Getting Ready – How to get the best photographs on your wedding day – Advice from a Professional Photographer

This is the first in a series of posts that I’m writing with advice on how to get the best photographs on your wedding day from the perspective of a professional wedding photographer. With eight years as a full-time wedding photographer and over 150 weddings photographed, I’ve seen a lot of what works well and what doesn’t work so well. I’d love to offer you the knowledge of my experience, so that your wedding is full of “works well” experiences and not so many “doesn’t work so well” experiences. Each post will explore tips for each portion of the wedding day. Today’s article is advice on how to get the best images from the preparation portion of your wedding day. Future articles will explore other portions of the day such as: first sight, portraits, ceremony, reception, dance, grand send off, and others.


Getting Ready Tips

  • Be sure to allow enough time for this portion of the day. So many great moments happen during this time of the day. Try to allow an hour and a half to two hours for details, champagne, gifts, dressing, and the last portion (about 20 minutes) for a nice bridal portrait.
  • Consider the room where you will be getting ready. Getting ready is a major portion of your wedding day so take time to consider where you’ll be getting ready. Most church’s “bridal rooms” or “getting ready rooms” main job is something else, like a nursery or Sunday school room, and they don’t provide a very elegant setting for your preparations. If your wedding is at a resort consider splurging for a large suite or cabin to provide more space. Other options are a parents home, a nearby boutique hotel, etc.
  • Look for lots of light. All of our lives we gotten ready in bedrooms and bathrooms but these rooms are usually smaller and darker than is ideal. Instead, get your makeup and hair done in the room with the largest windows and the most light and if modesty allows get dressed in this area as well.
  • Tidiness. There will be so many items and things involved in your getting ready that your preparation space can (and will) get cluttered very quickly with luggage, shopping bags, drink containers, etc. Have a person in charge of clearing the space and keeping it clear, not over zealous, but clean.
  • Hangers and mirrors. If you’re going to get ready in the room with the most light, many times this room will not have a mirror so bring one with you. A full length stand mirror would be ideal, but even a nice hand mirror will suffice. Also, be sure to have a nice hanger for images of the gown you love so much.
  • Get ready last. It goes against our common thinking for the bride to get ready last but would you rather have your attendants helping you get ready in their PJ’s with no makeup and a pony or in their dresses with makeup and their hair done? One of the most common comments I hear from bridesmaids and mothers during the getting ready portion of the day is “I don’t want to be in any pictures looking like this,” referring to their lack of makeup and unfinished hair.
  • Be punctual: not late, but not early either. I love hair and makeup artists’ pursuit of perfection, but sometime (just sometimes) it can throw a wrench into the schedule. On the other hand don’t let your excitement get away from you and be completely dressed when I arrive even though we planned for coverage of you getting ready. You’ll miss the details and excitement of you getting ready in your images.
  • Love your hair and makeup. Do your research and find somebody that you love and do a trial run to work out the kinks and details ahead of time.
  • Relax and enjoy. After you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, have champagne or a mimosa (in glass or crystal not in a Dixie cup as this is a great photo op) and allow enough time that you’re not rushed.
  • Roll with it. It is inevitable that something will not be exactly as planned. Always keep in mind that it is your wedding day and this little bump (whatever it may be) is tiny in the grand scheme of things. Be happy and enjoy.