Tips + Suggestions


"Omg!! I didn't think of that!"

Yep! That's exactly what every couple says when I share my tips on getting the best photos. I honestly don't blame 'em - they're just brides and grooms planning the best day ever, not necessarily thinking of the factors that might add that extra oomph to their photos :)

The key word here is lighting. Lighting plays a huge role in photography and sometimes makes or breaks a photo (to be completely honest). 

As your wedding photographer and good friend, I don't want to take over your wedding day timeline, nor do I want to change anything about your wedding day. Because it is your big day as bride and groom :) 

But, I do want to "shed-some-light" (haha get it) on some tips and suggestions that will help me and ultimately help you get those dreamy, creamy, and beautiful photos! 

SO LET'S do this...


***Love bridesmaids... haha (if you haven't seen it, you have too! Especially since you're a bride now!!)



Okay, this is sometimes overlooked but, a big part of your wedding day will be in the getting ready portion. If, it's a full 8-12 hour wedding day, that means about 2-4 hours of it will be in the getting ready location of the day.

The getting ready location is the perfect way to start the narrative of your wedding day. From the moment your getting your hair done, to your mom lacing up the back of your dress, and the moments you share laughing with your best girl-friends!!


TIP 1:

Choose a location with large windows.

Getting ready near a large window can bring in A LOT of natural light! It's also the the secret to gorgeous, natural-looking photos! Since, artificial and incandescent overhead lighting creates a weird, un-natural yellow tone to the skin, that is hard to see with the naked-eye but is visible in photos.  Depending on the room, I will undoubtedly be turning off some of the artificial lighting in your room. 

Plus you're makeup artist + hair-stylist will appreciate this while dolling you up!  ;)

TIP 2: 

Consider renting a stylish + cute looking home from AirBNB.

Well decorated homes and stylish AirBNBs are infinitely better than most hotel rooms. Since hotel rooms can be really stuffy, with questionable carpet and chair choices, non-smoking signs, and un-flattering wallpaper.  Airbnb's have a lot of character and create some gorgeous getting ready shots!! 

Airbnb's can also be cheaper than hotels, too! But keep in mind your getting ready location should be relatively close (within 20 minutes driving distance) to your ceremony location.

The link below is an example to an airbnb home with a clean space and lots of natural light :)


Here are some photos that showcase the importance of good light + a great space! 

Michelle Gonzalez Photography-Boho Wedding-Miami Photopia- Miami Wedding Photographer-679.JPG
Bayshore Ranch Wedding- Fort Myers Wedding - Michelle Gonzalez Photography - Anais and Damien-80.jpg
Club at the Strand Wedding- Naples Florida Wedding Photographer- Michelle Gonzalez Photography- Desiree and Bryan-288.JPG

Here are rooms with no windows, or are stuffy and crammed:

This getting ready location was a stuffy room provided by the venue with a small window on the right.

This getting ready location was a stuffy room provided by the venue with a small window on the right.

This getting ready location was a room provided by the venue but had no windows and to the right of them were toilets.

This getting ready location was a room provided by the venue but had no windows and to the right of them were toilets.

Please note: That you don't have to incorporate all these tips into your wedding day to get great photos. Weddings are about the people you are with and the memories you will make. A great wedding photographer, will know how to face any tricky lighting scenario and create a beautiful composition. 

However, any consideration on these tips will usually be more beneficial than not. 




Outdoor ceremonies are my absolute favorite! But try making sure your ceremony is not during mid-day. Mid-day is not only the hottest time of the day, but it will leave harsh shadows under the eyes, making you appear to have dark circles ("raccoon eyes"), and leave un-flattering shadows under the nose ("shadow mustaches!" yes, it happens). 

TIP 1: 

Try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m for ceremonies. Choosing a time a bit later in the day, when the sun is a little lower and not right over our heads, can create some beautiful landscape photos, and flattering skin tones. The ideal time would be about 2-3 hours before sunset. 

Tip 2:

When positioning your outdoor ceremony think of this.. The sun should be setting behind the officiant. When the sun is behind the officiant, then the bride, groom and whole wedding party are not facing the sun. If the ceremony is facing the sun it will then cause everyone to have squinted eyes, and harsh face shadows, which can be really unflattering.  Essentially, make sure the sun is setting behind you. 

Tip 3:

If you're worrying about the weather being overcast on your wedding day. Please don't, believe it or not, but overcast days create such beautiful lighting. They also create a giant soft box, which means no harsh shadows, no raccoon eyes, or shadow mustaches lol. It makes everyone look great with soft, creamy skin tones! 

Below you’ll see an example of a wedding ceremony at 2 pm.  

If you need help with figuring out which way to face or position your ceremony for the best possible photos, I’m happy to help!

There ceremony took place at 2 pm. Which was the brightest time of the day and created major shadows.

There ceremony took place at 2 pm. Which was the brightest time of the day and created major shadows.

It was so bright, even the guest had a hard time seeing the lovely couple tie the knot.

It was so bright, even the guest had a hard time seeing the lovely couple tie the knot.

perfect example of lighting scenarios at different parts of the day.

From left to right you will see that, morning light is very harsh, compared to afternoon and evening light (The recommend times of the day).

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I cannot recommend this enough. So many times, my view is obstructive with cell-phones, iPads, and even their own flash-cameras. I highly recommend having an unplugged ceremony and letting your officiant announce to the guests that "the lovely couple have requested that guests please turn off their devices and be present in the moment." Because I promise you, my photos will look 100x better then a photo taken on an iPad. ;)

Here is a funny article of a couple of wedding ceremonies that were not unplugged:  

23 Wedding Photos That Will Make You Have An Unplugged Wedding

Even though guests *think* they're being inconspicuous, they undoubtedly ALWAYS step in the aisle. Sometimes their flash will go off at the exact time I take the photo of your first kiss and then you end up with a weirdly lit photo. You're paying thousands of bucks for professional, high quality images. You don't need a million zoomed in and crooked iPhone shots. I gotchu.

A sign at the ceremony is also something some clients have put up and has been effective. Your wedding ceremony will be so much more beautiful when everyone is listening to your words, enjoying the moment and being true witnesses to your vows.

unplugged 2-1.jpg


Club at the Strand Wedding- Naples Florida Wedding Photographer- Michelle Gonzalez Photography- Desiree and Bryan-1130.JPG

When it comes to lighting during the reception each venue is different, but I always suggest natural-looking, warm light. Warm light creates such a beautiful and dreamy ambience in photos.

TIP 1:

Whether it's an indoor or outdoor reception, adding Italian string lights are a beautiful way to add pretty bokeh (the blurry, sparkly orbs in the background of photos).

CLICK HERE to see 5 Ways To Light Your Wedding Reception

tip 2:

If you're considering up-lighting, note that the color you choose for up-lighting will set the color tone of your photos. For example, if you're uplighting is pink, than anything that is white (hence your wedding dress) will have a pink hue on it. 

I strongly recommend to clearly communicate with your DJ that you only want colorful lighting during the party/dancing portion of the night and to turn off any colorful lighting for the first dance and special parent dances.

Colorful lighting can take away from a beautiful moment such as the first dance. I just don't want you to look back and think "i wish, i had turned off the blue/pink lighting during our first dance, cause now all i see are blue/pink on our faces.."

But other than that! Go crazy with the lights for the dance/party portion of the night!! It creates fun looking photos and guests love it when they're dancing the night away!


Below are 2 photos of the special parent dances, they are beautifully lit with warm, ambient lighting and Italian string lighting above :)  

The Landings- fort myers wedding photographer-Nick and Jessica-515.jpg
The Landings- fort myers wedding photographer-Nick and Jessica-509.jpg


There are so many special exits!! Such as the sparker exit, confetti exit, the last dance, and so many more. I can't wait to see what you choose to end the night with :) 

sPARKLER exit:

If you decided to have a sparkler exit (my favorite :) ) I recommend purchasing sparklers that are long enough. If your sparklers are too short, they might burn out by the time all your guest light up their sparklers. Try getting 10-12 inch sparklers, they are more effective. Purchase enough sparklers to give to your guests, and make sure to have a couple of lighters that way people can get their sparklers lit quicker. 

Choose a dark place to have the sparkler exit, since the sparkler will have enough light to illuminate you both :) 

Unique Palms in Homestead Florida - Miami Wedding- Michelle Gonzalez Photography- Macarena and Stephen-1277.jpg

Alternative exit:

If you're venue does not allow sparklers, then consider playing a "last dance" song, or having a confetti-popper exit, or even making your final wishes with sky lanterns or getting your wedding party to tag along with you to a donut shop, or chick-fil-a haha!! Whatever you choose will be amazing because at the end of the day it will be with people you love and cherish :) 

CLICK HERE for 18 Creative Exit Toss Ideas



At the end of the day, I want you to be in-the-moment

These are only tips and suggestions to help guide you through the creation of your wedding day. But what really matters is the time you will share celebrating the connection between you and your love, with your family and friends by your side. 

THE Final Tip:

The day of your wedding, I want you to feel the moments in your soul. The moment you are walking down the aisle towards your love, the moment you read each other's vows and promises to one another, and the moment you have your first dance as husband and wife. These are the moments that count, and these are the moments I will capture for you...that way they will be with you forever :)

Naples Beach Florida Elopement- Michelle Gonzalez Photography - Lisa and Aron-638.jpg

Have you seen the BRIDE GUIDE!