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Wedding Tips

Tips for Planning Your Controlled Exit

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sparkler exit, bride and groom enjoy their faux exit the night of their wedding.

Nobody enjoys thinking about the END of their best day ever. Regardless, wedding planning means planning all the little details, from beginning to end. The exit — whether it’s a faux exit or a formal exit — will need some planning too.

The exit is a photographic opportunity to capture the bride and groom leaving their reception to head for their honeymoon. A faux exit, or controlled exit as I like to call it, is set up before the reception is over. In a controlled exit, guests create a human tunnel to “send off” the newlyweds. But then they all return to the party right after. In a formal exit, the party ends right after the exit ends.

Typically formal exits are placed at the very end of the night. Controlled exits can happen at any time during the reception, typically shortly after the cake cutting.

I am a big fan of controlled exits for a number of reasons.

  1. In a controlled exit, you are able to have it before some of your guests leave. Everyone knows that Grandma likes to be in bed earlier than the rest of the group. So if it’s important to include her in this moment, a controlled exit is your answer.
  2. Controlled exits can also give you a chance to pull only a few guests without disrupting the entire party. By pulling immediate family and the bridal party, the party keeps momentum inside in the meantime. Otherwise your DJ will have to work hard to get the party started again when everyone returns.
  3. A controlled exit ensures that you have this moment photographed. My wedding package, like many others, only includes 8 hours of wedding day coverage. If your reception will last until 10:00 or 11:00pm, your coverage is likely to end much earlier than that. To make sure I’m there for the exit, a controlled exit is key.

Have I convinced you to choose a controlled exit (faux exit) over a formal exit? Here are some tips to make it memorable and efficient.

sparkler exit, bride and groom enjoy their controlled exit on the night of their wedding.

Pick favorites.

Narrow down who you want present at the controlled exit. The best controlled exits tend to include just the bridal party, or the bridal party and immediate family. Once you start pulling every second cousin and high school friend, things will get chaotic super fast. Keep it simple and enjoy this moment with only those closest to you.

Know your venue’s rules.

daytime exit, faux exit without sparklers, alternative wedding exit ideas

We all love a good sparkler exit, but many venues don’t allow sparklers to be lit on the grounds. While there are plenty of other alternatives, even those may be prohibited. I once photographed a wedding where nothing was allowed — no bubbles, flower petals, leaves, sparklers, nothing. But don’t fret, I still made it work! We simply had guests cheer with their hands in the air as the couple ran through the human tunnel. So make sure to ask your coordinator before choosing your exit aesthetic, and keep your photographer in the know early on.

Embrace alternatives.

If your venue doesn’t allow sparklers or bubbles, I promise you can still have a beautiful, fun faux exit. There are a lot of other options out there. Glow sticks. Fist bumps. High five tunnel. Have your bridesmaids hold their bouquets over your heads. Have everyone clapping. Ribbon twirlers. Get creative!

bubble exit, bride and groom leave the church after getting married.

The earlier the better.

If you care more about partying with guests than capturing your controlled exit, consider alternative timing. Maybe we can capture a special exit from your ceremony instead! Plan to have bubbles or sparklers as you leave the chapel or ceremony space rather than having one at night.

Do it again.

Give your photographer multiple chances to capture the magic. She may ask you to run through more than once! So enjoy this moment. You can have more than one shot to get an amazing photo of your controlled exit. Don’t put so much pressure on guests or yourselves to get it right the first time. Make it fun, lighthearted, and easy on everyone.

daytime faux exit, faux exit without sparklers, alternative wedding exit ideas, faux exit ideas, bride and groom kiss after their exit

Always share a kiss at the end.

This is a must have shot!! Once you’ve run through the tunnel (once, or a few times), share a celebratory kiss! You just did the dang thing!


Whether it’s planning a faux exit or waiting until the end of the night, choose a photographer that will make the moment special for you! While my package includes 8 hours, I offer additional coverage a la carte for more traditional couples! Let’s chat about how we can make this moment just as dreamy as the rest of the day!

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