How to Prep for a Wedding Day - secondshootersociety.com

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we're michelle
& Kelsie

We're best friends, business partners and completely obsessed with Bath and Body Works Candles. We LOVE photographing weddings and can't wait to teach you #allthethings we've learned over the years!

How to Prep for a Wedding Day

Step One: Organize Your Information (24-48 hours before the wedding)

  • Timeline – You will need easy access to the wedding timeline to refer to throughout the day. If you prefer a hard copy, print a few extras for your second shooter & any family members who ask for one. If you prefer to access the timeline from your phone, take screenshots for quick access even in remote areas where you may not have reliable service.
  • Family Formal List – We always recommend working with your couple before the wedding day to create a list of family combinations for family portrait time. If you’re printing hard copies, bring a few extras to pass out to moms on either side of the family. They can help keep everyone organized! Don’t forget a marker or highlighter to mark off shots as you go.
  • Locations – Double check each location for the wedding day, and the travel time between each one. Make sure you have physical addresses, not just the name of the venue! Google Maps is good, but its not foolproof! If you’ll be starting the wedding day at a hotel, text the bride or wedding planner for the room number to save time upon arrival.
  • Names & Phone Numbers – Make sure you have the names and phone numbers of the couple getting married, as well as an “emergency contact” like the wedding planner or maid of honor. It’s also helpful to review the names of the bridal party and important family members beforehand! People respond well when they are called by their name, and unless you’re Mary Poppins, names are much easier to remember when you’ve read through them ahead of time! If you are second shooting, make sure you have the cell phone number of the primary photographer in case you need to reach them.

Step Two: Prepare Your Equipment (day before the wedding)

  • Cameras – Load a fully charged battery and formatted (empty) memory cards into your camera body. If you have a backup camera (which we HIGHLY recommend), put a charged battery and memory card into this camera too. You may have to grab it quickly, and it should be ready to go just like your main camera!
  • Lenses – Use a lens or soft microfiber cloth to wipe down each of your lenses and store it in its proper place. Always store your lenses with the caps on both sides to prevent the glass from being scratched!
  • Extra Batteries – We recommend packing at least two extra (CHARGED) camera batteries along with a battery charger. If you use flashes with rechargeable AA batteries (which we also recommend), load each flash with fresh/charged batteries and pack extras as well!
  • Extra Memory Cards – Pack enough formatted memory cards to shoot the wedding twice over! If you only pack “just enough” and have a card corrupt, you risk running out of card space. Remember to pack memory cards for your second shooter! If you are the second shooter, bring extra memory cards anyway, just in case.
  • Flashes / Light Stands – If you have them, pack them! Always start a wedding day with fresh batteries in your flashes.

A few more equipment items to consider:

  • OPTIONAL: Styling Kit / Details Bag – If you love details photos like we do, you may want to consider bringing your own styling kit to weddings! Some common items to include are styling boards/mats, a wooden or embellished hanger for dress shots, ring boxes, ribbon, vintage stamps, and bits of fabric/lace. Use whatever fits your personal aesthetic!
  • OPTIONAL: Emergency Kit (sewing kit, tweezers, dress tape, tiny scissors, bobby pins, hairspray, tissues, chapstick, hand sanitizer, earring backs, pens/Sharpies, Tide-to-go, pad/tampons, Ibuprofen, bandages, crochet hook to help button the back of the bride’s dress… need I go on?) You won’t reach into this bag every wedding day, but if someone happens to need something, you’ll be the hero!
  • We recommend charging batteries in advance and packing up all equipment the night before the wedding. Place it all together so in the morning you’re ready to load up & go!

Step Three: Rest & Fuel (starts the day before the wedding!)

  • Get enough sleep. Wedding days are strenuous for photographers, both physically and mentally. Do everything you can to make sure you’re rested!
  • Eat a good breakfast. Fueling your body is important, and you most likely won’t be eating a full meal until dinnertime. Even if you’re nervous, eat up!
  • Pack water & snacks. Granola bars are a LIFESAVER to keep your stamina up through a long wedding day. Pack a few of your favorites, just make sure it’s not something that will melt on a hot day. Bring a water bottle, and for especially hot days, consider packing a cooler of water bottles and Gatorade for you and your team.
  • Be early. Real talk: ANYTHING can happen on the morning of a wedding day. You find a stain on your favorite wedding outfit, your dog has an accident in the house, you get a flat tire, you lose your keys, or despite all your careful preparation you leave your camera bag at home. Give yourself plenty of time to get yourself ready, out the door, and at your first location with time to spare.

We hope this post is helpful as you get ready to photograph your next wedding! Bookmark it for easy access – we can’t wait to see you succeed!

  1. Jared says:

    This is really great stuff, especially having the phone numbers. So helpful if you get lost or a typo is made on an address. It’s happened to me!

  2. Edith Luna says:

    These are great things to have in mind, the most I end up forgetting is to have a great breakfast, but working on changing that, Is not great to feel dizzy when is time to work! Also getting there early is a great tip, specially when you never been there, it gives you time to so some scouting to find the great spots to shoot!
    I also prep my whole equipment one day before, put all together just to grab it and go.

    Great, great post!

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