Can't skip your question after I screwed up my first shot years ago at a wedding.
My experience is that the best test for camera is on-spot examination because every camera has its own merits and demerits at a given situation. Performance of a camera also degrades under certain circumstances such as normal usage, rough handling, atmospheric change, defective components,etc. Therefore, its risky to judge by its made or model. In advance, take your cameras to the place where the wedding is to take place and test it. In reality, I found that even camcorders come up with flying results with little difference between 3CCD and Advance CMOS cameras.
Even the best cameras fail under certain circumstances. So, the solution lies in managing the stage. Remember, all great shots we see in movies are taken under managed light. In advance, see if some lights will be required or if some have to be blocked. Where you are helpless with arranging light, determine different locations standing where you can avoid light or shoot in light. From those locations, also see if holding the camera high, low, or holding it at different angels will give better shots. If, the event is going to happen outdoor, then light is generally sufficient.
Where weddings are done inside the church, one common challenge is striking a balance between the bright windows in the background and the relatively dark foreground. All events take place in the darker foreground which always tends to spoil the shooting. In such a case, take the shot with the camera held high at an angle, in this way, the bright windows can be avoided. Shots taken in this way are always great especially when shooting the wedding attendants or congregations.
Coming to audio, capturing a good audio is desirable, but what is a good audio or byte? In a wedding programme inside the church, audio is really important at two three points. It is important to capture the sound of piano (or whatever instrument) playing the wedding march, the exchange of vows by uttering words after the priest and special numbers. Some think all sermons are the same and boring and don't give full coverage. At all other times, a good audio consists of sounds coming from the background which really do away with the feeling of desolation and give warmth. Keeping a camera with a directional mic mounted on a firm tripod to capture the stage will suffice.
As far as possible, keep the stationary camera at wide and not tele, ie. no zooming. At the time of ring exchange, point the stationary camera towards it while you move around close to capture the ring exchange. It is also important to capture all the relatives of both the parties to the wedding, the ring bearer,etc. Also capture all who come to the wedding. Its also good to capture some features of the church.
Camera settings, if necessary to change, acquire skill in doing it in advance. If it is necessary to change settings many times during the shooting, better not change settings at all because the wedding will keep on progressing and you can not asked them to wait till you adjust settings. In such a case set setting to auto and let the camera automatically determine settings.
Cameras using Digital Video tapes/mini Dv are best and safest. However if you are using tapes,
-make sure that you are using brand new ones
- have two three hours of extra tape for recording
- have head cleaner tapes
- push the protective tab to "save" after recording
Also always ensure that you've enough battery backup. If possible keep one camera running with AC adapter. Always save some battery charge till the exchange of vows and rings are over. When the priest is delivering sermon, have a camera recharged for, say, 5 minutes, but make sure that one camera is rolling all the time.
While shooting, do it so with a target that every shoot you take will be usable.
Take lots of clips least you'll find that, after dropping bad shots, you are short of video.
One more thing, get details of the wedding programme, know at what time the bridal march will be played or the bride will march in, at what time the vows and ring exchange will take place, how long will the wedding ceremony last. After getting this information, you'll know which events are going to be important. Also it will help you to be at the right place and at the right time. With information of the programme, you can determine how much hours of tape or battery is required.
Finally, dont stand in the way of the bride/bridegroom or the priest.
They really do tumble over us! lol !!
All the best!!