If you had a first look, all that should be left to do is have fun! If there are a few remaining portraits that need to be captured, we’d do that during your cocktail hour. This will hopefully take no more than 10 minutes which leaves you more than enough time to mingle with your guests and enjoy some much needed food and cocktails.

If you didn’t have a first look and you didn’t schedule much time after the ceremony for portraits, you’ll be getting all of them done during the cocktail hour. In this scenario, it’s very rare to get family photos, bridal party photos, and couple portraits done and still make the cocktail hour.


DOs & DON’Ts

– Help us help you! –

It might seem like there’s not much that could help (or hurt) us when discussing your first dance, but you’d be wrong!


 Let us know if your first dance is choreographed. If there are any big dips, twirls, or moments we’ll want to really capture well, it helps to be warned ahead of time. In the past we’ve also been sent a video of our couple practicing the first dance at home so we knew exactly what was going to come. It really helped! If you’re just swaying to the music, that’s great too and a lot less to worry about!


 Let us know how long you’ll be dancing before you invite others to join you (if at all). This information lets us know how much time we have before the dance floor is flooded with people. If you’re dancing for only 30 seconds, that doesn’t give us much time which means we’ll stick to grabbing the standard/safety shots. If you’re dancing for 2 minutes, that gives us a bit more time to get some creative shots.


 Don’t feel obligated to turn and look at us for a staged photo of the two of you dancing. This is your moment to enjoy as husband and wife. We’ll capture whatever you give us so if you want that ‘camera aware’ photo, by all means do it but don’t feel like you have to!



When it comes to speeches, you can’t really control what is said but we can give you some pointers to relay to your toasters.


This saying has never been truer than when talking about toasts at a wedding. We’ve had couples tell their best man or maid of honor to keep the speech to a time limit – that will hopefully get them reading the speech out loud and time it before the big day.


As funny as the story probably is, inside jokes where only the bride and groom and the person speaking get it often fall flat. Instead, a funny story that ties into the overall message of their speech is a better idea. For example, are you a klutz and one time knocked over a pitcher of wine at your bosses house party? Is that same quality the reason you met your spouse or what your spouse fell in love with? Perfect tie in and you’re golden.


There may never be a worse feeling than watching your best friend or sibling standing up in front of everyone you love making a complete fool out of themselves. We’ve seen it too many times and it is uncomfortable for everyone. This isn’t something you can, or should be worried about on your wedding day,  but it might be a good idea to give a heads up to a trusted friend if your maid of honor or best man doesn’t know their limit.


The iPhone is a wonderful device and a great place to keep your ideas when writing your speech. It is, however, a terrible device when giving your speech on the wedding night. Technical difficulties are almost always on display when we watch someone give a toast off an iPhone. Does your toaster speak with their hands? Great, but now the phone is switching from landscape to portrait mode and that place they stopped at is no longer the same place in a different orientation. They’ll get flustered and have to start scrolling. If they insist on using a phone, have them lock the orientation. Better yet, have them write it on good old fashioned note cards.


If you hire us for video, you may notice that there’s a mic stand out on the dance floor or wherever the toasts will take place. This is our mic stand and is used for a good reason.

As we mentioned during the Ceremony portion of the MJS Experience, audio is extremely important and this is also true during the reception. The speeches that are given provide a lot of the narrative that you see in our films. To make sure we have great audio, we’ll tap into your band or DJ’s sound mixer, however we’ve seen issues before using those systems. In order for us to have a backup source, we rig our mic stand that you see below with a small lapel mic and feed that into a recorder at the bottom of the stand. This ensures that even if the band or dj’s system fails, the person speaking will talk directly into our own recorder.

Please make sure your best man, father, and/or maid of honor knows about this!


At some point throughout the night we’ll want to grab you for one last portrait. Prior to calling you, our team will get everything set and ready so that when it’s time to grab you, we know we’ll only be keeping you for a very short amount of time. It’s our goal to get you in and back to your party as quickly as possible.

Also, depending on the time of year that your event is happening, we may not have complete darkness for our night portraits. If this is the case, we’d shoot this session during the peak sunset time. In some instances, that could come during cocktail hour. The same idea remains: we’ll get everything set before getting you to limit the time away from the party.


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The number one priority when shooting a sparkler exit is to remain safe. It’s a bit tricky because at the end of the night the amount of sober individuals are few and far between. Give those same people a stick of fire and you can see why this has the recipe for a disaster!

Here are a few tips to get the best results (and avoid a trip to the ER):

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The longer the sparklers, the longer the burn time as well as the further apart people can stand. This is especially helpful if you have a large group and it will take a bit to get everyone lit. The 36″ sparklers from claim a 3.5-4 minute burn time.

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If you and your spouse hold a sparkler, the light coming off the sparklers will create a beautiful glow on your faces. This makes the photo go from good to great!

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Once you walk through the arch once, we’ll hopefully have a second chance to do it again. This allows us to grab a few different angles which adds interest in the film and gives you more variety of photos.

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    Michael Justin Studios is a full service, boutique wedding video and photography studio based in New Canaan, CT servicing NYC, Long Island, Westchester, Fairfield, New Jersey, and worldwide. 

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