The Reception

The Reception

While the main formal shots at the reception should be taken in Raw on your main camera, it's also a good idea to take a good quality compact along too. It's less obtrusive than a big DSLR, so it's ideal for capturing less formal candid shots of the guests enjoying themselves. Also, you can lend it to a friend to cover until you arrive. Since you will be doing the couple's romantic portrait shots while the guests are arriving at the reception, it's handy to have someone else there taking pictures for you.

The photos of the reception will of course be less formal than the ceremony, but there are still several standard shots you should try to get. If the couple are having a receiving line, (a formal greeting of the guests by the newlyweds and their immediate family, before they move into the dining room) you should be on hand to photograph at least the first half-dozen or so guests being welcomed.

If you are also a guest at the reception, make sure you are seated in a good vantage spot to photograph the speeches. Remember however that even though you're a guest, you're still working. There are shots that you will have to take all through the reception, so don't drink too much, and keep your camera and your wits about you at all times. If the party is going on late you may need to find somewhere secure to stash your camera bag until its time to leave.

If you can manage the time, try to get some shots of the dining room before the guests are seated. Take some close-ups of the place settings, particularly the top table. Photograph the table centrepieces, if any, and of course take some nice photos of the wedding cake.

Most the photos you take at the reception will be spur-of-the-moment shots. You'll be using the flash a lot, so keep an eye on your batteries. Try to capture the atmosphere, and make sure you get some nice photos of groups of friends and any older relatives enjoying themselves. They are sure to be treasured in years to come.

There are very few formal shots at the reception, but apart from the ones I've already mentioned, try and get these ones as well:

  • The bride and groom's first dance, the "our tune" dance

  • The bride dancing with her father

  • The groom dancing with his mum

  • The bride showing off her new ring

  • The father of the bride's speech and toast

  • The groom's speech and toast to the bride

  • The best man's speech and toast, also the audience laughing

  • The bride and groom cutting the cake

  • The bride and groom in back seat of the car, about to leave for thier hotel

  • The back of car as it drives away, complete with old cans and "Just Married" on the back. You may have to bribe some of the younger guests to arrange this, but check with the best man first.

Once the bride and groom are safely away you can finally relax, happy in the knowledge of a job well done. Have a drink, you've earned it. Don't get too relaxed though, because tomorrow you have to start sorting, processing and printing all these hundreds of photos. The hard work has barely begun.


I thought I'd get this tutorial done in two parts, but as you can see it's a pretty complicated subject. In part three I'll talk about the aftermath, about processing and printing your pictures, and preparing a wedding album. So be sure to tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!


'Link to Part 3 of this tutorial.

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