There were so many things I learned from my first wedding. I can describe it as a fun and beautiful day coupled with intense anxiety and nervousness from the need to do everything perfect and right. I'll talk about the anxiety and nervousness in another post, but for now I want to focus on some practical tips I learned that can help you as you take on your first wedding.
Know the Schedule and Be Early
I got lost on the way to the wedding venue. I was in traffic for an hour. There was nothing more terrifying to me than thinking I was going to be late to my first wedding as a main photographer! The good news was that I had planned to leave four hours beforehand to get to Baltimore, MD from Richmond, VA. It only takes three.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding day, be sure to take time to contact your couple or their wedding coordinator to get a thorough understanding of the wedding day schedule so you can plan your arrival time accordingly. By having the wedding day schedule AND going over it together with the couple it provides reassurance that both you and they are on the same page with how the day will unfold moment by moment.
Practice Your Lighting
The first wedding I photographed, as an assistant, was also the first time I had ever used an external flash on top of my camera. I was given very basic advice that day: point the flash at the ceiling or a wall. I was actually thrilled with how my pictures turned out but after using the external flash more and more, I was beginning to see how different venues posed new problems due to higher ceilings, painted walls that don't bounce flash well, or even environments with no ceiling and walls!
I recommend getting an external flash that's similar to your camera brand, and make sure it has a bounce card inside for those venues that don't give great ceilings and walls to bounce from. A bounce card is a white card that sits inside the flash and can be pulled out to bounce flash forward in situations where you have nothing else to bounce light from. Practice with that baby inside your home or down at a local indoor venue!
Shoot, Shoot, Shoot
It may sound like blasphemy to some photographers, but when you're shooting an event for the first time in which you have little to no experience it is going to be a good idea to keep shooting as many images as you can. I say there is great value in artistry, but there is also great value in experimenting and so the more you keep shooting the more you will learn how to adjust your settings for proper exposure in different situations. Certainly, a wedding day will give you a handful of different situations with variable lighting conditions. Get to know your equipment well by shooting and adjusting the settings. Figure out what the best ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance should be based on outdoor and indoor scenarios. Eventually, the training will be so engrained in your mind because you've taken the time to gain the experience from experimenting.
Thanks for checking out this post! Until next time, love yourself and love others!