Can we talk a bit about one of my favorites part of the wedding day?!
I love documenting couples as they get ready for their big day! There’s so much excitement and anticipation and all the emotion and details really set the stage for the entire day. Hopefully, you’ve already read this post about planning your wedding day timeline, and you’re excited for these photographs too!
I recommend 60-90 minutes for getting ready photography. We’ll spend about 20 minutes capturing details shots (the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the invitation suite, hand written vows, cufflinks, the bouquets if they’re there, anything and everything!), and the remainder of the time capturing candids. It’s my job to style everything to perfection and find the perfect angles and lighting while I document the preparations, but there’s lots of things you can do to help. Let’s break it down:
1. Choose the perfect location
Obviously, you put a lot of thought into your ceremony and reception venues; I urge you to put a bit of thought into the getting ready locations as well! The church basement may be convenient, but the drawings by pre-schoolers adorning the walls don’t make the best backdrop for once-in-a-lifetime photos. Clean and modern hotels are often a safe bet, or for even more personal meaning, a private home. Bright, light/white, airy spaces are your friend, and the more natural light the better! If you choose a hotel, and you can spring for a suite, go for it- larger spaces give us much more room to work with. I understand convenience plays a big factor, and I do my best to make any space look beautiful, but these are things to think about as you plan where you’ll step into that gorgeous gown on your wedding day.
2. Keep it clutter free
I know this is tough. A flurry of 8 bridesmaids storm in and all of the sudden there’s hairspray, clutches, Starbucks cups, and Hollywood Fashion Tape everywhere. If possible, politely ask your girls to keep all of their belongings in one consolidated area. If it’s a hotel, perhaps by the TV (which most likely won’t be the backdrop of our photos), the wall furthest from the windows, the bathroom, or a closet. The first things we do when we arrive on the wedding day is determine the best spot for the bride to get dressed and I’ll have my assistant clean up and move clutter with your permission, if needed. If things are already organized, we can get started with capturing your photos right away, saving time.
3. Organize all of your accessories/details
After assessing the situation and straightening up, if necessary, the next thing we’ll do is ask you where your accessories are. You’ll most likely have a box for your shoes, so as you’re packing for your hotel stay, consider adding your wedding day jewelry, a copy of your invitation suite including the outer envelopes and any stamps/calligraphy, and any other details you’d like photographed on your wedding morning. If not in your shoe box, it’s helpful if things are together or laid out on a dresser so we don’t have to track things down. As far as the rings, we understand that sometimes the best man will have the wedding rings, while the bride will be wearing her engagement ring. If this is the case, no big deal; we’ll captured those precious rings later in the day.
4. Think about what you’re wearing before the dress
I know old yoga pants and neon gym wear is comfortable, but it doesn’t make for the best photos. It may feel a bit bridezilla-esque to dictate what your ladies will wear in the morning, but it will affect your photos. Lately, we’ve seen lots of pretty robes which makes for more uniform photos. At the very least consider requesting your girls wear solid, natural colors (i.e.- no fluorescent Lululemon). If necessary, I’ll choose black & white film for a classic look that minimizes distractions.
5. Plan to have anyone who is helping you dress, dress before you.
Even though bridesmaids and mothers will likely start photos after the bride, I still recommend having them dress first. It makes for much prettier photos if the other ladies are dressed before you slip into your gown.
Sarah got dressed on a large balcony at her venue. There’s nothing better than natural light all around us for lots of perfect film photos!
Lauren prepped for her wedding day at her parents’ home in St Paul. In fact, she stepped into her dress in her childhood bedroom which has a huge picture window!
Sarah got ready at her Dad’s home, where the tented reception would be held in Sunfish Lake, MN. The dining room was an unlikely choice for the exact dressing spot, but the bright white walls and huge bay window were perfect:
Bonus points for venues/homes/hotels with huge picture windows, like the Calhoun Beach Club. Perfect for hanging that gown:
Sophie dressed at her home near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. Her and her husband had actually just purchased the house weeks before their wedding, so I utilized an empty bedroom for a bright, clean space:
Nancy and her husband eloped on the beautiful island of Capri in Italy. They stayed in a huge, gorgeous suite at the best hotel on the island, so Nancy had the perfect spot to get dressed. She managed to dress alone (with a bit of help from me!); meanwhile, we relegated the groom to my hotel room!
Don’t forget about the groom! Before Nancy dressed, I snuck in a few photos of her groom, Seth, prepping for the day:
Andrew prepped at his hotel in downtown Chicago with a little help from his best man:
Bridget and Mike both got ready in separate rooms of her parent’s colonial home in Edina, MN. I chose the brightest rooms in the house for photographs and made sure the bride and groom didn’t cross paths.
Jenna & Chris were married at the Enchanted Barn in Hillsdale, WI. While Jenna prepped in the bridal suite, the lower level of the barn was a bit dark, so I asked Chris to step outside to tie his tie and shoes:
Michelle chose a hotel suite in downtown Minneapolis for her and her girls:
Bright hotel suites make for perfect getting ready spots. Kirsten kept it simple and had her sister/maid of honor help with the final touches:
Ana prepped at her hotel suite in New Rochelle, NY. I love the classic look of black & white film:
The Pierre on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was the perfect spot for Susan & Jon. They had a huge multi-room suite with a enormous balcony (quite a rarity in NYC!). There were endless rooms and backdrops for pretty photos:
Ladies, if you’re going to wear a tank, please consider the appropriate undergarments. Bright or dark bra straps are quite a distraction, but Susan looked flawless:
Annie prepped for her big day at the gorgeous Semple Mansion in Minneapolis. My assistant had cleaned out a walk-in closet with a window for a shot of the dress, so I also asked Annie to step in the already-cleaned space so I could get a few photographs of her practicing her vows:
Annie and her bridesmaids wore coordinating floral robes. Though the bridal suite at the mansion has lots of gorgeous light, it’s a small space, so my team had to move quite a bit of clutter to get this shot. I think the end result was worth it!