour

If you don’t do a first look, there are A LOT of portraits to take after the ceremony. The family formals, the full bridal party photos, and all the couple photos! I recommend that my couples have at least 30 minutes of portrait time with just the two of them at their wedding. Once you add in 30 minutes for the family photos and 10 minutes for the bridal party photos, that’s over an hour of shooting! Your guests WILL get antsy unless you give them something to do. Having a cocktail hour is a MUST if you plan to do your couple portraits between the ceremony and the reception! Cocktail hour doesn’t have to mean alcohol. Just be sure there are some hors d’oeuvres and drinks for everyone before you arrive! You can even go the extra mile and have little activities for your guests to do such as a photo booth, a wedding day word search, or something similar!

3. Plan a 10-Minute Sunset Session

Sunset sessions are my favorite! I love taking the couple out during dinner or dancing for some portraits when the sun is low in the sky. This is when we get that gorgeous soft glow for photos and the light is the most flattering! Most of the time, the guests are having so much fun that they don’t even notice the couple is gone for 10 minutes. If your ceremony is earlier in the day, this is a great way to supplement your quick session that we had post-ceremony! If a sunset is going to happen during the wedding day, I want to be there to document it (even if the couple does a first look)!

4. Have your couple session after the reception

If your wedding is in the morning or early afternoon, a fun option is to have your couple session AFTER the reception ends! I love it when my couples do this! We can take a few “just married” shots immediately following the ceremony, but then the couple can go straight to the reception after the family session without keeping their guests waiting too long! Then, after the getaway, I follow the couple to a gorgeous location to take their bride and groom portraits! I have even had a couple do all of their bridal party photos post-reception because we knew that would be the best time of the day for the light! If you choose this option, be sure your bridal party all know where to meet after the reception and that they have transportation!

5. Have a Honeymoon Session

Last but not least, a great way to add to your portrait time if you aren’t having a first look is to have a honeymoon session! This is where I meet the couple a few days after the wedding, they get their wedding clothes back on, and we have a gorgeous session! If you are traveling somewhere far for the honeymoon, we could do it when you guys get back! We’ll take a few “just married” shots after the ceremony, and then you can enjoy your reception without having to worry about your hair and makeup for the post-reception session. We can have a full stress-free session after the wedding day. This is a great option if we don’t have any sunlight after the ceremony!

There you have it! 5 ways to get the most out of your portrait time if you don’t have a first look! I hope this was helpful. As always, e-mail me if you have any questions!

Happy Planning,

– Christi



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