How to have the best possible start to your wedding day… and how to get the best possible photos to remember it by!
1. DO I NEED BRIDAL PREP PHOTOS?
This is of course entirely your decision, but every bride I’ve ever spoken to about this agrees that they were so glad they did! You can’t underestimate how special those morning moments are. It’s the last chance for you to have some girl time before the excitement of the wedding, and it’s always so much fun, so getting photos of you all together sharing in those last moments as a family/group of friends is so special. Not only will it give you some really precious memories to look back on, but it also gives your partner a chance to see what happened on the morning of the wedding and to feel like part of the celebrations. Bridal prep is a really integral part of your wedding story, so getting photos of this part of the day means you get all of these special moments documented, to enjoy for years to come.
2. SET THE VIBE
What would you like the atmosphere to be like during your bridal prep? Chances are, you want to feel calm, relaxed, and happy, and just focus on having fun! One of the best things to help you create this atmosphere is music. Why not spend some time in advance creating a playlist of your favourite feel-good tunes – get your bridesmaids/family to contribute some ideas too. Music is a hugely powerful tool to change our mood and our mindset, so if you are having any last minute jitters, the music you love can really boost you and get you all feeling in the party spirit! Wear something that makes you feel comfortable but also special (new dressing gowns are a great pick!), and plan your favourite food and drink for the perfect bridal brunch (just make sure you either have a willing volunteer to prepare it, or you buy food that’s ready-prepared – the last thing you need on your wedding morning is to be in charge of the cooking!).
3. KEEP TRACK OF TIME
Who is your most organised friend/family member? Ask them if they can help you in the morning by keeping an eye on the time, and making sure you move things along where necessary. It’s important that you feel as relaxed as possible during your bridal preparations, and if you’re constantly having to clock-watch it’s no fun. Similarly, if no-one is watching the clock and you suddenly find you’ve only got 5 minutes to get your dress on and get out the house, that’s stressful too! So take the stress out of the morning completely by making sure you’ve got someone calm and organised who you can trust with that important job, so that you can just focus on getting ready, safe in the knowledge that someone will tell you as and when you need to move to the next stage of preparations. Make sure your time-keeper allows time not only for you to get ready, but also for you to have some nice photos with your bridesmaids/family members after you’re all dressed, so you can get some relaxed and happy shots of you all together in your finery!
4. PICK THE RIGHT SPACE
Choosing the right space for your bridal preparations is really important, both for getting the best out of your photos and for helping you to feel relaxed. There’s so much to think about when planning your wedding, that often this gets overlooked, and a bride might end up getting ready in a small and cluttered space. As the saying goes, “a tidy house = a tidy mind”, and it really does help if you are able to get ready in an area that is as spacious and as clutter-free as possible. Don’t worry about all of the wedding things which will inevitably be there (flowers, make-up, shoes etc), but things like children’s toys or piles of clothes can be distracting, both for you and for your photos. Clearing away as much clutter as you can (do this the night before so you don’t even have to think about it in the morning!) will ensure that your photos have a clean, clear background so that you and your preparations are the full focus of the shot, resulting in beautiful images you can cherish. It will also help you to feel calm as you’re not worrying about mess all around you – you can fully focus on enjoying yourself and getting pampered!
5. FIND THE BEST LIGHT
It’s also a great idea to think about the lighting in your space. Again, this is important both for your photos, and for you in your preparations. Natural light is a massive bonus for a photographer – it is so flattering on your face, and if you can find a spot to sit with lots of natural light your photos are going to have a soft, beautiful quality to them, and your skin will look radiant and glowing! It will also help you in your make-up preparations as the light is then evenly diffused, so you can easily see exactly how your make-up will look throughout the day. Artificial light can give you an artificial impression of how your make-up looks, making colours and tones appear brighter or slightly different in colour.
6. IGNORE ME!
Please don’t feel that you need to do anything differently once I arrive! The beauty of bridal prep photos is that they’re natural – as much as possible, I will fade into the background and just get on with doing what I do, documenting all the little moments that make your morning special. Have fun with your family and friends – laugh, cry, dance – whatever you like! Don’t feel that you need to behave any differently with me there. If I need anything specific or if I think it would be nice to get a couple of slightly more posed shots here and there then I will let you know, and of course if there’s anything particular you’d like from me or if you just want a chat then ask away! But don’t feel that you have to chat if you don’t want to, or sit in a certain way – you just do you, and that will be absolutely perfect for your photos!
7. THINK ABOUT PROPS
To make your photos that extra bit special, and to make you all feel special too, it’s a really good idea to invest in a few unique wedding morning items which will make you all feel relaxed and pampered. Personalised dressing gowns are always a nice touch (ie with “bride” or “bridesmaid” written on the back), or if you don’t want personalised ones you could just go for some nice new ones in coordinating colours which make you all feel good. You could also consider some personalised hangers for your dresses which can look really pretty in your photos.
Consider if you’d like to get your bridesmaids and your mum a little gift such as a nice necklace or bracelet they could wear on the day. Not only will this complement their outfits, it will also show them how much you care, and how grateful you are to have them there with you supporting you on your big day. Again, this is a lovely moment to document through your photos, as your bridal party open their gifts and you share some hugs and some love!
Top tip from me personally – discuss with your partner in advance if you’re planning to give each other gifts on the wedding morning! I speak from experience here… When I got married, I didn’t realise that gift giving between the 2 people actually getting married was “a thing” – so of course, on the morning of our wedding, my wife had nothing to open, whereas I was handed a massive bag of personal, beautifully thought out gifts which my wife had spent ages preparing to make my morning prep special! I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down! So it’s a good idea to have a chat about that in advance! 🙂
9. LITTLE DETAILS
You’ve probably spent many hours thinking about and preparing all the details for your big day – flowers, shoes, dress, orders of service, invitations, rings etc… All of those things go together to make your day special and beautiful. So if you can leave some of these things out for me to photograph, that’s always a good use of time in the morning. It’s a good idea to have your dress hung up somewhere with a nice background if you can, and I’ll get some shots of that before you put it on, but don’t worry if you’re not sure where would be best – I can take it and set it up somewhere as long as you’re happy with that.
10. FIRST LOOK
Often there is so much hustle and bustle by the time you’re getting your dress on, that there’s no real “wow” moment of everyone seeing it for the first time, as everyone is in the room helping you get ready, and then time is running short and you just need to get out of the house. This is where your time-keeper is crucial – making sure you have loads of time to get your dress on in a calm and relaxed way, and leaving plenty of time for you to show it off to friends and family. This is the most important dress you’ll ever wear, and it’s a really special moment when everyone sees it for the first time. So if you can, it’s nice to have as few people in the room with you as possible when you’re getting it on. If your dress has nice buttons or lace-up detailing on the back, then it can be really nice to get some shots of you having the back done up, so once you’re decent and if you’re comfortable, I can be in the room to get some shots of the top of the dress being done up at the back. Once you’re ready to show people, let me know so I can be ready to capture that moment – particularly if you want to show your Dad first, as that’s always an extra special moment when Dad sees his little girl in her wedding dress for the first time, so if I can make sure I’m in the perfect spot to capture the look in his eyes that really helps to make sure you get those special pictures to treasure forever.