Create a Wedding Photography Client Questionnaire
As a photography mentor, I’ve helped many wedding photographers successfully manage the business and marketing elements of their wedding photography. But in addition to this, I’m a wedding photographer myself too.
I shot my first wedding for a friend on film in my early twenties, it was pretty nerve-racking I can tell you even though I knew the bride and groom well.
After a 10-year period in the Royal Navy where I served as a Navy photographer, I decided it was time to leave the service to follow my dreams of becoming a successful wedding photographer.
Even though I’d still only done the one wedding photography job, I was certain it would be something I’d enjoy and also be fairly good at. After all my Navy photography training was second to none and the organisational skills required to be a military photographer would come in very handy for wedding photography.
Organisation and Preparation are Key in Wedding Photography
In 2004, I shot my first wedding for a client, and from that date, right up to today I’ve always used a wedding photography client questionnaire. I’ve found them invaluable and couldn’t be without one, even now after personally photographing over 750 weddings.
Wedding photography can be very rewarding, but you’ve got to get it right first time, there are no second chances. Check out my wedding photography tips on YouTube.
For this reason, using a wedding photography client questionnaire is essential, you need to know exactly what the client wants right down to the last detail, and this must be discussed well in advance of the big day. You can’t leave everything till the day of the wedding ceremony to find out what the bride and groom would like with regards to photography.
As a photographer, you need to be organised and have your wedding photography client questionnaire prepped weeks in advance. You’ll also want to liaise with the wedding planner and other key vendors before the wedding date so you can confirm timings to ensure everything runs like clockwork.
Once you’ve complied your wedding questionnaire then you’ll need to confirm the bride and groom are happy with the layout for the coverage and you’ve listed everything they would like, including any special requirements.
Make sure you send over a copy of the questionnaire to the bride’s email address. I’ve learnt one thing from photographing 750 weddings, don’t give the bridegroom any extra responsibility, just turning up on time and sober is usually his only job.
When I have all the information required from the bride I then transfer everything from the wedding questionnaire onto what I call my wedding day shooting list. This is a complete walkthrough of the day in order, including timings, first names of bridal party members, parents and siblings plus any other essential details from the wedding photography contract.
The Details You Should Include on a Wedding Photography client Questionnaire
In this section I’m going to run through the questionnaire essentials, I find the easiest way to do this with a bride and groom is to start at the beginning of the wedding day and talk it through in detail asking questions and filling in answers as they are given.
Confirm the important details
Confirm the important details on your wedding photography questionnaire, this may sound stupid as you will already have addresses and contact details on the original booking form contract. However, as is often the case, weddings can be booked years in advance, details do change, the bride and groom may have moved house or even changed their reception venue, this has happened to me often.
Check you have
- The bride and groom’s home address
- The bride and groom’s individual mobile phone numbers
- The bride’s leaving address, where will she be getting ready on the morning
- The leaving address for the bride groom, where will he be getting ready on the morning
- The bride’s email address to send her the wedding photography questionnaire for approval
- The service and reception addresses
- The date and time of the service
Timings for the wedding day
The next lot of questions are to fill in the day’s coverage with regards to the timings, this will allow you to know exactly how much time you have to record each aspect of the wedding.
Confirm times for
- The time you’ll be at the brides leaving address for bridal prep photos, I allow 90minutes
- The time the groom will be arriving at the ceremony address, will you be required at his home too
- The travelling time from the bride leaving address to the wedding venue
- The length of service, some take 20 minutes, but a full Catholic Mass can be over an hour
- The travelling time from the service venue to the reception venue if not in the same place
- The time of expected arrival by the wedding planners, at the reception venue
- The time of the wedding meal, what time will the guests be seated
- Are wedding speeches before the meal or after
- If there are additional guests arriving for the night time what time will they arrive
- The time of the first dance and evening meal
- Any timings for additional requests such as fireworks going off etc
Coverage details for the wedding photography Client questionnaire
Now you have all the essential details and the exact timings for the big day it’s time to find out exactly what the couple wants in the way of photographs. Most weddings these days are less posed and more about recording the events as they unfold, but there will be times when you need to step in to capture or step up a shot.
No two weddings are ever the same, so find out what’s important to the couple, do they have any special requirements, and are there any places they would love to have their portraits taken. Remember they chose this venue for a reason, there may be parts of the location that they fell in love with, old fireplaces, fountains, grand staircases, etc.
One thing I always do at every wedding I photograph is to call all the members of the bridal party, parents and children by their first name, I think it’s a nice touch and puts people at ease.
So ask for the names of the bridesmaids, flower girls, best man, and groomsmen, also if any of the bridal party are the siblings or children of the couple. This is definitely not one to forget, for example, if the bride’s sister is one of the bridesmaids, then on the morning of the wedding it’s essential to grab a few family photos of both parents with their children in their wedding finery.
Another important need to know is the parents’ first names. Also, this may seem like a strange question, but I always ask, “does everybody like each other?” The number of times I hear back, “well my parents are separated and Dad won’t want to stand next to my mother on any photos, so can you put them at opposite sides please”.
Group Photographs and Numbers
Finally, we come to groups, even with documentary-style photography most couples will want a few group photographs and if they don’t usually their parents will.
I tell the couple that I usually limit group photos to around 8 set-ups, I am however happy to do more but they must understand that this will drastically reduce the time for any other photographs they want.
My groups include
- Couple with best man
- Couple with best man and bridesmaids
- Couple with bride’s parents then her siblings too
- Couple with groom’s parents then his siblings too
- Couple with grandparents
- Couple with their children if they have any
Other popular requests are
- Couple with everyone, so you need to know how many guests there are
- Couple with brides side then grooms side of the family, again you need to know numbers
It’s always important to know your numbers so you can plan where you are going to be taking the shots. If it’s a large group you may need to shoot from an elevated position or have the group set up on a staircase.
Hope you found this helpful, if you do need any further advice drop me a message via my Contact Page
Thank you, Jeff Brown, The Photographers’ Mentor