Every wedding day preparation is different and as photographers we have to deal with all sorts of situations. Some wedding preparation locations are absolutely stunning and some are less than ideal. So here are some tips on how to get better “Preparation” photos on your wedding day.
The most important factor when photographing anything is light. So when you are choosing a place to get ready, find a hotel room, apartment or house that has plenty of natural light and has lots of room. Look for places with big, large floor to ceiling windows. If you live in a tiny apartment with no light, then it’s in your best interest to find a better place, whether it’s friend or family members place or a five star hotel room. And if you are getting ready in a hotel it’s definitely worth getting your room upgraded to a suite or even penthouse. Rooms always look bigger on the hotels website and are normally only suitable for a couple… not a bride, three or more bridesmaids/groomsmen, a couple of hair and makeup artists, family members, a videographer and then two photographers.
In the country or Hunter Valley there are so many beautiful big houses that you can rent which are just perfect for preparation photos. Don’t just restrict yourself to resorts and hotels.
Hair & Makeup
Apart from light, hair and makeup is the single biggest obstacle to getting good preparation photos. With no offense intended to these wonderful professionals… a lot of them tend to run very late. And there is only so many photos you could possibly want with your hair in rollers and makeup brush in your face. That is why we suggest to brides that hair and makeup should be close to being complete by the time we arrive. Running late with hair & makeup is also one of the biggest stress factors on the day for Brides.
One thing I firmly believe is to hire a professional, not a friend to do your hair & makeup; unless of course your friend always does your hair & makeup. I have seen friends do the hair & makeup and on the day the Bride is not quite happy and they have to redo it and redo it. Everything starts to run late, everyone gets stressed and the friendship gets tested. Hire a professional, and most importantly do a trial, so everyone knows what they are getting on the day.
I’ve seen it many times where the bride (and me) need to leave to go to the ceremony and the bride is still not dressed because hair & makeup are still going. And getting into the dress always takes longer than expected. So by getting the hair and makeup finished early, we have plenty of time to get photos of you actually ‘getting ready’. Then we get some lovely photos of you in the dress, with your bridesmaids and with your family, and who knows… you might even have time for some champagne before you head off to the ceremony.
The closer you are getting ready to each other and the ceremony the better. In an ideal world it’s best that you are only a fifteen minute drive apart. We have shot weddings where the bride and groom have been an hours drive apart from each other. All this will do is force one of you to get ready much earlier than you need to and then you spend a large part of your day traveling in traffic. If you are getting ready in a city hotel a great tip from us is to choose the same hotel but choose rooms on different floors. If you’re in the country or Hunter Valley then there are so many places where there are multiple guest houses on the same property. You wont see each other because you will be running on different schedules, and we can easily run back and forth between the two of you. I have done this many times and it works great.
The better images have clean lines and less clutter in them. So to assist yourselves in getting better images try to keep your place or the place you are getting ready nice and tidy. If your house or room has clothes and mess all over the floor, then you can expect photos with clothes and mess in them. We will try to get the best angle and perspective but we won’t clean up the room or photoshop out objects as we are there to record the day. If you are getting ready in a hotel, make it easy on yourself, and ask housekeeping to clean the room and make the bed before we arrive.
Restrict the amount of family members watching you get ready. This can be a cultural thing that may be unavoidable for some people, but the reality is that the more people that are there, the less time we will have for quality photos. Family members will always want to take photos of you and then photos with you, photos of you with their baby, photos of just their family without you lol etc. And then they will want all the same photos, but now with both the Bride & Groom in it. I have done weddings with over fifty family members watching the bride getting ready and it is total chaos. I can, and will, photograph you with fifty different formations of family, but your not getting the most out of us and I still will have to get family photos when the Groom is there. So my final tip for both Bride and Groom preparation is to just have your bridal party, parents and maybe siblings there to help you get ready. Extended family can see you for the first time walking down the isle.
It really helps me greatly and speeds up the process, if you unpack your wedding clothes, accessories & jewellery and set them out nicely somewhere. Do this the night before, or in the morning, that way I don’t need to disturb you when you are getting your hair & makeup done.
So for the girls, hang your wedding dress up somewhere nice. And on a table put out your wedding jewellery, perfume, garter, an invitation and any other wedding accessories that you might have. Unpack the wedding shoes and lay them out as well. And if there is somewhere to hand all the bridesmaids dresses, then put them out as well.
For the guys, take all the suits out of their bags, and unpack all the guys shoes, cufflinks, ties, bow ties, belts, the rings etc and put them out on a table or side table somewhere.
Getting photos of the Groom with his best mates is something every wedding should do. But they will tell you it only takes them 5 mins to get dressed and the reality is that it takes guys much longer. They always take long showers, spend a long time getting their hair right, they have trouble tying a tie, have no idea on how to do a bow tie and have trouble putting a boutonnieres on. And there is always one Groomsman who forgot his shoes, belt or shirt. So it does take longer than you think. Here are some tips just for them.
- Tell your Groom what time the photographer is arriving and leaving them. It amazes me how often Grooms don’t know or aren’t given a schedule.
- Give the place a quick tidy before the photographer arrives. See the point above on “Clutter”. Often it looks like a bomb went off at the guys places as they have often had a few drinks the night before.
- Make sure all the Groomsmen are there so I can capture everyone getting ready together.
- Have showers before the photographer arrives. Big point! Because guys can take long showers and if there is only one shower and five guys then you will still be showering when I have to leave to go to the girls.
Stay Positive and Enjoy
The preparation part of the day is the one part of the day that the dreaded Bridezilla can appear. The preparation leading up to your ceremony can be stressful. You are approaching one of the biggest milestones in your life so you are bound to be nervous & excited… and for some people, stressed. Many things may have put you stressed or put you in a bad mood. You may have had a bad sleep… have a headache… you’ve been doing hair & makeup for hours… something went wrong with one of your suppliers… family are annoying you… the ceremony time is approaching and things are not moving fast enough… the list is endless.
So if you know that you are a stressful or anxious person be aware that the wedding can bring this out in you. And also be aware that your stress or mood will show in photos. That doesn’t mean you will become a Bridezilla, but it does mean you should do things to reduce your stress.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Choose positive, cheerful Bridesmaids. Do you really want someone around you who you know can be negative?
- If you parents or family stress you out, don’t let them get ready with you. They can arrive just before you are leaving.
- Finish your hair & makeup earlier than you think you need to. See point 2.
- Be prepared that something might go wrong on the day. When we got married, which was on an island in Queensland, our flowers died on the plane ride over. Our florist was stressing over it and replaced it with something slightly different instead. We really didn’t care at all and didn’t let it upset our day in the slightest. Things happen, mistake can be made, in the scheme of things its not a big deal. The only thing that matters is that the two of you are getting married.