Wedding Photography – The Reception

The formal portion of your day is done, now it’s time to party at the wedding reception!

I love photographing the wedding reception! There’s a little bit of party girl left in me I guess. I do not currently offer any packages that don’t have enough time for the reception. The reason for that stems from my own wedding. Let me set the scene for you:

My Why –

When Josh and I got married in 2009 we were broke. I mean running the checkbook down to $50 to pay for our very frugal wedding type of broke. It wasn’t small. We served about 400 people. But it was in my parents’ corn shed and they paid for the food. I told my mom we were thinking we could keep it fairly small and my mom said “We’re paying for the food so we’re inviting who we want.” Can’t argue with that. And since my dad sold seed to half the farmers in the state and they firmly believed in inviting everyone they knew and having big celebrations, we invited everyone.

I had not yet discovered my interest in photography so we weren’t too picky about our photographer. We found someone we liked and she was great, but she wasn’t available for the wedding reception. That was fine as it also kept the cost down for us. I had a little point and shoot Olympus camera that I really liked. So I took a ton of pictures on that and so did whoever grabbed it at the reception. That’s all great.

And then….

When we left our wedding reception in a rented limo I must have set it on the seat (eye witnesses swear I had it in my hand getting in the limo). I forgot to grab it at the hotel. When I called on Monday the driver “hadn’t found it”. This was before cell phone photos were really a thing so that doesn’t help. As a result I have no photos of my reception. None.

Still bothers me 11 years later.

I am not letting that happen to you.

Now, the shots from your wedding reception probably won’t be blown up on your wall. Hopefully they’ll take up a few spreads in your album though and be cherished just as well. This is where you get to see who was at your wedding!

I could go on and on but let’s keep it streamlined:

Things to remember/inform me about:

  • I need to know when all the special dances are. Before dinner? At the start of dancing? A few songs in?
  • When you’re decorating your head table, please don’t put your bouquet or anything tall right in front of the bride and groom spots. Then it blocks you for pictures. Display your beautiful bouquet by the cake or memory table.
  • You get the best photos from speeches if they speaker is close to the bride and groom. You could have the speaker stand close to your spots by the head table. Another option though since you’ll likely be done eating by the time speeches happen – you and your new spouse can leave your seats and stand together with the speaker near the dance floor.
  • Plan your Grand March early. Many people plan on waiting until 9:00 for the Grand March. That seems to be a Wisconsin tradition. But if your photography coverage started at noon and you only have 8 hours, your photographer is done by then. Be mindful of your contracted time to make sure you get all the fun stuff. Check out Wedding Day Timeline – How it affects photos. for more details.
  • Reason 2 for an early Grand March. They are never on time. The bigger the wedding party, the more people you have to round up. And many of us Wisconsin folks just keep getting rowdier as the night goes on, especially at wedding receptions. You know what I mean by rowdy. Waiting until later just gives the rowdy longer to kick in;)

Things I love about receptions with the photo reasons to follow:

Reactions during speeches!

The reception decorations. However small they might be, they tell the story of your day.

The Bride and Groom’s first dance. Duh.

Daddy/daughter dances.

Mother/son dances even more. You know I have a soft spot for mom’s of boys. And I will probably cry. I’m not an emotional person but those darn songs get me.

Kids having the time of their life.

A few choreographed dances.

POLKAS! I know a lot of photographers who dread the polkas coming on. I love them and I always kind of wish I could be out there doing it instead of taking pictures. In our little part of the world this is when the older couples come out on the floor and I love it. Plus my parents loved to polka through all 47 years of their marriage so I think it’s special to me.

That one group of guests just rocking it out.

Simple shots of the guests not dancing, just chatting.

Parents with their friends.

All the little moments in between!

The next two shots – I am so happy one of the bridesmaids tapped me on the shoulder a second before and said “Something’s about to happen.” Tina did not know she was gonna get flipped!

This wraps up my little series about wedding photography and I hope it helps a little with wedding reception planning! Make sure you didn’t miss the other posts!

Wedding Details Photos, Wedding Photography – The Ceremony, and Wedding Day Timeline – How it affects photos.

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