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What do I do when I first get to a wedding? As you may guess – the answer usually is “it depends.” It depends on the wedding, the length of time for which I’m hired, whether I’m starting the day at the ceremony or whether I’m starting the day with the bride getting her hair and makeup done. This is called “bridal prep.”
Let’s look at the different “depends” options.
Most of the weddings I am hired to photograph are full-day weddings. This often means I will start with the bride as she prepares for the day. This usually doesn’t mean going to the salon, the hotel or wherever she is getting ready as soon as the bride arrives. Often the wedding party – at least the women – start early. They start too early for the photographer to get there, unless the photographer has been hired for an unlimited number of hours. I do not provide an unlimited hours package in my packages and pricing.
When covering bridal prep, I will work out the arrival time with the bride to ensure that I am able to get photographs of her getting ready. Getting ready may mean getting hair done, getting makeup done, or simply getting dressed for the day. Again – it depends on how many hours I am hired to cover. Getting the hair done, to be completely honest, doesn’t lend itself to great photos. A bride doesn’t need pictures of her getting her hair washed. However, photos of the bride with her hair completed and being primped on can be nice photos.
Makeup photos are up to the bride. The bride needs to ask herself whether she wants photos of her face without makeup. If she doesn’t mind, then I will take photos of the makeup artist applying makeup. If she does mind, I will take photos of her getting touched up once most of the makeup is applied. This could be getting her lips done. That can lead to some really nice photos.
Getting dressed can be an important part of the prep for the bride. I don’t watch as the bride stands there in her underwear before getting the dress on – and I certainly won’t photograph that! (I will have my back turned for this part) However once the bride has the dress on I will photograph her mother or her bridesmaids – or whoever she has helping her – finalize the dressing. This usually means getting photos of the buttons in the back being buttoned. This will mean photos of final primping. It can mean getting photos putting on jewelry. Often it will include photos of the bride getting her veil put on.
You may have noticed I have so far said nothing about groom prep. Please don’t think that I ignore that because I don’t. Many brides are concerned about how a single photographer will get photos of the groom getting ready, especially if they are getting ready at a different location. Many think they need to ask for a second photographer for this purpose.
They can certainly ask for a second photographer. I am happy to deliver on that but it will cost more. However I can say that in cases where I need to cover groom prep I have been able to do both. It’s easier if both are at the same location, but if not it is not a problem for me to leave the women for a short time and drive to wear the groom and his groomsmen are getting ready. It is not necessary to be with the women during the entire getting ready session. Couples do not need 200 photos of bride and groom prep.
Once I go to where the men are, I will take photos of the groom doing his final dressing. This may mean photos of him putting on his vest and/or jacket, as well as photos of him putting on his tie. Usually his father or best man will help him tie his tie, and these are nice photos. His mother often will put on his boutonniere, and these are photos worth having as well.
In addition to the getting dressed part, I like to get some candid photos of the men hanging out together.
Once I get a handful of photos of the groom and groomsmen, I will return to the women and either get some more photos or get ready for the next stage of the wedding day.
This article is part of a blog series on how I approach a wedding photography assignment. Other articles included are on: How do I photograph wedding details? How do I photograph a ceremony? How do I approach family formals? What do I do in between the ceremony and reception? How do I photograph a reception? And how do I complete the job once the wedding is over?