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What’s The Perfect Time Of Day For Your Wedding Day Portrait Session?

Pre-Wedding and wedding Photography Mott Visuals Weddings


I get these questions all the time and the answer is simple, magic hour. What is magic hour or golden hour or whatever you want to call it? It’s the last hour of the day when the sun is about to set and its rays are golden and simply magical (assuming you are lucky to get a nice sunset). It also happens the first hour of the day but I don’t know too many couples that want to get up at 5am on their wedding day to take pictures.


Why is magic hour better than other times of the day? In addition to a setting sun providing a beautiful backdrop for your pictures it also gives your photographer more creative options to either use the beauty of the sun to light you or shooting back into the sun for lens flare or a silhouette. Lastly, when the light comes from directly above in the middle of the day the light is harsh and it also creates unflattering shadows under your eyes. The photographer can offset this with fill light or a reflector but it still won’t look natural like it does when it comes from the side during sunset.


Cave Art Maros Indonesia


If you have a wedding planner make sure they consult with the photographer. Most really good ones will do this but sometimes the planner isn’t thinking about the photography as much as they are with scheduling timeliness that work for their overall schedule.

If you booked the photographer directly put them in an email with the planner and defer to your photographer about this timing, you will be glad you did. If the wedding planners handled the photographer it’s still a good idea for all of you to be in an email together to make sure this is done right and it’s all clear for the big day. I’ve done weddings with hotel and resort event planners doing the schedule and they have the bride walking down the aisle at sunset and by the time the ceremony is over no more light is left for your portraits and that’s a big problem. Photographers can do many things but we can’t fake the sun.

If the photographer was hired by the wedding planner or does a lot of work with that planner they might not be as vocal about this as to not upset the planner because often they provide them with a pipeline of work. This shouldn’t happen but it can so make sure you take a few minutes and consult with the photographer directly and remember your images last a lifetime so listen to your photographer. He/she will know best about light and timing and what they need to get the shots you hired them to get and at the end of the day they only have getting you the best pictures in their best interest.


I’d commit to a solid hour if you can because things run late sometimes and again along with your candid shots you’ll want some nice portraits to remember the big day. An hour is enough time for your photographer to get you a nice variety of creative shots that you’ll be happy with for a lifetime. I know you want to join the party and in due time you will but take a few members of the wedding party with you during the shoot to carry your cocktail and have fun with it.



If you simply don’t care that much about the portraits and you’d prefer to spend that time partying with your friends that’s completely understandable. What I would do in this case if you don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony spend a little time then doing some portrait during the days and then at sunset maybe just 30 minutes. This covers you in case the ceremony runs late (it shouldn’t if you have a good planner) but it’s a nice insurance policy against pitch dark portraits and frees you up for more party time.


Most wedding planners understand this but again some don’t understand the importance of beautiful light even if it is a matter of 30 minutes on the timing so when it comes planning the portrait session make sure you consult with your photographer and listen to their advice. Let your wedding planner know your plan and be strict about it. The last thing you want is dark or flash portraits because your schedule ran late and you’re left with the photographer and planner pointing fingers at each other playing the blame game. Your photographer will know exactly when and how much time he/she needs and if this is important to you make sure you make this clear and in writing to your planner.

My advice for the best overall light is to have your ceremony 2-3 hours before the sun goes down. You still get beautiful light for your vows and that leaves you with gorgeous light for the portrait session a win win.

Remember, this is only a suggestion from a photographer on how to optimize the day for the best pictures possible. Never forget it’s your big day and you should plan it and prioritize things based on what’s important to you. The planner and the photographer are there to give their input but at the end of the day they are there to serve you and make your day perfect.


Justin Mott is the founder of Mott Visuals Weddings, a boutique destination wedding photography and film business documenting weddings worldwide. Justin is also an accomplished photojournalist most notably as a frequent contributor to the New York Times.


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5 simple tips to choose your wedding shoes


As a producer/wedding concierge at Mott Weddings, I know how many million things the bride needs to worry about for her wedding day. Finding a pair of perfect wedding shoes is absolutely no exceptional, especially when they come in all shapes, sizes, styles and colors. Here are 5 simple tips to help our lovely brides with this difficult task:

Get comfortable

As you will be on your shoes most of the time on your big day, you definitely need to feel comfortable. Shoes with extra padding can be quite helpful in this situation. The last thing you want is the pain on your feet that keeps you away from walking around, greeting guests and having fun.

comfortable, pretty wedding shoes taken by Mott Weddings

Consider the fabric

Traditionally, silk and satin are the two popular choices for wedding shoes. However, who says you ought to be traditional? Just find shoes that go well with your wedding dress in terms of texture.

Bedazzled, modern wedding shoes

Consider the color and style

While your shoes need to match your dress and your wedding style, they should also be able to reflect your personality. And please remember, white is not the only color for wedding shoes. Don’t be shy away from the color wedding shoes. If you are a little funky or plainly looking for something unique, shoes dyed in bright colors may be the perfect choice for you. On the other hand, if you are into fashion or the chic, elegant look, you may want to have your shoes embellished in crystals or jewel clips.

Super fun and bold wedding shoes

Find your heel height

As your wedding will be a fairly long day, it is important to have a pair of shoes that you do not only feel comfortable but confident wearing. It is better to stick with the normal heel height that you have been used to. If you usually wear flats, don’t go for sky-high heels on your big day. They will probably end up hurting you and making your posture looking strange during the day. Instead, try kitten heels or sturdy platform heels to add a little extra height.

Koh Samui Destination Wedding Photography by Justin Mott Mott Visuals Weddings Thailand Destination Wedding Photography

Don’t forget about your wedding destination!

The setting of your wedding is also a crucial factor to choosing your wedding shoes. If the wedding is held on the sand at the beach, stylish flip-flops, sandals or wedges can work beautifully – even your bare feet with gorgeous accessories would do as well.

Wedding shoes for beach weddings, destination weddings

Hopefully, these 5 tips will be useful for any brides who are looking their ultimate wedding shoes. And for those who have already got a pair, please don’t wait until your wedding day to put them on, give them a try right now and master them. Good luck!

All featured images are taken by talented photographers of Mott Weddings.


Our top 5 unique ring shots!

The ring shot is on every couples shot list, it’s a must-have for good reasons. For wedding photographers, you always want to make this a creative shot. For me personally it’s the first shot I try to take once I arrive on the big day. I shoot the dress and the rings right away. 

Go Beyond

The key is to go the extra mile. Don’t just get a macro lens and take a shot, stop and think.

Look Around

I think about the color scheme for the wedding and I look around for textures and colors that match the venue and the style the couple has chosen.

Georgina and Simon's Wedding Photography in Danang, Vietnam

It could be leaves or grass…

Vietnam wedding photographer

Or metal…

Thailand wedding photographer


Prem and Gaya's wedding photography in Phuket, Thailand

Or even a statue…

Nicole and David's Koh Samui Wedding Photography by Mott Weddings

After all, just be creative but even more importantly don’t lose the rings!

All images copyright © Mott Weddings 2016