My favorite part of a wedding day to photograph is the Bridal Prep portion. It’s an incredibly special, personal time for the bride because it’s her final hours of being single. Next, she’s to be joined with her husband, thus no longer “Me,” but “We.”
I find myself having the same conversation with all of my brides about the bridal suite and details, so I’ve gathered 5 very important ways to make your photos BETTER. Remember, the Bridal Prep photos will be the opener to your album and a strong section of the story-telling aspect of your day.
1) Location, Location, Location
This includes not only WHERE you will be getting ready and the aesthetics of the room, but more importantly, the LIGHTING. There are two ways to make your Bridal Prep photos really ugly – a tiny room cluttered with stacked chairs or no windows.
When I photographed Alma and Joe’s wedding at Whitmore Mansion in Ceres, California, I elected to not use the bridal suite and took the bride into a room I thought was much more interesting. I prefer to use window light when shooting the Bridal Prep, so really, all I need is a good window. Ask your photographer what kind of light they like to use. They may say a room without windows is fine if it’s large enough.
The room decor adds SO MUCH to the photos! I also liked it better than the bridal suite because it was less cluttered.
Another way to make Bridal Prep photos ugly is to have a bunch of clutter in the background. When I arrive at a wedding I first start photographing the details, and if the bridal suite needs straitening up, I ask someone to do that for me. It eats into your photo time if your photographer has to wait for clutter to be cleared, so my suggestion is to have a designated spot for you and your girls to put your things so they’re not all over the room. Make sure the windows don’t have anything on the windowsills and that if there is a bed, it’s cleared off. Don’t forget to take alarm clocks, water bottles, etc off nightstands. If there are any pictures on the walls you don’t want in your photos, take them down. When we’re done shooting, we always put furniture and pictures back where we found them.
3) Gather all your wedding details for your photographer
The first thing I do at a wedding is photograph the details, and if I have to hunt them down from different rooms in the venue, that eats into photo time. I ask all my brides to gather ALL the details they want photographed and put them in the bridal suite. That includes the dress, veil, shoes, flowers, jewelry and other accessories, and anything sentimental (grandma’s broach, your “something blue”). This also includes any letters you’re writing to your groom and/or vice-versa. So anything you want a photo of. This ensures all the details get photographed and nothing gets missed.
3) Talk to your photographer!
We do consultations before a wedding day so we know we’re on the same page as our clients. Go over important photos and details in those consultations. Talk about who will be helping you get ready and what’s important to you. If it’s super important that Grandma be in the room with you, make sure you tell your photographer so they can photograph Grandma too.
4) Prep your bridesmaids
There are a few important things your bridesmaids need to know. You need to tell them to please BE ON TIME, and they need to be in their bridesmaid dresses when they help you get into your dress and accessories. It doesn’t make for good photos when the bridesmaids are wearing jeans or shorts while helping the bride get ready. You want classy, pretty photos, so everyone should look great.
5) Don’t forget the guys!
If you want Groom Prep photos, you need to designate an area or room for them to get ready, and it needs to be accessible to the photographer. Don’t have the guys get ready at home 45 minutes away from you and expect the photographer to capture that. The guys need to be within 10 minutes of the girls, preferably on the same site. Groom Prep photos are special too, and they really round out your wedding album to tell a full story of the day, especially when they’re doing cool things, like playing games or smoking cigars.