©Mitchell Photography 2012
Written by: Wendi Mitchell
Many newly engaged couples have no idea how to prepare for their wedding portraiture, or what to expect from their wedding photographers. Fully research your market and know what is available to you. Know what is fair marketplace value for the quality of portraiture and products that is well suited to your envisioned dreams–not just by budget or rights releases. When you consider wedding photography, make sure you find photographers who are fully licensed and insured.
Request a design consultation. This should be free; there should be no commitment. This is to allow you to explore the offerings of each photographer, consider their personal style, artistic flavor, work ethics, price-points, and determine which photography business is the very best choice of wedding photographers to capture the once in a lifetime moments of your special day as a beautiful bride.
The next step is to retain your photographers. This is typically done with a retainer fee (in some cases, non-refundable, so ask!), and the signing of a contract. Many professional photography businesses are now offering in-house financing or payment options, so inquire about that as well. Due to the increase of amateur photographers at weddings masquerading as guests, many photographers are now writing into their contracts that all other cameras are prohibited during the ceremony and formal events. Guests with cameras (especially expensive cameras) can wreak havoc on your wedding portraits. What’s worse than having the bride smiling at one camera while the groom smiles at another? This is a good time to discuss with your photographer what their policies are on other cameras in use during the wedding day events.
Before the wedding day takes place, you should discuss with your photographer all the details once they’re developed, such who is going to be in your wedding party, what your colors are, where the venues will be (salon, bride’s suite, groom’s suite, ceremony, reception). The bride-to-be usually has great ideas at this point based on what she’s seen in bridal magazines, wedding expos, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social networks. Talk at length about all the details of the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, and why’s so your photographer can create a wedding portrait checklist and timeline.
Many professional wedding photographers present a written checklist and timeline for your wedding day so that everyone in your wedding party knows exactly where they need to be – and when! You don’t want to miss that wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime, long dreamed of prized portrait because one of the bride’s maids was taking a walk and couldn’t be found. With your photographer’s permission, make copies of and share your wedding day timeline with your entire wedding party as well as with all of your vendors so that there is no confusion on the day that everything unfolds. Magic doesn’t just happen – magic is made with planning, preparation, and execution.
©Mitchell Photography 2012
Remember to schedule plenty of time at the salon (this is where many brides slip in scheduling!). Allow ample time in the bride’s suite and groom’s suite for portraits before the wedding. You may also want to consider whether or not the bride and groom should see each other on the wedding day before the ceremony. Many of your formal portraits can be done before the guests arrive and cut down on time for formal portraits between the ceremony and reception during the cocktail hour. Seeing each other before the wedding also allows photographs to be taken of the first glance the groom has of his beautiful bride, and to capture those intimate family moments prior to the ceremony.
Talk with your photographer about album design. So many newlyweds regret their choice of photographer because they chose a photographer who was either priced cheap, gave all the images on disc with copyright release – or both. In the long run, the newlyweds ended up with unprofessional, unedited, unfinished images – with no products! They have no album to show, no slide show video, no online gallery for friends and family, no fine art portraiture for their home – but they have full rights to the images they never used. Make sure your photographer is full service and knows how to produce high quality, fairly priced products such as albums, prints, and other items of interest such as smart phone and tablet covers, custom jewelry, and more.
Touch base with your vendors the week before the wedding to make sure nothing has changed. Review the checklist, make any necessary revisions, confirm the rehearsal evening plans, and finalize any remaining payments.
Your photographer should be at the wedding rehearsal. This is a great opportunity for the photographer to assess lighting, camera settings, angles – and also allows the photographer to meet and greet the wedding party, build rapport with the wedding party and family, and set the stage for the events to follow.
From there, most of your communications can be done electronically via email, text message, fb, Skype, FaceTime – or by phone. It’s the proofing of the album pages and the ordering of any additional prints, mounts, canvases, wall collections, accessories, or anything else you would like before your order is complete. In many cases, you can pay a photographer up front for their services, but not worry about the cost of product until after the wedding – this can help with financial planning for your wedding day and wedding memorabilia.
Planning a wedding can be stressful. Give yourself plenty of time and start shopping for vendors at least a year before your wedding date. Make sure your vendors match your style and vision, and that they make time to communicate clearly about what can be expected. Understand the true cost of industry standards for each of your vendors so you can set an accurate wedding budget for high quality, fairly priced products and services. Choose vendors who make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident in their abilities.
Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Choosing the right vendors and properly preparing each step of the journey will insure wedding day memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime (and generations to come).
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