I LOVE Bridal prep. It’s easily one of my favourite parts of the day. Surrounded by excitement, laughter and friendship - this guarantees some perfect shots. As the morning can be quite chaotic, I have compiled a list of hints and tips to help get the most out of me (your photographer) during bridal prep.
Note- you can download my free Bridal Prep Checklist below and I'll put a recommended supplier list at the bottom to help out if needed.
The morning of your wedding is here. You have your closest friends with you, you're getting your hair and makeup done, a glass of fizz in your hand, and in just a few hours, you'll be marrying your best friend. What a way to start your wedding day! The adrenaline will be pumping through your system on the morning, so the last thing you want to think about is how to pose for photos or having a camera in your face when you feel hot and bothered. So, during the morning, all of my shots will be taken candidly (unposed and natural) until you all have your dresses on.
Where to Get Ready
Now think about the room you’re getting ready - Is it well suited for wedding prep? Your surroundings will reflect your morning preparations. My recommendation is to choose somewhere with lots of space and lighting, as you want to bask in the moment and not be jumping over each other. A bonus is somewhere with lots of windows, so we can utilise the natural light - this really does make the difference to how you appear on the screen. If this is not possible, you could have your childhood bedroom decorated with photographs and fairy lights to lend a sentimental feel.
IMPORTANT: Wherever you are, it’ll reflect on your photos. (If you get ready in a basement or dark hotel room, your photos will look like you got ready in a basement or dark hotel room...there is only so much I can do to disguise an environment).
Are you wanting Groom Prep Photos? This might not be something you have even thought about yet, or he's unsure about. If the answer is YES- Where are you and your groom getting ready? If you’d love to have pictures of both you and your groom getting ready, try to get ready in close proximity to one another (although not too close so he can’t sneak a peek at you in your dress!). This means in the same hotel, not the same room don't worry. This will save time travelling back and forth, which ultimately means I can capture more footage or you both. Alternatively, consider a second shooter to have his dedicated chance for photos. Groom prep photos are often overlooked, but it's such an awesome collection of photos so I'd highly recommend it. (If you'd like to read more about groom prep photography, please check out this blog Your Wedding Morning: Ways to get the most out of your photos (Groom Prep).)
I briefly mentioned this above, but honestly, it's so key. As there will be lots going on, having more space will help you to feel less claustrophobic and heated. Not only will you be surrounded by your bridal party, but also the photographer, videographer, hairdresser and makeup artist - so spaces will soon feel a little tight. Bridal suites are usually good in size, so if you’re getting ready at your location, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But if you’re getting ready at home, think about preparing the spare bedroom instead, your parent’s room, or even the living room / conservatory, to open up the space.
The ‘crap’ corner
By now, I may have mentioned the crap corner to you. It’s inevitable that bags, phones, bras, and other ‘stuff’ will be thrown around the room whilst you’re getting ready. (You should see my room when I’m going on a night out, so I know how easy it is to make a mess haha!) To avoid this, have your bridal party put all of their stuff in another room, or in one corner of the room you’re getting ready - what I refer to as the ‘crap corner’. This way there isn’t going to be anything that you don’t want to appear in your film or photos by accident, such as rucksack bags or charger cables.
IMPORTANT - You are not to be in charge of keeping the room tidy - this is your day! Instead, tell your bridal party in advance that they’re responsible for keeping the room clear.
A Wedding Letter to Your Partner
One of my favourite wedding traditions is exchanging a handwritten letter with your partner. It could be something so simple as 'I love you, and I'll see you at the aisle!", but it has such a profound effect. It's heart warming to receive words of love in writing because then you have the opportunity to read it over and over again. It's a way to constantly feel the love whenever you need it, and calm your nerves. It looks awesome in photographs, and even better in video if you're reading it aloud.
A Gift to Your Partner
If you don't fancy writing a letter, or want to do something else as well, think about a gift for your spouse to open on the wedding morning. It could be something as simple as some flowers or a bottle of champagne for the girls to drink in the morning, or you can get her a family heirloom that will be handed down to the next generation. Whatever you choose, doing this will make your wedding day super unique to you both.
Your getting ready outfits
Have you considered what you’re all going to wear when you’re getting ready during the morning? Personally, matching dressing gowns and/or pyjamas are a must. Not only do they look super cute, but they’re also handy, practical and really stand out in your photographs by setting the scene. Your photographs can look a bit disjointed if everyone is in different colours or outfits, fluffy dressing gowns or christmas themed pyjamas they got last year! They don't need to be those dressing gowns with Bridal Party written all over the back of them, just matching colours will make them look more united.
If you can purchase them, go for it (and check the supplier list below). If not, ask your bridal party coordinate their colours, or ask them to get into their bridesmaid dresses as soon as possible.
When I first arrive, the last thing I want to do is put my camera straight in your face. Instead, I slowly make myself known by capturing the details (accessories of your wedding This way you get used to me being around before I start candidly shooting your morning.
The details are actually an important thing for me to capture. In years to come, these little things will jog memories and take you right back to certain moments from your day, making you smile. Make sure you capture them because they often get forgotten or misplaced.
IMPORTANT- please have your details (Your dress, the jewellery, perfume - and any other little bits) all together in one place, for me before I arrive! This stops me from having to hunt them down which ultimately gives me more time to photograph the bridal prep.
Hair and Makeup
It’s common practice to invest in having your hair and makeup done professionally. After all, it will need to last all day and well into the night. So having an expert on hand to create the perfect look for you cannot be beaten. When you look back at your photos, you’ll be so glad you did.
Plus, will you really have time to do it yourself? Save yourself the stress and have a professional do it for you. My tip for this is to make sure to sit near a window for the best lighting.
Hang your dress up for me to capture when I first arrive! Then it will look super awesome in the back of photos. Then, putting your dress on is no doubt the moment we are all waiting for during bridal prep as this is the item that ties everything together. Before you step foot into your gown, make sure your bridesmaids are fully dressed first. What we really don’t want is that perfect shot of you stepping into your gown, with your bridesmaid in her PJ shorts in the background.
A non essential tip, but awesome to have is try and get a purpose hangers for the morning, as they add that extra little detail to the shot. They also make great memory gifts for your Bridesmaids/Mum/Flower girls. You can find these on etsy just by searching Bridal Hangers
IMPORTANT- You NEED to schedule enough time to get into your dress calmly. If you look rushed, hot and heated, it will show on the camera. Plus, nothing should ruin this moment you want to remember forever. We recommend leaving at least a 45-minute buffer to get into your dress before you set off. It’s better to be ready early than too late. If you do happen to be ready extra early, use this time to get some posed shots with your mum and Bridesmaids.
IMPORTANT #2 - Do you have an open back dress? Or are your shoulders exposed? Do not wear a bra this morning! Otherwise your bra straps will create crease marks and imprints on your skin, and not every photo can be photoshopped to remove this!
Looking After Your Bridal Party
Everyone will be super excited for you on the morning, and it's actually really common for your bridal party to be stressed- sometimes even more than the Bride! They want the day to be perfect for you, and so they will try their best to make sure you look and feel good. Although this is ultimately your day, there are little things you can do to make it extra memorable for them and show your gratitude.
Gifts on the Morning
It's common to gift your girls a little something- whether it be a necklace to wear on the day, a perfume, a lipstick, candle or even just a "hangover kit" for later. You don't have to, but it also looks beautiful in photos to capture this moment, especially if there's a handwritten note in there from you, with a personal message for each of them. If you don't want to or don't have the budget to go gifting anything to your bridesmaids, maybe think of your mum and your mother of the bride, as a thank you for all they have done.
Sometimes with time constraints, it's difficult to plan a good breakfast in. You might want to go out and have breakfast if time allows before getting ready, but often girls skip the breakfast in the heat of the moment! Nerves might be making you feel queasy, or even stop you from even thinking about food, and sometimes a fry-up is the last thing you need before you fit into a dress. So, consider a morning graze platter! Full of healthy helpings of grapes, cheese, crackers, and then crossaints, cold meats and more. It's something that can be prepared the day before, or even ordered in advance to cater to dietary needs. (Check my supplier list for recommendations).
Consider getting some jars of refreshing lemonade, fresh smoothies, or bucks fizz for the morning. Or, if your budget allows, order some mocktails to the bridal suite on the morning (they don't have to be mocktails, no judgement on my behalf if you want a drink at 9am). It will make for a great photo moment, but also make the morning a really enjoyable experience, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Don't forget about the Mums!
It's really sad, but often the mother of the bride gets overlooked quite a bit on her daughter's wedding day. Let's face is, the bridesmaids look gorgeous and will be at your side all day, and then your dad will be walking you down the aisle and doing a speech. Remind your mum that you want her to feel included by giving her a special gift on the morning, or even write her a personal letter that she can read to herself before the festivities begin. You could even break tradition by getting both parents to walk you down the aisle, arm in arm- as after all, she deserves as much credit as dad!
The First Looks
First Look With Dad
This is a very special moment between you both, and that is why it’s a great idea to be captured. I will try our best not to stage this, but we need to plan when it will happen so I can get the cameras ready!
It’s also a great idea to speak to your dad about this beforehand, as they can often walk in and freeze at the sight of their daughter all dressed up, ready to be walked down the aisle. If you would like him to come to you and hug you, it’s important you tell him. If you would like him to not crack a joke, you need to tell him beforehand. You’ll know how your dad will react better than we do, so I’ll leave it with you. Remember, I will be recording the audio during videography, so you could also prompt him to say something such as “What do you think?”
IMPORTANT- If you are scheduling a first look, we recommend scheduling 20minutes for this, as you don’t want it ruined by the stress of leaving on time.
First Look With Your Bridesmaids
You may choose to get into your dress with the help if just your maid of honour, or your mum. In this instance, it may be a great idea to do a first look with your Bridesmaids as this makes a great reaction shot for your story. If it’s something you’re interested in, let me know so I can position my cameras to capture their faces as you walk.
First Look With Your Partner To-Be
A recent trend, especially if you’re not traditional, is capturing the moment where the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time, alone, before the ceremony. This can be a beautiful moment, as it’s just the two of you, truly intimate and magical.
Your makeup and hair are fresh, and as your wedding day goes incredibly fast, it’s a special moment that you can make truly your own! How to do it? The Bride could walk towards the Groom, tap him on the shoulder and have him turn round and we capture his reaction from over your shoulder. Or, you could both close your eyes and face each other, and do a big reveal together. This captures the raw emotion, that cannot be replicated in again!
If you are having a religious ceremony, this is also the moment where you could pray together, or pray for one another about the day ahead. This could also be the time where you exchange gifts, or practice your first dance! Whatever you decide to do, it will be the calmest moment on your wedding day, calming both your nerves, and it’ll set the tone for the rest of the day.
All that being said, it’s completely up to you. If you envisioned your Groom seeing you for the first time at the top of the aisle, no worries- I am not going to dictate your wedding day. No one should dictate how you should spend your day, and pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you.
IMPORTANT- If you are scheduling a first look, we recommend 45minutes to do this.
Travel to the Ceremony
It’s very difficult to capture you leaving your morning prep, as I will have to leave early to set up the cameras at the ceremony, capturing the groom and people arriving. If you insist that I capture this, we would recommend a second shooter for the day as I cannot be in two places at once!
Luckily, we can most likely be able to capture you arriving at the Ceremony, so if you are arriving in style, in a limousine, campervan, or even horse and cart, let us know your ETA- either via a Bridesmaid or by sharing your location via WhatsApp, so I can get those cameras ready!
An awesome idea is to surprise your husband to be with his own carriage, or an awesome sports car to be precise. It's common to gift the groom an epic journey to the ceremony in a mustang or ferrari, which will make some great reaction photos and remind the groom that he is also special on this day. You could pitch this idea to his groomsmen, so they can take care of it! I'll go into more detail for groom prep in my post, Your Wedding Morning: Ways to get the most out of your photos (Groom Prep).
Recap Checklist (And a few extra tips)
Most importantly - Try to relax and enjoy your special day. It goes by so quickly, embrace every second
If you haven't booked with me already, and you would like me to be the one to capture your big day, please get in touch now to check availability.
Supplier Recommendations for Bridal Prep Extras
Grazing Boxes and boards: Bake Bake Bake does UK wide orders, and has some beautiful breakfast boxes and grazing boards, or a bespoke catering menu which can be changed around, where it caters more to a specific event so they can order for a number of people. https://bakebakebake.co.uk/collections/grazing-boxes
Makeup and Hair: Aimee Grant Hairstylist is literally one of my favourite people to bump into at a wedding. She genuinely is a down to earth girl, with amazing talent for up dos. What's amazing is she is completely self taught, which goes to show how gooood her eye for detail is. https://www.instagram.com/amieegranthairstylist/
Bridesmaid Dressing Gowns: For the budget concious, JJs house genuienly does awesome robes for you and your Bridal Team: https://www.jjshouse.co.uk/Cheap-Robes-c248/
Gift boxes: https://www.instagram.com/starboxcreations/
Hankerchiefs, Napkins, Garters: https://www.instagram.com/extraspecialtouch/
Bridal Accessories: https://www.instagram.com/starboxdesigns/
Bridal Robes: If you want to feel extra special and wear a bridal robe on you wedding day, then a luxury dressing gown might be the way forward! https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SindyBloom
Balloons and Arches for decor: https://www.instagram.com/uniqueballoonsleeds/
Wedding Car Hire websites: https://www.fordmustangwedding.co.uk/
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Gabriela's Photography and Film is a Sheffield based Wedding Photographer and Wedding Videographer. Specialist in candid portraits and natural photos. Photographer Brochure available upon request.