Over the years, I’ve worked with some really wonderful couples and shot some incredible weddings. All of them have been unique in their own way but what I’ve realized is that when it comes to the initial planning, couples all start from the same place.
A wedding photographer (and her second shooter) is often the second thing couples search for after the venue, so in a funny twist, I often find myself doubling as a wedding planner. I don’t mind this one bit as my biggest goal is to make couples feel comfortable and excited, so I love to start by asking a series of questions that help them walk me through the big day.
What I often find is that these questions really help uncover opportunities, potential pitfalls and many other things they had never even thought of.
So here there are, the seven questions I ask couples when we sit down for a coffee.
1. What kind of wedding are you having?
Every ceremony is different so a photographer is going to want to understand your vision and get important answers to questions like will it be in a church/ceremony room? Is it a religious wedding? Does the venue have rules around photography? And what can we expect to see during the ceremony?
2. Will you be seeing your partner before the ceremony or do you prefer the traditional approach?
There is no right or wrong answer to answer this question. Some couples enjoy images of them spending the day together, some enjoy the reaction of their partner’s face as they walk down the isle.
3. Would you like photos of you and the wedding party getting ready?
This question always prompts the same follow-up question and the answer is no, we don't photograph brides without hair and makeup done. We're there to capture you both as you perfect your look with the help of your beloved friends and family. Getting into your dress/tux. Getting into your shoes. Putting on accessories. Capturing your parents seeing you for the first time.
4. Will you want family photos?
Lately, I've been hearing couples saying no to the family photos and questioning their importance. They just want their own candid moments captured without going through a bunch of group shots with different people. And it's totally understandable. However, before you remove them completely, think about your extended family and the overseas aunts and uncles who travelled miles to see you. They will likely wander over looking for a photo when you least expect it. Without the photographer around, it could be taken with an old camera phone and so it's a super nice gesture to allocate a little time for a professional photo that you can send them later on as a thank you gift.
5. Are you be taking a break?
So you've been up since 4 AM, you got ready, you tied the knot, you're done with the family photos. What else is left? Oh yes, enjoying your day. You're probably already exhausted, but it's time for those photos that you want to have in your book, on your walls and probably as a profile. Oh wait! Have you eaten yet? Have you had a sip of water? Have you realized that you just got married? I always suggest a little break for the couple to get away from all the guests, the photographers and vendors. They will see you later. Now it's your time to take it in, grab 30 minutes for yourself and get refreshed. The photos will turn out 1000 times better if you're relaxed, not hangry, and in the right mindset. I always tell my couples to organize a ride back to the bridal suite where food and drinks are waiting for just the two of you. I never charge for this time that I call... well... a healthy mental break.
6. What are the main events during your dinner?
Timing is everything. Your guests are hungry and it's important for you that everyone's having fun. So try and interrupt the dinner the least amount of times as possible. Time your dances and speeches before dinner/in between courses, so people won’t be eating in the background of your photos. An extra tip that has nothing to do with photography: cut the cake before serving the dessert so people will want to eat some and it won't end up in the freezer.
7. Would you like photos of the party?
It’s a long day, and the party is just about to start. It's fun to have a photographer capture these moments, but in my experience, most people don't like having their pictures taken while eating and letting loose. The party and dancing photos rarely make it to the album and people just want to have fun without someone constantly flashing and snapping their dance moves. My advice - invest in a photo booth or purchase some disposable film cameras to put on each table. Guest will produce an insane amount of fun photos and you'll laugh going through them.
That’s it. Pretty simple right?
Just keep in mind that when hiring your wedding photographer, you’re actually hiring your partner in crime. We will be there to capture every smile, every teardrop and every moment you will never want to forget. Our energy and our cameras will surround you and the photos will reflect your energy.
Everyone wants their photos to be unique and so go with a photographer that know’s their stuff, grasps your vision and asks the right questions.