Wedding Photography Budget Hack: Staged Wedding Exits
Why you should (pretend to) leave your wedding reception early
You’ve heard of grand exits at wedding receptions, but have you heard of staged wedding exits?
A staged exit is where newlywed couples fake their grand exit from their wedding reception with the help of their bridal party in order to capture a few photos.
Why would any do this, you ask? To save money on their wedding photography, of course!
That's right. Do a faux exit from your wedding reception, let your photographer capture great photos, and then send him or her home for the night! Essentially, fewer hours of coverage = less cost to you.
How having a staged wedding exit saves you money
This is the perfect budget hack for couples who want spontaneous and fun photos of their wedding exit but don’t want to pay their photographer to stay late into the evening to capture the real thing. Two hours of reception coverage is usually enough to photograph most guests, dancing, and other activities. However, if you’re planning on having a long reception that goes well into the night, a staged exit is the perfect way to get that final “must-have” photo from your big day without breaking the bank.
How do you pull off a staged exit?
If having a staged exit seems like a good idea to you, all you need is a few people to help out. First, you'll need to gather your exit celebration materials — wedding sparklers, confetti, or whatever it is you’re planning on using. Then, have your bridal party and a small group of family members/friends line the exit. You really don’t need many people to make this look great. Six or so works just fine!
When your photographer is ready, exit through the tunnel of family and friends just as you would for the real exit. Walk slowly and allow time for your photographer to take a series of photos. The staged exit should only take a few minutes– no need to stop your wedding reception playlist! It will be over so quickly that none of your other guests will even notice that you stepped out of the reception for a break!
What are the benefits of staging an exit?
The benefits of a staged exit go far beyond saving money. With a staged exit, you get to choose when you’d like to have it photographed, which means you can get the best lighting for your photos. Golden hour or twilight (right after the sun goes down) is best for capturing most exits. After it gets dark, capturing clear photos becomes much more difficult.
You'll also both have more energy and be more “fresh” for photos earlier in the evening then later. Get those dreamy photos in while your hair and makeup is still looking fresh and you'll be glad you did!
In addition, the staged exit doesn’t have large crowds of onlookers. You can make your exit as many times as needed to get all the photos you want. Walk through once, stopping briefly for a kiss, and then try different poses and fun expressions you’ll cherish forever. With the real wedding exit, you’ve only got one chance to go through, so you may receive fewer photos compared to a staged exit.
Why do I love staged exits as a photographer?
Exit photos are always some of my favorite images from every wedding I photograph. I’m drawn to capturing emotion, and exits always show the sheer joy expressed when couples realize that married life has officially begun!
I’d so much rather have a couple fake an exit than let me leave without covering their exit at all. I think it’s such a monumental moment — family and friends are there supporting you and your new spouse as you leave to start your life together — and that memory deserves preservation.
Besides that, I love that they make the best ending for wedding albums. Without it, viewers of your album will see the last few pages of your wedding album full of dancing and reception events, but never reach a formal conclusion from the evening. I think photos of your grand exit gives the most satisfying and joyous album ending.
Why should you fake your wedding exit?
Overall, there’s nothing not to love about staged exits. You get another precious, once-in-a-lifetime moment photographed, and you don’t even have to pay extra for it. Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer about incorporating a staged exit into their schedule — they will love the idea just as much as you do. They want to give you as many photos as possible while working within their allotted timeframe, so staging exits is a win for everyone.
Go ahead and plan on keeping your reception going late into the night and rest easy knowing that your best memories have been captured!