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Wedding celebrations can obviously vary widely across faiths and cultures, so take the time to find out what parts of the day or series of days you’ll need to cover before you meet the prospective clients, as this will affect not only your fee, but you’ll need to ensure you have the time, resources and ability to cover everything needed.
The rundown below follows a typical call sheet for non-religious and Christian ceremonies in the UK, so photographers may need to tinker with the agenda to suit the traditions and events that are associated with weddings from other countries and religions to ensure the bride and groom receive coverage of everything they would be expecting.
At least two hours before the ceremony, you should meet the bride and her bridal party at the venue where she is getting ready. This could be at a hair salon, hotel room or her home. Ask the bride not to start getting ready until you arrive so you can capture images of her having her hair and make-up being done. Position her in front of a mirror and yourself behind and out of shot. You may want to come back for the latter stages of this process – when the bride is starting to look her most glamorous.
Use the time in between to collect the must-have significant details that she’ll want to remember for years to come, for example around the room you’ll find an array of bags, shoes, jewellery, mother of the bride’s hat, make up, tissue paper and even a champagne bottle. Position these delicately on a window ledge to capture them in soft, even light and use a wide aperture to create a creamy backdrop with the object or part of it, in focus.
At some point the flowers will be delivered so take the time to shoot these bouquets individually as well as candids of the mother of the bride fastening the father of the bride’s or young page boy’s buttonholes, as well as the bride’s maids as they collect their bouquets.
Before the bride gets into her gown make sure you get wide shots of the dress hanging up as well as close up captures of any detail. Be sure to record the veil in a similar manner and shooting the bride’s maids dresses in a row can make for a nice image. Take shots of the bride getting into her dress, as well as the bride’s maids lacing or zipping her up. Then take some time alone with the bride to get some beautiful portraits, using a long mirror behind the bride to capture her back and front.
Before the car comes, get some group shots of the bridal party, such as: the bride with her maids, the bride’s maids on their own, the bride with her parents, and one with everyone together. When the car arrives take a few stills of the bride and her father in front the car and then take some close up and individual pictures of the care itself. Once you have everything you need head off to meet the groom’s party.
It is becoming more common for the groom to have an equivalent ‘getting ready session’ with his best men and ushers, so if this is the case ensure you have plenty of time to get this in too. Collect ‘staged’ images of the groom having his tie adjusted, laughing with his friends, having a celebratory drink or cigar, fussing in the mirror and even applying cologne. Shoot candids not only of the groom but of his group such as the best man rehearsing his speech, his mum brushing off his shoulders and perhaps his dad looking on full of pride. As with the bridal party, shoot the smaller details such as button hole flowers, cufflinks, shoes, hats and ties. Take some group shots in a variety of poses and including the transportation if needed.
Head to the venue with the men and take some more images here before the guests arrive. Once these are in the bag, potter around the grounds and the ceremony room itself to capture some location and decoration shots. Ensure you are back in time to collect images of the groom meeting the guests as they arrive, as well as shots of the guests seated inside with the groom and best man stood waiting for the bride. Head back outside to receive shots of the bride exiting the car and entering the grounds. Take a few group shots outside the venue and then race in to position at the front of the church to capture her big entrance.