Your Planning Guide
For Wedding Photography
By Jonathan Moore

Welcome to my official Wedding Photography Guide!

In each of the sections below, I offer simple tips on how to enable your wedding photographer (me) to achieve cleaner, more beautiful photos on your wedding day.  We will also go over the recommended allotted times (where necessary) for when you are putting together your schedule.

Rule #1: When it comes to photos, enjoy yourself!  I will make sure everything looks amazing…

As always, I am available if you have any questions or need specific advice 🙂

Let’s dive in!

Schedule: 3 hours

Window light please!

Find a room with a lot of natural window or balcony light.  Open the window and do your hair and makeup there.  The light will be better and the breeze will keep you relaxed!  Also, please turn off any interior lights whenever possible, as they can clash with the natural light.

AirBNB if possible…  

They are often less expensive and can offer cool, unique details.  Generic hotel rooms tend to be, well…generic.  They also don’t always offer the best light.

Minimize clutter…

Weddings can be chaotic.  I get it, but a clean room makes for cleaner, better-looking photos.  Try to keep anything that is not entirely necessary (i.e. roller bags, laundry, clothes), inside the closet and out of the way.  I always keep gear that I am not using in the closet.

Don’t forget about the groom…

Please don’t put him in a dark closet!  He is just as important 😉


How you do your makeup is entirely up to you.  Just bear in mind that more is not necessarily better.  My work reflects more truly what is there, so if you want to look like yourself, try not to overdo it.

Once you are in your dress, we’ll spend 5 or so minutes doing some quick portraits likely next to, you guessed it, a window!


Schedule: 30 minutes

I’d recommend doing a first look!

It will allow you both to take a moment for yourselves in each other’s arms with no one else around. You can share a hug, take a deep breath, tell her how beautiful she looks and try to calm each other’s nerves.  Try not to think of it as an overly staged occasion, but rather a simple, intimate moment for you both to share.

Finding the right location…

If you are planning a first look, I will scout a nice location with good light beforehand.  When it is time, I will go out to position the groom first and then I will send someone back to retrieve the bride.

First look alternative…

If your heart is set to lock eyes for the first time as you walk down the aisle, that is perfectly okay too!  Either way, I’ll be ready for it!


Schedule: 20 – 30 minutes depending on the number of family members

Do them before the ceremony…

The best time for family portraits is before the ceremony, that way once the ceremony is complete, everyone can be released for cocktail hour or reception.

Too much chaos after the ceremony…

I do not recommend post-ceremony group portraits, as people tend to scatter after a ceremony and trying to gather family members as everyone else is exiting will be time consuming.

Make a list…

This is to ensure that there is no confusion and that everyone gets covered. Please assign someone who is familiar with the faces the task of gathering family.  This speeds up the process since I don’t know what anyone looks like.

Schedule: Timing for your wedding ceremony is entirely up to you 🙂

What is an unplugged ceremony?

An “unplugged” ceremony is when you ask your guests to refrain from taking photos.

Unplugged is better…

An unplugged ceremony will ensure a better experience for your guests because they will be more engaged with what is taking place without being distracted by cell phone cameras, video and flashes.

Whether or not you decide to do an unplugged ceremony is entirely up to you.   As your photographer, I honestly do not care if people around me are taking photos or video as long as you do not feel it’s distracting or disruptive.  In that case, perhaps request that guests capture only from their seats, rather than standing or crowding the aisles, as this can be distracting for everyone.

For family photos, I would ask that we try to minimize guests taking photos only to make the process more efficient.  Everyone will have access to the same photos. 🙂

Make sure you are backlit…

For outdoor ceremonies, particularly those in direct sunlight, it is ideal to place the sun directly behind your officiant to ensure even backlight, otherwise you’ll be very harshly lit and likely squinting.  I would be happy to help on site with this if you’d like.

Mic stands…

Please try to avoid big mic metal stands as they are distracting and not very attractive.  If a mic is being used, please have your officiant use a handheld mic.

Receiving lines

A receiving line is where you greet every single person as they exit the ceremony venue or enter the reception venue.  Unless your wedding is very small, I strongly advise against having a receiving line.  They are repetitive, time consuming and it will be overwhelming for you.  I would recommend greeting your guests while mingling during cocktail hour.  It will be more enjoyable for you.


Schedule: Two 20 minute sessions

After the ceremony for 20 minutes:

Why? Because you just got married! You’re both feeling extremely happy and giddy like you’re walking on air.  The weight is finally off, so this is a perfect time for portraits!

At sunset/twilight for 20 minutes:

Why? The light will likely be too good to pass up a portrait opportunity!  If your wedding is indoors, I would recommend stepping outside for a few shots.  For urban settings, the city lights and lit buildings will also make for some nice shots.

If your ceremony is at sunset, we can always merge the two sessions into a single 20 – 30 minute post ceremony session…


Schedule: As long as you want, I’ll be there!

Set the mood…

My favorite light sources are candlelights combined with market lights.  It sets a very nice, romantic mood.  Just make sure it’s not too dark, as it can be difficult to autofocus working in low light.  I try to avoid using flash unless I’m shooting the dance floor, as this can ruin the light.  I would be happy to advise you further about this if you’d like!


If you have lots of details and that you would like captured, please allow 20 minutes for me to capture before guests enter the area.

When should I eat?

Ideally, I should eat at the same time as your guests. First, you won’t want photos of your guests eating.  Second, eating at the same time as your guests ensures I will be free to shoot the toasts and/or dances that generally happen after everyone is served.

Please make sure you both eat as well!  Not only at dinnertime, but throughout the day… You don’t want to be hungry at any point during the day!

Final tips

Enjoy yourself!  Enjoy the day!  Celebrate love with your loved ones!  Be yourself in front of the camera.  Never think you have to act or appear a certain way, just do whatever makes you comfortable and happy.  This is your day after all!

I’m available anytime if you want to talk. 🙂