You’ve probably started to day dream about your ceremony. Walking down the aisle and seeing each other for the first time surrounded by your favorite people! Maybe you’ve pictured yourself holding hands at the alter, sharing your vows, and making your commitment to one another sealed! These are photos you will always cherish – the moment you stood at the alter and said “Yes and I do” to one another!

Did you know there can be MAJOR distractions that might appear in photos that will distract away from this special moment? These distractions are so HUGE that sometimes it completely takes away from any emotion that may have been happening in the moment!

DO NOT WORRY!! This article is dedicated to sharing with you those HUGE distractors and SIMPLE ways to resolve them so the focus can be on you two as you become husband and wife!

(This applies to outdoor ceremonies only. If your ceremony is indoors…skip to #2!)

The Sun. This is the NUMBER ONE distractor during the ceremony. But it is also the key to magical photos. There is GOOD sun and there is BAD sun!

Bad sun is mostly bad because it creates lots of highlights and shadows (super bright pockets of light and super dark pockets of light across your photos) This is very distracting! It also takes away from the whatever moment is being photographed and can make it hard to connect with any emotion in the photo because your eye doens’t know where to land! Isn’t that nuts? In the photo below on the left the sun is directly on the couple making them evenly lit. (no intense highlights of shadows) On the right photo the sun is positioned to the right shining across the photos creating lots of highlights and shadows!

Here are a few examples of good sun:
The sun is behind the couple which causes a magical glow behind them and the bridal party! You’re pulled right into the emotion on the faces you see!


There are two ways to avoid bad sun. It comes down to the time of day and the way your ceremony is facing.


If you’re having an evening wedding (most common) then the best lighting for you would be to start 90 minutes to 2 hours before the sun sets. IF your ceremony is only 30 minutes long and you’re having a traditional 60 minute cocktail hour. This will be the best light, it will be soft and glowy, and VERY flattering and beautiful!

*If you’re getting married in the mountains the sun WILL set behind the mountain sooner so you will need to move your ceremony time up accordingly. (Your venue should have a rough idea of how much sooner the sun sets in your exact location vs. the incorrect estimated “sunset” time you can find online)

If you’re having a morning wedding the same is true, however the light is only the softest within 60 minutes of the sun rising. This might be too early for a ceremony time (but you could do a first look then!)

So once you’ve got the time of day locked in you can still have BAD light. So, next you need to figure out which way the sun will be facing where you plan to have the ceremony. The best case scenario is to have the sun shining from behind you at the alter. (example below) This will help avoid distracting shadows and blinging sun for you. It will give a beautiful glow to your day!!


If you’re not sure which way your ceremony should face you can always ask the venue or me, If I’m your photographer! The best tip is to have the sun either behind you (the best light!) or in front of you when you stand at the altar facing each other. If you can choose, have the sun behind you for the most glowy light! Avoid having the sun shine from the right or left side leaving you as the bride or groom looking directly into the sun when you face each other at the altar.

In Summary. I made these (very basic) diagrams to give you another visual of where you should aim for the sun to be.

In the examples above the sun is directly behind or directly in front. Directly behind is best to keep you out of the sun and give you a nice glow behind you. You’ll see your shadow in front of you. The sun in front can still be a little harsh, but less distracting if not shadows fall on your faces.

In the examples above it shows the sun on the left or right of the couple. Often the ceremony arch or people cast shadows on faces of the bride and groom making it more difficult to read emotional expression in photos. Sometimes you see this when the left side of the bridal party is in sun and the right side is in shade (or vice versa) try to avoid this set up if you can!


Cell Phones

It’s almost become the standard at weddings now, but it’s still worth mentioning the unplugged ceremony. This is where you request your guests do not take photos on their own cameras or phones during the ceremony so they can be present! The takes away distractions from guests and you also don’t have someone accidentally “blocking the shot” with their phone or ipad while your photographer is taking your ceremony photos!


The First Kiss

Have you been imagining that moment where the officiant says “You may now kiss the bride?” I love these photos from a wedding day, but sometimes there is a photo bomber! Ask your officiant to step to the side for the first kiss to avoid this!!

I hope you found these tips helpful to have ceremony photos that are focused on your beautiful love and the vows you’re making to each-other!




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