How do I photograph a wedding?
You may notice that most of my blogs are aimed at people who either already are, or want to be, wedding photographers so I thought it was about time I wrote an article which potential clients will find interesting as well.
I have chosen a wedding which took place in August last year at St Catherine’s Church and Gosfield Hall in Essex to use as the focal point for my explanation of how I do things.
My clients, Jessica and Stuart, got in touch through my “contact me” page on my website after a friend of theirs (whose wedding I had photographed the year before) had recommended me to them. We made an appointment for me to call on them for a chat about their day.
A couple of weeks later we met to discuss their plans and really seemed to “hit it off”. I showed them examples of my work on my iPad and some sample Queensberry wedding albums.
The wedding album samples proved to be quite important as they said they would be wanting a good quality printed record of their day. After a couple of hours I left to allow them time to decide whether I was the right photographer for them.
A couple of days later I was delighted to hear back from them. They wanted to meet again so that we could complete contracts and they could officially book my services for their wedding day. Contract completed, terms and conditions signed and understood and booking fee paid, I was officially booked!
The next time I met up with Jessica and Stuart was a couple of months before their wedding day. During the intervening period, Jessica had been in touch to ask advice on matters like make up (her own and that of her bridesmaids) and whether I was happy to take some very specific photographs she wanted.
Naturally I’m always happy to take photos that are specifically requested by clients and I was happy to give advice on the make up. I even offered a “test shoot” to see how her make up would look in photographs so that she could feel confident about it on her big day.
So we met at Gosfield Hall a couple of months before their wedding day and spent a couple of hours walking around this beautiful wedding venue, both in the main building and around the grounds.
We came up with two plans and a more detailed “time line” for when and where to take the requested photographs. Plan A was for good weather, whilst plan B was for wet weather. I think it’s sensible to have two plans as you never know what the weather will be like. We had a little practice shoot which was great fun then Jessica and Stuart advised me of the date they would be having a practice for their ceremony at St Catherine’s Church, which is on the edge of the grounds at Gosfield Hall.
A few days before their wedding we met again. This time it was at St Catherine’s Church for the rehearsal of their ceremony. I always go to the rehearsal if possible for several reasons.
Firstly, it gives me an opportunity to introduce myself to the officiant. In my experience, they tend to appreciate the photographer making this effort to introduce themselves before the wedding day, when no one has time to chat. I realise that some officiants have had bad experiences with wedding photographers and as a result, can be quite strict with us.
I have found that by meeting them before the day, we can address any concerns they might have about how I conduct myself when photographing a wedding and I am often granted a little more freedom as a result.
Secondly, I have found different officiants have different ways of doing things. Sometimes the Bridesmaids walk up the aisle in front of the Bride, sometimes behind the Bride. Things like that which will influence where I need to stand to get the photographs my clients are after. Staying for the practice really does have benefits.
Thirdly I get a chance to meet all the main participants in the day. Bride and Groom’s parents, Bridesmaids, Best Man, Page Boys Flower Girls and anyone else involved in the day. That way, I’m not a complete stranger when it comes to taking their photos on the day itself.
Lastly it gives me a chance to go through their entire time line once more in case there have been any last minute changes. It also gives my clients the opportunity to ask any questions that they may not have thought of up until now.
The rehearsal is usually just a day or two before the wedding so it really does give us a chance to check nothing has changed from our earlier conversations and I think the more I see of my clients, the better. It tends to help them feel more relaxed around me.
The big day arrived and the weather was fabulous. I left home early as usual just in case there are any unexpected hold ups on the roads. There weren’t any, so I arrived nice and early at Gosfield Hall. As I was early, I had a chance to grab a coffee and a croissant with the Bridesmaids before the make up artist and hairdresser arrived.
I set to photographing the dress, shoes, jewellery, perfume, flowers and all the other important little things that, when all put together, go to create the perfect day.
Then it was time to photograph the Bride (after the hair and make up are finished, of course) in some “getting ready” photos. Then casual photos of her and her Bridesmaids generally having fun.
The Groom was getting ready at Gosfield Hall as well and he wanted some photos of him with his friends and family before the ceremony. So we made our way to the location in the grounds which we had identified during an earlier meeting (it was a plan A type of day!) and had some fun taking some photos before they set off for St Catherine’s Church.
I returned to see the Bride in the Bridal Suite at Gosfield Hall and we took all the photos she had requested, together with a few she had not! I arrange for Dad to come into the Bridal Suite to see his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time (always a special moment) and took the important photos showing his reaction.
Then I photographed the entire Bridal party making their way down the stairs as they prepared to set off to St Catherine’s Church before making my way to the church myself.
I reached the church in time to record the arrival of the Bridal Party
and the look on the Groom’s face as she walked up the aisle.
The wedding ceremony went beautifully and I managed to get all the photos they had requested,
as well as a few they hadn’t!
Outside for the confetti shot! I organised all the guests into two lines and, on the count of three, the couple walked down the middle of the tunnel whilst being showered with confetti.
Off to Gosfield Hall for the wedding breakfast and evening celebration! Once more I was able to reach the destination before the Bride and Groom, so I recorded their arrival at Gosfield Hall. We gathered together all the guests and set about getting all the “group” photos. Three cheers for the Bride and Groom. Hip hip……………
I always encourage my clients to make a list of their “must get” group photos. Usually I can enlist the help of the Best Man with indetification and marshalling the guests to a location identified in advance so that we can get these photos done as quickly as possible. Let’s face it, the guests want to get at the drinks and canapés, they don’t want to be waiting around taking photos!
Then I took the Bride and Groom off for some special “couple” photos which, when done correctly, can be a really fun part of the day.
I usually get the Best Man or a Bridesmaid to bring along some drinks and canapés for the couple so they don’t miss out.
Several photos and lots of laughs later, they went to join their guests.
After taking some casual photos of the happy couple chatting to their guests, I went to prepare for the wedding breakfast. After taking some photos of the room set up,
place settings, table centres
and some other important “finishing touches”, I made ready for the Bride and Groom’s announced entrance.
When everyone had taken their seats I made myself scarce so that they could enjoy their meal without having to worry about a camera lens being pointed at them. Having told the Bride and Groom exactly where they would be able to find me, I went to have a sandwich and cold drink (non alcoholic, obviously).
I returned for the “speeches”. Lots of laughter and a little “embarrassment” later, I had taken photos of all the main protagonists and the reactions of their guests.
Then, as had been requested by Jessica and Stuart, we went to take some more “couple” photos at a few locations inside the building.
The architecture is beautiful and we had decided to take advantage of that fact.
For me, it was then time to set up my lights for the First Dance. Having set the lighting, we had the official “cutting of the cake” first before moving straight into the dance room for the dancing to begin.
After a couple of minutes, they were in the middle of the dance floor completely surrounded by guests so out came my ladder (which was nearby and ready) so that I could still get photos of Jessica and Stuart.
A few photos of the party in full swing with the guests having a fabulous time and I was finished for the day. Absolutely exhausted but boy had I enjoyed it.
I checked with Jessica and Stuart to make sure we had taken all the photos they wanted before packing everything into my van and setting off home.
I have tried my best to keep the “word count” down but I hope there is enough here to give you an idea of how I go about photographing a wedding. Quite simply, it’s a job I love and hope to be doing for many years to come.