Ceremonies are by far the most complex and tricky situations to shoot in. There may not only be restrictions on where the photographer can go or the lighting equipment allowed (no flash), but the photographer must also work in a very discreet and non-intrusive manner. When it comes to onelight photography the ceremony presents a challenge that can be very difficult at times.
My first concern is good coverage of the couple from the start of the ceremony to finish. The biggest factor that plays into that is the amount of natural light and its direction within the venue. I then have to factor in how much space is available, and my ability to move about within the venue. My next consideration is artificial light, or off-camera flash and how I will incorporate that into the service, if allowed. I want to limit the movement of my lighting, but I also need to ensure that I can adequately light the couple for the style of shots I am trying to capture.
Typically flash placement will be up front near the altar, to the side of the couple, and outside the space taken up by seated guests. Once the flash placement is set I try to limit any changes in the position, not only to minimize disrupting the service but also to reduce the changes needed in camera settings. Similar to the reception I will create my compositions such that I take advantage of the flash placement.
The most stressful point to any ceremony is the conclusion and recessional. In a few short moments I have to make the switch from shooting the ceremony to repositioning the light and adjusting camera settings to adequately capture the recessional from the ceremony, a feat that is not possible without an assistant. This requires good communication and quick thinking on both our parts.