I’m eternally grateful for A-game wedding planners. Without you, I really couldn’t do justice to my clients. My first 30 or so weddings it was hit or miss as to whether or not there would be a coordinator or planner there.
And one thing is 100% certain – when the bride didn’t have you there – I had to be both photographer and coordinator. I had to field the 200 questions that everyone wants to ask the bride on her wedding day. I really just wanted to tell all those people – just let me do my job. Lol
Trying to play coordinator while also photographing always meant that my creative side suffered. Around 2015 I began writing into my contracts that “There will be a coordinator or day-of-planner at your wedding, and it will not be me.” It’s a win/win for everyone.
In the 100 weddings I’ve photographed since 2015 I’ve worked with over 50 different coordinators and planners (Many repeatedly. You know who you are and I love you!) and have targeted in on some suggestions that seem to work well for me to be at peak performance. This ultimately means I’m able to provide stellar photos to our brides and grooms, and also all the vendors!
We know that on an event day not everything is 100% able to be controlled. However, the better prepared we are at the start by working together, the smoother the day is likely to be for everyone! Some of our best working conditions include the following, so we thought it would be helpful to share them with you.
1. Let’s work together all day!
Yes, photographers (self-included) will do 8 hours contracts. And yes, we can pull a wedding off like that. But there is always a cost. Do we come early to photograph the bride and her ladies hanging out and getting their HMU did, but then we miss the second half of the reception and the exit? OR do we miss getting ready photos and stay until the end of the party? When we get to photograph all day there is no pressure to crunch everything in tight on a timeline. Last fall I photographed a wedding in the Dominican Republic from 10am to 4am. Energy up all day, but OMG did I have a lot of photos to edit!
2. The ideal timeline for photos.
I know there are way more vendors than just you and me, but when I get lucky our timelines look very similar to one of these two example timelines below. In consults I always ask couples what their ceremony start time will be and if they want to do a first look. Then I build out a suggested timeline from there. Feel free to save these photos for your reference.
First Look Example:
Without A First Look Example:
3. Second photographer? Yes, Please.
In 2015 a mentor and friend told me, “Every photographer should be good enough to photograph a wedding alone.” I took that to heart, and can confidently say I can provide solid coverage at a wedding by myself that couples love. But personally I always think it’s best to bring a second photographer.
As the sole photographer 100 people is a breaking point. Beyond 100 guests I have a hard time keeping my dedicated focus to the bride, groom, bridal party, family, and trying to work in as many guests as possible. A second photographer is going to get more behind-the-scenes and more candid photos. They help provide a more well rounded perspective to a wedding day.
I only work with a handful of second photographers, and on wedding days they know I’m going to be the main workhorse. I always tell them to just go shoot, have fun, be creative. They have freedom to go and see what I can’t because I’m locked into the schedule.
Other great reasons to have a second photographer:
- If a bride and bridesmaids are getter ready at a different location from the groom and groomsmen. Two photographers make it easy to solidly cover both locations.
- If the timeline runs behind or it has bride and bridesmaid photos at the same time as the groom/groomsmen photos we can split up so that I photograph ladies while my second can take the men.
- During the cocktail hour if I’m photographing family photos and then portraits of the bride and groom a second photographer can make sure to get photos of all the details that went into planning cocktail hour and guests mingling.
- A second photographer can take more time to get clean photos of the reception area once it is set up.
4. Buffer time!
Even on the best of days Hair and Makeup can run behind. Just go ahead and budget an extra 30 mins into the day prior to the ceremony. Let’s just mitigate stress on our brides by putting in some wiggle time even if no on knows it but you and me.
5. First Looks.
Let’s do it. Every. Time.
If your clients want to be traditional (which is always the guy) that’s fine. We can work with that. UNLESS it’s the winter. The sun sets early in the winter. If your winter wedding clients are strong against a first look make sure they know they won’t be getting the soft romantic sunlight drench photos that most brides love.
With that said I always suggest a first look for my clients all year round. Almost 100% of the time my clients are highly educated and chill people. I never have Bridezillas or overly type A folks. Even still every single bride and groom carries a tad bit of stress on their wedding day. When they see each other during a first look I can literally watch that tension just melt off of them. These moments are so sweet and wonderful to photograph because they are completely natural in their love and expressions for each other.
Not to mention First Looks open up our timelines so we don’t have to try and cram photos in after the ceremony and before the reception.
6. Vendor Contacts.
Lastly, make sure your photographer has all the vendor contacts so they can provide photos to everyone after the wedding. And encourage them to submit the photos for publication. Having all the vendor contacts will make acceptance for publication WAY easier. Get your name acknowledge and hopefully that will grow your wedding design and planning company!
Cheers to many more great weddings to come for all of us!!!