Wedding photographer based in northern va

serving the DMV and worldwide.ESTD. 2016

Bride-TO-BE — Portrait Session

2024 bride-to-be, here are some tips for your wedding day portrait session from a photographer point of view! Years later, what are hung on your walls, kept in your album, and used as your screensaver are probably photos taken during this portrait session on your wedding day!

As a wedding photographer, I typically suggest that my clients dedicate at least 2 hours in their timeline for portrait sessions. The 2-hour includes the solo portrait of the bride and groom, first look (if you plan to have it), family portrait and couple’s portrait. This means the hair and makeup team must finish styling the wedding party at least 1.5-2.5 hours before the ceremony, especially since the styling process is often delayed for multiple reasons. 

Bridal Portrait (30 minutes)

I usually photograph the bride just before their makeup and hair are done to capture the final touch. Then, my favorite session: bridal portrait! Everything is already polished at this moment. All that’s left is pure joy. I recommend planning at least 30 minutes for some staged and candid photos. You won’t regret having these precious pictures for many reasons. If you run out of time, scheduling a bridal portrait session before or after your wedding day can also be an option.

Groom Portrait (15 minutes)

The groom’s portrait session can be short compared to the bridal portrait session. If you have a tight timeline, add a second photographer to cover this part at the same time when the lead photographer is taking the bridal portraits.

Photo by: Villa Li Photography

Venue: Bristow Manor Golf Club

First Look and Couple’s Portrait (30 – 45 minutes)

Finally, the exciting part of the day — the couple’s portrait, starting from the first look! This is a must-have session where some of the most beautiful images of your wedding day come from. Save time for this session now or later ( the golden hour before sunset is a great choice) so you will have some stunning photos created with your loved one. 

Photo by: Villa Li Photography

Venue: brookside gardens

Family Portrait (10 -15 minutes)

Some couples want to finish this part before the ceremony as the date will get packed with the guests’ arrival. There are pros and cons to having this before or after the ceremony. 

Pre-ceremony family portrait session requires a bit of planning. Ask one of the family members or your wedding planner to gather all the wedding party and extended families so you won’t miss anyone for the group shots.

A post-ceremony family portrait session is more straightforward to arrange as all the friends and family are already there. However, it may take some time out of socializing.

Golden Hour (30 minutes)

The light during the golden hour(1 – 1.5 hours before sunset) is the best time for portraits. If your ceremony is later in the day, this session should happen right after the ceremony or group photo session. Leave 15-30 minutes for this session if you can.

Photo by: Villa Li Photography

Venue: pearmund cellars

Final Thoughts:

I want to emphasize that you don’t have to follow this advice, as it’s your own wedding,; you can decide what works best for you and makes you comfortable. However, if you are overwhelmed and looking for suggestions, these should help.