Here are some important wedding photography tips for what are usually the very first photographs taken on the wedding day, Bridal Preparation. This early part of the day is when the photographer captures the bride getting ready, candids of friends and family, the personal details of the Bride, and the formal family and bridesmaid pictures.
1) Hair & Makeup – Any photographer will strongly suggest professional hairstyling and makeup application, with a trial done prior to your wedding. Since there is not time for a “do-over” on your wedding day, a trial is vital! Additionally, having a pro do your hair and makeup takes the stress off of you on your wedding day, and can keep you on schedule. If you don’t normally wear a lot of makeup, a trial is a perfect way to refine your wedding day look. When using an experienced professional, (like Chicago Spa Parties) they are trained to understand the difference between everyday hair and makeup, and what is appropriate for being in front of the camera. One of my big pet peeves is glitter! No one in the wedding party should wear any glitter or shimmery lotion/powder/hairspray whatsoever! The reason why is that those flakes of glitter capture and reflect the flash the photographer uses, and make distracting specular highlights that will need to be retouched (or risk looking like dandruff!) Ladies, this is wedding, not a night out at the club!
For the best use of your photographers time, they do not need to be there to cover all hair and makeup prep. Most women do not want their picture taken without makeup, or with their hair in various stages of disarray. Additionally most of these types of photographs would never be displayed or put into an album anyway. Ideal coverage for your wedding album is to capture some finishing touches of the bride’s makeup (powder/lipstick application) and putting on her veil, if she has one.
2) Communication – Make a timeline of the day, which includes locations, times and any appointments scheduled for each person in the wedding party. You many also want to review with everyone what the photographer will be focusing on during this coverage, as well as their style and approach. Let your family and bridesmaids know that your photographer will be taking detail shots and moving your dress, etc. If candids are important to you, tell them to ignore the photographer, and act naturally—they don’t need to turn and smile every time they see the camera. I’ve had many mothers of the bride who are unaware of modern wedding photography, and were confused by all the time spent on detail shots or the desire for candids, not to mention people freaking out when I touch the dress, so please educate them! Let your family members and bridesmaids know exactly when they are expected for formal photographs, and that they need to be dressed, with hair and makeup complete, prior to this time. Their flowers will also need to be ready and appropriately attached (i.e. Dad’s boutonniere, Mom’s corsage, and the bridesmaid’s flowers.)
3) Location – Do you have enough room at the location where this shoot will take place? If you have 10 bridesmaids, and are thinking your parent’s two-bedroom Chicago bungalow will hold all those people…think again! Having adequate room is essential to a good bridal preparation photographs. You’ll need somewhere for everyone to change clothes; space for hair & makeup professionals to work their magic; room for your photographer(s) to move around as well clean and tidy areas for them to photograph the bride’s dress and details; and somewhere for the bride to get dressed that is free of clutter, which has enough room to accommodate her dress. Finally there should also be a tastefully decorated, somewhat neutral indoor location to take formal portraits, which can also accommodate all of your bridesmaids (especially if the weather becomes inclement.)
4) The Bride’s ensemble – Making sure your dress is prepared prior to the photographer’s arrival is essential to getting great images of the gown. Additionally, it is crucial to have a place to display the dress that is free of clutter and distractions (a window, doorway or bed work nicely—but make sure the bed is made.)
–Take the dress out of the bag, and take the train down. Inspect for any obvious wrinkles or creases that should be steamed out (this goes for bridesmaid’s dresses too.)
–Take out all the extraneous stuffing in the dress, and cut off the tags. Place it on a cute hanger
–Make sure your photographer knows if there are any specific design elements or details that go specifically with the dress (like a belt, shrug or brooch) so they can photograph the dress in a way that reflects how it will look on you, as closely as possible
–As for the additional details, make sure they are ready to go in one location that is in close proximity to the dress. You may choose to include: shoes, garters, jewelry, wedding & engagement rings, wedding invitation, and any other special keepsakes, like a handkerchief. The bouquets should be there too!
5) Getting in the Dress – Please, please, please do a trial run of getting into your wedding dress before the big day! Doing so has multiple benefits: you can verify that your chosen undergarments “work” properly with your dress; you can track the amount of time it takes you to get dressed, so you can schedule your day and photographer accordingly; it will be good practice for whomever helps you get dressed the day of the wedding, and alert you to any issues that may arise (like negotiating all those tiny buttons on the back of your dress with fake nails; the question…do I put the slip on before or after the dress; or, does the dress go over my head, or do I step into it?) If possible, the people who will help you get dressed should come with you to your last fitting, to receive clear instruction on getting into the dress, as well has how to bustle it. A dress’s bustle can be the most challenging part of the wedding gown, so more than one person should see how it is done, and ask your seamstress for written directions if at all possible. Finally, each person that will helping you get dressed should already have their hair and makeup complete and be dressed for the day, so they look their best in the photographs of you getting into your dress.
6) Time – Allowing for plenty of time for your photographer to cover all the important events at the beginning of your day is extremely important. It will keep stress levels down, and help keep you on schedule all day long. Here are some suggested times for various portions of this shoot:
–Details (usually done first so the bride may get dressed as soon as she is ready:) 30 minutes
–Bride dressing: 30 minutes (or more if it takes longer during your trial)
–Formals with family and bridesmaids: 45 minutes (add additional time if you have a large family or group of bridesmaids)
I would love to hear any questions or comments from my readers! If there is anything additional you would like to suggest, feel free to share with everyone in the comments. Happy (photography) planning!