Planning a wedding is crazy busy, and pretty all-consuming at times. In the middle of just trying to go to work, eat decent food, and prepare for this huge life change (marriage!), you’re trying to plan a major event. This usually means coordinating your vendors, including your wedding photographer (me!). You are investing in photography for this moment, and to get the most out of it, it requires some careful preparation, much like everything else in life. So how do you prepare for your wedding day photography?
Most seasoned vendors are in the business of making sure that the day and prep for the day are as easy as possible on you. We really do! But to work our magic, we have to have some important information and a little bit of organized help to make that magic for you. So hear me out on these tips related specifically to prepare for your wedding day photography.
1. Fill out your photographer’s questionnaire in a timely manner and with all the information you know.
Though I’m sure you’ve shared a lot of details with your photographer along the course of wedding planning (or maybe you haven’t or things have changed, who knows!), filling out any required questionnaire that they send is helpful to get them the information they need to serve you best. This goes for your other vendors too.
I send an online questionnaire 60 days prior to the wedding to allow plenty of time to fill out all of the questions, ask parents about family formal preferences and consult other vendors on timings. Of course things change and often times, we alter some of the times when we talk before the wedding. But having all of the information in front of me can assist me in making recommendations and for planning how I will approach your wedding, not to mention what equipment I’ll bring.
Moral of the story: it seems like a drag, but fill out the questionnaire! And do it as soon as you can! You’ll be thankful when your photographer is totally briefed on all the details before the day of.
2. Collect all of your accessories in a box or bag and put a bridal party member in charge of handing them to the photographer.
I love photographing accessories on a wedding day. You spend a lot of time and effort choosing these accessories, so you should remember them! I often don’t have an unlimited amount of time to set up these shots, so it’s helpful to have everything you’d like photographed together and ready to be handed to me so I can get right to work. It’s always stressful for the bride or bridesmaids to be scrambling to find everything they meant to have photographed when they see me walk in. Save the stress and put it all in a box or bag and assign someone to hand it to me. You’ll be more impressed by your photos and everyone will be more relaxed.
Things you may want to set aside (for women):
-rings (in box if you have it!)
-invitation (send this to me so you don’t have to worry!)
-gifts from groom
Things you may want to set aside (for men):
-gifts from bride
3. Have flowers delivered before the wedding photographer arrives
It’s always a bummer when flowers aren’t there when detail photos are being taken. Ensuring that your florist delivers the flowers right before the photographer arrives ensures that the photographer can use the flowers in any photos along with your accessories. This also goes for men! I love photographing boutonnieres and sometimes it’s an afterthought. Having mom or dad pin that on and the photos are just beautiful.
4. Share a list of specific family combinations for family formals.
Family formals are a very important part of weddings. They aren’t the most fun part of the day, but they’re the photos you and your family will treasure forever. There are an endless amount of combinations you could ask your wedding photographer to take. My recommendation for my clients is always to keep the combinations to a minimum, but don’t forget any photo you’d regret missing. At the very least, make sure you list every combination you’d like in order to avoid scrambling on the day of. If you don’t, most likely a photo will be forgotten and then there’s nothing you can do afterwards.
5. Inform your family of who needs to stay behind for family formals.
On the topic of family formals, make sure the family that will be included in the formals know what the plan is! Many times family members who aren’t aware wander off to cocktail hour and then someone has to go to find them. Tell them ahead of time (asking your parents to help is a good idea) and family formals go much faster!
6. Ask someone like a trusted bridal party or family member to assist in wrangling family members.
One last thing about family formals (can you tell this is the toughest part of a wedding day for many people?): if you can, ask a trusted bridal party or family member to help your wedding photographer call out family formal combinations and to assist with wrangling members who may wander off. Super helpful for you (because you’re in all the photos and just want to be done) and your photographer!
7. Notify your photographer of weird/awkward family circumstances.
This is self-explanatory, but tell your photographer is weird family things are happening. Weddings don’t exist in a vacuum, but it’s helpful to your wedding photographer to know maybe not to suggest a certain pose or certain family members to stand next to each other.
8. Print out your wedding day timeline and make sure all bridal party members (and important family members) have a copy.
In my experience, there have been many times where I show up to photograph a bridal party (usually the gentlemen) and no one knows what is going on except the bride and maybe the mother of the bride. Take your timeline, print it out for everyone (or text a copy) and make sure everyone knows where to be and when. It stinks when I have to tell groomsmen to take off their jackets and ties so I can photograph them getting into them or when I’m trying to photograph and instead are answering their questions about times or what’s next.
The number one thing you should do to prepare for your wedding day photography is relax! This is your wedding day! You’ve spent so much time preparing for this day, make sure you relax as much as possible and enjoy the day. If you’ve prepared and told your wedding photographer all this good stuff, your day is going to be awesome.
No matter who your photographer is, helping ensure that they’re prepared for your day will help them better serve you and will produce better photos! Every professional photographer is ready to deal with the uncertainties of a wedding day (they can throw you some curveballs), but the key to success is preparation. Your photographer will thank you!