(This post was written for, and first published at hampshirebridalbootsale.com – go check them out!)
2am: Wake up in a panic that you have overslept and your bride & groom are at this very minute wondering where you are. Check clock. 2am. Go back to sleep.
3am: Aaaarrrggh! Same. Ok, fine.
6am: Suddenly you can’t remember if you charged all your batteries last night. Run downstairs & check. You did. All fine. May as well get up as you have woken dogs/cats/children/partner and you remember your mother telling you to ‘go to work on an egg’. She may have stolen this line from an advert.
7am: Decide that bringing along a pair of antlers, a lightsabre & a confetti cannon might be a good idea, just in case.
9am: Drink a coffee before heading out. You are leaving way too early, but the spectre of the M25 being like the seventh circle of hell is always there. Only the bride gets to be late for her wedding.
10am: Arrive at the getting ready venue & put on harnesses, bags & other implements to save your shoulders from the next 9 hours of lugging equipment. Reflect, not for the first time, how you look like a show pony. Just not a winning one.
10.30am: Head into the bride’s house & introduce yourself to the family. This is the best time. You get to see all human life in close up: pride, nerves, tears, stress, laughter, and so much darn love. And then you get to make pictures of it so no one can forget what it felt like to sit with their best friend, at 11.21am on the morning of their wedding, and laugh at some silly card, or cry at a gift, and feel the beautiful weight of those years of friendship. You also get to take pictures of the bride (or groom) & her (or his) friends looking damn fine, and occasionally offer advice, smooth over worries, fix hair pins, and use that crochet hook you keep in your bag to do up 4 million buttons.
12.15am: Jump in car & head to ceremony, just ahead of bride. Stomach is starting to rumble now.
12.30am: Chat to vicar or registrar about where they are happy for you to stand. This differs wildly between officiants – some say you can do whatever you like, some won’t let you past the doors, so it is always worth your couple checking with your vicar/celebrant beforehand. You make a point of not moving around much so you don’t draw the eyes of the congregation, but you are aware that some vicars especially have had to deal with some very poor behaviour from photographers, so you are as sensitive as possible when you do have to move.
12:45: Get shots of the bride arriving & the groom looking nervous. Then head into the church to await the big moment.
1pm: You are suddenly aware that you are being stared at by a chorister, you may have been joining in with ‘Jerusalem’ a little too enthusiastically. Concentrate on being photo ninja.
1.30pm: Marshall the congregation in time for the confetti toss. Check for non-biodegradable confetti as per church warden’s instructions. Advise bride & groom that despite what their brains are telling them, confetti won’t hurt, so try to open their eyes occasionally :). Take candids, concentrate especially on older guests who might decide not to come to the reception. Ask small freckled child not to put confetti in your lens changer bag.
1.40pm: Smile indulgently at small freckled child as he puts more confetti in your bag. Whisper that the next time it happens, it will automatically trigger his mandatory attendance at your 45-minute lecture on the history of soft cheese, to take place during that really fun time when the DJ sets up, before the adults reach the dance floor.
1.45pm: back to car to head to the reception. Very hungry now, grab emergency Penguin biscuit from bag.
2.30pm: Group photos time. Mentally hug your couple, because they followed your advice and kept the group photo list to under ten pictures. Chase down an errant great uncle who has gone for a look around the gardens, and someone’s brother who is changing a nappy somewhere.
2.50pm: Candids – This is the time to get the images that the bride & groom love to see; the things they missed as they moved around their guests. Kids climbing trees, friends in stitches because of the wine and/or magician doing his stuff, granny eating ice cream. Worship the ground the waiter walks on as he offers you a cold Coke. Yes please. So much yes. Also shoot the room set up, a few extra groups requested by families, and some shots of the venue.
4pm: The wedding breakfast. Photograph the entrance of the bride & groom & some general atmosphere shots, then take your aching feet away and take your break. Order a meal from the bar menu (thank you bride & groom!) and check your shots, back up cards, cool down, eat & watch your feet swell.
6pm: Speeches! Shoot the speeches, striking a fine balance between being able to get the shots and not making any guest have to stare at your backside for too long.
7pm: Take your couple away into the gardens for a little while as the sun is beginning to set, to get those lovely sun-kissed shots, which does happen fairly regularly in Summer. Even in Britain.
8pm: First dance. Set up any required flashes, light stands, advise the DJ to turn off those pesky pinpoint lasers (NEVER an attractive look), aim to shoot some epic shots in the 3.5 seconds before the self-conscious couple call their friends onto the floor, then…
8.10pm Party time! Try not to be crushed as everyone piles on to the dance floor, simultaneously shooting whilst protecting your camera from imminent shape-throwing disaster.
8.45pm Hug & thank bride & groom, with whom you are a little in love with after spending such a kick-ass day with them, and stumble back to the car.
10pm: Arrive home, greet the people who live in your house, slope off to the office to download your cards because you won’t be able to get a wink of sleep until you know they are backed up in three different places. Consider the next few days of editing & emailing & preparing, ready to do it all again next week. Smile.