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Mastering Wedding Reception Photos

Wedding Reception Photos

Wedding receptions are where memorable moments are created, and capturing these moments in photographs is an art in itself. As a wedding photographer, you are entrusted with the responsibility of documenting the joy, laughter, love, and emotions of the wedding day. The wedding photography that you capture will serve as cherished mementos for the couple and their families.

In this comprehensive guide, I will explore various aspects of wedding reception photos and share invaluable tips to help you master this craft.

If you would like for me to be your wedding day photographer, feel free to contact me, RayCee the Artist, at to learn more about the wedding packages that I offer!

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!

Understand the Importance of Preparation

Wedding Reception Photos

Wedding reception photography is all about anticipation and preparation. A deep understanding of the reception's timeline, key events, and lighting conditions can make the difference between average and extraordinary pictures.

Event Timeline and Key Moments

Understanding the wedding photography timeline is crucial for capturing the right moments. Key events such as the grand entrance, toasts, first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, and garter toss are all classic moments that need to be documented. Make sure to discuss these with the couple and the planner beforehand.

Lighting Conditions

The lighting conditions during a reception can vary significantly, from bright natural light during day events to dim, mood lighting in the evening. Familiarize yourself with the venue in advance, noting the natural and artificial light sources. This knowledge will allow you to plan your shots and lighting setup better.

Capturing the Grand Entrance

Wedding Reception Photos

The grand entrance is a momentous event that sets the tone for the reception. It's a moment filled with excitement and cheer as the newlyweds make their first appearance as a married couple.

Plan Your Shot

To capture this moment perfectly, plan your shot well in advance. Know where the couple will enter the venue and their path towards the stage or the dance floor. This will help you position yourself appropriately for the best shots.

Capture the Energy of the Moment

Remember, it's not just about capturing the couple walking in; it's about capturing the energy of the moment. Include the cheering guests in your frame to bring out the celebratory vibe of the entrance.

Immortalizing the First Dance

Wedding Reception Photos

The first dance is an intimate and emotional moment that deserves special attention. It's a chance to capture the couple's chemistry and happiness.

Creative Photojournalism

Think of this part of the reception as creative photojournalism. Use a mix of wide-angle shots to capture the overall scene and close-ups to focus on the couple's expressions. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to create a diverse collection of images.

Lighting for Dance

Setting up the proper lighting for the dance floor is crucial. Well-placed lights can add depth and drama to the dance photos, making them look more dynamic and impactful.

Documenting the Toasts and Speeches

Wedding Reception Photos

Toasts and speeches are often filled with humor, emotions, and heartfelt messages. They present an excellent opportunity to capture candid reactions and expressions.

Capturing the Speaker and Reactions

When capturing toasts and speeches, focus on both the speaker and the listeners. Use a good telephoto lens to capture close-ups of the speaker and the reactions of the bride, groom, and the guests.

Consider the Lighting

The lighting setup for speeches is equally important. Plan your lighting in such a way that it highlights the speaker and the key people reacting to the speech.

Making the Cake Cutting Memorable

Wedding Reception Photos

The cake cutting ceremony is a classic wedding reception tradition that calls for special attention. This moment is often quick, so being ready and in the right position is key.

Positioning the Couple

Ensure that the bride and groom are positioned in a way that they are not blocking each other. This will allow you to capture their expressions clearly as they cut the cake.

Capturing the Details

Don't forget to take detailed shots of the cake before it's cut. These images will add variety to your collection and showcase the intricacies of the cake design.

Lighting Up the Dance Floor

Wedding Reception Photos

The open dance floor is where the party really begins. It's filled with action, fun, and laughter, making it a goldmine of candid photo opportunities.

Get Close to the Action

To capture the best dance floor photos, don't be shy. Get close to the action. Use a wide-angle lens to capture the energy of the crowd and a telephoto lens to capture individual expressions and dance moves.

Play with Shutter Speed

Experiment with your shutter speed to add a sense of movement to your photos. A slower shutter speed can create a motion blur effect, adding a dynamic element to your dance floor shots.

Sneaking in a Night Portrait Session

Wedding Reception Photos

A quick night portrait session can result in some stunning and unique photos. Use the architecture, landscape, or art of the venue to create visually appealing images.

Time Management

Ensure that you manage your time efficiently for this session. Plan your shots in advance and focus on quality over quantity.

Lighting Challenges

Remember, lighting can be a challenge during the night. Be quick in adapting your lighting setup to work with the available ambient light.

Catching the Bouquet/Garter Toss

Wedding Reception Photos

The bouquet and garter toss events are fun-filled and often result in hilarious moments.

Focus on the Group

While the bride or groom will be the center of attention initially, the real action lies with the group trying to catch the bouquet or garter. So, focus your lens on the group to capture their anticipation and reactions.

Be Ready for Quick Action

These moments happen quickly, so be ready with your camera settings and positioning. Remember, capturing the action and the reactions is key in these shots.

Directing the Grand Exit

Wedding Reception Photos

The grand exit is the couple's final departure from the reception. It can involve elements like sparklers, confetti, or petal tosses, making it a visually captivating moment.

Coordinate with the Planner

Coordinate with the wedding planner to get the guests and the couple in position at the right time. Start the process in advance, especially if it involves a large number of guests.

Capture the Celebration

The grand exit is all about celebration and cheer. Aim to capture this spirit in your photos. Use the props and elements to your advantage to create visually interesting images.

Mastering Reception Lighting

Understanding and mastering reception lighting is crucial to capturing stunning wedding reception photos.

Choose the Right Gear

Choosing the right gear for lighting is essential. This could include Speedlites, mini strobes, or remote triggers. The choice of gear will depend on your style and the lighting conditions at the venue.

Camera Settings for Reception Photography

Understanding camera settings for reception photography is crucial. Use a wide aperture lens, a fast enough shutter speed, and a reasonable ISO to get sharp images in low light conditions.


Wedding reception photography can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. With preparation, mastery of lighting, and a keen eye for capturing emotions and reactions, you can create a stunning collection of wedding reception photos. Remember, every wedding is unique, and so is every reception. Be adaptable, be creative, and most importantly, enjoy the process.

If you would like for me to be your wedding day photographer, feel free to contact me, RayCee the Artist, at to learn more about the wedding packages that I offer!

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!


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