Getting ready is an important part of your wedding day. Think of it as a pre-game event. There are certain things that have to happen during “getting ready” that can set your wedding up for success. There is hair and makeup to be done, getting into your wedding-day attires (dresses and tuxes), pre-ceremony photos, and depending on your cultural background, there are pre-wedding rituals and celebrations. I photographed a "getting ready" portion of a wedding once where the whole groom's side of the family showed up and partied complete with dancing and drinking before going to the church! Needless to say, if you are getting your photographer to document this part of the day, there are certain things you can do to make you get the most out of your "getting-ready" photos.
1. Pick a location (or a room) that reflects your theme and style.
Often, when brides choose a room to get-ready in, it is often the room that is most convenient for everyone: often the living room or the kitchen area. These are not bad rooms to get ready in, but when choosing which room to use, think about how it would look in your photos. Are the curtain patterns distracting? Do the wall colors give of a rustic vibe, as opposed to a modern mood that you want to project? Are you going to be surrounded by kitchen appliances or mundane furniture? Photographers are typically experienced at working around these types of situations to deliver photos that suit your style, but being mindful of the elements of the room will help us capture many more great moments.
2. Keep the room clean.
When you get ready in one room with 5 to 10 other people, including vendors walking in and out, it will inevitably get messy! I highly recommend that the room you choose be cleaned of clutter – move things like shoes, plastic bags, food, etc. in one corner of the room if possible. If you are getting ready in a hotel suite, ask the cleaning staff to reset the room. If it is at your home, solicit the help of your maid of honors to tidy up a bit. As a photographer, I don’t mind moving things around to set up a good shot, but the more time spent cleaning means less time taking photos!
3. Gather all the wedding items in one area.
I usually start the getting ready photos by photographing the wedding details. We are talking about the shoes, wedding rings, bouquets, ties, wedding dress, etc. - you get the idea. We like to take photos of these items because they help tie your wedding photos in a coherent manner. These items are tiny, but important in symbolizing aspects of your wedding day! In talks with my couples a few days before their wedding, I usually recommend that they gather all the wedding items they want photographed and put them in one location. This will help immensely in keeping us on schedule, especially if we are not running around looking for the items or waiting for one of the bridesmaids to gather them for us. If the groom's side is not going to have "getting ready" photos take, have the wedding bands with the ladies before the ceremony, that way wedding ring shots can be taken.
4. Don't forget about the guys!
Photography coverage, especially in weddings, can be sometimes be lopsided. Understandably, a lot of attention is paid to the bride. This usually means the photographer covers only her and her bridesmaids getting ready. As a photographer, my main goal is to capture and tell the whole story of the wedding day, and that means also covering what going on while guys are getting ready! The prep photos for the groom and his groomsmen are usually not as involved as bride's side, but we still want to capture certain moments, like mom pinning the buttoner, the groomsmen toasting or taking a shot and just having fun. Having a photographer with the guys not only gives us a chance to take portraits of the groom and the guys, it also allows helps with getting them comfortable with having a camera in front of their faces. This will prevent awkwardness later on!
5. Relax! Have some food and drinks!
Getting ready can last a long time, especially for the bride's side who has to endure hours of make-up and hair! A 3pm wedding can mean having a 9am start-time for getting ready. And if your makeup and hair artist have multiple bookings that day, it can start even earlier! So, it is absolutely important that you be relaxed and well-fed during this time! Take this opportunity to enjoy your last few hours of single-hood. Cherish the moments you have with the people you have chosen to celebrate your wedding day, especially you bridal party. A little alcohol definitely help.
Choose a room that has lot of natural sunlight – lots of nations light always helps!