213: Shooting Your First Wedding? Listen to This Coaching Session First!

Amanda Ellen Headshot

Yes, an actual coaching session about shooting your first wedding.

Amanda from Amanda Ellen Studios joins us today in this special episode! I really, really appreciate her being willing to let me record our coaching session for the benefit of our listeners! Due to the amount of questions I get from photographers about this topic (and the time it takes to individually reply), I decided to dedicate a full episode to this very important topic.

Setting the Stage

Amanda originally reached out to me on Facebook asking for advice about shooting her first upcoming wedding. Initially, I responded back and basically wrote a novel on the steps she should take beforehand. Thing is, I always end up writing what feels like a book on this subject whenever a photographer reaches out about this topic! After sending her a super long list and then continuously adding to it, I finally decided to just invite her on the show for a good chat.

Rant Alert!

I feel strongly about this because I used to do weddings. I consider them one of the biggest photography gigs, but often the most underestimated by first timers. It takes ALOT of preparation, even if the wedding is small. Even if the couple asking you to do it assures you it’ll be “no big deal”, you should ALWAYS take steps to be prepared for their big day because it is a once in a lifetime even for that particular couple combination.

So it is in fact, a big freakin’ deal. 

By the way, if you’re listening and you’re not a professional wedding photographer, then that’s totally okay. This is still a good episode to listen to if there’s a chance a family or friend might ask you to shoot their wedding in the future. Happens all the time.

Let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s the list of the tips we discuss:

Before the Wedding

  • Sit down with the couple and get to know them beforehand. Their story will be the centerpiece of your work.
  • Give them an overview of your process: when the deposit is due, how soon you’ll turn around their finished images, etc.
  • Have a contract. This is a must. There are templates out there. Even if you’re doing it for free, have paperwork with an outline of expectations. You can even show a discount of 100% while showing what you’d normally charge (so that if they refer you to someone else, it reduces the chances of them saying you’re a free photographer).
  • Pricing: Put careful thought into it. Every business is different. Variables to consider include how many hours of coverage the couple needs, if you have a second shooter with you assisting (which I highly recommend), your turnaround time to finish the images after the wedding, and the final products you will deliver (for example, wall art, albums, etc).
  • Prepare a detailed “checklist of shots” when you meet with the couple. This list will be your best friend. It’s also a great way to get the couple excited about specific shots and potential wall art and albums. If you conduct the meeting in their home, consider scouting out empty spaces on their wall of where potential art could be placed
  • Get familiar with the wedding venue location and lighting. Visit it beforehand and get to know the staff. Leave your card. Be friendly.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment: this includes lenses, memory cards, and lighting equipment.
  • Consider hiring a second shooter. It’s super helpful with behind the scenes photos of the bride and groom, along with adequately covering the events of the day in general.
  • Ask the couple if you can show up to their wedding rehearsal. This will give you a chance to get familiar with the order of events and the location. It’s also a great time for the family to get to know you.

During the Wedding

  • Remember to bring backups of as much of your equipment as possible.
  • People skills are so important! Be personable. Smile. Laugh with people. Yes, it’s a soft skill, but can make or break your day.

After the wedding:

  • Be prepared to edit your load of images. Have a workflow. (Lightroom is amazing.)
  • Meet with the couple face-to-face to showcase their images.


Thanks for the image Pixabay.com!