As with detail shots, portrait opportunities abound throughout the ceremony. Certainly, formal shots are key to the portrait opportunities. Whether the couple provides a list of must-have family shots or you provide the list, this phase can occur either before or after the ceremony or be divided between those times.

If the couple opts to not see each other at all before the ceremony, some photographers photograph the bride, bride and attendants, and bride and family shots — and likewise for the groom — before the ceremony. With this approach, it's important to ensure that time for the sessions is scheduled and that family members and attendants are present and dressed well before the ceremony. I then complete the formal portraits with the bride and groom and their families after the ceremony. When these are done, I send the families on to the reception and create a romance session of just the bride and groom, either photojournalistic or traditional, depending on their tastes.

13.12 Sonja and Nathan's wedding portrait. ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/200 sec., with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens.

Another option is taking formal portraits following the ceremony. This often makes the wedding flow more efficiently because guests can proceed to the reception while the wedding party remains at the ceremony site for a photo session. I usually start with the largest groups and work down to the bride and groom, sending folks off to the reception once their pictures are taken. I don't want lots of guests standing around gawking while I'm taking the most important images: intimate portraits of the bride and groom.

Depending on the location and light, this is a good time to use one or multiple EX-series Speedlites, both indoors and outdoors. This is also where a ladder, reflectors, and Speedlite modifiers, such as a small softbox or an umbrella, are invaluable. If you're using multiple Speedlites, you should test the setup before the couple and family are called in for the portrait session. This is where my assistant or a family member stands in to do a few quick test shots.

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