There are a lot of beginners who wants to shoot actual day weddings without really knowing what lies ahead for them. They start off by offering free coverage for their friends weddings to build up a portfolio rather than tagging along with a more experience/full time photographer (I don't like to use the 'Pro' word) which should be a wiser way to go because if they screw up the shoot then there's a backup. Let's just go through what is required on an actual day shoot before we even start to disect the nitty gritty of it.
First off, its none other than skills. What level of photography know-how is required? An actual day shoot will typically involve fast changing situations, lighting, terrain/environment roadblocks, people (and there'll be lots of them), distractions etc to name a few. You must know how to change settings instantly when lighting conditions changes (eg moving in and out of a building, sudden spotlight focusing on your subjects etc) and when I'm talking about settings, I'm referring to ISO, Shutterspeed, Aperture, WB etc and if you're using AV, TV and god-forbid P mode then you will continue to have shots made for you by your camera and not by you. I'm going to get flamed for this but I'm full M mode fellow unless the lighting conditions never changes and everything in the shoot area is lit up in exactly the same way then I'll stick to AV else its M, period.
You will not have the luxury to pause any situation and there won't be a second chance or retake for the shot. During the shoot, you will also encounter lots of people who will talk to you in the course of your shoot so make sure you're not distracted and miss the shot while at the same time converse with the said person. Be always vigilant for spot shots or candid moments which cannot be repeated. And while your brain is processing all of the above, you will need to compose your photo, be aware of what is behind and in front of your subject and how the lighting in those 2 zones will influence your subject. Going one step further you need to know or at least forsee how you are going to post process that photo to get the right feel and mood for the total shot. All these are processed by your brain in less than 1 sec.
Next we come to the equipment. Technically you will need at least 2 bodies with 1 as backup with a set of fast lenses that can cover your wide to telephoto range. Again you need to know what each lens can do at what ISO and under what lighting etc etc. Then you will need speedlites, triggers etc. I carry 4-5 speedlites for a wedding dinner and set them up around strategic places in the wedding hall and 1 unit with me throughout the shoot. Batteries and CF cards are no brainers and you'll need spare batts for your triggers and receivers as well.
Wear super comfortable clothes and shoes unless the event calls for formal cloths/attire rules. I chew gum or eat sweets during the shoot to keep me "hydrated" or rather it helps me to focus and I need the sugar to keep my energy levels..lol
Till Part 2 - Composition On The Go
Coincidentally the photos you see here are shots from Keith & Carol's actual wedding day taken on 11/12 Sept. More pics : here