January 5, 2024

Cheers To You! Volume Eight: Couple Photographs | A Wedding Photo Planning Guide

Planning Couple Photographs During Your Wedding Day

YES! Today is the day! We are going to chat all about one of the most important – but weirdly one of the least addressed – parts of wedding photography planning. And that topic? Planning couple photographs on your wedding day. This topic is so freaking fun and just a total blast to talk about so you know what to do! Pull out those headphones, grab that coffee, and let’s get down to business.

The business? Making your wedding day a-freaking-mazing.

Photographs of the Couple on The Wedding Day

Yes! We are in the big leagues of photography planning today because, at the end of the day, wedding couple portraits are usually super important. They’re important to the couple, of course, but they’re also important to anyone who wants to frame a photographs of the couple on their wedding day. We’re talking parents, grandparents, the couple, and any kids or grandkids that’ll come into play later on in the couple’s life. As I like to say, my wedding photographs are so happy, your grandkids will frame ’em. And while this is so true and bride and groom photographs are really freaking amazing and fun to shoot, there’s one big elephant in the room.

They can take wayyyyyyyy too much time.

If you’re getting hitched, grab yourself your fave drink! If you’re a photographer, grab yourself a notebook. Cause today? I’m spilling the ways I maximize my time at weddings to take the most incredible photographs during any kind of wedding day: short, long, hectic, or smooth. I cannot wait to share these thought with you!

beautiful bride and groom portrait taken at Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista

Cheers To You! Volume Eight!

Are Couples Photographs Boring?

Absolutely not! Couples photographs are so fun! And actually? I have some big thoughts about this!

The first is this: I’ve been shooting weddings since 2011 and, while I wouldn’t call myself a mind reader (yet! Lol), I can usually tell when a partner (or couple!) is done with couples photographs. As I’m shooting, this is definitely something I keep an eye out for as we move from one pose to the next. I want your wedding – all of your wedding! – to be fun! I want you to have the most incredible day with the most incredible photographs and, if long shoots during your wedding are not your thing, I’m totally on board with that. We’re still going to take portraits – gotta get that happy shot your grandkids will frame! – but, more importantly, we’re going to take portraits in a way that feels like YOU.

Second Big Thought! I shoot portraits with the flow of your day in mind. Unless there’s a specific reason – ie your wedding is in two venues and a long break is scheduled – I’m not a photographer who turns weddings into portrait sessions. While we should totally take portraits, your wedding isn’t a photoshoot. It’s an awesome event where photographs are taken.

We’ve Been to a Wedding Where Photographs Took Forever.

How Can We Avoid This?

By incorporating frames throughout the day!

When I started weddings, I’d usually take a big chunk after the wedding to take couples portraits.

And while, traditionally, I still do this a little, I now take smaller, more frequent chunks. Think of it like this! If you want a good amount of portraits, it’s going to take time. A pretty standard amount for this is thirty minutes. This isn’t a crazy long time for portraits – or even a long time away from the party – but, when these photographs take place after family portraits and you can hear your friends partying, it can feel really long. So! Several years ago, I started something new!

What I do is this! If we want to hit thirty minutes of couples portraits, we take them. Instead of shooting them all at once, though, we break them up. So, thirty minutes after family photographs turns into this: ten minutes of portraits at the first look, ten minutes after family photographs, and ten minutes during the reception. Want to know what’s extra great about this?

There are always transitional points during weddings.

If we pop outside for night photographs while everyone is dancing, we’ll be gone for literally two songs. If we sneak to the side of the venue for photographs while your family is walking over to reception after family photographs, no one will even know we are missing. I love carving out small times for portraits during the wedding day. It’s fun and it give you more time with your family because you’re more present for more moments. Like, even if you’re gone the exact same amount of time, you won’t be missing a large chunk of the day. You’re missing pockets instead!

There’s another reason I do this and it is totally, unapologetically selfish: I love shooting in unique light and I love shooting the couple as the day progresses. Think of it like this! If we do all of your photographs at one point of the day, all of your photographs are from that moment in time. If we take photographs throughout the day, we’re going to be able to capture more emotions, looks, and feelings. It’s honestly the best!

bride and groom read letters on wedding day, happy wedding photos in Fayetteville ARbride and groom read letters on wedding day, happy wedding photos in Fayetteville AR

Should We Do A First Look?

I’ll talk about this more on a later post but it’s really up to you!

From a schedule perspective, weddings can flow a little easier if a first look is done. If, however, you don’t want to do a first look, you don’t have to. There can be a lot of pressure about this either way but it’s really up to you and your needs! I love a good first look but also totally understand why a couple would want to wait until the ceremony to see each other.

This post is nearly a decade old but you can read some of my first look thoughts here!

I’ve mentioned this several times in this series and, while I’m speaking for myself and my couples, I know many wedding photographers feel similarly: I want my couples to create the wedding days they want to create. While I might have a preference – such as doing a first look for time flow – I would never push that preference on a couple. Your wedding day is your day. So! Think of what that means to you!

One more thought on this!

My husband and I walked to our wedding venue together from a nearby hotel and it was, hands down, one of the best parts of our wedding day. It was so exciting and fun and I loved having that time with him. We had a very traditional LDS wedding ceremony, though, and we didn’t have our wedding clothes on during the walk to the venue. Because of our wedding ceremony details, I never dreamed about a walk down the aisle so, for us, that was a moment we carved out for ourselves that was unique and really special.

As a photographer, I love when couples carve these types of moments out for themselves. If you want a moment for yourself, don’t be pressured to give it up! That goes for any moment. Want to get ready together? Awesome! Want to wait to see each other for the first time during the ceremony? That’s incredible, too!

Last FAQ! Can Anyone Come With Us During Couples Portraits?

Wrapping it up with this short and sweet question!

Typically, couple photographs are just of the two people marrying one another. While you are totally welcome to invite your mom, Maid of Honor, or sister to this part of the day, I recommend keeping these moments as small as possible. My husband will be with us during this part of the day and he’s not there to shoot. He’s there to carry stuff around, switch out lenses for me, and to make everything run smoothly! It’s so much fun!

Whew! We made it through Volume Eight! Hope this answered any questions you may have about wedding photography planning for your wedding day. I love couples photographs so much and, if you’re one of my couples, I cannot wait to capture some magic for you!

Not an LCP couple but want to be? Contact me here!


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Based in Fayetteville, Arkansas Lissa Chandler is a portrait and wedding photographer. Lissa is also the owner of Opal and June where she offers mockup photographs, bookish + history merch, and the dreamiest photoshoot dress rentals. Additionally, Lissa is the host of the podcast Your Photographer Mom. As a creative photographer in Northwest Arkansas, Lissa doesn’t niche down on a genre. She niches on a feeling instead! That feeling? The huge, happy feeling of hope and excitement that you feel as a kid opening up a huge box of 120 crayons. Sound like a feeling you remember? Let’s shoot!