Brides checklist for photo shoot and photographer's advice

For the site guests: I am a wedding photographer and I work at completely different weddings such as classical, religious (both Jewish and Christian), LGBT ones, weddings for two and 800 persons in Israel, Iceland or other countries. Once I started keeping notes that should be taken into consideration at the wedding preparing stage. This article resulted from those notes and it still has been updated continuously. This is my viewpoint, it can differ from other photographers' opinions, you are not obliged to follow it and agree to it.

If you have already booked the wedding, please go through this checklist, it will help you avoid some mistakes that I often come across. Definitely it is pretty long but basically all is simply and obvious. During wedding mess you can easily forget something or fail to cater for something. The main thing you should remember: the photoshoot is not only photographer's job but yours too.
Daniel Notcake, wedding photographer.

Preparing for the wedding: planning and clothes.

You can choose absolutely any dress and suit that you like, this is your day and you will look gorgeous. But we just have to give a few recommendations:

  • Dress and weather. Consider the weather: if it is + 5 ° C outside and your dress is sleeveless and with cutout back you will not feel comfortable. If it is + 40 ° C outside and you wear a dress of tight synthetic material, this would not be the best idea either. If you want a dress with train care to invent the way to button up the train to the dress to ensure convenient movements. At times brides are shy of their hands in pictures. In this case you can look for a dress with loose sleeves: this way you will feel more confident and stress-free during the photoshoot.
  • Shoes: I can understand that you want to be featured in the best shoes in all pictures. If shooting is planned in nature, it is better to use comfortable, non-obtrusive, semi-sports shoes. But please, remember to take ordinary flats if your feet are not used to shoes and you will have to walk over 20 meters :)
  • Details: the dress is not an overall image. Various small pieces like hair clips, pendants, fur capes are really cool. You should also care to choose jewellery that would compliment your face shape.
  • It would be great if your close friends (bridesmaids and groomsmen) could get dressed in the same style. There are many web sites that offer nice dresses for 70 – 120- dollars and even cheaper if bought by wholesale. You can take all your bridesmaids' measurements, order in advance before the wedding, try and reorder if something does not suit. It is seriously very cool to have all the guests in the same style or if there is a thematic of wedding.
  • Remove all labels from the clothes, check the shoes soles since there might be a price tag there. If possible wear the clothes home for couple hours, become comfortable in it some.
  • Such treatments like manicure, solarium, depilation, hair coloring are better to be cared of in advance but not two days before the wedding. Experiments before the wedding is a bad idea. Prior to the wedding make sure not to sunbathe for a longer time than you usually do.
  • On the wedding day you will definitely want to take the floor with a small speech for the toast, video, guests or just to make each other happy. Do not leave it until tomorrow, put it down today. Maybe tomorrow you will be short of time for that. By the way, it is better to write it down on a paper sheet: you will not look that photogenic reading it from the phone.
  • For the wedding day prepare the emergency kit: bandaid, painkiller, something antiallergic, needles and cottons. We do take all the said things to weddings but you also bring them anyways: your feet may suffer from new shoes, new trousers can tear, you can get a headache and during the photoshoot you may realize you are dust-allergic.
  • We are creators for sure but we understand very well that you can have a mandatory pictures list in your mind: for example, a picture with grandmother or brother that came over from the USA and you had not seen him for 5 years. If you did not mention this in the brief, please, write it to us before the wedding ;)
  • Makeup and hair repetition: this is very useful, this allows faster preparations on the wedding day and guarantees a quality outcome. By the way you can combine the rehearsal with love story photoshoot ;)
  • Do not drink too much liquid day before and do not overeat, do not plan long-time travels or something that could go totally wrong.
  • Get your phone charged. ;) Check out all phone numbers: stylist, photographer, restaurant and just for a case have one of your bridesmaids get them too.
  • It is trite to say so but try to go sleep early and relax. The person that had enough sleep is fresh, active and cheerful. The one that did not have enough sleep even if he is used to that is not that joyful and positive. But we want to get the best result, don't we?
  • I know it is always messy before the wedding. The wedding day is designed for you first of all and then for your guests; try to get the mood to spend it with pleasure and not to think for all the day that you "wish this would end sooner" or that you forgot something for sure. Let it all go, if you get yourself isolated from ordinary stuff from evening before wedding, nothing will break down without your participation. Yeah, you may lose a client that will not be replied. But what is more important to you: to enjoy the wedding you were preparing for so long or a potential client? :)

Remember, there is no perfect planning - you always have to choose what to pay more attention to and what less.

    Elopement weddings:

    • Plan ahead for an interactive experience for the two of you. If we are going to be photographed for more than a few hours, then posing is rather monotonous and very exhausting. Would you like to read your vows in a beautiful quite place? Fine! Climb mountains? Super! Ride horses, have a picnic with a campfire, rent a motorhome, fly an airplane, skydive? Better. This list is only limited by your imagination! Anything will do, where there will be no posing, but there will be sincere and lively emotions. This is probably the most important point in preparation, but it is often neglected.
    • Plan more time for every stop. Think the ceremony takes 30 minutes? Plan an hour. Get in the car, park the car, go to the toilet - it all takes time. Have you come up with the perfect plan and timing for the day? Add a spare hour to it. So everything will definitely go according to plan and you will not be afraid of missing something and being late somewhere.
    • Pay attention to the details. Think about each step in advance, about what you need to take. Are you planning to hike or walk for a long time? Take beautiful photogenic backpacks, not bright blues or acid greens. A stand-out backpack that grabs all the attention, as well as colorful stickers on sneakers, can ruin all live shots.
    • Clothing color. Please consider what color will look natural in the place where we will be photographed. Blue jackets, for example, are our pain: they look appropriate for indoor weddings, but in nature in 90% of cases they take all the attention and there is no way to fix it. If you are planning a ceremony with guests, ask them to also think about clothing in case of bad weather. It happens that at a ceremony in Iceland it is drizzling and guests wear purple-orange-red jackets mixed up. We physically cannot make it natural even after editing.
    • Take into account the weather. In the rainy season or in Iceland, for example, it makes sense to take waterproof or spare shoes. In summertime especially in Israel the bridegroom would rather take a spare shirt. If the dress is loose and we perform the photoshoot at low temperature, for instance in Iceland, you can wear thermal underwear or warm tights ;) If you take pictures in the desert, on the grass or a lava field, just believe that shoes on heels would not look suitable and they are definitely not worth of your broken legs. It is better to buy nice sneakers or boots connected to the dress, they will both look cool in the pictures and can be used in future. The direct sun at its zenith is the worst thing you can get for a photo shoot in the open space, at this time it is better to plan travel or a meal break.
    • Assess transfers critically: if we plan to walk 500 meters in city or climb a mountain for 20 minutes and you wear a tight dress or 3-meter long train you will not feel very comfortable. That is why we request to provide the dress pictures attached to the brief to see possible restrictions.
    • It is better to hide mobile phones at some place or give them to the photographer: this way you will not be distracted and the phones will not be seen in your pockets.
    • Here is the checklist if applicable: facial blotting tissues, spare stockings, umbrella against rain, invisible hairpins, hair spray, antiallergic drug, inhaler.
    • Are you planning preparations shots? Think about the place where we will do it, maybe you should book a room with large windows and ask for additional mirrors in the hotel. Keep the place clean, hide everything unnecessary before shooting: things scattered all over the room, electronics and suitcases interfere with both you and the photographer. Preparations don't have to be "doing my makeup" shots, it can be anything from breakfast in bed to hotter shots in the shower or bath.
    • I am working with the nature. This means rain, seismic sea can happen, highways can get blocked, sea water level can change and scenery can become totally different. This is both plus and minus: our photo shooting locations can vary completely today and yesterday. Keep calm and be ready to anything, sometimes we change plans in real time.
    • Assistance with planning on the day of the shoot: Ventusky - weather, rain and cloud movement for pilots. Aurora - northern lights and real-time forecasts. - gps routes for hiking and non-standard locations.
    • If the photoshoot is planned at some unique places like unusual waterfalls or ice caves it is better not to explore these locations in advance. This way you will genuinely admire the natural environment and enjoy attractions and I will get more chances to catch lively shots with smiles.

    On wedding day if preparation is planning

    • Preparations don't have to be "doing my makeup" shots, it can be anything from breakfast in bed to hotter shots in the shower or bath. Some couples don't want photos from preparations at all, and this is normal :)
    • We care to arrive 30 – 60 minutes before estimated time of makeup finish. I am sure you want pictures with both ready eyes but not only one, don't you? :)
    • If you got a lot of wedding details (rings, jewellery, invitations…), please take them all with the bride. We will spend more time with the bride and makeup often takes longer time than it was planned so we would be able to shoot rings and other stuff and not just sit and wait.
    • Do not ask over a lot of bridesmaids and guests for preparations. Think about the place where we will do it, maybe you should book a room with large windows and ask for additional mirrors in the hotel. Keep the place clean, hide everything unnecessary before shooting Evaluate the apartments where you will be getting prepared. If this is space of 10 square meters and it will accommodate 6 persons and the makeup artist the number of angles will be limited not to have somebody's head cropped.
    • Food: there is nothing worse than hungry models (and the photographer :) ). With all this mess you can forget to have breakfast and forget to eat at least something before the outdoor shooting. Prepare some snacks in advance, appoint a bridesmaid in charge of food or order some delivery, especially in case if later will be long travel or shooting.

    During wedding and ceremony:

    • Will say it again, but you are the bride/groom, not the event planner. Entrust experts or at least your friends with it. If anything goes wrong forget about it and do not get nervious. Isolate yourself from work. Ok, probably if you own a business and there is a risk to lose a big client you need to give some attention to the matter. In all other cases keep calm and turn off your IPhones. You would also better to delegate financial issues to some relatives or close friends.
    • Do not take your guests for your photo shooting for you two. In my experience it slows down transfers and moving a lot: a photographer can manage a couple but it is much more difficult to arrange 5 – 10 persons. Somebody needs a restroom, somebody looks for communication, somebody has his own opinions on photoshooting locations and ideas. Again in my experience it will be harder to you to get relaxed when several friends and mom closely watch you. Gazers and advisers cause more stress rather than walking intimately ;)
    • Pay attention at the sun during the shooting. The high sun it's the worst thing to imagine for a photoshoot at open space: you will be getting blind, hard shadow will occur below your eyes and skintone can be too bright. In most cases it is perfect to plan the shooting 2 hours before sunset and up to 30 minutes after sunset, this time provides the best light ever at any circumstances. I am aware that it is not always possible on the wedding day that is why I recommend to arrange love story shooting not on the wedding day.
    • Take time for relatives. You can try to make both: an outdoor photo shoot and a ceremony with a banquet on the same day. But, in my experience, by the evening you will be tired and you will not have energy for the ceremony and dances. That is why I sincerely advise you to separate the newlyweds photo shoot from the wedding day and not to plan anything more difficult than a short shooting on the wedding day. I don't want to downplay the significance of the photos of you two, but perhaps if you invited a lot of guests, this day relatives are a little more important :)
    • Don't try to make a pipeline of photos with each of your friends. There is nothing more exhausting for both you and me than an hour of photographing in 20 combinations of staged friends photos and the constant "Where did Alex go again? Has anyone seen him?" alternately with "Oh, you forgot your aunt's friend's sister, we need to gather everyone again!". Mobile phones can easily cope with photos of "me and the newlyweds", and, to be honest, I'm not sure that it was worth book me for this. I don't use a measuring tape to line you up perfectly. Want to sit on the floor, stick out your tongue, or put your hands in your pockets? Just do it. :)
    • We do our best to interfere in the process as less as possible. Light, place, people, moments, speeches, laughter, tears - everything is unique on this day. These moments cannot be staged or recreated, they just happen and I will try to capture them. We will definitely tell you if something does not work properly but you do not have to look to the camera for approval :) For sure during the outdoor shooting or love story we will ask you to pose a bit, give the right direction and so on. But do not panic as you see the camera is looking at you and do not stand at rigid attention.
    • Do not be shy of showing emotions. Even at a ceremony you do not have to stand round-shouldered and look serious. You again do enjoy like look at each other, smile, make jokes. Rabbi will hardly get too sad if you touch each other's little fingers while he reads another serious text. Most officiants are very friendly guys and take their work with smile.