How to Surprise Your Couples with a Reception Sneak Peek!

In this post I'm going to share with you how I'm able to provide my couples with a sneak peek of their images before they even leave the reception, and how you can do the same!

I started doing this for my couples at the end of my first year of business, and I've been slowly working it into my regular workflow for my weddings! In all honesty, it doesn't take that much extra work to do and it makes a massive impression on my couples. They always appreciate it and are so excited to see some of their images!

Before I share how I do a reception sneak peek, I want to share with you why I do this. Reception sneak peeks aren't for every photographer or couple, and I believe it's important to have a strong reason why you're doing it in order to make it worth it (and to do it right)!

Why I do reception sneak peeks:

  • They're a wonderful surprise for my couples! They never expect to see some of their wedding images at their wedding, so they're always so pleasantly surprised!
  • I get to see their reactions. This is something I love doing with reception sneak peeks! It's so much fun getting to see their genuine reactions to the images, something I don't get to see otherwise.
  • It sets me apart from other photographers. There aren't many other photographers who take the time to do this, and so taking this extra step really sets me apart, especially to any guests who may be looking for a wedding photographer in the future.
  • It improves my client's experience. I'm always looking for ways to make their experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible, and this plays into that well!

Does this sound like something you'd like for your business as well? If so, then keep on reading! In this post I'm going to share with you how I'm able to provide my couples with a sneak peek of their images before they even leave the reception, and how you can do the same!

What you'll need to do a reception sneak peek:

  • A laptop or iPad. I use the laptop to edit the images, and the iPad to share the images with my couple. iPads are much easier to pass around than a laptop!
  • Lightroom. I use Lightroom to edit all of my images. Just make sure you have whatever editing software you use available.
  • SD card reader. I've forgotten this before and it is a massive bummer when you can't do a reception sneak peek because you forgot something so simple. I now keep a card reader in my camera bag at all times!
  • A private space to sit and prepare the images. Find a small space where you can sit down and spend 15-20 minutes doing a quick edit of your images without disturbing anyone or anyone prying. It's important to remain discreet as you're doing this!
  • A second shooter. If I didn't have a second shooter I wouldn't do this!

Once you have those items ready to go, it's time to create your reception sneak peek! Keep reading to find out HOW I do a reception sneak peek!

01 | Have your second shooter take over photographing the reception.

I usually wait until we are past all of the traditional wedding events and everyone is dancing to do the reception sneak peek. Once dancing is well under way, I'll have Jackson (my husband and second shooter) take over shooting the dancing photos while I sneak away to prepare the sneak peek.

I'll go to a private location where nobody will see me and I can focus on quickly editing some images. In the past this has been places such as a Sunday School room, a nursery, a coat closet, the back of a kitchen, or even in my car at times. Just find a place that works! Wifi is not necessary, so don't worry about that.

02 | Pull up the images on your laptop and select a few favorites to edit.

Throughout the wedding day I am keeping a mental tab of certain times where I took images that I'm particularly excited about. Having thought about this ahead of time makes the process of filtering through the SD card much easier! I'll select anywhere from 10-20 images to edit, copy and paste them to my desktop, and then place the SD card in my card case for safe keeping.

03 | Edit the images.

Import the images to Lightroom and give them a quick, basic edit. Don't worry about them being too perfect! All I normally do is apply a preset, crop/straighten the image, and adjust the white balance, exposure, or tint if necessary. Keep this quick and simple!

04 | Export the images.

Once the images are ready go ahead and export them to a file on your desktop. Then you will want to airdrop these images onto your iPad. You do not need to be connected to wifi for this, just make sure you have bluetooth and wifi turned on for both devices.

Once the images are on your iPad create a folder for them and turn on slideshow viewing mode.

05 | Share the images with your couple.

Now it's time to share the images with your couple! Wait for a time when they step away for a drink of water or aren't in the middle of dancing or socializing with someone. Let them know you have a surprise for them, and then show them the slideshow! Enjoy watching their reaction!

If my couple wants to take the iPad and show the images to others, I let them! Keep a case on the iPad so it's protected and let the images be passed around! I always inform my couples that I will be posting these images to Facebook later that night, and email them a gallery with those images by the end of the night as well.

06 | Upload images to Facebook and Pixieset gallery.

Once we are home from the wedding and I've backed up the SD cards, I'll then upload the sneak peek images to Facebook (don't forget to tag the couple!) and I will create a Pixieset folder and email it to them. These are some simple extra steps that don't take a whole lot of time, but make a huge impact on their overall client experience.


You are now finished with your reception sneak peek! Now it's time to edit the rest of the images and deliver them to your couple. If you want to know 5 secret steps to edit and deliver a full wedding within one week, click here!

If you found this post helpful, share it using one of the grey social links below! Comment down below if you're going to try this at your next wedding!

Katie xx