How I Photograph A Wedding – Marissa Manzanares Photography

It’s here! The day we’ve been waiting for and planning towards for so many months has finally arrived. And it’s time to make some magic. This post is going to talk about how I photograph weddings, and what you can expect from me on a typical wedding day.


I typically arrive wherever you both are getting ready at, about 15-20 minutes before my start time. This gives me time to find you, and bring in my equipment in so I can start setting up. I’ll always find where you are first so I can say hi, and excitedly celebrate with you.


I start my coverage by taking some getting ready photos of you, and your ceremony and reception venue before all your guests arrive. I’ll also capture any other pre-wedding items. If you’re a bride with bridesmaids getting the finishing touches of your makeup on, I’ll capture that and any in-room details. And if you’re a groom, I’ll be taking pictures of you and your guys putting their bow-ties on, fastening cufflinks, etc. once you are already dressed. If time allows, I’ll get some editorial “altogether” shots here as well of your two separate parties, once you’re all dressed and ready to go.


Prior to any first looks, I’ll make sure the coast is clear before I take pictures of your details. I’ll also be sure to get your shoes, wedding bands, cufflinks, bouquets, invitations, jewelry, watches, class rings, and any other meaningful mementos. This usually takes about 1 hour. I’ll bring everything back to their respective places as soon as I’ve finished.


If you decide to do a first look with each other or with parents, siblings, etc. I can help orchestrate those moments. I love first looks. They help calm any nerves before walking down the aisle. And give you so many sweet, additional photos in your gallery! Because you’ve already seen each other, you can get family photos in (maybe even wedding party photos) before the ceremony! That being said, I have worked with so many couples who decided not to do this as an option, and that is completely okay. This is your day. (And in case you were wondering, each first look can take about 5-15 minutes.)

If you don’t want a “first look”, you can still have a few minutes together before the ceremony! There’s a “first hand hold” or a “first prayer”. where you both are facing different directions. You can hold hands, exchange personal vows, prayers, or any gifts to make the moment special.

Oftentimes, wedding days are very much about the big party. It might seem funny, but it’s true — you don’t always get a lot of time together on your wedding day. This is another reason I love first looks — it gives you those calm moments together before all the crazy ones. (I especially encourage implementing a first look into your schedule if you think you’ll be nervous leading up to seeing each other. It really does help with nerves!).


At the ceremony, I am usually walking around, pausing to capture all the elements you’ve talked about for this part of the day. Depending on the venue, I’ll double-check with your planner or venue coordinator if there’s any limitations on where I can stand, how close I can be to the front, etc. So while you two are focused on each other, I am capturing you, your details, the space as a whole, members of your family, your guests, special moments and traditions (and non-traditional moments as well). If you have a videographer, we’ll work together to make sure we’re not in each other’s line of view or in each other’s shots. Same if you’ve added on a second photographer.


You’ve done it! You’ve said “I do” and have walked down the aisle. We’ll take a second to celebrate, but then we’ll make our way to our previously arranged spot for family photos. Once we go down the list, we’ll take wedding party photos (if we haven’t already after your first look!) either in the same spot or in another area on the venue grounds. Both of these usually take at least 20-30 minutes each.


These are taken immediately after we send your families and wedding party members to go mingle with all your guests. It will just be the 3 of us (and maybe the videographer if you have one), so we’ll take some time to wander around and capture some newlywed photos.

This is the part of the day that I truly believe hold the sweetest, breathable moments. Since all that’s left is to go and celebrate, I make sure we have a set time to do exactly what we’ve envisioned.

Depending on what you’ve talked about with your coordinator, this part of the day can be as long as you want it to be. Couples sometimes opt to stretch this time out as much as they can, so not only do we get those amazing editorial shots of you, but you also get to take some extra time in getting back to your guests. You can chat with each other about how you’re doing, meander slowly back to the venue, and just share some time together. (Feedback I’ve received from my couples tells me that this part of the day ended up being very much needed and they were so thankful for it.)


Once you’re ready to walk into your reception, it’s time to celebrate! We’ll have already gone over what you plan to do, but some items you might include are:

  • a first dance
  • any mother/son, father/daughter, etc. dances
  • bouquet toss
  • garter toss
  • family traditions
  • toasts
  • slideshows

No matter what the rest of the celebration holds, you bet I’ll be there for every second to capture it. From the cake cutting to the toasts to the dancing.


Whether you decide to use sparklers, lightsabers, or bubbles for your grand exit, I’m here for it. I’ll help guide you on how to walk out, when to pause and kiss, and any other points of direction so you’re not lost on where to go. And if you’re worried about guests leaving early before it’s officially time to go, I often advise couples to do what’s called a “faux send-off”. This is typically done earlier in the day (maybe right after dinner but before cake cutting), where we stage your send-off which is full of all your guests! You won’t actually leave, but you might actually get in your getaway car and drive off and them just loop back around to the venue. It seems silly, and you might be wondering if people actually do this in real life, but I can promise you that all those pictures you see on Pinterest probably were taken during a faux send-off. It happens more frequently than you’d think! It’s a great way to capture all the epic-ness of the exit. But you’re still able to return to dance the night away with your family and friends.

To help the day go by smoothly, I coordinate openly with day-of coordinators, planners, makeup artists, DJs, etc. To help ensure you have a successful, beautiful day, I have a “dream team” of individuals such as florists, makeup artists, hair stylists, cake designers, and skilled planners I love to work with and am more than happy to recommend them your way.

Are we meant to be friends? Send an inquiry for your date, here!