Plan early

A big family wedding takes a lot of organisation, and most couples will start planning anything up to a year in advance, and of course this includes booking the photographer. If you're sure you're up for it, you need to start being professional and businesslike straight away. Mark the date on your calendar, and in your diary, and set your phone to remind you a week, a day and an hour in advance. The happy couple and their close relatives are going to have quite enough to worry about, so it will be of great reassurance for them to know that their wedding photos are in safe hands.

The root of all evil

One thing to get clear right at the start is the matter of cost. If you're doing the photos as a favour for a friend that's fine, but be clear exactly how far you're prepared to go. Maybe you want to give your friends a nice album of photos as a wedding present, but consider that a good quality leather-bound wedding album starts at around £45, plus the cost of ink and printing paper. Added to your time on the day that's a pretty generous wedding present, when most of the other guests will be giving them a set of bath towels or a toaster. Most people won't be offended if you ask them to cover your costs, and you should also charge a small fee for extra prints for relatives, to make sure you're not out of pocket. Considering the cost of hiring a professional wedding photographer they're still getting a good deal.

Plan a shot list

Since for most couples this will be their first wedding, and they will have a lot on their minds, they probably won't have given much thought to exactly what photos they want. Your best option is to present them with a comprehensive list of the traditional photos that most people choose, such as the bridesmaids getting ready, the wedding dress hanging up ready to be worn, bride arriving at church etcetera. I've included a sample list at the end of this part of the tutorial. The couple can go through this list and select the ones they want, and it will help to get them thinking about what other shots they might like. Work with them to come up with a sensible list of desirable shots, bearing in mind the location and their schedule for the big day.

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