There are few things more important for the quality of images for a wedding than scouting. Many, if not most, photographers either do not scout or do so scantily. I will explain (1) the importance and purpose of scouting and (2) give an example of a scout that I recently did before Jason and Jenn's wedding at Texas Christian University (TCU).
What is a Scout?
Notice, at no point have I said location scout. That is because the location is the third thing you are looking for. What this really should be called it a light or composition scout.
Light is the most important element your photo. If you have good light, the location has very little to do with the quality of your photo.
When I am scouting for interesting compositions, I am looking for clean and simple. Always be thinking about where the couple will be placed in the composition and whether there is sufficient hierarchy so that other elements are not competing, but complementing the main subject. It is very important for photographers to study design because the same principles of print design apply to photography.
Because you are scouting for the wedding, it is best to scout at the same time of day that you will be shooting there.
Jenn and Jason's wedding was on the campus of TCU. I knew we were going to take portraits across campus so the day before the wedding, I scouted.
Image #1 - Bridal Party