Wedding Wisdom // Reception Photography

I receive a lot of questions from couples planning their weddings. From how to choose vendors, to what are the best venues, and do you really need two photographers. Because of this I thought it would be fun to start an advice column. I will be answering the questions that I can and will be pulling from my vendor friends for other categories like floral, paper, or planning questions. Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of this post or email me at if there is a topic you want to see covered!

I am going to be kicking things off with a bang for this first wedding wisdom post. Today’s topic: You don’t need photos of your entire reception. front_007I have been a wedding photographer for the past 8 years, shooting my first wedding at the ripe age of 21. After capturing 100+ weddings I can say that once the cake is cut, the first dances danced, and the toasts cheered you can end photography coverage. In theory it sounds like a great idea to have those late night dancing photos. But with an open bar there is no such thing as a wedding that doesn’t get out of control. Guests get sweaty and often muddy dancing in a tent when the dance floor is outside and placed over grass. d_005 The photos everyone gushes over on Pinterest, Instagram, and here on this blog are taken during the day. It is far more important to pay for photography coverage in the beginning half of your wedding day. The family photos, ceremony, and couple portraits are the images you and your future children will cherish. The majority of wedding schedules cram these important images into a quick 3 hours, while reception dancing often spans 4-5 hours. You hired your photographer for the magical images they create. So give them the time to capture these images for you. You want to look back and remember the elegance and emotion of your wedding day… not that one groomsman who got up on the bandstand. d_006In my years of photography I have never had a couple order prints from the dancing portion of their wedding. You also will never put these photos in your album or frame them in your house. If photos aren’t printed or placed in an album suddenly you realize, what was the point of them?

Schedule the important parts of your reception right at the beginning. As you make your entrance into the tent go straight into the first dance, cake cutting, and toasts. Once these moments are finished the rest of the night is open to party and your guests can take over with their iPhones. Before disagreeing with this theory ask yourself, what are the images you loved most from a friends weddings or online? Those are the photos you should spend the most time on during your wedding day. a_031I would love to hear your opinions and questions! Did you like this type of post and would you like to see more wedding advice here in the future? Please sound off in the comments section!

All Images Copyright of Richard Ellis Photography. Please do not reprint without permission.

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13 thoughts on “Wedding Wisdom // Reception Photography

  1. I 98% agree – the dancing photos were hilarious, but I only printed some to give to friends who had hilarious faces. Since we left by boat at the end of the reception, I did want photos of that and am glad we had those because they look great, however 98% of your photos will be in the afternoon / early portion of the reception.

  2. I completely agree! At some point in my reception I started looking less like a bride and more like some sort of drowned rodent. Most of the photos we loved were from getting ready, and our actual wedding, and not the reception itself, in fact! Love this piece, Gillian. Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Agreed! by the end of the night someone give me these ridiculous sunglasses and I was dancing around indoors with sunglasses on and with sweat dripping down my back. Definitely never printed out any of those photos!!!

  4. This post is definitely right, and I totally agree that my future children are not going to be cherishing those dancing photos! We did have our photographers stay for a little while after the cake cutting, and the ones I do like are the photos of Mike and me dancing with friends and family who weren’t in our wedding party and getting to remember who else was there besides those few best friends. I can’t wait to read more of your wedding advice!

    Meg, Borrowed Heaven

    • Totally agree Meg! The cocktail hour (before the reception) is also a great time for photographers to capture photos of all of your guests.

  5. I was JUST at a wedding where the photographer was taking pictures throughout the whole reception and all I could think was “Oh, no. They are totally not going to want these.” LOL. You are so right!

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