For the majority of weddings that I photograph, coverage begins before the ceremony at the bride’s home – or wherever she is getting ready. I find this a great time to get some shots of details such as bouquets, shoes and the bride’s dress itself. If there are little bridesmaids or page boys, this is also a good time to photograph them, while they are full of excitement and less self-conscious (or tired) than they might be later in the day. Some brides think that they will be too nervous before the wedding ceremony to want to be photographed, or they are sure that they don’t want pictures taken of them until they are fully dressed and ready to leave for the ceremony. That is fine, but I still recommend having some photographs taken at this stage for a variety of reasons. Firstly, if the weather is wet, this is a great opportunity to photograph the bride herself in her dress while it is still in pristine condition. Secondly, it is an opportunity to get some photographs of just the bride and her parents together – especially if they are in their own home or garden. Or what about some photographs with favourite pets?
Thirdly, it is an excellent opportunity to get some photographs of the bride with her bridesmaids, page boys etc. If some of them are little children, it may not be as easy to get them all together later in the day, and if the bridesmaids are all adults, this can be a really fun time – especially if there’s some champagne around! Finally, most brides are not nearly as nervous as they think they will be, and – despite the apparently frenetic activity which often surounds getting ready for the wedding – this can be a period of relative calm before the day’s pace really picks up. So it can produce some lovely photographs, taken in a more controlled situation than may be possible after the wedding ceremony. But if you decide that you would prefer to include some of the other photographs from your day in the wedding album, you’ve lost nothing – I don’t limited the number of photographs I take at a wedding, so you will always have plenty of lovely images to choose from.
It may sound as if this will take a lot of time, meaning that the bride will have to be ready much earlier – but this really isn’t the case. I usually arrive about an hour before the wedding ceremony is due to start, and leave for the wedding location half an hour later. That gives me time to photograph the groom with his best man and ushers, and perhaps some of the guests arriving, and also be ready for the arrival of the bride herself.