It was my very first wedding that I was COMPLETELY in charge of. Everything was going great! Well… except for one small mistake I made with the dress which ANY dude photographer could have done [read about it here]. But besides that everything had gone rather well!!! Getting ready was finished and I had some AMAZING details shots from that. The first look had been beautiful. The ceremony was GORGEOUSLY backlit by a magnificent golden sunset!!! But then it happened… The Sun… just doing what it always does, decided to descend below the horizon… and it got really… really dark. It was just me and my second photographer… and a few Christmas lights to light the whole thing… Yup… I wish I could say that at that point I honestly knew EXACTLY what I was supposed to do with a super dark backyard… but I had no idea.
And to top this off, due to the sudden lighting shift, the wedding planner and bride decided it was time to push the cake cutting ahead of schedule. I’m going to very unproudly admit that I was not ready for this either! So, rushing, I had my assistant set up the flash at a lightning pace, and I did the best I could capturing the toasts and cake-cutting. Somehow by God’s grace alone the images turned out well, but the bride was NOT impressed that I had to delay her wedding to do my setup. I learned a very valuable lesson that day. From the beginning of the event until the very end, you should always, ALWAYS have your flash set up at the NEXT location you’ll need it. So, even before the ceremony ends, your flashes should be ready for the entrance/first dance. Then, move it to the next key location (cake cutting, toasts, etc.) and just keep moving it ahead of schedule to make sure you’re constantly ready for any schedule changes. In so doing, you will save yourself from a large amount of stress!
Further, for those moments when things just don’t go quite right, I would recommend also keeping a backup flash and flash sync handy in your “extras” bag. That way if something goes wrong with your equipment, you can pull out the backup right there, batteries and everything, and do whatever needs to happen!
Now, as for the question of what I’m currently using flash wise, I have a had a GOOD deal of success with two Yonguo YN460-II Speedlights and I use the Yonguo RF603C II flash syncs to link everything together! They do a pretty good job and recently I’ve only had a FEW issues with using the Yonguo syncs with non-Yonguo speedlights [but if you use them I would definitely test them with your flashes before using them at an event].
And last, I would ask you to stop and think. Right now, do you know what you would do if you walked into a venue lit only bit white Christmas bulbs? And if the answer is no, I would take a few moments now to figure that one out and start practicing!