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Signature Portraits (a.k.a. Night Wedding Photos) Explained | D.C. Wedding Photographer

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Since I am a natural light, bright and airy Washington, D.C. wedding photographer, you might be surprised to see this blog post. But the truth is I have fallen in love with night wedding photos. Not only do they look dramatic and epic, but they tell an important part of your story.

Let me explain.

It’s the end of your wedding night. You’ve cut the cake, maybe tossed the bouquet. You shared a few dances with friends and family. And I pull you aside to ask for just one-more portrait. But you look outside — it’s pitch black out! The sun is far gone, and we already snuck out for golden hour. What could I possibly have up my sleeve?

The signature portrait.

Much like how artists sign their name after they finish a painting, I love capturing a signature shot to cap off my work for the night. It’s my last chance to get really creative. Sure, I’ll capture more dancing and your sparkler exit, but this is more “documenting.” The signature portrait is much more intentionally designed.

If you didn’t notice before, I might have slipped out from your reception for a few minutes. I scout an epic location, most often a spot in front of your wedding venue, now all ablaze in beautifully warm window light or twinkling string lights. And I set up my flash stands to capture one of these…

Branch Museum Wedding | night wedding photo | Richmond Wedding Photographer

So, aside from an epic portrait with impressive lighting, why should you make time in your wedding day timeline for a signature portrait at the end of the night?

Benefits of Signature Portraits (a.k.a. Night Wedding Photos)

Capturing Emotions

One purpose of sneaking away for a signature portrait is to capture that end-of-night “newlywed glow.” You’re flushed from excitement but free of the nerves you had before your ceremony. You’ve maybe danced your face off just moments before, and your hair and makeup may not be perfect. But you’re happy… your heart is the fullest it’s maybe ever been. This is an emotion worth capturing.

Bookmarking Memories

Because this is the final posed portrait of the night, it is a point of the wedding day that causes you to break and remember. Being pulled away from the blurred dancers around you and the fast-moving reception gives you a few moments to slow down once more and reflect on new memories, unfolding in front of you.

This short “break” is a bookmark in your wedding day. And I’m convinced making time for it helps you remember more of your reception more vividly.

One Last Moment Alone

Similar to the benefit above, this may be your final moment to steal away with your new spouse before the night is completely over. Nobody wants their best day ever to end. But time moves so fast when in the company of so many loved ones partying with you, in your honor. Take a moment to soak it in, look back at your venue with music reverberating softly through the windows.

Convinced yet? If you’re curious about adding your signature night wedding photo to your wedding day timeline, contact me for help crafting a custom timeline! Or, see my definitive guide to your wedding day timeline here.

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Full-proof timeline tips I use to craft custom timelines for all my enp brides

ULTIMATE wedding day timeline

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Photographer's Guide to Creating the

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Xx Emily


Wedding days can be stressful, but they don't have to be. One of the number one causes of wedding day stress is a disorganized, tight timeline. In this guide, I'm sharing a sample wedding day timeline I use to craft all my brides' wedding day timelines, as well as diving into some pro tips only a photographer might know.


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wedding day timeline