How to Choose Your Photography Collection

Hooray!  You’re engaged.  The venue is booked, maybe a bridal gown made you fall in love all over again.  Perhaps, you’ve even found the perfect photographer. 


As you begin looking at packages and pricing, your eyes glaze over.  Ugh.  This is not the fun part of marrying your man. 

How do you know what you want in a wedding photography collection? 

Early in the planning process it’s tricky making large price-point decisions with little knowledge and experience.  There are four areas of investment when booking a wedding photographer.

1. Images

2. Time

3. Services

4. Products




Before anything else, consider how you would like to receive your actual images.  That may seem obvious, but every wedding photographer is different.  Some photographers require you to purchase the digital files (especially high resolution files) in addition to a package or their time.  Make sure you check what is included in the most basic coverage. 

I highly recommend investing in this, as a top priority.   Then, you have your images, digitally, and can use them in creative ways. 

All Debra Eby Photography Co. brides receive digital files.  These files are web resolution images (for online sharing) and high resolution images (for personal printing). 




This is one of the biggest areas of question for inquiring couples.  How many hours of wedding photography do you need on the wedding day?

The answer is completely different for each couple.  For most couples, eight hours is enough for all of the essentials.  But, if you want complete coverage, and have a special send-off, you may need to invest in more. 

Let’s walk through a few wedding day samplings to get an idea of your coverage needs.


Wedding coverage typically begins towards the end of hair and make-up.  It then lasts until the final important event of the evening. This could be a first dance or a sparkler send-off.  


6 Hours

This is for a wedding requiring simple coverage.  These weddings tend to be shorter, or couples who are on a tighter budget.  It’s worth hiring an amazing photographer, even if it’s only for six hours.  Remember, when on a tighter wedding budget you want quality over quantity.


Sample 6 Hour Schedule

  • 1:00 pm - Getting Ready
  • 2:00 pm - In Gown
  • 2:30 pm - First Look, Portraits
  • 4:30 pm - Ceremony
  • 5:30 pm - Family Portraits, Cocktail Hour, Reception Decor
  • 6:30 pm - Reception begins
    • Announcing in bridal party
    • First Dance
  • 7:00 pm - Photographer Departs


8 Hours

This is the ideal amount of time for most wedding coverage.  It is my most popular booking since it covers most of the essentials, telling your wedding story. 

Depending on how late your celebration lasts, 8 hours may not see you to a send-off.  Consider what you want to do at your reception and what you need captured by a professional.  For dancing pictures, the first hour will always be your best images of the night.  As time passes -  speaking as the sober girl at the party - it gets a little sloppy.


Sample 8 Hour Schedule

  • 1:00 pm - Getting Ready
  • 2:00 pm - In Gown
  • 2:30 pm - First Look, Portraits
  • 4:30 pm - Ceremony
  • 5:30 pm - Family Portraits, Cocktail Hour, Reception Decor
  • 6:30 pm - Reception begins
    • Announcing in bridal party
    • First Dance
    • Dinner Service, Toasts
    • Dancing
    • Cake Cutting
  • 9:00 pm - Photographer Departs


10 Hours

Ten hours of wedding photography allows for full coverage, for most couples.  This sees you from those final hair and make-up moments to your send-off. 

Sample 10 Hour Schedule

  • 1:00 pm - Getting Ready
  • 2:00 pm - In Gown
  • 2:30 pm - First Look, Portraits
  • 4:30 pm - Ceremony
  • 5:30 pm - Family Portraits, Cocktail Hour, Reception Decor
  • 6:30 pm - Reception begins
    • Announcing in bridal party
    • First Dance
    • Dinner Service, Toasts
    • Dancing
    • Cake Cutting
    • Bouquet and Garter Toss
    • Bride & Groom Exit     
  • 11:00 pm - Photographer Departs




Each photographer is different with the services they provide their clients.  This part of the experience is based on what a professional does for you vs. a tangible product. 

My services include: engagement portraits, bridal portraits, and a second shooter.


Engagement Portraits

Engagement sessions are the rehearsal of the wedding day portraits.  It is an opportunity for your photographer to get to know your couple personality and how that translates on camera.  The photographer learns your best angles and what makes you light up.  Plus, it's a really fun date experience - life in front of the camera.  

Consider how you would use engagement portraits.  You could have a guestbook make from the images of your engagement session.  Framing portraits for décor, creating save-the-dates, your wedding website, so many options. 



Bridal Portrait

This one is for my southern girls out there.  You know what this is. 

For those of you unfamiliar, a bridal portrait is a photo session with just the bride on a separate day, prior to the wedding usually. 

This is a time for you to have that hair and make-up trial and put on that designer gown.  We get gorgeous you in front of that camera for some serious fun modeling playtime. 

While this may not be for everyone, it’s secretly one of my favorite things in the world to do.  Time alone with a bride, no timeline crunch, we get to play with posing, angles, and Cinderella twirls.  It also saves time on the wedding day. 

One of my brides wrote a sweet message on a chalkboard, “Always Daddy’s Little Girl”, then purchased a print, framed it and gifted it to her father on the wedding day.   Tears everywhere. 

Another bride purchased a massive print, framed and displayed it at the entrance to the reception.  The guests completely gushed over it. 



Second Shooter


A second shooter offers a rich wedding photography experience.   This service adds more images as well as different images when we divide and conquer. 

A second shooter:

  • Captures the guys getting ready
  • Offers alternative angles to things like a first look
  • Captures candids at the cocktail hour
    • If you do not have a first look, this is not something I am able to do without a second shooter.
  • Ensures abundant wedding detail coverage
  • Overall more images of your day

If any of these things are really important to you, then investing in a second shooter is the way to go.  Any large and detail-intensive weddings should invest in a second shooter. 




Many photographers bundle products into their packages.  You choose what you want based on a combination of services and products. 

Products vary from photographer to photographer.  If they offer an album, it can look totally different than another album a different photographer offers.  Make sure you see a picture or hold an album in person to view the quality.  

My products are very high end.  I'm super picky about quality when it comes to wedding products.

My approach to products is a little different.  Everything is a la carte in the marketplace for all Debra Eby Photography Co. couples.  The marketplace is an online marketplace for all wedding photography products.  

The convenient part about a marketplace is that you can invest in heirloom-quality products at any time in this process.  Even after the wedding day. 

You may not know what products are going to be right for you until closer to the wedding day.  That’s okay, because you have time for all that shopping after the planning is further along. 

The guide below helps you understand the product function so that you see if it is the right fit for your wedding experience.



Luxury Fine Art Album

The Luxury Fine Art Album is the most gorgeous wedding album I have ever seen.  The album has thick, lay-flat pages with rich color and elegant sheen.  This is a 12 x 12 album that functions as the art gallery of your wedding day. 

Couples select the images, cover textiles, and lettering or image cut-out through the album design form.  Then, I design the album, create a digital proof, finally, you approve the proof for printing. 

This is my favorite product – by far.  Most of my couples choose to add this to their collection.  This album is built to last for generations to come, truly an investment piece. 



Engagement Guestbook

This is another popular product since it serves such a useful function.  Not only is it a lay-flat album, it can also serve a guestbook on the wedding day.  You can also have it designed as a coffee table book, with no space for writing.



Parent Album

 The Parent Album is a duplicate of the Luxury Fine Art Album.  It is 6 x 6, so convenient for parental bragging on the go.  This product is only available upon purchase of a Luxury Fine Art Album.  It is an add-on product.



Luxury Fine Art Prints

These are images from your wedding day printed through my high-quality lab.  The colors and texture of these pieces of art make them into beautiful wall art.  These can be ordered any time after receiving your online gallery.  Friends and family are also welcome to purchase these through the marketplace. 

Couples often order prints through me for the actual wedding day décor.  Engagement and bridal portrait prints are very popular. 

If you're still unsure, talk with any girlfriends who recently were married.  They can tell you things they wish they would have done and will have other tips for you as well.  

The best thing you can do is meeting up with your photographer.  Explain your vision and they can help you customize your dream collection.


xoxo Lovelies




Cocktail Hour Wedding Photography Tips

When Ben and I started dating, we had a very different approach to the relationship.  I felt like we needed to read every relationship book, talk about expectations, and set boundaries.  Ben would just laugh it off.  It’s not that he didn’t care about the relationship, he just didn’t care about following a rule book. 

Picture of a nightstand with books and a mug, propped up against a lamp.  The mug has hand lettering on it that says, "Hot Stuff". | Debra Eby Photography Co.

While Ben is a man of tremendous integrity, he’s not one for following the rules for rules sake.  I, on the other hand, am a "people pleaser" and avoid trouble, even if it means following silly rules. 

This is why Ben is so good for me.  He lightens me up, and I make him read books and follow silly rules every once in awhile.  This is one of the many ways that our opposites attract. 

Just like Ben, modern weddings are breaking silly rules like crazy.  Personally, I love it. 

If you don’t care for a stuffy reception of caviar and champagne, then break out the giant Jenga or pastel darts.  Fill the day with custom fun. 

This new style of entertaining guests helps with mingling.  It also avoids the awkward conversations with strangers around the bar. 

How to plan your Cocktail Hour Wedding Photography.  How to break rules to create fun for your guests.  | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Immediately following the ceremony, your guests transition to cocktail hour.  This is a time of mingling, refreshments, and sometimes even entertainment. 

During the first 20 minutes, family will be taking a few portraits.  As long as everyone is present and ready, this shouldn’t take up too much valuable time. 

If you had a “first look”, you are free to go enjoy time with your guests, or sneak away for a private time of refreshment.  If you opt out of a “first look”, then your bridal party and you will continue on with portraits for the duration of cocktail hour. 

Something to be aware of, if there is no second shooter and there is no “first look”, there will not be any cocktail hour coverage. 



Image of cocktail hour wedding hors d'oeuvre platter at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida | Debra Eby Photography Co.



Cocktail hours, as with most parts of a wedding, have evolved greatly.  Lounge areas are now popular, with cozy seating areas.  Pinterest is brimming with ideas from other weddings. 

I love capturing a wide angle look of your cocktail hour set-up, then I go in for close ups of each detail you carefully put into your day.  I capture any signature cocktails, even trays of food circulating. 



Candid Images


Once I have the overall look of your cocktail hour, I find natural groupings of guests and request to take a picture.  I find this works much better than rapid-fire candids where guests have awkward posture and chewing shrimp.  Everyone feels better when given a chance to pose a little. 

If you are mingling, feel free to grab a few friends and family for spontaneous portraits. 

Guest portraits on a wedding day with a bride at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida. | Debra Eby Photography Co.





If there is live music, guests playing games (like cornhole), or any other form of activity going on, I will be sure to capture this as well. 

  • Research interactive wedding games on Pinterest and then customize the playing pieces for your wedding brand.  
  • Live music is another way to create a beautiful guest experience.  
  • Create guestbook fun with polaroids or other creative custom signing options.
  • Bring in an artist to paint the setting or a caricature artist for a more interactive experience.
  • Make food fun with a popcorn or donut bar.

All of these pieces of your day tell the story of your couple brand. 

Wedding Day Cornhole Game, customized couple logo.  TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Florida. | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Be a wedding rule breaker.  Find ways to customize your wedding day, filling it with all you love best.  

Now, onward to the reception celebration.


xoxo Lovelies

Wedding Reception Photography - Capturing Your Celebration

Have I mentioned that Ben and I have four children?  That’s right, four.  No, we aren’t crazy.  Yes, we actually planned for this. 

Okay, maybe we’re a little crazy.

Picture of a record player.  The record is black and the record player is silver. | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Many weekends you can find us in the middle of a spontaneous dance party, breaking it down on the family room rug.  Ben’s record player spins tunes, usually something vintage like The Beatles.  The little ones twirl and jump in all manner of un-choreographed chaos. 

Sometimes I pause and watch, taking in their pure happiness.  I love that they are learning how to celebrate life.  Celebration is such an important part of our humanity.  My hope is that our little ones learn to dance to any music life brings their way. 


A wedding celebration should be full of every joy, welcoming the journey of marriage.  We pop champagne, serve the best dinner, and dance the night away.

Those details you painstakingly chose?  I love taking an editorial approach to your details, such as flowers, centerpieces, food.  They will be captured in all their glory.

I take a photo-journalistic approach to the events of the reception.  I want to capture the sentimental smile, the tearful happiness, and your flower girl sneaking an extra piece of cake. 

Here are ways to make your reception images shine. 

Tips on the best Reception Photography for your Wedding Day. | Debra Eby Photography Co.



As the sun sets and your reception begins, lighting is very important for the aesthetic of your reception.  Lighting has come a long way with fabulous up-lighting, café lights, and chandelier rentals.  I highly recommend investing in quality ambient lighting.  It will make a huge difference in the atmosphere of your celebration and the aesthetic and your images. 

Warning - Any colored lighting will cast that color on your skin.  Flash will help off-set this, but the prettiest lighting is always a neutral color. 

A fabulous DJ or band can really make your reception the one of your dreams.  They sway a lot of party power with getting guests on the dance floor and moving the night along.  Occasionally, a DJ’s special affect lighting can be difficult to work with.  If your DJ is using laser spot lighting (they look like tiny polka dots), that is the most challenging to work with.  Flash will not offset the dots all over skin.  Not typically an attractive look.  Just have a conversation with your DJ about the lighting set-up so that there aren’t any surprises. 



Grand Entrance


This is when the band or DJ announces your entrance into the reception area.   

Traditionally, each bridesmaid and groomsman pairing enters together to some fun music.  The bridal party enters beginning with the same order that the bridesmaids walked down the aisle, ending with the Maid of Honor and Best Man.  Then, you are announced in, as the newlyweds. 

Tip: If you want an amazing entrance picture.  Stop once you’ve just entered the dance floor for a kiss.  This will help freeze the movement and allow for a prettier entrance image. 

Typically the bride and groom then sit down or go into the first dance. 

The benefit of going right into the first dance is that you have the attention of all of your guests.  It’s a very natural transition.  It also helps if you are on a tight timeline with your photography coverage. 



First Dance


The first dance is one of those special moments where you hold each other close and breathe in the moment of the day.  Everything slows down for whispers, quiet laughter, maybe even a tear of joy. 

If you have anything special choreographed, definitely let me know in advance.  It’s helpful to be prepared for any unique elements to the reception. 



Wedding Reception Photography, father/daughter dance under cafe lights. | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Parent Dances

Ahh, I’m a sucker for the father/daughter dance (you maaay find me wiping a tear in between shots). This is another sweet time to spend a few moments with important people in your life. 

These dances do not have to be stuffy and traditional.  One bride and her father broke it down to “I Don’t Need Anyone But You”, such a joyful moment. 

You also don’t have to make it Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dancing.  If a parent is absent or not playing that traditional role in your life, you can get creative.  Include grandparents, or make it a “family dance”, bringing up parents and siblings.  Modern weddings welcome new celebratory memories. 





That Filet Mignon is going to sound pretty amazing about now.  Take the time to sit down and enjoy your meal.  There will be time to make your rounds with guests once you are finished. 

The worst time of the day for pictures is during dinnertime. 

When I was a new photographer, I would shoot and shoot and shoot all through dinner.  Guess what?  Not one image ever turned out.  Ever.  Instead, I would get the “evil eye” from guests who instinctively knew their best look is not while stuffing a bite of salad into their mouth. 


Artist & Vendor Team

This is also an ideal time for your vendor team to eat as well.  That way we are free to keep working once you complete your meal.

It may seem strange that your vendor team requires dinner.  Speaking as a photographer, I can say how important this dinner break really is.  I promise, it’s not a diva request.

Our day is filled with non-stop action from the moment we step foot into your day.  It can be a long day of hustle with no food or drink breaks.  This dinner break is important to maintaining momentum for the evening work. 

Sometimes, I am asked what the ideal scenario is.  Really, I welcome any break that involves a little refreshment.  My requirement is that dinner is provided or that a one hour break given so that I can go grab dinner.  

The perfect set-up is a quiet, simple, little table in the corner of the reception room.  This is a table, just for the vendors, so that we can jump up and work, as needed.  When I am off in a vendor room (while a lovely break) I do get nervous that something may happen in my absence. 




Toasting at a wedding reception | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Oh that time of the night when everyone hears your embarrassing childhood antics.  This is my favorite time for reaction shots, as parents laugh and as guests tear up over the sweet words and stories. 

If toasts happen during dinnertime, just give your vendor team a heads up (especially if we’re in a vendor room) so that we are prompt when they begin. 

A reception schedule is super helpful for the photographer to have, this way we are ready for all the action. 



Sunset Portraits


Those moments, just before sunset are absolutely breathtaking.  Your skin radiates a warm glow, the colors are soft and romantic. 

I love sneaking the bride and groom away for a quick 10 minutes of beautiful sunset portraits.  The results will make you forever grateful.

TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra, Florida.  Sunset portraits on a wedding day with the bride and groom kissing. | Debra Eby Photography Co.



Reception Photography, special friends picture. | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Special Friend or Family Portrait


Your reception is a perfect time for pictures with any special friend groupings or family groupings.  There is usually more time and everyone is more relaxed about jumping in for a picture. 

Simply list these groupings in your prep form so that I can remind you to gather them during this time.



Photo Booth


A photo booth is a perfect way to capture your guests in a fun way.  Most guests love jumping into a photo booth with their significant other or group of friends.  Just as much as they do not like gathering for that awkward “table shot”. 

I highly recommend investing in this as a part of your wedding day. 

If you aren’t able to, the best time for your photographer to get candid images is over cocktail hour.  This means, hiring as second shooter to ensure candid images are taken during that portion of the day.      




Wedding Reception Photography at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  Removing of the garter. | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Bouquet & Garter Toss


Whenever there is fast movement with low lighting, even the best camera equipment can struggle a bit.  This is why I usually recommend that my couples “fake throw” first to make sure I get that image.  That way I can focus my energy on “the catch”. 




Dance Floor

Wedding Reception Dancing with the bride and groom at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  | Debra Eby Photography Co.

Time to put those gorgeous stilettos to work on the dance floor. 

Okay, more realistically, it's a great idea to use those bridal flip-flops. 

My wide angle lens will get right in the action.  I shoot fast and furious.  Then, I back away for a bit.  Repeat.  I want to give guests their space while still documenting all the fun.  

Tip: to look amazing in dancing pictures, grab a friend, pause and smile mid-move.  A little love to the camera goes a long way towards making your dance moves look super fab. 



Grand Exit

It is now time for your great escape.  While it is sad that your celebration has come to an end, the marriage journey is just beginning.  That is worth some serious honeymoon celebration.

Once again, any time there is fast movement and low lighting, that camera equipment is working extra hard.  Whatever type of exit you are making, take time to pause for a kiss, maybe even two.  Those images are always the prettiest. 

Bride and Groom exit on their wedding night.  An estate wedding in central Florida. | Debra Eby Photography Co.




Each photographer has a different post-wedding workflow.  Be sure to chat about that before your exit so that you know when you can expect your sneak peek. 

You can read all about my post-wedding workflow, right here.

On a wedding day, something is bound to go wrong.  Keep moving forward, dancing to the music.  It is all about embracing your day and any unexpected surprises.  It's all good practice for the marriage journey ahead.  

Make spontaneous dancing  a part of your newlywed life.  The best is barefoot on the family room floor.  

Then, if your dance party multiplies, embrace every un-choreographed moment.

xoxo Lovelies