1. A full set of backup equipment is essential.
2. Exceed your bride’s expectations, come prepared for the worst with a sewing kit, bleach pen, duct tape – anything that might save the day. Your clients will thank you for it.
3. Weddings don’t always go as planned.
4. Sometimes wedding ceremonies don’t start right on time – and that’s ok.
5. Ask beforehand where you are allowed to stand during the ceremony and how close they either want or don’t want you to be to them.
6. Ask if it’s okay if you stake out a place in the aisle during a ceremony. You don’t want to block anyone else’s view of the bride and groom unless the bride and groom want you to.
7. Be the bride’s best friend on the day of. Stay positive, laugh, and have fun. If you’re relaxed while you’re there to work she’ll be relaxed and confident in your abilities too.
8. Plan out the details for family pictures and those bride and groom pictures far in advance. Come prepared with a list.
9. Send your bride a questionnaire ahead of the wedding asking for the wedding party and important family member’s names. If you can do your best to memorize names beforehand you’ll find more success with posing people and befriending potential future clients.
10. Get those detail shots and plan a time for you to be able to get them. Shots of the centerpieces, paper products, wedding invite, name cards, cakes, etc. can take some time and are best done before everyone shows up at the reception and moves things around.
11. Surprise your clients with a same day slideshow – it will exceed their expectations. During that dinner time when we don’t take photos of people eating (ew!) is when we empty our cards, pull 25-35 images from the JPEGs (not RAWs) and make a quick slideshow and put it up on the computer by the bar. Leave some business cards by the slideshow.
12. Send your clients a wedding gift afterward to thank them for their business. A 16×20 Canvas Wrap of their favorite wedding image from www.cgproprints.com is affordable (approximately $20) and awesome!
13. Be familiar with the ceremony and reception locations ahead of time. Visit all of them and plan out where you’re going to take certain sets of photos. Know what light will be available. If you know what light you have to work with you’ll know if you have the right equipment. If you don’t have the right equipment you can easily rent a lens or two for a day that will make shooting in different light much easier.
14. When people are budgeting for their wedding one of the first things people cut is a wedding planner or day of coordinator. These people are incredibly important as they have lots of wedding knowledge. Without a wedding planner sometimes someone will need extra direction and as the one who may know more about weddings and how they ‘go’ you’ll be a great resource for help.
15. There is almost always an Uncle Bob there with a fancy camera trying to join in on your photo taking ops. Relax and be the awesome photographer you are. Do your job and politely ask other camera happy guests to let you get your shot, you are being paid by the bride and groom after all.
16. Be prepared for the unplanned receiving line. Even if couples don’t want to do this after a ceremony, sometimes it just happens. When you plan the timeline of the day, plan for that happening by accident. That way you’ll be on time if it still happens and early if it doesn’t.
17. Engage with the guests and the wedding party. If they see how friendly and fun you are they’ll be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
18. Make friends with other vendors. Who else there will see brides as often as you do? The DJ, Florist, Wedding Planner, Caterer, Venue, and anyone else who may be there would be great to network and connect with. Share photos of the day with them in return for a link on their website and you’ll find you have a great contact!
19. Have help. Photographing weddings by yourself, although it can be done, is nuts. Having a second shooter or assistant with you ensures that you have extra equipment backup, and you can split up the photo work. One does the groom getting ready while one photographs the bride getting ready. You can both photograph the entire wedding party and then split into two groups to do the bridesmaids and groomsmen. This saves time for you and for your clients!
20. Finally, find that one person who is a family member or friend who seems to be helping out a lot and get on their good side. That person usually knows everyone’s names, and the family and can help you organize family portraits and make things go so much smoother. They appreciate being asked for help and you’ll appreciate their knowledge.
If you’d like to know more about photographing a wedding check out the How to Photograph a Wedding ebook. This ebook talks about ALL the details from when a client first inquires all the way to the final thank you card. It has tips for all parts of the wedding photography experience, emailing, planning, engagement photos, wedding day of tips, and more!