Useful Photography Tip #14: Shooting the Bouquet Toss During a Wedding

girls celebrate after a bouquet catch
girls celebrate after a bouquet catch

Celebration

Weddings are generally slow moving events: a slow walk up the aisle, some forewarning before the kiss, a slow walk back down the aisle, slow first dance, etc.. But you always have one event that moves quickly – the bouquet and garter toss. Capturing this event is another major mile stone in telling the story of the day.

If you want to capture the moment when the bouquet gets tossed and caught, here are a couple of quick tips.

Want More Useful Photography Tips? Take a look at our list here.

Editor’s Note: Also be sure to check out the Ultimate Wedding Photography Checklist, Essential Upgrades for the Modern Wedding Photographer, and these tips for the person being forced to shoot a wedding who never has before.

The first thing to do is pick your gear. While I am generally a prime shooter, for the tosses, I switch to a Canon 24-105mm F4L IS. I want to start out wide and be able to zoom into the person that is catching the garter or bouquet.

My gear of choice:

Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 24-105 f/4L IS

Canon 580EX II

PowerEX rechargeable batteries in the 580EX II

Fast Recycling Flash: A Battery Pack

If you are in a room that is really dark and you need to use flash, you are going to want a flash that recycles quickly. So that means using an external battery pack or bumping up your ISO so that you can recycle your speedlight quickly. I tend to use the settings around 1/50th,  f/4, and ISO 1250. I shoot in manual and AI SERVO focusing mode. If it is really dark and focus isn’t locking when I check before the event, I will switch to ONE SHOT so that my AF assist beam will fire.

The Throw

Time for the throw. If you are a single shooter, I recommend having the bride do a fake throw. Even if you market yourself as a photojournalist (as I do) you are not shooting hard news. You are shooting a great party!

Get what your client wants.

Talk to your bride and groom and find out their plan for the toss. Many times they are aiming for someone. Find this out  ahead of time so you know where to pre-focus. Get your fake throw. Often times you can get a great moment when they fake out the people waiting.

Wedding Bouquet Throw

Fake throw of the bouquet

After you get your fake throw, aim for the crowd. Because I use a zoom, I start wide and try to zoom in on where the bouquet is going. To do this, I am shooting with my right eye and have my left eye open so I can see the bouquet coming in my peripheral vision.

girls fighting for a bouquet at at a wedding

Fight for the bouquet

After the bouquet or garter is caught, now when the time for the great shots. This is when people give you the best emotion and that emotion is what makes the best images. Make sure you capture the reaction to the catch or the miss.

Keep Shooting! Don’t Chimp!

A woman celebrates catching the bouquet

A woman celebrates catching the bouquet

Finally, don’t just start chimping to see if you got it right away, but stay there as long as things are happening. There are still images to be made as people are celebrating, laughing or even sad. Along with the kiss, you really want to nail this shot, but fight the urge to chimp immediately so you can capture all the emotion and tell the story of their day and the emotion of their friends.

A man celebrates catching a wedding garter while another man looks dejected after missing it.

The agony of defeat

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