FAQ : The Anatomy of Wedding Day Photography Prep

FAQ : The Anatomy of Wedding Day Photography Prep


I’ve said it thousand times before: I love making lists. There’s no greater feeling than scratching some task off and feeling like you could give the Old Spice guy a run for his money. Then there’s JD. Who hates lists with equal proportion to root canals. I keep everything in this safe, he says as he taps the side of his head, his temple to be exact. And this? Drives. Me. Crazy.

We learned early on that we function and think differently. In light of this, we clearly separate what we’re each responsible for as a way to avoid mistakes, mishaps, or missteps. Or attitude. I’m Puerto Rican…I specialize in attitude.

JD is entirely responsible for preparing the bags, so I thought I’d give a breakdown of what pre-wedding prep looks like for us. I’m not sure if this will help anyone, but when I first started out, I wished I had some sort of barometer to gauge if I was doing things wrong. Well, five years later I can’t guarantee it’s right, but it’s not wrong. So let’s get jiggy with it.

Friday Night
* JD cleans lenses and cameras, reformats all CF cards, charges camera/video lights batteries. He counts the CF cards to make sure we take plenty and put new batteries in our flashes and Pocketwizards.
* JD lays everything on the office floor so I can double check our gear before he packs the bag.
* I pack a protein bar.

Saturday Morning
* I check my email for any last-minute changes the bride or coordinator might have sent overnight.
* I review the wedding itinerary and ensure I have emergency contact numbers (which I requested in advance), as well as hotel room numbers.
* I program all addresses in our GPS of where we are scheduled to be.
* I sing a song.
* JD packs the camera bag, along with the off-camera flash setup, and places everything in the car.
* JD packs the laptop computer with card readers (for the same-day wedding slideshow).
* We get ready and eat a big meal…sometimes the meal is the only thing we’ll eat for seven or eight hours, so clink our forks and get our grub on.
* Before leaving, part of our ritual is to go through a list (a list!! I WIN!!) to ensure we have everything, including backup gear and things we’ll likely never use, but take anyway (like a reflector).

From trial and error, this system seems to work very well for us…and maybe it’ll help you just a bit as well. If not, no worries. I’ll simply make a list of ways I can get better! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  1. sherri lynn -

    so glad i am not the only one who is dysfunctional without a list!

      3.28.11 - 2:12 pm

  2. P E N N Y -

    I love my pre-wedding ritual as much as I love making lists. It sets the tone for the day. Sometimes my hubby likes to "help" but I’ve kindly asked him not to. (He’s not a photographer and does not shoot with me.) I need to see everything, touch everything and put everything in it’s place so the when I head out the door I have the confidence. Then it’s SHOWTIME!

      3.28.11 - 2:14 pm

  3. Deb Peluso -

    Ain’t nothing wrong with a list!! I am soooo excited to see you tomorrow in Akron! Hurry up Tuesday!!

      3.28.11 - 2:18 pm

  4. Stephanie Stewart -

    Great post! Very helpful! And what a beautiful photo of you! Beaming, radiant, happy! Yay! ๐Ÿ™‚

      3.28.11 - 2:20 pm

  5. nadya -

    i like list too, because lets face it if i dont write it down to check it off i forget, i have the memory of an old lady ๐Ÿ˜›

      3.28.11 - 2:22 pm

  6. Robin McQuay Anderson -

    Success often wears the polish of a well oiled machine. You obviously have a great system that allows you to work on capturing images vs. hunting for equipement and charged batteries…love it.

      3.28.11 - 2:22 pm

  7. Tamara Gibson -

    You both rock! Thanks for sharing!

      3.28.11 - 2:23 pm

  8. Ernie E -

    I go through a similar ritual the day before an important shoot. But you know I’ve seen on some photographer’s contracts that require even a small meal in case of a very long shoot.

    A very informative post, thanks!

      3.28.11 - 2:24 pm

  9. Robyn -

    *Phew!* I’m doing things "right"! Thanks for the reassurance, J*!!!

      3.28.11 - 2:26 pm

  10. Maryn -

    Your posts are so helpful Jasmine! What I admire most about you is that you are not threatened to help others out – worried it will ruin the business you’ve worked hard to make. I like that you are willing to be so open about things that have helped/hurt you in this process. Not many photographers will do that so openly! Thank you!

      3.28.11 - 2:27 pm

  11. Brittani -

    =) DEFINITELY appreciate this post.

    And I can ONLY ever get stuff done with lists…haha I only wish I could be like JD…but I love my lists too!

      3.28.11 - 2:29 pm

  12. Josephine -

    i say YAY with that list! im glad to see i’m on the right track gauging from yours hehe ๐Ÿ˜›

      3.28.11 - 2:31 pm

  13. tanyad -

    Jasmine Star*YOU* INSPIRE!
    Thank YOU!

      3.28.11 - 2:36 pm

  14. Columbus GA Wedding Photographer -

    Really helpful info. I actually got most of this info on your CreativeLive webinar back in 2010. Which was totally AWESOME. Only difference this time is you mentioned that you "Sing a Song." I have yet to incorporate that ritual =)

      3.28.11 - 2:36 pm

  15. Sharls -

    LOVE LOVE LOVE lists… my safe aka head needs a back up plan : )

      3.28.11 - 2:37 pm

  16. tara liebeck -

    this DOES help, ALOT! thank you J*

      3.28.11 - 2:45 pm

  17. Karrah Flores -

    I’m more like JD, but trying to be more like you when it comes to lists. Great post, thanks!!!

      3.28.11 - 2:46 pm

  18. connie -

    i always make a list of stuff i need to do, and stuff i need to bring so i don’t miss anything! if it’s not on the list it doesn’t exist! I am such a list girl…i just wish i crossed more stuff off!!

      3.28.11 - 3:01 pm

  19. ur from Puerto Rico????? -

    did you mention that as a joke??? are you from Puerto Rico??? what part??? ive been fallowing u for months… admiring your work and i cant belive ur from PR??? by the way Im from Lares Puerto Rico!!!!

      3.28.11 - 3:23 pm

  20. Michelle Guzman -

    I love this sentence from your post, "I’m Puerto Rican…I specialize in attitude. ". Haha.

      3.28.11 - 3:23 pm

  21. Mary Shaffer -

    Thank you so much for posting this… as I am venturing into the industry more I am finding that I require a list to get anything done when I leave the studio or even on the days where I am just editing in the studio. Thank you for sharing!

      3.28.11 - 3:28 pm

  22. Cindy -

    I love lists, especially when I can use a new fancy pen.

      3.28.11 - 3:30 pm

  23. Sarah Danaher -

    I’m a list-maker, too. Soooooo:

    1. this is most certainly helpful.
    2. I think I need to implement some sort of pre-wedding checklist into my routine. I hate that sick feeling I always have when I’m SURE I’ve forgotten something.
    3. soooooooo smart to eat a big meal before you head out!! that’s one that I know I need, but I often overlook and ALWAYS regret.
    4. you’re absolutely adorable, you know that?

      3.28.11 - 3:31 pm

  24. Raquel Sergio -

    couldnt have written a preparation list in better words!!!

      3.28.11 - 3:34 pm

  25. Isaac Stott -

    From a fellow "list" person, this is a huge help so thank you! Not sure what Karen is going to say when I hand her another list but she will love me for it deep down.

      3.28.11 - 3:38 pm

  26. Tina -

    U R so awesome and your tips always helps. so inspiring to me.
    "KIR" South Ga Friend in Thomasville, Ga.

      3.28.11 - 3:41 pm

  27. Life with Kaishon -

    How funny is JD? : )
    I am glad you win ultimately though, and get to check your list at the end!
    How many cards do you take? Do you have a special brand that you love?

      3.28.11 - 3:53 pm

  28. Maryana -

    Jasmine, thanks for this overview. It’s so useful. Sometimes I wonder how it all sounds simple, but if you forget 1 thing…that’s the end! ๐Ÿ™‚ so I love your idea of making lists.

      3.28.11 - 3:58 pm

  29. Leah -

    You and JD are so organized! It’s so fun to read all your advise and the things you do to make your shoots successful! Thanks for the advise and information. You are a great teacher!

      3.28.11 - 3:58 pm

  30. Erika -

    That’s exactly how my partner Michael and I prepare for a wedding down to stuffing ourselves the morning of. ^.^ Thanks for sharing!

      3.28.11 - 4:05 pm

  31. Sachin Khona -

    Gotta have a reflectoroony J ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great post ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3.28.11 - 4:15 pm

  32. Jess -

    Good to know! I do something similar ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for sharing!

      3.28.11 - 4:16 pm

  33. // DANI -

    Again. You made me laugh. "…I specialize in attitude."

      3.28.11 - 4:18 pm

  34. Bartek -

    The most important question is: what’s the name of that song ? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3.28.11 - 4:24 pm

  35. Tanya De Leeuw -

    This couldn’t have been timed better! I’ve got my very first assistant/2nd shooter assignment this afternoon, an engagement shoot with an "urban" theme in a rural town! Right now it’s snowing … wish us luck!

      3.28.11 - 4:25 pm

  36. Emily Dobson -

    How gorgeous are YOU?! Love this pic, you hottie…

      3.28.11 - 4:27 pm

  37. Emily Crall -

    Thanks! I am always curious how others do their pre-wedding prep. I’m definitely adding singing a song to my list too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      3.28.11 - 4:27 pm

  38. Ashley -

    Thank you for the tips J*!

      3.28.11 - 4:33 pm

  39. Ashley -

    Thank you for the tips J*!

      3.28.11 - 4:33 pm

  40. Melissa Johnson -

    Thanks! I’m a lister too, and it’s always good to check notes against someone else to make sure I’ve got all I need.
    I’d love to know what sort of emergency contact numbers you ask for so I can add that to my list of things to get before hand.

      3.28.11 - 4:40 pm

  41. rich -

    sounds like a great system! we have something like that – in our "safe". time to write down our list on paper!

      3.28.11 - 4:43 pm

  42. z. lynn -

    I love my lists too!! They are essential to me getting stuff done. Thank you for sharing your methodology.

      3.28.11 - 4:46 pm

  43. Raya -

    Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3.28.11 - 4:59 pm

  44. Raya -

    Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3.28.11 - 4:59 pm

  45. cory -

    Once again I truely do appreciate your information. Thank you for being generous with your advice. Keep it coming, I always look forward to reading your tips, suggestions and quarky additions. I like how you keep it real, it’s stuff I can relate to;)

      3.28.11 - 5:00 pm

  46. Adriana Morett -

    You are SO nice! Thank you for not forgetting what it feels like to be starting up and lost in this bussiness ๐Ÿ˜‰ great and very useful post, and you look gorge on that photo!

      3.28.11 - 5:01 pm

  47. Phil Parker -

    Thanks for this insight-it’s very similar to our own. Good to know we are on track. The only difference is I’m the list maker!

      3.28.11 - 5:23 pm

  48. Christina Dely -

    Incredibly helpful! And I love that you take time… to sing! XO

      3.28.11 - 5:25 pm

  49. kayla :) -

    Love your posts about how you guys function – it helps me compare what you do to what I do, or should do ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks so much!!

      3.28.11 - 5:26 pm

  50. Anne T. -

    Thanks, Jasmine, for your willingness to always give pointers. It’s always nice to have something to ‘cross check’ with to see if you are on the right track! oh, and I really love lists too, so keep on rockin’ ’em! ๐Ÿ™‚

      3.28.11 - 5:27 pm

  51. Per Kรฅlbรคck -

    That sounds like a healthy aproach. Accept each others differences… Today we do not accept differences well. Society that is, but i guess it can be applied on both big and small issues/examples.

    Nevertheless, we need each other to be different from ourselfes. Creativity/innovation seldom comes from people ho are alike.

      3.28.11 - 5:34 pm

  52. Bombchell in Atl -

    I love making lists!!i just need to learn to actually follow them :/

      3.28.11 - 5:35 pm

  53. Nikki -

    Thanks for sharing this info Jasmine! Apart from the singing bit I follow more or less the same prep process ๐Ÿ™‚ You are such an inspiration to me – you are the ultimate example of a ‘fast track’ photographer!

      3.28.11 - 5:36 pm

  54. Jennifer Jar -

    Thank you for this post! I LOVE making lists too, and I have a habit of double/triple/quadruple checking everything before a wedding day…I’m OCD like that hahaha.

      3.28.11 - 5:49 pm

  55. Amber Steel -

    LOVE lists!!! JD you are missing out!

      3.28.11 - 5:58 pm

  56. MegganB -

    You’re totally speaking my language… thanks J*!!

      3.28.11 - 6:03 pm

  57. Comfort Images (photography by Meredith) -

    Jasmine! I have recently started looking at your blog and your work! I love how your personality absolutely shines through – it’s like I already kind of know you without having met you! You’re totally beautiful! Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re obviously inspiring lots of people. Thank you for the great blog posts! I recently read your blog post about blogging and it was really helpful! Love that you shoot with a Canon! And especially love how you give God all the glory!! Love, Meredith

      3.28.11 - 6:10 pm

  58. Marissa Rodriguez -

    I love the "i pack a protein bar" part! hahahaha! And the "i sing a song" part! ๐Ÿ™‚ You look beautiful in this photo! Like always, thank you for these posts!

      3.28.11 - 6:15 pm

  59. B -

    Dear Lord?! WHY on earth did you say "get jiggy with it"? Will Smith is cringing right now.

      3.28.11 - 6:28 pm

  60. B -

    Dear Lord?! WHY on earth did you say "get jiggy with it"? Will Smith is cringing right now.

      3.28.11 - 6:28 pm

  61. Shauna -

    I can’t get by without lists.

    Why not write a meal into the contract? Then you won’t have to go hungry.

      3.28.11 - 6:34 pm

  62. hannah m -

    Oh yeah…totally a listmaker here;-) Thanks a bunch for this post Jasmine!

      3.28.11 - 6:45 pm


    OH yes! That pre-wedding meal is a must…..and I always have a slice of cake after the shootings over. ๐Ÿ™‚ lol..

      3.28.11 - 7:06 pm

  64. shane O' Sullivan -

    The next Creative Live session can not come soon enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3.28.11 - 7:14 pm

  65. Jenelle Sewell -

    VERY helpful, as always. I get butterflies reading your prep routine. Reminds me of when I gather everything and the butterflies take over right before heading to a shoot. Thanks Jasmine for the tips.

      3.28.11 - 7:20 pm

  66. Elizabeth -

    Thanks for sharing, it’s nice knowing my own check list and pre-wedding prep is not too different from yours. ๐Ÿ™‚ The link for the ocf set up doesn’t work though. I would love to use something as simple as what you do, the alien bees are a bit cumbersome. Also, if you don’t mind me asking, do you always wear dresses to shoot weddings in? I would love to be able to do that especially here in TX in the summer.

      3.28.11 - 8:07 pm

  67. Joni Bilderback -

    This is a FABULOUS photo of you! Absolutely beautiful! **ps, will be incorporating your list into my list ;P thanks!

      3.28.11 - 8:32 pm

  68. Emily Schumann (E Schumann Foto) -

    Jasmine, you are too funny! As a fellow Boricua I am a huge advocate of lists, so it my aunt … I wonder if it’s a Puerto Rican thing? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3.28.11 - 8:46 pm

  69. Kristi Garrett -

    Regarding the CF cards, are you small capacity (4 GB) users — presumably to limit loss in event of failure — or do you go big guns (8-16 GB+) ?

      3.28.11 - 9:18 pm

  70. Kristin Nicole -

    Glad I am not the only one that is crazy about making lists…and that is such a cute picture.

      3.28.11 - 9:35 pm

  71. Kira Noble -

    Fantastic info! Thank you so much for sharing.

      3.28.11 - 9:41 pm

  72. Kansas City Wedding Photographers -

    We have a check list also…I can’t image our world without one. Life gets so hectic I love the list and routine.

      3.28.11 - 9:47 pm

  73. Mark -

    Hey Jasmine, looking forward to seeing you in Akron, Oh. Tomorrow…can’t wait. I am driving in from Pittsburgh. I love to read your blog and I am taking your advice on being the first to leave a comment on someone else’s blog. You are truly an inspiration.

      3.28.11 - 10:33 pm

  74. Mark -

    Hey Jasmine…I am really looking forward to seeing you in Akron Oh tomorrow evening, I am driving in from Pittsburgh Pa. I am taking you advice from the most recent Shooting Star and I am leaving comments on your blog. I too love lists! couldn’t live without them. You are truly inspirational. Thanks!

      3.28.11 - 10:51 pm

  75. viktorija -

    Jasmine, I love that you’re an awesome photographer AND an awesome writer. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I feel like I know both you and JD (this post could’ve been about me and my hubby…). Kudos to excellent blog posts!

      3.28.11 - 11:12 pm

  76. Timothy | Sacramento Wedding Photographer -

    Ah, this is pretty much my same routine. Except singing a song….I should probably write down my list instead of having it in my head. Some times my head can be a bit faulty.

      3.28.11 - 11:17 pm

  77. Candee -

    Well, this helped me! So you — at the least — helped 1 person! Thank you much!!

      3.28.11 - 11:32 pm

  78. kelsey {las vegas wedding photographer} -

    TFS! I am a list maker on occasions lol

      3.28.11 - 11:56 pm

  79. sarah -

    myaquanotes.com you now have the ability to make lists in the shower! you can thank me later. lol.

      3.29.11 - 1:06 am

  80. esther -

    girlie, this is off topis but: i’ve been admiring your arms for over a year now! no, no, not that way, i am happily married to a man, thank you. but seriously, you have amazing arms: what do you do for them? maybe a blog post about your workouts? you are in incredible shape…:)

      3.29.11 - 1:06 am

  81. Alicia Candelora -

    ….and from the looks of it, you also manage to curl your hair. Of all the thing son the list, THAT is the one I give you the most props for. The protein bar takes a close second.

      3.29.11 - 2:28 am

  82. AnneMarie -

    Great link to the off-camera lighting that you use at receptions!

      3.29.11 - 3:25 am

  83. Stephen Lane -

    I love pre-wedding rituals! My wife and I play a good luck song in the car on the way to every wedding we shoot. It’s served us well for years and pumps us up for a big day!

      3.29.11 - 3:28 am

  84. mike -

    Love it. I ALWAYS pack a reflector on wedding. Not sure I’ve ever used it on a wedding day but by golly it’s there if I need it.

      3.29.11 - 3:57 am

  85. Lauren H. -

    Thanks for sharing. Very helpful!

      3.29.11 - 4:36 am

  86. hannes -

    …POLO – what is POLO’s taking care of ? :-)) which role plays your sweety ?

      3.29.11 - 5:34 am

  87. s h e r r y -

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha. You’re awesome. I <3 lists too!

      3.29.11 - 9:08 am

  88. Jorge -

    I do something similar, Good to know!

      3.29.11 - 9:16 am

  89. Roxie -

    You’re GORGEOUS!! Lists are a must have for this brain! I would forget everything if I didn’t have lists.

      3.29.11 - 10:16 am

  90. Mary Lau -

    I love that photo of you!! Great work and thanks for always helping us little people lol..

      3.29.11 - 1:01 pm

  91. Dajuan -

    I’d love to say I do the same, but I too often miss the fork clanking part! I end up eating the protein bar way too early in the day!

      3.29.11 - 4:07 pm

  92. Jodie Lemke -

    Thank you Jasmine! This really helps me! I often wonder what system would work! I wondered if you could tell me if you use a battery pack for your flash? I find it never recycles fast enough ๐Ÿ™‚ Just wondered.

      3.29.11 - 10:27 pm

  93. Annetta -

    Nice photo of you Jasmine. I work off of lists too because in my haste I will forget something.

      3.30.11 - 4:44 am

  94. Shuva Rahim -

    I love how you explicitly admitted how JD does all the work ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nice.

      3.30.11 - 1:14 pm

  95. Evonne & Darren -

    Thanks for sharing, Jas! I want to know where you go shopping for your "work" clothes. You always look great at your weddings!

      3.31.11 - 6:49 am

  96. Sarah DeShaw -

    You look happy. Like, really. Happy.

    That’s wonderful!

      4.1.11 - 4:33 pm

  97. Lydia -

    One of my favorite pictures of you! So happy and gorgeous! Love lists and love you!

      4.9.11 - 8:32 pm

  98. Anna Rebecca -

    Hi Jasmine! I’m glad to see that you take care of the more responsible tasks (protein bar)!! LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚

      4.21.11 - 2:37 pm

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