How to prepare to shoot a wedding – checklist for photographers (must read!)

We have been shooting weddings for the last four years, and there have been times we have forgotten something or accidentally shot in JPEGS or ran out of batteries for our flash on the D-floor. We don’t want to lie and say we’ve always had everything together – there was a time early on that we NEEDED to have access to something like this for free!

We’re in the midst of wedding season here in Seattle right now and we have a wedding in the morning. As we were going through our list we felt the urge to share it with all of you. We hope this helps ease your nerves and give you the confidence that with good preparation, shooting your first or fiftieth wedding can go smoothly!

THREE DAYS BEFORE

WATER: Begin drinking extra water (at least 3 liters a day)

STRETCHES: Begin stretching morning and evening (if you do this for 3 days it will help prepare your body for being on your feet for 8-12 hours)

THE NIGHT BEFORE

EMPTY: Empty everything out of your camera bags and lay out all your gear you want to take (see packing list below)

CHARGE: Charge all your batteries

SYNC: Sync all camera bodies to the exact same time and date – if you don’t, you will double your post-processing time because you’ll be manually putting your images in order!

FORMAT: Triple check the latest content on your memory cards has been saved in at least 3 locations, then format all memory cards (we use Disk Utility on our Mac laptop). Don’t keep all your empty memory cards in one spot – split them between your bags (or one pack in your pocket and one in your bag). We prefer something small like this, even though it’s mega ugly, because we can have a few safely in our pocket for easy access). 

RUN SHEET: Print out the wedding day run sheet (or save it to your phone – don’t rely on signal/wifi to work – make sure it’s available offline!)

SETTINGS: If you only read one thing, read this. Check camera settings – make sure your camera is set to RAW! And, if you are shooting with two memory card slots, set the CF card to RAW and the SD card to the highest quality JPEG. Because seriously, writing RAW files onto two memory cards at the same time makes your camera SO slow – and in the heat of those precious moments you don’t want your memory card to be writing slow! So trust us – you’ll be able to shoot way faster like this, and worst case scenario you still have JPEG’s to work with if your Cf card corrupts).

TEXT THE BRIDE: Send a text to the bride – we don’t ask any questions, but rather tell her how excited we are to be there for her day and that we’ll be there at a particular time (we always arrive up to half an hour early, though)

DE-WRINKLE: Iron your clothes – you’ll want to be as presentable as you can!

SLEEP: Get some sleep! Wedding days are HUGE – avoid netflix, charge your phone on the other side of the room, and actually go to bed early before the big day!

THE DAY OF

Drink a TON of water, eat an apple (fact: it gives more energy then coffee), and brush your teeth (… enough said).

IMPORTANT:

iPhone

iPhone charger

Breath mints (… enough said)

SUSTENANCE:

Huge bottle of water

Snacks (don’t expect to be fed!), including more apples

SPF 50+ sunscreen

Medicine (or essential oils) for any migraines/headaches

GEAR:

All Camera bodies

All lenses

All flashes

Camera batteries

Plenty of AA batteries (for flash)

Battery charger/s (just in case)

Lens cleaners (we use a brush and a microfibre cloth)

Laptop + Hard drive

Cf card reader

IF THINGS GO WRONG

Rain jacket in case of… rain

Spare shirt and pants (in case of a spill!)

Extra pair of shoes (if you need to switch to more comfy shoes for an outdoor part of the day)

Make-up and make-up remover (just in case)

FOR THEM (extra)

Her favorite drink from Starbucks with ‘bride’ written on top

A nice wedding coat hanger (for the dress – sometimes it’s way too ugly to photograph!)

Sewing kit (if you’re going above and beyond!) for emergencies

 

Want to see more? See our other LEARN posts!