A recently received email told me she was shooting her first wedding this summer + wondered if I had any tips for her going into such a big event + day!! Of course, the best thing to do would be to sit down over coffee with someone asking this question + get to know them better — their previous experience, fears, areas of confidence, gear, etc.!! Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible to do with everyone! I shared with her my Top Four Tips for shooing her first wedding — if I had to narrow it down (which I did!) + keep things super precise.
So — for those who are about to shoot their first wedding, or hope to shoot a wedding sometime in the near future — I hope these tips are helpful for you, too!! Of course, please leave any questions or comments at the bottom of the post + I will do my best to respond to them as soon as possible!!
This one seems “obvious” but is really so important (+ honestly, I think often overlooked)! You will experience a lot of different lighting scenarios on a wedding day + I think it’s important that you have prepped for that reality before you find yourself in such situations. For example: go out around noon on a super sunny day (you only need a couple of minutes to do this!) + take some shots of a subject in the harsh light (your subject could be a tree, a bench, your dog — doesn’t matter)! Practice shooting this subject until you get the shot to look how you want/what you think matches your style + note HOW you made that happen via the settings on your camera. Other types of lighting to practice would be spotty shade, a room with lots of tungsten light, + a darker room (think reception). Just take a couple of minutes on either one day (or spread them out over a couple of days) + put yourself in different lighting situations to try + achieve taking photos that come out how you want them to look — consistently. Putting in this effort will pay off in the long run!
2. UNDER PROMISE/OVER DELIVER
This isn’t our idea, or even a new idea, but someone shared it with us when we were starting our business + we have implemented it from the get-go. “Under promise + over deliver” essentially means to set your clients expectations at a level that are below what you are actually going to provide. For example — if you know you will be able to deliver them their photos in 4-6 weeks, tell them it will be 8 weeks before they get their photos back + then when you deliver them in 4 weeks, they are SHOCKED … in a really good way! Or, if you discuss that your start time will be 11:00 AM, show up at 10:30 AM, just to give them a little extra coverage + yourself more time ; ) Little decisions along the way to “under promise + over deliver” really make the client’s experience so much more memorable!
Speaking of client experience, we really, REALLY believe this point is THE most important point of them all. Stay POSITIVE on the wedding day, no matter what — be a source of positive energy for everyone involved on the day you are photographing + people WILL notice. SMILE, speak encouraging words to not just the couple but also the mother of the bride + the videographer who seems stressed (etc.!), serve your couple radically + go above + beyond to help ease any stress that you can foresee happening on the day (offer to carry something for the Maid of Honor who is struggling to bring everything out to the car in one load!), you get the idea! Even if you’re feeling stressed about something — don’t show it!! Smile + replace those stressed thoughts in your mind with positive ones!
4. BE ORGANIZED
Though this final tip will require some upfront work, it will help you so much on the wedding day itself. Connect with the bride before the wedding day + be sure you have a timeline of the day WITH YOU at all times so you know exactly where you need to be when (you can just ask the bride to email this to you)! Look it over before the day + ask her if you have any questions : )
We actually send out a Bridal Questionnaire one month before the wedding day + ask the couple to fill it out for us — it has questions like:
- Where is the bride getting ready + would you like us to photograph this? What time should we arrive?
- When + where is the ceremony? How long will it last?
- List all groups of family photos you would like us to take
- Where + when is the reception? What time would you like to arrive?
All questions that are photography-related/necessary for us to know in order to do the best job we possibly can as photographers on the wedding day. We then use the answers from this questionnaire to draft up our own timeline that we will be working off of on the day + send it to the bride for final approval : )