The Ceremony

Links to previous posts in this series by Lincolnshire wedding photographer Chris Marsh:

Part 1 Getting ready for the wedding

Part 2 At the wedding venue

Part 3 The bride arrives

Although just a short part of the day this bit is “The Wedding” and so effective photography is critical to the recording of the day.

That said I think that the couple should be concentrating on their vows at this point and they and their guests should not be distracted by a photographer moving about in their eye-lines. This is why I almost always photograph from the back of the church or room at the wedding venue. From there I can get wide views showing the guests but also zoom in to a tight close-up of the bride and groom. The couple usually turn to face each other as they exchange vows and will almost certainly do so for the exchange of wedding rings. From the back of the room I am in the perfect position to photograph the bride and groom in profile as the wedding ring is placed on the finger. Occasionally there will be a gallery allowing a view from above making this picture better still. In either case I am very aware of the need to shoot at the exact moment where the ring is most clearly visible.

This is often closely followed by a kiss between the newly married couple, but I don’t expect the cue “you may kiss the bride” as these words are not, as many people seem to think, a standard part of the ceremony!

The signing of the register is almost at the end of the civil wedding ceremony and this is often the case in church although it might be part way through – it is important to check on the order of service or with the minister. Some people are surprised that I am not allowed to photograph the signing of the wedding register as it happens, technically the book is crown copyright and so registrars will often replace it with a dummy version before the photography. There are also practical reasons for “restaging” the signing, as it is much easier rearrange things slightly to get a good background and to get and hold the couple’s attention when they know that you are in charge. After I have taken the photograph of the couple with the register I add the witnesses to join them. Once I have this shot I step aside so that family and friends can get the picture too. Photographing the guests as they photograph the couple often makes for a nice, fun, picture; another chance to get this is at the cutting of the wedding cake later in the day.

This is also a good time to remind the couple to take it slowly as they walk back up the aisle to allow their friends to see them and for me to get some photographs. Even so some couples walk quite briskly and so it is helpful to hold them for a moment towards the top of the aisle for a “safe” shot of them standing still in the aisle to back up the “action” pictures.

Another point at which I stage a photograph is as the couple are about to go out through the door. At this point I am still inside and I invite then to look toward each other and then back to me giving a picture with them framed in the doorway. This is usually the last of the shots inside however if it is raining my back-up plan (of course there must always be a back-up for poor weather!) might mean returning inside for the formal wedding photography.

My next blog post will be about Formal Wedding Group Photographs