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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 20th, 2013, 03:19 PM   #1
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Wedding Preps

Hello. How many hours before the wedding do you record the groom and bride getting ready? I have a wedding to shoot next month and would like your feedback. I shoot alone. Thanks in advance.
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Old September 20th, 2013, 03:24 PM   #2
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Re: Wedding Preps

Only do the groom if its very nearby other wise you will struggle to fit him in and get the brides prep, If there are two of you then fine but cost it in your price. If they are both in the same venue then switch between the two...
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Old September 20th, 2013, 06:19 PM   #3
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Re: Wedding Preps

The Groom and Groomsmen will arrive at the Church/venue well before the Bride, so shoot the Bride's preps then get to the Church with plenty of time to get shots of the guys and the should be no real pressure. Of course, as Steve said, if they are both getting ready at the venue then no problem.

Roger
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Old September 20th, 2013, 07:23 PM   #4
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Re: Wedding Preps

I pretty much always shoot both groom and bride. As to which side has the more activity, I think it varies a lot, perhaps mainly dependent on how many people are there in the morning.

Personally, I wouldn't want to film the guys at the church because: (a) typical fodder for groom prep for me is their getting dressed, rather than them greeting guests; (2) by the time they get to the church (usually 30-60 min before ceremony here), I'm madly dashing around trying to prepare for the ceremony. Your mileage will vary depending on what weddings are like in your area.

Almost always I'm at the groom's first, mainly because brides have usually planned things so that they take up till the last second to get ready, whereas groom and groomsmen often have so much time that it's not uncommon, at least in an Australian climate, for them to get dressed for the photographer, then undressed, then dressed again for real.

I usually allow at least an hour for both with a single shooter. In an ideal world, would want 2-3 hours. In worst case scenario, I've done the guys in 10 minutes and the girls in 20. But realistically if you have at least 30-45 minutes I think it's hard to stuff up a prep, depending on what your end product is supposed to be. Most video packages I've seen supply mere minutes of prep footage. So if you're shooting for 30-45, you're more than likely going to be able to extract enough material to fill that time.

Definitely you should allow more time for the bride, because guys can get ready in 10 minutes unless they need to refer to YouTube to see how to do a tie.

Typical wedding morning for me (and it seems to be common round Sydney to do 30-60min travelling between locations) looks like:

-- Arrive at groom at 9am
-- Leave at 10am
-- Arrive at bride's at 10.30am
-- Leave at midday
-- Arrive at church at 12.30pm
-- Ceremony starts at 1pm
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Old September 20th, 2013, 07:40 PM   #5
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Re: Wedding Preps

Jeff, just a suggestion. ASK the bride what time they are getting their hair and makeup done and WHERE it is getting done. Then ask here where the guys are going to be. Once you know those 2 things then you can figure out how early you need to be on site and if you can do the girls and guys without traveling all over town and making it a very hard day on yourself. More often than not the guys really aren't interested in the prep portion of the day although some are it's the girls that want it done and many don't care if the guys do it or not. At least that's my experience.

Don't be afraid, ask the bride...she'll tell you everything you need to know.

BTW, just an FYI when I DO bridal prep which isn't often anymore, I generally start about 2 to 3 hours before the ceremony DEPENDING on where the prep takes place and how far it is from the ceremony site. If they're getting ready in a hotel and the guys are there getting ready as well, I pop into the guys room, set some shots up and then go back to the girls. But that's just me.
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Old September 20th, 2013, 09:56 PM   #6
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Re: Wedding Preps

Prep is really the only time where I use a second shooter, especially when the guys and girls are in different locations. My second shooter goes and does the guys as there usually isn't as much to shoot there and then she meets me at the Church to hand me back the second camera.

If you are working solo then when you do the girls, set a time that you intend to leave and stick to it...You really need to be at least 30 minutes ahead of the bride provided you can drive straight into the venue and set up. If parking and such will be an issue then allow an hour !! The last thing you want to do is be setting up cameras at the Church and the limo is already coming down the road. It's far better to be able to set up in the Church and then hang around outside the Church with plenty of time to relax. The last thing you need is having to rush!!

In fact this afternoon I'm using a second shooter to do the girls so I can wait for the guys limo to arrive at the Church and film them ...I will then wait for my second shooter to bring back the second camera ahead of the limo so I can film the girls arriving.

Be really tough with timing ..if you need to leave the girls at 2:30pm then do it!! If the bride is late then tough cheese!! It's better not to hang around waiting for her and then only have 5 minutes to set up...that scenario never turns out well!!

Chris
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Old September 20th, 2013, 10:57 PM   #7
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Re: Wedding Preps

We offer a five hour package, and usually start when the bride gets dressed and will be done after the ceremony. So, for a 4pm ceremony, it's usually starting at 11am. Here they often do a first look then pictures.

IF you want to shoot both the bride and groom, ask. They'll need to stagger their prep times and make it convenient for you. If the groom was getting ready somewhere else, just have him come to the church and fake it real quick.

We offer to film family interviews during that stretch: grandparents telling the story of how they met, etc, not to include in their wedding film, but as a separate memento.

OR, we credit down time as half time. Have us sit around picking our noses for two hours and we'll only count that as an hour.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 01:43 AM   #8
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Re: Wedding Preps

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
Jeff, just a suggestion. ASK the bride what time they are getting their hair and makeup done and WHERE it is getting done. Then ask here where the guys are going to be. Once you know those 2 things then you can figure out how early you need to be on site and if you can do the girls and guys without traveling all over town and making it a very hard day on yourself. More often than not the guys really aren't interested in the prep portion of the day although some are it's the girls that want it done and many don't care if the guys do it or not. At least that's my experience.

Don't be afraid, ask the bride...she'll tell you everything you need to know.

BTW, just an FYI when I DO bridal prep which isn't often anymore, I generally start about 2 to 3 hours before the ceremony DEPENDING on where the prep takes place and how far it is from the ceremony site. If they're getting ready in a hotel and the guys are there getting ready as well, I pop into the guys room, set some shots up and then go back to the girls. But that's just me.
I also do what Don does, if the guys and girls are in the same hotel, I start with the bride and get some shots, then go to the groom's and finish them in 5 minutes, then go back to the bride to finish the remainder of the preps. If the bride and groom are getting ready in 2 locations and I'm alone, I put priority with the bride. Then when I arrive at the ceremony location, I take the groom to the bathroom or somewhere in a corner and "fake" the getting ready by having him unbutton his shirt and putting on his tie, cufflinks, coat, boutonniere, and shoes. The groom can be faked in about 4 minutes flat. The bride and her girls will take hours.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 04:07 AM   #9
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Re: Wedding Preps

I don't fake anything because although it may look nice on a showreel and have some appeal on the first viewing its utterly meaningless as a record of their day to the couple. Its just a clip where "the guy asked me to do ..... " its not a real event. Opinions :- )

Again, if you talk candidly to brides before the wedding - asking them what they want rather than presenting them with whats "normal" or "this is my style" - and also after the wedding, you often find that lengthy getting ready coverage is found to be intrusive in practice and not desirable. Most prefer for actual shooting to start once they are on the way to becoming the finished article. This is also borne out by still image selections if you give clients genuine input into image selections for their albums. The shots at 8am in the hair salon when the girls have no makeup and casual clothing don't make it into the album at the clients request ..... these only make it in if the photographer plays the artist card.

If you start around 2 hours before the ceremony time, or 1.5 hours if they are getting ready at the ceremony venue, that will easily fit most mainstream clients. Always remember you are a stranger with a camera (or two); inevitably you are introducing some tension into the room no matter how convinced you are that you're the worlds most easy going guy and no matter how polite the girls are to you. You will get the detail stuff of the dress shoes flowers jewellery etc as well as hair and makeup being finished off, and of course the dress being fitted. You may or may not be in the room for the start of the dress being put on, best practice to default to leaving the room at that point to be called back in a few minutes later; this saves the client from any awkwardness which they may not feel able to express to you.

The number of mainstream grooms who actually want getting ready coverage is vanishingly small - just try asking open questions and you'll soon discover that. If requested it is usually the bride who is the force behind the request. However some pre-ceremony coverage at the ceremony venue is expected and desirable. If the groom is getting ready at the same venue as the bride and he's up for it then do some - you don't need to be with the girls the whole time anyway. But don't be the bloke who forced him into it.

We don't have all this first look playacting in the UK :- ) Nor is it normal to have any formal photos or suchlike featuring the bride and groom together and with family members etc before the ceremony. Indeed just the opposite. There is a bad luck superstition about the couple seeing each other before the ceremony.

As Chris says you must be ruthless with your timings at that stage of the day if the ceremony venue involves some travel. If the bride is running late she's running late. Tough. That was her decision in a roundabout way. Its far more important to get set up and ready for the ceremony rather than risk that for a few more fluffy bits at the getting ready.

Pete
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Old September 21st, 2013, 04:15 AM   #10
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Re: Wedding Preps

One thing that's surprised me in this thread is the fact that people are talking about couples getting ready at the ceremony location!

I've never actually seen groom get ready at ceremony location, apart from occasionally attaching flowers to jackets; and I've only seen brides do it maybe three times, when the ceremony location was their backyard.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 06:07 AM   #11
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Re: Wedding Preps

My timings and thoughts are virtually identical to Pete's, with a start about 2 hours before the ceremony or about 1.5 hours if they are getting ready at the venue. With a civil ceremony in the UK, it is nearly always at a hotel or stately home where the B&G both have rooms to get ready in. With a Church wedding, the Bride would usually get ready at Mum's house with the girls and usually I would take prep shots once they are some way through them, to avoid any discomfort with stages of undress.

The guys aren't usually that bothered though the Bride will sometimes ask for a bit of them getting ready. My Brides always like to see the guys arriving at the church and guest arrivals. I also never fake shots as I film a fly on the wall documentary and I see a faked shot as being disingenuous, that's just me though. The 'First Look' is something I had never heard of until I joined this forum and I have never seen it in the UK over 2000 weddings. As Pete said, it has been traditionally seen as unlucky in the UK.

Time allowed for preps, transport and guest arrivals is going to be very much down to mix of experience/confidence, the type of shots that you want to take and setting up/breaking down time. As Adrian said, he can arrive at the church 30-60 minutes before the ceremony and be rushing to get set up. At the opposite extreme, I always arrive at the church 45-60 mins before the ceremony, but only take about 5 minutes to set up audio and cameras as explained in another thread.

So it's difficult to give accurate advice on times, but you will get a feel for what you need once you have a few weddings out of the way.

Roger
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Old September 21st, 2013, 06:34 AM   #12
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Re: Wedding Preps

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
One thing that's surprised me in this thread is the fact that people are talking about couples getting ready at the ceremony location!

I've never actually seen groom get ready at ceremony location, apart from occasionally attaching flowers to jackets; and I've only seen brides do it maybe three times, when the ceremony location was their backyard.
Again this is probably one of those "where you live---in your area things" because around here it does happen pretty often. Most times though the prep is at a home or hotel and I agree with Chris and others about timing. You have to tell the bride what time you're leaving and then do it. You go when you gotta go and if there are some shots you didn't get, so be it. If you don't do that, you'll be the one running into the ceremony throwing gear around like a crazy person and inevitably something gets forgotten or not done right then you have a whole other problem.

Have to use some good ol' common sense on this one. (like pretty much every other part of a wedding)
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Old September 21st, 2013, 08:00 AM   #13
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Re: Wedding Preps

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
One thing that's surprised me in this thread is the fact that people are talking about couples getting ready at the ceremony location!

I've never actually seen groom get ready at ceremony location, apart from occasionally attaching flowers to jackets; and I've only seen brides do it maybe three times, when the ceremony location was their backyard.
In our area, most churches have additional space used for Sunday school, daycare, or even holding dinners and such. It's just as common for the bride to get ready at the church as anywhere else. The groom, less so, but only because of convenience... he doesn't need help and can be done in 5 minutes.

Peter, when it comes to faking it, you're right that it's not something I like to do, but if the bride wants groom prep, I figure out how to get it done. Not kidding that half of the time the groom or groomsmen just don't bother with whatever their schedule is, and end up getting ready early, or somewhere else.

And first looks are very common here, so they can do pictures before the ceremony so that the reception can start soon after the ceremony. This is a product of too many family pictures, perhaps, with the portrait photographers, and they take 2 hours or so pretty easily.
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Old September 21st, 2013, 08:48 PM   #14
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Re: Wedding Preps

Hi Guys

We have quite a few resorts where the facility exists (because it's also a hotel) to have accommodation as well as a ceremony venue in the grounds and reception area too.

Great for us of course and no real timing issues as you can set up at the ceremony and then zip across to the bride getting ready if you forget something as she is so close. Of course there is no limo shoot either as they usually "book in" the day before and book out on the Sunday.

I wish they were all like that as you simply park your car and that's it for the entire wedding!

Chris
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 01:03 AM   #15
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Re: Wedding Preps

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
I don't fake anything because although it may look nice on a showreel and have some appeal on the first viewing its utterly meaningless as a record of their day to the couple. Its just a clip where "the guy asked me to do ..... " its not a real event. Opinions :- )
I agree ABSOLUTELY with this - no posing, prompting, direction etc. thats the main reason I don't do the photo shoot (it's an extra) I'm there to record what happens on the day. the couple get ready, have a ceremony & celebrate that with family & friends. I think the only time I break my rule is if the couple are having an archway - I sometimes ask if I can go through 1st and then I have POV footage to cut into the actual coverage.

As to the original question I use a 2nd and we each spend a couple of hours at the prep, leaving when the guys/girls are dressed.
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