So You Booked Your Wedding Date... Now What?
Once you book the venue, the officiant, and the photographer, among others, what then? In our case, your date is booked once you sign the photography agreement (which outlines expectations and responsibilities from both parties - to cover both you and the photographer) and pay the 50% deposit. Usually the brides-to-be get busy planning for the wedding (invitation list, looking for that wedding dress, etc.), but I'd like to draw some attention to few things when it comes to your wedding photography to ensure your big day go as smoothly as possible.
1. Photography permit
Please give the list of locations to your photographer (getting ready, ceremony, group photos, reception, etc.). Some locations, albeit public and/or outdoor, require a photography permit. In Calgary, places like Heritage Park and Lougheed House charge a certain fee (if you are not getting married there) to use their venue for photo sessions. This permit fee is born by the client, and it is for the client to obtain the appropriate permit. Please clarify with the venue beforehand, so that you are not considered trespassing and therefore do not risk ruining your wedding day.
I can obtain the permit on behalf of the client but please have this clarified in advance of the wedding day. You want to have a relaxing and happy day on your wedding day, not a nasty memory of being kicked out of a venue due to the absence of a permit!
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2. Understand the restrictions of your chosen venue
Some churches have few or many restrictions of their own, such as: no flash at all during the ceremony at the church, specific place designated for the photographer (nowhere near the altar, aisle only, or can't go beyond the last 5 rows from the back), etc. Please discuss these restrictions with your venue and let your photographer know. I always use fast prime lenses which allows me to capture moments in low-light situations, but I need to know these restrictions beforehand to prepare myself accordingly. I am also very discreet, unobstrusive (almost invisible during the wedding day, so my past clients and officiants have described me :)), and courteous and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with the officiant before the wedding should it be required. If flash is prohibited, I'd suggest to take the family/group photos outdoor.
3. Designate a person to call out people for your group photos
As the photographer does not know which one is your grandmother/aunt/uncle/best friend from high school etc., please give the list of the people for the group photos to 1 person and have her/him organize and call out the people for the photos. In order to make it as efficient as possible for everyone (so nobody is bored waiting for their turn), please create a list of different groups of people that you want to have group photos with in a sequence.
4. Your getting ready place
One of my favourite moments - getting ready. Please allocate enough time to photograph (usually around 45 mins from the details, to the bride getting the hairdo and make up, the bride getting into the dress, and the parents' first look). Please let the photographer know approximately at what time your make up will be ready, you will get into the dress, and your parents will see you in the wedding dress for the first time (this is some of my favourite candid shots; it's always very moving to see a parent's expressions when they see their daughter as a bride for the first time).
The best place, if you can arrange for it, is for the bride to do her make up by a big window. Reserve this spot for you and not your bridesmaids. Before the photographer arrives, please also gather all the details (the invitations, the garter, the perfume, the jewelleries (any family heirloom?), the rings, etc.) in 1 place so that he/she can photograph those details for you. You've spent time, effort, and money on those details, so let the photographer capture those images for you. Last but not least, with your bridesmaids in the same place, your getting ready place may be a shipwreck, but please ensure it is organized and decluttered so that nobody trips over something and that you will get photos with nice, clean background instead of piles of laundry and shoes!
5. List of vendors and required photos
When I post your photos online, I would like to credit the appropriate vendors (your venue, your officiant, your baker, your florist, your decor company, your EO, etc.) so please send this list to me once you have them finalized, before your wedding day. If you have list of specific must-have shots, please also discuss with me beforehand. I'd endeavour to do my best to capture all of them, although depending on the situation/circumstances, it may not always be the case.
If you have a specific style (one of my brides showed me some images on how she'd like the family group photo to be posed - very modern, much like a cover of a movie/high end magazine, and this thrilled and challenged me! It was much different and interesting than the 'traditional' formal standing pose), please do share with me. Each photographer's style is different, but communicating your wishes is important. I personally would love to hear your ideas! However, at the end of the day, do not expect the exact same photo reproduced for your wedding day. Circumstances (lighting, venue, style) affect how your photos turn out.
7. Please feed your vendors
In my contract, if I am required to cover the reception, I kindly request to have a hot meal. A photographer is one vendor that is with you most of the time on your wedding day, and we are on our feet all day long (sometimes we even forget we need to go to the washroom; we are on the ready at all times with our camera to snap those candid moments! I usually have sore arms and legs - in addition to exhaustion - after a wedding day). I don't require to have the same meal as the other guests, but if I do get different meals, please do not seat me at the same table with other guests. It would be awkward for both the guests and myself, when they are served 3-5 courses of meal, and I was waiting for my 1 meal. I'd prefer to eat at a separate area, with the other vendors (usually videographer and DJ). I usually only take minutes to eat and am back on my feet to start shooting, so sitting with other guests would not be convenient. If it's a serviced dinner (not a buffet), please ask that the caterer serve the vendor meals at the same time or right after the bridal party, so that we have enough time to quickly eat, and get back to taking photos (after they eat, the couple usually go from table to table to visit and chat, and I'd like to finish eating by then and start shooting). Even if it's a buffet, please have the event coordinator/caterer set up a simple area for the vendors to eat. It really recharges us when we can stop for few minutes and actually SIT! (nobody wants to be taken photos of when they are eating anyway) :)