Things you need to let your photographer know about BEFORE your wedding day

To make sure you get the shots you want and that your big day goes smoothly there are oodles of things you should let your photographer know about in advance. In this post I’m going to go over the ones that will have the biggest impact on how your day will go and how well it will be captured by your photographer.

List of things to let your photographer know about in advance by Vail Fucci

  • Family Formals: Weddings bring families together, whether they want to be together or not.  Family tensions that have been simmering can be brought to the boiling point during the family formals if the photographer is not made aware of any  special family situations.  You can easily prevent these types of emotion charged mishaps by letting your photographer know about any divorces, recent deaths, or anything else that you’d want them to be sensitive to, as well as specifics about mobility limitations any of the family members might have.  By doing this, your photographer can try their best to accommodate your particular needs, such as finding a location that includes a bench for grandparents to sit on, or not asking exes to stand next to each other.  Sharing these sensitive family details with your photographer can sometimes seem hard, but you don’t need to provide intimate levels of detail.  Just enough to make sure that everyone is comfortable on your big day.  The easiest way to handle this is to provide your photographer with a detailed list in advance of the formal shots you’d like to have taken.  Write out each one with the names and relations of each of the people.  If there are any special circumstances surrounding that shot, indicate it there.  If it is a shot involving more than 10 people, let the photographer know about how many people will be in the shot so they know to have a large enough space to shoot the photo.  Creating this list will give you a good idea of how many formals you are asking the photographer to set up and take, help you make sure you haven’t left any important shots out, give you a realistic idea of  how long the formals will take on the day of your wedding, and help to keep you on schedule that day.

Here’s an example:

Shot 1. Bride, Groom, Bride’s Dad – Frank, Bride’s Mom – Sally (Sally and Frank are divorced, they are ok being in the same picture, but don’t put them next to each other)

Shot 2. Bride and Groom with Groom’s entire extended family (This is about 40 people.  Grandma Ruby can’t stand for long periods of time so please have something she can sit on in the photo)

Shot 3. Bride and Groom with Groom’s Mother-Jill and Stepfather-Steve, and Groom’s stepsisters Molly and Kristen (Groom’s father was not invited to the wedding and will not be in attendance)

  • Details Shot List: So many couples put hours and hours of planning into all the intricate details of their wedding.  After the day has come and gone you will want pictures of all your hard work as it comes to fruition.  Each detail holds different weights for a couple, and some may be tiny details that the photographer might not notice unless you clue them in.  For example, some of my brides have made the party favors from scratch, like Linda’s whoopie pies or Liz’s strawberry jam.  When I heard this, I made a mental note to make sure we got a stunning shot of those items to showcase their hard work.  It doesn’t have to be the party favors either.  Kelley included subtle fleur-de-lis patterns throughout her wedding to honor of her New Orleans heritage as well as blue crystals on the bottom of her shoes that said “I Do”.   Mariann’s mom placed on her finger that was her dearly departed grandmother’s.  For other couples it may not be a little detail but rather a particular location to have a picture taken at.  Andrew and Ali picked their venue because of the beautiful weeping willow trees on the Charles and let me know that in advance so even though it was raining most of the day, I kept an eye to the sky for any moments for a break in the rain so we could get that shot that meant so much to them.  Bottom line, if there is something special or important to you that you’d like a photo of, be sure to tell your photographer in advance.  Giving them the back story for the item is helpful too because it will help it stick out in the photographer’s mind during the busy day of shooting, and can help them write up a beautiful blog entry about your wedding.
  • Planned Surprises: The last thing you, and the rest of your bridal party, need to let your photographer know about are any planned “surprises”.  These surprises are often the highlights of the wedding, but if the photographer isn’t made aware of them in advance, they may not be captured properly.  Your photographer may also have enough experience to help you or your bridal party execute them better.  For example, many bridal party members want to make a special entrance into the reception as they are announced.  Unfortunately they often do that right at the very moment their name is called out and prior to being on the dance floor, so most of the guests can’t see the stunt, and the photographer may not be in the right spot to capture the image for you.  So be sure to speak with the bridal party and the photographer right before the entrances to ensure they are easily seen by the audience and that the photographer is properly prepared for the shots.  Another common place for planned surprises often comes during the first dance.  If you are going to have any key moments like a dip at the end, or a lift in the middle, be sure to let your photographer know so that they can be anticipating that moment.  On my own wedding day, my husband and I had an intricate dance planned out with a lift and a dip.  I actually gave my photographer a video of our practice in advance so he knew where in the song the lift and dips would come just so we’d get a great shots of it.  Flash mobs are another tricky thing for a photographer to capture well if they aren’t expecting it as they usually require very wide angle lenses. So before the day of the wedding, be sure to let your bridal party know that if they have any surprises planned to be sure to let the photographer know the day of the wedding what they have planned.

Many photographers provide clients with a sheet to get this type of critical information in advance.  If you are provided with a form like this, take it seriously and fill out out to the very best of your ability.  If you have questions about anything, ask your photographer about it, and don’t be afraid to provide them with information that is not requested on the form. If you follow these three points of advice your day will likely go very smoothly and your photographer will be able to get the best images possible to capture your day exactly the way you hoped it would be shot.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Stephanie Whitaker

    Hi there!
    This article is so great! I am getting married in a couple months and was wondering if you had a questioniere that you could send me that you give to your brides to fill out. I want my photographer to be the most informed with the day so that she won’t miss anything! I would really apprecaite your help!
    Thanks so much!

  2. Vail

    Stephanie, I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. I do have a form I give my clients, but that is specific to how I PERSONALLY shoot. Generally photographers don’t love it when clients give them big lists that they found online from other photographers. It’s probably better to talk to them about these things, or write them an email with the information you are concerned about. Giving them shot lists like, first kiss, first dance, etc, is not necessary. It’s shots of things that are a bit more out of the ordinary that we otherwise might be likely to miss that are important share with us. If there is a shot you have your heart set on though, like the groom’s face as you come down the aisle, be sure to let them know because if you only have one photographer they may have to choose between that shot or the shot of you as you first start walking down the aisle. Hope that helps!

  3. Sennie Dickens Pierson

    GREAT info here!

  4. Cathy Franklin

    Smart idea!

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