So your friends have asked you to shoot their wedding. First of all, be flattered! It speaks volumes about your skills that two people have asked you to help memorialize some of the most meaningful moments in their lives. After all, these are the pictures that will be proudly displayed on their mantel for decades to come and passed on to their children. It’s a high pressure gig, but it can be high fun too.
Have a Plan
When it comes to a wedding, “winging it” is never a good idea. There are too many moving parts, and something is guaranteed to go wrong on the big day. Just try to make sure it isn’t the photography! Plan out the shots that you want to be sure you don’t miss. Scout the locations ahead of time and think about the angle, the framing, the lighting. Study the schedule so you can make sure you’re in all the right places at all the right times, ready to capture the happy couple cutting the cake, the first dance, etc.
Talk to the Couple
Make sure you aren’t drawing up the plan solo! You bring the expert opinion, but you’ll want to tailor your game plan to what the couple is imagining. Ask them about what kind of shots they want, and who the most important guests are. Are they looking for lots of candids, or big posed group photos? Do they want multiple locations with romantically staged portraits, or just some simple close-ups? Does the bride want a beauty shoot before the main event when her hair and makeup are still perfect? On the flip side, be very clear about your abilities and what you do and don’t feel comfortable promising. Every couple is different, and if you talk about expectations together can ensure that everyone goes home happy.
Beat the Group
Group shots are the trickiest part of any wedding photographer’s job. This is a good time to enlist a responsible family member to help you round up everyone and keep them in line if they’ve had a few too many celebratory toasts. Don’t be ashy about offering direction! This is one moment where everyone wants you to tell them exactly what to do. Your directions project confidence, which allows everyone else to relax as they are photographed. Most importantly, take more shots than you think you need. Otherwise, there’ll always be someone in the back with their eyes closed!
Capture the Candids
Remember, you’re on duty until the bride and groom drive away. A shot list is a great guide, but don’t get so hung up on it that you miss the perfect moments right before your eyes! Be on constant lookout for candid moments worth capturing. Prepare for reaction shots, like the mother of the bride’s face when she first appears down the aisle, or the bridesmaids and groomsmen’s reactions to the first kiss. Often these unplanned shots will end up being the most treasured keepsakes of the wedding.This goes for disasters, too. Every wedding has one moment where the plan breaks down, and while it can be panic inducing at the time, these surprises can turn into fond memories that you’ll be glad you caught on film.