What are wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

cropped examples of traditional wedding photography style, wedding photojournalism and lifestyle wedding photography

what are common wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

First thing wedding couples will look into when starting their search for wedding photographer, is wedding photography style photographer is photographing. Each of those wedding photography styles has their advantages and disadvantages.
In this page I will briefly go over few most common wedding photography styles and look into their pros and cons. Each wedding photography style I will try to match with images form my previous weddings. Hopefully, an article below will give you better idea about different styles of wedding photography that are out there. And hopefully, it will help you decide which wedding photography style suits your needs best.



Classic/ Traditional wedding photography style

“Sally, look at what daddy’s has in his hands! Smi-iiiiii-ile”. “Adrian, stop picking your nose! Look at the camera!”. Does this sound familiar? It probably does. If no, think grandma and grandpa album: people in photographs looking directly into camera.

Old days wedding pictures have one thing in common- they all were shot on 35mm or 120mm film. And shooting on film biggest disadvantage was that you couldn’t see the result right away. Which is why people played it safe. So photographer was orchestrating big chunk of the day, was pausing people, was moving them around to make sure images couple and their wedding guests will receive are not blurry, properly exposed and everybody in them looks happy. Playing it safe, you know.

Besides being very posy and unnatural, traditional/ classic wedding photography also embodies very predictable angles for a certain section of the day. I’m talking about lots of posed pictures. I’m talking about predictable moments (first kiss, walking down the isle, first dance) photographed in exact same fashion and angle for each wedding. Again, those are safe shots, they worked well for many clients before, so they should work for you as well.

And even though majority of wedding photographers shoot digital these days, when you look around on internet, there’s definitely no shortage of very traditional and classic wedding photography approach.

While I still see value in traditional family pictures and wedding portraits, I’m a strong believer that these pictures shouldn’t dominate your wedding day. Please see my FAQ page for more details about it and my philosophy behind it.


  • Same looking image from the same angle worked for 50 clients before, so there’s a big probability that it will work for you as well
  • Very much predictable outcome
  • Your mom will be very happy to see those images


  • Traditional wedding images will often lack individuality
  • Posed portraits most often will look unnatural
  • Even though some posed images will look natural, you’ll still have memories of photographer’s presence and disrupted moments

Examples for traditional wedding photography style. © Paulius Musteikis


Lifestyle wedding photography style

This wedding photography style is a combination of setting the scene first and waiting for candid moments happen afterwards. Because of the candid element, wedding images have more natural look. Normally, wedding photographer will provide their subjects with details and directions on where to stand and what to do. Wedding portraits often won’t be signaling any photographer’s presence, because normally there’s no direct eye contact with the camera. Additionally, non-perfect elements could be added, so the images have more realistic and “down to the ground” feel.


  • More approachable and relaxed feel than classic/ traditional wedding photography
  • Controlled environment is easier to work in


  • Even though images look more natural and relaxed, subjects still will have memories of photographer’s presence, directions and disrupted intimate/ private wedding day moments.

Lifestyle wedding photography examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Photojournalism/documentary wedding photographer

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that employs images in order to tell a story. Documentary photography is a form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events. It follows a single topic or story in-depth over time.

Wedding photojournalist will present your wedding day way the way it happened, without altering or fabricating real events.


  • Images will have most authentic look and have more feeling in them because all emotions in images are real
  • People are experiencing real wedding day moments that are not disrupted by photographer’s directions


  • No control of the events unfolding throughout the day
  • Due to constantly moving parts the image outcome is less predictable
  • Certain elements in the pictures might look unflattering

wedding guests drinking from shot ski during family farm wedding reception in Middletown, Wisconsinbride is laughing awhile groom is kissing her after their UW Arboretum wedding ceremony

Documentary wedding photography style examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Wedding photography styles I’ve talked about above are just few most common ones. Other wedding photography styles that are driven by high fashion, fine art, portraiture, natural light, etc.

In real world wedding photographer rarely sticks just to one style. Often, throughout the wedding day, elements from other wedding photography styles will get mixed in. For example, even if you hired documentary wedding photographer, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any traditional wedding pictures. Most likely, your documentary wedding photographer will set 30-60 minutes aside, for traditional posed family and wedding couple pictures.

Once you find wedding photographer whose pictures you resonate with, study his work. How do images feel? Do you see a pattern? Candid pictures? Pictures of details? Who’s dominating the pictures: bride and groom, family?

Do you see a lots of candid moments, real raw emotions, images feel non staged? You probably looking at documentary wedding photographer‘s work.

Does bride looks like she just stepped out of the Vogue cover? Are you noticing dramatic lighting? Does photographer puts accent on jewelry and and clothing? You might probably dealing high fashion wedding photographer.

Seeing lots of family and bride and groom portraits? Along with shoes, dress or flower bouquet wedding pictures?  Traditional or lifestyle photographer most likely would work for you best. Printing a list of “must-have-wedding day pictures” and handing it to your wedding photographer might be a good idea as well.

Figure out what style you are looking for before you reach out to photographer for availability and interview. This will save you and photographer time.

For more common questions Madison Wisconsin wedding photographers get asked a lot, please visit my FAQ page.

a story about same-sex wedding ceremony in Black Rock City and how I almost missed it

candid wedding picture of two lesbian women after their same sex marriage ceremony


a story about same-sex wedding ceremony that I almost missed

The sun was rapidly approaching mountain range line that was surrounding the desert. I was on my way to the Temple, to meet Jessie and Taylor. We exchanged some emails about what and when, but honestly, we didn’t do our homework. I didn’t know how Jessie and Taylor looks like, we never had a chance to talk over the phone and discuss wedding ceremony details.

Nevertheless, that day in Playa, everything was going accordingly to the plan. Temple was few minutes away. I knew I am right on time. Weather looked good. Light was perfect for the wedding ceremony.

And then I’ve noticed the dust storm rapidly approaching in the horizon. And I knew right away that everything was about to get a bit more complicated.

Some people mistakenly call them sand storms. But in Black Rock desert, it’s really not a sand. It’s an alkali lake bed dust. And that alkali is no joke. And that dust storm will kick your ass if you’re not prepared. It’s usually dry and packed, but it gets ground up from the surface during heavy car, bike and foot traffic over the course of 30 days of Burning Man preparations. And so that dust is everywhere, waiting for that perfect wind to show up.

So, when the dust storm kicked in at the full power, I finally admitted there were quite a few problems I had to deal with.

First of all, I didn’t know what exact spot where wedding ceremony will happen. Second of all, I didn’t know big wedding party will be.
And then there was this third problem. My favorite one. I didn’t even know the gender of the wedding couple. Jessie and Taylor. Could be woman and man, could be to gay guys, or it could be lesbian couple. And honestly, I was hoping for the latter, as I never photographed lesbian wedding ceremony before.

And I was ready to figure that on the go, but the dust storm, with visibility limited to 15-20ft, suddenly made it all much complicated.
So, my journey in the dust storm began.

I encountered several wedding ceremonies, I’ve met music band, I’ve found pastry chef wondering around with wedding cake.
But Jessie and Taylor were nowhere to be seen.

And after wondering in the dust for 45 minutes, I was ready to give up.

But then three figures, wrapped up in goggles and bandanas, stepped out of the dust wall. Right in front of me. And after exchanging words I quickly learned that they were looking for their wedding party. I was like “Who’s getting married, yo?”. And the figures covered faces were like “It’s us!”. I was like “You’re not Jessie and Taylor, are you?”.
And the covered faces said the magic words: “Yes! we are!”.

And once the face covers were down, I realized my little dream came true. I was going to be photographing my first lesbian wedding ceremony after all!

Apparently, they got separated from their wedding ceremony attendees. Third person turned out to be wedding officiant. In my Burning Man wedding ceremony planning tips, I strongly discourage couples from losing your wedding officiant.

And since wedding officiant and wedding photographer were there, Jessie and Taylor decided to proceed with their same-sex marriage.

The ceremony was one of the dustier ones I ever photographed. Couple had covered faces for big portion of it, and finally took it off as the wind started dying off in the end of same-sex wedding ceremony.

Taylor and Jessie’s wedding had exactly three guests. Four actually, if you count wedding photographer. All strangers. Saul, my Amber Dust camp mate, that appeared out of nowhere (and later disappeared the same way), and a couple of random by passers. Very typical wedding crowd for Playa’s wedding ceremony.

After the wedding ceremony, we exchanged congratulations and good-bye hugs. Jessie and Taylor were ready to head back to camp and celebrate their same-sex marriage with their friends.

The dust was settling down. Weather was calm. And the night was rolling in. It was time to put some warmer clothes and get ready for night in Playa.

See another, Sandi’s and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony, >> HERE <<



lesbian couple and officiant during the same-sex wedding ceremony in the desert officiant is giving speech during outdoor gay wedding ceremony wedding guests holding hands while observing LGBT wedding ceremony in Madison, WIclose up picture of two pairs of hands during wedding ceremony lesbian couple holding hands and laughing during wedding vow exchange lesbian couple holding hands and exchanging vows during their same-sex wedding close-up picture of hands holding a wedding ring during wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin wedding ring exchange during lesbian wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin close-up picture of wedding ring exchange during same-sex wedding ceremony in Madison, Wisconsinwine angle shot of the wedding guests at the lesbian wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert two lesbian women exchanging first kiss during their wedding ceremony two women passionately kissing during their wedding ceremony a close-up of lesbian couple hugging after the wedding ceremony two wedding guests smiling and applauding during gay wedding ceremonylesbian couple is kissing after their wedding ceremony in Madison, WI a portrait two lesbian women holding hands after their gay wedding ceremony candid wedding picture of two lesbian women after their same sex marriage ceremony


I am LGBTQ friendly award-winning wedding photographer based in Madison, WI. If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer couple and are planning your LGBT wedding in Madison, WI or Black Rock City, give me a shout! It really doesn’t matter how big or how small your LGBTQ wedding will be- I would love to be part of it! Love is love!
Available to travel worldwide!

James Madison Park wedding in Madison, WI | Cindy + Martin

bride and groom with sparklers standing on the dock at James Madison park wedding


+ James Madison park wedding in Madison, WI

Cindy and Martin have met at a spaghetti dinner the night before Martin ran the Tough Mudder (!!!) competition with a group of mutual friends. Cindy was only there for the spaghetti. In the end, guess she ended up getting a bit more.

Their first date took place at the Mediterranean Cafe on the State Street about week later. Couple got ice cream at the Memorial Union Terrace afterwards. And the rest is history (:

I’ve met Martin in their house on the Park street where I photographed him getting dressed. I witnessed him put to  and moved on to see what Cindy was up to.

I’ve met Cindy in The Madison Concourse hotel where she got ready surrounded by immediate family and bridesmaids. That part of the day was filled with laughter through tears (after opening Martin’s wedding gift), raw emotions and lots of hugs.

Wedding definitely doesn’t need to be this over-the-roof extravaganza to be special. In fact, spending big money for the wedding and expecting it to be amazing just because of that, couldn’t be further from the truth. And Cindy’s and Martin’s James Madison park celebration is a good proof of it. Their wedding was simple and modest, yet delightful and very much inspiring.

Lawn games, dancing in the tent filled with beautiful afternoon light, keg stand, sparklers, big bottle of bourbon passed around, mysterious smiley face on grass in front of the reception tent. All these elements happened to be in James Madison Park wedding that day. And it all made Cindy’s and Martin’s wedding special and unique.

And I’ve been there to witness it all.

I love my job!


To see a full gallery from Cindy’s and Martin’s James Madison park wedding, click >> HERE <<.


groom is getting ready for his James Madison park wedding in Madison, Wisconsin groom is wrapping up a wedding gift to his wife to be Asian American bride is tearing during getting ready in Concourse Hotel, Madison WI bride and father of the bride are walking to the James Madison park wedding ceremony bride walks by wedding guests before James Madison park wedding ceremony James Madison park wedding ceremony with lake Mendota in the backgroundbride is hugging guests in James Madison park outdoor wedding bride hugging the groom during their first dance James Madison park outdoor wedding little girl on a dancefloor during wedding reception in James Madison park wide angle view of James Madison park with a wedding tent and lake Mendota in the background wedding guests are dancing in tent at the James Madison park wedding reception bride and groom are hugging during the first dance in James Madison park wedding a wedding portrait of bride and groom in James Madison park on a shore of lake Mendotabride and groom playing bean bag toss at their James Madison park wedding reception wedding witnesses are signing marriage license certificate groom is resting his head on brides shoulder during marriage license signing wedding guests are performing keg stand at the James Madison park wedding in Madison, WI wedding tent in James Madison park during the sunset James Madison park with wedding guests on the dock during the lake Mendota sunset bride and groom with sparklers standing on the dock in James Madison park

To see more photographs from Cindy’s and Martins’s outdoor wedding, click >> HERE <<.


Planning your wedding in James Madison Park upcoming summer? Need local wedding photographer? Look no further! I’m an outdoors loving, laid-back wedding photographer from Madison, Wisconsin and would love to be on your outdoors wedding team. See my wedding photography FAQ page and give me a shout via my contact page!


Getting Ready location: The Madison Concourse Hotel
Ceremony and Reception:
James Madison Park
Floral: Lewiston Perennial Farm
Catering: Smokey Jon’s
Rentals: Mad Fox Party Rentals

Na zdrowie to Katrina, Jeff and their Hubbard park wedding

bride and groom posing in Hubbard Park pedestrian tunnel after their wedding


+ Hubbard park wedding in Milwaukee, WI


Want to hear my little secret?

There’s this kind of people. When presented with safe (less rewarding) and risky (more rewarding) solutions for certain situation, they choose the latter one.

Some of my wedding couples that do behave that way. I believe, I am that kind of person myself.

You know how I call my wedding couples that take risks? Gamblers!

And, boy oh boy, I love gamblers!

That’s who Katrina and Jeff were.

Their outdoor wedding ceremony in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was planned for October 21st, 2017. And in Midwest terms it’s definitely a serious gamble. Because during my wedding photographer’s career, I’ve seen snow in early October.

Anyway, I’m glad they went for it! Because, it was the last, please, hear me out, THE LAST, nice day that fall. It was high 70’s, it was sunny. That was Saturday. And the weather went all down to hell on Sunday. But who cares about Sunday, right?

Katrina’s and Jeff s outdoor wedding ceremony took place in Hubbard park, situated on the shore of Milwaukee River, overlooking river and greenery surrounding it. If you ask me, Hubbard park as a wedding venue is one of better kept secrets in Milwaukee area.

Throughout the wedding ceremony, couple and their bridal party were back lit by late afternoon fall sun. Combine it with a good wedding ceremony vibes, and” Boom!”, you’ve got yourself a combination any wedding photographer would die for.

And honestly, Katrina’s and Jeff’s wedding had it all: laidback schedule, amazing weather, good crowd, amazing river views in both locations- wedding ceremony and reception.

And for the last wedding of the season, I couldn’t have asked for more!

Na zdrowie, you two!

See full gallery from Katrina’s and Jeff’s Hubbard park wedding in Milwaukee, WI >>HERE<<.


bridesmaids are laughing during getting ready in hotel Metro, Milwaukee bride is getting her hair done during getting ready in hotel Metro, Milwaukee bride is making up faces surround by children in hotel Metro, Milwaukeebridal party is making a toast and drinking in hotel Metro bride is getting her hair done during getting ready in hotel Metro, Milwaukee guests arriving to Hubbard Park wedding ceremony in Milwaukee, WI bride smoking a cigarette before wedding ceremony in Hubbard Park, Milwaukee Hubbard Park wedding ceremony overlooking Milwaukee river bride and groom are kissing after their wedding ceremony in Hubbard Park wedding guests clapping and laughing after Hubbard Park wedding ceremonybride, groom and bridal party raising a toast in Hubbard park beer garden bride and groom kissing on the Partridge Family Party Bus bride and groom in Hubbard Park pedestrian tunnel after their wedding bridal party dancing in the Partridge Family Party Bus elevated bride with a ship passing by in Milwaukee river, Third Ward bride’s and groom’s first dance at the Surg on the Water wedding reception groom is dancing with his mother at the Surg on the Water wedding receptionwoman and kid are dancing at the Surg on the Water wedding reception bride is laughing while looking at the groom during wedding reception groomsmen trying to catch garter at the Surg on the Water wedding reception Surg on the Water riverfront and Milwaukee river at night time



Getting ready: Hotel Metro
Transportation: Partridge Family Party Bus
Wedding ceremony location: Hubbard Park, Milwaukee, WI
Wedding reception location: Surg On The Water
DJ/Music: DJ Fuzzy Logic
Honeymoon: Iceland
Wedding Date: 10.21.2017

Burning Man wedding ceremony and the story behind my infamous underwear picture

me as a Madison WI wedding photographer after wedding in Black Rock Dessert hugging happy bride and groom


 // burning man wedding ceremony :: Sandi and Andy

I was drunk, I was in my underwear wearing tank top with “FUCK YEAH” paint sprayed on it, I had my cowboy boots on, I was about couple miles away from their wedding ceremony location AND I didn’t know how bride and groom looked like!

I had 4 minutes to make it to their wedding ceremony.

Few minutes earlier before it all happened I got back to my camp, grabbed a beer and made myself comfortable in in lounging chair. It wasn’t my first drink of the day- I had few already (I’m out here to party after all, right?). Heck yeah, I was having a great Monday!

And then my camp mate showed up. She walked over to me and gave nice heartwarming greeting: “Why the hell are you here? You’re supposed to be photographing Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony!”. My heart jumped. “No” I said. “No I’m not!. They’re not getting married today. It’s mañana”. “It’s today you idiot!” she responded. “They stopped like 5 hours ago and left you an updated message on chalk board!”. My friend was definitely enjoying giving me hard time.

My heart was racing by now. I ran to our camp’s improvised message board and there it was- date that before was saying “9/2/15” was changed to “9/1/15”. They moved date from Tuesday to Monday! Their Playa wedding ceremony time remained the same- 6pm. I looked at my watch.

It was 5:56pm.

Some people get married in the banquet halls, some people get married in the barns, and well, some people get married in the middle of the desert.

Planning Burning Man wedding ceremony during this week-long festival is no joke. I never realized amount of homework until I started talking to couples who get married there. In a way it’s exactly the same wedding planning as in real world: you have a date and time, you need to dress up, you need to have your marriage license, and most likely there will be wedding guests. And if you really into wedding planning, you can figure out flowers, cake, music band, party bus, wedding photographer, etc. I’ve seen it all.

It definitely won’t be easy to put it all together. But worth indeed, if you willing go extra mile in order experience magic of Burning Man!

Sandi and I exchanged some emails before leaving for Playa. I never met her and her future husband-to-be Andy. I didn’t know where they from, I didn’t know how they look. I knew the date and they knew my camp’s approximate location.

When festival started they were able to figure out where my camp is. Unfortunately, they were not so lucky tracking me down. I was never at the camp. So this improvised message board was started: Sandi and Andy would leave me a message, and I would leave a reply when i would get back from my journeys. The couple would come back to see me again and would leave another message. And I would reply. And it worked. Until that Monday afternoon, I learned the date was moved and I was given few minutes to get my ass to the wedding ceremony.

So after realizing that time’s almost up, I got on my bike and I pedaled. I pedaled that shitty bike I had like I never will pedal again! Lol!

And I made it. And they were there, all dressed up, and happy to see their wedding photographer.

Sandi and Andy’s Burning man wedding ceremony had a real taste of Playa: short, sweet, emotional and topped with a juicy kiss. No silly games, no pretending to be someone you’re not. They got married surrounded by few friends and bunch of strangers. After the wedding ceremony, couple with their wedding attendees got on their bikes and disappeared in the dust whiteout to celebrate marriage, friends and life.

Sun was out and night was quickly creeping in.

It was time for me to head back to the camp, put the pants on and get ready for the night.


See full Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding gallery >>HERE<<.

Thinking about getting married or renewing your vows in Black Rock City during Burning Man festival? Check out my blog post about simple, easy and effective Burning Man wedding planning tips >>HERE<<.


an improvised chalk messaging board in Amber Dust Camp in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom biking to their wedding ceremony during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadacandid image of bride Sandi getting wedding paperwork out of the bike basket for her Burning Man wedding photography in Black Rock desert, Nevadawriting on musicians hand indicating time and the location of Burning Man wedding ceremonygroom taking a sip of bourbon from the flash before his wedding ceremony at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevada smiling groom looking at the bride during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadawedding guests during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride reading her wedding vows to the groom during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadasmiling ceremony attendees during Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadadust whiteout during Sandi and Andy Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert a big tear is rolling down the bride’s best friend’s cheek during Burning Man wedding ceremonyofficiant is announcing newlyweds after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Playa bride and groom kissing after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride’s and groom’s dusty hands with wedding rings on them after the Burning Man wedding ceremonycandid image of bride Sandi after her Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom walking away and smiling after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride Sandi and groom Andy are happy screaming out loud with the Burning Man statue in the background at the Black Rock desert, Nevada bride and groom portrait while posing in front of Infinity Tree art piece during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride is observing wedding document signing witness after her wedding ceremony at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadawedding witness is signing wedding documents after the Burning Man wedding ceremony in Black Rock desert, Nevadacandid picture of bride and groom after their wedding ceremony during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevadabride and groom portrait while posing in front of Infinity Tree art piece during Burning Man festival in Black Rock desert, Nevada

Thanks a bunch for stopping by, reading Sandi and Andy’s Burning Man wedding ceremony adventure! Are you a fellow burner that is planning Playa wedding out there in Black Rock desert? Or maybe it’s your friends who are getting married? Either way, shoot me a message with your thoughts how you imagine your Burning Man wedding and what you have planned so far. I might be there and you might be able help you out!
I am documentary wedding photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin that specializes in moment driven wedding photojournalism. I won’t boss you around. I won’t ask you to be an actor and pretend to be someone you are not. I will stay out of your way and I will let you be true you.
See my FAQ page for more information. Available for travel worldwide!



12 Simple Tips for Planning an Amazing Burning Man Wedding

12 Simple and effective Tips for Planning an Amazing Burning Man Wedding


// 12 simple tips for planning an amazing Burning Man wedding

If you’re reading this you most likely are spending your Labor Day weekend in Playa. And you probably are getting married there as well. And it’s fOcking exciting in so many ways, yet keep in mind: just like putting together a default world wedding, you will have homework to do. 
Where to start? What to expect? And how make sure you get the most out of it.

I went ahead and I did put a list of simple and easy real-life wedding planning tips to help you get the most out of your wedding and have an amazing Burning Man experience. I’ve been going to and photographing Black Rock City since 2009.

And while the wedding planning tips below will be most helpful to someone who have never been to the Burning Man before, I’m pretty sure a seasoned burner still can find some of them useful.


1. Figure out legal stuff in advance

I know, it’s not most exciting thing to do, but if you want a real wedding, that’s where it all needs to start. Marriage license, officiant, etc. Burning Man website has some useful information regarding weddings in Playa. Make sure you do your homework in advance, because it won’t be an easy task if you arrive to Playa unprepared.

licensed officiant signing the marriage certificate after the Burning Man wedding ceremony

2. Find your wedding vendors

Yes, there’s more homework to do. So, roll your sleeves and hit the Pinterest and Google search. I imagine, finding wedding photographer is probably a bit easier than, let’s say, finding a guy will roast you a pig, but… Reality is, every imaginable wedding vendor is there in Playa. I’ve met music bands, I’ve seen pastry chefs delivering cakes, I know florists who made flowers for brides. Go ahead, find a camp that serves dessert, talk to some fire spinners you found online, grab some champagne on the way to Playa. And you got yourself a decent start for the wedding ceremony after party.

licensed wedding officiator friend is taking a gulp of bourbon bottle after signing marriage certificate

3. Do all heavy lifting BEFORE event starts

Talk to all your vendors in advance and touch base again 2-3 weeks before the event. Once out there in the desert, communication could get tricky due to unreliable phone and internet service. Also, bear in mind that all serious shopping is done in Reno, NV. And that’s 3 hours away.

bride and groom raising their hands and shouting after their Burning Man wedding ceremony

4. Figure out where and when.

When it comes to time, be specific. “Sunrise” or “sunset” could really fall into 30-45 minute gap. Also, keep in mind, that sunset or sunrise, while definitely nice times of the day to get married, could be very busy in certain locations (i.e. Temple). Usually, around that time of the day, you can find numerous wedding ceremonies happening at those locations simultaneously.
Consider less traveled spot in deep Playa if you want more intimate Burning Man wedding experience.

group of people gathered for a wedding ceremony near art installation in Burning Man

5. Don’t get separated from your officiant/ wedding guests

Want to make sure your wedding ceremony attendees won’t get lost in transition? Go ahead and gather people in camp. Bike together or set gathering point at the art peace that is easy to find and is less traveled. If you’re going for a wedding ceremony at the busy spot, park your bikes further away, and walk to your spot the whole group.
Believe me, it’s easy to lose your friends (and wedding guests) in Playa.

lesbian couple holing hands after wedding ceremony in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

6. Have a plan, but also have no plan

Have a plan, but play it by the ear once there. Keep your eyes and ears open in Playa as Burning Man festivals offers lots of unexpected opportunities. So be smart and use them.

dusty bride’s and groom’s hands with wedding rings on fingers

7. Prepare for the worst weather

Seriously, please do. As someone who spends 2-3 weeks in desert during each Burn, I have a simple advice when it comes to newcomers: please do not underestimate Playa weather. Weather in Playa changes quickly and things could go sideways at the same speed. Over-engineer your camp, over-engineer your art installation structures. Please do the same for your wedding. And see a story about how bad weather almost ruined this beautiful same-sex wedding ceremony.

Burning Man wedding tip about dust storm whiteout in the desert

8. Don’t expect things to go 100% smoothly

Trust me, this will happen just like in default world wedding. Someone will get drunk and not going to make it, someone will get lost on the way to wedding ceremony location. Heck, I missed several Playa wedding myself. 
So, keep calm and keep smiling. Because all you really need is your significant other and your officiant.

groom is opening and spilling champagne bottle while bride is laughing

9. Invite your new friends to attend your wedding

While in Playa, you’ll meet new people, make new friends. Go ahead, plan your wedding for Thursday or Friday, and invite them all to your wedding ceremony. People love attending weddings in Playa!
Or just invite everybody.

man holding “just married” sign after the Burning Man wedding ceremony

10. Get creative. Dress up

If you could wear ANYTHING, (and by anything, I even mean you could arrive to your wedding ceremony naked), what would you wear? Seriously. Dress fucking up.

lesbian couple holing hands after wedding ceremony in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

11. Be yourself

No one is there to judge you. Nobody cares who you are. People who surround you are people who love you. The reality is, that there’s no better place to be true yourself, than Playa.

lesbian couple kissing after exchanging vows during Burning man wedding ceremony

12. Enjoy every little bit of it

No one is there to judge you. Do whatever the fuck you wanna do. Get weird, get freaky and have fun!

portrait of bride and groom after the wedding ceremony: Burning Man wedding tips

Thanks for reading!

What your wedding day is really about (or) professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom

Bride in dressing room of Overture Center is having a private moment before the first look with groom


// professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom

So I am at the recent wedding. Doing, you know, my thing- wedding photojournalism and stuff. I’m hanging out with the bride and her friends. Ladies are about to be done with getting ready. Emily and I are about to head out for the first look with Andrew (her future husband to be).

At one moment Emily looks me in the eye and says “I’m very nervous. I’m really really  nervous.”

I pause for a second. I look at Emily. I know I need to respond. What do I say?

“Well Emily…” I begin slowly…


I often ask myself what it’s all about. You know, what wedding day is about? How people see it? I mean technically it’s a ceremony where two people or a couple are united in marriage. But what else?
Timeline? Shoes? Dancing? Friends and family? Tears? Laughter? Beautiful weather? Princess dress? Helluva amazing party? All the love in the world? 5 tier wedding cake? Bartender that makes best Old Fashioned in Midwest?

A nice mix of everything?

Does anybody ever think about a wedding day as just a day? Like just another day in life? Expensive one, but just another day. Not a day filled sugarcoated with fairy tales and princesses, but a day filled ordinary people. Imperfect ordinary people.

Wedding dress will get dirty. Sparkly sandals won’t be nearly as comfortable as initially anticipated. DJ will get drunk. Wedding pictures outside won’t happen because of rain. Best man will get into fight at the after party. Food will be served cold. Mother of the groom will turn into momzilla. Stressed out maid of honor will take too much Valium. Limo driver will get lost in downtown after football game traffic Armageddon.

And when imperfect real people will look back into their wedding day 5 years from now, they, hopefully, will laugh at all those small things that went wrong. Because it’s just life. And life happens. And it’s happening right now. And we’re breathing it in.

And we often get so obsessed about the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. We discard those small little imperfections that happen to us we find along the way as a bad thing. And yet these imperfections, these small bumps in the road is what the journey is about.

So here’s my professional wedding photographer’s advice to bride and groom: Live in the moment. Take it all. Enjoy every little bit of it.


So I look at Emily and give most honest yet (hopefully) comforting advice that I can give as a true wedding photojournalist: “Emily, there’s nothing wrong with being nervous. It’s an intense moment you’re about to experience. So it’s OK to be nervous. Heck, it’s event OK to be REALLY nervous. Who wouldn’t be nervous in this situation? I know you’ll be fine. I know you’ll get married today. So, enjoy the being nervous part. Enjoy every little uncomfortable moment of your wedding day. Because that’s how life is- an exciting journey filled with lot’s of uncomfortable, and yet amazing, moments. Now let’s go find the man and let’s get you two married.”

And off we go to find her man.


how Amy and Jason’s did it right: family backyard wedding madison wi

people are giving high-five after drinking alcohol shots out of the ski shot at the family backyard wedding Madison WI

Amy and Jason both been in the restaurant and food industry for well over a decade. Having spent so much time in the food industry they’ve made friends with incredibly talented people- bartenders, chefs and other service professionals. And when Jason proposal and when Amy said “Si Señor”, they knew right away they had themselves plus a pool of incredible people to draw from to help put their family backyard wedding Madison WI together.
However the fact that the couple managed to put a nice helping team for their DIY family farm wedding in rural Wisconsin didn’t mean Amy and Jason will sit back, relax and enjoy wedding preparation show. I knew these two for quite a few years now, and I knew how dedicated and restless and hard working they both are. It was clear from the very beginning that everybody will work hard, including Amy and Jason, to make that wedding day unique and awesome.
When I showed up at the hotel on their wedding day there were signs all over the room indicating all hard work while putting that wedding together. Jason was still wearing dirty clothing as he spent his morning at the family friend’s farm doing final wedding preparations. Amy was talking about all types of sausage they made (classic Wisconsin brat, spicy Andouille and a German Leberkäse) night before at their friend’s commercial kitchen.
Amy and Jason got married at the bottom of small hill under the big tree. Jason’s brother was the officiator. Wedding ceremony was nice, short and sprinkled with few smiles and few tears.
Real cheese cake made of variety of cheeses was the way to go for dessert. Somewhat unusual, but it really shouldn’t be. Wisconsin is America’s is dairyland after all.
Due to the fact that big percentage of guests were from food/restaurant industry and most of family folks seemed to be pretty straight forward party animals I had my own expectations for the reception part. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Booze helped people to celebrate life for many centuries. But add a ski shot that Brian and Grant from Death’s Door Spirits distillery brought along, and you got yourself another level of fun.
Dance floor at this family backyard wedding Madison WI was bouncing; people were enjoying fresh September night and outdoor garden illuminated by with candles, LED’s and torches.
Bottles were passed around on our way to after party in Maduro cigar bar later that night. We closed the bar, i walked them back to the hotel, and took pictures of them making out in the dark.
Amy and Jason they did their homework indeed. No slacking. No corner cutting. Everybody on Amy and Jason’ had on their team were dedicated in making this family backyard wedding Madison WI special. It was an exciting day for everybody.
See more pictures from this DIY family farm wedding here.


getting ready in Madison Wisconsin Hilton hotel bride and groom rings in boxes friend of the bride is fixing bride's hair bridal party is ready in Hilton hotel Madison WI bride’s parents see bride on a wedding day Holton Monona Terrace hotel surroundings, tents and wedding vendors getting ready for outdoor wedding reception Guests lining up for an outdoor wedding ceremony groom cries while listening to wows during wedding ceremony in rural Wisconsin outside of Madisonplane passinbg by during wedding ceremony first kiss during outdoor wedding ceremony in rural Wisconsin outside of Madison guesta are laughing at the wedding reception in friends farm guests are doing ski shots sausage is being grilled for the outdoor wedding reception greens are being prepared chicken coop in farm's backtaard guests are laughing at the outdoor wedding reception in rural Wisconsin outside of Madison bride and groom standing in the field lit by the sunset during the golden hour guests are laughing at the outdoor wedding reception guests playing outdoor lawn games at dusk in friends and family farm during wedding reception bride’s and groom’s friends are helping in the mobile kitchen during wedding receptionfamily backyard wedding Madison WI outdoor garden setup and decorations at night time bride’s and groom’s friends are helping in the mobile kitchen during wedding reception guest has funny face while opening a bottle of whiskey bride and groom performing first dance during wedding reception in rural Wisconsin outside of Madisonwedding guests are hugging on the dance floor at the wedding reception in rural Wisconsin group of groom’s friends is performing a dance at the family backyard wedding Madison WI in rural Wisconsinfamily backyard wedding Madison WI guests sitting in garden refrigerator truck and ski shot in the darkwedding guests are hugging on the dance floor at the wedding reception in rural Wisconsin snacks are being passed for wedding guests before the departure drunk wedding guests dancing in the bus way back to Downtown Madison WI bride and groom are making out in the dark alley on their way to the hotel






Le roi est mort, vive le roi!

a mockup of Paulius Musteikis portrait while wearing Queens and Hearts wedding photography partial logo

Today is a semi official day when Queens and Hearts went to the graveyard. 4 years into its existence , website’s heart beat stopped and heart rate monitor went continuous “Beep-beeep-beep-beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep”.
It all feels weird, scary and exciting at the same time. And particularly because I am doing it all intentionally.
I had quite a few buddies and other wedding photographers asking the same question: “Why?”. And my answer to them was: “Because life is too short not to be who you really are.”
Because the end of one journey means a fresh new start to another. Because it’s time for new challenges, new friendships and new adventures. I have no idea how this chapter in my life will go, but I’m fucking stoked about it!
I say “Cheers!” to my all previous clients, colleagues and friends who were on board with me for the last 4 years. I am very much thankful to have you all. I am honored for all your trust. I am honored for all intimate moments you’ve let me be around. I couldn’t be where I am without you all!
And now the new chapter.
I say “Let’s do it!”.
The King is dead, long live The King!


Paulius Musteikis portrait and an announcement about Queens and Hearts wedding photography website being rebranded and replaced by Paulius Musteikis Weddingsphoto by Jurgis S.

Wildcat Mountain State Park Wedding in Ontario, WI | Jessica and Matt

WILDCAT MOUNTAIN STATE PARK WEDDING Jessica and Matt planned their Wildcat Mountain State park wedding at my favorite time of the year- fall. Upon my arrival I found Matt with his groomsmen finishing final preparations for ceremony at the amphitheater. All gentlemen looked casual, yet sharp- shirt, jeans, suspenders and boots. Guests started to arrive […]

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