Hiya! In this video I’m talking all about photographing your first wedding, and what you should do before photographing your first wedding.
This is the first video in a four part series all about advice for photographing you first wedding, and this video specifically covers everything you need to do before the wedding day and how to book wedding couples.
Alright! how’s it going i’m that ginger photographer.
Today i’m just going to dive straight into this video because this is going to be a set of videos rather than just one really long video, and it is all about shooting your first wedding and Photographing your first wedding.
I started making notes here, I love my stationery, love my notes, I started making lots all about shooting your first wedding, and basically it got that long that this video was gonna be way too long. So this is part one in what is going to be four parts of a video series all about photographing your first wedding. From prep, contracts, what to do after the wedding, how it deliver images, how our backup images, everything, everything’s going to be covered in this.
So i’ve been photographing weddings over 12 years now. I photographed my first wedding for a friend and all i charged for that was petrol money to get to the venue nothing else. It was a 12 hour day, maybe a little bit longer. I had a second shooter with me. It was a second shooter/friend that was a bit of backup for confidence more than anything, which was a great idea by the way. Take someone with you, if you can do that it just feels like the pressure’s off you.
That was when i fell in love with wedding photography. Basically you’re just going to a party. You got this little ceremony bit at the beginning and after that everybody is dressed up great having drinks having the best time of their lives. It’s friends family just all on the dance floor, eating great food what’s not to love.
It’s a great job and I absolutely love it.
So a teeny tiny little bit about my first few weddings. Honest to god i was absolutely crapping myself, like my heart would be pounding I’d be anxious the night before the wedding, in the shower on the morning of the wedding, my heart be pounding, and i’d be thinking why have i done this? Why have i made this decision? Why are these people trusting me? What have I done! Like the nerves were just absolutely crazy. But you eventually learn to get over that. Your just over it, it just becomes a normal thing. It’s your job. You’re just going to work. Basically you know what you’re doing, you’ve got all the gear, you know exactly what to do and when you get to that stage you don’t feel that kind of nerves anymore.
There’s still always that little niggle of nervousness and excitement but that in a good way. It’s a really good thing. So there’s a lot of things that i’ve learned over the years from doing this. Some of these things that i’m going to go into are only things that i’ve learned recently, like within the last two years so i’m just going to be going into detail into all these things over this series of videos, and just a heads up because i know people don’t know what to charge or anything, and i was exactly like that for the first few weddings. My first ever wedding that i charged for I charged 100 pound and i took a 10 pound deposit, and what a 10 pound deposit does I do not know. I don’t know why i did it, i don’t know what the thinking was behind it like ten percent of a hundred pound, I don’t, I don’t know, i just don’t know why i did it.
So as i said this entire video is going to be what to do before the wedding, it’s not during the wedding or afterwards it’s purely before the wedding. You’ve booked your clients or you’re in the process of booking your couples and this is just what happens in the run-up to the wedding, and my first tip would be insurance. Get insurance. It protects you, it protects the venue, it protects the couple, and also in the uk some venues like english heritage sites and venues, they require you to have insurance. You can’t just rock up for the day. You have to have insurance and they need to see your insurance documents well before the wedding. They request it well before, they go to the couple and they tell them can you ask your photographer to fill in this form and send us their public liability insurance. If you knock over, I don’t know, a four thousand pound vase, not that i’ve ever seen a four thousand pound vase, but if you break one of them, they’re going to your insurance and you don’t want to be paying out for that.
Again, purely for the fact that you’ve got your gear covered, you’ve got your cameras covered, you’ve got your lenses covered, break it or somebody steals anything, you’re covered for it basically. I really hope that doesn’t happen but at least it’s all covered with insurance.
The first thing you should do before you even take your camera out the house is to get insurance on it, because if you drop a 2 000 pound camera and you’re not insured then it’s knackered, and you’re knackered as well.
Number two is get a contract, a contract doesn’t only protect you, it protects your wedding couple as well, and it’s a perfect way of setting expectations. Everything’s in that contract, the payment terms, amounts to be paid, how long you’ll keep backups for, colour correction, editing, what they can do with the images, if they want to go and put bunny faces on them, you might say on your contract that you’re not allowed to put bunny faces on all your wedding pictures. So get a contract and it just outlines everything for them.
Like i say, it protects you as well god forbid a global pandemic hits and you’ve got couples rescheduling or cancelling and you had no contract with no payment terms, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if they asked for all their money back. At least this way with the contract everything’s outlined and you’re totally covered where you need to be.
There’s plenty of websites online, just google photographers contracts. Some people give them away where you can edit them as you want, i think mine was like twenty dollars where you could download it and you could edit it as you want so that it suited you.
So contract is the next thing you should be doing. As soon as you book a couple send them a contract and then they need to read through that, through all the terms and conditions, and then everything is covered, and once they’ve done that they’ll know how much they need to send as a deposit, when the rest needs to be paid by, if they just decide to open cancel a week before the wedding they’ll know that if they need to pay the rest of the balance or not. You can outline everything like that in a contract, and it’s just so handy and good to have, and it’s good business practice as well. So contract – Do It!
So you’ve got your insurance, you’ve got a couple wanting to book, you’ve sent them a contract, they’ve filled in the contract and sent it back to you. Number three… money money money. Take a booking fee, or a deposit, whatever you want to call it. Take a non-refundable booking fee slash deposit.
Like i said, for my first wedding for some reason i took a ten pound deposit out of a hundred pound booking. Ten pound, I couldn’t even get a take away with that. But that’s not the point, take a booking fee. Some people i know take twenty percent of the entire amount so if it was 1500 that take 300 pounds, quick maths, that was right that as well. So they take 300 pound deposit. Personally i take 395. whatever the amount is for their day, i take a 395 pound deposit. So if they book two years in advance, i take 395 now, and the rest is due in two years, time the month before the wedding.
It doesn’t matter how much it is, 395’s the deposit. The reason for 395 instead of 400 by the way, is because psychologically people are like happy to buy with a five on the end like instead of saying 400, 395’s in the 300s. It’s only five pounds less, but still in the 300s, instead of the 400s, so it seems like less money. Which it is, it’s five pound less money, but it seems like more. Clever. Be your favourite meme. and the reason for taking a booking fee is purely because it covers you for that date so no date can be cleared out until a couple’s booked for that day. If you’ve got a couple saying can you pencil that out for two months, and then you get other inquiries, and you turn those other inquiries away, and then this couple’s like actually we’re not going to go with you we’re going to go with someone else, you’ve lost out on that booking and all those inquiries as well. So don’t block any dates out until somebody’s paid a deposit and then that date is theirs, then you can get all the inquiries, but you know someone has committed to that date and they’re that committed that they’ve paid you money just to hold that date. That amount obviously comes off their final invoice, and it also stops them just changing their mind if they’ve invested paying you, and they’re going to lose that if they just decide to change their mind and go with someone else. 400 pounds quite a lot of money just to be handing out everybody that you think you might go with, so it stops people just dirking you about basically.
My battery’s gonna die. So professional.
Four, okay, so they’ve signed a contract, you’ve taken a booking fee, the date’s now theirs, what you need to do now is send out a booking form.A booking form can be all the information you need, so you can just send this booking form now and you can ask every question you want to ask in the booking form, it’s amazing. Because they’ll fill it in as much as they can, which is great, absolutely perfect, especially the brides and grooms that are really organised and really excited about the day. They’ll know everything they want to do and it gives you such a good idea of the day.
I get booking forms and they get me so excited for a wedding that’s in two years, just because they’re talking about bands and hog roasts and teepees and fire pits and it’s just like, it just sounds amazing. So get a booking form, ask all the questions you want to ask, get names, get all the addresses that you need to go to, you can ask for prep time, ceremony times, evening due times, number of guests, if you’re going to get fed, if you need to wear a suit or if you can just go casual, everything you need to ask you can put in that booking form, and make sure you keep a copy and send them a copy as well because if things change close at the date all you need to do is ask them to fill in the booking form again, change the answers to the questions. They can put full addresses for your sat nav things like that, everything you need can be in that booking form, so send it across as soon as you get the deposit the contract the book and form goes with it.
I also upload all booking forms, contracts, everything like that, invoices, every couple gets a kind of client portal on my website where it’s their name and they’ve got their own password for that portal. When they log in they’ve got their own questionnaire, their own invoice, everything’s going into that client portal once the wedding photos are done they can go into that portal again and links are on there. They can share those links out from there, if they want their video will be on there, their slideshow, everything will be on that client portal, any album designs, all they have to do is log in with their name and password.
They get their own logins in then go and everything’s on there. So if they need to go in and change the questionnaire, or if they’ve got a question about the invoice, like they’re not sure when it’s due, they can go into there and it tells them everything, due dates, everything like that, it’s all just in one place.
I’m sure there’s google guides out there, there’s people you can pay to do that, or if you’ve got any questions on how you might do that yourself or you want to look at one of mine just drop a message in the comments i’ll send you a link to like a demo one or something, and you can log in and have a look around and see what’s on there, it’s pretty cool. Don’t break it though, don’t fill any forms and have me turning up to weddings that don’t exist, that’d be crap.
So tip number five, all that’s done and dusted they’re all booked in, you’ve got your booking form, your deposit, your contract signed, you’re all good to go, but the wedding’s not for another two years, what do you do? Keep in touch! That’s tip number five. Don’t just take the money and then not get in contact with them for the next two years.
Just try and keep in touch. It can be one email every six months. It can be one email on new year’s day of the year that they’re getting married. Just letting them know that like this is your year get excited for it, it’s happening. It’s not long now. That type of stuff. But don’t just take the money and disappear and never speak to them for another two years when you’re going to be there on the biggest day of their life. Just keep in touch, it’s not easy to keep in touch with every single person that you’ve ever photographed, but at least keep in touch on the run up to the wedding and show them that you’re ready for the day, you’re excited, asking if plans have changed in the couple of months leading up to the wedding, things like that. Just keep in touch.
So one week before the wedding i give them a ring and i just go over all the timings, make sure those are all still correct from my booking form, remember a couple of tips ago my book and form, i’ve got it out again now and i’m just going over it with them on the phone, instead of sitting in awkward silence, i’ve got stuff to talk about. So i go over all the addresses, are you still getting ready here, oh great, are you still having the sit-down meal at five o’clock? oh no it’s four o’clock now, i’m so glad i’ve got this booking form because i can change that, i can change that now. So keep in touch over time and give them a call a week before the wedding and just go over all the final time and make sure everything’s still the same. You don’t want to be an hour late for anything.
I’ve lost track of what number i’m up to but another tip is to manage expectations well before the wedding. It’s better to do that now than at the wedding. A great example of that is if you’ve got someone wanting sunset pictures in a sunny field and they’re getting married in November at five o’clock, it’s a bit less likely. It can still be done but it’s a bit less likely. So manage expectations now, let them know “oh you get married at five o’clock in winter, well it’s going to be dark by that time just just oh you know that” or we might have to do portrait pictures inside, or we might have to do group shots inside, anything like that just manage expectations now.
If they start sending you example pictures, which is great, i’m not knocking that, but if they start sending you example pictures of places that don’t look anything like where they’re getting married, like kind of let them know, you’re getting married in a castle not in the middle of a city, so your pictures probably aren’t going to look like that. So it’s nice that they’re taking the time to send you pictures, like it’s nice that they’re taking the time out the day to make your job easier for you, because they know what they want and they’re showing you what they want, they’re not leaving you second guess, so don’t be asking about it if they do that, but just manage expectations that you might not be able to get these pictures because that’s not where you’re getting married, or because the sun sets at three and y’all and i’m not coming off 7 p.m so we can’t do that.
So my next tip is probably my best tip that i heard about six years ago now. It’s to do with group shots at the wedding and all you need to do to take the pressure off you is ask them to make a list of every group shot that they want however long. Give them a realistic time of how long it’s going to take so what i personally do is i tell them each group shot that you write down is going to be between two and three minutes, because if you’ve got a group together of 15 people and someone’s at the bar, or someone’s at the toilet, it’s two or three minutes for each group shot, so if you have 10 big group shot lists that’s 20 or 30 minutes, and the bride and the groom, or the brides, or the grooms, are going to be stood in the middle of that group shot list for 20 30 minutes.
If they’re made aware and they know that. If they want all these group shots doing, it’s fine, it’s totally fine, you’ll do it, but this is how long it’s going to take. Two minutes isn’t that long but two minutes times 20 photos is 40 minutes and that soon adds up, and it soon gets very boring, so get your group shot list let them know realistically how long it’s probably going to take for each group shot that they do or write down or want friends and family whatever it is, and then ask them send you that group shot list and then send it to the chief and bridesmaid the maid of honor, and the best man as well, or the groomsmen. Send it to people who know who everybody at that wedding is, and all you need to do is ask that person on the day to go and round up these people. I don’t know who auntie Jackie is, do you know who does? bridesmaid. I don’t know who uncle tom is, best man does. So they can go and get them you can be doing one group shot while they’re arranging the next one behind you. Absolutely perfect, works like a dream, and it’s just the best tip best advice i ever got when it came to group shots, because the pressure’s off you, you’re not trying to run off this piece of paper trying to find out again learn you can just say Jackie go and get Alan for me or whoever they are. But you get the point, so get a group shot list, tell them how long it’s going to take, and then give it to people who know who people are at the wedding, and it’s one of the best tips i’ve got, i hope you find that tip really helpful like i did because if that’s the best tip i’ve got you might just stop watching now.
So that’s all my tips for what to do before the wedding. Obviously be sensible, clear cards, charge your batteries, pack your bags, get petrol, everything like that, i’ve actually wrote that down. I’ll go through the rest of these now.
So yeah one massive piece of advice is if i’ve never been to a venue before and i’m shooting there for the first time and it’s far away, I never really research it. I don’t really research it that often even if it’s close. I don’t usually recce it, you’ve seen what other people are doing there already and you think oh that looks good i’ll do that, and then you try and do it, sometimes it’s not as good, sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s not as good, all the people just think are you just ripping them off.
I like to see it for the first time and actually see it and take it all in and think that’s awesome, that’s so cool, wow look at the woods, where does the sun set guys, that’s why i always ask the staff, where’s the sunset, just point around just point around, where’s the sunset guys. The staff know, you don’t know, the staff know, you probably wouldn’t find that in google. Everybody has shot a wedding for the first time at a venue without seeing it, you don’t have to like use places other people used and things like that. Don’t get caught up too much, if you want to recce it to settle your nerves and know where things happen do it. Dont get too caught up if it’s far away, don’t worry about it too much that’s my point.
Yeah there’s the other tip back up your cards, clear your cards, charge all your batteries, lots of spare batteries, lots of spare cards, you’ll go through so many batteries, especially if you’re using flash you will need loads of spare double A’s, is it doubles, yeah loads of spare batteries for your flash things like that. They’ll die quickly because you’ll get that excited and they’ll die quickly so just take loads of batteries, charge loads of batteries. Something i like to do is take my chargers and charge them at the venue on their electricity bill.
So take your charges and charge your batteries and stuff there, costs you less. Also before the wedding get your clothes ready, get fuel, you know set off early, things like that, plan your route, get your shirt ironed, i never do these things by the way this is something like i’ll run around in the morning of a wedding i ain’t in my shirt. Where’s my boots? and pack a snack, awesome for your lunch, you know like these days are long.
So you get there at 10 a.m for bridal prep or groom prep, and then the ceremony is not until 12, then they come out the ceremony, they’re not sitting down at three, they’re doing speeches first, so they’re not eating until four, then everybody gets served before you so you don’t eat till 4 45. it’s a long day ago without.
Theres six hours there and you’re on your feet all day as well. You probably won’t get canapés and things. Some venues are lush, they’ll keep you fed, keep you hydrated, but sometimes you’re in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing to give you, so take a little snack whether it’s nuts, sandwiches, i’m nuts. Take some granola, whatever it is to give you energy, chocolate bar, boost bar, fizzy drink, anything like that just to keep you going really helps. I’ve normally got a pack of hula hoops in my car and then i’ve got to walk back in at the venue with cheese onion hula hoops on my fingers. Not really on my fingers but smelling of them.
Awesome guys so i hope you enjoyed that, i hope you took something away from it, next tips are going to be at the wedding photographing the wedding at the wedding, arrival, exit, group shots, speak to the registrars, exciting exciting tips. I hope you enjoyed that though and i’ll see you in the next video. If you did enjoy this video i would love a like a thumbs up a like down below press subscribe i’d love you forever thanks so much guys love you bye