Can be very tough to shoot.  And rightfully so!  Not in a condescending way but they are an old school church and have rules. In their defense, there were a few photographers who showed severe ignorance and disrespect during several Weddings causing many of the parishes to not allow flash and restrict movement.  

Several of your predecessors brought this on and we suffer for it. Fortunately with the newer equipment, better lower light ability and higher ISO cleanliness, more solutions are available with improved techniques. My purpose is to tell it like it is and prepare you.  Knowing the customs, traditions and sheer craziness at times about all religions gives you an edge over the other shooters who did not take the time to learn.  This builds confidence in all of your customers.

Often, more so than not, the actual Wedding is encompassed and contained in a FORMAL MASS.  If there was no Wedding and just a MASS, you would not be standing up in your Church popping shots just as the Reverend Bishop or Priest was orationalizing.  A MASS is a religious function and the rules are deep and structured.  The current head of the Church is John Paul II and is followed by an endless list of Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Laymen, Altar Staff, Angels, Saints, and a Butler who stole his private papers.  (He got 18 months)

Adding to that, today because of the economy, many couples handle a lot of their own wedding planning. When one of the individuals is Catholic, this can include making arrangements and there are rules and conditions. In some cases very strict rules. Read on. It's not like just walking in and booking the hall.

The Catholic Marriage Website recommends the following:  
Catholic dioceses in the United States have policies that require a preparation period of six months to one year for couples who want to be married in the Church. The preparation includes a contact with the parish in which they want to have their wedding. It’s a good idea to get your date on the parish calendar as soon as possible. It’s also important to talk with the parish priest or deacon or pastoral minister about what the parish allows and expects in a celebration. It is also possible that the parish can offer specific help and resources, such as a person to help you plan and coordinate the event.


We are now adding another layer to the Wedding, the critical Church shots might wind up under new direction.  I booked a shoot once where the Bride and Groom got so fed up with the rules and regulations, they cancelled the Church Wedding and we had a beautiful ceremony in a modern non-denominational Church.  And so much for the liturgical sciences making things clearer and easy, sometimes getting married can be more for others than for oneself.  I recommend offering a City Hall Shoot as an option if they decide to elope.  It's no different from the millions who do it in Vegas.  And it can be a great fill in service with recommendations from City Hall.  

The Catholic Marriage Website recommends the following: 
The Catholic Church provides three different forms of celebrating the Rite of Marriage. When two Catholics are marrying, the celebration will normally take place within a Mass. The second form, which does not include a Mass, is used when a Catholic marries another baptized Christian. There is a third form, which also does not include a Mass, for a Catholic marrying someone who is a non-Christian. You should choose one of these forms in conversation with the priest or deacon who will witness your marriage vows.


I figure you have enough sense to sort this one out. Don't be an obstruction, or start moving equipment, make noise during the Mass, pop a flash, or get too close to the altar and be prepared to get thrown out if you do something stupid.  Based on today’s headlines, with the Church under legal embarrassing issues because of some wayward Priests don’t even make jokes about it.  On the other hand, at one of the conventions, I have heard the story of a Priest of goodly and Godly proportion literally manhandle a photographer off the dais and out the door when he became public nuisance number one.

Stay away from the Monstrance.  (wiki)
A monstrance also known as ostensorium is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. 

Created in the medieval period for the public display of relics, the monstrance today is usually restricted for vessels used for hosts. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning "to show".  In Latin, the monstrance is known as an ostensoriumnce

On Line Availability: Two tone, bright and satin finish Gold plated monstrance with oxidized silver detailing. Stones are red with enamel crosses on face.  All purpose luna.  (Item #*KO-K682) $1,695.00

The most Holy physical part of the Catholic Church is usually the altar so be careful setting up shots so as not to infringe on its space, that’s a NO-NO. 

The ball object is placed in the holder and that states the Host is part of the ceremony.  Don’t climb on the altar to get the Brides and Grooms faces during the ceremony. Stage the shot after from a lesser angle avoiding the altar with fast and long glass.  This is a very sensitive and meaningfull object in the Catholic religion.


If it is a full Mass and Wedding, be prepared with long, fast glass and definitely VR or IS lenses from a distance or from the balcony. Remember to color correct (white balance) before hand if you are digitally inclined. With slower film you’ll need faster glass and fast film. 

Arrange all the formals for before time or after the ceremony. That’s when a helper and pre-planning mean the most. Remote triggers for additional flashes, and maybe the helper shooting topside from the balcony. It’s a heck of a lot easier if you want the Alter for the backdrops either before or after with a helper. 

Attitudes can differ amongst Priests. Some are fantastic and easy to work with, showing much patience and once in a while you’ll think you walked into one of the disciples having a bad a day because his Canonization hadn’t been approved. Lately though since the bad publicity, I find they are a little more flexible since congregation numbers and funding is down.  

A meeting at the Church, with the lights lit as it will be, way in advance of the Wedding with the Priest and the couple to familiarize yourself with the ground rules. Ask to shoot a few test shoots, make up a shoot card with the ambient lighting, is  a great idea with some common sense thrown in. The day of the wedding is not a cool idea.  I have with a donation to the poor box received a little leeway during the event.  Make friends , if you do it right and become a friend of the Church it can mean referrals.

Usually but not always, the families of the bride and groom sit on opposite sides of the aisle, which is usually covered by a white runner that extends to the altar. Some do not use the runner but decorate the pews with flowers, some churches do not. 

1- The seating processional if there is one, gets the grandparents, parents and then bride’s mother. 

2- Then the rest appear from the sides, the groom and groomsmen or they might be escorting bridesmaids. 

3- The flower girl and ring bearer follow them.

4- Then the Bride and her Father enter. The music starts. 

5- In some ceremonies the light candles, rings are exchanged, soft word spoken tears flow.

Simple enough but most Catholic weddings also have Mass at the same time or morning, usually Saturday and now add an hour to the program. With a MASS specified,  some churches will have the MASS processional and then the Wedding.

Sidenotes:  (We did not make this up) 


It's true we now have an anti-liturgical Archbishop priest to cut through rough circumstance and he has invented his own version, semi Eastern Orthodox, semi DIY certified by progression, Catholic Church.  It's important to note that his church does not allow any Gay or Women Priests which is stated throughout.  

"Photography and great pictures of our wedding day are very important to me, as this is the only tangible thing to help us remember our wedding day in fifty years.  So I looked for the “great deals” on photographers, and met a photographer through a work project that was very reasonably priced.  Although he had only photographed a few weddings, he is a full time photographer and has a stunning portfolio.  

Before I booked the photographer, Justin and I discussed our options for paying for the photographer.  Ultimately, we decided if I took budgeted money out of other areas of our wedding (like flowers and cake), we’d book the photographer I found.  So, together, we changed our budget".  

Dxxxxl and I are almost decided on a photographer to use, too. A guy who works with Dxxxx also does photography on the side, and his work is great! We’ve looked at the pictures from other weddings he’s done, and it’s definitely our style. The package is pretty affordable and has everything we would want, so we just need to sit down and talk with him soon.

All the rules in one place and it's long.

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012