Lighting is one of the most important factors of your wedding day. If you’re like most people, this probably comes as a surprise! However, if you’re a wedding photographer (like me), it is likely that your entire approach to a wedding day is dependent on available light. Of course, as a photographer, I am equipped to shoot in any lighting situation. But when the light is GREAT, it takes things to a whole new level for creating something gorgeous together. Here are some of my favourite tips for creating great lighting throughout your wedding day.
The area where you decide to get ready for the big day should have plenty of natural light. That means large windows, open floor plans, and limited clutter. Dark and cluttered hotel rooms mean adding lamps or flashes to the light available, which never looks quite as good as even, natural light.
First Look/ Reveal
Some couples opt for a first look before the ceremony. If you are planning a first look, here are some tips for great lighting! Usually the reveal happens in mid-afternoon, which means harsh lighting and squinting in photos. If you’re planning your first look outside, think about finding some shade for this part of the day. If your first look will be indoors, window light is your best friend! Finding an area with large windows can be perfect for a first look.
If your ceremony is indoors, ensure you speak to your officiant and venue about lighting! Old churches and venues can be very dark, and certain officiants may not allow flash during your ceremony. You should always speak to your venue/officiant to see if there are any photo restrictions, and be sure to let your photographer know! If there are flash restrictions, inquiring about additional lights being turned on or lighting candles can be a game changer.
For outdoor ceremonies, there are a couple of options. First of all, think about scheduling your ceremony later in the day when the sun is low in the sky, around 4pm (or even later into the evening in the summer months). If the wedding will be taking place in mid-day sun, think about a location with open shade for more even lighting. Not only will your photos look amazing, but your guests will thank you for shade from the blazing summer heat!
I’m sure you’ve heard of “golden hour” before. This is the hour after the sun comes up, and the hour before it sets! The dreamy light that happens at golden hour is seriously THE BEST for portraits. To me, golden hour is the definition of “great lighting”. I always encourage couples to plan a few minutes of time for portraits during golden hour (about 30 mins before sunset). Look up what time the sunset is on your wedding day, and add in an extra 15 minutes or so for photos. Trust me, it is so worth it. The lesser known “blue hour”, or the hour after the sun has gone down, is also beautiful for portraits.
It is also important to have a plan for indoor portraits, should the weather be nasty. Again, window light will be your best friend!
The reception is the part of the day where you really have the freedom to get creative to achieve great lighting! I prefer to avoid flash when possible at a wedding reception. This can be done when there is plenty of available light, whether it be candles, string lights, lanterns, or many other light sources.
Talking to your photographer or wedding planner about how to achieve these lighting looks can go a long way! Feel free to get in touch if you ever have any questions about lighting for your wedding. Happy planning!