If at all possible, get to the reception hall sometime before the ceremony so you can shoot the following:
• Champagne glasses
• Set tables
• Shots of the cake (if it’s out already)
• Pace cards
Then, when people start arriving:
• People signing the guestbook
• Guestbook with a few signatures on them
• Many shots of the cake (before it’s cut)
• Newlyweds (and bridal party) entering the reception hall and sitting down
• Reception toasts (with bride/groom reactions)
• Formal dances – Father/Bride, Mother/Son, Bridal Party
• Informal dancing
• People leaving, saying goodbye – hugs, kisses, and tears of joy
As you can see, there is a lot to shoot at a wedding. During the last wedding I photographed, I shot a little over 1,200 photos. There are many more shots that you can take besides these, but this is just a starter list – build off of this.
Making this list will help you organize the event in your mind. If you want to take the list along with you, feel free (just don’t let anyone see you with it!). If you have time, you can cross shots off as you go along, but you’ll probably find that that time is not available. The bottom line is to be familiar with the shots you want to get.
In the next section of this series, learn some tricks of the trade and what to do during the actual wedding day.