Wedding Photography | How to Prepare for your First Wedding

I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding with one of my photography friends back in September of last year. In all honesty, I was so nervous and didn't know what to do or how to prepare! It was a fun night but was full of all sorts of emotions. I had another photography friend (who I consider my photography mentor) who asked if I wanted to second shoot a wedding with her. I was hesitant because I was so nervous that I would mess up. But she assured me that I would be fine. We met up a couple weeks before the wedding and she walked through camera settings, the do's & don't's, logistics (like the day of timeline), and answered random questions I had: like what should I wear? haha. By January 2019 I will have shot over ten weddings for this year. To some, that's not a lot but for a gal who vowed to never get into the wedding industry, that's ten more than I thought I would lol. 

But all jokes aside, I've had a lot of other photographers reach out to me how they should prepare for their first wedding and thought it deserved a blog post of it's own! ;)

Let's get to it.

Congrats! You just booked your very first wedding! Maybe it's a family friend or maybe it's someone who came across your pretty little instagram and believes that YOU would be great on their wedding day - CONGRATS! This is a huge step in your photography career!

CONNECT WITH OTHER WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Y'all know that I'm all about connecting and meeting people, especially other creatives hehe. If you have a family member or close friend, or maybe and Instagram crush on a wedding photographer, REACH OUT TO THEM! Slide into their DMS (or text them if ya have their number) and ask them out to coffee so you can learn from them! Spend this time picking their brain, hearing their lessons and any other tips + tricks they might have.

COMMUNICATE WITH THE COUPLE
It's important to be in constant communication with your couple. After I get an inquiry about a wedding, I send over my rates and if the couple decides to move forward, we grab coffee and meet each other! Then I spend that time getting to know them, their love story, listen to their vision for their wedding, and their expectations. I reach out to the bride bi-weekly and will send her inspiration photos from Pinterest or will just check up on her and say hi and see how she's doing. This makes your couple 1. trust you more 2. it's more of a friendship vibe and 3. you won't have to feel this huge burden on you on their big day because you will know them.

PLAN AHEAD OF TIME BUT BE FLEXIBLE
Chat with the bride & groom if there are travel expenses and make sure it gets covered. Will you need a hotel room? Will you need to purchase a plane ticket? Will you be hiring a second shooter? If yes, how much will you pay them? Etc. Another thing to be on the look-out for is the weather- is there a Plan B if it the weather gets bad? (i.e move the ceremony inside). You can't plan everything, so be as flexible as possible! 

PACK SNACKS FOR THE DAY OF
I did not think of this the first three weddings I shot and was so hunnnngry. I have it included in my contract that I will get one hot meal, but when you arrive to the venue around noon and don't eat dinner for another five to six hours, it's tough haha. So be sure to pack some snacks to munch on and bring plenty of water!

DRESS APPROPRIATE AND COMFORTABLE
The two weddings I shot in uncomfortable flats and booties. And I regretted it later that night sooo much. I tend to wear a black dress or jumpsuit with pockets and comfy shoes with plenty of support. Depending how laid back the wedding is, I will change into sneakers during the reception when everyone is dancing haha. I can't stress enough how worth it is to wear comfy shoes. Trust me. Your feet will thank you.

PACK YOUR CAMERA BAG
Make sure your bag is packed the night before, memory cards are cleared, flash has batteries, and your battery and spares are all charged and good to go! I always pack extra of everything!

HAVE FUN
Yes weddings are stressful but if you focus too much on being stressed, you won't be able to enjoy the night. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. I always get down on the dance floor, especially when one of my songs comes on ;) Mingle with the guests, be yourself, be professional, and enjoy the night!

Julia Mann