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Chapter 3

Ultimate Guide to

Wedding Day Arrivals Photography

Photographing Arrivals and Greetings at the Wedding Ceremony Venue


Bride and bridesmaid wait in car on arrival at wedding ceremony

Bride Gloria’s face is a picture of anticipation: She takes a while to sit in the car on arrival to compose herself and take everything in. It gave me a unique chance to take a fantastic sequence of wedding photographs.

Travelling to the Wedding Ceremony Venue

I try to leave the preparations a while before the bridal party.  This allows me time to arrive at the ceremony venue (whether a church, register office or other location) about twenty minutes before the bride is due to arrive.  I then have a chance to take some establishing shots of the details, venue and the groom and his party – particularly any nerves that may be apparent from his side!

Personally I choose not to drive between the venues and often travel with guests who are going or a booked taxi.  Very occasionally I travel with the bride and her father as below.

Bride and Father in London Black Taxi on way to wedding

I caught a black London taxi cab with bride Lindsay and her father – don’t worry, they were on time…  This was a fantastic photo opportunity as I ended up with dynamic story-telling shots such as this.  Gold dust for any wedding photographer.

Groomsman straightening groom's collar as groom looks nervous - London Wedding Photography

Kolbe isn’t really the sort of person to be nervous, but in this photograph he certainly looks it. Maybe I just shot him in a thoughtful moment – either way, his bride loved it.

Photographing A Groom’s Nerves

Bride’s often ask me how the groom was after I’ve seen him at the venue.  They are frequently surprised when I tell them how nervous the groom appeared.  I can only put this down to the huge magnitude of the wedding day and the importance placed on it.  It can reduce the most composed and usually relaxed person to a nervous wreck.  I love to photograph this if I can.  The bride will not normally see this side of her groom and it’s lovely if I can take a photograph of her apprehensive fiancé.

Groom having button hole attached at Cardiff wedding

Dale was clearly nervous throughout this waiting time before his bride arrived. I caught several intense shots such as this where his button hole gets attached. As an aside – it’s bride Helen’s brother attaching it which makes the shot even more special.

Man in suit handing out wedding button-holes and guests putting them on

A few moments after the previous shot shows more button-hole action. I often go wide to get a more environmental overview.

What the Bride will Not See…

There are many other goings on happening as guests arrive that the bride will miss out on.  It is your photographer’s job to ensure that these are documented.  If there are any particularly important shots that you would like them to capture, be sure to tell them.  Do bear in mind that every wedding is different, so some shots may not be possible.

To male guests shake hands with woman in middle

Throughout the arrivals time, there is lots of guest greetings and meetings that the bride won’t be privy to. It’s my job to capture some of these to give her a full picture of her day.

The arrivals time will be the first time that many of the guests will see each other and it is a great time for your photographer to take some meet and greet shots. Your wedding photographer should always be on the lookout for some scene setting shots that will act as a link in your book or just a memory of your day.

Two men smiling with each other at pub wedding in london

A more up-close shot shows some wedding happiness with the step-father of the bride and best man in the pub.  The pub is a popular place for the groom and guests to meet up.

Vicar giving out order of service to guest at a wedding

For religious wedding ceremonies, guests normally meet at the church. Here the vicar hands out the order of service as friends and family arrive. These are great scene-setting shots.

Two men sitting in front of huge wall at Stoke Newington Town Hall

You never know what backdrop may be at the arrivals. This wall was in the hall at a Stoke Newington Town Hall wedding I shot recently.

Two children having fun sitting down at the front of Fitzrovia Chapel

This is a favourite photo: Children are always good fun to photograph and this pair made for a beautiful portrait as they played at the front of the Fitzrovia Chapel.

Photographing the Arrival of the Bride

A must-have shot is the bride’s arrival. I try to take a sequence of shots depicting this event and continue to shoot whilst she and her party compose themselves at the entrance and eventually walk down the aisle.  Methods of transport vary greatly from London taxi cabs to limousines or Rolls Royce as at the wedding at Brompton Oratory below.

Blue and silver Rolls Royce outside Brompton Oratory for wedding

The Bridal car pulls up at the venue whilst bridesmaids and close family look on.  Notice the crowd of tourists gathered at the gates.

Bride looking out of Rolls Royce on arrival at Brompton Oratory

Bride Annie looks out of a Rolls Royce as she arrives for her wedding.

Bride being helped from car at Brompton Oratory wedding

Seconds later she steps out aided by a bridesmaid. These three photos were part of a sequence of 15.

Bride looking worried as she arrives for Asia House Wedding

Tanya was very late for her wedding at Asia House in London. Her face on this natural photograph says it all!

Bride and mother walking through adjacent doorways

When the preparations and ceremony are in the same venue, the journey and arrival are easy. Here, Kim walks through the hotel with her mother on her way to be wed. I photographed the whole sequence.

The bride doesn’t always arrive by transport.  Sometimes she has the preparations in the same building (above) or is within walking distance as below.  Being in the same building is very handy for the photographer as it means they can photograph guest arrivals and also the bride leaving her preparations and making her way to the ceremony.

Back of bride and bridesmaid entering Somerset house for wedding

Paloma left her preparations a little late and had to dash to nearby King’s College Chapel for her wedding ceremony. It kept me on my toes trying to keep up whilst also recording the short journey.

Candid Photos as the Guests Assemble at the Ceremony

In the ceremony room, I try to take photos of groups of people that are together. These could be of couples or families and sometimes individuals. Usually the guests are seated in rows which can make it a bit tricky to take attractive photos as the near person can seem larger than those at the other end.  To counteract this I may ask some guests to lean forwards or backwards slightly.

Grandfather and grandson posing for photo at Cardiff City Hall

Two generations apart: I love this photo taken at a Cardiff City Hall wedding of a grandfather and his grandson.

Mum hugging son at his wedding ceremony

I love this kind of emotive wedding arrivals photography. Just before the ceremony, the groom’s mum gives him a heartfelt hug.

Grooms standing with seated guests at Old Marylebone Town Hall Wedding

An overview shot such as this gives a sense of occasion. The groom looking nervous is an added bonus.

Three seated guests laughing before wedding ceremony

It’s often not obvious to people what I’m shooting. The lady on the left thinks I’m just photographing the couple. Little does she know!

Groom sitting down on phone at register office in London

Sometimes there is a lot of waiting. Before Jess’s arrival, Harry plays with his phone as the registrars relax a while.

The Bride at the Venue Before the Ceremony

After the bride has finally arrived at the ceremony venue, there is usually time to photograph her with the bridal party and alone.  This is all part of my photographic storytelling of the day.  I feel it’s important to document the bride as she makes her way through the venue and towards her marriage ceremony.

Bride by gate looking into garden with 'Think and Thank' sign on gate - Winchester House Wedding Photography

Helen didn’t seem nervous at all until she arrived outside Winchester House, her wedding venue. I love this candid shot of her as she peers through the gate into the garden. ‘Think and Thank’ indeed!

Bride leaning on bonnet of vintage Vauxhall with father watching

In a more frivolous shot, Melissa is happy to ham it up whilst her father looks on outside the church in South London.

Bride walking up staircase at Porchester Hall

Many wedding venues have the most beautiful entrance halls and staircases. Rebecca’s face says it all as she climbs the Porchester Hall stairs.

Bride with dad looking thoughtful before wedding ceremony

In a serious shot, I photograph a moment of reflection as Lindsay takes a minute or two outside the ceremony room.

Bride surprised as guests photographs her on phone at Camden Town Hall.

This is a fun shot: At this Camden Town Hall wedding, a cheeky guest takes the opportunity to photograph bride Jess a short while before she is married.

father of bride shaking groom by the hand at Stoke Newington Town Hall wedding

A firm handshake from the father of the bride to the groom marks the beginning of their wedding ceremony…

Chapter 4: The Ceremony – & Photography Etiquette – Next>>>>

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Wedding Photographer in Cardiff & London

Guy Milnes Photography is based between London and Caerphilly covering South Wales, Bristol, London and the home counties.
He has been a professional photographer since 2008 and loves to capture the true atmosphere of the wedding day as it unfolds naturally.


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