Pre-Ceremony Checklist from 200 Wedding Photographers

Before the ceremony begins, there’s plenty to get in order. After polling 200 photographers (as well as talking with our own staff at Lin & Jirsa Photography), we found the following eight tasks to be the most important for prepping for the ceremony:

1. Sync your cameras/beginning of the day (26%):

Syncing your cameras (lead, 2nd shooter, 3rd shooter) at the beginning of the day saves time in post and ensures that moments appear in the catalog chronologically as the event was captured. is a great resource for syncing your cameras down to the second. If you forget to sync before you start shooting, do not sync up part way through the shoot. Instead, sync in post.

2. Communicate team positions (16%):

Make sure each member of your team knows where to stand during the ceremony. No two shooters should occupy the same space at the same time unless one is shooting wide while another is getting a tighter crop, which is common for capturing the first kiss. For the most part, spread out with one shooter on each side of the ceremony and one shooting down the aisle.

3. Fresh battery + spare in your pocket (15%):

Some ceremonies run longer than others, and it’s good to play it safe and carry extra batteries, just in case.

4. Enough memory + spare in your pocket (10%):

In the off chance your memory card fails or otherwise becomes full, it’s a good idea to keep an extra card on hand so that you never miss a moment.

5. Lenses/accessories at the ready (10%):

You don’t want to have to run back to your gear stash to grab a lens in the middle of a ceremony; keep your go-to lenses on your person in a handy bag or pouch.

6. Exposure + White Balance synced (5%):

All shooters should communicate their exposure and white balance for consistency in post. In addition to syncing your exposure and white balance settings with other team members, remember to consider the effects of light transmission. In a 24-70mm zoom lens, for example, less light (between a ½-stop to 1 full stop of light) enters the camera when the lens is zoomed to 70mm as opposed to 24mm. In other words, zooming in and out can affect your exposure.

The best way to make sure you’re exposure is consistent is to check your histogram and make sure you’ve retained your highlights and shadows. At the end of the day, time is money, and having to individually adjust these settings in post can waste a lot of time.

7. Communicate movement with cinema (5%):

Communicating with cinema, whether they’re a part of your team or not, should minimize the number of times you block one another’s shots.

8. Know the first kiss moment (discuss with officiant) (3%):

Ask the officiant what he or she will say before announcing that the groom may kiss his bride so that you can get into position and capture the first kiss. Specifically, ask what will be said around one minute before the kiss to ensure you have enough time. It’s also a great idea to ask the officiant to step away from the couple so that he or she is not included in the first kiss images.

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We designed Photographing the Ceremony to train wedding day teams of all sizes to master wedding ceremony coverage with efficiency using non-invasive photojournalism techniques. Course objectives include never missing a moment, being creative under constraint, understanding wedding cultures, telling complete stories, and directing/managing a wedding team.

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Chapter One

  • 1.1 Trailer
  • 1.2 Introduction - Why Are We Here?
  • 1.3 10 Easily Avoidable Wedding Blunders from 200 Wedding Photographers
  • 1.4 Our Favorite Lenses Among 10,000 Wedding Photographs
  • 1.5 Pre-Ceremony Checklist from 200 Wedding Photographers
  • 1.6 Favorite SFX Creative Accessories During the Ceremony
  • 1.7 Our Second and Lead Photographer Gear Guide
  • 1.8 Assignment: SFX Creative Ceremony Shot
  • 1.9 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter One
  • Chapter Two

  • 2.1 Telling a Complete and Cohesive Story
  • 2.2 What To Photograph Within a Single Wedding Moment | Wedding Week
  • 2.3 How To Photograph A Wedding Ceremony With A Team
  • 2.4 Team Lens Synergy
  • 2.5 Processional Movement and Positioning
  • 2.6 Ceremony Movement and Positioning
  • 2.7 Recessional Movement and Positioning
  • 2.8 Assignment: Within a Single Moment
  • 2.9 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter Two
  • Chapter Three

  • 3.1 Pre-Ceremony: Grip & Grins and Candids
  • 3.2 Processional: Groom + Wedding Party
  • 3.3 Processional: Bride's Entrance
  • 3.4 Ceremony: The Couple
  • 3.5 Ceremony: The Scene and Venue
  • 3.6 Ceremony: Wedding Party + VIPs
  • 3.7 Ceremony: Moments
  • 3.8 Ceremony: The Kiss
  • 3.9 Recessional: The Couple + VIPs
  • 3.10 Bonus: Ceremony Coverage In Practice
  • 3.11 Assignment: Key Ceremony Moments
  • 3.12 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter Three Quiz
  • Chapter Four

  • 4.1 Cultural Case Studies: Christian (Non-Denominational) Weddings
  • 4.2 Cultural Case Studies: Catholic Weddings
  • 4.3 Cultural Case Studies: Chinese + Asian Tea Ceremonies
  • 4.4 Cultural Case Studies: Mormon/Latter-Day Saints
  • 4.5 Cultural Case Studies: Hindu/Indian Weddings - Baraat
  • 4.6 Cultural Case Studies: Hindu/Indian Weddings - Ceremony
  • 4.7 Cultural Case Studies: Hindu/Indian Weddings - Lightroom
  • 4.8 Cultural Case Studies: Iranian/Persian Weddings
  • 4.9 Cultural Case Studies: Jewish (General) Weddings
  • 4.10 Assignment: Cultural Wedding Coverage
  • 4.11 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter Four Quiz
  • Chapter Five

  • 5.1 Foreground Elements
  • 5.2 Why You Should Use A Tilt-Shift Lens For Wedding Photography
  • 5.3 Prism
  • 5.4 Free Lens
  • 5.5 Other Creative Angles and Effects
  • 5.6 Assignment: Special Effects
  • 5.7 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter Five Quiz
  • Chapter Six

  • 6.1 Dark Chapel
  • 6.2 Dark Indoor Hotel
  • 6.3 Assignment: Shed Light On The Darkness
  • 6.4 Photographing the Ceremony: Chapter Six Quiz
  • Chapter Seven

  • 7.1 Awards + Community Critique

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