The hours leading up to your wedding can be extremely stressful, but at the same time, those precious moments of preparation before you say "I Do," are also uniquely exciting and beautiful.
As a wedding photographer, I can honestly say, these hours of preparation leading up to the ceremony often yield some of my most favorite images of the day. Besides the fact that I think I get to work with some of the sweetest and most beautiful brides and grooms (yep, shameless plug!), I know that prepping my clients for the "Getting Ready" shots I plan to take helps immensely in giving me the opportunity to take photos I know they will love and appreciate when they look back at their Wedding Day.
Here are a few tips I share with my couples on ways you can help your wedding photographer take beautiful "Getting Ready" photos on your big day:
1) Get ready in a space that has plentiful window light: Whether you choose to get ready in a hotel room or in the bridal suite at your venue, choose a space that has a good amount of window light -- trust me, your photographer will thank you! Light is the most important factor for capturing beautiful photos -- whether it come in the form of natural light (sunlight) or artificial light (flash or video light). I happen to prefer natural light when it comes to Getting Ready portraits because it gives my images a clean, bright softness that my clients have come to love. A room with natural light coming from a large window source will also be what your makeup artist prefers to use as well. So keep this in mind when you're deciding where to prep and get dressed on your Wedding Day.
2) Clean and tidy up the area where you plan to get ready before your photographer arrives: I know on the Wedding Day the rush of getting hair and makeup done as well as making sure everyone has their dresses and the right accessories can often result in a bit of a tornado effect in the preparation room. And that's totally OK and understandable. But asking some of your bridesmaids to help tidy up the space before your photographer arrives will help your photographer move around freely in the area and also capture clean portraits without any clutter in the background.
3) Set aside the details you'd like your photographer to photograph: If you're one of those brides who's spent months carefully crafting your wedding day look, you'll definitely want your photographer to capture your beautiful details. Give your photographer a helping hand by putting aside these details so when he/she arrives, the items are easy to access and can quickly be photographed. That means doing the following:
hanging your wedding dress on a nice hanger (wire hangers do not photograph well, custom hangers are perfect as well as a clean wooden or velvet hanger)
putting aside your wedding ceremony and reception shoes
gathering your jewelry and garter
having all the rings in a box -- engagement ring and both wedding rings
a clean invitation and envelope as well as any save the dates
your bridal bouquet along with at least 1 bridesmaid bouquet
4) Have the people who are helping you put your wedding gown on (bridesmaids, mom, aunts, grandmothers, siblings) be ready and completely dressed: When it's time for you to put your wedding gown on, anyone helping you get dressed should be completely ready and dressed from head to toe. You will be picture-perfect once your wedding dress is on, and those surrounding you, should look their best too. Anyone helping you get ready on the Wedding Day should be prepared to be part of your "Getting Ready" photos and if you plan on having a wedding album, you will want them to look picture perfect too!
5) Give your photographer a good amount of time for "Getting Ready" photos: This is the most important tip -- because without time, you're not giving your photographer a chance to create the images you want. I realize that timelines can't always be stretched or changed due to venue restrictions or timeframes, but when you do have control of setting your timeline, allow your photographer ample time to work without stress or time crunches. Ideally, I like to begin shooting at least 1.5 to 2 hours before the ceremony to capture "Getting Ready" portraits. This gives me ample time to photograph details (at least 45 minutes), about 15-20 minutes for the bride to get dressed and receive any touch-ups, 15-20 minutes for bride portraits and another 15-20 minutes for the bride to take photos with her bridesmaids. If the couple plans to do a "First Look," then I like to begin shooting 2.5 to 3 hours before the ceremony begins to allow for the big reveal as well as romantic portraits. If you give your photographer time, he/she has a much better chance to deliver the images that will not only tell the story of your day, but also images inspired with creativity that you will love for years to come.
* All photos posted in this article are credited to MarieSam Sanchez Photography -- a husband and wife destination wedding photography team.
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About me: I am a former BDW Bride AKA as MarieSam and was addicted to this forum as I planned my own wedding in 2009. Since 2010, I have been the proud owner of MarieSam Sanchez Photography -- a husband and wife photography team based in Southern California and documenting love all over the world.