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An Illustrated Guide: Part 1

Part One: The Sequence of Wedding Photography


Also see Style  Monochrome Images  Focus on Guests and Groups  The Art of Wedding Celebrations  Testimonials The Wedding Day and Sequence of Photography Sepia









No matter what your preferred style or the actual location of the wedding, the sequence for a story-book approach falls into several distinct phases ( see illustrated description below). A template (below) is a useful guide to the images we expect to make.



Wedding Photography Template

Planning is the key to photography that integrates into the day rather than imposing on it. Our broad template is given below ˝ we adjust it to the preferences and priorities of each couple and to the physical location of ceremony and reception.


Before the wedding

  • Bride/ Bride's family/ preparing at home/
  • Bride being dressed by mother/bridesmaid etc, bride's shoes.
  • Images of Bridal Car, Carriage etc/ Bride and father leaving home
  • Groom, Best Man, Ushers gathering
  • Groom arriving/Groom outside venue
  • Groom and Best Man/Groom, Best Man and Ushers
  • Guests arriving and informal images of guests/informal shots of Groom with guests, parents etc.
  • Photographs of attractive aspects of venue -  flowers, architectural details etc
  • Bride/Father Arriving
  • Father/Bride and Bridesmaid in Church porch/Bride and Father processing down aisle

The Ceremony

  • Photographs of the wedding ceremony/Signing the Register
  • Processing out of venue/exiting venue (Church doorway etc)

At the Church/Civil Venue/Reception


If the wedding and reception venues are separate it is usual to take some of the photographs listed below at the wedding venue - especially the central persons - and some at the reception venue.

  • Bride and Groom in various backgrounds/Bride and Groom separately/posed and informal
  • Bride and Maid of Honour/Bride and Bridesmaids
  • Groom and Best Man/ Groom, Best Man and Ushers
  • Bride and Groom/ all Attendants and combinations
  • Bride and Groom with various combinations of parents/both sets/each set etc./with Grandparents
  • Bride and Groom with all BrideÝs relations/ all Groom's relations/ all friends
  • Bride and Groom/ entire Wedding Party (location permitting)
  • Bride and Groom with special groups (e.g. School or University friends)
  • Bride and Groom arriving/Bride and Groom in special settings/Bride and Groom close-up of rings
  • Close-ups of Brides outfit ,details on dress, hair etc
  • Informal images of Bride and Groom mingling/informal images of guests
  • Receiving Line/Bride and Groom into Reception
  • Table Shots/Cake Table/Cutting Cake/Speech Shots/Toasting


Phase One:
The Bride Preparing (at Home/Venue)


Typical images here include bride and bridesmaids preparations (hair dressing/make-up); bride dressing/putting on jewellery; bride in a mirror; bride interacting with mother and father/attendants; close-up portraits of bride; formal portraits of bride with parents/attendants (for example in garden); informal shots of general hub-bub of preparations; shots of individual items like shoes, veil, details of bouquets, details of hair and dress, and any still-life compositions that present themselves. 


We find that 95% of our assignments start with this sequence and we think that it is an important part of the story and it also greatly helps us in relaxing the bride and getting her used to being photographed intensively for the next few hours. This phase generally takes at least 10, but not more than 30, minutes.


The key organisational factor here is that the bridal party must be ready in good time to allow the photography to take place at the home (or the bride may be preparing at the hotel/venue) and for the photographers then to take their place at the Church etc. in good time to photograph the second stage in the sequence (see Phase Two, below).







































Phase Two : The Groom and Guests Arriving and Venue Features

The counterpoint to the first images of the bride (above), is the photographing of the groom and his supporters  before the ceremony. We expect to be at the venue between 30 and 45 minutes before the ceremony.

This phase commonly begins at the church/venue as the groom and his friends arrive and are greeting guests. Images here include informal shots of interactions between the groom, best man and ushers, more formal portraits of the main characters (both close-ups and in context like church porches or interesting places in the grounds of the venue and (often) the photographing of guests in their pairs or family groups as they arrive. One important image here is usually the groom with his parents.

This is one of several parts of the wedding day where two photographers are vital to catch the variety of interactions and arrivals that are occurring simultaneously, for example, because guests have a tendency to arrive in bunches at the last minute.




 Above and below: A fun image of the groom and below a more conventional image.





Details like these flowers - prepared by family members - are important to the wedding collection 


Phase Three: The Bride arriving and the Ceremony


The arrival of the bride is a short, but very important episode and images commonly include the bridal car arriving, bride being greeted by bridesmaids, posed and informal shots of bride, attendants and father, bride being greeted by vicar, walking into Church/venue. This phase is commonly only 5 minutes or so.


Until recently, images of the actual ceremony were difficult or impossible. Today digital technology (making it much easier to make images in low-light conditions) and a more relaxed attitude among vicars and registrars, make these images an enormously important part of the story of the day.

Nevertheless, we feel that it is most important that images of the ceremony are made discreetly and that we are in concealed positions out of the eye-line of the guests/congregation. Also, attitude among clergy and registrars does vary considerably (some have had bad experiences of intrusive photographers or inconsiderate guests using flash) and we always ensure that we win the confidence of officials and abide by their individual guidelines.

Again, two photographers provide complementary angles and we try to capture key moments in the service, the informal exchanges between bride and groom and the context of the ceremony. This phase concludes with the signing of the register (it is signed then a posed version recorded ˝ sometimes including witnesses) and the exit of the now-married couple.
















































Phase Four: Church Weddings After the Ceremony


Around 50% of our weddings are church weddings. Our normal practice after a church ceremony (and where a civil ceremony and reception are sited separately) is to briefly pose the bride and groom in arch of the church porch ˝ or picturesque spot for civil ceremonies - then take them to a position we have spotted as the context for a select number of group shots ˝ often another doorway. Or else, we return the couple back to the main doorway once guests have exited the church. This is where familiarity with a venue is crucial and why we always scout  a venue if it is new to us. 

We expect to take 15-20 minutes maximum on photography immediately after the ceremony and normally confine formal group shots to various combinations of the bride and groom, attendants, parents, grandparents and siblings of the wedding couple. Occasionally we may do a whole group shot if I can ascend the church tower!!

All the while, the second photographer is concentrating on informal images and we try to ensure that all the guests get a chance to take their own photos. This phase usually ends with a confetti series and/or departure of the bride and groom.























Phase Five: At the Reception Venue


Immediately after the wedding ceremony in licensed venues such as hotels and once church wedding parties reach the reception venue ˝ the pattern is generally similar. There is a generally a period of time when guests mingle over drinks and we will be taking reportage shots during this time perhaps 30-45 minutes  including the couple talking to small groups of guests (see next paragraph). In consultation with the bride and groom, we then assemble everyone for the list of group shots,  such as the whole party, stag night/hen night groups/family groups etc.










The number of group shots varies considerably from couple to couple (see Part Two: Style) but we have never photographed a wedding without some groups and images of record are still important in the age of reportage wedding photography it is a way of ensuring that all your guests are included. This is particularly important since many families are now spread all over the country or like our own, spread all over the world ˝ and weddings are often the one occasion when close family members are together. We try to make groups as relaxed as possible and we strongly advise that the list of group combinations are limited to around ten groups or less. We feel that 20 minutes is normally perfectly sufficient to shoot these group pictures.



Group shots do need handling carefully. As a general rule groups larger than 8-12 people are never terribly satisfactory either visually or as a record (with the exception of whole group/whole family/all friends groups photographed from a high vantage point). In larger groups people tend not to concentrate on the photographer  or at least they don't all concentrate simultaneously ˝ and there is the problem of scale (in large groups each head is small even on quite large prints) and the potential for delay (one person off at the bar can cause mass frustration) is considerable. We commonly generate a way of ensuring that we have images of each of the guests in their pairs or families as a record  for example as they are going into the wedding breakfast or in a receiving line (now becoming rare). Montages of separate images provide another great way of assembling  a variety of people.

Below: A casual group arrangement at the Haldon Belvedere


 Below: The whole wedding party at Reed Hall





Phase Six: Private Moments with the Bride and Groom


At some point  usually between the end of group photos and entrance into the wedding breakfast, we want about 10 minutes alone with the bride and groom to take personal images. This often flows very well as the guests can be going into the meal as we are making these images.































Phase Seven: Wedding Breakfast and After


The vast majority of wedding photographers end their coverage at the point where the wedding breakfast begins (usually after a mock-up of cutting the cake) and this makes perfect sense for the bride and groom too (they can relax knowing that prying lenses have disappeared!!). We now complete many  weddings at this point as long as circumstances have allowed a full coverage to that point. 


















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