Every night before a wedding day I have a long checklist of things that I go through as I’m packing. It’s actually built into my regular workflow so nothing is missing and so that I know where I’m going. The stress of the possibility of not having something I need or of being late because of weather or traffic makes me extremely nervous. So I try to do whatever I can ahead of time in order to avoid those mishaps. I’ve been a full time photographer for almost 7 years now and I’ve learned that some things are really out of our control. But if I CAN control something, I will make sure it IS controlled.
Planning the day before a wedding is the best way to make sure I’m prepared.
After all – there are no do-overs!
Today, I’m going to talk about everything I go over in my head and on paper as I’m prepping for the Big Day. I’ll show you what I pack, how I plan my commute, and what my overall workflow involves with checking in with my second shooter/assistant. No stone is left unturned!
The Day Before a Wedding
- The first thing I do the day before a wedding is pull out all of my gear and bags. I determine whether or not a wedding will be photographed in film and if it is, the film gear bag gets pulled out too. I take everything out of their bags and start my mental checklist of what equipment I’ll be using to shoot with. I count my lenses, take batteries out of everything that requires batteries, and I take all SD & CF cards out of the cameras. Then, everything gets packed back into the bags in order.
- All of the batteries that were just taken out of the cameras and speedlights will get recharged. I do the recharging the night before a wedding day so I can make sure all batteries are fresh and ready to go.
- All of the SD and CF cards will get reformatted. Reformatting them before the day of the wedding assures that I won’t be shooting over something important, the cards are empty and fresh, and everything is organized. Once a card is full at the wedding they’re placed back into my card wallet upside down so I know they’ve been used.
- Lenses are cleaned, if needed.
- The laptop, charger, cleaning cloths, extra batteries, and styling props are checked and packed up.
- I make sure my clear umbrellas are packed in the trunk of my car just in case it rains. (I can’t tell you how often they’ve come in handy!)
- All light stands, sandbags, light modifiers, reflectors, and step stools are packed up and placed in the trunk of the car.
- I type in the wedding day timeline into my Google calendar so it’s connected to my Apple Watch. (Read about that process, here.) I also take this time to type in my physical address into Maps and configure commute times.
- I print off the questionnaire my couples fill out and I make sure I have their family group requests for family formals.
- I email my couple to wish them a happy and relaxing last night before their Big Day!
The Day of the Wedding
- After a final glance at all of the gear gathered together the night before, everything gets placed into the trunk of the car with the umbrellas, styling kit, light stands, and sand bags.
- The Apple Watch wedding day timeline keeps me on track by buzzing me 30 minutes before each scheduled event throughout the wedding day. This has absolutely changed how I approach wedding days and its so much more reliable to keep me on track than having to constantly check the time!
- We scout for locations at the venue immediately at arrival so we know where we’ll photograph the First Look (if there is one), bridal party portraits, family formals, and romantic portraits. Having a game plan in place before we say hello to our couples has really helped things run smoothly throughout the day.
- All cameras are synced together for date and time before shooting begins! Doing this helps me immensely when culling and editing because I can sort by image metadata.
- It’s time to party!! The whole entire wedding day is a huge party for us. We absolutely adore watching families interact with each other and friends gather around to celebrate. We’re working, of course! But we love what we do so much that it just doesn’t feel like work to us. And since we did all of the prepping and scheduling beforehand, our watch will tell us where we need to be and all we have to do is follow the schedule and enjoy the buzz of celebration.
Our workflow and routine is one that we follow with every single one of our couple’s wedding days in mind. Having such an organized routine has not only helped calm my nerves and lessen the risk of forgetting something important, but it has also helped us stay ahead of our wedding day schedules. So often a wedding timeline will get pushed back for various reasons and I have to always keep in mind that my timeline isn’t the only timeline dictating the flow of the day. If I can work quickly and efficiently, I’m almost always able to make up for lost time somewhere else in our schedule. I hope this post has helped give you some tips for how you can prepare for your upcoming weddings and timelines! If you have questions please comment below, I’m more than happy to help!