Note to Self - 3 things I wish I'd done differently in my last wedding - Digital Photography School

Note to Self – 3 things I wish I’d done differently in my last wedding

Y’all know I have no problem laying myself bare when writing about my photography. I’m still learning (do you ever really stop?) and I take my readers with me as I learn, share the mistakes I’ve made and hopefully stay one step ahead of the beginners to help them over the bumps in the road. So I don’t mind sharing my failures as long as it will help someone avoid failures of their own.

Last week, I posted 7 things I was thinking about the day before a wedding. Today, a week later, I’ve made myself a list of the things I wish I’d done differently to look at before my next wedding. I do this exercise often in other facets of my business and it really helps. So without further ado, I share with you my failures. Please be kind!

{What I did Wrong}

1. I didn’t spend enough time with the groom. It’s just as important to get him getting ready with his guys as it is to get her getting ready with her girls. Note to self: Send my male assistant/second shooter in to visit the guys getting ready or get there earlier to do it myself.

2. I forgot to go into the reception hall before the guests to get a pano shot of the hall before it filled with people and totally trashed after the meal. Note to self: Don’t forget it next time!

3. I really need to secure a better lens from now on. Whether I buy or hire, I refuse to do another wedding without a 70-200mm f/2.8. (what lens do you love for weddings?)

{What I did Right}

Although I made some mistakes, I did do a few things I’m proud of:

1. When it started raining, I did the family photos on the hotel staircase. I hated them. And although I got some hateful grumbles, I requested that we quickly re-do the shots in a better location when one was found. Note to self: Sometimes you have to stick your neck out or be firm for the sake of the outcome. I know the couple will be much happier with the second set of family portraits and none of us anticipated that rain would change our plans.

2. I always remember the details. From the flowers to the shoes to the dessert and champagne, photograph all the details. They make great fillers and in-betweeners in the album. It’s often the little details which took the most thought and hold the most sentimental value for the couple.

3. Luckily, one of the 7 things I’d been thinking about the day before the wedding was to remember to introduce myself to the officiant of the ceremony. When i did, I learned that the civil ceremony doesn’t allow flash during the legal bits. Note to self: start a page in my notebook for the different types of locations and ceremonies and the rules. This will help me know what to anticipate as my experience grows.

I’m so happy that I could only think of 3 things I wish I’d done differently. I really believe that compiling a list of things to remember the day before helped me avert disaster. Dont be a chicken – tell us your biggest wedding faux pas we can learn from! :*)

Learn more: Get more Wedding Photography Tips.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • http://grace-photography-galexander.blogspot.com/ Gina Alexander

    LOL @ Tom.

    I am to do my first Wedding in August,. but will let you know for sure what my list was. I have already been asked to produce ‘slimming’ and flattering portraiture – with a journalistic approach & a full email list of group shots and poses she can suggest ;]

    Thanks for sharing !
    g

  • Paul Jenkins

    Hi folks,,

    I made two massive errors on my first wedding shoot last weekend and will not be making them again.

    #1
    I knelt on the ground in front of the bride and groom looking up at about 45 degrees real tight on two of my shots, thus giving my bride a double chin, this was not good and she was not impressed.

    #2
    nerves got the better of me and i forgot to use my diffuser on 3 shots which blew out the white shirts,,
    luckily i noticed and retook the shot, it was the family shot and could not be saved.

    Please don’t make these same mistakes.
    Thankyou all and happy shooting.

  • http://www.jeandendelphotography.com jean dendel

    I loved reading all of the stories about the oops of shooting weddings. I’ve been doing wedding photography off and on for a long time. Started out in the film era. Every wedding makes me nervous, I enjoy shooting but you always wonder “what did I forget?” The last wedding my strobes I set up for the formals at the church got moved and I did not realize it till after I shot the brides family and dismissed them, but fortunately the remainder of the formals turned out great and was able to save the “lost” image in photoshop. I always send my husband in to shoot the groom and groomens, he’s a comedian at heart so he gets some really good shots. Offer to shoot the rehersal, it allows you to get to know the key players and look around at the church or wherever the ceremony is held, this way the surprises on the wedding day are minimal.
    Horror story, I id a wedding and the Bride was so ill she could hardly stand for the pictures, I was rushing the photos so she could rest and not faint, I forgot to shoot a single B&G alone. That was back in the film days and retouching was pricy, but the client was still very happy!

  • Gordon

    @ Lucan, similar situation for me in a couple of weeks time. I have not been the official paid photographer at a wedding yet but I’d definitely like to work towards that. One of my friends is getting married and I offered to show up at the church and document the event. So, not too much pressure, which is a great start.

    I then thought, “What the heck, I’d love the practice”, and offered to show up at the house and do some “getting ready” shots. That was met with a big “YES”. So, I went all out and suggested she bring’s her man to my house next week and we do some fun “couple” shots in the forest near my house. I’ve just ordered a big 5-in-1 reflector for that very purpose :) Maybe I’ll make some money on prints later or do a nice presentation DVD, but the main thing is to get experience.

    Although I haven’t done weddings, I have done a fair amount individual and group shoots. The 3 things I wish I’d taken with me on my last trip are:

    1. More small bottles of water – a 2L bottle is a pain to carry around on a hot day.
    2. Deodorant – I’d rather be remembered as the smiley photographer who took great photos than something else :(
    3. Breath mints for a similar reason as above

    Thanks for sharing, everyone.

  • http://www.bestseattleweddings.com/jef-nolan-photography/79dba8f16e00ef17-page1.html jef nolan

    Good information, especially about using “polite firmness” to set a shot. What I have on the top of my list for wedding preparation is to inquire about the presence of a wedding coordinator. The WC can be a big help in getting the members of the wedding party to be in the right place at the right time.

  • rob barclay

    On my second wedding shoot the bride wanted some black and white candids so I loaded up my 3rd camera with b&w film OR I THOUGHT I DID, and you can guess the rest of the story!

  • http://www.FortCollinsWeddingOfficiants.com Maureen Thomson, Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants

    Great post! And I think the things you did right far outweigh the few you did wrong. As a wedding officiant, I always appreciate it when the photographer touches base with me quickly prior to the start of the ceremony. I make it a point to approach them beforehand, but they are generally pretty busy getting pre-ceremony shots.

    Equally as important as flash restrictions, etc. is having the photographer have a general idea of the ceremony flow. Photos of the license-signing, the bride’s daughter witnesses the marriage license, a memorial rose presented to honor a deceased loved one. All of these things are important for the photographer to be aware of so he or she gets that all important shot..

  • http://www.flickr.com/samvsmith Sam

    I was told by a pro the key to shooting a good wedding is planning, planning and more planning. Do as much as possible beforehand, visit church, visit reception look for as many photo oppertunities as pos such as nice staircase, large mirror or a bench in a shaded area. Plan for sun, shade rain and hail. How many bridesmaids? 2 is alot easier than 6 to shoot. And last one if your not providing the album check the size as an 8×8 needs to be shot different than a 10×8. Also remember to drink water and eat during the day.
    I have my check list and make sure everything is ticked.
    Sam

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/ Stephen Hurlbut

    I’ve read quite a few negative feelings towards their first wedding shoots. I’ve only photographed three weddings, two were for friends, and one was for my sister, but that one didn’t have a main photographer. For my friends, the first one I wasn’t paid, I did it purely out of love for my friend and for the experience. The second one, I wasn’t expecting money, but I got it anyway. Granted these opportunities have risen up because my friends are very young and can’t really afford a professional wedding photographer, I encourage anyone that has the chance to accept an invitation to photograph the wedding. It wouldn’t hurt to be clear to them to know your experience level and that you do or don’t have a lot of experience with it. The pictures I took were very basic stuff, I’m yet to take much notice of the intricate details, but I’m also yet to go to a very classy wedding.

    I think the biggest issue is that everyone thinks that the expectations are very high and if you accept it and let them down you are making a big mistake. But often times the expectations aren’t that high and you get the experience and maybe even blow them away. That has been my experience at least.

  • http://sreekrishnan.wordpress.com sreekrishnan

    I have a 24-70mm f2.8 and have shot couple of events and found it to be useful? i know you get good portraits at 100mm but can i not do it in 24-70mm?

  • http://Www.Elizabethhalford.com Elizabeth Halford

    To whomever suggested the second shooter app for iPhone: BRILLIANT!

  • Gordon

    @ Stephen, thanks for the advice and encouragement. Being a real perfectionist I sometimes struggle with not getting things exactly to the high standards I set myself, especially if I start comparing myself to pros who have years of experience and all the top gear. As my wife often says though, many people will be more than happy with 80% of what you consider your best.

  • http://www.staticmirror.com gretchen

    Shot my first wedding last weekend. Had my niece who shoots insects as my second shooter and my daughter to straighten ties, trains and download cards to a pc. I don’t know how i could have managed without either one. I also had to deal with rain. The shots in the church were blah! Luckily they were up for spending some time after the ceremony as well when the weather had cleared. The only problem was the sun was at a different angle than I had planned and made some harsh shadows.

    Used a 28-135 and 70-200 2.8. Actually struggled with the 70-200 as I had to be so far back, couldn’t get a lot in with group shots and it was very heavy by the end of the day. My 28-135 did a much better job. As for mistakes, too many to list here. At least nothing too tragic.

  • Connie

    I always go to the wedding rehearsal. This allows me to meet everyone and learn the rules, not to menttion check out the lighting and take a couple practice shots. Also, I offer the couple pre-wedding photos. This allows me to get to know them as a couple so that things are more relaxed on the wedding day, and they have a photo to submit as a wedding announcment.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/ Stephen Hurlbut

    For those who have the telephoto lenses such as the 70-200, and they have another lens, for example a 28-135(my lens of choice), do you have a separate body for each lens or do you switch during the wedding. I would find this problematic, because I might miss a moment. At the same time, I would probably need a telephoto if I was stuck in one spot during most of the wedding, if I was very far back. During the wedding I photographed at, I was allowed to move around, and I was able to get within 14 feet. At 135, I was close enough to shoot from waist to head. Filling the frame with details would of been nice, but switching between lenses during the wedding, I don’t know if it would a very good idea. Having another body would be great though.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/ Stephen Hurlbut

    Someone mentioned wedding delays. The pianist forgot her music for the rehearsal AND the actual wedding. They printed the notes off the computer at the church. Delayed the wedding about 15 or 20 minutes, maybe more.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/trazomfreak Amanda Y

    I was married in 2003 and I paid my photographer to use film. All I asked was that she use color for the ceremony and B&W for everything else.

    I gave her permission to take photos any way she could get them: on the stage, in the pews…anywhere she wanted to. I didn’t care if she was in the way of people or what she did to get the shots. I just wanted her to get our wedding.

    Everything was fine, except: the shots for the ceremony were destroyed by a faulty processing machine when she took them to get developed at the photo lab.

    I was disappointed. Unfortunately she didn’t compensate me in any way. I still had to deal with paying full price for her mistake. I understand, but…it really hurt to lose those shots. =[

    Luckily, other people had shots from their point-and-shoots and I got a few of our “kiss” and other details from the ceremony. And if it wasn’t for other family members and their cameras, I wouldn’t have a picture of our ring-bearer dressed up as Frodo Baggins. =]

    I think that if we ever re-new our vows, I’m going to ask for our photographer to use an assistant.

  • Rebecca B

    Probably should have read this before the morning of my big job but feel MUCH more confident about my wedding shoot today now I’ve read this….you’re a legend….thank you for mentally saving the day before I go into battle x

  • http://www.dwightparksphotography.com Dwight

    As much as the first meeting with a prospective bride, and groom is an opportunity for them to decide if you will meet their requirements, it is also a time for you to decide if you can deliver to them what they expect on their wedding day.
    I show them images and a Lightroom slide show from my last three weddings and give them a chance to comment on what they like and dislike, along with what they will expect on their wedding day. Many times, people will want to hire me, but I turn down the job and refer them to other local photographers due to feeling I can not deliver 100% to meet their requirements, or their expectations are not realistic.
    If I except the job I have them fill out an information/contact sheet. Their names, phone numbers, cell, home, work, church and reception addresses, and phone numbers along with the dates, and exact times of the event, and all the key players. A day or so after getting the contact info, I will visit the locations and insure there is sufficient time to travel between locations. You will fine unrealistic time frames from time to time, and part of my job is to let the clients know what will and will not work.
    Like a pilot taking a Boeing 747 to the skies, I pre plan the event, check the anticipated weather for the day of the wedding and come up with backup plans for shot lists if the weather prevents outdoor locations, have a checklist, and plan, plan, plan.
    My worst experience was shooting a wedding with a Nikon D200 with auto ISO set at ISO 1600 when the camera was really limited to very nice ISO 800 images. After clean up with Photoshop and a noise reduction plug-in the clients loved the images. Now I use a D700 and get awesome images at ISO 6400.

  • http://www.bestseattleweddings.com/jef-nolan-photography/79dba8f16e00ef17-page1.html jef nolan

    We find out so many things the ‘hard way’ or with 20/20 hind sight. I’ve added this question to my interview because no body said anything at the time of the whole family picture.

    Question: This is going to be an “In-Law” family picture, but will there be any (had to come up with some kind of term) any “out-laws” in the picture.

    Basically they are former in-laws, but they have been requested to be in the group photo. With mixed families now, it’s best to go over the order of who is standing where for the group photo. The family may or may not say anything at the time of the picture. As photographer, you can move people around politely who are not in their correct position where the groom and brides requested them to be. (hope this doesn’t sound to sexist or politically incorrect, but current mothers-in-law are a good source for this information also.)

  • http://createdbylove.com/blog Lewis

    We like to sit down with the bride and groom ahead of time and decide on exactly what grouping we are going do formals of. We set aside three minutes per grouping and if anyone decides they want to add a shot of so and so we tell them that we’ll get them at the reception. This helps us stay on schedule. And when you do run into the in-law/out-law drama the best thing to do is roll with the punches.

  • http://www.blurb.com/user/store/SarahGraham Sarah Graham

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the original article, the follow-up & all the comments, some hilarious!

    I’ve started a small business making photo books using Blurb & last year I was asked to shoot a wedding by a couple who liked my photos & only wanted candid, informal shots. I was, therefore, the official unofficial photographer! It was the first wedding I’d one for someone who was a client, rather than a friend.

    In order to prepare I went along to a one-day wedding phtography course & it was absolutely brilliant & I’d highly recommend it:
    http://www.photographymadesimple.co.uk/wedding-photography-made-simple/
    I learned so much about planning & preparation & on the day itself I felt relaxed & confident. I ran through my kit & my settings & did some practice shots in a room used for weddings. It felt like a lot of learning in a single day! Perhaps the single most useful thing on the day was the tip to get the bride & groom on their own for a few minutes after the ceremony – they’ll need a breather & a quick sit down & you can get some lovely shots of them together. I also learned the importance of getting on side with the Registrar – mine let me sit to the side of the couple during the ceremony & said shedidn’t mind me taking photos at any point.

    I also had a few minutes to myself in the garden when I’d spent as long as I thought I needed with people having drinks. There were raised herb beds with labels for the uses of herbs – Magical, Medicinal, Domestic, Textile…. I took pictures of all the labels then made a collage of them one one page with a picture to match for each – Magical was the shot of the B&G clinking glasses for their first drink as a married couple; Medicinal was the bride’s sister putting a plaster on her son’s finger; Domestic was the ladies serving food at the venue; Culinary was a shot of the buffet; Textile was a shot of the ‘something blue’ hankie…. It was really personal to them on the day & something that no-one else had noticed.

    I really enjoyed the day but was completely wiped out afterwards. I took food for the whole day but wolfed it all down the first chance I had! I hated to turn down food & drink during the day but I didn’t want to end up with spills or sticky fingers on my kit & of course I wanted to stay clear-headed. I got home & the first thing I did was to download everything then back it all up.

    I make ‘alternative’ wedding albums, using a mixture of guests shots & my own shots & for this particular wedding I had nearly 2,000 photos. The difficult job in this case is not so much the effort on the day but the editing afterwards. I used Lightroom for the first time on this job & it was amazing. After lots & lots of work I’m happy to say that they adored their book & I’ve just done a book of their honeymoon pics, too! I’ve done some more albums & am going to be the main photographer for my neighbours, a couple on their 70s, in a fortnight!

  • http://bradyphotography.smugmug.com Photography by Lori Brady

    Taking pictures of the groomsmen? LOL…don’t be afraid! I just knock on the door and yell, “Get your pants on, I’m coming in!” Works every time… also puts them at a tad disadvantage, leaving me the upper hand to get the photos I know the bride will want to see…

  • http://www.teknisyan.net Abiel

    Wow… this is a really nice site.. readers and commenter are contributing as well.

    I haven’t done any wedding photo shoot, so you can be sure that I’ll keep all the tips and suggestions here in mind. I’m still a budding a photographers and still learning the use and the correct combination of f-stop/aperture, ISO and shutter speed. :) I have a 50d which is an old camera and still serving it’s purpose.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/ Stephen Hurlbut

    @abieI I like how a 50D is considered an old camera. Sure there is one camera ahead of it, the 7D, but it’s hardly old. I would certainly keep it around for quite a while.

  • http://dragnrags.blogspot.com Jennifer Moore

    @ Tom O’Neill : ” I never thought the check from mom for final payment (half up front, balance on delivery) would bounce. Fortunately for me, the photo I took of her urinating in the hallway at the reception convinced her to make the check good. She even bought that photo, for cash, at a price that exceeded the total cost of the wedding package. (Extortion, no, her idea and her first offer). I did hear that later on, her husband used that photo to his advantage during divorce negotiations. ”

    My goodness! Now, THAT is a story for the books! LOL!

  • http://dragnrags.blogspot.com Jennifer Moore

    This was a great post, and the comments have been very helpful.

    Right now, I let people know that I don’t do weddings. I tend to prefer to photograph things like bands/concerts and less formal or more corporate events. I’m very high-strung, and I’m just not sure I could handle the pressure of doing weddings right now.

    This is all really good info to have, though, and it WILL apply to other large shoots.
    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • Tim Mittica

    I will start by saying that I AM AN AMATEUR nothing more nothing less….. I have done three weddings so far. I’ve learned quite a bit at every one. At the first wedding the bride and groom had hired a “professional”. The hired photographer captured a ton of shots of their backs…. nothing more. I managed to get behind the official (it was allowed and nobody knew I was there) and got lucky and took all of the shots that they use in their home.

    The second wedding that I did turned out amazing. My outdoor shots were nothing short of spectacular. However, I will admit…. I got lucky! Some of the things that I did that increased my luck at this one…

    1. Went to our outdoor location a week before and did test shots of the backgrounds that I wanted to use ( and even managed to grab a couple of passers by to pose as my “bride and groom”) Using subjects in my test shots was awesome, it really let me get a feel for how I wanted to frame my shots.

    2. I did my outdoor test shots at the same time of day as what was scheduled for me to shoot between ceremony and reception. This gave me wonderful ideas about using what I was given. (I got lucky, the weather was perfect on both days)

    3. Actually went to the salon with the girls….. they love the shots of them getting ready!

    A few things that I needed to change!!!

    1. I did not go to the rehearsal…. HUGE MISTAKE! I was by myself and out of position on a lot of shots. I will never shoot another wedding where I am not at the rehearsal.

    2. I needed better equipment…. I was shooting with a super zoom Kodak. I got nice shots but missed too many due to the long recycle times.

    Third wedding I shot with my Nikon D60

    Loved that I listened to a friend of the bride at the outdoor shoot…. I thought I had everything planned out and knew what staging that I wanted to do. Some of the best pictures that I have ever taken at weddings were the unposed, casual shots! Instead of the typical “pairings” of the bridal party being organized, I took casual shots of everyone in the party intermingled under a tree…. FANTASTIC!

    I only had my 18-55 VR kit lens and my 55-200 lens. This is not the right glass to have at a wedding! I found that I do not have time to change glass during all of the action. Also, shooting alone, I missed quite a few shots. I really would have benefited from having an 18-135mm lens.

    All of the weddings that I have done have been favors to friends, I wish I were at the point with my photography that I would feel comfortable charging for my services, however, I am an amateur and will most likely stay that way!

  • http://www.wix.com/Aguilfoyle09/Guilfoyle-photography Amanda Guilfoyle

    My first wedding I actually shadowed the primary photographer. Which was great for me because I was able to take mental notes of what not to do that the photographer did. I was very unhappy with how he ran things. The photographer was disorganized had no CLUE what he wanted to take a picture of next when we were doing the family photos. There was a point in time where I took charge, and gathered the family groupings. By the time we were done with the family and Bridal party photos after the ceremony the bride and groom where ready to get to the reception! and the photographer LET THEM GO!!! We hadn’t even gotten one photo of the Bride and Groom alone! I was very disturbed. Later when I asked the photographer about getting them out of the reception and get their photos his exact words were, “Sometimes they just don’t happen!” WHAT!!! I couldn’t believe my friend was paying for this photographer and he wasn’t even concerned about making sure the Bride and Groom got their photos. I ended up grabbing the Bride and Groom who were drunk by this time and dragging them out to get their photos. Because of their intoxed state they were not in the mood for anymore photos and just wanted to party. I think a total I got maybe 6 different shots with the Bride and Groom by them selves. I was very upset. But even as bad as the wedding seemed on my end of things, I was able to learn what not to do from the experience. I have my first wedding on my own coming up in a month and I am beyond organized and ready to knock it out!!

  • http://www.wix.com/Aguilfoyle09/Guilfoyle-photography Amanda Guilfoyle

    One thing I would like to add. An idea I had thought of since my own wedding. All my getting ready shots turned out candid per say other then specific ones of my mother putting my necklace on and specific things to that nature eve though I had a photographer in the room the whole time. My idea especially when the ladies go to the saloon to get their hair done is have the best man/bridesmaid have their own cameras. Whether it be two small ones of your own or have them take theirs. If the cameras belong to you then you will beable to make sure you get the cameras back along with photos, this way you are able to get photos of the getting ready part without being there, and it gives more involvement to the bridal party in making sure the Bride and Groom get desired photos.

  • http://www.simpledigitalphoto.com Amanda Louw

    Great stuff really good points to remember. I am new to photography but would love to know more about wedding photography and learn as much as I can before my first wedding shoot. Looking forward to your next wedding photography post.

  • Jeanette

    Is it just me, or is the photographer more nervous than the Bride??? I get sooooo nervous under all the pressure, but it always works out fine. Most of the time, you know much more of the mistakes you made than the B/G, so I’m thinking if they are truly happy with what you deliver, then it’s been a success, and the mistakes you made are just ways to help you learn what not to do next time, right?

  • http://victorluisphotography@gmail.com victor martinez

    I also regrets some events during my last wedding, the groom was having a bad afternoon his tux was a size to big and did not wanted to be photograph lol like its my fault right. so i just kept with the bride. but the regret was not taking control and managing a few shots and make it clear that its there day. my lens of choice is a 50mm 1.8 lens and a 85mm 1.8 lens for that low light no flash days

  • LEJ

    I have shot weddings but am always nervous to do so. I will be shooting my brother’s wedding in June and started the research now. I only have a Nikon d200 with a 28-300 lens so will have to be creative. The good thing is that it will be a small wedding at a house.

    My usual “style” has been almost paparazzi style shots at parties but I want to be more elegant and creative for the wedding. I was thinking of going over the day before and taking a few of the more formal shots (maybe getting them to a pretty place like a park or the lakefront). If I can get them to dress formally early! (they are casual people).

    The funniest picture I took was at the wedding of a coworker. The brother of the groom had just lifted his arm and it looked like he was smelling under it. The bride and groom found that funny.

    Any tips anyone can give to me will be gratefully accepted.

  • Amanda

    Lej,
    My best advice would be to split the formals up. Do as many as you can before the ceremony. As you may know after the ceremony the Bride and Groom are in a hurry to get to the reception. It’s always a crazy day. Make a list of the shots you HAVE to get. Details, Groupings. Then determine which ones you can get before the ceremony, and which ones can wait until after. Your formal shots list should be as short as possible after the ceremony. Your main concern will be to get photos of the Bride and Groom together after. A list always helps me stay focused on the task at hand as well as keeping things short enough to where I don’t have to think of poses or the next grouping. I just go with my list.
    I hope this helps. The last wedding I did the Bride was drunk before she even put her gown on. She wasn’t in the mood to take photos after the ceremony, but I pulled the bride and groom aside and got some shots of them together, and afterwards when she sobered up she thanked me for “Forcing” her to get those photos taken.
    Also sit down with the bride and groom and discuss photos they would like to have prior to the big day. This way on the hectic day they don’t have to try and think of what other photos they want. Trust me when I was a bride I was so scattered. No matter how small the wedding, the photographer will run the photos. It’s our job to make sure the bride and groom gets every photo they dreamed of for this day. It will be easier with a small wedding. Not as many people, but like I said before make a list for yourself of all the photos you want to get before the end of the day. You can google Wedding photo lists to give you a start, and add from that.
    Good luck and I hope this helps you out.

    Amanda

  • http://www.wedding-photographer.ch Philippe

    I’ll take you and your article as an example and will do such an analysis more often. Having shot many weddings easily leads to doing a standard job. So I think it’s important to realize, that such analysis is important for everyone!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.bestseattleweddings.com/jef-nolan-photography/79dba8f16e00ef17-page1.html jef nolan

    Lots of good information here, so I will try not to be redundent.

    Thing I do well, preparation.
    1. the interview. Gets all expectations, plans and for-seeable contingencies covered.
    2. a very important inquiry: Is there a wedding coordinator? If yes, then get to know her/him. They can be invaluable for getting groups together for pictures. If no, then you may need to remind the wedding party that you are the photographer and not a wedding coordinator.
    3. definitely scout out the wedding location and the reception location. Take pictures, look for backgrounds.
    4. Absolutely know where the bride and groom changing rooms are. The last wedding I did, the bride had a large room for her and her 4 maids of honor. The groom had a 2 stall bathroom. My assistant took the brides preparation and I got the grooms. Quit the contrast.
    5. Finally, be flexible, be patient, be early, and if a picture is in doubt, take it and you can delete it later.

  • http://www.sianhedgesphotography.co.uk Sianysian

    This has to be one of the greatest pages ever. Thank you so much to EVERYONE for the advice but mainly for the words.’.what I got wrong was.’. It has put me at ease that even the really good photographers don’t always nail it on the day. I have done 3 weddings so far and I find the light in the church sooo hard to get right. However, I practised over and over in churches and finally sorted the light issue. I had to do this because for me, its one of the scariest things. Also, you have to mingle with the guests and say who you are and get some posed shots of them..doesn’t matter who they are but it helps people get to know you. My little tip is try to smile as much as possible (not too much of a fake one though!). It eases people and they relax. If they see you are panicking they will start to worry. Congratulate the Bride and Groom when they are married. With the Group poses get them to pose formally for 1 shot and then get them to pull faces or shout out cheese as loud as possible can for the 2nd shot, and then back to a posed shot again. That third shot will show them more happier and more relaxed then the first one.

  • http://www.believeitphotography.co.uk Anna

    Great advice – made me a lot less nervous about doing a wedding for a friend next weeked – looking fwd to it but SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO nervous !!!

  • Mitch

    I have shot one wedding so far for a friend and it took me two years to even consider doing another. I really enjoyed the experience of the actual shooting but hated trying to herd the guests together for all the shots. Also one of the brides relatives would not allow “A MALE” to see the bride before the wedding, thus few preparation shots. It was like herding cats all day long but the results were some pretty good pictures even if they were not all the ones I wanted to get. There were two of us shooting that wedding and it made it much easier to try to get as many great shots as possible.

    I have another wedding to shoot in six months, so it will be fun to see the improvements. I will be using many of these ideas to improve the overall experience. Thanks for sharing this information!

  • http://www.shelleydupont.com/ Shelley DuPont

    I’m a novice photographer who often has people asking me to take pictures for small events. Next week, I’ll be doing a wedding in an informal setting as a favor to the bride whose photographer sister can’t make it due to health issues. This is a big deal for me. I don’t have all the fancy gear, so I have to do the best I can with the standard lens on my Canon Rebel. I also have a zoom lens. I made a note of your tips, and plan to follow them. Thank you.

Some older comments

  • Mitch

    December 28, 2012 03:58 pm

    I have shot one wedding so far for a friend and it took me two years to even consider doing another. I really enjoyed the experience of the actual shooting but hated trying to herd the guests together for all the shots. Also one of the brides relatives would not allow "A MALE" to see the bride before the wedding, thus few preparation shots. It was like herding cats all day long but the results were some pretty good pictures even if they were not all the ones I wanted to get. There were two of us shooting that wedding and it made it much easier to try to get as many great shots as possible.

    I have another wedding to shoot in six months, so it will be fun to see the improvements. I will be using many of these ideas to improve the overall experience. Thanks for sharing this information!

  • Anna

    May 12, 2012 12:30 am

    Great advice - made me a lot less nervous about doing a wedding for a friend next weeked - looking fwd to it but SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO nervous !!!

  • Sianysian

    September 16, 2011 09:59 pm

    This has to be one of the greatest pages ever. Thank you so much to EVERYONE for the advice but mainly for the words.'.what I got wrong was.'. It has put me at ease that even the really good photographers don't always nail it on the day. I have done 3 weddings so far and I find the light in the church sooo hard to get right. However, I practised over and over in churches and finally sorted the light issue. I had to do this because for me, its one of the scariest things. Also, you have to mingle with the guests and say who you are and get some posed shots of them..doesn't matter who they are but it helps people get to know you. My little tip is try to smile as much as possible (not too much of a fake one though!). It eases people and they relax. If they see you are panicking they will start to worry. Congratulate the Bride and Groom when they are married. With the Group poses get them to pose formally for 1 shot and then get them to pull faces or shout out cheese as loud as possible can for the 2nd shot, and then back to a posed shot again. That third shot will show them more happier and more relaxed then the first one.

  • jef nolan

    September 8, 2011 12:28 am

    Lots of good information here, so I will try not to be redundent.

    Thing I do well, preparation.
    1. the interview. Gets all expectations, plans and for-seeable contingencies covered.
    2. a very important inquiry: Is there a wedding coordinator? If yes, then get to know her/him. They can be invaluable for getting groups together for pictures. If no, then you may need to remind the wedding party that you are the photographer and not a wedding coordinator.
    3. definitely scout out the wedding location and the reception location. Take pictures, look for backgrounds.
    4. Absolutely know where the bride and groom changing rooms are. The last wedding I did, the bride had a large room for her and her 4 maids of honor. The groom had a 2 stall bathroom. My assistant took the brides preparation and I got the grooms. Quit the contrast.
    5. Finally, be flexible, be patient, be early, and if a picture is in doubt, take it and you can delete it later.

  • Philippe

    September 6, 2011 02:33 am

    I'll take you and your article as an example and will do such an analysis more often. Having shot many weddings easily leads to doing a standard job. So I think it's important to realize, that such analysis is important for everyone!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda

    March 13, 2011 07:46 pm

    Lej,
    My best advice would be to split the formals up. Do as many as you can before the ceremony. As you may know after the ceremony the Bride and Groom are in a hurry to get to the reception. It's always a crazy day. Make a list of the shots you HAVE to get. Details, Groupings. Then determine which ones you can get before the ceremony, and which ones can wait until after. Your formal shots list should be as short as possible after the ceremony. Your main concern will be to get photos of the Bride and Groom together after. A list always helps me stay focused on the task at hand as well as keeping things short enough to where I don't have to think of poses or the next grouping. I just go with my list.
    I hope this helps. The last wedding I did the Bride was drunk before she even put her gown on. She wasn't in the mood to take photos after the ceremony, but I pulled the bride and groom aside and got some shots of them together, and afterwards when she sobered up she thanked me for "Forcing" her to get those photos taken.
    Also sit down with the bride and groom and discuss photos they would like to have prior to the big day. This way on the hectic day they don't have to try and think of what other photos they want. Trust me when I was a bride I was so scattered. No matter how small the wedding, the photographer will run the photos. It's our job to make sure the bride and groom gets every photo they dreamed of for this day. It will be easier with a small wedding. Not as many people, but like I said before make a list for yourself of all the photos you want to get before the end of the day. You can google Wedding photo lists to give you a start, and add from that.
    Good luck and I hope this helps you out.

    Amanda

  • LEJ

    March 7, 2011 07:09 am

    I have shot weddings but am always nervous to do so. I will be shooting my brother's wedding in June and started the research now. I only have a Nikon d200 with a 28-300 lens so will have to be creative. The good thing is that it will be a small wedding at a house.

    My usual "style" has been almost paparazzi style shots at parties but I want to be more elegant and creative for the wedding. I was thinking of going over the day before and taking a few of the more formal shots (maybe getting them to a pretty place like a park or the lakefront). If I can get them to dress formally early! (they are casual people).

    The funniest picture I took was at the wedding of a coworker. The brother of the groom had just lifted his arm and it looked like he was smelling under it. The bride and groom found that funny.

    Any tips anyone can give to me will be gratefully accepted.

  • victor martinez

    August 30, 2010 11:46 am

    I also regrets some events during my last wedding, the groom was having a bad afternoon his tux was a size to big and did not wanted to be photograph lol like its my fault right. so i just kept with the bride. but the regret was not taking control and managing a few shots and make it clear that its there day. my lens of choice is a 50mm 1.8 lens and a 85mm 1.8 lens for that low light no flash days

  • Jeanette

    August 15, 2010 02:00 am

    Is it just me, or is the photographer more nervous than the Bride??? I get sooooo nervous under all the pressure, but it always works out fine. Most of the time, you know much more of the mistakes you made than the B/G, so I'm thinking if they are truly happy with what you deliver, then it's been a success, and the mistakes you made are just ways to help you learn what not to do next time, right?

  • Amanda Louw

    July 20, 2010 02:48 pm

    Great stuff really good points to remember. I am new to photography but would love to know more about wedding photography and learn as much as I can before my first wedding shoot. Looking forward to your next wedding photography post.

  • Amanda Guilfoyle

    July 16, 2010 07:00 am

    One thing I would like to add. An idea I had thought of since my own wedding. All my getting ready shots turned out candid per say other then specific ones of my mother putting my necklace on and specific things to that nature eve though I had a photographer in the room the whole time. My idea especially when the ladies go to the saloon to get their hair done is have the best man/bridesmaid have their own cameras. Whether it be two small ones of your own or have them take theirs. If the cameras belong to you then you will beable to make sure you get the cameras back along with photos, this way you are able to get photos of the getting ready part without being there, and it gives more involvement to the bridal party in making sure the Bride and Groom get desired photos.

  • Amanda Guilfoyle

    July 16, 2010 06:54 am

    My first wedding I actually shadowed the primary photographer. Which was great for me because I was able to take mental notes of what not to do that the photographer did. I was very unhappy with how he ran things. The photographer was disorganized had no CLUE what he wanted to take a picture of next when we were doing the family photos. There was a point in time where I took charge, and gathered the family groupings. By the time we were done with the family and Bridal party photos after the ceremony the bride and groom where ready to get to the reception! and the photographer LET THEM GO!!! We hadn't even gotten one photo of the Bride and Groom alone! I was very disturbed. Later when I asked the photographer about getting them out of the reception and get their photos his exact words were, "Sometimes they just don't happen!" WHAT!!! I couldn't believe my friend was paying for this photographer and he wasn't even concerned about making sure the Bride and Groom got their photos. I ended up grabbing the Bride and Groom who were drunk by this time and dragging them out to get their photos. Because of their intoxed state they were not in the mood for anymore photos and just wanted to party. I think a total I got maybe 6 different shots with the Bride and Groom by them selves. I was very upset. But even as bad as the wedding seemed on my end of things, I was able to learn what not to do from the experience. I have my first wedding on my own coming up in a month and I am beyond organized and ready to knock it out!!

  • Tim Mittica

    July 16, 2010 02:56 am

    I will start by saying that I AM AN AMATEUR nothing more nothing less..... I have done three weddings so far. I've learned quite a bit at every one. At the first wedding the bride and groom had hired a "professional". The hired photographer captured a ton of shots of their backs.... nothing more. I managed to get behind the official (it was allowed and nobody knew I was there) and got lucky and took all of the shots that they use in their home.

    The second wedding that I did turned out amazing. My outdoor shots were nothing short of spectacular. However, I will admit.... I got lucky! Some of the things that I did that increased my luck at this one...

    1. Went to our outdoor location a week before and did test shots of the backgrounds that I wanted to use ( and even managed to grab a couple of passers by to pose as my "bride and groom") Using subjects in my test shots was awesome, it really let me get a feel for how I wanted to frame my shots.

    2. I did my outdoor test shots at the same time of day as what was scheduled for me to shoot between ceremony and reception. This gave me wonderful ideas about using what I was given. (I got lucky, the weather was perfect on both days)

    3. Actually went to the salon with the girls..... they love the shots of them getting ready!

    A few things that I needed to change!!!

    1. I did not go to the rehearsal.... HUGE MISTAKE! I was by myself and out of position on a lot of shots. I will never shoot another wedding where I am not at the rehearsal.

    2. I needed better equipment.... I was shooting with a super zoom Kodak. I got nice shots but missed too many due to the long recycle times.

    Third wedding I shot with my Nikon D60

    Loved that I listened to a friend of the bride at the outdoor shoot.... I thought I had everything planned out and knew what staging that I wanted to do. Some of the best pictures that I have ever taken at weddings were the unposed, casual shots! Instead of the typical "pairings" of the bridal party being organized, I took casual shots of everyone in the party intermingled under a tree.... FANTASTIC!

    I only had my 18-55 VR kit lens and my 55-200 lens. This is not the right glass to have at a wedding! I found that I do not have time to change glass during all of the action. Also, shooting alone, I missed quite a few shots. I really would have benefited from having an 18-135mm lens.

    All of the weddings that I have done have been favors to friends, I wish I were at the point with my photography that I would feel comfortable charging for my services, however, I am an amateur and will most likely stay that way!

  • Jennifer Moore

    June 29, 2010 03:05 am

    This was a great post, and the comments have been very helpful.

    Right now, I let people know that I don't do weddings. I tend to prefer to photograph things like bands/concerts and less formal or more corporate events. I'm very high-strung, and I'm just not sure I could handle the pressure of doing weddings right now.

    This is all really good info to have, though, and it WILL apply to other large shoots.
    Jennifer Moore
    JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

  • Jennifer Moore

    June 29, 2010 02:41 am

    @ Tom O'Neill : " I never thought the check from mom for final payment (half up front, balance on delivery) would bounce. Fortunately for me, the photo I took of her urinating in the hallway at the reception convinced her to make the check good. She even bought that photo, for cash, at a price that exceeded the total cost of the wedding package. (Extortion, no, her idea and her first offer). I did hear that later on, her husband used that photo to his advantage during divorce negotiations. "

    My goodness! Now, THAT is a story for the books! LOL!

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 27, 2010 02:29 am

    @abieI I like how a 50D is considered an old camera. Sure there is one camera ahead of it, the 7D, but it's hardly old. I would certainly keep it around for quite a while.

  • Abiel

    June 26, 2010 06:12 am

    Wow... this is a really nice site.. readers and commenter are contributing as well.

    I haven't done any wedding photo shoot, so you can be sure that I'll keep all the tips and suggestions here in mind. I'm still a budding a photographers and still learning the use and the correct combination of f-stop/aperture, ISO and shutter speed. :) I have a 50d which is an old camera and still serving it's purpose.

    Thanks.

  • Photography by Lori Brady

    June 25, 2010 09:25 pm

    Taking pictures of the groomsmen? LOL...don't be afraid! I just knock on the door and yell, "Get your pants on, I'm coming in!" Works every time... also puts them at a tad disadvantage, leaving me the upper hand to get the photos I know the bride will want to see...

  • Sarah Graham

    June 25, 2010 08:59 pm

    I've really enjoyed reading the original article, the follow-up & all the comments, some hilarious!

    I've started a small business making photo books using Blurb & last year I was asked to shoot a wedding by a couple who liked my photos & only wanted candid, informal shots. I was, therefore, the official unofficial photographer! It was the first wedding I'd one for someone who was a client, rather than a friend.

    In order to prepare I went along to a one-day wedding phtography course & it was absolutely brilliant & I'd highly recommend it:
    http://www.photographymadesimple.co.uk/wedding-photography-made-simple/
    I learned so much about planning & preparation & on the day itself I felt relaxed & confident. I ran through my kit & my settings & did some practice shots in a room used for weddings. It felt like a lot of learning in a single day! Perhaps the single most useful thing on the day was the tip to get the bride & groom on their own for a few minutes after the ceremony - they'll need a breather & a quick sit down & you can get some lovely shots of them together. I also learned the importance of getting on side with the Registrar - mine let me sit to the side of the couple during the ceremony & said shedidn't mind me taking photos at any point.

    I also had a few minutes to myself in the garden when I'd spent as long as I thought I needed with people having drinks. There were raised herb beds with labels for the uses of herbs - Magical, Medicinal, Domestic, Textile.... I took pictures of all the labels then made a collage of them one one page with a picture to match for each - Magical was the shot of the B&G clinking glasses for their first drink as a married couple; Medicinal was the bride's sister putting a plaster on her son's finger; Domestic was the ladies serving food at the venue; Culinary was a shot of the buffet; Textile was a shot of the 'something blue' hankie.... It was really personal to them on the day & something that no-one else had noticed.

    I really enjoyed the day but was completely wiped out afterwards. I took food for the whole day but wolfed it all down the first chance I had! I hated to turn down food & drink during the day but I didn't want to end up with spills or sticky fingers on my kit & of course I wanted to stay clear-headed. I got home & the first thing I did was to download everything then back it all up.

    I make 'alternative' wedding albums, using a mixture of guests shots & my own shots & for this particular wedding I had nearly 2,000 photos. The difficult job in this case is not so much the effort on the day but the editing afterwards. I used Lightroom for the first time on this job & it was amazing. After lots & lots of work I'm happy to say that they adored their book & I've just done a book of their honeymoon pics, too! I've done some more albums & am going to be the main photographer for my neighbours, a couple on their 70s, in a fortnight!

  • Lewis

    June 22, 2010 01:01 am

    We like to sit down with the bride and groom ahead of time and decide on exactly what grouping we are going do formals of. We set aside three minutes per grouping and if anyone decides they want to add a shot of so and so we tell them that we'll get them at the reception. This helps us stay on schedule. And when you do run into the in-law/out-law drama the best thing to do is roll with the punches.

  • jef nolan

    June 21, 2010 11:11 pm

    We find out so many things the 'hard way' or with 20/20 hind sight. I've added this question to my interview because no body said anything at the time of the whole family picture.

    Question: This is going to be an "In-Law" family picture, but will there be any (had to come up with some kind of term) any "out-laws" in the picture.

    Basically they are former in-laws, but they have been requested to be in the group photo. With mixed families now, it's best to go over the order of who is standing where for the group photo. The family may or may not say anything at the time of the picture. As photographer, you can move people around politely who are not in their correct position where the groom and brides requested them to be. (hope this doesn't sound to sexist or politically incorrect, but current mothers-in-law are a good source for this information also.)

  • Dwight

    June 21, 2010 12:11 am

    As much as the first meeting with a prospective bride, and groom is an opportunity for them to decide if you will meet their requirements, it is also a time for you to decide if you can deliver to them what they expect on their wedding day.
    I show them images and a Lightroom slide show from my last three weddings and give them a chance to comment on what they like and dislike, along with what they will expect on their wedding day. Many times, people will want to hire me, but I turn down the job and refer them to other local photographers due to feeling I can not deliver 100% to meet their requirements, or their expectations are not realistic.
    If I except the job I have them fill out an information/contact sheet. Their names, phone numbers, cell, home, work, church and reception addresses, and phone numbers along with the dates, and exact times of the event, and all the key players. A day or so after getting the contact info, I will visit the locations and insure there is sufficient time to travel between locations. You will fine unrealistic time frames from time to time, and part of my job is to let the clients know what will and will not work.
    Like a pilot taking a Boeing 747 to the skies, I pre plan the event, check the anticipated weather for the day of the wedding and come up with backup plans for shot lists if the weather prevents outdoor locations, have a checklist, and plan, plan, plan.
    My worst experience was shooting a wedding with a Nikon D200 with auto ISO set at ISO 1600 when the camera was really limited to very nice ISO 800 images. After clean up with Photoshop and a noise reduction plug-in the clients loved the images. Now I use a D700 and get awesome images at ISO 6400.

  • Rebecca B

    June 19, 2010 06:49 pm

    Probably should have read this before the morning of my big job but feel MUCH more confident about my wedding shoot today now I've read this....you're a legend....thank you for mentally saving the day before I go into battle x

  • Amanda Y

    June 16, 2010 01:04 pm

    I was married in 2003 and I paid my photographer to use film. All I asked was that she use color for the ceremony and B&W for everything else.

    I gave her permission to take photos any way she could get them: on the stage, in the pews...anywhere she wanted to. I didn't care if she was in the way of people or what she did to get the shots. I just wanted her to get our wedding.

    Everything was fine, except: the shots for the ceremony were destroyed by a faulty processing machine when she took them to get developed at the photo lab.

    I was disappointed. Unfortunately she didn't compensate me in any way. I still had to deal with paying full price for her mistake. I understand, but...it really hurt to lose those shots. =[

    Luckily, other people had shots from their point-and-shoots and I got a few of our "kiss" and other details from the ceremony. And if it wasn't for other family members and their cameras, I wouldn't have a picture of our ring-bearer dressed up as Frodo Baggins. =]

    I think that if we ever re-new our vows, I'm going to ask for our photographer to use an assistant.

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 13, 2010 01:05 pm

    Someone mentioned wedding delays. The pianist forgot her music for the rehearsal AND the actual wedding. They printed the notes off the computer at the church. Delayed the wedding about 15 or 20 minutes, maybe more.

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 13, 2010 01:01 pm

    For those who have the telephoto lenses such as the 70-200, and they have another lens, for example a 28-135(my lens of choice), do you have a separate body for each lens or do you switch during the wedding. I would find this problematic, because I might miss a moment. At the same time, I would probably need a telephoto if I was stuck in one spot during most of the wedding, if I was very far back. During the wedding I photographed at, I was allowed to move around, and I was able to get within 14 feet. At 135, I was close enough to shoot from waist to head. Filling the frame with details would of been nice, but switching between lenses during the wedding, I don't know if it would a very good idea. Having another body would be great though.

  • Connie

    June 13, 2010 12:05 am

    I always go to the wedding rehearsal. This allows me to meet everyone and learn the rules, not to menttion check out the lighting and take a couple practice shots. Also, I offer the couple pre-wedding photos. This allows me to get to know them as a couple so that things are more relaxed on the wedding day, and they have a photo to submit as a wedding announcment.

  • gretchen

    June 12, 2010 01:19 pm

    Shot my first wedding last weekend. Had my niece who shoots insects as my second shooter and my daughter to straighten ties, trains and download cards to a pc. I don't know how i could have managed without either one. I also had to deal with rain. The shots in the church were blah! Luckily they were up for spending some time after the ceremony as well when the weather had cleared. The only problem was the sun was at a different angle than I had planned and made some harsh shadows.

    Used a 28-135 and 70-200 2.8. Actually struggled with the 70-200 as I had to be so far back, couldn't get a lot in with group shots and it was very heavy by the end of the day. My 28-135 did a much better job. As for mistakes, too many to list here. At least nothing too tragic.

  • Gordon

    June 12, 2010 08:07 am

    @ Stephen, thanks for the advice and encouragement. Being a real perfectionist I sometimes struggle with not getting things exactly to the high standards I set myself, especially if I start comparing myself to pros who have years of experience and all the top gear. As my wife often says though, many people will be more than happy with 80% of what you consider your best.

  • Elizabeth Halford

    June 12, 2010 07:58 am

    To whomever suggested the second shooter app for iPhone: BRILLIANT!

  • sreekrishnan

    June 12, 2010 07:52 am

    I have a 24-70mm f2.8 and have shot couple of events and found it to be useful? i know you get good portraits at 100mm but can i not do it in 24-70mm?

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 12, 2010 06:53 am

    I've read quite a few negative feelings towards their first wedding shoots. I've only photographed three weddings, two were for friends, and one was for my sister, but that one didn't have a main photographer. For my friends, the first one I wasn't paid, I did it purely out of love for my friend and for the experience. The second one, I wasn't expecting money, but I got it anyway. Granted these opportunities have risen up because my friends are very young and can't really afford a professional wedding photographer, I encourage anyone that has the chance to accept an invitation to photograph the wedding. It wouldn't hurt to be clear to them to know your experience level and that you do or don't have a lot of experience with it. The pictures I took were very basic stuff, I'm yet to take much notice of the intricate details, but I'm also yet to go to a very classy wedding.

    I think the biggest issue is that everyone thinks that the expectations are very high and if you accept it and let them down you are making a big mistake. But often times the expectations aren't that high and you get the experience and maybe even blow them away. That has been my experience at least.

  • Sam

    June 12, 2010 05:10 am

    I was told by a pro the key to shooting a good wedding is planning, planning and more planning. Do as much as possible beforehand, visit church, visit reception look for as many photo oppertunities as pos such as nice staircase, large mirror or a bench in a shaded area. Plan for sun, shade rain and hail. How many bridesmaids? 2 is alot easier than 6 to shoot. And last one if your not providing the album check the size as an 8x8 needs to be shot different than a 10x8. Also remember to drink water and eat during the day.
    I have my check list and make sure everything is ticked.
    Sam

  • Maureen Thomson, Lyssabeth's Wedding Officiants

    June 12, 2010 02:44 am

    Great post! And I think the things you did right far outweigh the few you did wrong. As a wedding officiant, I always appreciate it when the photographer touches base with me quickly prior to the start of the ceremony. I make it a point to approach them beforehand, but they are generally pretty busy getting pre-ceremony shots.

    Equally as important as flash restrictions, etc. is having the photographer have a general idea of the ceremony flow. Photos of the license-signing, the bride's daughter witnesses the marriage license, a memorial rose presented to honor a deceased loved one. All of these things are important for the photographer to be aware of so he or she gets that all important shot..

  • rob barclay

    June 12, 2010 02:25 am

    On my second wedding shoot the bride wanted some black and white candids so I loaded up my 3rd camera with b&w film OR I THOUGHT I DID, and you can guess the rest of the story!

  • jef nolan

    June 11, 2010 11:31 pm

    Good information, especially about using "polite firmness" to set a shot. What I have on the top of my list for wedding preparation is to inquire about the presence of a wedding coordinator. The WC can be a big help in getting the members of the wedding party to be in the right place at the right time.

  • Gordon

    June 11, 2010 10:55 pm

    @ Lucan, similar situation for me in a couple of weeks time. I have not been the official paid photographer at a wedding yet but I'd definitely like to work towards that. One of my friends is getting married and I offered to show up at the church and document the event. So, not too much pressure, which is a great start.

    I then thought, "What the heck, I'd love the practice", and offered to show up at the house and do some "getting ready" shots. That was met with a big "YES". So, I went all out and suggested she bring's her man to my house next week and we do some fun "couple" shots in the forest near my house. I've just ordered a big 5-in-1 reflector for that very purpose :) Maybe I'll make some money on prints later or do a nice presentation DVD, but the main thing is to get experience.

    Although I haven't done weddings, I have done a fair amount individual and group shoots. The 3 things I wish I'd taken with me on my last trip are:

    1. More small bottles of water - a 2L bottle is a pain to carry around on a hot day.
    2. Deodorant - I'd rather be remembered as the smiley photographer who took great photos than something else :(
    3. Breath mints for a similar reason as above

    Thanks for sharing, everyone.

  • jean dendel

    June 11, 2010 10:37 pm

    I loved reading all of the stories about the oops of shooting weddings. I've been doing wedding photography off and on for a long time. Started out in the film era. Every wedding makes me nervous, I enjoy shooting but you always wonder "what did I forget?" The last wedding my strobes I set up for the formals at the church got moved and I did not realize it till after I shot the brides family and dismissed them, but fortunately the remainder of the formals turned out great and was able to save the "lost" image in photoshop. I always send my husband in to shoot the groom and groomens, he's a comedian at heart so he gets some really good shots. Offer to shoot the rehersal, it allows you to get to know the key players and look around at the church or wherever the ceremony is held, this way the surprises on the wedding day are minimal.
    Horror story, I id a wedding and the Bride was so ill she could hardly stand for the pictures, I was rushing the photos so she could rest and not faint, I forgot to shoot a single B&G alone. That was back in the film days and retouching was pricy, but the client was still very happy!

  • Paul Jenkins

    June 11, 2010 09:33 pm

    Hi folks,,

    I made two massive errors on my first wedding shoot last weekend and will not be making them again.

    #1
    I knelt on the ground in front of the bride and groom looking up at about 45 degrees real tight on two of my shots, thus giving my bride a double chin, this was not good and she was not impressed.

    #2
    nerves got the better of me and i forgot to use my diffuser on 3 shots which blew out the white shirts,,
    luckily i noticed and retook the shot, it was the family shot and could not be saved.

    Please don't make these same mistakes.
    Thankyou all and happy shooting.

  • Gina Alexander

    June 11, 2010 05:42 pm

    LOL @ Tom.

    I am to do my first Wedding in August,. but will let you know for sure what my list was. I have already been asked to produce 'slimming' and flattering portraiture - with a journalistic approach & a full email list of group shots and poses she can suggest ;]

    Thanks for sharing !
    g

  • Lucan

    June 11, 2010 12:40 pm

    I also am delighted with Tom's story, that is truly wonderful!

    I'll be having my first crack at wedding photography next weekend. Fortunately, I don't need to stress too much, as this will be a rather unusual wedding in that the bride and groom have chosen not to hire an official photographer. Instead, they're asking guests to bring cameras along, and there'll be a laptop present for people to load their photos onto. I think that's a brilliant idea, and in the event that I get some good shots, I'll have something to add to my portfolio which - who knows? - may someday lead to some official work.

  • Singapore Wedding Photography

    June 11, 2010 12:38 pm

    I really agree with thr groom bit. I always find that to be a problem. If fact, I always ask the couple if they would like me to start with the bride or groom 1st and the ans will always be the bride 1st.

    Whenever I have a 2nd photographer, we would split, one bride 1 groom. That brings out the whole picture of the wedding better.

  • Bob

    June 11, 2010 12:18 pm

    One other thought. When shooting alone take advantage of the wedding party to collect each other and the various family members. They usually know who's who and can do the "round up" without a lot of yelling in the church or reception hall.

    For those of you who have not done your first wedding yet, get out there and do it! How are you going to have great stories to tell if you don't get the first one under your belt. My first was a killer, everything went wrong. Wrong film (shot transparency instead of neg - old days) wrong sync speed, no extra batteries for the flash. Faced the music delivered the junk and found out years later they laughed about the event. It took me several years to do the second wedding, but after that I was on a roll and became quite an accomplished, national, award winning wedding photographer.

    Go for it! By the way, no matter what you charge, raise your prices!

  • Bob

    June 11, 2010 11:55 am

    Just a thought when sending your second shooter in to where the guys are getting ready, you will get better expressions if the shooter is a lady! Try it. Just like the female reporters in the football locker rooms, you will get far better expressions and the guys will have more fun.

    Just a thought that worked for me.
    Bob

  • Michelle Armour

    June 11, 2010 09:07 am

    I organise the groom shots, before the "bride before" shots, if they want this extent of coverage. I don't have a second shooter. The guys just need to know I will be there earlier than they would normally get ready, So I ask they be showered / shaved and they get dressed then when I go they can relax for a bit longer. I never have late grooms! Unfortunately I have had a few late brides. Not because of me, usually because of the hair dressers.

    TOM OMG......I did have a full on bogan fight break out at one wedding. I had all the main shots so I was out of there. In hindsight I should have stayed, braved it out and taken the pics.

    I photograph the signing all the time, it is a traditional photo in Australia. Lots of togs here get close ups of the signing as well, I take a more photojournalist approach myself, I don't like the posing ones. I wish I had taken a video light to my last wedding as the bride was late so the after photos were late and it was dark at the beach. While the light is still great the camera has significant issues focusing so I normally use a continuous light to assist. I didn't have it as the shoot was supposed tobe in daylight. i will add that to the car next time. Still got plenty before it got dark so no great issue but I would have been able to get more creative.

  • katmuse13

    June 11, 2010 07:59 am

    I have to agree with being firm with the camera toting family-razzi. I had to take several pictures over due to 30+ flashes going off at once with me. The Brides Mother being absolutely the worst about it, as she had her camera, grandma's camera, auntie's camera...and yelling "Look at me honey! I've got to get pictures for all these cameras!" Uh, hello, what are you paying me for then?

  • Staffan

    June 11, 2010 06:46 am

    I shot my first wedding two weeks ago. I know the couple and they had asked me to do something of the "documenting the ceremony" kind. The wedding ceremony itself is rather static and most of it was done with their backs turned towards us, but I took a couple of pictures of the guests in the church and of course a couple of pictures of them walking up and down the aisle and standing by the altar after the ceremony.

    I delivered the photos the other day and have not heard any reactions from them yet, but I learned a couple of useful things:

    I did some scouting outside the church, so I knew where the sun would be at the time of the wedding and I knew that there wasn't much space available for shooting outside the church. Unfortunately, I couldn't get in to the church before the wedding and check the light. There were spotlights in the cealing, but they were badly se from a photographer's point of view which meant that the difference between a nice shot with fill flash and a dull flash shot was only a couple of inches (very frustrating).

    I knew they would meet with the reverend for a "rehearsal" so I asked them to bring the photo issue up with him and they did. Having a "green light" from the officiant is always a good thing.

    Another useful thing was to introduce myself to their mothers. If you know who the B's & G's mothers are, you will probably get pictures of the rest of their closest relatives. ;-)

    They didn't want any formal wedding portrait, but I wish they had taken the time to relax and pose for the camera for about five minutes without surrounding near and dear who all wanted to congratulate them. Still, I hope I got a shot or two that can work as substitute but it was a nervewrecking experience to capture something of the kind "live" but I learned a lot from it.

  • Terry

    June 11, 2010 04:51 am

    I have done a couple of weddings that I couldn't get out of - and I hate to even GO to a wedding. The last one turned out quite well. It was VERY informal - at a log cabbin on a cattle ranch with a total of 13 people, including me and my 'assistant.'

    The reason it turned out great was that my 'assistant' was a far more accomplished and sensitive photographer that I was. He picked up on details that didn't even occur to me, and with both of us shooting we really covered the day very well. It turned out to be a very fun experience and everyone was very happy with the results.

  • Brian

    June 11, 2010 04:42 am

    Great tips! I know I have been guilty of not spending enough photo time with the groom. It is difficult without a second shooter as most of the action revolves around the bride.

  • Kaitlin Kaiser

    June 11, 2010 04:25 am

    I just shot my first wedding a little while ago. One of the big mistakes I made was not reviewing what the photos looked like on my camera after I shot them. It was a pretty stupid mistake, but I was quite nervous.

  • Simone

    June 11, 2010 04:20 am

    I wish I could see the end results. BTW what lens did you use for zooming?

  • Frag

    June 11, 2010 04:19 am

    Oh boy, wedding gigs. Three things I shall hope never to do again:

    1. Used a newly-bought and untested lens to cover the wedding (Stupid stupid me).

    I kept on thinking that I was shooting out-of-focus shots that I had to revert to using the lens full manual. And even on manual, the focus was never good! Had to revert to a 50mm (which turned out to be the best decision I made that day) for the rest of the event. I later tested the lens (A 28-70 2.8 zoom), and found that an inside element was out of alignment.

    2. Kept on shooting "angled" shots

    You know how it is with some photographers, to make their shots "cool" or "artsy" they shoot the camera a bit tilted. When I reviewed my shots, it was almost all angled (stupid stupid). I ended up cropping many photos, while realizing that the megapixel race does have its benefits.

    3. Be triggerhappy

    It was like I was shooting wildlife! The camera was on burst, and reviewing my pics was like viewing an animation sequence. Too bad I ran out of card space during the first dance (it was a 16Gb card). Luckily I had a 2Gb spare in my pocket while a friend ran to get my laptop to offload the 16Gb card. Needless to say, the post-processing was hell, as I had to go through A TON of shots, while I could have been more conservative in shooting. It's about anticipating and capturing the moment, not just machine-gunning and praying.

  • Greenwood_Geoff

    June 11, 2010 03:50 am

    I might offer to be a second shooter at a wedding, however solo with no experience would be ugly. Yes, I could have a list of shots to take to help me out. It would slow things down quite a bit though. I might, maybe, possibly do it for someone that could not afford to hire a photographer and planned to not have one present and realized that I had no experience.

  • Elizabeth Halford

    June 11, 2010 03:49 am

    @tom. OMG. BEST. COMMENT. EVER. I'm literally LOL

  • TexasTammy

    June 11, 2010 03:48 am

    I've done 10 weddings so far, I'm still learning as well! All have been in different venues. I do have several bright red umbrellas that I've purchased and they make a great prop in case of rain. I love my wide angle 17-40mm L lens for the large groups. The biggest thing I had to learn was to line up the family shots, not just have everyone stand willy nilly. That's one thing I learned after shooting the very first wedding! :)
    I scope out the location the day before so I can tell where the sun will be at certain times of day. I have a checklist that I found on line before/during/after the wedding and reception. I've studied it till I can almost spew it out by memory. I love doing wedding because usually everyone is in a really great mood so it's easy to be happy and get the best reactions out of people.
    Oh and we can shoot wedding documents in the states. I shot a wedding in Colorado last August and it was a huge deal to get the bride/groom/officiant signing the marriage license. Here in Texas, not as big but I still do it at all my weddings here because it's a nice photo they might not have thought to get.
    I usually do not have an assistant. It's all me. But yea, I'm type A like that and as long as everyone is getting ready in close proximity, it's not a problem.
    Love hearing all the others advice. Thanks for sharing!

  • michelle harmse

    June 11, 2010 03:43 am

    to Roz: I totally agree. Always have a few options / back up plans regarding locations, anything can happen.
    I took a couple to a beautiful location on Saturday, and when we arrived, the place was filled with people busy shooting a commercial / film. So we had to move..... luckily i could move them quickly to a different venue.

  • negativefeeling

    June 11, 2010 03:36 am

    I shot my first wedding a couple weeks ago. She was my best friend and I was doing it as a wedding gift for her and her now husband. The things I did wrong? Too many. I think i should get a better lenses before doing anything like this again.
    What I did right? Nothing. I just made them as I would love them to be as if it were mine.
    The truth is that I was the second photographer, the "non-official" one. But she liked them much more than the one they hired. I think I learnt how to be focused and made the bride and groom enjoy their photoshoot, making them feel important, giving them a lot of ideas for photos and shooting in unusual ways so they had another pov of the wedding.

  • Tom O'Neill

    June 11, 2010 03:10 am

    Three mistakes at one wedding brings back memories. But this is how we all learn:

    1. Leaving my camera unattended on a tripod while I helped pose a group shot. A child knocked it over. Goodby primary camera, lens and flash unit. Went to my backup body with a fast 50mm but without a flash unit. Good news! Got some of the best wedding shots ever, as shooting mostly wide-open I did not have distracting backgrounds in focus. Bride and Groom loved the photos, and I never again used a tripod at a wedding shoot.

    2. I did not realize that the sweet, lovely, mother of the bride would become the bride's mother from hell with a few drinks in her on the wedding day. She wanted to be in every shot and could only be coaxed away by more booze. I encouraged that, hoping she would pass-out or have to be removed. Wrong again!

    3. I never thought the check from mom for final payment (half up front, balance on delivery) would bounce. Fortunately for me, the photo I took of her urinating in the hallway at the reception convinced her to make the check good. She even bought that photo, for cash, at a price that exceeded the total cost of the wedding package. (Extortion, no, her idea and her first offer). I did hear that later on, her husband used that photo to his advantage during divorce negotiations.

    Photography can be fun and profitable.

  • dennis iannuzzi

    June 11, 2010 02:47 am

    I am a retired wedding photographer from the negative era, we are proud of the fact that I stayed in touch not only with the priest ,ministers and whoever took care of the ceremony but all the families, we knew that sometimes grooms,and families were often forgotten so we always concentrated on his side of the family, it is easy to be creative but families and groups are often left behind.
    dennis I

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 11, 2010 02:31 am

    Last Thursday I was asked to take pictures for a friends wedding, and I had done so once before. But the time before I had a working speedlight, and the wedding was outside. This time, I knew my speedlight was out of the picture. Since most weddings have rehearsals, I suggest that the photographer goes to the rehearsal to know exactly how things are going to play out. This takes time, but this really helped with any anxiety that I had. Doing it for a friend and not really for the money, I really suggest it. Everything was smooth sailing the day of the wedding, and I even more or less remembered how things would play out. It's been two years since the last wedding, and since then I have invested in several strobes that I can trigger via a remote. I was informed that they would be fine with me using a flash, although I wasn't too sure about whether they would approve of these flashes. Going to the rehearsal, I got to set up the lights, test exactly how well they worked. I also got to talk to the pastor about it and get his approval of them. I used two strobes on opposite sides of the chapel, one triggered by remote, the other by slave.
    The pictures came out beautiful. [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/4686675838/' title='IMG_0116' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4047/4686675838_91ba6cd1e6.jpg']
    I was asked to get pictures of the bride getting ready, I didn't know they wanted that, but I was fine with it. I took a few shots without a flash, but my ISO went from 400 to 3200. I then turned on my pop up flash, and grabbed a small white card, and manually reflected the light at the ceiling to get much better pictures. I was even able to use this method in a narrow hallway as guest gave hugs to the bride and groom.
    Lens choice, I only have two options, my 28-135, and my 70 to 300. Unless I'm photographing something I can't get very close to, I don't use my telephoto lens. Neither of them have a very wide aperture, but with my flashes I didn't need it at all.
    There was only one mistake that I made during the wedding that I thought really cost me. I used to take group pictures for my old work, and the lighting was always very undynamic. For group pictures, we had one flash and it was directly behind the photographer facing directly at the group. I thought I should change the lighting for the group picture, because the lights being at the side, I thought would cause odd shadows. Even though it wasn't a problem during the actual wedding. So I tried to change the light, and I wasn't happy with it, and I tried to change it back, still wasn't happy with it, didn't realize one light was unplugged. Finally I resorted to the pop up flash with a direct flash.

  • Lewis

    June 11, 2010 02:28 am

    I live in in central Florida which we enderingly refer to as "the Sunshine State" and it as rained at every outdoor wedding I've attended. My wife and I carry about 7 black umbrellas with us every wedding and at our last one people were asking if it was our signature. Nope just fortunate enough to live on in the middle of a tropical peninsula.

  • alex

    June 10, 2010 06:47 am

    Shot a wedding last weekend. Everyone was late, except the ceremony and reception times (i.e. very very rushed photos). I was so rushed with the family formals I almost forgot to get a formal of just the bride and groom together..... I have no idea how I almost forgot.

  • Linda Key

    June 10, 2010 02:16 am

    Live and Learn...some great advice given by all. I have been doing Wedding Photography for 10 years, I still get nervous before every shoot, make a to do list, check my bags the night before and the morning of. Always have back up camera, flash, batteries. For years have been using 2 shooters. As the mother of a son that was recently married...I ALWAYS give the groom and his men as much attention as I give the bride. Even though we tend to favor who wrote the check...the grooms family are looking forward to his pictures and this is just as much his day as the bride. I do a complimentary engagement session with every wedding I book. This gives me time to get to know the bride/groom before the wedding so we are all more comfortable with each other. I make sure to meet the maid of honor and the best man and they are my 'go to people' when I need anything with the wedding party. Weddings are stressful to me...but I love them. Getting all the shots on that day to be amazing...well sometimes even with as much as you can possibly do to prepare...we still can hope for a little luck.

  • Russ

    June 9, 2010 08:43 pm

    I rented a couple of lenses for my first wedding - a 70-200 f2.8L and a 24-70 f2.8L. I also had my 50mm and a fisheye (got some great shots with the fisheye!), but I'm glad that the 70-200 at least was rented. I used it for maybe a dozen shots, none of which made the final cut. the 24-70 worked way better for me and the way I shoot.

    I'd still love (of course) to have a 70-200 2.8L, but I doubt if it'd see that much wedding action.

  • Daniel

    June 9, 2010 07:55 pm

    To Andrew:
    This is my personal opinion but a 70-200 on an APS-C feels a bit long to me. It depends how many bodies you will have but unless you have another body with a shorter lens, you may need to change lens in the middle.
    With (at least) two bodies at hand, I would indeed mount a 70-200 2.8 (let's dream I have one) and eventually a prime 50 1.8 or 1.4...

    D.

  • Brian

    June 9, 2010 04:54 pm

    Great advice. Sometimes I feel articles on this site to be more of a "filler" in nature than actually educational. Kind of like busywork reading. This wasn't the case here (as well as your last article). Very specific with constructive criticism. Well done.

  • Qristie

    June 9, 2010 02:37 pm

    Some things I've learned along the way:

    - Always ALWAYS allot more time than you will probably actually need. For most weddings I've photographed, the bride has run late after getting her hair done off-site or other last-minute crises throw off the schedule. It's always better to overshoot your time estimates and have spare time for fun photos than it is to be so short on time that you kick yourself for the lackluster album later on.

    - Don't go overkill with shots of wedding party getting dressed. There doesn't need to be 30 photos of the bride having her hair done. This time is very valuable to get shots of the rings, flowers, shoes, jewelry, etc.

    - Don't forget about the bride and groom's parents! I still have a hard time remembering this, but they are often a huge reason that you have such beautiful things to photograph in the first place! You don't need to go out of your way to track them down if they are not on site, but if they are with their children getting ready, definitely get some photographs of them as well.

    - Go to the rehearsal whenever possible. You can formulate a "game plan" (especially if you are shooting as a team rather than solo) and learn important things like whether flash is allowed, where you have access, what doors might be locked AND, more importantly...

    - If you go to the rehearsal/decorating part, your input makes a big difference! Look at everything as though the ceremony is already happening and you have the chance to improve the outcome. Think about how certain things are positioned -- a candelabra behind the priest might look awesome and ambient to the guests, but the resulting photos are going to make him look like he's set aflame. The couple will be very grateful for your input; it's part of what they pay you for :)

  • thomas tars

    June 9, 2010 06:14 am

    Well I like these photos. I find them with a lot of personality. And thats great when shooing weddings

  • Jeff W

    June 8, 2010 11:56 pm

    Good tips. Here's what I would add: I would NEVER even consider covering a wedding without having a second camera body and a second flash unit. Rent them if needed and factor that into the price. I also second those who have said you must be firm with other people with cameras ... YOU are the photographer, you set up the shots, you must stay on your timeline. As soon as you let one relative jump in and take a shot, the floodgates can open ...

    The note about rain brings home a good point about equipment. One of the reasons why "real" photographers spend the big bucks for pro-series camera bodies and lenses is that they can stand up to the weather.

  • Matthew Dobson

    June 8, 2010 10:34 pm

    I recently shot my first solo wedding for a cousin of mine. I spent well over a year reading and researching various styles and they were kind enough to cover the hire of the equipment (Canon 5dMkII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 and 7 x 4GB CF cards which were all filled!))

    The main lessons that I learnt were:

    1) Try and get to know the bride and groom as much as you can. As I already knew them they said that they felt relaxed around me and I was able to get some great shots.
    2) If you're on your own it is a LONG day.
    3) Recce the venue in depth and get to know any restrictions that might not be obvious at first. It was only after I spoke to the registrar that I found out I wouldn't be able to move around during the ceremony once I was in position.
    4) Make sure you have a backup venue for the group shots and that you know it well.
    5) When you start to talk about timings for the day make sure the bride and groom allow enough time for the group shots and for their own photos as well. There's nothing worse than having to rush through all the photos!

    Excellent website by the way, thanks!

  • Andrew Gentle

    June 8, 2010 04:31 pm

    70 - 200mm? I'm doing a wedding in December, probably on our DX (APS-C) bodies. I was going to hire/buy a 24 - 70 mm f/2.8. Do you think a 70 - 200mm would be more useful?

  • Magnus Bogucki

    June 8, 2010 04:26 pm

    Great sharing.

    70-200mm f2.8 is my favourite :)

  • alex_sydney

    June 8, 2010 12:50 pm

    I would check David Ziser's blog and book for new ideas :-)

  • martin

    June 8, 2010 11:06 am

    I'm infinetely grateful for the tips. A friend of a friend asked if I'd be interested in shooting a wedding in the fall in Canada. Though I politely declined to lead the shoot, I did mention I'd be interested in meeting their photographer and offering the extra images. So these are tips are amazing!

    I'd love to shoot weddings, but the leap and expectations seem so daunting!

  • Mei Teng

    June 8, 2010 11:05 am

    One important thing for me was to have someone help coordinate people into reasonably sized groups for group shots with the bride and groom. Thankfully, I had someone do that so I didn't have to shout out for people to get into place for the group wedding shots. That would have been a total nightmare for the photographer...having to shoot and coordinate at the same time.

    One major slip-up from my first wedding shoot was forgetting to ask the coordinator to make sure the hall lighting isn't changed midway through the group photo session. I only realized the mistake after the fact ......when the background lighting changed from a yellow tinge to white!

  • johnp

    June 8, 2010 10:27 am

    My tip is try not to do a wedding on your own. It is more fun and less stressful if you have an offsider with a good camera to assist you. I've managed to do it on my own but, after having someone assist me, will never do one on my own again. With two you get a lot more material to work with and can cover more situations, plus you have a fall back if technical problems are encountered or, heaven forbid, a memory card is mislaid!

  • Veronica Salazar

    June 8, 2010 09:19 am

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Janet

    June 8, 2010 07:15 am

    I have done a few weddings now and have been fortunate that they have been beautiful days but I borrow several umbrellas from our local funeral home just in case. The lens I seem to have had the most success with and feel has given me the best pictures is my 24-70mm f2.8. I love love love it. I use it with my Canon 5D mark ii and very seldom do I even require my flash unit (although I always have it on my camera just in case).
    I will certainly be writing my own list from now on too. I LOVE that idea and it's very true that the groom and groomsmen get a bit neglected (although I had somebody else covering just them the last time). I love the comments here.

  • Marianne Bush

    June 8, 2010 04:18 am

    I have only ever shot one wedding in my life: my first which is sure to be last. Anyway, my flash gave up the ghost but, luckily, I had brought my 50mm 1.8 lens and it saved the day/night.

  • Kirsten

    June 8, 2010 03:43 am

    I was really nervous when I did my first wedding and was very grateful it was for a friend of the family, not a stranger. I did pretty well, but I remember a lot of our friends telling me during the reception that I must be exhausted from running up and down the aisle so much during the ceremony! I was mortified that I was that obvious, but I did it on my own with no assistant, so I had to be the one to get all the different angles and shots.
    Note to self: Use an assistant!!! :)

  • Artak

    June 8, 2010 03:10 am

    Thank you for sharing!

    I like this one most: "Note to self: Sometimes you have to stick your neck out or be firm for the sake of the outcome."

    In my experiance - copple was very firm on request for "Wedding jornalism" only. Next think happened brides mother was disappointed there are no group portrets of 2 families together and bride with her family.
    Ever after I just go to each parent and ask to bring everybody together, so they deal with each others aptitude. It works great.
    Thanks again!

  • Lon

    June 8, 2010 02:56 am

    regarding the rain, I was a groomsman in a wedding last summer, and I was impressed when we got a small unforecasted shower and the photographer pulled out several large, sturdy, nice-looking, matching umbrellas (which of course us groomsman were more than happy to carry when we got a small shower, and which also became a very nice prop). Note to self, if ever doing outdoor wedding portraits, invest in some good umbrellas.

  • Roz

    June 8, 2010 02:02 am

    Maybe you made a fourth mistake in that you did not anticipate the rain? Surely in the UK this is a constant source of ire to Wedding Photographers!! Did you scout the venue before the wedding to figure out a "rainy day" option? I have been taught (having assisted a pro for the past 18 months) to try and have at least 3 options for locations just in case something goes wrong (bad/harsh lighting, rain, uncooperative family members etc).

    Well done for turning it to your advantage though, and thank you for sharing this post with us newbies. Sometimes the wedding business seems so impenetrable as the pros don't share their mistakes and we are left with the feeling that you guys are "perfect".

    Hope this didn't come across as mean - it wasn't meant to be :-)

  • NathanO

    June 8, 2010 01:42 am

    If I could only choose ONE thing that I wish I could have done differently, it would have been to hire an assistant. Either as a second shooter or just to help out. The problem, is this was my first wedding.....and it was unpaid as a gift to the bride and groom.

    Why I needed an assistant:::
    1) The bride/groom prep shots were taken far apart,
    2) The ceremony and reception took place in the same room. (After B/G left, volunteers removed chairs and setup tables...)
    3) I only had 20 minutes from the end of the ceremony to drive the B/G to a park....take their pictures and return.
    4) There were 200+ family members all with cameras and it was kind of hard to prevent people getting in front of the camera.
    5) When doing family shots.... there was almost always someone in the picture that shouldn't have been. A cousin part of the wrong family.... a clingy todler that wanted to hang on the brides dress....all those things.

    SO..... Basically,,, I'm saying that For every other wedding I do.... I'm going to hire some sort of help. The end.

    -Nathan

  • Barry

    June 8, 2010 01:33 am

    Good post, honest and informative.

    Regarding lenses, I prefer to shoot weddings with a primes. 35mm 1.4L, 85mm 1.8 and 135mm f2L. All three lenses are great in low light, and the focal lengths cover all bases.

    I too need to get more shots of grooms getting ready... its tricky to get both, and near impossible if on your own.

  • Neil

    June 8, 2010 01:04 am

    Here's a good one - i'm not sure if it applies to the Uk only.

    It is not allowed to take pictures of bride/groom/anyone signing the legal documents - if the document can be seen in the picture - why? - I was told by the officiant that they need to avoid the possibility of forgery.

    So make sure the document can't be seen in the picture - i do this by shooting from just below the level of the table/desk/whatever the document is resting on or shoot 'fake' ones before/after the actual signing.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever

    June 8, 2010 12:49 am

    I am so scared and nervous to do weddings! People have asked and I have politely refused. There is just too much at stake, too many people to disappoint, and too many expectations to uphold. I think my fear comes from my own wedding photographer who I paid a lot of money to. Despite a talk and a printed list of important photos/people to catch she got ZERO photos of me with my grandmother. That makes me so so sad. Also, "the kiss" photograph is off center and worst of all out of focus! And of course we had to pay her in full the day of the wedding, before we could see the photos. I just don't want to be personally put in that situation. While I don't think I was a bridezilla by any means I do think that there is a lot at stake with weddings I don't want to be involved in. Landscapes and buildings are just so much easier to photograph. The hard part, though, is that landscapes and trees don't make you money.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont
    Click on the "Photo Assignment" tab and see June's assignment!

    My Photo Blog

  • Greg Taylor

    June 8, 2010 12:43 am

    I don't shoot wedding but as with any subject matter the post-shoot analysis is so important. I'm a believer in using the process of review, refine & repeat.

    If you think critically about your photoshoots you will continually improve.

  • Andres Calle

    June 8, 2010 12:43 am

    Very nice... and helpful. Its great to know other's people experiences and mix them up with yours... Great work!

  • Ben Boldt

    June 8, 2010 12:41 am

    I shot my first wedding this weekend and found more than 3 things I wish I'd done differently.

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
Today’s Deal: 100 professional Lightroom presets for $10!BUY NOW
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed