The Preparations

The Preparations

Traditional wedding photographs include the preparations as the bridal party gets ready, although some couples may also request photos of the groom getting ready, which is obviously going to be a bit tricky if you're working on your own. However the groom's preparation shots are much simpler, so you may be able to delegate this task to an assistant, while you concentrate on the bridal party.

You'll be "on duty" from the moment you arrive at the bridal house. The place will be a bustle of activity, with bridesmaids getting ready, the bride getting her makeup done, bouquets and buttonholes being prepared, and various fathers and brothers standing around in the garden where they've been banished to keep them out of the way. You need to photograph all of this, but you also need to keep out of everyone's way and not interrupt the schedule. Aim to take about 30-40 pictures of the preparations, making sure that you catch all the important moments. Use a combination of fill-in flash and natural light shots, and try to vary the angles and compositions a little. The vital shots to get are:

  • The wedding dress hanging up, including close-ups on any details such as pearls or fancy stitching

  • A good natural-light portrait shot of the bride having her hair/makeup done

  • The bridesmaids getting their hair/makeup done

  • A nice still-life of the flowers, bouquets and buttonholes on the kitchen table ready for use, possibly along with the bride's shoes

  • The bride in her dress with her mum and the bridesmaids helping to arrange the train and/or veil

  • The bride hugging her mum and/or dad before setting off for the church

  • The Bride in full regalia ready to leave

  • The Bride getting into the wedding car

For the groom's party's preparations you won't usually need to take as many pictures, but there are a few traditional ones you or your assistant should try to get:

  • Groom and best man putting on ties, polishing shoes etcetera

  • Groom with father and/or mother

  • Groom and best man all dressed up and ready to leave for the church

  • Groom and best man getting into car

  • A close-up of the rings on an open Bible or wedding invitation, or in the best man's hand

At some point you're going to find yourself very pressed for time. You need to be at the church for several minutes before the bride arrives, because there are some important shots you need to take there, so as soon as you get the photo of the bride getting into the car you need to hare off as fast as you can. This can obviously cause some problems, so plan ahead and make sure you can find a parking space close by. If the day's busy schedule allows, arrange with the bridal party to wait for about ten minutes before setting off to give you time to take the pre-arrival shots you need and be ready and waiting for the bride's big entrance.

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