Yesterday evening I attended my first wedding rehearsal for the couple I am shooting Saturday, and I'm so glad that I took the time to do so. Being able to meet relatives, wedding party members and the Catholic priest who will perform the ceremony was extremely beneficial. The Father explained the rules about flash and using it sparingly during the wedding, plus, he granted me amazing access to the couple. I will be allowed to shoot behind the altar with a spectacular and intimate view in front of the couple. During the last wedding I shot, I could only get images of the bride and groom from under them (they were above me on the altar) and from behind.
My assistants and I were able to pinpoint some great areas to shoot the bride and groom portraits (if we can convince them to make a climb up some winding stairs!) All of our fingers are crossed that by tomorrow, the roses in the garden will have bloomed just in time for our formal portraits. We've got about an hour to shoot those after the wedding before everyone high-tails it over to Maggiano's for the reception. And I think we were able to get some great candid shots during the rehearsal that will make this a more complete story for the couple. I will upload those later today, as I have another rehearsal to attend in just a few hours for my couple getting married on Sunday.
While researching online, I was surprised by how many professionals do not attend this event. I completely understand the need of time management and appropriate payment for that time spent as professional Bruce A. Dart remarked on the betterphoto.com forum
"Most professionals do not attend the rehearsals, although I do know one of my friends who does attend them for all of the previously mentioned reasons. As a business, I need to be concerned about the hours spent away from the studio and whether or not I get paid for what I do. I already spend anywhere from 6-8 hours or more at each event. I have an additional "prep" time to be sure my equipment is ready to go. Afterwards, sorting files, getting previews ready, designing an album, etc. takes about another 20 hours before you deliver the product. There are ways to streamline all this but the point is that there is already a LOT of time involved here."
However, I think it is a mistake not attending the rehearsal, and I will continue to include this coverage in my storytelling, photojournalistic wedding photography.