7 things I ask before taking a wedding.
1. Dressing Locations
Are the girls and guys getting dressed at the same place, or different locations? Some weddings are done all at 1 location. If I could have it my way, every wedding I shoot would be this way, but that isn't the case. For a lot of weddings that I shoot, the bride and her girls and the groom and his guys are in 2 separate locations. Although it doesn't make sense to me, sometimes they are across town, miles apart from each other. Knowing this allows you to plan to hire a second or third shooter to cover the pre-ceremony shots. Also ask the location where the ceremony takes place and the reception.
2. Wedding Party Size
How many bridesmaids and groomsmen do you have? There have been times where I took a wedding, and became overwhelmed by large wedding parties. Now for wedding parties I like to take group shots as well as individual shots of each person in the party. Well one day I showed up for a wedding only to find out that the bride had 30 people total! This sent me into a panic. Where am I going to do the group shots? On the backend, this added extra hours in editing time. While editing I really felt the extra work, spending almost an entire day sorting through all the photos.
3. Important People
Are there any important people that will be in attendance that I should know about? Okay, technically this is a question you should ask closer to the wedding date. By this time you've obviously already taken the wedding, but I felt this was important to add. Twice, I have had a bride look through her photos and become disappointed because there were no photos of someone special to her. Favorite boss, someone that once saved their life, a mentor. Usually its someone who has traveled very far to be there. These are people who are often not in the wedding.
4. Wedding Planner
Do you have a wedding planner? Communicating with the wedding planner is important in my book. Usually the wedding planner will already have an itinerary written out with the times. Sometimes they don't have a wedding planner and this is when I like to communicate with the bride and groom and schedule everything in my favor. Which leads to the next question I ask
5. Early Bridal Shoot
If possible, can we do your bridal shoot before the ceremony? This question is one of the most important to me and I need to go in depth here. After your bride and groom say 'I Do' you have very little time between then and the start of the reception. Usually is absolute chaos with everyone excited, kids running around, all while you are trying to get everyone together for the formals. There will be groomsmen and bridesmaids that has run off to speak to others and chat. Between all of this, at some point you must take the newly weds out for their first photos as a married couple. At some point they have to eat and I do too, (we will get to that on the next question). Now there have been times where I have had to squeeze both the bridal shoot as well as the couples' shoot all within a 30 minute time frame. Its not fun and being limited on time means you have to do a rush job. Although I can, i prefer not to, and I hate the feeling knowing I could have gotten more. Looking back at the #4 tip, if they have a wedding planner, I will communicate with them to make sure I have enough time. I like to have 45 minutes comfortably. Getting the bridal shoot done before the ceremony allows me to breath after the ceremony ends. Very rarely, I've had some orthodox weddings with first reveals before the ceremony. Take care of formals, do the bride and groom shots, then I can send them to their first meal. Speaking of food...
6. Food is Fuel
Will you make sure that my team and I are provided with vendor meals? It seems a little silly, but I make sure to ask this. Covering a wedding usually lasts 8 to 10 hours and usually I'm there before noon. There have been times where I have shot a wedding all day and was completely forgotten about once food was served. Thankfully my wife has been available to go get me some fuel from elsewhere. To add insult to injury, the DJ arrived and was immediately provided with a plate after being there for only 30 minutes. Just like a regular work shift, we need to refuel and I hate working hungry. It takes me 10-15 minutes and then I'm right back at it. I tell my bride that I eat when the guests are eating, because its unflattering to take photos of people chewing food.
7. Special Occasions & Traditions
Are there any special traditions or occasions that you want me to capture? I don't like to be caught by surprise with special events during weddings that will only happen once. One time I completely missed some doves flying off, oops. Entrances with confetti, special dance scenes with fog, special exit scenes, people are getting creative these days. Whatever the case, I need to know exactly when this will happen.
So in a nutshell, these are all questions I ask based off past experiences and missed opportunities. Thanks for reading!