1. Make a schedule and shot list! This was probably the #1 best thing I did. I sat down with Mrs. S (unfortunately Sarah wasn't able to be at the meeting due to work, so in an ideal situation, you'd be talking to the bride herself) and wrote out a timeline for the day. We worked backwards from the ceremony (much easier than starting at the beginning of the day!), and I left 15 minute buffers in between events. I then took that basic schedule home and filled it in with what shots I was planning to take. An example:
11:00 am Kathryn meet Sarah & bridesmaids' for hair appt. at salonI also included notes on what I wanted my second shooter to cover, with detailed instructions on how I envisioned any specific shots if I wasn't just leaving her to her own judgement. :-) I made sure that the bride & groom, families and the wedding coordinator had copies of the schedule in its' basic form (without the shot list).
1:00 pm Hair finished and drive back to house
1:15 pm Kathryn, Sarah & bridesmaids arrive at house
- Girls getting ready
- Kathryn shoot details:
Dress hanging up
Bridesmaids dresses hanging in a row
2. Don't be afraid to make suggestions, and be the boss. I'm not saying tyrannize everyone and ruin the day. But most of the time, the bride doesn't know what the best light is, etc. so just mentioning, "We could actually get a better shot if you were to stand this way," or, "Can we open the shades on this window?" can aid you in getting the shot you want. I regret that I didn't do this as much as I could have.
3. Slow down and focus (and I don't mean the camera) during portrait time. Another thing I think I can definitely improve next time. It was so easy to start feeling rushed during portraits and just zip through poses without pausing to make sure that everything looked just right before pressing the shutter. Portrait time is the fun time of the day, so relax! For instance, in the pictures with the flower girls, I realized after the fact that the one little girl's dress was slipping off her one shoulder. If I had slowed down and "studied" the shot briefly before I snapped it, I would have noticed that and been able to fix it. Also checking your shot for a moment afterward on your LCD screen would help too! (The Lord knows how to keep us humble...)
4. Remember your aperture during family portraits after the ceremony! I followed a tip from Jasmine Star where you shoot family portraits in layers - start with EVERYONE and then peel people off from there. That means the number of people in your shot is changing. I was shooting outside and it was evening and overcast - the light was fading. In my first shot there were a TON of people, so I had my aperture up around f/14, which also meant I had to have my ISO pretty high. Once I had it cut down to just the bride & groom with their parents, for instance, I could have pulled my aperture way down and lowered my ISO, resulting in a crisper, less grainy shot. Unfortunately, I totally zoned out on that point and shot everything at f/14. *blushes* Next time I think I would actually note on my shot list what aperture I would use so I'd have a visual reminder.
5. Flash has its place and it is sometimes a necessity for outdoor-receptions-at-night-with-only-cafe-lights-for-illumination. But I still don't like it, even with a big fancy 580EX II.
6. The "big name" photographers (hellooo Katelyn James - and lots of others but she's my favorite!) do NOT charge too much!!! It's a big figure, yes, but they earn it!
7. Schedule a massage for the day after. You'll need it. :-D
I'm sure I must have learned more than that, but I'm drawing a blank. If you have specific questions, leave a comment and I'll be glad to answer it, however unqualified I may be. :-)