“If you have failed to prepare you have prepared to fail.” – My dad shared this with me a long time ago and this is something I say to myself before every wedding. There is A LOT of preparation before a wedding for a bride and groom; months to a year to make this day come together. As photographers, we should be taking it as serious as the bride and groom do. I believe, preparation for our client’s weddings should start a month in advance and continue until the wedding day. These tips below should help you be 100% ready to knock the wedding out of the water.
1) Send Out A Questionnaire In Advance
There is nothing worse then getting to a wedding and knowing nothing about the bride and groom and their big day. Besides, building a relationship with your clients, you should orchestrate a questionnaire that helps you to find out EVERY POSSIBLE DETAIL of your clients big day. You want to roll up to the wedding knowing everything from when they get there, to the bridesmaids names, how they are going to exit and more. This questionnaire should have every question you can possibly think of to help you prepare for the day. For example, a few questions on there should be, WHAT ARE YOUR COLORS, CAN YOU SEND ME A SCHEDULE, HOW ARE YOU EXITING, and so many more.
2) Have Two Printed Schedules of the Wedding Day
We obviously rely on our cellphones a lot. If you have corresponded with the bride before hand she has sent you a schedule via email. You never know what can go wrong with technology so solely relying on your phone for the schedule is not a good idea. Have a printed copy for you AND your second shooter. Make sure you talk with the wedding planner (if they have one) or the bride in advance to confirm the beginning to end of the schedule. You want to make sure you have a full understanding of the whole day and where you should be.
3) Gear Check
This is not something that should be done the morning of. The day before, you want to lay out all of your gear, clean it, and make sure you have EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED for the big day. Something new I am implementing is a list. Go through the physical list of all your gear you will need and make sure it is in your hand, right in front of you; Make sure it works, and make sure its clean. Dust blower, cleaning wipes, do it up! Its pretty sucky when you go back through your images and find dust spots on the image.
4) Charge Your Batteries
First off: Make sure you have a back up battery for your camera. Technology is NOT reliable. Batteries run out of juice and or they can have a fluke. Have a back up battery, and don’t buy the generic kind ( I did that and the battery didn’t even work). The night before, not the morning of- charge your battery and make sure you have 100% charge.
5) Stock Up on Flash Batteries
Flashes EAT UP BATTERIES so in advance, buy an extra pack of batteries. You don’t want to be in the middle of a first dance and your flash misfires because the batteries died. Ugh- no bueno. So buy a new pack of batteries OR buy rechargeable batteries. My new friend, Sarah, of Sarah Street Photography introduced me to ENELOOP batteries made by Panasonic. These bad boys sail through a wedding with no problem – -look into them!
6) Location & Timing
Find out where the wedding is and how long it will take you to get there the night before, & make sure your car is full of gas. Grabbing gas the day before is another thing that you can cross off your to do list for wedding day. However far the place is, give yourself PLENTY of time to get there, AND enough time to get there early. If I am going to a wedding at Virginia Beach I will give myself at least 1-2 hours extra because you NEVER KNOW about that stink’n tunnel. Traffic is ludicrous going there. Also, getting there 30 minutes or so earlier allows you to scope the premises if you have never been to the venue. When looking around, you want to make mental notes of: Where can I shoot family pictures, Where can I take the bride and groom for their portraits. You don’t want to have a “Uhhhh” moment when its time to find a place to shoot the bride and groom.
7) Pack Some Snacks
This is simple. Its a long day and you need to eat. To be the best you can be physically and mentally you need to hydrate and snack; Cliff bars, water bottles and any other snacks will work. Take my advice- Redbulls are no good. I unfortunately like them but the crash is hard and sometimes RedBull gives you wings you don’t want lol! Too much energy can be overwhelming. You need a natural energy that can get you through the day.
8) On The Road
Lastly, and I’m going to be quite blunt- Don’t listen to garbage music on your way to the wedding. If you like Kanye, thats great but he’s not going to cut it on a wedding day (I personally am not a fan). Listen to something soothing and encouraging. You need to be calm when you get there. My husband always tells me, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. Whatever you put in your mind will eventually come out.
Finally, take care of yourself so you can take care of your clients. These guys support us, love us, and give us a paycheck. They deserve the BEST, YOU.
OH! I FORGOT- Get some sleep. Don’t stay up all night watching rerun’s of Friends. Friends will still be there when you get home.