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Business // Wedding Night Workflow

On the photography side of our business, we often have all the photos ready for a bride within 10 days of her wedding– sometimes as early as four days!  It’s not 100% but it is something we put a high priority on because we know it thrills our brides!

Having a precise wedding night workflow is crucial in this process.  Getting a lot done right off the bat gives us the momentum we need to get everything completed more quickly, so here’s our wedding night workflow!

Before the wedding: make sure you have enough free space on your computer to handle all the files you’ll be downloading.  Sometimes I won’t notice and my computer gets quite full (especially with huge RAW D800 files!). Transferring and backing up files can be time consuming, so planning ahead will ensure you don’t get bogged down after the wedding.

1) Gather all memory cards from the wedding, your external hard drives (or however you back up your images), and a card reader.  Typically this is late at night and if I don’t have it already prepared, then I spend way too much time gathering items throughout the night.

2) I set up a file on my computer with the bride & grooms name (ex: Jack & Jill Wedding).  Then within that file I’ll create separate folders for each card (ex: Susan RAW 1, Susan RAW 2, Josh RAW 1).

3) This step requires some multitasking.  After each card loads on my computer, I’ll start the next one.  While I’m waiting on them to load, I open up the completed files in Photo Mechanic.  If you shoot weddings & don’t have Photo Mechanic, I highly recommend it!  It’s a one time investment and saves me so much time. I use Photo Mechanic to cull through the images I want to keep, and I wrote about it here.   I used to do this in Lightroom while editing, but too many images bog down Lightroom and my little computer would nearly have a heart attack each time.  This way, I only load the images I love into Lightroom.

Step 3 is definitely the longest step, but I love getting it done the same night as the wedding.  Let’s be honest, culling is pretty much made on snap judgements.  Two or three images may be nearly exactly the same, but if it’s late at night, I’m going to pick the one that jumps out at me & move on.  If I did this during the day when I’m well rested, I’d spend way too much time on it!  If I start editing and need to go back & find a certain image that didn’t make the cut, I can always find it in the original folder.  When it comes to large group portraits, I tend to just choose all of them and then cull that in Lightroom.  That’s a personal preference, though.  I just like to keep the momentum up while in Photo Mechanic!

4) Once all the images from memory cards are saved on your computer, make sure to back them up on one (or two!) external hard drive(s).  Personally, I have two external hard drives that I save files on, and then they are also backed up online through Backblaze (which automatically updates without me having to do anything).  I choose to do two because we’ve dropped them before and broken them. So if one breaks, I have the other.  If something catastrophic happens, then I have the online back-up as well.

If you have the set up, you could do steps 3 & 4 at the same time!  I need to move to that, but need to get a different card reader to accommodate.

5) By now you have all the images saved on your computer, one or two external hard drives, they’re probably in the midst of saving online, and you’ve already culled the whole wedding!  Now that’s momentum.  At this point, I drag & drop the images from Photo Mechanic into Lightroom so that when I start to edit them, I’m able to jump right in on the editing process.

It sounds like a lot, and that’s because it is!  Prepping a wedding for the editing process takes time, but this is how I’ve managed to shorten that time as much as possible.  I hope it helps you!  Tell me, what do you do in your wedding night workflow?

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