As a wedding photographer, most of my work involves shooting and editing weddings. Saturdays are spent shooting bridal details and prep, first looks, ceremonies, first dances, and all the special little unplanned moments in between. Before the wedding day though, a lot of work has to be done to make sure that the big day runs as smoothly as possible. Here’s a look at how I prepare for every wedding that I shoot.
All of my wedding packages include a complimentary engagement session. Engagement sessions are so important so I can get to know my couples before the big day. These sessions also help my clients feel more comfortable so we can get the best images for their wedding. As soon as a couple officially books their date by signing the contract and paying their reservation deposit, Dubsado will automatically send an email to schedule an engagement session. I love using Dubsado to let the client pick a date and time for their session, because it eliminates so many emails going back and forth with the client.
After I shoot the engagement session, I back up the images, edit my favorites for the blog, share the blog post, edit the rest of the images in color and black and white, and then send the gallery.
Brides have a lot to worry about on their wedding days. My job is to make sure that they at least don’t have to worry about their wedding pictures and the timeline. To ensure a worry free wedding day, I always send my bride a questionnaire 3 months before the wedding to gather information essential to creating a timeline. I ask for information such as ceremony and reception start time, whether or not they want to do a first look, where they’re getting ready, and if they have any specific places in mind for their portraits. If they don’t know where they want their pictures taken, I research locations. I also factor in the travel time between locations. Using that information, I create a timeline and send it to my couples for their approval. I revise the timeline based on my client’s feedback and sometimes add extra coverage if the client requests it.
I find that this method of creating the timeline for my brides, allows them to check something off of their long “to do” list and focus their attention on other factors. It saves so much time of going back and forth with the couple and guarantees that timeline will be taken care of weeks before the wedding.
2 weeks before the wedding, I send my brides a questionnaire gathering any other information that I might need for the wedding day or for their blog post. In one section of the questionnaire, I ask my brides if they have any specific picture requests. Sometimes couples want to make sure that they get a picture with both sets of parents together. Other times, a bride might have a specific decoration that she wants to make sure she gets a picture of. Taking note of these special requests ensures that I get exactly what the bride and groom want on their wedding day. In another section, I ask the bride to list her vendors so I can give credit to them when I post the wedding pictures on my blog. I also include a section dedicated to the family portraits. I ask my clients to make a specific list of each family grouping that they want, with names. Having a list to shoot from makes family pictures flow smoothly on a wedding day and guarantees that no family picture combination gets overlooked.
Also 2 weeks before the wedding, I send my couples their final invoice. Payment isn’t due until the wedding day, but I find that sometimes it’s easiest to pay online, or send a check before the big day. It’s one less thing that someone has to worry about on the wedding day.
The day before the wedding always involves preparing my gear. I always clean my camera sensors, clean my lenses, charge my batteries, format my memory cards, and pack everything in my camera bag. I also make sure to bring my styling boards, for detail pictures, and a stool, to get the most flattering angles during the portrait time. Another way I prepare is by printing the wedding timeline and setting the timeline as my phone background. Setting the timeline as my phone background is an easy way to check the time and see the schedule at the same time. For the family portraits, I create a checklist on the “Reminders” app on my phone, that way I can easily check off the family portraits as I take them.
If you’re a photographer, I hope it’s been helpful to see my pre-wedding workflow. If you’re a bride, I hope this post gives you peace of mind so you know that I will show up to your big day as prepared as I can be!