In preparation for the first wedding, my partner and I took a road trip to Frostburg, PA to scout out the wedding and receptions sites. At a little under three hours, the trip ate up the bulk of the day. But it was well worth the effort and time. We only had about 45 minutes in the church before we had to yield to a funeral service. That was enough time to take several test shots, narrow down some settings, and plan some logistics. The light (of course) was problematic, with the altar backgroiund being much brighter than the area where the couple and celebrant will be. With no flashing during the ceremony, we're going to be limited in what we can do with the background getting blown out. The key will be to shoot at angles so we don't get the bright white marble of the altar in the shot. Before leaving the church, we took some shots outdoors.
After the church, we walked a block to the hotel where the reception will be. An old "restored" place, it offered its own challenges. We took some shots outside before venturing in. This was not a Hilton, mind you. It's a small town hotel that has been stuck in time. The first thing we noticed was the grand staircase. It's covered in a bright red carpet (lots of velvety material here), but lit properly it should be an excellent setting for group shots. The helpful desk clerk showed us to the reception room and left us alone to wander. We set up some lighting gear, and spent an hour or so experimenting and taking notes. Then we wandered into the lobby again and tried a few shots there and on the staircase. The clerk showed us a few additional features of the hotel, like the smallest balcony ever built, but they wouldn't work for us. Odd that he didn't show us the jail or the old cock fighting room still preserved in the basement...
After the hotel, we wandered across the street to the Princess Diner where we had a small-town lunch. The bride had tipped us off that this was the best food in town, and might be a fun site for a photo. After casing the joint, we agreed. We're going to take the couple, in tux and gown, to the diner and take a photo with them having a cup of coffee at the counter. Then we hope to take a shot of them at the local theater next door. They have an old-school marquis that I'm hoping we can adjust to our needs. The idea here is to catch the small town flavor as a theme in the shots, since this is where the bride grew up.
The last stop was the local florist. There's only one in town, and they do it all. We spent some time taking photos in their very large store, and had a nice talk with the owner and some of her staff.
We didn't get to visit the baker who is doing the cake - I believe that's a home business so we left it alone.
A few days after the trip we reviewd the test photos, discussed settings, movement, angles, and whatnot, and got a plan down. Being a "J" personality, this is exactly what I needed to prepare.