How to photograph a wedding reception

Wondering how to photograph a wedding reception? We tell you how to plan your shots and photograph the wedding reception, and what details and shots you should look out for.

The wedding reception

Depending on the distances involved, you should have time to whisk the couple off for pictures before most guests arrive at the reception.

Though if guests are already there they may want more time with them first. Remember, you are there to document the day, not run it.

Wedding reception photography - speach

Place settings

A lot of time and effort goes into the place settings and table for the reception, so grab some shots of the room and details before people get to it.

The cake

Everyone wants a picture of the couple cutting the cake but by staging a shot in secret beforehand, you can ensure you get the perfect angle.

Before the meal, try to sneak the couple off and stage a fake cutting of the cake in secret. Then, when the event happens after the meal, you can stand back or take a different angle to include the crowd – essentially giving you two goes.

Formal group shots

The formal group shots can be a Herculean effort to organise, so try to involve the ushers or best man in rounding up the troops.

With your pre-planned shot list, try to do it in an order that minimises swapping over; for instance, grouping the bride’s family shots together and the groom’s family together.

A group shot of everyone is a nice one to have, and is best shot at the end of the group shots or at the beginning, to get everyone in one place. For this you will need a high viewpoint to get everyone seen, so pick your location carefully, or use a stepladder and a wide-angle lens.

Informal shots

A long lens is really handy for grabbing informal shots of the guests chatting at the reception. This time, as people are still arriving and before the meal, is also ideal for some impromptu group shots and portraits of various guests.

Location shots

Your location shots should already be planned, at least in your head.

Feel free to go with what works on the day though, if locations aren’t working or you spot somewhere else worth trying.

Try to keep it fluid and relaxed, because if you look nervous it will make them nervous. Make sure you’ve got a good range of shots, both of the couple and individually but, equally, don’t take too long, as there will be guests waiting for them.

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