When it comes to being a wedding photographer and knowing how to prepare for a wedding day, there are some distinct factors to take into consideration. I want to walk you through how I prepare for the majority of my weddings that are local to my area. Planning and preparing for destination weddings is VERY different, so let’s start with the basics for local weddings.
How to Prepare for a Wedding Day
01. Review Your Client Questionnaire
All of my couples receive an extensive wedding day questionnaire 6 weeks prior to their wedding. This questionnaire includes everything from who is in their bridal party, are there special family dynamics I should be aware of, all the way to what are your top 5 images desired. I will typically review this questionnaire as soon as it is returned to me by the couple so I can see their final timeline. This is the opportunity to make any final suggestions or make extra plans for new items.
By reviewing the questionnaire the day before the wedding, everything is fresh in your mind. I’ll even re-read it over breakfast the morning of. The 24 hours prior to the wedding is a great time to settle your mind, focus on your couple and get in the right headspace to serve them well. It all starts with knowing what the heck is going on that day.
02. Pack & Triple Check
Prepping my gear is the next item when it comes to how to prepare for a wedding day. Having a gear checklist is critical for when you’re packing up for a long weekend, perhaps with a doubleheader. Batteries for cameras, flashes, and video lights all need to be charged. Clearing cards, preloading them and having an extra case of empty SDs.
I would suggest creating your pack list early in the season, printing it, and laminating it to hang on a wall. This way you can reuse it multiple times without wasting paper and always have it ready.
03. Snacks & 2nd Outfits
A girl’s gotta eat. When it comes to the day of it’s critical that you pack extra water and easy grab-and-go style snacks. You will not have time for a pasta lunch with a side of garlic bread, so be sure to pack protein bars, trail mix, easy fruits like grapes or apple slices. Things you can discreetly carrying in your camera bag and shove in your mouth between events.
A second outfit? What am I, crazy!? No. I am prepared. There is nothing like falling in the mud on a fall wedding day, spilling something on a summer day or bending over at just the wrong angle to bust your pants. Having a second outfit gives you peace of mind in case you have any wardrobe malfunction.
04. Check the Weather
Whether it’s a heatwave or a rainstorm, the weather can have a big impact on how your day is going to go. Making sure that you’re prepared with a Plan B in case you need umbrellas or extra sunscreen will help you be successful. I personally have 10 white umbrellas that I keep in my car for the majority of the season in case we get some classic PNW rain showers.
With the recent climate change, we are leaning into more and more extreme weather. With the extreme weather, it’s so beyond important to have a plan around how to cope with that both personally and professionally. I personally suffer from severe heat headaches in the summer which are not ideal. To combat this on wedding days, I over hydrate the day before, pack extra ice-cold water bottles and keep some Excedrin Migraine in my shoot bag.
05. Rest & Stretch
Yup. Super simple and easy…yet easy to forget. The day before a wedding I’m always in bed by 9 pm, have my full outfit laid out for the next day and avoid any Friday night glasses of wine. Personally, I like to have a clear head without any hints of a hangover and that’s the tea.
Also, STRETCH YOUR BODY OUT. You’re about to have an 8+ hour day with 10-20lbs of gear on your body. Stretch, do some strength and stability work, and get rooted in your body. It does more work for you than you know, so return the favor with some extra love. Oh and drink extra water.
And that’s it! That’s how to prepare for a wedding day, Sarah Anne Photography style. As you grow more and more as a professional, you’ll develop your own habits and routines around your wedding days. Keep it consistent and use it as a ritual. The same way you might wear a certain sports jersey when your favorite team is playing, or knock on wood for luck, having these types of rituals puts your head in the right space for wedding days.
Fortune favors the prepared, so get to preppin’.
Psst! If you loved this, I know you’ll also love Top 7 Must-Haves for Your Business Website.