What is Your Reception Style? | Taylor English Photography

All the big and little decisions you’ve been making while planning your dream wedding will reflect a certain vibe, a specific feeling, really - an atmosphere, that we as your photographers will be working to capture and translate through your images.

Most of the time, this starts with those big choices like your wedding venue, your gown, and how many guests you plan to invite. The more guests, the bigger the venue usually, and often due to the unpredictability of weather, you want that venue to have indoor options, so you probably book an ornate hotel ballroom, a modern art gallery or museum, or even a white-brick urban loft. You likely fill that space with installations and florals and uplighting to showcase it. Or maybe your wedding vision is all outdoors, with a dance floor under the stars, and a beautiful bohemian tent. You string market lights everywhere wanting it to feel romantic and magical. Maybe you want your wedding to be as much about your closest friends and family as it is about your marriage. You want to celebrate and party and get down on the dance floor, and you want images that make you think of a wild rave!

It is so important to define the atmosphere you want. Once you know that, the rest of the details will start to fall into place. Sit down and write out a few keywords you would use to describe your wedding. Intimate, romantic, fun, classic, party, boho, glamorous, mid-century, alternative, minimalist - spend some time looking through wedding blogs to really nail down what those words mean! Another question I love to ask is, “What do you want your guests to feel at your wedding reception?” Do you want them to cut loose and shake it on the dance floor all night? Do you want them to grab tacos from the food truck and enjoy catching up around the bonfire together? Do you want them to laugh and cry along with you during the speeches? These answers will be the foundation to your wedding atmosphere and you can make more detailed decisions going forward.

By the time Taylor English Photography shows up on your wedding day, we’ve already garnered a good idea of what your wedding will be like because we’ve asked you these exact questions already. We know who your wedding vendors are, the venue, and most of the time we even know what your dress looks like. These are all ingredients preparing us to know how to capture that atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to bring alive.

So let’s talk about the different reception styles and how we photograph those to align with your wedding reception vibe.


If you want clean and crisp images that light the scene well, choosing an indoor venue space will be best. This allows us to bounce the flash off the ceiling above which makes for a brighter photo. Your details and decor will be on display. If you have color DJ lights or uplighting, shooting with flash makes that color pop! If you chose words like glamor, classic, or modern to describe your wedding, flash lighting is something we would use to capture your reception style.

When we bounce flash, we can still capture string lights!

The darker it gets, or if you lower the house lighting, the more of a spotlight you get on your subject.


If you’re drawn to the descriptive words like intimate, romantic, or bohemian, a natural light reception style is for you. The trick to this is having enough “natural” light for us to capture the scene with. When I say natural, I don’t mean organic sunlight. Natural in this sense is what is already there, and not something I do to enhance the light, meaning I’m not using a flash or lights of my own. String lights, lanterns, clusters (and lots of them) of candles, chandeliers, and bonfires really amplify the romance and whimsy. Often times, your images might be a bit softer with a touch of blur and visible movement that only enhances the magic.

String lights can cause an effect that we call bokeh - those soft orbs of light in the background that make it look like a scene from a fairytale book.

This fire installation added plenty of glowing orange light for a gorgeous silhouette effect.

A slower shutter speed is necessary to capture the natural light which means your images might not be super crisp, but instead show a soft blur of movement that enhances that boho wild-spirit style.

Shutter Drag

If the thing you’re most excited about on wedding day (other than saying, “I do,”) is the party, then you’re going to want lots of crazy images! The best way to make it look like the party of the century? Shutter dragging! This is a super cool technique that can make your photos go from, “that’s a wedding reception,” to “that’s a wedding RAVE!” Any natural light in the scene will blur - basically dragging, through the photo. This works best when the venue space is mostly dark, but if you have string lights, glow sticks, DJ lights, or uplighting that color and light will drag in crazy and unexpected ways to really intensify that party vibe!

This wedding used foam led glow sticks that changed color which caused all these crazy drags of light as people moved them about while they danced!

This reception was all about line-dancing! We really wanted to play up the movement of the dances by dragging it out.


A constant source of light works best for outdoor receptions or exceptionally dark venues (or spaces with vaulted ceiling where flash might not bounce from). Video light mimics a direct source of light and causes a spotlight effect. If your subject is turned away from the light, that part of them will be in shadow. This is great for alternative inspired weddings, or those too of an intimate and small nature. Having a constant source of light also allows us to effectively use prisms to reflect surrounding light for ultra cool special effects!

With video light, we can see exactly how the prism will reflect surrounding light and color.

The best thing about all of this is that you don’t have to choose just one! With over 200 weddings under our belts, we know how to accurately capture multiple light sources and how to translate the atmosphere you wanted for each event of the day. If you want clean crisp images for the formal dances, and a party-vibe for the open-dancing, we’ll shoot with flash and drag the shutter. We use the real vibe of the wedding and flow with that to authentically capture the environment. Defining your wedding vision is the first step to laying down the foundation and being able to make the decisions to reflect that vision. We have so much experience in this, it’s silly - if you have questions or need help describing it, reach out and let’s have a conversation about your vision and how we will bring that to life in your wedding photos!

Check out our Wedding Journal for inspiration about you wedding atmosphere.

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