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The Wedding Night Workflow (The Secret to Getting Things Done Quickly)

The Wedding Night Photography Workflow
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The Wedding Night Photography Workflow

Have you ever noticed that when you’re about to go on vacation, you seem to get more done in one day that you have the entire week before hand? This happens to me all the time, and I know it’s because I’m laser focused to get through my to-do list without distractions like social media or texting or the attempt of multi-tasking holding me back.  Since making this realization, I’ve tried to figure out ways to create that same sense of urgency throughout my photography workflow so that I can stay focused and get everything done quickly!

One of the ways I do this is through my wedding night workflow! In 2017, I started completing my photography workflow before I even left the wedding. I remember it was one of my first weddings of the year. Since all the portraits were done before the ceremony, the couple was able to attend their entire cocktail hour.  Most of my couples don’t request cocktail hour coverage, but if they do, my second shooter can usually go around and handle all the candids and group pictures herself. So during that hour, I took the time to begin my photography workflow, and then I found pockets of time throughout the night to continue working on images.

Here is the rundown…

  • During cocktail hour, as soon as I’m done photographing the reception details, I take all my memory cards and my second shooter’s memory cards up to that point of the day (and then we swap out to fresh cards).
  • I load all our memory cards into PhotoMechanic and back them up on my external hard drive
  • I begin culling all of the Round 1 images
  • I get through this chunk of the day before guests even come into the reception room!

I can get through about one image per second, so in an hours time, I have 3,600 seconds to get through the images that we’ve taken up to that point of the day. This is usually around 2500-3000, which gives me enough time to eat and drink my Shirley Temple (drink of choice at weddings!) while my second shooter is capturing group shots and candids at the cocktail hour.

  • During this time, I might also grab 20-30 images for a same day slideshow and do a quick edit on those and surprise the couple during their reception with a super quick sneak peak!

Then, during dinner, since there is usually nothing to photograph during this time, I’ll load cards while we eat, and then my second shooter and I will take turns photographing the dance floor! There are often times that the two of us don’t need to be out there (especially during large dance sets, because there’s only so many reception pictures one person needs!)

I continue culling cards, and then I’ll hop back to the dance floor when I get through one or two.  I load in my second shooter’s last and final memory card about 15 minutes before he/she is scheduled to leave. I’ll usually finish the cull of these final images once I’m home, or the next morning.

There have been many instances that I’ve been done culling the images before I even leave the wedding and I can credit this to two things:

  • The urgency of getting through all the images without distraction, before guests enter the room or before I’m needed to shoot something again, makes me laser focused and work quickly.
  • Since the images are SO FRESH in my mind, it’s way faster to cull than if I wait a few days. Since I look at the images on the back of my camera as I take them, I already know what’s worth keeping, what section was used for test shots, what dance shots were the best, and so on.

Beginning my photography workflow at the wedding has made the week following my weddings so much more enjoyable! When I’m able to complete all the culling before I’ve left for the night, it frees me up to simply do my round 2-4 cull and edit for the blog before sending it off to my editor! It speeds up the entire process and I sleep well knowing that all my couples images are taken care of and backed up.

Once I get home from the wedding, I will backup my external hard drive onto my DROBO, and then I’m off to bed!

It’s so simple, but it works incredibly well, and frees up so much time in my week! (Especially because I usually get very distracted when I’m culling because it’s such a repetitive task that I don’t like!) I highly recommend you try this at your next wedding, and then pop in here or on Facebook and let me know how it goes!!

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  1. Anna says:

    So crazy that your couples don’t request cocktail hour coverage! That’s busy time for me – it’s when couples want the most photos with their guests and the party has finally started! Wish I could implement this system but I swear I never have a spare second on a wedding day to eat let alone cull!

    • lneff says:

      Haha yeah I honestly think it varies based on where you live! It’s never really requested by my couples. But if so, I know my second shooter can handle it!!

  2. Kayla Illies says:

    This is an incredible idea!!!! I might have to try this for my next wedding! Having them culled and backed up that same night before you leave would free up so much time during the following week!

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