How to get the best bride prep photographs on your wedding morning

Based on our experience of shooting over 150 weddings, this guide for our brides-to-be brings our best tips for how to get the best bride prep photographs on the morning of your wedding.

7 tips for the best bride prep photos

  1. Give some thought to location: Getting ready at home, your venue or somewhere else?
  2. Think about clutter and having a ‘clear’ room
  3. Gather all your details in a shoebox for flat lay shots
  4. Don’t open your gifts and cards without me!
  5. Have a clear timeline with your hair and make-up artists & your bridal party
  6. Enjoy your bridal portraits
  7. Schedule extra time for a first look

Give some thought to location: Getting ready at home, your venue or somewhere else?

If your venue has a getting ready space we would always encourage you to use it (obviously!). This means there is zero stress about traffic and gives you that little bit of extra time to get ready! If your venue doesn’t have a getting ready space, getting ready at home can be a lovely idea and create photos that are personal to you and your partner. The drawbacks to getting ready at home might be space and light. Consider whether there would be plenty of room for you and all of your bridal party to get ready. If detail shots are important, is there a space with good light where I could hang your dress? If you aren’t sure whether your home is suitable for getting ready, another alternative is to hire an air BnB or Vrbo. If you have room in your budget to find a property with plenty of space for all your bridesmaids to get ready and lots of good light, this can really elevate your getting ready photos.

Check out Hannah & Nick’s gallery from their Grangefields wedding, where Hannah chose to get ready at the most gorgeous Vrbo property in nearby Ashbourne.

Think about clutter and having a ‘clear’ room

One of the biggest challenges to me as a wedding photographer on the morning of a wedding is clutter! It can be so hard to keep a space tidy when there are so many people getting ready in one space. This isn’t so important for the candid shots I take during the morning but it can make formal portraits a bit more tricky. My tip for dealing with this is to think about having a spare and clear room where you could hang your dress, get into your dress and have your final bridal portrait photos. This would ideally be a room which is clear of clutter, with good natural light which is kept out of bounds on the wedding morning. Even better if it has space by a window where you could feasibly stand with your dress and train laid out for a full length portrait. This room would also be great for any first looks you want to have with any of your special people. Obviously, we appreciate that this might not be an option if you’re getting ready at home or if your venue has a small getting ready space. We can make any location work, but these tips are here to help you plan for the best possible photos! Lighting is everything, natural light offers the most beautiful bridal portraits. For this reason, I often ask my brides to pose in front of a window in their getting ready space. I will often turn off any artificial lights in the room to keep the light clean and free of any yellowy tones.

Gather all of your details in a shoebox for flat lay shots

One of the first things I would do when I arrive at bride prep is to ask for your details so that I can get started taking some flat lay arrangements of your shoes, flowers, invitations, perfume and the rings. It’s super helpful if these are already gathered in a shoebox when I arrive as I can get straight into shooting them and make the most of the time we have before moving onto the all important candid getting ready shots.

Don’t open your gifts & cards without me!

Opening gifts and reading the card your partner has written on the day of your wedding can be incredibly emotional and makes for very special photographs. We always encourage our couples to make sure they wait for us to be present before opening these special gifts. This means that through the photographs your partner can actually see your reaction as you open their gift and read their words to you. This part of the morning creates some of my favourite photos of bride prep.

Have a clear timeline with your hair and make-up artists & bridesmaids

Speak with your hair and make-up artists and arrange it so that you are ready ideally 20 minutes before you are due to set off for the ceremony. If you are getting ready at your venue, allow 15 minutes before your registrars are due (they usually pop in to you about 15 minutes before the ceremony start time).

Often timings can go awry on a wedding morning and while your hair and make-up artists will manage this to keep you on time it can also be super helpful to prep your bridal party before the big day so they understand the impact that running late can have on your timeline. This is where it really pays to have a plan for getting ready and to know beforehand what time your bridesmaids will get into their dresses and what time you will be getting into yours. Make sure you know how long it takes for your bridesmaids to get into their dresses (this can take a little longer if they’re wearing multiway dresses) and that you know how long it will take to get into yours. Your bridesmaids should be ready before you are, so when they are helping do up the back of your dress or tying your shoes for you, they are dressed for the photos and also so they can concentrate on you without distraction, of course!

Getting into your dress

I will normally step outside while you get into your dress, and will ask you to let me know when you are just having the back of the dress done up. I will normally have you stand by facing a window so there is natural light on your face and will ask your mum or bridesmaid to help you put on your jewellery and shoes. Then we have some final shots of you putting on your earrings and a last dab of perfume. At this point, your hairdresser might then step in to help put in your veil. Then we will grab your bouquet (remember to get them out of water and the stems dried off before you hold them) and then we’re ready for your final bridal portraits!

Sparth House Wedding

Enjoy your bridal portraits

Try not to rush through your bridal portraits, remember these photos have potential to be heirlooms! These few minutes before you head out to the ceremony are the last few moments of calm and anticipation as you prepare to marry your partner! Drink them in! Use that moment to take a breath, and allow yourself to feel the excitement as you think about what you’re about to do next….!

Schedule extra time for a first look

Depending on what’s important to you, you might want to make some extra space in your timeline for a first look with your bridesmaids or a first look with your dad or mum. You might want to make time for portraits with parents, siblings, your maid of honour and group shot of all of your bridesmaids. I like to make sure we have your bridal portraits done and then have the first look after bridal portraits. Whatever is important to you, make sure you have built in time before you leave for the ceremony/before the registrar arrives to get them done and not be rushed. I recommend scheduling an extra 5 minutes for a first look and an additional 10 minutes to have portraits with parents and bridesmaids individually.

I really hope you’ve found this run down helpful and that it’s given you some ideas to help you plan for success on your wedding morning! Also be sure to take a look at Joanne & James’ Oddfellows on the Park Wedding for an example of a beautiful getting ready space.

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    Cheshire Wedding Photographers

    Altrincham, Cheshire

    m: 07854017135

    e: natalie@natalierawdingphotography.com