FAQ: Wedding Day Preparation Photos ~ 10 Tips for the start of your wedding day

It has been a while since I blogged anything other than photos from weddings and sessions – so I thought it was time to hop back in here with some FAQ posts for our couples!!

Today I’m going to talk about what you can do to ensure you have bright, beautiful preparation & detail photos from your wedding day! Here are ten things to note/tips for your wedding day prep time! 🙂

1. Prep photos generally begin 2 hours before a ceremony (no first look) OR 1.5 hours before a First Look. (That is the minimum amount of time we suggest – of course you can always add more!) This allows me to arrive, grab all the details that have already been set aside for me (because we’ve talked about it in an email before the wedding day) and photograph them. Next I capture candids as people are finishing up getting ready, and lastly – spend another 20 minutes or so documenting the bride getting dressed… and finish with a set of bridal portraits before we head out the door!

2. Make sure you schedule your hair and makeup to be wrapping up around the time we arrive to start for the day. That way you’re all made up and we can get a few candids of those final touch ups of lipstick or hairspray. It also ensures everyone is ready to go and on time before things get moving. (We’ve seen people try to end hair/makeup later and it almost always ends up running late and affecting the entire timeline for the rest of that part of the day. We never want to start things out feeling rushed or stressed – so we try to emphasize that this timing is important to keep things low-key and FUN for you!)

3. Have details set aside for the photographer when they arrive. I always grab all the details and sneak away to get those documented for the first 40-45 minutes of coverage. Many people don’t realize it takes time to style all that pretty stuff – so it important to leave enough time to properly document all the details – especially if you have a lot of things you want captured! 🙂 This includes: shoes, dress, jewelry/accessories, bouquets, ALL wedding & engagement rings, 2 invitation suites & paper goods, and heirloom items. (If you want those extra pretty styled detail photos consider bringing things like: a special hanger for your dress, silk ribbon to match your wedding colors, a pretty vintage tray, or a velvet ring box. Also, ask your florist to include some loose florals for styling with detail photos!) Side note: I have a styling kit I’ve compiled that includes 2 velvet ring boxes, some fabric, vintage stamps of every color, and velvet backgrounds to shoot on – but I always love extra pretty little things! 🙂

4. Don’t get dressed in your formal wear until your photographer arrives! Those candid moments of dad helping you tie your bowtie, your mom buttoning the back of your dress, or you fastening your grandmother’s earrings on your ears – are the perfect moments to capture during this portion of the day – so save them for when we arrive! (Otherwise there isn’t much to photograph except a bunch of people sitting around in formalwear waiting for the day to start! ;))

5. Make sure you are in a room with windows and preferably lots of space! Our style of photography calls for natural light and one of our favorite types of natural light is window light! It is soft… it is flattering… it is beautiful! Yes, we know how to use flash and off-camera flash, but pulling out a flash stand and umbrella can be a bit abrasive in a small prep room because there isn’t usually a whole lot of space to work with. Also, using natural light allows us to shoot more rapidly and capture more of those sweet in between moments that always happen during prep photos.

6. Book an actual hotel room if you’re getting ready at a hotel – or even better – splurge on a big suite! (That goes for both of you!) Oftentimes hotels will suggest a banquet or hospitality room to couples because it will fit more people in it easily – but we tend to discourage clients from that option because those rooms can be too deep, cavernous, dark, and not very photogenic. Even if they have a few windows – the light generally doesn’t bounce around or reflect as well, nor is there any focal interest in the room (it’s usually just empty or has a big conference table in it.) If you must use that type of room because you have a large bridal party and won’t fit in a hotel room – then we usually will ask that you have access to a regular hotel room as well so that once we arrive to start prep photos – we can shoot details in the normal hotel room, and also document each of you getting dressed in the regular rooms as well as your solo portraits (because it photographs so much better). We are always chasing the pretty light – so just trust it will all make sense and look great when you see the results!

You can get an idea of the difference between a conference room here:

And a regular hotel room where James pulled him for some getting ready photos here:

Another hotel room example here:

7. If possible – the couple should try to get ready in the same venue. If that isn’t an option, then try to get ready within a short drive of each other, which will make logistics for the day easier. Also – if you’re getting ready at the same venue, then the preparation photos will all have a similar look and feel to them as well – which will make your wedding gallery and album design look more cohesive.

8. Try to keep the area you’re getting ready in somewhat tidy. Obviously, things get a little crazy on wedding days with that many people (I know!), and there ends up being stuff everywhere. It’s fine totally!! Just be aware that when we arrive – we’re probably going to ask you if it is okay if we tuck things away in a corner or in the closet to create a nice clean backdrop for your photos.

9. Another thing we’ll do when we arrive (which many people don’t understand or think is odd) is turn off all other light sources in the room and open all the shades/curtains/blinds. The yellow glow of tungsten light bulbs and the green flickering of fluorescent bulbs, mixed with the bright bluish tone of natural light coming through windows can seriously confuse the camera’s white balance, leaving photos with a mixture of tones throughout. To create the best, most natural look to your photos – we will turn off all other lights in the room – so that the natural light can shine through and bounce around beautifully without any confusion from other light sources.

10. Last but not least – just relax and HAVE FUN!! Focus on the people around you and the excitement of the day! You laughing and smiling (and sometimes crying) with your loved ones will look significantly better in photos than you worrying about looking or smiling at our cameras! Just BE in the moment. We got you. <3

If you have any questions about anything in the post – leave me a comment and I’m happy to answer!! XOXO

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!