I would like to say, first of all, Tim - great thread! I think the idea behind this thread is fantastic. Great way for first timers to learn their lesson before learning the hard way! Keep the tips coming.
Second of all - I would really like to see this thread (or a simplified version - a.k.a. what I am about to post) made a Sticky as I would hate to see the valuable information here lost in the mess of other "What settings do I use" threads.
Third of all - I hope I am not stepping on anyone's toes here, but, I have gone through all the pages of this thread and have compiled, simplified and organized all the "tips" into one document. I have posted this below. Please feel free to add to it and after a few more pages, I will re-compile and re-post.
Thanks again Tim and all who have given their valuable input!
Summary of Tips:
o Wedding days are frantic and very hectic. Make sure you are properly organized before you arrive at the Wedding. Once you relax, Wedding photography can be quite fun.
o Pack plenty of drinks (i.e. water) and easy-to-eat food (i.e. power bar, granola bar) in your camera bag. Assume there won't be any other food around on the day.
o Wear comfortable shoes.
o Dress like a guest, or at least tidily.
o Speak with the B&G before the Wedding and ensure you have a list of all the shots they want. The list should be split into pre-ceremony, ceremony, register signing, exit, reception and candid shots. Give them this list and make sure the Best Man and Maid of Honor sees the list and know what shots will be taken.
o Ensure that you have a list of required people to be in each shot (i.e. formal shots)
o The bride's mother/father can be a formidable allies
o Review the histogram regularly, even if you think you got the shot.
o What looks in focus on the camera’s LCD screen can look terrible on a big screen. If you're playing with depth of field, you can't judge the outcome from the camera’s LCD. Bracket the apertures.
o Be careful to get horizons level.
o Pay close attention to the basics (i.e. Lens Hood is on tightly).
o Using the sun as a backlight is good. If you are doing this, try and shoot diagonally so it doesn't strike your lens and cause flare. In strong sunlight have someone shade your lens so the sun doesn't strike it directly, even with a hood the flare can detract from a photo.
o When taking shots of objects (i.e. dress hanging from rail, cake shots) make sure your camera is perfectly square with the background. Diagonal lines aren't good for this type of shot.
o Beware of reflective backgrounds. If you get one (i.e. a curved varnished wood behind the alter) throw your flash away, or put the lights up high (i.e. 13 feet or more).
o Be nice, friendly, flexible and professional. People skills are important – what good is a great shot of a poor subject?
o Get to know the best person to organize the appropriate people for the formal photos - in advance. Make them feel important and involved
o Posing people well is hard. Read books before hand, look at other peoples pictures, and practice.
o Take a minimum of 3 pictures of each posed shot
o Take a minimum of 5 shots of each group pose
o Check the histogram after each shot.
o Don't cut off hands, feet, or anything else in formals.
o Pay attention to making sure the subjects have nice smiles and to clothing. All jackets should be done up, shouldn't have excessive wrinkles, should hang nicely, collars in the right place, make sure there's nothing poking out the bottom of the jacket. Similar for hair.
o Make sure people are properly centered if a background warrants it (i.e. in an arch).
o Studio lights are great for formals, if you have time to set them up and tear them down. Two lights are usually ideal.
o Shoot RAW. The pace on a wedding day can be frantic; you might not have time to get everything perfect.
o Fill flash should be used outdoors with a hot-shoe flash (i.e. 580ex) with a soft box or diffuser, mounted on a bracket at FEC around -1 1/3.
o There's often no time for monopods or tripods except during formal shots, use IS lenses or high ISO.
o Use a custom white balance. This will cut a lot of time off post processing.
o Use a flash at the reception if it's dark. ISO 1600 is acceptable if you are able to get proper exposure.
o Flash brackets are essential, diffusers are slightly less so.
o Know when to use which type of metering. Typically, partial metering is used approximately 60% of the time, evaluative is used when the dynamic range isn't too high, and very occasionally centre weighted is used.
o Don't underestimate how long post processing will take. Better to take one good photo in which everything is near-perfect in than to take five quick ones that need 15 minutes post processing.
o Develop an efficient workflow going.
o Mailing and administration work can take up a lot of time – develop an efficient workflow for this as well.
o Templates are great for all aspects of post processing, whether it be for administration or presets for proof quality photos. Have templates for replying to inquiries, with variations for people who are booking from overseas. Have templates for information for people who want a budget package, and people who want a full service with album package. Have templates for common things such as contracts, letters to accompany proof DVDs
o Have the biggest camera at the wedding.
o If you're using a diffuser, bring twice as many batteries as you think you'll need, or a high capacity battery pack.
o Ideal minimum photography equipment:
- 2 x Canon EOS 30D
- 17-55 F2.8 IS - Ideal range on cropped sensor
- 70-200 F2.8 IS - Great for when you have to stay back a bit in churches, ceremonies, and receptions
- 50mm F1.4 or Sigma 30mm F1.4 - Great for low light shots, first dance and prep photos
- 10GB solid state compact flash
- Flash bracket
- 2 x 580ex (or similar – i.e. 550ex)
- Adequate amount of camera batteries
- Adequate amount of NiMH AA batteries - 16-24 of them
- 2 x Studio Lights with Stands and Umbrellas - optional
o The Best of Wedding Photojournalism: Techniques and Images from the Pros, by Bill Hurter.
o Digital Wedding Photography by Paul Gero.