6 Places You Want Natural Light On Your Wedding Day

One of the keys to getting gorgeous photos and video footage is natural light! It's something that can easily be overlooked but it is so worth fighting for on your big day!

Let me tell you a little secret. Every time we walk into a room we turn all of the lights to let the natural light flood in. As you're thinking about your wedding day, think about where you can let natural light flood the room. Maybe it's a big window on one side of the room or a skylight above in the ceiling. Wherever it is, consider yourself a light hunter haha. But without further ado here are 5 key places we think natural light is a MUST!

1) Getting Ready - This is often the time where we catch those beautiful details of what your wearing. And nothing hides details better than dim, yellow light. It might be tempting to get ready in the bridal suite at your reception venue but if there's no windows another location might be a better choice. A great way to solve this problem is getting ready in an Airbnb with big windows that will let the light pour in! Not only will you have stunning photos but you could even split the cost with your attendants so you have a fun place to stay the night before near your ceremony location with all your besties!

2) First Look - We don't want to miss a single second of this amazing moment if you choose to have it. Having your first look in an open, clutter-free room with lots of beautiful light pouring in or even outside makes for some amazing shots!

3) Family Portraits - I know sometimes family portraits feel like that obligatory thing at weddings that you just want to get done as quickly as possible. But family portraits are important too! So it's just as important to have great lighting here. Consider moving portraits outside if you have a dimly lit ceremony location!

4) Reception Hall - Most wedding receptions happen in the evening and end well into the nighttime hours but that doesn't mean you can't make great use of the natural light that will happen if you're having a summer wedding! Even a couple hours of daylight will make your photos pop! 

5) Portraits - Most people do a pretty good job with this but sometimes in the dead of winter it can be hard to find a great portrait site (since you don't want to be freezing your buns off)! If you've always dreamed of those dreamy, snowy wedding portraits then don't be afraid to head outside! But if you don't want to brave the cold then choosing a space like a greenhouse or a loft space works wonderfully! We're currently working on our list of great indoor portrait locations in Chicago.

6) Ceremony Location - If you can, finding a spot for the ceremony to have great light is important as well! Indirect outdoor light is ideal to avoid harsh shadows. Finding a nice spot under trees in a forest preserve can be a beautiful place for an outdoor wedding. For indoor weddings make sure you walk into the space and find those beautiful spots with natural light!

I know what you're thinking, "Kristin, that's the entire wedding..." and you'd be right! Natural light is our best friend and the more you have access to it during your entire wedding day the better! But don't fear, your photographer should be skilled enough to make any location look amazing. Just be sure to communicate the lighting situation beforehand so they can be prepared to make lower-lighting situations pop!


Your wedding timeline can either add or alleviate stress on your wedding day. So here is our sample timeline for a wedding day (with all the whys!). Hopefully it helps you as you figure out what your ideal day looks like!

We're going work our whole timeline around sunset! That's because for the best wedding pictures & video we know that working around sunset is ideal! It will enable us  to incorporate as much natural light into your wedding as possible (check out our post about 6 places you want natural light)! So let's have you arrive at your reception right around sunset (we'll pretend that sunset is at 7pm). 

1:30pm: Getting Ready Photos (90 minutes)

Next up, getting ready photos. We recommend actually getting ready much earlier in the day and then putting on your wedding attire and doing hair and makeup touch-ups at a beautiful pre-wedding location (again check out our natural light blog post!). During getting ready photos, we will be capturing those beautiful details (shoes, boutonnieres, jewelry, etc.), getting dressed and those pre-wedding jitters! We want these to feel relaxed so we say 90 minutes for getting ready!

3:00pm: First Look (30 minutes)

Moving right along, we've got the First Look! We know that everyone has different opinions but we think first looks are so much fun. We get to authentically capture your joy when you first see one another and you get to hug and kiss and be goofy-excited together instead of holding back once you get to the front of the aisle during the ceremony. This is also one of the only times (other than portraits) where you'll get to be alone and just revel in the fact that it's your wedding day! We say give it a solid 20-30 minutes so that you get plenty of alone time (and super cute photos!)

**Stop right there! If you end up not wanting to do a first look, totally cool! Just be sure to move up your wedding ceremony to make room for the 90 minutes for Family & Wedding Party Portraits**

3:30pm: Family & Wedding Party Portraits (90 minutes)

Working backwards, we have Family and Wedding Party portraits. We think that getting these done before the ceremony can make for a more relaxed ceremony and Bride & Groom Portraits because you don't have to worry about losing light! Just be sure to clearly communicate with your family members to arrive early (and include a buffer in that time for Uncle Joe who is always running late)! Usually Family & Wedding Party portraits take about 30 minutes each. We also want to leave some breathing room for last minute hair and makeup touch ups before your ceremony so we'll add in a 30 minute buffer (making the total 90 minutes)

5:00pm: Wedding Ceremony (60 minutes)

Having your wedding ceremony during the "golden hour" leaves room for beautiful light! Usually wedding ceremonies are about 45 minutes long so we'll give it an hour! This is especially key for venues that are outside!

6:00pm: Bride & Groom Portraits/Cocktail Hour for guests (60 minutes)

Usually right before the reception is the bride and groom portraits. We want these portraits to be in what photographers call "the golden hour". This is usually about 2 hours before sunset. We want plenty of time for you two to be all cute and married and looking super sexy for your wedding photos! We usually suggest setting aside at least an hour for Bride & Groom Portraits. This is also a great time to start your cocktail hour for your guests!

7:00pm: Bridal Party announced at reception/Sunset


Whew! You made it! YAY! Here's the timeline at a quick glance!

1:30pm: Getting Ready Photos (90 min)

3:00pm: First Look (30 min)

3:30pm: Family & Wedding Party Portraits/30 min buffer (90 min)

5:00pm: Wedding Ceremony/15 min buffer (60 min)

6:00pm: Bride & Groom Portraits/Cocktail Hour for guests begins (60 min)

7:00pm: Bridal Party Announced at Reception/Sunset

Ultimately, these are suggestions and we can work with you to help make whatever timeline you have in mind work really well for your day. And there are all sorts of tricks you can do to still capture photos during that golden hour (like sneaking out from the reception for a little bit). Just be sure to talk to us so we can collaborate! Happy Wedding Planning!