I've been sitting on this topic for some time now. Going back and forth between emails and text messages with past clients, friends, and family to find out one thing:
What would you have done differently to prepare for your wedding photographer?
The question boggled some, but to the others it was obvious. What I wanted to know was, just that--literally. So many professionals in the wedding industry go through a check list of things they know they need when XYZ happens. But do we all know what they could be doing to prepare for their photographer before the wedding?
After asking recently married friends and clients, most said--"I wish I was more organized with everything." And to be honest, let me start off by telling you that if you try to do everything yourself, chances are you're probably going to look like a chicken without it's head cut off the morning of your wedding. (Sorry, that's gruesome--I never liked that phrase, but you get the picture!)
First and foremost, breathe. I've put together a list of things that could and will get you through preparing for your photographer before the wedding date (and for the morning of).
Before the Wedding Day:
1. Give people jobs.
What I mean by that is to delegate tasks to someone in your bridal party, your friends, or family WHO YOU TRUST to get the job done. Tell them who your photographer is, what their name is, and let them know that should your photographer have questions about who is in charge of what, and be sure to know they are aware of it. Give your photographer a list of people to contact for the day of the wedding so when it comes to the day of your wedding, your photographer can reach anyone and everyone BUT you! This avoids any confusion of who has the kids shoes or worse, Where are the rings?!
2. Prepare all your detail items.
Write down all your items that you will be wearing. I know this sounds silly, but believe me the last thing you want was to have spent 3 hours deciding on which necklace to wear on your special day and due to a chaotic morning getting ready, you forgot it on the dresser counter and there's no time to go back. Write these things down.
3: Clear The Room.
Do you remember why you hired your wedding photographer? To photograph your day, and that includes your surroundings. If you're getting ready at the sweetness of your home, or a hotel suite, make time to tidy the room or get housekeeping to clear up for you. You're going to look amazing getting ready for your wedding, might as well make your space look like a million bucks too.
4: Photographers live for light.
Did you know that the word "Photographer" is broken down to "Photo" for photosynthesis as in light, and "Graph" for writing? Therefore, I like to call myself a Light Writer! (Insert camera and nerd emojis here.)
Anyway! Back to the list! Photographers need light to photograph any given item. Make sure that wherever you, your bridal party and groomsmen are getting ready that there is enough natural window light (preferably). Window light is the most beautiful way to photograph weddings because it gives a sense of realness to a photograph, as well as adds soft textures to flatter any bride.
5. Hang that Dress.
Know where your dress will hang. Your dress (as I'm sure you know--and if you don't, you will find out) is hella heavy. Unless of course you have a really cute modern bride dress without a train.
But for you traditional brides, your train and dress is going to be heavy and you're going to want it to be hung up. So, again, if you're getting ready at a home look around where you would like it to be hung up and photographed. If you don't have any ideas on where or how, you can always do what I do--go to Pinterest and find all the possible ways to hang up your dress in a home (or even in a backyard). If you're thinking about it hanging up indoor, it's always best near a window or a naturally well-lit room.
If you're getting ready at a hotel suite, ask the hotel personnel or hotel events coordinator where they suggest their brides to hang up the dress for photographs.
6. Get Dressed.
Each of us has our person. Who is your person to help you put on your dress? Think about it. Will this matter to you in time? Is it going to be your mother, aunt, sister, or best friend? This kind of goes hand-in-hand with Number 1 on this list--Make sure if this is important to you, let them know to stick around when it's time to zip you up.
7. Hair & Make-up.
This is the time to feel and look like a VIP rock star who's about to rock the stage in front of a live audience. You want to look your best. If you're reading this, and this list speaks to you, chances are you're almost getting married. Which also means you should have already decided who your hair stylist and make-up artists will be for your wedding. And if you don't, find one. Find a professional hair stylist and make-up artist who will give you the look you're going for. This is your wedding. Look the way you want. The last thing you need is to have come to the wedding day and have never seen the work of your stylists or artists. Just like choosing your wedding photographer, you have to look for your style--a style you love and what you are looking for. Don't get surprised the day of. I often advise my clients to do an engagement session for a few reasons, and getting a professional make-up and hair stylist is one of them. (I'll write up an engagement session blog post another time!) This gives them the liberty to test the waters to see what they like and what they don't.
8. List Your Vendors.
Since we're already on the topic of vendors, this is something that I find interesting yet very important. You're going to want to list up all your vendors for your photographer prior to the wedding--like at least a week before. Here's the reason behind the photographer's thought process...
We are photographing everyone's work.
You've hired all these great and talented people to put together the most magical day for you and your groom-to-be. And if all goes well, your friends and family are going to want to know who did your arrangements for your bouquet and bridesmaids, what was the name of your wedding planner (because she was amazing to work with), who was the make-up artist who did your make-up (because one of your girlfriends just got engaged and want to hire someone she can trust). These are some reasons why you want to list them down.
Plus, when your wedding photographer is blogging or posting on social media, it's nice to be able to give recognition to the right vendors with their contact information should someone else want to hire them for their amazing services as well. It's just a nice thing to do.
9. Know When & Where things are happening.
This should be one of those obvious things, but among the preparation for everything you always want to keep your photographer in the loop of what is happening. If your wedding photographer has shot weddings before, they will (and should) be in communication with you within the month of your wedding to just always be in-the-know of it all. You're going to want to give them the iterary of the basics (at least):
What time are you both getting ready?
Where are you both getting ready?
What time is the ceremony? The reception?
Locations of the hotel suite, ceremony, reception hall, etc?
Who's going to be where?
These are just some of the basics. If anything changes, please tell your photographer. Just think of your photographer as your shadow (well, almost). They're going to be with you majority of the time so might as well tell them where they'll be. Keep in mind, most of the above should have already been discussed and confirmed months ago, but it's good to get that reassurance that everyone is on the same page--always.
10. Get some sleep.
It's easy to get caught up with the last minute preparations and details the night before the wedding. But do yourself a favor, and GET SOME SLEEP. I honestly suggest going to bed early and getting a full 8 hours of sleep. No late night social media before bed in the darkness. Why? Because you don't want red eyes in your photos. You don't want all that hard work you've put in, to have yourself look like a zombie the morning of your wedding. I promise you, you will look at yourself in the mirror and constantly say to yourself "OMG. I look SO tired!" And all that confidence is out the window. And trust me when I say... your body language will show in your photos. So make sure you rest up and sleep. This goes for your fiance too!
That's it! Those are my top 10 things on how to prepare for your photographer before the wedding day.
I know that was a LONG one, but I wanted to give as much information as possible to help you better prepare for your wedding photographer so there are no surprises.
Please let me know in the comments below (or if you're shy, you can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org) on what you think should be added to this list, I'm all ears.
Congratulations! And good luck! :)
I am a...
Los Angeles native.