This blog post has been on the back burner for months! I've been wanting to write it ever since I shot my first temple ceremony at the Washington, DC LDS Temple back in August. With another temple ceremony coming up next month, I figured I would finally get down to it!
Before I shot that wedding, I did some research on what exactly was involved so I didn't walk in blind. I found this great blog post, which really helped me as I went. So here is how a Mormon wedding works, and what you need to know to cover it!
1) The temple ceremony replaces a 'typical' wedding ceremony - and you probably won't see it. No photographs at ALL are allowed during this time, so even if the photographer can attend, they have to keep their camera away. Also, as a non-Mormon, I was not allowed into the deeper parts of the temple, so instead I waited outside.
2) Be flexible! Since there are multiple ceremonies in a day, the schedule can be pushed back or forward. I arrived a few minutes before the scheduled start time but ended up waiting awhile because their ceremony was delayed a little bit.
3) There are other photographers, so be respectful. This goes along with point #2. There was another ceremony that let out before Christian and Rachel's, so I stepped aside to allow the photographer to get the best vantage point, knowing that only one couple would come out at once.
4) Don't forget the important details. This includes the grand exit from the temple, where friends and family wait outside, form a line, and cheer loudly for the newlyweds. Also, it's important to photograph the temple itself. This is just the same as photographing a wedding venue. For that particular wedding I was glad I had done this, as the groom specifically asked for a picture of the angel on top of one of the spires, and I already had taken several!
5) The reception may be at a different location - and on a different day. Christian and Rachel had their ceremony on a Friday afternoon in Washington, DC., with their reception the next day in Richmond. This is because there are not a ton of temples, so families will often travel to go to a particular temple, then have the reception where most of the family is from.
6) Get a complete list of family formal pictures in advance. Most of these will be taken after the temple ceremony. And fair warning - there WILL be one large group photo with everyone! I was glad to be there early to scout out a great location for a big group of people on a set of steps. And photographer's tip - don't forget to raise your aperture to keep everyone in focus.
7) Remember that this is someone's normal. I was so glad I approached that day with a lot of knowledge, since that was my first temple ceremony. I did my research and prepared well. At the same time, I kept an open mind and realized that although it was different for me, this was normal for most of the people there. There's no reason to be worried or scared, or to treat anyone differently - it's a wedding, even if the format is a little rearranged.
Bonus Tip: Dress more modestly than normal, and wear sleeves. While nobody mentioned this to me in advance or said a word about it, I know that's an important thing to them and I didn't want to be disrespectful in the least. It's a small gesture that can go a long way!
Overall, I had the best experience I could have imagined. Everyone was incredibly kind to me, and the days flowed smoothly from beginning to end - even if I hit some traffic driving from DC to the Confederate Hills Center in Richmond for the reception. I dearly love Christian, Rachel, and their family, and it's because of them that I'm hoping to shoot more temple ceremonies and receptions! And of course if you have ANY other questions that I didn't cover, comment and let me know and I'll do my best to answer!