Wedding breakfasts and other reception formats can be very simple or extremely elaborate. At their simplest, they consist of drinks in a hotel bar or lounge, perhaps with some snack food available. More elaborate weddings may arrange a full meal followed by speeches and a dance which goes on well in to the night. Such occasions may be staged in hotels, country houses, or marquees erected in well-chosen locations.
A photographer working alone may find it impossible to be at the location of the reception when the bride and groom arrive. It is often a case of choosing whether to capture the departure of the couple from the wedding venue, or their arrival at the reception. With two photographers, clearly both are possible. However, it should be possible for a single photographer to arrive at the reception venue before most of the guests. Candid shots of the bride and groom welcoming them can then be taken.
Details of the venue itself make a good starting point for the coverage. The building or marquee, and its location and surroundings are all part of the story of the day. While family and guests are served with drinks, there may be an opportunity to photograph some of the detail of the preparations before the guests settle at the tables. Table settings are often elaborate, and those prepared for the bride and groom are worth a shot. Other details such as flowers, table centres, menus, Champagne bottles, other drinks and wine glasses, food, seating plans and musicians should also be captured. Such images make valuable additions to modern digitally-printed albums. Some may be best photographed with the camera at an angle of perhaps thirty degrees to the vertical or horizontal. This gives a simple image a rather more dynamic appearance.
During the meal, photography normally ceases. Guests do not generally appreciate being photographed as they take a mouthful of food. However, it is likely that speeches will be made by the groom, the best man and maybe other people at some point. These should be captured close-up and also in wider-angle shots incorporating the speaker and at least some of the guests and their environment. Bouquets and small gifts may be presented to principal family members, as well as the maid of honour and the bridesmaids. These moments should also be captured - usually from a distance with a long zoom lens.