I love being involved in the wedding planning process with my couples. The more planning that goes into the wedding photography, the better things will turn out. I don't want to show up on the wedding day and be surprised by something if I have an opportunity to find out about it ahead of time. I want my brides and grooms to have the absolute best that I can give them, and that means we spend a little extra time preparing. There's a whole wealth of posts in my Wedding Weekly series, because I want to help newly engaged couples, whether they end up choosing me as their wedding photographer or not.
One of the most important parts of the planning process for me is the final meeting. About a month before the wedding day, I sit down with the bride and groom and we go over the final questionnaire. This questionnaire gives me all the details of their wedding day, so that (hopefully) nothing will surprise me on the wedding day.
What are some of the most important details for me to know?
-Names and contact numbers for the best man, maid of honor, and wedding coordinator - The bride and groom aren't going to be answering their phones on the wedding day, so I need to know who to call.
-Special events throughout the day - Is unity sand a part of the ceremony? Is the bridal party doing a choreographed dance? Will there be a staged exit from either the ceremony or the reception?
-Each family group for the family portraits - Taking the family portraits can be a time-consuming portion of the day, but these images are so critical for the couple to have, especially when relatives travel from all over the globe to share in their wedding day. Having a complete list ahead of time ensures that we won't forget anyone in the busyness of the day and that I'll have the names of any missing individuals so they can be found as quickly as possible. I also ask about sensitive family situations so the whole process runs smoothly.
-Special or meaningful details - I want to know if the bride is carrying her grandmother's handkerchief or if a piece of jewelry was borrowed from a relative. Or if the card box was the same one that was used at the groom's parents' wedding. Or if the bride has a monogram stitched inside her gown as her "something blue." If I don't know about these important details ahead of time, I might not even see them on the wedding day.
-Photography restrictions at the venue - Some venues and ministers have restrictions on what the photographer can do during the ceremony. Many churches don't allow the photographer to move around or restrict the photographer to the last pew in the church. This dramatically changes the resulting images from the ceremony. While they'll still be beautiful images, they might not be what the bride and groom had in mind, so I always want to talk with my couples about this ahead of time so we're all on the same page.
In addition to these questions, we look over and finalize the wedding timeline. We discuss a rain plan if any portion of the wedding day or portraits are planned to take place outside. And we go over the list of wedding vendors, so I can be sure to send them images after the wedding.
When we're done with this meeting, I have everything that my 2nd shooter and I need to give 150% on the wedding day.