The Prettiest Light of All - Planning Lighting on Your Wedding Day

I’m a natural light and artificial light photographer with a long love of taking portraiture during the glow of sunset. On a wedding day, I use natural light until the sun has gone down. I leverage natural light as much as I can capturing the mood and ambience while balancing artificial light for the most natural looks. There are times when I use artificial light to add drama, but also to flatter you and the environment. Because of this, I encourage you to plan for good light, which in turn creates flattering photos. The more you plan, the likelier you’ll be blown away by the results; know when sunset is on your wedding day and use that window before the sun goes down to the best advantage.


Every wedding tells a story of the day and the perfect start is while the bride and groom prepare. There are so many beautiful moments happening and memories being created, and good light helps capture everything beautifully. When it comes to making lighting plans, please consider:


  1. Dressing in a room with large windows.
  2. Windows should have enough light coming through to light the room.
  3. Light-colored walls
  4. While hotel rooms are lovely, don’t underestimate the beauty of renting a home on Air BnB or getting ready at a bed and breakfast. Hotel rooms are usually filled with busy carpet choices, no smoking signs, and really orange light. Finding an, of-the beaten-path location might be exactly what you needed to start your day of right.
  5. If you’re planning to prepare at a church, please take the time to visit the prep room in advance. Often times these rooms are windowless or classrooms with brightly colored walls and fluorescent lights (not to mention the Noah’s Ark mural painted in the background). The colored walls and windowless rooms run the risk of casting unflattering light, so planning in advance will help achieve securing a room with the best options.
  6. You may also consider taking it outside as another option.



If you’re planning on having photos taken outdoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., please ensure there is space away from direct sunlight. Midday light is extremely harsh, so having a location with open shade (under a tree or awning or portico) would be ideal. Harsh light can lead to dark shadows under the eyes and nose, as well as constant squinting, so plan for a location in a shaded area or schedule photos for later in the day.



Outdoor ceremonies are a photographer’s dream to photograph, but if your ceremony will be between the hours of 10 a.m and 3 p.m in the height of summer, please ensure there is some form of shade. Not only is it insanely hot standing under direct sun, it causes harsh shadows on your face. So when is the best time to plan a ceremony? I’m glad you asked! Ceremony photos with the most favorable light is about 2-3 hours before sunset.


Sunset Portraits

I love the golden, soft light I can leverage during sunset. If this is the type of light you prefer on your wedding day, you need to make time for portraits around sunset. Depending on the time of year you marry, these photos can be taken during cocktail hour (in the fall/winter) or by slipping away from the reception for 20 minutes (in the spring/summer). Photos taken in an empty field or along the water’s edge are the prettiest with 20 minutes before sunset.





Let’s keep this simple: the more lights you add, the better. Uplighting, pin lighting, Italian strung lights, candle light…all of it! The more light you add to a venue (indoors or outdoors), the higher chances a photographer can capture the exact feel of the evening. If it’s too dark, I rely heavily on my flash and strobe light sources, which is fine, but documents the environment a little different. Occasionally the DJ will provide lights for the dance floor, but please refrain from using them during the first dance as colored or moving lights can affect a photo in the worst way (making skin appear purple or creating a blue light across a wedding dress? Yup…I’ve been there).


Overcast Day

Some brides get worried or sad if the sun isn’t shining bright on their wedding days, but I want to take a second and state that a cloudy day is a perfect day. It’s one, big softly illuminated space and we’re free to roam wherever we’d like for photos. Rest assured I’m not worried about clouds in the sky. On a wedding day, clouds can be a photographer’s best friend.

Are you left with questions? Call or email...that's what I am here for.