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This post is the last in a series. Check out the previous posts at The Wedding Day Call Sheet: Part 1 – The Morning and The Wedding Day Call Sheet: Part 2 – The Afternoon.
With the guests seated, but before the food is served use this as a good opportunity to take pictures of guests relaxing and chatting with one another. If it is not too dark, use the opportunity to sneak in some more candids, but remember that you may need to use a wide aperture, tripod and/or boost the ISO depending on your kit’s capabilities to compensate for low light. If none of these opportunities are suitable use a flash gun with a diffuser – but you may lose the element of surprise so try to get it right with the first shot.
Pictures of bride and groom entering the dining hall, plus the guest’s reactions make for some nice images before then the speeches begin. Typically (or hopefully) the best man speech will have the couple laughing so capture these as the father of the bride and groom speech may have the bride and guests in tears of joy. Later you can arrange these images; showing a range of emotions, into a heart-warming triptych. After each speech there is typically a toast so for each occasion shoot choose someone different to focus on; i.e. the bride and groom, the guests and the parents.
As the food is served ask a waiter to have you bring one of each dish to you to be photographed first – again this is something the couple has taken the time to choose and will however daft it may seem, want to remember this in the future. Use a wide aperture of f2.8 to 5.6 to keep elements of the food in focus, with the rest diffused into a creamy blur. Place the food on a clean table cloth and clear the background of distracting clutter. Get down low, so you are shooting the food from about 45 degrees. Once these photos are done use it as a chance to take a well earned break as no one wants to be photographed while they are eating.
After the food is finished and the guests are supping on coffees, perhaps take this chance to grab a few more romantic couple images with the bride and group, for example at a new location in the building or on the grounds or perhaps if the sun is setting revisit some of the favourite locations you used early. As well as more bride and groom shots, incorporate the bride’s maids and groom’s men for some more fun and relaxed compositions; such as the best men lifting the bride, or the bride’s maids flanking the groom whilst blowing him a kiss. These sorts of things may sound silly, but most couples really love this sort of thing and what is more these are the type of photos that guests are most likely to order.
As the evening guests start to filter in, use this as an opportunity to take casual group shots of the guests, with their friends and family, as well as some more candids and decor shots. It can also be a nice idea to take images of the evening guests as they arrive being greeted by the bride and groom.
Before the cake is cut, ensure you have taken a few stills of the cake intact at varying angles and focal lengths. It is a good idea to have done this in natural light during the day, but if this wasn’t possible take the photos now with a flash if needed, but adopt a diffuser to for a richer, softened effect that won’t bleach tones or flatten texture. Pull back for wide shots of the couple cutting the cake, as well as zooming in on the knife in their hands – focusing on the rings as a focal point. Ask guests to stand out of the way for these images and then move back to let the guests have a chance of taking their own photos.
The final aspect of the wedding agenda is the first dance. Find out what the chosen song is before time so you’ll know if it’s up tempo or slow and can better predict the couple’s movement, as well as giving an indication of how long you’ll have to get the frames and thus how creative you can be. The couple may also have prepared a choreographed dance so be prepared to move around the hall to capture this to full effect.
Once you have bagged a few safe shots of the couple entwined using flash for freezing the action, switch to a slower shutter and use a tripod for shots injected with a sense of movement. As well as wide angle shots to place the couple in context with their guests looking on, use a fast telephoto with VR to zoom in for close ups of the bride and groom’s faces.
Most contracts end here, but some photographers like to stay on for a few tracks to get some ‘party’ shots of the guests having a good time or even stay until the end of the night.
This is a good opportunity to get creative with shutter speeds as well as taking some relaxed group photos of guests. Keep your eye open for children dancing or sitting watching the adults as these images can often tell amusing stories and also consider carefully standing on a chair to shoot the dancing throng from above.
When the evening buffet food arrives, you’ll be able to get some more food macro images as well as story-telling images of guests collecting their food.
As the evening rolls on their will be plenty of opportunity to get ‘lively’ images of guests as well as the bride and groom, drinking, celebrating and generally having a good time. End the evening with the couple heading off in their wedding car, as their guests wave them fondly off into married life.