As a bride, the morning of your wedding day sets the tone for the rest of the day! Are you relaxed and enjoying a mimosa while spending quality time with your closest friends, Mother and perhaps some other members of your family? Do you have someone who is at the venue handling everything for you that you feel 100% confident in? Are you laughing and enjoying being pampered with your makeup and hair? Or, are people coming to you with lots of last minute details or questions? Are you at the venue setting everything up yourself? Are you on your phone answering text messages and phone calls while the makeup artist is doing your makeup?
As I typed these several questions, I could feel the tension start to build, and our wedding is still a little less than eight months away! For my brides I want you to be able to answer the first half of these questions with an excited, “yes, that’s me!” and a strong, “No!” to the other ones. I do love any details that are truly DIYs but on your wedding day I want a bride to be able to hand all of those things over and enjoy the day from the moment you wake up! I truly believe that the first part of your wedding day, spent getting ready and hanging out with the closest women to you, should be just as enjoyable and memorable as the rest of the wedding day! I want you to remember through your photographs how you felt, what you were laughing about, and in your bridal portraits I want you to remember instantly how you were thinking about seeing your groom in a few short minutes.
You can have a wonderful morning and afternoon like that by being prepared beforehand! When I first get to you in the afternoon your breakfast is likely over and your girls and you are getting hair and makeup done. I greet everyone and give you a big hug and then I will move on to photographing your details. I do this first for several reasons. 1- It gets me warmed up and ready for the rest of the day, setting up creative shots of your details. 2- Photographing your small details really helps tie the entire wedding day together. 3- At this point you have been in front of my camera before, but your bridesmaids might not have! This allows everyone to get use to me being in the room, and so gradually as I take time with these photographs and I am not pointing my cameras directly at them first, everyone starts to relax again and interact authentically!
To ensure I am not adding to the crowded room or asking you a bunch of questions, I let all my brides know before their wedding day too have all of their personal details set aside for me when I get there. This is to ensure that I only have to ask you or your maid of honor one question instead of roughly six questions. It is also to avoid several of you to start looking through the room trying to find everything, when five minutes before you were relaxing in the makeup artist’s chair!
Now that I have told you why I think it is important to be able to relax and enjoy the morning of your wedding day, I am going to give you a few tips that help make this possible!
Before I arrive gather your details and set them aside for me! You can gather things like your dress, veil or other hair pieces, rings (all three rings), shoes, perfume, jewelry, invitation suite and your bouquets and boutonnieres. Like I said previously, doing this beforehand avoids you having to search for everything when you should be enjoying the day. Depending on your look or theme for your wedding day there may be some extra elements that you could include with your details. Something like ribbons or extra solitaire flowers can make them tie together with the rest of the wedding day! Below I used Rachel’s furniture, this one yellow bench in a lot of her details. I do like to find something in your home or where you are getting ready that perfectly ties together, but if you think of something beforehand than it becomes more special to you! For Katie’s wedding her florist gave her a few extra flowers and a succulent, that all matched her reception flowers. This also makes for beautiful and consistent album spreads for your wedding day album! Don’t forget your bouquet during this part of your day! Some brides have had it delivered to where the ceremony will be, but if we have time after getting you into your wedding dress I like to get some bridesmaids portraits with you, as well as a few bridal portraits! If you are also planning to do a first look with your groom, you will need your bouquet with you! Most wedding dresses come with a plastic hanger, if your gown does, try to make a note to bring a wooden hanger along for the picture of your dress.
The most common detail I find to be missing from this part of the day are the wedding bands! You will remember your engagement ring because you will be wearing it but often times officiants will tell you the night before to give them to the best man. I suggest waiting to give them to the best man during bridal party portraits or right before the ceremony. If you do forget this, don’t worry, I can always photograph your rings during the reception if there is time! When making your wedding day timeline with your wedding planner it is a good idea to add in a few spots for a little “cushion time”. They will be able to tell you that often times you can get a little behind, if your hair or makeup is taking a little longer, or it took a little longer to put your wedding dress on. With a little cushion time built in this will help you to relax even if you are running a few minutes behind. Then it becomes time to get into your wedding dress! This is a moment that all of us, as little girls, dream of! Who am I kidding? We dream of this as adults and since the day we were proposed too! Unfortunately, some brides can experience this as the most rushed part of the day, but I believe that it should be one of the most calm and slowed down part of your wedding day! Have your bridesmaids get into their dresses first so they can help you into yours and they look their best! Refrain from putting any jewelry on before you put your wedding dress on. I love to photograph you putting your jewelry and shoes on piece by piece as the moment sets in that you are wearing your wedding dress! You can also have your Maid of Honor or your Mother to help you put on some of your jewelry or your veil! (I have realized a lot of us cannot put on a bracelet with one hand!) The light in your getting ready room is very important! Yes, we have flash and off camera lighting but natural light from a window offers a soft, flattering and beautiful light on you as you get ready that fluorescent light in a windowless room just will not do! If your venue does not have this in the getting ready room, I am good at finding an area in the building with great light that will still keep you hidden from any guests that may arrive early. By just having at least one simple window in the bridal prep area I am truly able to create beautiful portraits of you with the soft light. Photographing your Groom getting ready can happen if you both are at the same venue or if we have enough time to travel to where he is. We can always do this several minutes before the ceremony or moments before you walk down to your first look with him! Guys do not take as long as girls! Some of the portraits of these grooms were either when we went to where he was getting ready or we had him adjust his tie or jacket when we were able to meet up with him before the ceremony. This also can allow for a few portraits of just your groom! After you have your wedding dress on and all of your jewelry the tendency is to start cleaning the room, pack everything up and head out the door to the wedding ceremony or the first look. I believe in the value of delegating that to your bridesmaids while you and I go into a separate room for a few quiet portraits. This is the moment that you begin to feel every emotion and I want to avoid you being caught up in cleaning and gathering so you can truly feel the magnitude and happiness of this moment. These 5-10 minutes will calm you, allow you to be emotional, breathe and most importantly, think about your groom! These always become some of the most breath taking portraits of your wedding day!
If you are anything like me, I run through a wedding day timeline several times, calculate in my head how long it will take to get to each location, and double, triple check myself. I tell all my family and friends that I am weird with time, and they would instantly agree with me if you asked them! That is why I would love nothing more than to help brides create their timelines and give them tips about their wedding day structure months before your wedding day so you will be able to have the most relaxed and enjoyable time. When you look back on your photographs months and years from that day I want you to remember how you felt when you slowed down and got to think about your groom. I want you to remember how it felt to laugh with your bridesmaids and how it felt to get pampered all morning while someone else was setting up the reception room. I want you to remember that you were able to daydream what your groom was feeling at that moment and wonder just how excited he was to see you, radiant, smiling and maybe some happy tears when you finally see each other. With these pointers to think about and do before the morning of your wedding it will allow all of that to be a reality! I cannot wait to see you and capture these genuine moments on your wedding day!