4 Simple Secrets: How to make shooting weddings stress-free (and fun)

Do you think photographing weddings is stressful? Would you rather photograph anything else? Would you rather stick a fork in your eye than photograph a wedding?

Any of these sound familiar? Photographing weddings is so stressful...

    •    because of the fast pace and unpredictability of the day
    •    because of all of the personalities involved
    •    because you're afraid you might miss important moments
    •    because you can't be creative under the time constraints of a wedding day

Am I getting warmer? Any of these statements match what you’re feeling?

If I’m close, and you’re feeling anything like this, I’m going to give you 5 super simple things to do before photographing a wedding, that will alleviate most the stress and chaos of the wedding day.

This method is so simple anyone can use it.

It will alleviate the chaos and pressure of the wedding day -- for everyone! And when I say everyone, I mean everyone from the bride & groom to yourself.

So let's dive in!

I call this approach A.P.E.D.A.

Ask
Plan
Educate
Delegate
Anticipate

Ok - this acronym is making it sound fancier than it is. But, know this, it  will change the entire atmosphere and tone of the wedding day for the better.

#1. ASK

The first thing you're going to do is ASK. You’re going to ask the bride and groom about the events, locations and addresses associated with their day. Simple right? Now you can do this easily in an email or send a questionnaire through your client management software. Personally, I used 17hats for this. You create the questionnaire once and can send it as many clients as you want.

Here are some examples of what I ask :

    •    Ceremony start time
    •    Ceremony length
    •    Reception guest arrival time
    •    Dinner served time
    •    Will you be doing a first dance? Yes/No
    •    Will you be doing parent dances? Yes/No
    •    Will you be doing a cake cutting? Yes/No
    •    Will you be throwing the bouquet? Yes/No

I also ask for all of the addresses and locations that will be involved in day.

>>To get my full wedding day questionnaire, you can download the PDF here.


Result:

Now, you know...

  • what will be taking place,

  • where it will be taking place,

  • how far the locations are from one another to factor in driving times.

  • you also know what you need to photograph i.e. yes there will be a bouquet toss etc.

#2. PLAN

The second thing you’re going to do is, make a plan of day's events.  Take the answers your client gave you in the questionnaire and plan out their wedding day.  
 
Let’s take my bride and groom Daniella and Joe. Daniella gave us the address for the bed and breakfast where she would be getting ready the morning of her wedding. A quick search on google maps let me know that it would be a 30 min drive from her bed and breakfast to the church for the ceremony. Also, in questionnaire, she said that the ceremony would start at 2pm would last for 60min.  From this information I could starting planning the day and eliminating any unwanted surprises (that could be avoided).
 
...
12:30-1:30 Bride getting ready
1:30 - 2:00 Drive to Church ceremony located at XYZ street
2:00 - 3:00 Church ceremony


You get the idea. 
 
So you take all of the questionnaire responses and build your wedding day timetable. This clarifies what will take place for everyone involved. And further, eliminates any disappointment or misunderstandings later.

Result: 
 

  • You’ll feel more relaxed and in-control because you are being proactive instead of reactive

  • You’ve created a wedding day timetable that gives you a comfortable amount of time to photograph all of the events of the day

  • If you sell wedding collections by number of continuous hours of coverage, you can let your client know now if they’ll require more hours if the events exceed the amount of time they purchased.

#3 EDUCATE

Now you’re going to take the wedding plan you’ve just created, and you’re either going to email it to your clients or you’ll meet with your bride and groom to go over it together. (Be sure to leave them with a copy).
 
They may have some changes to your plan, and that’s okay. If changes are made, double check that you have enough time to properly photograph those changes. And explain any possible issues you foresee - so everyone is on the same page. 
 
If you little experience photographing weddings, don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Simply, be sure to give yourself plenty of driving and shooting time in your timetable plan.


TIP: One tip on educating your clients before the day of the wedding - many young couples don’t really care about these family group photos. But in my experience, their parents care - and they care A LOT. If family group photos are going to be a part of the day, be sure to educate your bride and groom on how this will work.  (This can be a major time wasting exercise. I’ll go into more detail in the next section on how I efficiently and quickly get it done.) For example, do you need the bride and groom to have a list of the different family combinations - so no one gets left out on the wedding day?


Let your clients know what they need to do make their day run smoothly and efficiently in any situation you foresee.
 
In my experience, clients are super happy when you do this for them.

Remember, for most couples, this is their first time getting married. They don’t know how things usually run or the best way to do things. You’re the expert. Give them a helping hand. They’ll be grateful someone knows what works best. And they too will feel less stress on their wedding day, knowing they will get the best photos with your plan.
 
RESULT:

  • You earn your clients trust and they feel less stressed about the wedding day

  • You and your clients are on the same timetable and everyone understands what is going to happen.

  • You’ve collected any feedback from the couple about the plan and made changes that make everyone happy.

  • Clients understand any limitations you’ve brought to their attention, for example, purchasing more hours coverage

#4. DELEGATE

After you’ve educated and collaborated with your bride and groom on what and when things will take place on their wedding day. It’s important to delegate any tasks that will make the day run smoother.
 
Is there something you don’t do?

Do you have a process on how to make things faster?
 
For example, I have a process that I’ve found makes the day run smoother and more efficiently. I touched on this briefly in #3 and it concerns family photos.
 
I not only tell my wedding couples that they must bring a list of the different family photo combinations with them on the wedding day - but they must put someone in charge of gathering and calling the names for the different groups. 
 
You see, since I don’t typically know anyone of their family members personally, so for me to call out random names and try and find people is a total waste of time - that usually cuts into the creative photography time with the bride and groom. 
 
So I tell my clients to put a relative, sibling or a good family friend in charge of the list and rounding up the people on it. This way I can focus on taking the photos and the next family combinations are standing by.
 
I also explain “why”... that the faster we get through the family combinations, the more time we have for creative photos of the bride and groom.

It is goal is understood and the right people are asked by the bride and the groom to help out.
 
RESULT: 

  • Everyone wants the day to go smoothly and on schedule. Educating your clients on how their friends or families can help will make everyone happier and a lot less stressed.

#5. ANTICIPATE

Now that you and bride & groom are all on the same page, because of your plan and your discussions together, it’s difficult for you to miss photographing any important moments. 
 
You’ve planned it out, and ensured that you have enough time to be where you need to be when you need to be there. All of the other key people involved are also on the same page.
 
With these factors in place, you can now put your focus on getting creative with your photos - instead of worrying about missing something important.
 
RESULT:

  • You’ve alleviated a lot of the stress your brides and grooms feel on their wedding day

  • You’ve cut out a lot of the typical unknowns by creating a solid day plan

  • You've educated everyone of what will happen and when
    You've delegated tasks to make the day run smoother


Now you can focus on getting amazing creative photos without the typical pressures that make photographers dread photographing weddings!

You’ve got this! I believe in you.

Leave me a comment below!

Did you have any ah-ha moments? Do you use a similar method? Is there something you’ll tweak before your next wedding? Did any of these tips make a difference to how your wedding photography experience went?
 
I’d love to hear from you.
 
Also, if you’d like a copy of the wedding day questionnaire I send out to my brides and grooms before their wedding, send me your email address and I’ll send you the PDF and get you on my list :-)

 

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