If you’re having a church wedding, there are a few extra things to think about asking the Vicar because rules can differ massively from venue weddings.
Firstly, it is important to state not only does every church have different rules, each Vicar has different rules as well. It is not unknown for different Vicar’s that officiate at the same church to have completely different thinking and guidelines for their services.
While some church Wedding Services are therefore as laid back, and in some cases more so than venue weddings, you will find other Church wedding services are severely restrictive. I have personally, in the same church, had one wedding where nothing was too much to ask and another shortly after where photography was prohibited as soon as the bride had entered the naïve.
Therefore, at the very first instance you should ask the church which Vicar will be officiating, but more so what their rules are. In simple terms the Church is “their” house, and therefore it is not fair to either incite or ask your photographer to break those rules. Also consider asking the Vicar if they would be prepared to meet your photographer face to face in advance: I have attended numerous wedding rehearsals and private meetings with Vicar’s in order to gain their trust and also help their understanding of what I would like to achieve with their help.
You may be asking why Churches are more restrictive: my insight that follows is drawn from years of conversations with Vicar’s all of which have different policies. In simple terms a Church Wedding Service is treated by the church as a solemn and reflective ceremony: for many they do not wish for a photographer to interrupt this reflection and contemplation with clicks, squeaking shoes and excessive movement.
My personal approach is to make sure I speak with the Vicar well in advance of the Wedding Service: I often take my cameras with me to this meeting to show them the silent shutter function, and how this means there is no audible clicking during the ceremony. I also often wear very soft soled shoes for a church wedding so I can be quiet: I also ask to be seated in the choral pews so that I can clearly see the bride and groom but I am largely invisible to the guests and the congregation. To this end, I have several Vicar’s in my local area that have started off with a blanket ban now allowing me full freedom to do as I please given they know I respect them and the service.
Basically all of this comes down to one very important point: ASK EARLY! There is no point is getting to the ceremony day, for your photographer to come up to you with a panicked look on their face. The more you can help your photographer and Vicar to see each other’s point of view the better.