As a working photographer, your essential gear list is probably emblazoned on your heart. You know exactly what gear goes into your photographer’s tool bag and maybe even have a backup bag packed with duplicate gear, because you know it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But if you really want to be prepared, especially when shooting for hours at a wedding, you’ll want to bring along some extra goodies to help you get through the day and deliver a stellar client experience.
Chances are you may not have thought about some of these items, but even if you have, let this list serve as a reminder to pack these lifesavers before you head to your next wedding gig.
1. Important Information
Phone numbers, venue names, and addresses are all essential bits of info you need to have on hand before and at the wedding. Have the couple provide the names of venues and the specific addresses, as well as addresses for any other places you’ll visit, like the couple’s home or photo locations.
Also make sure to have the bride and groom’s phone numbers on hand, but more importantly, the maid of honor’s, best man’s, and/or wedding coordinator’s. Since the couple probably won’t have their phones on them on the big day, you’ll want to make sure your first points of contact will have theirs in case you have any questions.
You might also consider getting phone numbers from a few key vendors.
2. Photo Shot List and Wedding Timeline
The day of the wedding is not the time to wing it. Show up prepared with a detailed list of formal shots your couple has requested and approved and a wedding day timeline to help you stay on track.
On your wedding questionnaire or at the pre-wedding meeting, have your couple provide you with a list of the bride and groom’s immediate family, a list of family photos they would like, and the names of each person in the group. You can also discuss with the couple when and where to do the formal shots.
The wedding timeline is also an essential bit of information that you’ll want to get before the big day and carry with you throughout. About six weeks before the wedding, ask your couple to provide you with the timeline they have so far, as well as things like whether there will be a first look and if the couple is exchanging gifts.
The more information you have, the better, as it will help you identify any delays or conflicts before it’s too late.
3. Layers/Extra Clothes
You never know what the weather will do or what a venue’s temperature will be set at, so bring a rain jacket, a sweater in case the AC is cranked up, and/or an extra set of clothes in case of an emergency. You might also consider packing a pair of comfortable shoes to slip on later in the day.
4. Business Cards
You never know where you’ll meet a potential customer, so it’s a good idea to have a stack of business cards in your bag.
5. Water and Snacks
You can’t always count on food and water being provided to you at the wedding and you don’t know how hungry or thirsty you’ll be (or when). Pack a cooler with drinks and your favorite snacks to help keep you fueled and creative.
6. Nice Hanger
Although most brides will have a dress hanger you can use for those lovely hanging wedding dress photos, there’s no guarantee the hanger itself will be lovely. It might be an old plastic thing and look out of place next to a gorgeous gown. Unless the bride lets you know that she has a specific hanger she’d like to use, do yourself a favor and bring your own. Wooden hangers are inexpensive and look elegant.
A flashlight is a handy tool to have with you at all times. Not only can it help you pack up your gear at the end of the night, you can also use it to help guide the couple and yourself to and from dimly lit photo locations.
Pack your bag with travel-sized medicine packs because you never know when aches, pains, upset stomach, fatigue, etc. will strike.
9. Rain Protection
Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, keep a few packs of Rainsleeves in your gear bag just in case. They are a super affordable way to keep your camera and lenses dry and damage free.
10. External Battery Pack
Phone and tablet batteries aren’t known to keep their juice for very long, and the last thing you want is for your electronics to die in an inconvenient moment. Sure, you can bring along a charger, but you can’t be sure that there will be available outlets. Put your mind at ease by bringing an external battery pack with you to the wedding or any photo shoot.
Something missing from this list? Feel free to let me know what your not-so-obvious essentials are in the comments below.