How to Prep for a Wedding
Weddings have somehow become my specialty. I'm not entirely sure how this has happened, I clearly remember saying, "I'll probably never be a wedding photographer" and then at my very first wedding saying, "wow this is a lot. Probably my first and last wedding"...but here we are friends.
It could be from the 35 weddings last year or simply the realization that I love documenting love. But whatever the case, here I am, almost to my 70th wedding...living the dream that I apparently never had but now I love.
Through this journey of growing and improving my skills as a wedding photographer, one area I struggled in was prepping for the wedding day. Normally this term, "wedding day prep" is often associated with the actual wedding party; however, a lot of prep goes into the photography aspect as well.
I spent many a wedding trying to create a system that would make me feel best prepared for the actual day. As I was prepping for tomorrow's wedding on this lovely post-Fourth of July Friday, I thought I would take a hot second and show you my process.
The virtually endless processes other photographers seem to have in regards to prepping, post-processing, answering emails, and delivering photos has always intimidated me. For a while I felt really inadequate in this area as I watched and read other photographer's systems thinking to myself, "ohmygoodness, they do all that?! I haven't done any of that. I'm actually a failure."
One key takeaway from all of this should be this: friend, let your process be your process. Let your journey be your journey. The way you prep for your weddings should be what makes you the most confident that you are prepared and ready for the wedding day. Don't doubt yourself or your abilities simply because the process is different. Find what works for you and stick with it!
All that being said, here's a little peek into my day-before-a-wedding party/process. This process can actually be a party of one with yourself if you grab some snacks, turn on your jams, and use some imagination. Something like that.
This is my typical spread- all the gadgets, all the info, all the planning. I begin by opening the wedding timeline on my laptop and copying down the coverage hours, addresses, and important contact numbers to Notes on my Ipad.
Next, I create a check-list of all the family formals. This is one of my favorite parts because Apple has made it super easy to not only create a list, but include little bubbles I can mark off as each photo is taken. It's super easy to create and keeps my wedding brain a little more organized.
To create the bubble list in your notes app, simply click on the circle with a checkmark and begin typing your list. I've also found it's best to include actual names, not simply "groom's aunt and uncle" so during the chaos of family formals you can call out actual names. 9/10 times people respond more to their actual name than "aunt of groom". Especially if there's five different aunts all naming and claiming that title. Your future self will thank your present self for including names.
Finally, I go into my Gmail app on my Ipad, screenshot the wedding timeline, and add it to the bottom of my Notes document. To add to the Notes document (shown above) click the circle with the plus sign, tap on "Photo Library", and select your desired screenshots.
You can use this same process to add any desired photos the bride might have sent to you, or any photos in particular you've seen taken at a certain location at the venue that you want to remember to utilize on the wedding day.
This simple wedding day prep is my lifesaver. It allows me to have all the information in one place which makes me feel more prepared and confident during a wedding day. During the family formals, I normally hand the Ipad to my second photographer who lists off the groupings for me and checks the bubbles as I snap the photos. It's efficient and it's super easy. Plus, if you have your Ipad backed up to your icloud, the Notes document is automatically on your phone as well!
While I still have other processes leading up to the wedding day such as meetings, questionnaires, and equipment prep, this document-creating, timeline-pasting, bubble-making prep is the one that keeps my sanity on a wedding day. Maybe it'll help your sanity too. And if you find it doesn't, at least you still had a party with yourself.