How I Prepare for Shooting a Wedding - Catherine Guidry Photography

December 10, 2021

How I Prepare for Shooting a Wedding

Shooting a wedding can seem like such a huge ordeal! Capturing that special moment as a bride walks down the aisle and all of the significant events leading up to that moment and following that moment can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes. The best way to go about alleviating that pressure and setting yourself up for success is to PREPARE! Here are some ways that I like to prepare for shooting a wedding:

The first time I speak with a client…

…is when I start planning! Yes, it begins right at that first client meeting or phone call! During this exchange, we’ll already start discussing the general timeline. Things like location, timeline, and whether or not we will be doin a first look are some things that I usually like to start going over early. Another important thing to note is that during this conversation I make sure to clue my clients into things that will help the day run as smoothly as possible (both from general wedding experience and from a photography standpoint)! This is really beneficial for everybody involved!

During my final client call…

…I make sure to completely work through the wedding day timeline! If there’s a wedding planner involved, I’ll take the planner’s itinerary and add to that, and communicate with the client to build my photo list. I make sure that I allot enough time for everything; formal portraits, details, and events throughout the day. Once everything is completely fleshed out, I send the timeline back to the planner for review! If there’s no planner involved, then I create the timeline with the client. In this case, I like to create the timeline in a shared Google Document, that way the client can see it while I’m typing it up. However, I always ask that any changes they’d like to make me emailed to me so that I can review them before making the changes myself; If the client tries to edit the timeline directly on the document, I may not see them or they may not fit into the rest of the schedule. During this final client call, one of the most important things in my process is to ask ALL of the questions. Does the client have any specific photo requests? Are there any ideas the client would like to try out? Do they have any concerns? What are their goals for the day and what kinds of photos are they looking to receive? I find that this is the best way to limit uncertainty and last-minute changes during the big day! Running behind can offset the entire timeline, and may leave you scrambling to get the shots you need to. It’s much better to get these questions out of the way in the beginning!

The night before the wedding…

…I get EVERYTHING ready. My goal for the day of the wedding is to just walk out the door! I make sure I leave nothing to chance to guarantee myself a stress-free day and a timely arrival. I charge batteries, format memory cards, and organize all of my gear. After everything’s all packed up, I set it right by the front door. I also iron the clothes I’ll be wearing to shoot and set them out for the morning!

Several hours before the wedding…

…or even a day before the wedding…I like to scout my venue and familiarize myself with my surroundings if I haven’t been to or shot at the location before. For example, I recently shot a wedding at Bellerive Country Club in St.Louis! I’d never been to or shot at this location previously, so I made sure to fly in a day early. This gave me plenty of time to take some test pictures, walk the grounds, and figure out where I was going to do family portraits. My goal is to be familiar with everything before the events begin. Trust me, this helps SO much!

Two hours before the wedding…

…I arrive in the area of the prep location to grab lunch. Not to the actual prep location, but somewhere close; say a one mile radius. During this time, I meet and eat with my second shooter for the day and talk about the timeline. I also like to use this opportunity to let my second shooter know any details about things like family dynamics or certain characteristics of the planner, client, or venue. Lastly, I get them set up with the gear they need before heading our separate ways!

At the prep location…

…I like to arrive 15 minutes early. The first thing I do when I arrive to a prep location is put my gear down and out of the way and introduce myself to everybody! I also like to use this time to familiarize myself with lighting, details, and the people present. It’s important to put faces to names! These people here in the room getting ready with the bride are important to HER, so knowing who’s who and getting them in the right photos should be important to YOU! Once my time begins, I get my gear ready and start shooting!

In general…

…when you’re shooting a wedding, the more prepared you are the better! Not preparing yourself is doing a disservice both to yourself and to the client. Plus, being ready will make you more relaxed and comfortable while you’re shooting. Just think about the client and ask, “Are they going to be happy at the end of the day?” The best way to ensure a “Yes,” to that question, is to get organized and make SURE that you’ll do a good job!

How do you get ready for shooting somebody’s big day? What does your process look like? Do you plan ahead? Let me know what your pre-wedding checklist looks like! I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me an email at!

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