Photographing Arrivals and Greetings at the Wedding Ceremony Venue
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Annie looks out of a Rolls Royce as she arrives for her wedding.
Seconds later she steps out aided by a bridesmaid. These three photos were part of a sequence of 15.
Tanya was very late for her wedding at Asia House in London. Her face on this natural photograph says it all!
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.
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.
I love this kind of emotive wedding arrivals photography. Just before the ceremony, the groom’s mum gives him a heartfelt hug.
An overview shot such as this gives a sense of occasion. The groom looking nervous is an added bonus.
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!
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.
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!
In a more frivolous shot, Melissa is happy to ham it up whilst her father looks on outside the church in South London.
Many wedding venues have the most beautiful entrance halls and staircases. Rebecca’s face says it all as she climbs the Porchester Hall stairs.
In a serious shot, I photograph a moment of reflection as Lindsay takes a minute or two outside the ceremony room.
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.
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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