Updated: Jul 2, 2019
I'm back with the next installment of my wedding planning series. I know it's been a few over a month since the last one, but I found that trying to write a detailed planning blog every week was a bit overwhelming. Not sure if you noticed, I certainly did, but I felt my posts were starting to veer off-track a little and become sloppy. I want to offer my best for my clients and for those who are looking for a little extra advice to help their weddings go smoothly, so I've decided to space this out. I'm going to schendule these posts once a month as that'll be the easiest for me to maintain without burning-out on the topics. In between posts, I'll still be blogging sessions and my Once Upon a Time series.
For now, time for the next topic in our series: Getting ready.
From a strictly photographic artistic view point and not a sappy, emotional romantic one, the wedding preparations are possibly my favorite part of the day. Commonly referred to as "getting ready," this part of the day is exactly what it sounds like: when the bride and groom get ready for their wedding. I love documenting the candid moments between the bride and her bridesmaids, I love those emotional moments between the bride and her mom, the moments of camaraderie between the groom and his guys, I love finding art in the unposed, I love being there to assist if needed--okay, so maybe I do like it from a sappy, emotional romantic perspective.
The thing is a lot of people don't really think about how this part of the day is going to go. I certainly didn't. Unmarried me barely gave a thought to where I would be donning my wedding dress, or who would be helping me get dressed, or even what the pictures of me getting ready would look. At that time, I hadn't even begun studying photography yet, so anything photo related didn't really concern me and Pinterest wasn't even a thing yet to help me with my wedding planning. Take a look at this picture and you'll see understand:
So if you're like me, or more so who I was, you probably haven't thought much about actually getting ready for your wedding. Though perhaps with the rise of Pinterest these last 9 years, you've thought about it way too much. Either way, I'm here to offer some tips to help you create a picture perfect experience.
Setting the Scene
Location is key when planning where you will start your wedding day. While a professional photographer can work within any environment, they cannot take a church preschool nursery and make it look like a bridal parlor room. If there is a certain look you're trying to achieve, choose your location carefully. Many wedding venues provide rooms for the bride and groom to get ready, so that's something to consider when choosing your venue. If the venue you use does not provide one, then you may end up getting ready elsewhere, usually a nearby hotel or even at your home.
What to look for in your preparation room:
Spacious open layout
Wall paint. While I love bright and bold colors, you should be aware that they can create tricky color casts, yellow is especially notorious for this. If you don't want to risk the color cast or the walls clashing with your wedding colors, look for a room with walls painted in neutral colors or very pale colors (cream, white, gray).
A vanity or large mirror that's not inside the bathroom
large windows, if you want a natural light look. If that’s not possible, it’s fine as I use flashes to fill in when necessary.
All these can apply to where the groom gets ready as well. Grooms should get as much consideration in this area as brides do.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to choose your room for getting ready, keep in mind that your photographer will be able to work with the space you have. There are things you can do to help make your space more presentable like gathering all clutter (plastic bags, dress bags, plastic containers, totes) into one spot away from the main part of the room. You want an open area that is free from clutter so that you can easily get ready without having to work around anything, and it makes your pictures look nicer. If you are getting ready in a preschool room at a church, you can always ask the church staff if you're able to take down any decorations. They may allow it as long as you designate someone to put everything back in its place.
Now, these are solely suggestions to help keep your space tidy and minimal so that you and those around you can take center stage. You can take it or leave it. If you're wanting a more raw, uncurated look, bold colors and a little clutter just might be your jam. This works well for unique and eclectic themes. I personally love color and a little mess, it can give a very artistic, documentary feel to the day. It all comes back to knowing what you're going for and the story you want to tell. Knowing that will help you pull together a cohesive wedding day, whether you're going for pastel elegance or wild adventure.
Examples of minimalist settings
Examples of eclectic settings.
Other factors that go into planning the start of your day is the hair and makeup artist. For brides, you'll want to decide whether or not you want to be styled at the salon or on location. Having a traveling stylist (or team) come to your location eliminates travel time and those black capes you're required to wear at the salon. Also I usually have more freedom to set up additional lighting if not at a salon. On the flip side, if you have a lot of people in your party that are getting styled, it might be more time efficient to go to a salon. And not all salons permit their stylists to travel, so if you have a favorite stylist, it might be better to go to the salon rather than trying to find a traveling stylist. You have to weigh the pros and cons on this one.
Traveling makeup artists love to work in natural light, so having a chair positioned by a window is helpful for them. It’s best to wear a shirt or robe that opens in the front so that you don’t have to pull anything off over your head and potentially ruin your hair or makeup.
PRO TIP: Whether you are styling yourself or hiring a hair and makeup artist, always do a trial of your wedding day look. You don't want to attempt a style the day of your wedding and find that you hate it.
Preparing Your Party
The people you surround yourself with during your preparations are going to play a big part in how you remember this part of your day. It’s important is to decide who you want helping you. For brides, this means picking who will be assisting you with getting into your dress and helping with jewelry and shoes. For grooms, picking who will help you tie your bow tie, straighten your jacket, and pin your boutonnière. A lot of times I’m actually the one helping to pin the boutonnière, but for pictures I do like to have someone important to the groom attempt to pin it.
Things you can do to help prepare your party:
Have bridesmaids in coordinating robes or shirts at start of day
Have bridesmaids get into their dresses before helping the bride get dressed
Have groomsmen wearing tux pants and undershirts when the photographers arrive
This part of the day can be long and nerve wracking, so it’s important that your wedding party can help keep you calm and take care of any food runs. More often than not, there is usually someone who is not part of the wedding party who helps by running errands. Typically these are extended family members like cousins or aunts and uncles.
Getting the Shots
My typical workflow for the start of the days begins with photographing the details while the bride or bridesmaids are having their hair styled. After we are satisfied with our detail work, we come back to where the bride is getting ready, which usually gives us a good 2 to 4 hours before the ceremony begins. I might set up lighting while the bride is getting her hair done so that I can get light flairs while the stylist is using hair spray. When the bride is doing her makeup and getting dressed, I don’t pose shots, I document as it happens. If an idea for something specific does come to me, then I will set it up if there’s time.
My second shoot usually hangs out with the groom and groomsmen while they get ready, but I do usually pop in to get a few shots that I want. These ones are usually posed, like the groom adjusting his tie and portraits of him.
Keep Calm, It’s Your Wedding Day
I think the most important advice I can give is that above all, keep calm and schedule yourself plenty of time to get ready. A tight schedule causes stress on an already nerve wracking day, so allowing yourself the space and time to feel comfortable and relaxed is very beneficial to your enjoyment of the day. Have food readily available and chairs or couches so that you can sit and take a minute to breathe. as always, I advocate for the couple, so if you need some time, I’ll be there to have your back. Just remember, you’re about to marry the love of your life.
Interested in having us document your big day? Contact us, we are now booking 2020 and 2021 weddings. Cyn Davis Photography is a husband wife team based in Steubenville, OH and offering vibrant wedding photography services to Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.