Wedding photography isn't for everybody, that's a simple fact. It takes a special kind of someone that can quickly break the ice and potentially become a rock for that bride to lean on during the day, and how you can do that really comes down to a number of factors:
There just isn't any time to build up a relationship with a couple (usually the bride in the first instance) you have to hit the ground running, and I find the best way is to be completely confident (not arrogant) in who you are, and what you do. Shrinking violets will wilt under the pressure of the day, and if you haven't got your (pardon my French) 'shit together', then the bride isn't going to trust you or decisions and you're going to struggle from the get go.
I've had brides take panic attacks before walking down the aisle, get flustered by the commotion of activity around her making her anxious when realistically there wasn't anything to worry about, and having that calmness will de escalate the situation.
Emma, the entrapped brideI wouldn't let her out of the car and she was really 'busting' to get free.
Nobody is asking for you to be the main act for comedy night, but at least have some character about you! Being fun (and confident) will put everyone at ease. I personally always seek out that one weak link in the family armour. There's always one bridesmaid who may be just left of centre field when it comes to social norms, that quirky one. Or it could be that matriarchal mother who typically controls everyone in the house, but today she's going to have some random photographer taking over her home and telling her where to stand, put her hands, and to smile on command. I find that just being part of the family and being completely comfortable in their home is the best way.
It's easier taking that cup of tea in, than it is getting rid of it later. I find that using my client's bathroom on a day such as this a bit of a 'no no'. Not for any social reasons, just the pure practicalities of getting near it, as you'll have 3+ Bridesmaids all vying for the mirror, Dad trying to get a shower last minute, because he's it all worked out time wise, never once factoring in that I'll need him ready for photographs before I have to leave, sometimes a good hour before the service start, just to give me time to see the boys at the church.
So I always try to minimise my fluid intake during the day, and I try and get my Bridal Party to think along the same lines, as I've yet to see a public toilet in our local parks open during the summer months, which is just one of the many touristy failings we have.
Don't forget that there are two people getting married this day! Me personally I ask that the guys meet me at the church at least 30 minutes before the service starts. I don't go to where the guys are getting ready typically, cause all you end up doing is dressing half of them, as in, tying their ties, putting cufflinks on and stuff their mother's would do if she was there. Plus it's just a bunch of guys having a fry, so really, what can you do with that? At least when they're at the church you can have a bit of a laugh and carry on, just to get them in the mood.
Have your poses ready, at least a good few you know work with awkward fellas whose experience of photography for the most part is a drunken selfie. The most common and most popular at the classic 'Reservoir Dogs' walk (all the better if they have come prepared with the shades, but it works just as well without them). You then have the Flying Ducks, the Ring Check, and my personal fave, the 'Runnaway Groom'. You'll see that a few times in my mix of images.
Give them some quick tips too, like fingers only in the pockets, not the whole hand, catalogue classics and what you would expect of them during the day in terms of where they should be when it comes to standing next to the main man. This saves a whole load of time.
Again, I always pick on one of the groomsmen, as they'll do something that catches my eye that just looks out of place, that odd hand placement when you ask them to put their hand on the Groom's shoulder, or that stance that makes them look like they're a bouncer or something. Be prepared to be mocked back, which is the highest form of group acceptance. If you can at least try and use their names, me, well, I'm different. There might be the 'Viking' in there with an impressive beard and hair cut, the eyebrow guy who takes his personal appreance a little too far, we all have them, but because I'm only with them the one day, I'll take it to edge each and every time. Here', I'm no George Clooney, but I am the guy with the big cameras and in control for that day.
I think what I'm trying to get at is that you have to be yourself plus 10. You have to be the bossy one, the one that takes control of everyone in such a way that it's fun. Always be respectful, but throwing in a little hint of cheeky. Never let anyone upstage the Bride & Groom, least of all you. I'm their best friend for the next 12 hours, I'll make sure she looks awesome at all times, is in the right place when she needs to be, stress free as much as possible, and I'll be the guy that keeps reminding the Groom that it's okay to kiss his new wife in public, because the photographer says so.
Most of all, enjoy yourself, keep smiling, no matter how tough the day gets, be professional.