The cutest getting ready wedding pictures don't just create themselves! Oftentimes, there's been a lot of forethought and planning that go into every single detail, including those adorable Mr. and Mrs. hangers, and the actual space itself. While spontaneity is key to capturing the raw emotions of the day, here are seven things you can do before your photographer arrives to ensure he or she gets the best shot.
1. Pick a location that is spacious, full of light and reflects your aesthetic.
Don't let your pre-wedding space be a mere afterthought — you'll be spending a significant portion of your day getting primped and pampered there. The getting ready area should be a special place with plenty of space that makes everyone feel cozy and relaxed, says wedding photographer Stephanie Yonce of Stephanie Yonce Photography. It should also compliment your vision for the day. "For example, if you're having an elegant ballroom wedding, perhaps a suite at an upscale historic hotel would be a nice fit. If possible, try to book a corner room," she suggests. "When light is coming in from more than one direction it envelopes you, creating a soft light that makes everyone look fabulous." If you aren't able to be choosey, trust your photographer's direction. "He or she may bring your details out to another area of the venue to capture them in the best light."
2. Remember: Less is more.
Sister photographers Lauren and Abby Ross — along with their wedding photographer mom Nancy Cohn — swear by the motto that less is always more. "Keep the numbers down, as far as people in the prep suite go," they recommend. And clean up all that clutter! "A little background music and some champagne are a must, as is a sense of humor to disarm any tension in the room."
3. Keep the room clean.
I.e. don't trash it! As wedding photographer Mike Busada of Mike B Photography points out, "We often arrive ready to shoot preparation photos and end up spending lots of valuable time cleaning up before we can even get started. Throw away trash, hang extra clothes in closets and hide suitcases under beds, he advises. "If you keep things as organized as possible then we will have more time to work with you and the bridesmaids, capturing the photos you want."
4. Get all your details you'd like photographed together and in one spot.
When your photographer arrives they're getting a lay of the land, figuring out where the good light is and being introduced to everyone, explains photographer Sarah Maren Whitehead of Sarah Maren Photography. "Save them some time and energy by having your details all together in one place, so they can create stunning detail shots without the stress of hunting down those details!" Have a special hanger you'd love your dress photographed with? Chicago wedding photographer Laura Witherow recommends asking your bridesmaids to take your dress out of its bag, and place it on that hanger prior to your photographer's arrival. It's also a good idea to get them to steam out any last minute wrinkles.
5. Don't forget the guys.
Speaking of grooms, while the prep photos of him and his guys aren't nearly as involved, they'll still need to follow a few basic rules. "We always ask that the groomsmen be fully dressed, and for the groom to be dressed in his pants and unbuttoned shirt upon arrival," says Busada. "This allows us to take photos of the groom getting ready (buttoning his shirt, tying his tie, putting on his cufflinks, etc.) — then do some quick portraits of the groom alone and with his boys." Another quick tip: empty your pockets, gentlemen! "Cell phones, keys and wallets make for bulging pockets that aren't flattering in the least," warns wedding photographer Kristin Reimer, founder of Photomuse. "Leave them in the room or have someone else carry them for you."
6. Share your creative vision with your photographer.
Have ideas for specific getting ready shots? Let your photographer know in advance. "For instance, one of my brides asked for a photo of her pinning a boutonniere to her father's jacket," tells Tatiana Valerie, founder of Artvesta Studio. "If you don't communicate your preferences with your wedding photographer, you may miss out on some special pictures in your wedding album."
7. Savor the moments.
The getting ready shots are just as much about the details as they are the candid moments, notes Reimer. "Relax, enjoy yourself, let us do our thing and try to pretend we aren't there. Feel the emotions of the moment and trust that if we need something from you, we'll ask."