What equipment do I need to shoot my first wedding?

It's tough shooting your first wedding so to help out others coming into the field I'm writing up my notes.  One of the first things to consider for shooting weddings is equipment, you only get one shot at the day and there are no do-overs so it's an important to have the right gear and I personally would not feel able to commit to a wedding without having the following:  

  • At least two camera bodies - part for redundancy in case of technical issues but more so that you can keep one with a wide lens and another with a telephoto to avoid the need for swapping lenses in the middle of the gig.  
  • A decent ranged lens - I like telephoto zooms for the convenience and depending on the size of the venue would recommend either or both of the 24-105 and 70-200 ranges or equivalent.   
  • A decent wide lens - most of the time you'd get good coverage going down to 24mm on a full frame camera or 17mm on a crop sensor however if you just can't get that low or you're dealing with cramped spaces a wide lens can be invaluable - either down to 17mm on a full frame or 10/12mm on a crop.  
  • A good strap that will handle the above, you don't have to spend the earth on one but a single strap (ideally) that will hold two bodies and be comfortable for 8+ hours is essential. 
  • A good bag - you may have to move all of your gear from spot to spot during the day whilst also shooting and the last thing you'll want to do is gather all sorts of unwieldy stuff in your arms.  
  • An external flash unit - if you live in a really bright sunny place you may have good enough light all of the time but I live in Great Britain where ideal conditions are rare and ceremonies are often conducted in tiny, poorly lit churches.  That said, I tend to avoid flash during the ceremony but it's incredibly useful for the reception and can be good for fill flash in awkward lighting conditions.  
  • Spare batteries - the last thing you want on the day is for your camera to conk out so not only should you have spare batteries you should also have a very good idea of how long they last and how many shots a battery will give you.  I would also recommend that if you're relying on batteries that they're genuine branded ones, either from your camera manufacturer or a big name (e.g. Duracell).  You should also make sure you have ample supply of disposable/rechargeable batteries for flashes, wireless triggers, etc. 

In addition to the above it may be useful to also have the following although they may or may not get used during the course of the day:  

  • Battery grip - it's down to personal preference whether you like shooting with a grip or not but either way it'll provide a safety net if you carry one along with a set of AA batteries for that 'just in case' moment.   
  • Stepladder - useful for getting a slight downward angle on group shots.  
  • Laptop - able to back up your shots on the day to give extra piece of mind. 
  • Tripod - some may consider this mandatory but I'm more of a 'run and gun' photographer, still - a tripod does come in handy for group and setup shots.  

I'll add more to this as time moves on but if you've got any questions check out my post on preparing to shoot a wedding or feel free to get in touch.