Even though every wedding is unique, each wedding photographer knows that the timeline of photos is pretty much the same, beginning with the getting ready photos.
Learn how to successfully photograph the bride and groom getting ready, what you’ll need to prep for beforehand, and why it’s important to capture this part of the day during a wedding.
What are the getting ready photos exactly?
The getting ready portion of a wedding day is when the bride and groom begin to get dressed for their wedding celebration.
It’s usually when the bride is getting her makeup done, getting into her dress, putting on her jewelry, and all of the other final details that go into her complete look. The same goes for the groom; photos of him getting into his tux or suit, putting on his watch, tie, and shoes.
Sometimes, getting ready photos will include more people during the shoot. For example, the bride might want to get ready with all of her bridesmaids and have her maid of honor help with putting on her veil.
Other times, you might get the bride and groom getting ready together in the same space. Either way, it’s a crucial moment during the day that leads up to all the festivities. It tells more of the story of how the wedding day unfolded.
Prep for the getting ready
Inform your clients during a pre-consultation
A pre-consultation is where you meet with your clients and go over the details of the wedding day. It is important to find out if the couple will be getting ready in the same location or different locations.
If at all possible, advise your clients to get ready in the same location but in separate rooms. That way, you can bounce between both of your clients and capture the getting ready shots.
However, sometimes it isn’t possible. But don’t worry, sometimes you can re-create some of the getting ready moments before the ceremony and still get those beautiful getting ready photos to go with the narrative of the day.
Advise your clients to tell their key people (those helping with the brides or grooms outfit) to be ready, too, since they will also be photographed during the getting ready stage. This goes for the mother of the bride, father of the bride, bridesmaids, and groomsmen.
Tell your clients to make sure florals are ready during this time so that you can photograph them before the wedding day begins.
Prep your gear bag
There are a few items you should have handy for the getting ready portion of your day. They aren’t required but do make the getting ready photos more streamlined and easier to photograph.
One handy tool is a Command Hook. This will help you stick the hook where you want, hang the dress or suit, and photograph it virtually anywhere at the location of the getting ready photos. It also helps hang other details that are important to the wedding day.
Bring a small poster board or some fabric to style a flat lay of the details. This could include things like the rings, shoes, garter, bouquet, or special details like vow books. It can give you a cohesive look to the detail photos. That way, you’re also not limited to the surfaces in the getting ready room, if there are any available spots.
PlayDoh or similar putty can help keep rings styled or from falling over. Roll a tiny ball and place it under the rings, ring boxes, jewelry, and other items to keep them in place. Then simply remove it after you’ve achieved your shot.
Use a video light or flashlight from your phone to light the details if you need a little boost in light. Some getting ready rooms, like bridal rooms, are tiny and don’t offer much light, so having a video light or using your flashlight from your cell phone, can help give you the light you need. It can also help you to get interesting photos of the details like rings or shoes.
While these items aren’t a must, they do help with styling the details of the getting ready portion.
What to photograph during the getting ready portion of a wedding day
The getting ready part of a wedding day isn’t just about photographing your clients getting into their dresses or suits – it’s much more than that. It’s about capturing a part of the day that begins all of the events that everyone is excited about!
When you photograph a getting ready, make sure to get photos either styled or depending on your photography style, the following:
- Rings, ring boxes, ring pillows or carrying cases
- Florals: bouquets, boutonnieres, hairpieces, and corsages for others
- Accessories like jewelry, watches, gifts of the bride and groom
- The something blue, something old, something borrowed if they are part of the wardrobe/attire.
- Getting ready: Makeup and hairstyling, adjusting their dress/suit, putting on the dress/suit
- Putting on shoes
- Detail photos of the dress/suit alone and on the bride/groom
- Invitation set
- Portrait of your client alone
- Portrait of the client with their bridal party or others who are in the room with them
- Anything else that is considered special or important
- Key people in the background or with your client
How to get the most out of getting ready photos
The getting ready photos are somewhat of a photojournalistic approach to the day. Besides the detail shots that you style, most everything else is photographed as it unfolds during this time.
To get the most out of the getting ready photos, try and get different focal length shots of the events like the makeup and hair. Get a wide shot of the room but also get close-up photos of the makeup as it’s applied. Capture real emotions from the people in the room with your client.
When your client is ready to get dressed, ask them to clear out the portion of the room that you’d like to use. For height, consider getting on the bed if your client is using a hotel room.
If you can, choose a location with nice lighting and a calm vibe. It will help set the tone of the getting ready portion of the photos.
Remember, during this time, clients are usually feeling a mixture of emotions. They also have to attend to tasks, questions, and anything that might come up that is related to the planning of the wedding.
So a calm setting can really set the tone for the rest of the day while you photograph your client as they get dressed.
Also, don’t worry about moving furniture if you need to, or other items to get the best photo possible. Try different areas of the getting ready room to choose the best photos of the details, dress, and your client.
Photograph a portrait of your client after they are dressed alone
As mentioned above, setting the tone for the rest of the day can make all the difference for your client. This is why, after your client has gotten dressed, that you take them to a calm location and photograph a portrait of them alone.
During this time, don’t ask anything of them. Don’t mention the wedding, planning, or anything that is related. Just help them to feel calm by using a soft tone, directing them to get the best angle, and show them a photo or two so that they get excited by how great they look!
This will also build a nice rapport with how you handle the stress of the day. It will also help your client to feel less saturated or anxious about their wedding day.
How to photograph getting ready photos after the fact
Sometimes you don’t have time to take getting ready photos of both of your clients due to logistics, being the only photographer, or otherwise. Other times, time slips away and cuts time for getting ready photos altogether. Or, your client might have opted to set the hours of coverage to cover more of the reception than the getting ready portion.
If this is the case, don’t worry, you can recreate the getting ready photos after the fact! For example, before the ceremony, while your client waits to come out and down the aisle, you can get a few getting ready photos of them in the suite or empty hallway/walkway. Simply ask them to fluff their dress, have their key person adjust their veil, or pretend to tie their dress or suit.
You can get action shots like having your clients look into the mirror and pretend to put on their jewelry or suit jacket or shoes. While you might not have been there during the actual getting ready, you can always pretend like you were by styling and directing your clients in between other wedding day events.
Why are getting ready photos important?
Getting ready photos are important to a wedding day because, as the photographer, you’ll have time to get the important details of the day photographed. The rings, vow books, bouquets, and most importantly, the dress or suit that your clients wear.
Each of these items was thought about, and chosen with the utmost care and attention to the details. Anything that your clients poured their hearts into is worthy of photographing. It also makes for a nice retelling of the wedding day in an album or publication after the wedding day has ended.
Most importantly, photographing getting ready photos allows you to set the tone for the day and reassure your client that you are there for all of it. That you are there for the best moments of the day and to help them feel confident, beautiful, and excited about the rest of the wedding events. It’s like you’re there as their personal cheerleader on what is usually a stressful day.
Having this time with your client also helps you to get to know them a bit more. You can try different angles during the individual portraits, and also get to know who the key people are that need photographing during family formals and bridal party photos.
Telling the story of a couple during their wedding day is truly an honor for any photographer. The getting ready portion of the day sets the tone and begins the story of how the day unfolded. These tips will help you successfully capture your clients during the start of their most important day as a couple.
Do you have any additional tips for capturing the getting ready photos of any wedding day? We’d love you to share them with us in the comments!
Table of contents
- ADVANCED GUIDES
- Tips to Achieve Memorable Getting Ready Photos at Any Wedding
- CREATIVE TECHNIQUES