What to Expect: Pre-Wedding Photography Prep

Now that I have practically talked your ear off about engagement sessions, I thought I might switch gears a little bit and tell ya about our post-booking, pre-wedding photography preparation process (alliteration fun times FTW!) so you have a little bit of insight to how we do things and what to expect. 

We're pretty easy going here at King's Things, but there are quite a few things we will need to get out of the way after you've booked us so that your photos are just as amazing as you dream they will be. 

Step 1: Check out your Welcome Packet!

As soon as we get word that you made the decision to hire us for your wedding, we will put together your Welcome Packet and send it to you. Because we like to be as environmentally friendly as possible around here, the packet is digital and we'll send you a link. 

In your Welcome Packet, you will find:

  • A customized welcome video from yours truly
  • Important dates related to your wedding (engagement session dates, final payment due dates etc.)
  • Log-in information for your own personal client portal with all of the deets and documents regarding your wedding photography experience
  • A slew of Resources that will help you get everything we need ready before our final meeting a week before the wedding. 

Probably the most important part of the Welcome Packet is your portal log-in information. In your portal, you will have access to your contract, all of your invoices, any and all notes from each of our meetings, shot lists, etc. We put *everything* in there for you so if you ever have a question or need info we have gone over, you can find it there immediately. Be sure to bookmark your Welcome Packet or write down the Portal log-in information so you can easily access it at anytime! You can also get to the portal by going to About -> Client Portal on our website. 

Step 2: Book and Prepare your Engagement Session

We went over this process in detail in our last blog post. Click here to check it out!

Step 3: Get your Wedding Mood Board Together

As we did in the Engagement Session Prep, we will ask you to create a Wedding Photography mood board on Pinterest to help us define what your aesthetic vision is for your wedding photos. Follow the same instructions for this board as you did your engagement session board, pinning 10-20 wedding photos that you like, describing in the photo caption what it was you liked about it. Once we get to our final meeting before the wedding day, we will go over your mood board and discuss the over-all themes we see and make sure we are on point and that we both are on the same page. 

Reminder: Avoid pinning too many "must have" photos that you want to create on your wedding day. We want as many uniquely-you photos that day, which will be inspired by the two of you and the details you've put into the day. Focus on pinning pictures that represent over-all feelings or moods. That will be the most effective way to set up a Pinterest wedding photo board. 

Step 4: Start Riddling out the Timeline

This is something we will be working on right up until our last meeting a week before the wedding day. Things will constantly be evolving and changing throughout the planning process, so getting everything set in stone won't happen until late. But! We highly encourage you start thinking about the over-all structure of the day as early as possible so that when it gets down to crunch time, we all have an idea of how the day needs to go. 

Things that will effect the photography timeline that you can start defining ASAP:

  • Do you want getting ready photos? 
    • If so, what time will you start hair and makeup? We always recommend adding extra time onto your planned hair and makeup time block; this is where weddings tend to start running behind!
  • Will you do a first look?
    • If not, will you schedule a cocktail hour after the ceremony to entertain the guests while we take photos?
  • How many family formal photos do you want?
    • Note: Family formal pictures can take up to 2-5 minutes each, so take that into consideration when writing out this list.
  • Do you want locations away from the wedding venue on the day of the wedding? If so, how far away are they and how much time will it take to travel to and from this second location? 
  • How many activities do you want to have during the reception?
    • What time will these activities happen?
  • Do you want "golden hour" photos?
    • Be sure to look up "golden hour" (the hour before sunset) on the day of your wedding so you know what time it will be so you can avoid scheduling anything then. 
  • Do you want night time starry photos? 
  • What time do we need to be out of the venue?

There are definitely more decisions that need to go into making your final timeline, but these are some good starting points. FYI, if you booked us for the Royal Treatment Package, we include a Timeline Coaching Workshop where we guide you through creating a Timeline that is specific to your wedding day. After attending a bajillion weddings, we have figured out how to maximize the time we have on your wedding day so that we get a ton of great photos for you. We'll have more on that later, but just know it's something we offer!

Alternately, we have created general guidelines that will help you set the timeline with photography in mind if you'd like to check those out!

Step 5: Start Making a "Shot List"

When we say "shot list" we don't mean hand us a Pinterest board and say you want to recreate each and every photo you see on there. We also don't want you to have to make a list of all of the traditional photo ops during a wedding (like the bouquet toss or the first kiss). We will be with you every moment of the day and will be able to catch all of that. Promise. If we try to work from a specific shot-by-shot list, we will spend the entire day with our noses down, looking at and ticking off every item you've listed to make sure we haven't missed anything. We'd be missing everything that is happening around us and you wouldn't get as good of a variety as you would if we capture the wedding as it is (more on this in "How Pinterest Might Ruin Your Wedding Photos"). The *only* time we work from a specific list is during family formals so that we are 100% sure we don't miss anyone who is important to you*.

When we say start making a shot list, what we mean is listing out general locations and categories of photos that you want us to focus on so that we know what is important to you and we can capture it. What do we mean by general locations and categories? Here are some examples:

  • Is there a special place at the wedding venue that you love and you want us to incorporate in the photos somehow? Put it in the shot list. 
  • Do you have locations close by that you want to travel to for photos during bride/groom formals or other formals?
  • Do you want getting ready photos? Are you adamantly against getting ready photos?
  • Is it more important to you that we get a lot of bridal party/bride/groom photos than it is for us to stay late into the night to catch every awesome dance move at the reception?
  • Do you DIY all of the wedding decorations and you want to make sure we get tons of pictures of all your hard work?
  • Is your wedding party super silly and fun, so you want to make sure we get playful and energetic photos of them (rather than serious, more editorial style photos)?
  • Do you have family members or friends you rarely get to see and that you want to make sure you get plenty of photos with before they go back home?

Now, if there are some specific shots that are *very* important to you that we might not naturally capture (recreating a photo from your parents wedding, for example) go ahead and list that so we know it's important to you and we can work it into the plan for the day. Just over-all, working with general lists that illustrate where you want us to focus our attention that day will be more effective than a super detailed, shot-by-shot list for the day. 

*We asterisked this because we definitely want you to make a detailed family formal list. It is best to do this waaay before the wedding day while you have to time seriously think out all of the different combinations you want. The second photographer will check this list carefully as we take family formals so we are sure we won't miss any shot you want to get during that segment. Remember: it takes 2-5 minutes for each photo, so don't go photo crazy when it comes to getting these listed out. We can always get less informal group photos at the reception if necessary.

Step 6: Make a Plan B

Because we specialize in outdoor weddings, we make it a habit to work with our clients to make a Plan B incase there is bad weather and the ceremony/reception are outdoors. Or even if the ceremony isn't outdoors, it is likely we made plans to do formal photos outside somewhere. Hence the need for everyone to make a Plan B. This process will be specific to each client and the venue they are getting married at, but rest-assured we will have a plan before the day even gets here so that we know either way you will have baller photos. We'll go over this Plan B at the final meeting, but you can brain storm some ideas before we get there to help the process along. Here are a few starter ideas to get the brain juices flowing:

  • Do you have access to a large event tent that you could have on standby to cover the ceremony/reception area? What would it cost to rent one?
  • Is there a community center/barn/event space nearby that you can have on retainer incase we have to switch locations last minute?
  • Are you OK getting wet and taking photos in the rain with or without umbrellas?
  • Will the venue let you start early or late if you need to adjust the time to avoid an approaching storm?
  • Are there any places nearby that are partially covered that we can use for formals?

We will go over Plan B in a little more detail in a future post, but in the meantime just give it some thought and let us know if you are having trouble coming up with something. We'll brainstorm together! 

Step 7: Make a VIP List

There will be many, many people at your wedding, some more important than others. We want to make sure that we know who your Life VIPs are so that we can prioritize them when it comes to getting photos throughout the day. VIPs are usually close family and friends, the bridal party and any other person that you *really* want to make sure we get photos of that day. Use the instructions in our post "Wedding VIP List" and have it ready for the final meeting when we set all of the details. 

Step 8: Final Meeting

Speaking of final meetings, that is our next and final step! We will reach out to you about a month before the wedding to set up a final meeting time and place (this can happen over Skype or the phone if necessary!). At the meeting we will:

  • Go over your final timeline and trouble shoot anything that needs trouble shooting.
  • Look at your Mood Board and suss out your overall aesthetic style
  • Make sure we have covered all of your shot list requirements in the timeline
  • Give a final stamp of approval on the Family Formal Shot List and get it recorded
  • Go over Plan B if there is bad weather
  • Go over any other questions that need to be answered before the wedding day
  • Make sure final payment has been issued and that we are all green lights for the actual wedding day. 

And that's it! From then on, it's a GO for the wedding and we will walk away from the meeting knowing we have everything we need to get a perfect collection of wedding photos for you and your boo. I know it looks like a lot of work goes into preparing this stuff and at times it might seem overwhelming. In those moments, pick up the phone and call us and we can work through it together. We've done a lot of these shindigs and may have some insight that will help you work through any speed bumps as you go along. What we really want you to do is have fun with this. The possibilities are endless and we think we'll all have a fantastic time getting ready for your wedding day. 

If you have any questions as you go through this guide, please shoot us an email or give us a call and we will happily answer any of them! 

We'll be back soon!

-Linds