Dylan McBurney : Photographer : Wedding tips from ten years of Irish weddings

Wedding tips

Over the years I’ve picked up some tips along the way that might help you plan the day…

Rainy days

Allow your wedding day to flow naturally and embrace it. Whether that means enduring a rain shower or two (we are  in Ireland, after all), or forgetting about those earrings that didn’t quite match up or letting the events running over schedule a bit. If you keep an open mind on the day’s events then you will have magic and spontaneity to surprise you along the way. These are the little moments that you will remember in years to come and are what will make your wedding uniquely yours.

Outdoor Ceremonies

I photograph about 3-4 outdoor wedding ceremonies in Ireland a year and so far there hasn’t been an issue with the weather! However, it is important to have a suitable plan B such as a tent, marquee or indoor space should the weather not ‘play ball’. In terms of times, generally, the best time for an outdoor ceremony is about 2 to 3 hours before sunset (assuming clear skies of course). The later times ensures the sunlight is not too harsh and falls more evenly on the skin tones.

Getting ready

In the early stages of planning the day you should think about whether you want a quieter morning of getting ready alone, or with just one or two of your closest friends or if you would like to have the whole room full of people. Every arrangement gives me a very different energy and environment.


When you are sketching out your timeline ask your hair stylist and make-up artist for an estimated time on how long the hair and make-up will take. Then add at least 30 minutes as a buffer just in case things run over a bit.

Church Receptions

Before you book your church, please be sure to ask whether there are any restrictions on photography. Please remember to tell your officiant that I don’t shoot with flash and my camera shutters are almost silent. I’ve found that most churches are fine and I am happy to work in all spaces but it’s important for your own peace of mind to have realistic expectations in advance.

Marquee receptions

I love marquee and tent receptions, because the angle and colour of the canvas overhead creates a beautiful soft light with how I use the cameras. To make it even better, add some fairy lights, sparkly chandeliers and lots of candles on the tables.

Family groups

I recommend doing immediate family groups (5-6 groups at most) towards the end of reception hour. This gives everyone a chance to catch up with you and share in your post ceremony celebrations. By the time we come to take these shots everyone is nice and relaxed. I have a great system in place that means I only require about 10-15 minutes of time.

Destination weddings

For overseas weddings we recommend viewing your venue at least twice if possible. It’s great if you have someone on the ground locally to assist but remember that many of our clients plan their weddings here in Northern Ireland from London and further afield (some of our couples live in Australia and Canada). Also, make sure you don’t have key members of your family or bridal party (such as the best man, bridesmaid) flying out the night before or day of wedding. It’s always prudent to allow for a little airline delays etc and you want to minimise stress as much as possible!

Creative Portraits

It’s always good to schedule a little time into your day for creative portraits of just the two of you. Even though I shoot reportage most of my clients still want to spend a little time to get some shots of themselves. And I love shooting couples against the Irish landscape. We recommend setting aside about half an hour and we take these pictures either on arrival at the reception venue or later on in the day. We will guide you through everything but remember that these portraits take patience and occasionally an adventure or two!

Indoor lighting

It’s all about the quality of light in the room not necessarily the quantity. I absolutely love uplighting (especially in marquees). The colours orange, red, purple and pink look best – avoid green. Candles, chandeliers and fairy lights will all add sparkle and atmosphere to your lighting.