Preparing For a Wedding - The Day Before - Digital Photography School
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Preparing For a Wedding – The Day Before

As I’m sitting here preparing for tomorrow’s wedding, I’ve got many last-minute reminders popping up in my iBrain. What 7 things am I thinking about the day before a wedding?

1. Call your bride to confirm the details you decided upon when you had your face-to-face. These should be written down. Confirm where you will be meeting and the time. Don’t throw too many questions at her. That’s why everything’s in writing. Besides, she’s got the flower company on the other line.

2. Go over your check list and made sure you’ve got everything packed up. Brides don’t wait to walk down the aisle so you can run to the gas station for a pack of AAAs. A couple things you might not think to bring:

  • The signed paperwork and contract. You might need to refer to these at least once
  • A snack
  • An extra camera just incase. Even if you have to borrow a friend’s.

3. Charge your batteries and pack the charger. You can never be too prepared. Change the batteries in your flash whether they’re out or not. It’s better to not be fumbling while they’re walking down the aisle.

4. Close your eyes and run through the day in your head. Include gently approaching the priest/officiant before the ceremony to introduce yourself and ask if there are any rules you should know. Imagine how you will deal with unanticipated events like divorced parents who refuse to take a photo together or the schedule getting totally out of hand and a portion of the photography plans getting ruined in the process. What would you say? How would you feel? I know these seem like doom and gloom, but they do happen from time to time.

5. Check the weather forecast. In England, it rains when it wants to no matter what the weather man said. Try to anticipate how you will handle weather that doesn’t respect the plan.

6. Lay out your clothes. Black is a pretty safe colour. It’s professional and understated. Don’t wear clip-cloppy shoes that will make noise as you tiptoe around the ceremony. Ladies, don’t wear a dress unless you’ve got leggings! You will be crouching down and you don’t want to be thinking about wardrobe malfunctions. Strangely, I recommend wearing heels if you have appropriate ones. I have my black ‘wedding boots’ from Clarks which are made to last in comfort all day with quiet rubber heels. I wear them because with my heels elevated, I can easily and quickly squat for a low shot (my favourite POV) without having achy legs for days. Unlike little kids, we can’t squat without balancing on the balls of our feet (how do they do that?!) .

7. Get inspired. Soak in some of your favourite wedding photography. Drop a folder into your iPod or iPhone or print a little cheat sheet just to jog your memory if you start feelin’ a little stale for ideas.

That’s all I’m thinking of today. What do YOU think about the day before a wedding?

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Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • Susie

    This is great..Thank you :)

  • http://photorook.blogspot.com TheKingInYellow

    As I advance towards a part-time photography business I freely admit that shooting weddings terrify me, and I don’t think I will do them, at least initially.

    I think no matter how prepared you are, knowing that missing one shot might crush the Bride’s hopes would be just too much pressure. Ugh.

  • http://www.ginaobrien.com.au Gina O

    Well, i’m glad that I already know to do all those things & more at least a couple of days before the wedding….checking off my list the day before. You can never be too prepared, especially for one-off events :)

  • http://www.thedigitalcameraexperts.com Perry

    As a recently engaged couple, we’ll be sure to refer back to this and hope that our photographer does the same :)

  • http://www.aaronblumenshine.com Aaron

    This is a great list, check lists are a fantastic way to relieve stress!

  • http://fmatiasphotography.blogspot.com Fernando

    I think you hit most of the important points right on the head!
    Making sure all your equipment is clean, charged, ready to go is a big must!
    Going through the day in your head is also of great importance to me. I always try to get a schedule of the day’s events before hand from the couple, nothing is worse then not knowing that the ring exchange is going to happen at a different part of the ceremony location, or that the first dance is happening right after the ceremony!! You have to be prepaired for these things, and knowing when and where is half the battle.

    @TheKingInYellow…… weddings can be quite terrifying at first, my first few were quite stressful, but after doing several it does get A BIT easier. I would suggest shadowing a seasoned veteran if you can, or be a backup-second photographer for some friends! That way there is much less pressure on you to perform, you get some experience, and it is actually much more enjoyable!

  • http://alanaledia.com Alan

    Time permitting, I try to visit the place before the actual event so I can figure out shooting strategies (will I need lighting, positioning for shots, etc.). Ideally, it helps to do this around the same time the event is supposed to happen so you can visualize what the lighting conditions will be and figure out what kind of shots will be available to you and if you need to set up additional lighting.

  • http://andersonphoto.org Kyrptonite

    Good advice.. also make sure that you have plenty of memory.. the great thing about digital is you can never take too many pictures

  • Moragh Dann

    Great Article , Thanks

  • Tyrone

    The only other thing I would recommend is checking out the location for the wedding and reception in advance so you will know your lighting situation. Sometimes this is not possible, but if it is than it is to your advantage.

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason Collin Photography

    I think you forgot the most important thing, make sure you get paid! Unless you get paid in full before the day of the wedding, which is the best way if possible. I also clean my lenses’ front and back elements. Make sure my memory cards have been formatted. Make sure I know how to get to the location(s) for the wedding.

    Some recent weddings I have photographed:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/category/wedding

    That said, I am off to photograph a wedding in 2 hours!

  • NewsWorthy

    Shooting a wedding is potentially very stressful if unprepared and I think checking off items prior to the wedding day is very important. Thank you Elizabeth.

    Jason, your photos are great as usual. I am interested in your lighting setup in your backlit photos. Care to share?

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • http://kirantarun.com Kiran

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing to amateurs like me thinking of branching out as professional :)

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason Collin Photography

    @newsworthy — thanks, I’ll be adding some new wedding shots in a few days too.

    If you mean the backlit shots as the sunset shots, the lighting setup could not be simpler: just a single SB-600 Speedlight with cap diffuser on it off camera on a lightstand triggered by a simple radio trigger. I use manual settings on both camera and strobe, usually something like f/8 ISO 400 1/200th for the camera and 1/2 power for the strobe. Depending on the sunset, I just tweak those a little, maybe 1/160th if I need more light in the background. I place the strobe for the most part above and to the left of the bride and groom, about 7.5 to 8 feet high. I handhold my D300 for those shots usually using the Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens.

  • NewsWorthy

    Yes, Jason. That is what I meant. Thanx very much for sharing.

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • NewsWorthy

    How was tonight’s wedding?

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason Collin Photography

    @newsworthy — tonight’s wedding was ok, pretty simple, dramatic clouds instead of a visible sunset.

    My favorite shot from Wednesday night’s wedding, with clear sunset, and the philosophy of my thinking before, during and after shooting:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2010/6/4/philosophy-of-the-kiss-florida-beach-sunset-wedding.html

  • CTyler

    Great pictures and advice Jason, thanks!

  • http://www.wedding-plannings.com Wedding Planning

    Wedding is very special event. …So this site is very help for me how Prepare a wedding…..Because i am getting married next month.

  • Samiz

    It’s really good things ana addition to this i adore photography and i think that i’ll make every moment on my camera coz after 10 years i would like to remember it ,befor divorced haha just a joke

  • http://bryangwong.com bryan

    #4 seems the most important to me. Aside from checking gear and making sure i have everything i need, I think about all the things that can and will go wrong throughout the wedding day. I try to think about what plan B, C,…X,Y,Z will be just incase the inevitable occurs. And I know I can’t prepare for everything and some decisions are made on the fly but having a solid game plan helps get the job done.

  • daveymars

    Wow… great article AND great comments… If I can be so bold as to suggest something to the King In Yellow…
    A dear friend of mine was getting married… and had paid a professional photographer. I read all the stuff I could here and decided that I would bring my camera and tripod… (and a gift of a large digital photoframe.) Now, following the advice here… I consulted with my friend WELL beforehand and spoke with the photographer about staying the hell out of his way :) He was gracious, generous and appreciative of my brevity and forthrightness. I also studiously avoided getting the same shots he did–especially poses.. e.g. he got the groomsmen holding the groom up off the ground… I got the 4 shot burst of what happened immediately after when they accidentally dropped him…. :) I focused on getting pictures of everyone who attended the wedding and/or reception… while the photographer posed the wedding party for formal pictures. The result–photographer had outstanding gorgeous professional, traditional shots, and I had delightful, amusing and touching candids–about 800 of them that were in the digital frame that the bride and groom had for the-gfit opening party they had at their home the evening of the wedding for the wedding party and their family. (Yes, I’d been previously invited to this occasion.) I kept a copy of the shots and have made anniversary presents for them each year… It was a great risk-free way of learning more about wedding photography, staying the hell out of the way and yet getting some idea of what it’s like… Good stuff.

  • http://foodientravelbug.blogspot.com Mei Teng

    Did my first wedding shoot for a friend last year and it was stressful for me (an amateur). Don’t think I want to shoot another wedding again. Nevertheless, it was a good learning experience for me.

    I always make sure I am dressed comfortably and appropriately for any kind of photoshoot. Don’t want wardrobe to get in the way of the photoshoot.

  • Agnew

    I make it a habit to visit the ceremony (and other locations) about 2 weeks before the wedding.
    It is even in my contract that it my responsibility to find out venue rules ie: no flash in church and I promise my clients that I will visit all venues.

  • Frank

    Backup!
    Take an extra camera, lenses and flash, just in case…

  • http://pedrosousa-foto.pt.vu Pedro Sousa

    Wonderfull tips!

    Many thanks!

  • Pam Jones

    As a wedding planner and an amateur photographer I’d suggest two days before with the bride contact but either way MAKE CONTACT!!!

    New wedding photographers might also consider asking if they can drop by for the rehearsal. It’s a great way to find out what and when things will be happening. Offer a few candid shots for the experience. Win/Win for everyone!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevehurl88/ Stephen Hurlbut

    Last Thursday I was asked to take pictures for a friends wedding, and I had done so once before. But the time before I had a working speedlight, and the wedding was outside. This time, I knew my speedlight was out of the picture. Since most weddings have rehearsals, I suggest that the photographer goes to the rehearsal to know exactly how things are going to play out. This takes time, but this really helped with any anxiety that I had. Doing it for a friend and not really for the money, I really suggest it. Everything was smooth sailing the day of the wedding, and I even more or less remembered how things would play out. It’s been two years since the last wedding, and since then I have invested in several strobes that I can trigger via a remote. I was informed that they would be fine with me using a flash, although I wasn’t too sure about whether they would approve of these flashes. Going to the rehearsal, I got to set up the lights, test exactly how well they worked. I also got to talk to the pastor about it and get his approval of them. I used two strobes on opposite sides of the chapel, one triggered by remote, the other by slave.
    The pictures came out beautiful.
    I was asked to get pictures of the bride getting ready, I didn’t know they wanted that, but I was fine with it. I took a few shots without a flash, but my ISO went from 400 to 3200. I then turned on my pop up flash, and grabbed a small white card, and manually reflected the light at the ceiling to get much better pictures. I was even able to use this method in a narrow hallway as guest gave hugs to the bride and groom.
    Lens choice, I only have two options, my 28-135, and my 70 to 300. Unless I’m photographing something I can’t get very close to, I don’t use my telephoto lens. Neither of them have a very wide aperture, but with my flashes I didn’t need it at all.
    There was only one mistake that I made during the wedding that I thought really cost me. I used to take group pictures for my old work, and the lighting was always very undynamic. For group pictures, we had one flash and it was directly behind the photographer facing directly at the group. I thought I should change the lighting for the group picture, because the lights being at the side, I thought would cause odd shadows. Even though it wasn’t a problem during the actual wedding. So I tried to change the light, and I wasn’t happy with it, and I tried to change it back, still wasn’t happy with it, didn’t realize one light was unplugged. Finally I resorted to the pop up flash with a direct flash.

  • michelle harmse

    great tips. many thanks.

  • TexasTammy

    Great tips! I do all of these and a few more. I love #6, I have “wedding clothes” which consists of really nice black dress pants and a white 3/4 length button up dress shirt and a black vest. The vest is silk and very elegant and it has HUGE side pockets that I can put extra lens, cards, batteries etc in. That way I have everything at my finger tips. I also love #7 – I always spend a couple of days ahead of time getting inspired. Looking at wedding pics on line, thinking about the venue (which I’ve already checked out) – figuring out shots in my head and the timeline of the day. Clean my camera and all equipment, carry a water bottle and a snack in the car in case I need it.
    oh and I always have a tube of lipstick in case a bridemaid needs to freshen up a bit!
    I love shooting weddings. *** :)
    Great article, love everyone’s words of wisdom!

  • http://www.daraeandfriends.com/ Steve Marcum

    1. Do all of the preparations listed here
    2. Take care of yourself, make sure and bring some energy bars, extra socks and shoes in case your feet get wet taking that extra shot close to the lake. Bring bottles of water and Tylenol in case of headache or back ache.
    3. Lots of extra batteries, chargers and memory cards.
    4. Stake out safe place to store your valuables.
    5. Know your limits of your skill and physical status.

  • http://www.614blog.blogspot.com Manuel

    I always plan for the worst scenario. The day before, a full review of the wedding day plan with the bride and groom. What ifs are part of my planning routine with the couple, from behind schedule activities to mother nature calamities. The wedding day besides carrying my camera with three cleaned and ready lenses (prime 50mm, zoom 18-70 and tele 70-300) I always carry an extra camera body, extra fully charged camera battery, extra fully charged flash batteries, extra empty and formatted memory card, extra tripod, a 12 vdc 50 w lamp to iluminate a cave if necessary, battery chargers and rain coat. It´s a wedding, there are no second chances. Best moments last an instant only. Or you do it right the first time or do something else for a living.

  • Scott

    great article, i’m shooting this weekend and it’s the same things running through my head, though i’ve got an inexperienced team- another 2 photographers and a videographer shooting with me over 2 days so i need to help them get their heads in the right space too. always fun and always different with every wedding!

  • Wai

    I’ve always found it best not to get too hammered the night before, so you end up being late or sleeping through the whole thing. Having some back-up is always a good thing.

  • johnp

    I agree with others, for outdoor weddings especially, it is a good idea to check out the venue again the day before. You may have already been there earlier when first meeting the couple but you can almost guarantee changes will have been made. That could include their choices of location for the ceremony & photo shoots which could have a drastic effect on lighting. Changes to decorations, buntings, path the bride takes, where the car will arrive, etc. If it is an evening venue check the lights to be used. I had one evening venue which was to be centered around a huge open log (talking trees here) fire and be further lit by braziers only to find the day before a total fire ban for the area had been declared.

  • http://www.prowpatareeya.info Prowpatareeya

    It’s a useful tip, Thanks

  • http://www.jcolpitts.zenfolio.com Joe

    As a budding amateur photographer just starting a business, and currently booking my first wedding for October, these notes are invaluable! Thank you so much for wanting to help others with your knowledge![eimg url='http://jcolpitts.zenfolio.com/p637283613/h11e88b4f#h11e88b4f' title='h11e88b4f#h11e88b4f']

  • Mikey

    Get Second Shooter on your iPhone…it’s a godsend!

  • http://bettybakeblog.blogspot.com Betty Bake

    i visit the location before the time to have a look at the area and even meet the bride there to discuss where we will be walking around for the photo shoot – especially if we are pressed for time on the actual day – then we have a firm idea of where we should be taking photos and not hummming and aaahing about where we should go. Also I ask the bride and groom to give me a list of the family formal shots that the want with the names of the people 10 days before the wedding so i know exactly how many formal shots they want and in how many different combinations as different couples have different size families and divorced etc… cinarios. then I explain to them that each shot will take roughly 3 – 4 min and that we need to factor that into the time of our “wedding shoot” and then explain how much time we will have left after that for their couple shots. It works quite well as before i used to do this i would end up with all these family shots in millions of different combinations and only 15 min to take photo of the bride and groom by themselves and those are some of the prettiest shots of the day and i always regret not doing more. Now with them having a clear understanding of how long the family shoot might take – they often are more realistic of how long the time will be and also don’t go to crazy on the family shoot so there can be more time for them. I also ask for their best man or someone who knows almost everyone at the wedding to be responsible to get the various people in the family etc.. for the photos – because if the bride or groom go to look for someone who is chatting somewhere – they might not return for a very long time – as everyone wants to chat to them.

    hope this helps
    Betty

  • Holly

    Thanks for the great info! I’m shooting a weeding for a co-worker in Sept. and it will be my first. I am an amateur and told them as much but she is confident I will get what they want. I’m nervous and prepping as much as I can before then, this has been and will be very helpful!

  • jomac

    Have done my first wedding, it was a travel destination, locations changed on an hourly basis, the day was in 7 chapters, shot at Tindal Airbase, reception in the stunning Katherine Gorge. Great tips, plan and plan again, and go with the flow and have fun!!!!@

  • http://logos.co.uk AJ Finch

    8 – Relax
    9 – Go to bed at a sensible time

  • http://www.clrphoto.com Chelsea (CLR Photography)

    i have my cousins wedding like this sunday. june 20,2010. and its my first wedding. i really hope the weather is good but not harsh,(sun) im really excited. wish me luck, got any other last tips for me.

  • jomac

    Remember to have fun!!!

  • http://www.singaporegrooms.com Singapore Wedding Photography

    I absolutely agree with the get prepared part. Always double camera, double batteries, double flash.
    In singapore, the daily weather forecast is “sunny with slight showers in the afternoon” all year round.
    So I always bring along my zip lock bad with holes ready cut to waterproof my camera.
    Amazingly though, the rainy shots always turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

  • http:///www.1003photography.co.uk Mark McGowan

    I’ve got a checklist setup on Remember The Milk – http://www.rememberthemilk.com – that lists everything I need to do. I complete the tasks as I do them (which gives a nice little sense of satisfaction!) and then reset when done, ready for the next wedding. Very handy way of keeping everything in one place.

  • http://leekrohnphoto.smugmug.com LK

    Have all of your equipment prepared and double checked several days in advance – including all batteries charged, and memory cards cleared. I like to be good to go by Thursday for a Saturday wedding, leaving as little to chance as possible. Check your lists – locations, times, photo lists… so that if unexpected events come up in the day or two beforehand, or a thunderstorm strikes and the power goes out the night before, you are still ready to go. We cannot control everything, but I sure like to stay ahead of the curve and be as prepared as I can without waiting ’til the last minute. Eat well that morning, have a powerbar for energy, and bring one or more along just in case, as running out of steam at crucial moments can be difficult. Work hard, have fun, be professional, and be prepared for serendipity!

  • http://hamiltonfamilyphotographer.com/blog Amy Hoogstad

    I had this bookmarked, and am shooting a wedding tomorrow. Thanks again for this encouraging and helpful post!

Some older comments

  • Amy Hoogstad

    June 25, 2011 02:48 am

    I had this bookmarked, and am shooting a wedding tomorrow. Thanks again for this encouraging and helpful post!

  • LK

    May 19, 2011 12:25 pm

    Have all of your equipment prepared and double checked several days in advance - including all batteries charged, and memory cards cleared. I like to be good to go by Thursday for a Saturday wedding, leaving as little to chance as possible. Check your lists - locations, times, photo lists... so that if unexpected events come up in the day or two beforehand, or a thunderstorm strikes and the power goes out the night before, you are still ready to go. We cannot control everything, but I sure like to stay ahead of the curve and be as prepared as I can without waiting 'til the last minute. Eat well that morning, have a powerbar for energy, and bring one or more along just in case, as running out of steam at crucial moments can be difficult. Work hard, have fun, be professional, and be prepared for serendipity!

  • Mark McGowan

    May 18, 2011 05:39 pm

    I've got a checklist setup on Remember The Milk - http://www.rememberthemilk.com - that lists everything I need to do. I complete the tasks as I do them (which gives a nice little sense of satisfaction!) and then reset when done, ready for the next wedding. Very handy way of keeping everything in one place.

  • Singapore Wedding Photography

    June 26, 2010 12:54 am

    I absolutely agree with the get prepared part. Always double camera, double batteries, double flash.
    In singapore, the daily weather forecast is "sunny with slight showers in the afternoon" all year round.
    So I always bring along my zip lock bad with holes ready cut to waterproof my camera.
    Amazingly though, the rainy shots always turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

  • jomac

    June 19, 2010 09:32 am

    Remember to have fun!!!

  • Chelsea (CLR Photography)

    June 19, 2010 07:04 am

    i have my cousins wedding like this sunday. june 20,2010. and its my first wedding. i really hope the weather is good but not harsh,(sun) im really excited. wish me luck, got any other last tips for me.

  • AJ Finch

    June 16, 2010 11:03 pm

    8 - Relax
    9 - Go to bed at a sensible time

  • jomac

    June 16, 2010 10:04 pm

    Have done my first wedding, it was a travel destination, locations changed on an hourly basis, the day was in 7 chapters, shot at Tindal Airbase, reception in the stunning Katherine Gorge. Great tips, plan and plan again, and go with the flow and have fun!!!!@

  • Holly

    June 11, 2010 09:42 pm

    Thanks for the great info! I'm shooting a weeding for a co-worker in Sept. and it will be my first. I am an amateur and told them as much but she is confident I will get what they want. I'm nervous and prepping as much as I can before then, this has been and will be very helpful!

  • Betty Bake

    June 11, 2010 04:47 pm

    i visit the location before the time to have a look at the area and even meet the bride there to discuss where we will be walking around for the photo shoot - especially if we are pressed for time on the actual day - then we have a firm idea of where we should be taking photos and not hummming and aaahing about where we should go. Also I ask the bride and groom to give me a list of the family formal shots that the want with the names of the people 10 days before the wedding so i know exactly how many formal shots they want and in how many different combinations as different couples have different size families and divorced etc... cinarios. then I explain to them that each shot will take roughly 3 - 4 min and that we need to factor that into the time of our "wedding shoot" and then explain how much time we will have left after that for their couple shots. It works quite well as before i used to do this i would end up with all these family shots in millions of different combinations and only 15 min to take photo of the bride and groom by themselves and those are some of the prettiest shots of the day and i always regret not doing more. Now with them having a clear understanding of how long the family shoot might take - they often are more realistic of how long the time will be and also don't go to crazy on the family shoot so there can be more time for them. I also ask for their best man or someone who knows almost everyone at the wedding to be responsible to get the various people in the family etc.. for the photos - because if the bride or groom go to look for someone who is chatting somewhere - they might not return for a very long time - as everyone wants to chat to them.

    hope this helps
    Betty

  • Mikey

    June 11, 2010 02:46 pm

    Get Second Shooter on your iPhone...it's a godsend!

  • Joe

    June 11, 2010 01:38 pm

    As a budding amateur photographer just starting a business, and currently booking my first wedding for October, these notes are invaluable! Thank you so much for wanting to help others with your knowledge![eimg url='http://jcolpitts.zenfolio.com/p637283613/h11e88b4f#h11e88b4f' title='h11e88b4f#h11e88b4f']

  • Prowpatareeya

    June 11, 2010 12:08 pm

    It's a useful tip, Thanks

  • johnp

    June 11, 2010 08:54 am

    I agree with others, for outdoor weddings especially, it is a good idea to check out the venue again the day before. You may have already been there earlier when first meeting the couple but you can almost guarantee changes will have been made. That could include their choices of location for the ceremony & photo shoots which could have a drastic effect on lighting. Changes to decorations, buntings, path the bride takes, where the car will arrive, etc. If it is an evening venue check the lights to be used. I had one evening venue which was to be centered around a huge open log (talking trees here) fire and be further lit by braziers only to find the day before a total fire ban for the area had been declared.

  • Wai

    June 11, 2010 08:43 am

    I've always found it best not to get too hammered the night before, so you end up being late or sleeping through the whole thing. Having some back-up is always a good thing.

  • Scott

    June 11, 2010 08:37 am

    great article, i'm shooting this weekend and it's the same things running through my head, though i've got an inexperienced team- another 2 photographers and a videographer shooting with me over 2 days so i need to help them get their heads in the right space too. always fun and always different with every wedding!

  • Manuel

    June 11, 2010 05:43 am

    I always plan for the worst scenario. The day before, a full review of the wedding day plan with the bride and groom. What ifs are part of my planning routine with the couple, from behind schedule activities to mother nature calamities. The wedding day besides carrying my camera with three cleaned and ready lenses (prime 50mm, zoom 18-70 and tele 70-300) I always carry an extra camera body, extra fully charged camera battery, extra fully charged flash batteries, extra empty and formatted memory card, extra tripod, a 12 vdc 50 w lamp to iluminate a cave if necessary, battery chargers and rain coat. It´s a wedding, there are no second chances. Best moments last an instant only. Or you do it right the first time or do something else for a living.

  • Steve Marcum

    June 11, 2010 05:22 am

    1. Do all of the preparations listed here
    2. Take care of yourself, make sure and bring some energy bars, extra socks and shoes in case your feet get wet taking that extra shot close to the lake. Bring bottles of water and Tylenol in case of headache or back ache.
    3. Lots of extra batteries, chargers and memory cards.
    4. Stake out safe place to store your valuables.
    5. Know your limits of your skill and physical status.

  • TexasTammy

    June 11, 2010 04:10 am

    Great tips! I do all of these and a few more. I love #6, I have "wedding clothes" which consists of really nice black dress pants and a white 3/4 length button up dress shirt and a black vest. The vest is silk and very elegant and it has HUGE side pockets that I can put extra lens, cards, batteries etc in. That way I have everything at my finger tips. I also love #7 - I always spend a couple of days ahead of time getting inspired. Looking at wedding pics on line, thinking about the venue (which I've already checked out) - figuring out shots in my head and the timeline of the day. Clean my camera and all equipment, carry a water bottle and a snack in the car in case I need it.
    oh and I always have a tube of lipstick in case a bridemaid needs to freshen up a bit!
    I love shooting weddings. *** :)
    Great article, love everyone's words of wisdom!

  • michelle harmse

    June 11, 2010 04:05 am

    great tips. many thanks.

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    June 11, 2010 03:49 am

    Last Thursday I was asked to take pictures for a friends wedding, and I had done so once before. But the time before I had a working speedlight, and the wedding was outside. This time, I knew my speedlight was out of the picture. Since most weddings have rehearsals, I suggest that the photographer goes to the rehearsal to know exactly how things are going to play out. This takes time, but this really helped with any anxiety that I had. Doing it for a friend and not really for the money, I really suggest it. Everything was smooth sailing the day of the wedding, and I even more or less remembered how things would play out. It's been two years since the last wedding, and since then I have invested in several strobes that I can trigger via a remote. I was informed that they would be fine with me using a flash, although I wasn't too sure about whether they would approve of these flashes. Going to the rehearsal, I got to set up the lights, test exactly how well they worked. I also got to talk to the pastor about it and get his approval of them. I used two strobes on opposite sides of the chapel, one triggered by remote, the other by slave.
    The pictures came out beautiful.
    I was asked to get pictures of the bride getting ready, I didn't know they wanted that, but I was fine with it. I took a few shots without a flash, but my ISO went from 400 to 3200. I then turned on my pop up flash, and grabbed a small white card, and manually reflected the light at the ceiling to get much better pictures. I was even able to use this method in a narrow hallway as guest gave hugs to the bride and groom.
    Lens choice, I only have two options, my 28-135, and my 70 to 300. Unless I'm photographing something I can't get very close to, I don't use my telephoto lens. Neither of them have a very wide aperture, but with my flashes I didn't need it at all.
    There was only one mistake that I made during the wedding that I thought really cost me. I used to take group pictures for my old work, and the lighting was always very undynamic. For group pictures, we had one flash and it was directly behind the photographer facing directly at the group. I thought I should change the lighting for the group picture, because the lights being at the side, I thought would cause odd shadows. Even though it wasn't a problem during the actual wedding. So I tried to change the light, and I wasn't happy with it, and I tried to change it back, still wasn't happy with it, didn't realize one light was unplugged. Finally I resorted to the pop up flash with a direct flash.

  • Pam Jones

    June 11, 2010 02:49 am

    As a wedding planner and an amateur photographer I'd suggest two days before with the bride contact but either way MAKE CONTACT!!!

    New wedding photographers might also consider asking if they can drop by for the rehearsal. It's a great way to find out what and when things will be happening. Offer a few candid shots for the experience. Win/Win for everyone!

  • Pedro Sousa

    June 11, 2010 02:06 am

    Wonderfull tips!

    Many thanks!

  • Frank

    June 9, 2010 03:31 pm

    Backup!
    Take an extra camera, lenses and flash, just in case...

  • Agnew

    June 8, 2010 04:03 am

    I make it a habit to visit the ceremony (and other locations) about 2 weeks before the wedding.
    It is even in my contract that it my responsibility to find out venue rules ie: no flash in church and I promise my clients that I will visit all venues.

  • Mei Teng

    June 7, 2010 04:02 pm

    Did my first wedding shoot for a friend last year and it was stressful for me (an amateur). Don't think I want to shoot another wedding again. Nevertheless, it was a good learning experience for me.

    I always make sure I am dressed comfortably and appropriately for any kind of photoshoot. Don't want wardrobe to get in the way of the photoshoot.

  • daveymars

    June 7, 2010 05:26 am

    Wow... great article AND great comments... If I can be so bold as to suggest something to the King In Yellow...
    A dear friend of mine was getting married... and had paid a professional photographer. I read all the stuff I could here and decided that I would bring my camera and tripod... (and a gift of a large digital photoframe.) Now, following the advice here... I consulted with my friend WELL beforehand and spoke with the photographer about staying the hell out of his way :) He was gracious, generous and appreciative of my brevity and forthrightness. I also studiously avoided getting the same shots he did--especially poses.. e.g. he got the groomsmen holding the groom up off the ground... I got the 4 shot burst of what happened immediately after when they accidentally dropped him.... :) I focused on getting pictures of everyone who attended the wedding and/or reception... while the photographer posed the wedding party for formal pictures. The result--photographer had outstanding gorgeous professional, traditional shots, and I had delightful, amusing and touching candids--about 800 of them that were in the digital frame that the bride and groom had for the-gfit opening party they had at their home the evening of the wedding for the wedding party and their family. (Yes, I'd been previously invited to this occasion.) I kept a copy of the shots and have made anniversary presents for them each year... It was a great risk-free way of learning more about wedding photography, staying the hell out of the way and yet getting some idea of what it's like... Good stuff.

  • bryan

    June 6, 2010 05:39 pm

    #4 seems the most important to me. Aside from checking gear and making sure i have everything i need, I think about all the things that can and will go wrong throughout the wedding day. I try to think about what plan B, C,...X,Y,Z will be just incase the inevitable occurs. And I know I can't prepare for everything and some decisions are made on the fly but having a solid game plan helps get the job done.

  • Samiz

    June 6, 2010 06:17 am

    It's really good things ana addition to this i adore photography and i think that i'll make every moment on my camera coz after 10 years i would like to remember it ,befor divorced haha just a joke

  • Wedding Planning

    June 5, 2010 08:04 pm

    Wedding is very special event. ...So this site is very help for me how Prepare a wedding.....Because i am getting married next month.

  • CTyler

    June 5, 2010 02:20 pm

    Great pictures and advice Jason, thanks!

  • Jason Collin Photography

    June 5, 2010 02:12 pm

    @newsworthy -- tonight's wedding was ok, pretty simple, dramatic clouds instead of a visible sunset.

    My favorite shot from Wednesday night's wedding, with clear sunset, and the philosophy of my thinking before, during and after shooting:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2010/6/4/philosophy-of-the-kiss-florida-beach-sunset-wedding.html

  • NewsWorthy

    June 5, 2010 01:36 pm

    How was tonight's wedding?

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • NewsWorthy

    June 5, 2010 01:35 pm

    Yes, Jason. That is what I meant. Thanx very much for sharing.

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • Jason Collin Photography

    June 5, 2010 01:13 pm

    @newsworthy -- thanks, I'll be adding some new wedding shots in a few days too.

    If you mean the backlit shots as the sunset shots, the lighting setup could not be simpler: just a single SB-600 Speedlight with cap diffuser on it off camera on a lightstand triggered by a simple radio trigger. I use manual settings on both camera and strobe, usually something like f/8 ISO 400 1/200th for the camera and 1/2 power for the strobe. Depending on the sunset, I just tweak those a little, maybe 1/160th if I need more light in the background. I place the strobe for the most part above and to the left of the bride and groom, about 7.5 to 8 feet high. I handhold my D300 for those shots usually using the Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens.

  • Kiran

    June 5, 2010 07:54 am

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing to amateurs like me thinking of branching out as professional :)

  • NewsWorthy

    June 5, 2010 06:58 am

    Shooting a wedding is potentially very stressful if unprepared and I think checking off items prior to the wedding day is very important. Thank you Elizabeth.

    Jason, your photos are great as usual. I am interested in your lighting setup in your backlit photos. Care to share?

    ~ NewsWorthy ~

  • Jason Collin Photography

    June 5, 2010 06:31 am

    I think you forgot the most important thing, make sure you get paid! Unless you get paid in full before the day of the wedding, which is the best way if possible. I also clean my lenses' front and back elements. Make sure my memory cards have been formatted. Make sure I know how to get to the location(s) for the wedding.

    Some recent weddings I have photographed:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/category/wedding

    That said, I am off to photograph a wedding in 2 hours!

  • Tyrone

    June 5, 2010 05:09 am

    The only other thing I would recommend is checking out the location for the wedding and reception in advance so you will know your lighting situation. Sometimes this is not possible, but if it is than it is to your advantage.

  • Moragh Dann

    June 5, 2010 04:46 am

    Great Article , Thanks

  • Kyrptonite

    June 5, 2010 03:37 am

    Good advice.. also make sure that you have plenty of memory.. the great thing about digital is you can never take too many pictures

  • Alan

    June 5, 2010 03:07 am

    Time permitting, I try to visit the place before the actual event so I can figure out shooting strategies (will I need lighting, positioning for shots, etc.). Ideally, it helps to do this around the same time the event is supposed to happen so you can visualize what the lighting conditions will be and figure out what kind of shots will be available to you and if you need to set up additional lighting.

  • Fernando

    June 5, 2010 02:58 am

    I think you hit most of the important points right on the head!
    Making sure all your equipment is clean, charged, ready to go is a big must!
    Going through the day in your head is also of great importance to me. I always try to get a schedule of the day's events before hand from the couple, nothing is worse then not knowing that the ring exchange is going to happen at a different part of the ceremony location, or that the first dance is happening right after the ceremony!! You have to be prepaired for these things, and knowing when and where is half the battle.

    @TheKingInYellow...... weddings can be quite terrifying at first, my first few were quite stressful, but after doing several it does get A BIT easier. I would suggest shadowing a seasoned veteran if you can, or be a backup-second photographer for some friends! That way there is much less pressure on you to perform, you get some experience, and it is actually much more enjoyable!

  • Aaron

    June 5, 2010 02:04 am

    This is a great list, check lists are a fantastic way to relieve stress!

  • Perry

    June 5, 2010 01:23 am

    As a recently engaged couple, we'll be sure to refer back to this and hope that our photographer does the same :)

  • Gina O

    June 5, 2010 01:16 am

    Well, i'm glad that I already know to do all those things & more at least a couple of days before the wedding....checking off my list the day before. You can never be too prepared, especially for one-off events :)

  • TheKingInYellow

    June 5, 2010 01:04 am

    As I advance towards a part-time photography business I freely admit that shooting weddings terrify me, and I don't think I will do them, at least initially.

    I think no matter how prepared you are, knowing that missing one shot might crush the Bride's hopes would be just too much pressure. Ugh.

  • Susie

    June 5, 2010 12:58 am

    This is great..Thank you :)

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