Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
If you’re engaged and planning your wedding, it’s most likely the first wedding you’ve ever planned, but it certainly isn’t ours! Over the years we’ve worked on dozens of weddings, and have learned exactly how long each aspect of a wedding day takes – from getting ready photos to your husband and wife sunset portraits. We’ve also learned a lot about when things should happen, and in what order, and ways to make them go as efficiently as possible.
This weekend we’re sharing some wisdom about our absolute favorite part of the entire wedding day: your bride and groom portraits! Many couples hire their wedding photographer largely based on their portfolio of portraits because, let’s be honest, how you look on your wedding day is SO incredibly important!
If you’ve spent any amount of time on our blog (or have ever spoken to a photographer before), you may be familiar with the term “golden hour”. It’s the last 60-ish minutes before the sun will set over the trees, mountains or horizon at any given location, and it’s when the light is softest, warmest, and — in our opinion — most beautiful! For this reason, when we build a custom Recommended Wedding Photography Timeline for each of our couples at booking, we always do our absolute best to build their husband and wife photos into golden hour.
Depending on the month and what time your ceremony will end, sometimes it’s easy to build sunset photos directly after the ceremony. For example, here in Charlottesville the sun officially sets at 7:30 pm on March 23rd. However, at many venues, the sun actually set behind the mountains and tree-line closer to 7:00 pm. So a ceremony that ends at 6:00 pm would allow your photographers to whisk you away from your ceremony and go right into sunset photos!
However, we understand that not everyone gets married in March and October, and in fact most of our weddings have sunsets closer to 8:00 pm or even later. So how do we adjust? Oftentimes, when wedding portraits during golden hour are important to our couples, we suggest they allow us to pull them out of their reception for just a few minutes so we can catch the tail end of the sunset. That’s what we did with Joanna and Brady during their Northern Virginia wedding, and we’re so glad they took our advice!
If you’ve been reading along with us so far in this blog series, you know how much we (and our couples) love the First Look timeline, and yet another reason is that it gives us more time to capture beautiful portraits of our couples! After you two have had your beautiful, totally unscripted and intimate First Look moment, we transition right into some bride and groom portraits. It’s first thing in the morning, you’re fresh out of hair and makeup and looking your best, and we get to capture the mixture of relief (now that you just saw each other and your world is stable again) and anticipation (in just a few hours, you’ll be married!).
Plus, if we can take a full 30 minutes in the morning after the first look, then after the ceremony we only need to keep you two for 10 or 15 minutes. So whether we’re pulling you out of your reception or you’re skipping out on the cocktail hour, you get to maximize time spent with guests while still getting a full gallery of wedding portraits!
Plus, when our couples opt for the First Look timeline AND sunset photos, they get a gallery of images that has two very distinct feels, but is still a cohesive, single work of art. While the bride and groom photos from the morning captured relief and anticipation, the husband and wife portraits in the evening display the joy and passion of a new marriage and the excitement of the life you two have ahead.
Back in 2019, Sarah and I sat down with a couple just a few months before their wedding to discuss them potentially hiring us as their wedding photographers. We couldn’t help but ask why they had reached out to us so close to their wedding day, and they told us that they had hired a photographer about a year before their wedding, like most couples do, but fired them after their engagement session. Apparently, they met at the agreed-upon location, made some small talk, then this other photographer took out his camera, pointed it at them, and his first direction was “Okay, uhh, now do something cute.”
When they told us this, Sarah audibly gasped and I cringed. If your wedding or engagement photographers ever say that to you, you should fire them on the spot too! You and your fiancé are not professional models and should not be expected to understand how to pose yourselves in front of the camera. Of course, if you have ideas and want to inject your personality into your session, that’s great! But we believe that it’s fundamentally the photographer’s role to lead you in posing – that’s part of our job.
After all, Sarah and I know that people who feel confident and comfortable in front of our cameras will look confident and comfortable in their final photos. That’s why we lead, guide and suggest through every step of the process. We of course leave room for the uniqueness of each of our couples to shine through, but we know that this is your first engagement session and your first wedding day, and you’ll be looking to us for direction!
If you’d like to chat with us about your own wedding day, or learn more about our Wedding Photography services, click here!