Preparing for Wedding Day Photos

Preparing for Wedding Day Photos

I’ve shot quite a few weddings over the years. And during that time I’ve come to realize certain things that brides and grooms need pointers on to help them get the best photos. So, I decided to write a blog post about preparing for wedding day photos. This is not meant to knock on any couples who are guilty of any of the following. It’s meant to help future couples who are planning their wedding photos.

preparing for wedding day photos

1) Be Ready

I spend about one hour shooting the getting ready photos before heading to the ceremony site. That’s not a lot of time to shoot detail shots, getting ready shots and portraits. So, the wedding couple, wedding party and family should be ready when I arrive. This means that hair and makeup should be done before I arrive. Give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes buffer time between when hair and makeup is supposed to be finished for everyone and when your photographer arrives. Why? Because makeup and hair ALWAYS take longer than planned.

Helpful hint: Whatever time your makeup artist or hair stylist has told you it will take to get everyone’s makeup/hair done, add an extra 30-45 minutes on that. Why? Because 99% of the time, they take longer than expected.

**Also, make sure the bride’s makeup and hair are done first, so that if the makeup and hair is running late, I can start taking photos of the bride while the others are finishing getting ready.


Another reason why I like the hair and makeup to be finished before I arrive is because I like to use the window light for portraits. However, makeup artists sit their clients right by the window to apply the makeup to get the best light. I totally understand why they do it, but it just makes it that much harder for your photographer to get the best light, since the best light is being used by the makeup artist.

If the bride and/or the bridesmaids don’t have their dresses on yet, they should be ready to put their dresses on by the time the photographer arrives. And everyone should have eaten before the photographer arrives.


Don’t forget the flowers:

Finally, make sure that EVERYTHING is ready for when the wedding photographer arrives. This includes having the flowers on site. It’s best to have the groom have his photos taken with his boutonniere on and to have the bride holding her bouquet for the portraits. I also like to take detail shots, so that would normally be the time I take shots of the shoes, flowers, dress, etc. Make sure these items are all in the same place, so it’ll be easy for me to find them.


2) Tidy Up

Another importrant thing in preparing for wedding day photos, is that wherever you’re having your getting ready photos taken (at home or in a hotel room), make sure to tidy up. Make the bed. Clear tables, night stands and dressers of clutter, including the alarm clock! The only thing (if any) needs to stay on the end tables/nights stands are the lamps.

Don’t leave stuff strewn everywhere because you don’t want that stuff in the background of your photos. (This is why your hair and makeup should also be done before I arrive, so that the makeup artist/hair stylist’s stuff isn’t everywhere.) Please relay this info to the wedding party, so they don’t leave their stuff all over the place either.

Designate at least two rooms that will be used for the getting ready photos (usually the living room and bedroom). Make sure the chosen rooms have great natural light, if possible.


Notice the before & after: I started shooting and then realized that I needed to move all of the clutter, including the recyling & garbage bins, unmentionables, bags and my own gear. I also used my white reflector to cover up all of the junk on the desk.

I like to also take bridal portraits outside, weather permitting. So, if you have a front or backyard that could be used for the outdoor photos, make sure that the grass is cut and there’s no clutter.


3) Limit the Amount of People at The Getting Ready Location

I once shot some getting ready photos in a hotel room with at least 20 people in it. This included two makeup artists, (and a boyfriend taking portfolio photos), a hair stylist, a child, parents of the bride and groom, other family members, bridesmaids, the bride, two videographers, myself and my second shooter. Even though there were two rooms in this hotel suite, it was WAY too crowded. I barely had any room to shoot and there was clutter everywhere.

If step one had been done, four less people, including all of their gear, wouldn’t have been there. Consequently, there would have been a lot more room for me to work with, since their styling/makeup stuff wouldn’t have been taking up room on the table and bed. I’m not knocking on the beauty professional. I’m just saying that you should make sure to have your makeup and hair done by the time your photographer arrives, so that they’re not competing for window light and space to shoot.

Idealy, the bride should only have her immediate family and bridesmaids there, while the groom should only have his immediate family and groomsmen there.


4) Designate Two People to Be in Charge of Arranging Group Photos

I recommend for all wedding couples to make a detailed list of all group shots that they want taken. This includes names of people in each group shot. The two designated people are in charge of having the actual list of required group photos, as well as gathering all people for each shot. Please make sure they actually have a printed copy of the list!

Be sure to pick people who know who most of these people are. The best way is to choose one person from each side of the family. Getting people to come for their group shot is like herding cats. So, by having a couple of people in charge of gathering people for group shots, it makes the formal portrait time go much more efficiently.


5) Give Your Photographer A Heads Up

If you’re planning anything unique, give your photographers a heads up, so that they’re ready to get that money shot. Are you planning a special dance number? Perhaps you’re going to do a dip at the end of your first dance. If so, let your photographer know which way you’ll be facing for the dip, so that they’re ready to take that shot. Are you going to have a special entrance? Let them know that too. You’ll help your photographers get the best photos for you.


Book a Consultation with Me

Are you getting married? Are you currently searching for a wedding photographer? Great! I’d love to hear from you. I love working with friendly, down-to-earth couples. And if you happen to be planning a rustic styled wedding, I’d be over-the-moon to be your photographer. Contact me through my contact form to get my wedding photography pricing guide as well as to set up a date that all three of us can meet. That way we can see if we’re a good fit for each other. I look forward to hearing from you.

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