Ceremony Lighting

  • Wedding Wednesday

This is such a vital part of your wedding day! I’ve done a Wedding Wednesday about adding professional lighting to your reception and how that will TRANSFORM your event. It was my BEST decision when it came to reception planning! View that post HERE.  However, reception lighting is not the only lighting to consider when you’re planning your big day. It’s often overlooked, but ceremony lighting is crucial! It’s especially important to think about when you’re getting married in a church.There is very little that you can control about the light at an outdoor ceremony.

You can pay attention to the direction the light will be coming from but you can’t control anything else. However, in a church or any other structure, normally you can control the lighting situation a little! This Wedding Wednesday I’ll share some different indoor ceremony shots to show different types of light and how that will affect your wedding images.


First let me start with my FAVORITE wedding… My Wedding! Michael and I were married in the church we grew up in and the church that my dad has pastored for the past 21 years! So the location itself meant so much to us.  It wasn’t the ideal location because the sanctuary held 345 and we had a little over 400 guests attending! Ah! So we had an overflow room with a video feed. I hated that we had to do that but we REALLY wanted to be married at our church. Also, the lighting was CRAZY bright! Sorry Jasmine!! I didn’t make it easy on her but she made it happen and we have beautiful images. The sun was setting and golden light was pouring in the stained glass behind us. It looked BEAUTIFUL! Here are a few shots to show you what I’m talking about!

Awww..if you could see Daddy’s face, this picture would have my 3 favorite boys in it!

So our ceremony was filled with mostly window light. I’ll show some other examples of some darker ceremony shots later on in this post.

Umm… I was a little excited. Just a little.

Now here is an example of an evening wedding that had darker lighting. Matt and Brittany had a beautiful evening wedding this past January and the spot lights were on in the church. When bright spots are on the bride and groom, the pictures will be a little darker because if I exposed for the bridal party, the bridal and groom would have been way over exposed.  It think this look fit their wedding! The ceremony was later in the evening and candles were everywhere…the lighting set the mood!  It’s really just a matter of preference but some brides don’t even think about ceremony lighting because no one told them to! It’s one of those small details that often gets overlooked. Ps. If you missed their wedding… you NEED to see their reception, one of my favs:)

John and Emily had a lot of light during their ceremony because of the LARGE stained glass windows in this cathedral styled chapel.

Adam and Ruth had awesome lighting at their ceremony.  Photographers: My WB was set for the Tungsten light that was shining on the bride, groom and bridal party. However, this church has a ton of natural light pouring through the windows. Since my WB was set for the spotlight, the natural light that filled the room around then turned BLUE and it was beautiful!  Brides: notice that the lights were also shining on the bridal party, not just the bride and groom.  Sometimes these are lighting options that you can adjust and play around with at the rehearsal.

Chris and Katie’s ceremony and reception were held at the Hyatt in Downtown Greenville, SC.  Naturally, a hotel ballroom’s lighting is not the BEST… and thankfully, Chris is a photographer and he had some theater style lights brought in to help the lighting for the ceremony. I still owe him a HUGE THANK YOU for that one!

Eddie and Lilian were married in a cathedral style Episcopal Church in Downtown Fredericksburg and instead of JUST having the spots on the bride and groom, they had some other lights on to create some great fill light. That prevented some harsh shadows on their faces!

Brides! I hope this was helpful! Happy planning!!

xoxo, Katelyn
10 Comments Wedding Wednesday
  1. Dani Doughty reply

    I had the exact way I wanted my soft evening wedding lights set at our church, but when I walked down the aisle, I realized someone thought it would look better in the auditorium with the fluorescent lights on! Oops! I guess I just have to let some things go. Great WW post!

  2. amanda reply

    So informative and helpful – both as a photographer and a bride!! Thanks Katelyn! I LOVE Wedding Wednesdays!!

  3. Abby Grace Photography reply

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for writing this blog post- it’s going to be super helpful for a wedding I have in November!

  4. debbie dean reply

    i LOVE this post, katelyn, and it was so helpful to me as a learning photographer! and even though im not getting married anytime soon, i’ll keep these thoughts tucked away for my wedding day! ;)

  5. Gail reply

    This is SUCH a great post Katelyn! Lighting is still that area of photography that I let stress me out. I’m determined to keep conquering that fear and it’s posts like this with tidbits of how-tos that help!

  6. Laura Fiore reply

    Such a great post…thanks for sharing this info! I’m going to send these to a bride of mine who is concerned about lighting!

  7. Caitlin reply

    I agree with EVERYONE’s comments below. These are helpful pieces of information that are great to remember as an upcoming bride and also as a photographer. Ceremony lighting is so hard to handle sometimes!!

  8. Tammynize reply

    definitely one of those things that people never thing about. they an be challenging, but looks like your rocked it out just fine.

  9. ashley barnett reply

    Awesome advice Katelyn!! :) Definitely taking these tips to all my future church-going brides. Thanks!

  10. Katie Wilson reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this very helpful advice! Do you ever use any on camera or external flashes? For example, during the formal family photos in a church? Or what about during the reception/dancing?

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