Even though many of my weddings are pretty different (9 times out of 10 they’re even at completely unique venues!), I have the same preparation rituals for virtually every single one. Over the years I’ve developed a system that works really well for me and thought I’d share it here for anyone who might be interested in seeing how I get ready to photograph a wedding!
One thing I’ve found to be really important to my process is ensuring that I’m all set to photograph the wedding by the Thursday before the couple’s big day. When I first started shooting weddings I’d use Fridays as my day to prepare, but I found that I prefer getting ready on Thursday and taking a half day to relax and/or do chores around my house on a Friday. Since so much of what I do on a wedding day requires me to be creative and be mentally crisp, giving myself a chill day on Fridays has been a game changer for me!
The week of the wedding:
- Create a photography timeline for the bride and groom (I’ll go more in depth about this in a blog post coming soon!)
- Create a family formal checklist based on the couple’s questionnaire answers
- Confirm my second shooter/email them a copy of the timeline
secondshooter contract has been completed
- Take inventory of supplies (such as flash batteries, emergency kit items, styling items, etc) and shop for replacements if necessary
Two days before the wedding
- Print a copy of my client questionnaire answers
- Print copies of the couple’s timeline (both the one I created and the one from their wedding planner, if available)
- Write a check for my second shooter
- Charge camera batteries
- Replace flash batteries with fresh new batteries
- Input wedding day addresses into my phone GPS app (so they’re ready to go and I don’t have to type them into my computer
- Clean and test all of my lenses/gear.
- Format all of my memory cards and all of my second shooter cards
- Pack all of my gear/wedding day essentials and set it up downstairs by the front door
- Pack snacks & drinks (prepare mini cooler if it’s a summer wedding)
- Set my out of office email auto-reply
- Create a folder for the RAW files for that wedding on my hard drive (helps make the culling process easier by taking care of this one step ahead of time!)
- Fill my car’s gas tank
- Create a cheat sheet for myself in Evernote of vendors to tag when I post sneak peeks to social media (I can access this on either my phone or my computer…super handy timesaver!!)
- HYDRATE! I try to make up for the fact that it’s a little harder to drink water on wedding days by drinking a lot more leading up to the wedding so that I’m not starting out dehydrated.
Every so often there will be something else special added to the list depending on the wedding and whether or not I need to prepare specially for a unique situation. For instance, sometimes I will rent an additional lens if a particular venue requires that. Or I may need to hire an extra assistant or a third shooter if the wedding is going to be larger than typical or if the couple requested I bring additional help. This is a pretty general look at what I do in the days leading up to each wedding, though. Did anything surprise you? Thanks for taking the time to take a peek!