In the hours leading up to the ceremony, the bride prepares herself for her big day. The bride is surrounded by her closest friends, her bridesmaids or maybe even a male friend as her Man of Honour. The bride’s mum is also usually present with dad arriving a little later in the preparation timeline to see his daughter for the first time in her wedding gown.
Don’t discount this time as not important for photos, as some of the most heartfelt moments can happen in the lead up to the ceremony.
The start of a bride’s wedding day is full of emotions – excitement, nerves, anxious, happiness and love all rolled into one. It can be the most stressful part of the day, but from experience, I have found the biggest cause of the stress is usually due to not allowing sufficient time.
Even with good intentions and the best laid out plans for your morning, things go wrong, Ive seen it happen to often. It just takes the hair & makeup people to run behind or the bridesmaids scurrying to gather the things they need for the day ahead, before you are running behind. Then there is no time for photos with the bride to enjoy being in her beautiful wedding dress before the craziness of the day hits.
Good planning it about allowing time to enjoy each part of the day.
When it comes to organising your hair & makeup teams, its advised to talk with your photographer to find out time how long your photographer needs to capture photos of you getting in your bridal gown, putting on shoes and jewellry, giving gifts to your bridesmaids, reading a love letter from your soon-to-be husband, and portraits with your family members and the bridesmaids before leaving for the ceremony. Your photographer will provide you with a time that your hair & makeup need to be finished, just simply pass that information on to your hair & makeup people.
While I like to photograph in a more natural way without staging moments, good planning allows these natural moments to unfold with the least amount of stress.
I typically like to allow 1.5 – 2 hours for bridal preparation photos.
This allows time for :
- candid photos of the bride and bridesmaid having the final steps of hair & makeup applied
- fun photos in their matching robes/pjs
- the bride’s details
- the bride getting dressed in her gown, veil and her jewellery
- the bride’s father seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding gown, and
- portraits with the family and bridesmaids
For the portraits, where possible, I like to take them outdoors into a nice garden area (or alternatively the hotel foyer if no garden area is available) for the portraits as it makes for a nicer backdrop than the small space of a hotel room with a TV and kitchen in the background, but this is where we need to allocate more like the 2 hours for bride preparation photos.
Bride Preparation Photos
The bride preparation photos generally start with me photographing the bride’s details, everything from the bridal gown on the hanger, the bride’s shoes and jewellery, bouquets, wedding invitations, and any items that represent ‘something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue‘.
Bridal suites can tend to get a bit messy with the bride, bridesmaids, and Mother-of-the-Bride getting ready in one space, and then add on the hair and makeup people with their equipment, so if you can please dedicate a room or space for the details to be photographed, it would be greatly appreciated. Also if you can leave all the details laid out in the allocated space – ie. the shoes, any jewellry, etc that the bride is wearing. Don’t worry about the dress or flowers, leave the dress hanging in the most suitable place out of view as I can carefully move the dress as required. Also keep the bouquets in the containers the florist has supplied them in and again I will remove them as required.
Once the girls are in the final stages of hair and makeup being applied, I will of course grab photos of that happening, but we only need a few good ones. During a pre-wedding planning session, I will let my brides know what time their hair & makeup need to be finished by so they can let their hair & makeup people know, to allow time for the rest of the bride getting ready photos and portraits.
Once out of hair and makeup, some candid photos of the bride with her bridesmaids in their matching robes or pyjamas, and maybe a celebratory glass of champagne to settle the nerves.
After the bridesmaids get dressed, it’s time for the bride to get in her wedding gown. Once the bride has pulled on her gown and is decent, all the bridesmaids gather around her to lace or button up the gown and fuss over how beautiful she is. As the bride’s dad gets the honour of ‘giving her away’, I like to find a specific role for the bride’s mum. Putting on the veil is a great photo opportunity for the bride and her mum to have a special quiet moment together as the bride prepares for her big day. Then the Maid/Matron of Honour will help the bride with her earrings/jewellery. Then all the bridesmaids are in for the ‘shoe shot’, but I also like to get a shot of just the bride putting on her shoes, all these style of photos make for great page spreads in the wedding album.
One of the most exciting parts of photographing the bride preparations, is watching the bride’s expression as she sees her reflection in the mirror for the first time dressed as a bride. It’s at that moment it all becomes very real, and that the day has finally arrived when she is about to marry her soulmate. This is an opportune time to slow everything down and create a moment for the Father-of-the-Bride to walk in the room and see his little girl as she is about to embark on the next chapter of her life as a married woman.
Before we start the portraits, it’s usually a luxury to have time for this, but it’s the perfect time to allocate some time for the bride and bridesmaids to relax and enjoy some moments together, maybe over another glass of champagne to settle the nerves! Probably what I see most often happening at this stage of the day, all the girls scrambling around the room gathering up all the things they need for the day and evening ahead. But I urge you to take this time to be together. Typically the girls will have 20-30 minutes after the photographer leaves and between the time they leave for the ceremony – that is the time for the girls to do any last minute touch-ups and gather up any belongings they need to take with them.
Then it’s time for the portraits. Portraits include :
- Bride with the Bridesmaids
- Bride with the Matron/Maid of Honour
- Bride with each individual Bridesmaid
- Bride with the Flower Girls (if required)
- Bride with Mum
- Bride with Dad
- Bride with Parents
- Bride with any other family members present.
Out of the portraits, I prefer to do the family portraits with mum and dad first, as often mum has to leave earlier to get to the ceremony.
Then it’s time for me to head to the ceremony.