7 top tips for better ‘getting ready’ wedding photos

Published by Claire Gould on

by guest author Sally Rawlins Photography


My full day wedding photography package includes photographing your preparations on your wedding day. This means I’ll be there to capture the affectionately known ‘getting ready’ bits before the ceremony. For example, I’ll be able to document a bride having her hair and make up done before she gets into her dress, and the candid ‘behind the scenes’ moments that your other half won’t get to see. It might be the girls in matching wedding day pyjamas, busting open the prosecco, or capturing the groom and gents working out exactly how their cufflinks work. Not only do these shots give you a brilliant reminder of all the fun, nervousness and adrenaline of getting ready before saying “I Do”, but they are also a great keepsake particularly as your partner won’t have seen them first hand!

Here are my 7 top tips on how you can get the best out of your surroundings to ensure better ‘getting ready’ photographs of your big day.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (1)

1. Lots of lovely natural light

Chances are, you’ll either be getting ready in a suite at your venue, or at home. Sometimes you may be at a hotel or the place you’ll be staying after the wedding. In any case, to ensure really lovely photographs (and I cannot stress this enough), pick a room or space to get ready in which has plenty of natural light. Having natural light through the windows improves photographs immeasurably. I know this isn’t always possible, but where you can, avoid ceiling lights and lamps, open the curtains, and position yourself near a window for your hair and make up. Most make up artists will ask you to do this anyway. Natural light is our friend, and it’ll enhance your photos.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (8)

2. Have a tidy up

OK, I realise it’s your wedding day and I’m not expecting you to be going around with the hoover. But do ask your bridal party who are with you to try and keep the getting ready space clutter-free. There’s nothing worse than a rubbish-strewn background in bridal prep shots, like bright orange supermarket carrier bags on the floor or plates of half-eaten toast. Make use of your bridesmaids and ask them to do a sweep of wherever you’re getting ready to keep things looking nice.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (7)

3. Music to get ready by

You may not be aware, but having music on whilst getting ready increases awesomeness by 120%. So ladies, bring your iPod speakers, or crank the radio up, and get some music on in the background for some ambience, as a fun atmosphere will calm everyone’s nerves. Coupled with a glass or two of fizz, it’s actually one of the best bits of the day! But something important to note: if you are having a videographer, discuss with them ahead of the wedding day whether they are fussed about music in the background. Some videographers frequently use separate audio edited over the top of getting ready footage, and this isn’t possible for them to do if there’s music in the background. So check with your videographer first, but if there’s no problem, crank up the tunes!

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (6)

4. Eat something!

So this doesn’t relate to the photos, but as someone who has got married themselves, let me tell you from experience, even if you feel too nervous to eat, have something anyway. Once the nerves and adrenaline fall away after the ceremony, you will be STARVING! So eat some toast or a croissant at the very least, even if it’s to soak up your champagne whilst you’re having your hair done, so you don’t get hangry.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (5)

5. Know when you need to be ready by? Aim for 30 minutes earlier

No doubt, to avoid your beloved waiting at the altar, you’ll know what time you and your bridal party needs to be completely ready. Whether it’s the time you need to leave the house, or to see the registrar, I always ask my brides to try and be ready in their dress 30 minutes before time, as it allows a little window for me to shoot the oft-requested bride in her dress. Experience has shown no matter how much time brides leave, when it comes to the crunch, they’re still rushing to get out of the door like a whirlwind. So keep an eye on the clock, and whatever time you have planned to be ready, secretly plan to be ready 30 minutes earlier.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (4)

6. Evacuate anyone who doesn’t need to be there

Harsh but fair. If there’s zillions of people milling around your getting ready space, your photos are going to look really busy and cluttered. I’m not suggesting you banish everyone to the utility room, but once people are made up or dressed, or if they’re not part of your bridal party or who you need around, politely suggest they grab a glass of fizz and park up in a different room. Not only will this mean there’ll be more light and space in the room – and consequently the photographs – you’ll be surprised at how calming this can be for brides. More people fussing around = increase in stress levels.

Getting ready photos and advice by Sally Rawlins (2)

7. Have fun!

There’s plenty of time for seriousness on your wedding day, but just remember that the getting ready can be just as fun as everything else, so eat, drink and relax, and enjoy those moments of preparation before you set off to start your new chapter in life.

Whilst you and your friends or family are getting ready for the wedding, Essex photographer Sally Rawlins will usually be found (or rather, not found!) in the background, silently snapping away to capture lots of very natural, relaxed shots, which form part of the story of your wedding day – this photography is sometimes known as documentary-style or reportage. Sally tells us this is one of her favourite parts – if not her actual fave – of a wedding day, and these candid photos are often treasured because they convey so much emotion: anticipation, nerves, giddiness, excitement.

Discover more: www.sallyrawlinsphotography.com

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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