Can we talk about one of my favorite parts of the wedding day?!
I love photographing couples as they get ready! There’s so much excitement and anticipation, and all the emotion and details really set the stage for the entire day. If you haven’t yet, read this post about planning your wedding day timeline, then pop back over here. After a little bit of planning, I know you’ll be as excited about these photos as I am!
First off, I recommend 60-90 minutes built into your timeline for getting ready photography. We’ll spend about 20 minutes capturing details shots (the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the invitation suite, hand written vows, cufflinks, the bouquets if they’re there, anything and everything!), and the remainder of the time capturing candids. It’s my job to style everything to perfection and find the perfect angles and lighting while I document the preparations, but there’s lots of things you can do to help. Let’s break it down:
1. Choose the perfect location
You obviously put a lot of thought into choosing the perfect location for your ceremony, and the perfect venue for your wedding; where you get ready is almost as important! The ceremony site may be most convenient, but do you really love their getting ready space? Is there ample natural light for these once-in-a-lifetime photos? Clean and modern hotels are often a safe bet, or there are tons of AirBnB and vacation rentals all over the island. Bright, light/white, airy spaces are your friend, and the more natural light the better! If you choose a hotel, and you can spring for a suite, go for it- larger spaces give us much more room to work with. I understand convenience plays a big factor, and I do my best to make any space look beautiful, but these are things to think about as you plan where you’ll step into that gorgeous gown on your wedding day.
2. Keep it clutter free
I know this is tough. A flurry of bridesmaids arrive and all of the sudden there’s hairspray, Starbucks cups, and Hollywood Fashion Tape everywhere. If possible, politely ask your girls to keep all of their belongings in one consolidated area. If it’s a hotel, perhaps by the TV (which most likely won’t be the backdrop of our photos), the wall furthest from the windows, the bathroom, or a closet. The first things we do when we arrive on the wedding day is determine the best spot for the bride to get dressed and I’ll have my assistant clean up and move clutter, if needed. If things are already organized, we can get started with capturing your photos right away, saving time.
3. Organize all of your accessories/details
After assessing the situation and straightening up, the next thing we’ll do is ask for your accessories. You’ll most likely have a box for your shoes, so as you’re packing for your overnight stay, consider adding your wedding day jewelry, a copy of your invitation suite including the outer envelopes and any stamps/calligraphy, and any other details you’d like photographed. If not in your shoe box, it’s helpful if things are together or laid out on a dresser so we don’t have to track them down. As far as the rings, we understand that sometimes the best man will have the wedding rings, while the bride will be wearing her engagement ring. If this is the case, no big deal; we’ll captured those precious rings later in the day.
4. Think about what you’re wearing before the dress
I know yoga pants and lounge wear are comfortable, but it doesn’t make for the best photos. It may feel a bit bridezilla-esque to dictate what your ladies will wear in the morning, but it will affect your photos, as we want to capture lots of candid shots. Lately, we’ve seen lots of pretty robes which make for more uniform photos. I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to the bride, and many of these ideas have coordinating bridesmaids options. At the very least consider requesting your girls wear solid, natural colors (i.e.- no fluorescent Lululemon). If necessary, I’ll choose black & white film for a classic look that minimizes distractions.
5. Plan to have anyone who is helping you dress, dress before you.
Even though bridesmaids and mothers will likely start photos after the bride, I still recommend having them dress first. It makes for much prettier photos if the other ladies are dressed before you slip into your gown.
Sarah got dressed on a large balcony at her venue. There’s nothing better than natural light all around us for lots of perfect film photos!
Lauren prepped for her wedding day at her parents’ home. In fact, she stepped into her dress in her childhood bedroom which has a huge picture window! I love the classic and timeless look of black and white film.
Sophie got ready at home! She and her husband had just purchased the house weeks before their wedding, so I utilized an empty bedroom for a bright, clean space:
Nancy and her husband eloped on the beautiful island of Capri in Italy. They stayed in a huge, gorgeous suite at the best hotel on the island, so Nancy had the perfect spot to get dressed. She managed to dress alone (with a bit of help from me!); meanwhile, we relegated the groom to my hotel room.
Andrew prepped at his hotel in downtown Chicago with a little help from his best man:
Bridget and Mike both got ready in separate rooms of the same home. I chose the brightest rooms in the house for photographs and made sure the bride and groom didn’t cross paths.
Jenna & Chris were married at the Enchanted Barn in Wisconsin. While Jenna prepped in the bridal suite, the lower level of the barn was a bit dark, so I asked Chris to step outside to tie his tie and shoes:
Bright hotel suites make for perfect getting ready spots. Kirsten kept it simple and had her sister/maid of honor help with the final touches:
Ana prepped at her hotel suite in upstate New York. Again, I love the classic look of black & white film:
The Pierre on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was the perfect spot for Susan & Jon. They had a lavish multi-room suite with an enormous balcony (quite a rarity in NYC!). There were endless rooms and backdrops for pretty photos:
Ladies, if you’re going to wear a tank, please consider the appropriate undergarments. Bright or dark bra straps are quite a distraction, but Susan looked flawless:
There you have it! After over a decade of shooting hundreds and hundreds of weddings, these are some of my top tips for flawless getting ready photos! Have questions? Feel free to reach out or slide into my DMs on Insta!