Pros & Cons: Wedding Photos BEFORE the Ceremony?
By Esther Dawson

24 September 2015

Thinking of having your wedding photos taken before the ceremony? Sarah from Sarah McEvoy Photography has seen many wedding in her time as a professional wedding photographer and has a few valuable thoughts on the subject. Modern weddings are all about creating your own traditions and molding your wedding day to fit your personal values and desires as a couple. You may choose to include particular wedding traditions in your celebration, which is why I (Sarah) don't think there's a correct answer to whether or not you should take your photos before the ceremony. But if this is something you're considering, here are a few pros and cons that you should definitely keep in mind!


If you think you're going to have killer nerves all morning, photos before your ceremony is the best way to cure them. You kids are in this together and you will be so much calmer and more relaxed for having seen each other before the ceremony.

You can include a 'First look' in your wedding photos! Man, these can be super sweet and emotional! You can see each other all dolled up, hug, kiss, laugh, and cry, without the audience.

Pre-ceremony photos mean that your hair and makeup will look perfect. Your bouquet won’t be wilted/ squished by the sun and guests. Aunt Zelda's lippy won’t be smeared on your cheek when she smooched you, and your hair won’t be falling out from everyone bear-hugging you after the ceremony.

Without a lengthy photoshoot straight after the ceremony, you'll have way more time to spend with your guests. Not having to leave for photos means you won’t miss out on of any part of this epic party you're throwing. This has got to be the number one reason right?! On a day that's going to pass by in a blur, you could end up feeling pretty stressed as you try and get face time with everyone.

Another bonus is the opportunity to go a bit further afield to find your dream spot for wedding photos. If you have extra time, why not travel to a West Coast beach for photos even though your ceremony is in Devonport? You could also travel to two different locations without having the time constraints.

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Many couples still hold to the tradition of not wanting to see each other until the moment the bride walks down the aisle. I think that regardless of whether you've spent the morning getting ready together, or had a first look and then had your photoshoot, the walk down the aisle is still pretty dang intense! The ceremony is such an emotional part of the day and nothing can steal its thunder.

A key question to ask yourselves is this: what is the light going to be doing when you want to shoot? Coming at this from a completely photography-brained perspective, I do gulp whenever the timeline means that I'm going to be shooting portraits in midday sunlight. In New Zealand this time frame is not awesome to be honest. Imagine harsh shadows, sweat, and the desperate search for shade. Fingers crossed it's overcast! It's not the end of the world by any means and an experienced photographer will be able to deliver the goods, but I would so much rather shoot bridal party photos as late in the day as possible. Ideally in the two hours before sunset. So check what the sunset time is on your wedding day, check the time of your ceremony and what time are you serving dinner, then plot it all out. If you're getting married in the height of summer, the sun might not set until 9 or 10pm, so it wouldn't really make any difference would it?! And you can always sneak out of your reception for a few sunset snaps if you're really keen!

It's kind of nice after the ceremony, the congratulations, and the flurry of family group photos, to be able to nip off for photos with your bridal party, share a bottle of champers, and just take a little time out with your new spouse to go 'We totally got married! Whoop!' before you dive back into the party.

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Whether you decide to take photos before your ceremony or not entirely depends upon yours and your fiancé’s personal values and the picture you have of your wedding day. As discussed above, pre-wedding photos can be a fun and relaxed experience and definitely won’t steal any magic from your ceremony. On the other hand, photos taken after the ceremony or even the reception can include the gorgeous sunset light and provide a breather from the busy wedding festivities. Think about the pros and think about the cons, then chat with your fiancé and make an informed decision. All the best with your wedding planning!

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