The Montauk Lighthouse is an idyllic spot located at the very end of Long Island. I had the pleasure of photographing Angii and Paul’s wedding there in June. As a fitting tribute to the end of summer, please enjoy today’s blog full of tips for planning your own Montauk Lighthouse wedding.
You have already met Angii and Paul in my article on their Long Beach engagement shoot. The cute couple met in college in 2012 in a history of jazz class, and Paul proposed to Angii during a day trip to one of their favorite towns, Port Jefferson. Their wedding was a moving ceremony that focused on their faith and love for one another. As Angii put it, “The simple blessing of becoming one as husband and wife in front of our family and friends was so special for us.” The ceremony was conducted entirely in Spanish, and was officiated by Paul’s father, who is the pastor of their local church. Angii and Paul are Catholic, and the ceremony included a feet washing ritual and vows the couple had written for one another. Both the bride and groom and accomplished musicians, and the ceremony ended with a beautiful duet in which the groom played guitar and the bride sang ‘I Surrender’ by Hillside Worship.
One item to note for anyone who lives in the heart of Manhattan, Montauk is located a looooooong way out on Long Island. It took me 3-1/2 hours to reach Montauk by train from where I am located in Kew Gardens. Plan accordingly if you’re going to make the trip as a guest.
Montauk Lighthouse Wedding Tips: 5 Wedding Tips
Beware of intense weather. The first challenge you face at the Montauk Lighthouse is the weather. The area where events are held is on a cliff overlooking the ocean, and unless you spring for a tent, your outdoor event will be at the mercy of mother nature. We lucked out for Angii and Paul‘s wedding. The rain that had been predicted never showed, and instead we simply had overcast skies. Angii and Paul had no back up, however, so if the rain had made an appearance it would have been a completely different story.
My recommendation to every client, regardless of venue, is to always have a rain back up plan. Be it moving the ceremony to a restaurant, or providing umbrellas for every guest – you need to have a plan in place. Let key members of your bridal party and family know the plan ahead of time so that you can quickly delegate and tell guests where they need to be. By the way, there is no space either inside the lighthouse itself, the gift shop, or the museum if you wish to hold your wedding inside. You have to provide your own tent at this venue.
Keep it minimal. Weddings at the Montauk Lighthouse provide guests with sweeping, stunning views of the ocean and beyond. You can’t compete with the view, so don’t even try. Large flower displays will simply get lost. In addition, because the area is not protected from the wind and weather, there is a good chance that tall decorations could be blown over. A simple chuppah or altarpiece would be fine, but don’t feel that you need to decorate to the max.
First look locations. For Angii and Paul‘s wedding, the ceremony was set up in the usual spot on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Since chairs were parked in this area, I decided to look to the right of the Lighthouse for a comparable ocean view. If you are standing in the valley below the lighthouse and to the left of the lighthouse keeper’s house, you get the best view possible. On one side you have the lighthouse in the background, and on the other side you see the beach and cliffs. Note that you don’t want to get too close to the beach side at this spot because there is an ugly fence. Also, a word of warning that guests are allowed on the grounds of the lighthouse until 4:30 p.m. so that means you will have lots of members of the general public annoyingly in the background of all of your photos.
Family photo locations. In general, you have two options for family photo views: water or lighthouse. If you choose the lighthouse, then you may have tourists in the background of your photos. Having the ocean in the background of your family photos is a little trickier because of fencing all around the sides of the venue.
One major concern is the fact that there is no shade anywhere. For Angii and Paul’s wedding I lucked out because of the overcast skies so too much sun wasn’t on a concern. But on a bright sunny day you would really be out of luck. If I had to do it all over again, I might have opted for a waterfront view just to the left of the main ceremony area. We had some mobility issues with a few family members, so moving far from the main ceremony area was not an option.
Explore the entire area for portraits. It’s a delicate subject to ask a bride in her wedding dress to get sandy before she walks down the aisle. Angii was not amenable to messing up her dress before she said ‘I do,’ so we did not take photos directly on the beach. That said, know that the Montauk Lighthouse areas has several options for portraits. In addition to the area below the lighthouse where we staged our first look, you also have an area to the right of the main driveway where you can get a view of the beach beyond. When the lighthouse is closed and the public is no longer allowed in, take advantage of the time to get an unobstructed shot of the couple in front of the lighthouse from the perspective of the driveway. Finally, if you have a couple who is amenable to getting a bit dirty, or as an option for an engagement shoot or ‘trash the dress’ session later, know that there is a pathway between the beach café and the lighthouse leading down to the beach. If you have more time for portraits I would also take advantage of the forested areas of Camp Hero and the Montauk Point State Park that surround the lighthouse. Any photos within the lighthouse itself or the museum would need to be arranged ahead of time with the museum staff.
Speaking of which, the staff at the Montauk lighthouse was fantastic. We were a little late leaving the ceremony, but the venue manager and his staff were kind enough to let me take some last-minute photos. The venue is beautiful, and aside from the challenges posed by weather, it’s a great spot that I hope to photograph again.
Planning on making a trip to Long Island for your Montauk Lighthouse wedding? Give me a call and let’s talk about your wedding photography.
Venue: Montauk Lighthouse
Florist: Alicia Kazinski
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website — www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com