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tips for photographing your first wedding

10 Tips for Photographing Your First Wedding

You are likely here because you want to best prepare for photographing your first wedding. Chances are, you are going to have insane butterflies and feel like you might puke…I am here to tell you, that is normal. Follow these tips to help best prepare yourself for that first wedding so that you can feel confident and in control while photographing.

Tips for photographing your first wedding, create a questionnaire

Tip #1 – Send a Questionnaire
In order to understand your couple and their wishes, it is best to send them a detailed questionnaire to ensure you are capturing everything that they want. You don’t have to buy any fancy software, you can simply use Google Forms to create the questionnaire.

Some things you will want to make sure you include:

  • Names + Phone Numbers
  • Names of Wedding Party + Numbers of a couple incase you need to get ahold of them on the day of
  • Location of getting ready for both
  • Location and Time of Ceremony
  • Any restrictions I should be aware of for the ceremony
  • Location and Time of Entrance into Reception
  • Names of Immediate Family Members
  • Have a list of typical combinations for photos and have them choose the ones they want (ie. couple + grooms parents, groom + parents, groom + mom, groom + dad, groom + siblings, etc.)
  • Are there any sensitive family dynamics I should be aware of? (ie. divorced, re-married, etc.)
  • Location they want their photos done
  • Will they be doing a first look? If so, where?
  • Any specific photos they would like?
  • What time do you plan to do your first dance?
  • Will there be a mother/son dance? father/daughter dance?
  • A list of all of the wedding vendors so that if you decide to post on social media, you can tag all of the vendors.

Tip #2 – Create a Wedding Day Timeline

Once you have all of the information from your couples questionnaire (send 3-4 months before wedding), you can now put together a timeline and discuss if they need anything changed.

tips for photographing your first wedding - print timeline and family formal variations

Tip #3 – Print Timeline + Family Formal Variations

Having the timeline in front of you will help you stay on time. The couple will be trying to enjoy their day, so if they don’t have a wedding planner ensuring everything is going smoothly, it is your job to keep everyone on track.

Having the immediate family’s names and the different photo combinations they want written down in front of you, you can refer back to them to ensure you get all of the photos the couple wants.

Tip #4 – Bring an Assistant

My first assistant was my younger brother who I bribed into coming with me. It was nice to have someone to carry my equipment and to chat with when I was stressing out. He also held my sheet of paper with the timeline and family photo combinations so that I could stay uber organized. You can bring anyone to help you out!

Tip #5 – Scout Out Photo Location

This isn’t necessary but I found it really helped with my anxiety going into the wedding day, especially my first times photographing when I was unfamiliar with the locations. I tried to arrive at the location around the same time as I would for the wedding day so that I know where the sun will be at that time of day. I was then able to have a good idea of where I would take the majority of photos.

Tip #6 – Take Family Photos at the Ceremony Location

After many trials and errors, mostly errors, I have learned that doing the family photos at the ceremony location saves a ton of time. This way, family members aren’t chatting after the ceremony and they aren’t trying to find where to meet. A lot of churches have green space around them and if not, maybe they have a nice brick backdrop you could use.

By keeping the family at the ceremony location, you are able to be quick and efficient with the family photos. This is the number one compliment I get at weddings from the family members (especially the men), “Wow! That was so quick and painless”. Literally, every wedding!

For this photo, I have my back against the church using my 35mm lens in order to capture everyone in the photo.

Tip #7 – Know Your End Time

Have a conversation with the couple prior to the wedding day about the time that you are finished. Often times, wedding days get behind schedule by the time the speeches begin so make sure you ask if the first dances aren’t finished by your end time, do they want you to stay until after them and just bill them the extra time. This way, you don’t have to have that awkward conversation while they are trying to listen to the speeches.

Tip #8 – Backup Gear

You need to have a backup camera and a few different lenses incase one of them fails.

Tip #9 – Contract

You need to write up a contract which can be done in Google Forms for free outlining your liabilities. You want to make sure if something were to happen like you fell ill and couldn’t make the wedding, or you dropped your camera and it broke, or even if you went to upload the photos and your card was corrupted you have covered all of your basis and they can’t sue you. Have a safety in place before you start photographing your first wedding. There are many of these that you can find online or reach out to me and I can help you with yours.

tips for photographing your first wedding - market your business

Tip #10 – Marketing the Wedding

Now that you shot your first wedding, you need to market the shit right out of it. What do I mean by marketing? Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, or a blog. Better yet, all of them!! There is SO much more to marketing that I won’t go into on this specific post but please comment or email me at info@nicoleanne.ca with any questions!!

Worried about rain on the wedding day? Check out my last post here where I give you tips for preparing for a rainy wedding day! Another amazing free resource that I have created for you is my Manual Mode Cheat Sheet. It will help you decide what settings to start with regardless of the lighting situation you are in. Grab it here!

Now, go prepare for your first wedding, you are going to do amazing things!!! Know how I know this? You just read this post to better prepare yourself so you are already on the right path to success!

Keep snappin’,

Nicole xo!