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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Connelly

Wedding Sunset Photo Shoots: Please Stop the Extended Sessions

Photographers: Time is precious. You should not require 45 minutes to get epic sunset photos.

Wedding toast by the best man at River Highlands Ranch
Wedding sunset photos. Don't keep your guests waiting.

Oh, sunset photos during weddings – You know what I'm talking about – when the photographer takes an eternity to capture the perfect shot of the couple in front of a picturesque sunset backdrop.

I get it. Epic photo opportunity. Wedding Sunset Photo Shoots.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the appeal of these photos. They look gorgeous. But is it worth spending 45 minutes away from your guests to capture them? Could it be done in 15 minutes?

Why does this drive me crazy? (And the other 148 guests at your wedding?) For the last two weddings I DJ’d the photographers needed the time after dinner to capture the sunset photos. Makes sense. That is when the sun is setting. That’s not my issue.

Wedding One: 25 minutes after the last table finished their dinner, 40 minutes since the couple was whisked away, the bride's father approaches me and says, “What is going on? We need to get this party started!” I answer with something like, “Laura and Larry (names changed to protect the innocent) should be finishing up their sunset photos very soon.” He stares at me with a look of agitation and says, “Go get them.” I politely point out the planner and ask that he talks with them about it. Moments later I see the planner speed walking out into the meadow. I assume to tell the photographer the epic photo shoot is over.

Wedding Two: Another 20 minutes after the last table finished their food, I’m rocking the dance floor for 10 or so people who feel like getting their groove on. We still have toasts, cake-cutting, and formal parent dances to happen before the real dance party begins. A woman approaches my booth and says, “Will there be formal dancing to begin the party?” I answer yes, and she quickly responds with, “We should do that now!” I tell her the newlyweds are still doing their sunset photos and should return soon. She frustratedly tells me she was a wedding planner for 20 years and again says we need to get it moving. My hands are tied. I can play good music, entertain the guests, but the newly married couple should be back back now. The icing on the cake: The photographer returned and said, “I’m only here until 8:00. We need cake, toasts, and parent dances before I leave.”

WTF. Are you kidding?

Why does it take so long to capture these sunset photos? I don’t understand. Plan your shots, do them, and keep it pushing. 45 minutes is ridiculous. Here's the mathematics of a wedding day and how much time a couple can actually hang out with their friends and family.

Ceremony - Maybe see a few friends pre-ceremony, but they’re really getting ready the entire time. Time: None

Cocktail - Hopefully the last 20-30 minutes (if they’re lucky). The first 30-40 minutes are post-ceremony photos with family. Time: 25 Minutes

Dinner - The couple eats first. Maybe they can say hello to some tables before the photographer insists on the epic photo shoot. Time: 12 Minutes

Post-Dinner/Pre-Dancing activities - (Toasts & Cake) Time: None

Formal Dancing - Time: None

Dance Party - Lots happening. Good music, fresh dance moves, maybe someone does a backflip. The couple is dancing and talking with friends and family. Over a two-hour period, I’ll award 50% of the time to talking with friends and family. Time: 60 Minutes

Free Time Talking/Hanging Out with their Guests: 97 minutes. Here’s the deal. You’ve invited 150 guests to your wedding. Family you haven’t seen in 10 years. When will you see them again? Friends from college who flew in from Maine and have kids now. Some of the best days of your life were spent with them. You have 97 minutes to say hello, find out about their lives, relive an amazing memory, hopefully get a candid photo, and maybe dance. See what I’m saying. Your guests are at your wedding for you. 97 minutes divided among 150 guests: Somewhere around 40 seconds per guest. Talk fast.

So, what can couples do to avoid this problem? First, you'll need to let your photographer know your expectations beforehand. Tell your photographer, “We have 15 minutes for sunset photos. Make it happen." After all, it's your day, and you're having a wedding to celebrate with your friends and family. Other options: Pre-wedding party with friends, rehearsal dinner, or a day after brunch. Bottomless mimosas anyone? But seriously, it's about time at you wedding.

In conclusion, sunset photos during weddings can be a beautiful addition to the wedding album. But at what cost? (This cost is lost time with friends and family) Let's not sacrifice precious time with loved ones and mess with the wedding flow for the one hundred perfect sunset photos. Twenty five sounds more reasonable. Set a time limit, communicate expectations, and get ready to party.

Photo Credit - The amazing and efficient Katie with Awe Capture Photography.


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