We’re bound to make mistakes—It’s inevitable, we’re human. In over 15 years of photographing weddings, I can of course say that I’ve made my fair share. In today’s episode, I’m disclosing 10 of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made on wedding days with the hope that you can learn from them. I’m here to support you; use this as your guide for how to better prepare and prevent these situations at your next wedding.
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Review the Show Notes:
Forgetting To Charge My Batteries (1:18)
Leaving The House Without Snacks (4:54)
Not Stating What My Second Shooter Should Wear (6:02)
“I Can Just Photoshop That Later” (8:17)
Not Dressing Properly With Layers (9:11)
Offering A Ride To The Bride (10:20)
Forgetting A Requested Photo (11:53)
Not Getting Sneak Peaks Back ASAP (13:28)
Not Charging Enough For Travel (15:24)
Working With Clients That Loved Me, But Not My Photography Style (18:22)
Mentioned in this Episode
Customizable Wedding Day Shot List: https://quiannamarie.com/shop
Review the Transcript:
With over 15 years of photographing weddings, I would be a liar if I said that I’ve been perfect and have never made a mistake. In fact, I’m here to share with you on this episode 10 different mistakes I have made either on a wedding day or in preparation for a wedding, that I never, ever want to happen to you. Okay, so I hope you take notes on these that you truly listen and honestly just use this as a great guide for things of what not to do at your next wedding. So without further ado, let’s dive right into these mistakes because I never never never want these to happen to you. Welcome to Quianna Marie weekly, a podcast for creatives who love to celebrate wins big or small by dancing in the kitchen photographers who are excited to serve their clients and friends who are ready to chase really, really big dreams. You can find all of the resources mentioned in this episode at Kiana murray.com/podcast. Join me as I share weekly motivation, chat about growing pains, finding genuine connections and celebrating your wins through the lens of a photographer at heart. Come join me for a dance party. Ready?
Let’s go number one, the biggest and baddest mistake I’ve ever made on a wedding day was forgetting to charge my batteries. Yes, I literally showed up with about half a charge on one battery and two of my extra batteries completely dead. Now thankfully, I had my charger, but let me paint this picture for you. Okay, so I was photographing my sister in law’s while at the time she was just my brother’s girlfriend. But it was Lauren’s cousin’s wedding. And I had grown up with these girls.
Okay, so I had been friends with them for a long time I danced with the bride’s older sister, and I was very comfortable with them. Well, in the morning, while we were getting ready, I was photographing the details, I had probably about 50 to like 70% left of that battery. And I knew that I had to charge my second battery to get it cued up and ready to roll. Once I was done. Well, in the rush of the morning, I had left the charger charging that second battery in the hotel room, I left I just you know, we were in a hurry, everything was going good. We were in a rush to get to the ceremony, and it was left behind.
The scary part was I didn’t even realize it was left behind until my battery was blinking red gonna die soon. And I literally panic because I knew in that split second that not only was that second charger there, but the like the charger was in the wall. And I had a dead battery as a backup. So I was dead dead dead to the world. And I literally was panicking now nobody knew what was going on. At least I don’t think so I held my cool. Now thankfully, like I mentioned before, brother was there.
Okay, so because it was Lauren’s cousin’s wedding, of course, my brother was a guest. Lauren was actually in the wedding. And thank God Mikey was so close to Uncle Andy, that I told him about the situation. He literally rolled his eyes at me and it was like, Okay, how do I get this? How do I make this better? And I’m like, you have to go back to the hotel, please. And he knew exactly which hotel we were in exactly which room you’re in how to find that hotel. And I could explain exactly where the charger was plugged into the wall.
Thank goodness because if Mikey hadn’t gone to go grab that charger in that time, we were just kind of wrapping up family photos. We were scheduled to hop into a car and just drive up the road to go grab sunset portraits at this beautiful waterfall. So not only would I have literally had no battery, but I would have completely delayed sunset like we would have had no sunset photos if it wasn’t for my brother saving the day. So bring you back to this list. Okay, first and foremost, please make sure that your batteries are always charged you have a backup with you.
And then have one more key tip before we move on. I always always always remind all of my photographers to make sure they have like a mental charging station in their home. So please don’t have one of your chargers in the bathroom while you’re getting ready the other one in the kitchen and then something else charged in your office okay or in your bedroom or something. Don’t do that. Okay, just like us girls have a mental check when we walk out the door to check our straightener or clean iron and it just takes one glance, maybe a couple to look at that bathroom plug and make sure that everything is at least unplugged. That’s what you have to do for your charging station.
Okay, so maybe it is in that one hallway or in the charger right by the garage as you leave whatever it is just pick one destination that you know all of your photography gear is charged in that one location so it just takes one glance to see it. Alright, now that our batteries are charged…
Let’s move on to number two, leaving the house without Have any snacks, okay, so I am all about food, okay, so you need to make sure that you pack your cheese, it’s pack your water, pack your food and even if that means for getting, just please drive through Starbucks, get your favorite coffee or pop into your local coffee shop or a little breakfast joint and just get a burrito, making sure you have breakfast.
I know at Starbucks, I am a huge fan of the bacon Gouda sandwiches. Those are my favorite. And then sometimes if I really didn’t pack anything, and I was just in a hurry or just totally forgot, I’ll even grab like an extra loaf of like Banana Nut Bread or poppy seed muffin or just something like extra that I know I can snack on later and just shove in my bag. Even if it gets smushed, it’s still going to be delicious. So please, please, please, I know running. Long wedding days are such energy suckers. And it takes a lot out of us.
So making sure that we’re properly nourished is so important. You know, it’s important to maybe pack some fruit or pack an apple or something, something nutritious that’s going to help you get through the day.
Number three, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a wedding photographer is not clearly stating what my second shooter or assistant lead photographer should wear. Yes. Once I had a second shooter arrive wearing jeans and a flannel.
Please don’t get it twisted. She looks super cute. It’s something I would totally wear, like just in a normal everyday life. But when she rolled up, I literally just went, oh my god, like are you serious. And the crazy part was is this is a really, really dear friend of mine. I photographed with her often. But it just really made me take a step back and realize this is my fault. I never clearly stated that she should wear a certain thing or not wear a certain thing to a wedding day. And I just totally beat myself up about it. Now, thankfully, this was a really awesome couple longtime family friend, I went to high school with the groom forever. Like they’re just super chill people.
And they nobody mentioned anything. No one said anything to me, no one everyone kind of gave me that, like, feel that. Like she shouldn’t have worn that. But I was just like, What the heck like and you know, so this was totally a mistake on my part. So moving forward, I made sure it was in the contract. I even had an actual verbal discussion with all of my second shooters to remind them, hey, these are my expectations. So if you’re wondering what I tell my second shooters to wear, I always tell them to just look casually professional. Okay, so I love wearing black, I always wear a black mini dress or maxi dress, or encourage my second shooters to wear black slacks, some comfy shoes, typically just like a nice blouse or top that just makes them feel professional but still movable. Okay, so it’s important for you to set this tone for not only what you’re wearing, but for what you’re requesting your second shooters to wear as well. Don’t let that happen to you. And also, this is just another side note, I’m full of Key Tips. Be cautious of the boobage.
Okay, like I know, as photographers we’re bending over, we are constantly, you know, just like moving around. And so I’m just not a fan of super low cut things, even if the girls are small or big. I just want to be as appropriate as possible. And this was just a total preference for me.
Okay, number four, telling anyone in the wedding party. Oh, I can just Photoshop that later. No, that’s a lie. I don’t use Photoshop. And I highly encourage you to not to heavily rely on Photoshop as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s going to be situations and there’s going to be times that we need Photoshop, but just keep it to a bare minimum and move your feet move that object. Remove just a little bit of that lint off of coat jackets or anything like that, like just try your hardest to be really observant before and that goes for asking wedding party guests, family members, whoever to take sunglasses off, take them off their head, check for them in their pockets, check for cell phones or keys in the groomsmen pockets as well. No more extra bulges.
So anything that you can do ahead of time to prevent Photoshop is going to make your life so much easier.
Number five, oh I should have put this in number four with the second shooter outfit but number five is not dressing properly with layers being cold wearing the wrong shoes, just make sure that you are prepared. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked a wedding where I’ve worn my sandals or dress shoes and then wish I would have worn rain boots or cowboy boots because I am either walking through mud as the photographer or I am up in the hills and you know I’m just out in the sticks and in the bushes and wish I had my boots on. So you don’t necessarily have to wear your boots to the wedding but just make sure that you have an extra pair in case they get soaking wet.
Packing an extra pair of socks especially to tracking the weather and you can expect a rainy day just being extra prepared. Especially being out here in the desert to I left the house not even thinking too is about packing the sweater and then being in the reception halls, freezing my butt off. So just make sure you pack layers, okay, it’s always best to be prepared. If you have any questions about what to wear, I actually have a favorites list in my Amazon shop, I would love for you to take a scroll through and just kind of give you an idea of what I actually wear to weddings.
Number six, offering any type of ride to the bride from the getting ready area to the church or to the ceremony space.
Yes, this happened to me once we were all in a pinch to get my bride to the ceremony to actually to the church. And this was, let me just paint the picture for you. It was a super, super hot day in July in San Francisco. And at the time, I had a dusty foreigner with no AC. Now at the time, I thought I was saving the day and just kind of being a superhero offering a way to help. But I think honestly in the long run and my bride was not too happy because her hair was just blowing in the wind. But luckily, she was so cool. All my brides are super chill and so incredibly friendly. But I mean, if I was the bride, I would be super P owed that someone offered me a ride and they didn’t have AC and you know, there was water bottles in the back seat like I just, I was so embarrassed, and I should not have offered that. Plus sidenote, it’s totally a liability issue too.
So don’t even risk it. I just kind of want you to do a little heart check for sometimes we I know. That’s why I say we because I know you’re a lot like me with a big heart for serving others. Sometimes we can just like jump to conclusions or want to save the day. And just before you offer anything like that, just do a little heart check. Take a beat before you offer that. Okay, because I know sometimes going above and beyond is like our thing and we want to help save the day. But in these types of situations, it might be best just to call it Uber.
Okay, so that was just little key tip number seven, I once forgot to get a requested photo for one of My Brides.
And honestly, to this day, it haunts me. So one of my beautiful brides. She was getting ready at her childhood home, and her dog was there. And I remember her vividly asking me a couple times about this. And it was top of mind. In fact, I even saw the dog in the back of the in the backyard through the slider. And I kept thinking oh, don’t forget to picture that dog. Don’t forget a picture of the dog. Don’t forget, don’t forget. And of course, I forgot. And I didn’t even realize this until we were literally ready to say goodbye. And then my bride did not know like she didn’t mention it to me. But I knew in the back of my head that I have forgotten this photo and there was no way of making it backup.
So I have a list for you. It’s a completely customizable shortlist for photographers. And I literally made it for you with your couples in mind. So this is something that photographers can grab, it’s right in my shop. And it’s just like a checklist and just a safety net kind of for all of us to make sure that we’re going into wedding days knowing that we are capturing this list.
And then it also is a great way for your couples to add anything else like this dog photo, for example, or any special heirlooms or special guests that they would like included in their wedding list, something that we wouldn’t know, unless they told us, okay, so go run to the shop, grab that now. And so it’s a safety net for you and your second shooter, but also a great peice of mind for your couples and just aligns you as an expert and make sure that they know that they are getting what they invested in.
Number eight, not getting sneak peeks back ASAP. So this was I want to bring you back to like Facebook circa 2015 2014. So this is an example of one time and I say one time, but it really happened doesn’t the time before I got my life together.
When a couple would post a crappy iPhone picture literally the night of their wedding, it would break my heart. And the reason why I would get like I used to get mad I wasn’t even sad I was P owed that these couples weren’t waiting for my beautiful professional photos to post. Now, think of our brides. Okay, they are so freakin excited. And people are flooding them with text messages and Facebook posts for their wedding day. So it’s easy for them to just be so excited and want to change their profile picture or their cover photo to a crappy iPhone picture. I’m not even kidding when I say it would make me cry and it would make me so mad. And then finally it clicked and I thought you know what?
My poor couples, they’re just so frickin excited. Why am I not getting my life together and getting these sneak peeks back faster? Because when I saw that they were getting hundreds of likes, hundreds of comments reshares and people telling them how beautiful they were. They were all on the crappy iPhone pictures and not my professional images. And it made me sad. So don’t let that happen to you. You are literally sleeping on the best free marketing, for your business and for your photography, if you like if you’re just sleeping on this if you’re not taking advantage of that opportunity. So in case you forgot, get those sneak peeks up, ASAP, and I highly encourage you to do it within at least 24 hours, if not 48 hours at the latest. Okay, because like I said, it’s just the best best advertising for your business.
Number nine, not charging enough for travel. So I want to be really transparent with you the first, the very first couple of Mexico weddings that I ever shot, I just had the couple pay for my travel. So I didn’t charge them a collection fee. I just had them pay were my airfare and my hotel stay.
In fact, the very, very first wedding I did in Mexico circle like, oh my gosh, when did Rachel get married, I want to say like 2009 or 2010 like this is a long time ago, I actually shared a room with her mom and her sister. Okay, so like this is like how desperate I was to help my couples save money to prove that I was an international photographer, like it was just the coolest thing ever. (I played softball with the bride and her sister growing up, we were family friends – so that wasn’t too weird!)
And so I sacrificed my comfort to just make sure that I could get this wedding, right. So that was just full transparency. When I first started, I didn’t even charge a travel or sorry, I didn’t charge the collection fee, I just charged travel. And then as soon as I really got going and booking more destination weddings, that’s when I would charge the actual collection fee, flush travel. Now I want you to be very clear with what you’re actually charging for these things. Now, this is tough.
I know it’s such a, like gray water coloring area because each location is different. Some photographers do a blanket statement, and you know, just have like a flat rate, some photographers prorate and say, Hey, this is what on average flights look like this is what on average the hotel looks like. And then they kind of like square up or invoice them following the wedding day.
Another key tip I have for you is to make sure that you are taking charge of your travel fees. Okay. So whatever you decide, I highly encourage you to actually do the booking, some couples may try to bully you into getting those points or trying to find the cheapest offer. I can’t tell you it’s only happened once. It only happened once for me to have like literally a six hour travel day when I was traveling to Colorado once the cheapest flight was like I it must have been like an 11 hour day I had to I had like one layover one plane change, it was just a nightmare. Okay, so like I’m not saying your couples are ever trying to like really screw you over. But sometimes they’re just looking for the cheapest option. And that may not be the best for your schedule.
Plus, if you are ever in this situation where you want to change your flight, let’s say you want to go from, you know, let’s say you’re traveling from one area to the next and you don’t want to come straight home you want to like catch a layover and go somewhere else. Like don’t go through your couple to try to make those changes, like you should be in charge of your travel. And just make sure that you’re traveling you’re charging enough.
Sometimes I know we’re so excited to be going to this destination weddings, you know, take us to Hawaii, take us to Aspen take us to Italy, but just make sure that you’re being compensated for your time and make it worth it. Number 10. This is a doozy something I learned way in the beginning of my photography. And I hope that you don’t ever experience this too!
Number 10 on the list is working with clients that loved me, but not my photography style.
So if that stings, or that feels relatable, I just want you to know that I’ve been there. And I hope that if this hasn’t happened to you yet, you’re kind of a unicorn, but just stand your ground. Okay. Now, what’s really important even as you are kind of distinguishing your style, whether you land in the dark and moody you land in the bright and airy or somewhere kind of bold and natural light in between.
Just stick to your style and stick to it. Okay, in the beginning, of course, you’re always trying to just like book those clients and fill your calendar. But just make sure that they’re in line and true to you and true to your colors. Because there’s nothing worse than saying yes, but then not quite matching that feel or that vibe that the couple is looking for. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned away clients, like literally friends of mine, but preferred a more dark and moody look. And that’s just not my style. Like I think it’s beautiful. And I have incredible referrals for them that they that they can work with. But I’ve just done it a handful of times where I said, Oh, no problem like I can do that. And it just ended up being a nightmare because it didn’t meet their expectations.
They ended up slapping filters on any way. And I just feel like they would have been better suited with a photographer that matched vibe and master style. So this is kind of like an ego gut check for you to as you continue to grow your business, please please please stay true to you, you’re going to attract people that are going to be so in love with you and your business and just make sure that it aligns with your style as well. So that was a lot of mistakes and just kind of like really crazy scenarios that I have experienced on wedding days that I hope that you don’t run into that we can be preventative about. If you have any mistakes on wedding days, I would love to hear about it not so we can make fun of each other of course, but just so we can learn from them. So I will be posting something about this coming up soon.
Please, please comment on it. Slide into those DMS. Please share your stories because I just want us all to remember that we’re not alone. We’re all humans, we all make mistakes. We all always want to put our best foot forward, but sometimes things happen. Okay, so the more we can learn from each other, we’re building a community which is strong and you know, very very, very loving photographers.
So let’s stick together on this. I hope you have a beautiful week and keep on killing it babe I hope you are filling your calendar with Dream weddings always here to support you keep on dancin. That’s a wrap on another episode of Quianna Marie weekly.
Thank you so much for your listenership and support. You can find the resources and show notes for this episode and more at Quianna Marie.com/podcast. I’d be honored if you’d show your support by leaving a review and rating on your favorite podcast app. Until next time, keep on dancing.