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July 12, 2016

How to Shoot a Quad Wedding Weekend | Surviving Four Weddings in Four Days

It’s super common in the Pacific Northwest for wedding photographers to shoot two weddings in a weekend. The “summer season” is incredibly short, and so we prepare our bodies/gear/minds for double header weekends very often. For us, we usually shoot one or two triple header weekends every season. In the 2015 wedding season we survived those with nothing but tired feets and full hearts and memory cards. So this year, when the opportunity came and we had to decide to take on FOUR weddings in FOUR days, I was a tad bit terrified. And then I reminded myself that if the system we’re using is so rock solid, then why not?! We had the few weekends before our quad weekend off-completely off, so we knew we’d be fully rested and prepared! After posting about four weddings in four days, or what we’ve been calling a “quad wedding weekend” a lot of sweet photographers and brides have reached out to us asking how we could do that, or what tips we could provide to give other photographers suggestions for how to make it through weekends with multiple weddings!

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Let me say first that it wasn’t about just booking four weddings in four days. We had four incredible couples. Four amazing locations and four beautiful love stories that we just couldn’t turn down. Each wanted us to document their special day. A wedding under a willow tree, a Nepali wedding at an organic farm, a destination wedding in the beautiful gorge and a wedding amongst a forest and treehouses. We just couldn’t turn them away. So we made it work! With a ton of preparation, rest and teamwork, it was a huge success! Surprisingly after shooting Friday through Monday on Tuesday (other than sleeping in til literally 10:30am, Maddux included! I think he was tired from all the road trips and extra fun and cuddles from our family who helped out while we were away) our feet and our backs weren’t even that tired, and we felt nothing but completely humbled to be a part of such amazing wedding days!

So here are a few tips for how we made this work! And work well! Let me preface by saying that there isn’t just one way to prepare and shoot multiple weddings in a weekend. These tips work for Steven and I, so we’re merely sharing them!

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Pre wedding prep:

Before the wedding, we send a questionnaire to our couples (about a month before the wedding, along with their final invoice) asking them questions about the big day: Names of family members/groupings for family photos, any special moments/items that they’re planning, are they doing a formal exit, giving each other a gift etc! There’s a section on our blog about timelines that helps guide our couples through the amount of time we need for getting ready and detail shots, first looks, family photos etc. The week before the wedding I print these timelines/questionnaires/family groupings (with family member written out my name) and take them with us to the wedding.

tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography After printing them, I take a photo of the timeline from my phone, and send it to Steven. We both put these as the lock screen on our phones! That way, on the day of the wedding, when someone says “what time do family photos start” I can just look at my phone very quickly, instead of fumbling through my printed version.

tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography If our couples don’t write specific names for their family groupings, I re-type these (using the info from our questionnaire) to write the groupings specifically. There’s a lot to be said about knowing family member names and calling them by their name instead of “Mom and Lindsey.” It makes them feel special and important, because they are! And, come wedding day, there is no confusion-we know the dynamics of the families (we ask before hand), we know what the bride and groom want in groupings and boom-it goes by so much quicker! On the way to the wedding, Steven re-takes a look at the questionnaire as well, so that he feels more familiar with key elements too!

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Memory cards and backup memory cards:

Let me preface by saying that this is what works for Steven and I. Some photographers believe in a different system. If your system works, great! We shoot 5d Mark III’s, which allow us to shoot a primary compact flash card and a backup SD card. We shoot 64 GB Sandisk cards compact flash cards (they’ve never done us wrong, so we just stick with Sandisks!) and the 64 gb Extreme Pro SD for our secondary card slot. The dual card slots allow us to never worry about a card mal function- and, we shoot the bigger cards because at the end of the night, we’re only responsible for four cards (two for me and two for Steven). When we get home (another blog post) we load the compact flash cards to my computer, backup drive and online and Stevens-giving us 6 backups + 2 card backups. We never shoot on our cards until we’ve uploaded lightroom catalogs to Dropbox and/or delivered the final images to our couples.

Think tank pixel pocket rocket: These were introduced to us a long time ago and we love them! We each have a container for our cards that attaches with a cord to our bags (so no loosing the cards!). When we shoot double, triple or QUAD wedding weekends, they each are marked Day 1, Day 2, etc. etc. After we finish shooting (because I’m a worrier!) we keep one set of the final cards (after upload) in our bags into the next wedding day, and another in safe keeping elsewhere. Again, this is just works best for us, and in 7 wedding seasons, we’ve never had a problem! If the shoe fits, work it!

tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography Batteries: We love Eneloops rechargeables. (and now they have pro editions that we’re going to try!) Steven is our gear guy-so he charges/preps/cleans our gear. I asked him about this, and he said that for each wedding, he pre charges roughly 6 sets for each of us, and 6 additional sets for video lighting (more on that later). If you’ll notice below, we put a piece of electric tape on our “master” flash, so that know which flash is our on camera, and which is our off camera for receptions. It just aids in making things less confusing. These little blue plastic cases are awesome and help keep things organized! We’ve found that for us, this many batteries works best, but again, however works best for you is great! You’ll notice there are some sharpie marks on some of those batteries. It’s just a way for us to know which batteries are newer then others. We keep inventory of how new our memory cards and batteries are, so that we can replace them every 12-18 months, depending on their usage. Our new office has an incredible storage closet-so the organizational side of Steven has made that 10 times easier for us when it comes time to pack our bags for wedding days!

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Holdfast money maker straps:
Since I was 16 I’ve had a not-so-great back, so finding the right camera strap to really help distribute all the camera weight on our buddies hasn’t been easy. But then we found Holdfast money maker camera straps, and that changed everything for us. I mean literally, everything. I would leave weddings with my back hurting so bad I could barely stand straight. And this past weekend, 4 weddings in a row and my back felt amazing! (and no, we aren’t endorsed by them to say that!) We really believe in their company and the quality of these straps. I’d pay so much more for them then what they cost.

Here’s a few us in action with them from this past weekend!

tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography Lastly, little trinkets that we find helpful when prepping:

Mini reflectors for details, wedding rings etc. It literally folds up into the palm of your hand! Our Apple watch is a lifesaver. Being a parent, I always want to make sure I’m available to our babysitter in case of an emergency, and my watch allows me to get notifications without always checking my phone. Alot of our photographer friends also use them to get notifications for the timeline of the day (genius) we just haven’t quite got that far with them! Cliff bars-high protein and awesome for in-between time of ceremony/dinner etc! These little lens cloths our friends at Kenmore camera sell (you can find them on Amazon!). They attach to our camera bags and are super accessible! tips for photographers, wedding photographer, seattle wedding photographer, photography tips, pro tips for photography

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Some other tips: Lay out your outfits for each wedding the night/nights before hand! On the 3rd day, it’s nice to have it all already laid out! Also, bringing extra shoes to change into at the reception to mix things up for your feet can be amazing!

OK! That’s it for now! To save our sanity, we load our cards, edit and schedule previews the night we get home, to stay on top of things (and, because it’s super exciting to see all of the images!) If you have any tips for shooting back to back weddings, we’d love to hear about it!

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Huge love to all of our couple’s for believing in us and trusting us to photograph their wedding day! Here is a fun sneak peek from each wedding this past weekend!

Lindsey and Parker’s wedding on Friday at Kiana Lodge

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Prerana and Andrew’s Nepali wedding on Saturday at Farm Kitchen

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Amanda and Jason’s destination wedding on Sunday at Skamania Lodge

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Anna and Ryan’s wedding on Monday at Treehouse Point

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