Tips for beautiful bridal prep photos
Whether you are getting ready at your childhood home or bridal suite or a fancy suite – I got you and will prepare you for beautiful bridal prep photos on the morning of your wedding day.
Before you get married, you will be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions (mostly joy) as you get dolled up and surrounded by your favorite lady (sometimes guy) friends – your bridal party! As you prepare to marry your favorite human of all, you want photos to capture the glow on your face, wearing your best white dress, accompanied by your girls, and all the moments remembered as your parents see you in your best dress for the first time.
This is the bridal “suite” at Midtown Loft and Terrace in Manhattan. This is a photo taken with available light, no flash used.
Choosing your bridal prep location
Where you put on your wedding dress is very important. The idea is that the corner and overall space are clean, well lit, and organized. Here are tips on choosing your bridal prep location
If you want to get ready off-site, I recommend you check out local hotel suites, Airbnb, VRBO, or an hourly room option on peerspace.com
Tips on what to look for when choosing your bridal prep location:
- Does it have a full-length mirror? Preferably one that is mobile to move around the space. Some brides end up ordering one online if there isn’t one
- Does it have at least two large rooms – one to take photos in, while there’s a second separate space (like a larger section of a suite) for the rest of the bridal party to get hair and makeup done and collect the clutter?
- Does it have oversized windows without an AC unit? How about plenty of natural light?
- Does the furniture meet your wedding day vibe?
- Do the windows give access to the public to see in? For example, if your partner were to get ready at the same location and walked by your room – would he/she/they be able to sneak a peek inside?
- Does it have white ceilings? How about white walls?
- Are there stools for hair and makeup to prep you on and enough area space for their tools/makeup kits?
- Does the location provide steamer and iron?
- How close is it to your ceremony or first look portrait location?
- Is there large enough closet space for all the clutter to live in on wedding day?
- Not photography-related: Can food catering be delivered to the location?
- Not photography-related: Is there large enough fridge space for beverages on the wedding day?
How to prepare for your bridal prep photo experience
Did you know pure white wedding dresses are harder to photograph on a sunny day? Especially seeing any details on the gown.
These bridal prep tips are unique and up to you to decide what sounds like you. Some way to make beautiful bridal prep photos is really the thoughtful decorations, fun props, and personalized things that bring out the bride’s story on her wedding day
- Have your dress pre-steamed, unstuffed, out of the bag, and away in a space that won’t be surrounded by too many people (preferably in a closed-off room hung up near a window)
- Idea: Place your dress on a mannequin
- Idea: Hang your dress on a personalized hanger or a handcrafted – vintage one like this
- Don’t forget your Bluetooth speaker or delegate a bridesmaid to bring one. Most importantly, you should create a bridal party prep getting ready photo playlist. As soon as you start getting ready, set the tone of the wedding day morning with positive vibes.
- Designate one area (near a window + mirror) to place the dress and another area that can collect clutter (closet space or behind a couch).
- Idea: Fun props for bridal prep photoshoots
- As soon as I arrive, please have all your details organized on a table or in a box so it’s ready to be photographed first. Most brides want these details photographed: vows, invitations, shoes, rings + box, flower petals from the florist, something blue, borrowed, old, new, and jewelry
- Please request your florist to provide a bag of flower petals for the detail photos and your bouquet ready before I arrive
- Ask your glam team to provide you with extra bobby pins, lash glue, lip products. If possible, see if they will stay until your first look is over in case you need to touch up from crying.
This is a photoshop photo using flash. I swapped the white wall background with wallpaper to compliment the flower color palette.
What you need to know in order to have beautiful bridal prep photos
- Try on your dress at the place you ordered it from. Make sure it fits and a video on how to bustle it to share with your wedding coordinator. Record the amount of time on how long it took you to put on your dress. Remember button-up gowns take longer to put on.
- Wherever your gown lives (in a preservation bag), make sure to also include your sticky bra/undergarments in there too
- Most of the time hair and makeup run behind schedule. I recommend you add extra buffer time in case you were to run late. Usually, it’s because you, as a bride, will be asked questions, saying hello to people, and checking your phone which interrupts the artist’s process as they get your glam ready. Adding extra time for hair and makeup also gives you a chance to request touch-ups if you need any! The last thing we want is to rush through the bridal prep photo experience or arrive late to your ceremony
- Clutter is inevitable, I know, I know;) When I arrive I may request some bridesmaids to assist with moving clutter away from the picture-perfect photo area(s).
- Sometimes furniture layout is in the way of the perfect photo spot – I may request to move furniture around in order to make your photos beautiful
- Most of the time, I will turn off the ambient light in the room so it doesn’t affect the final image.
- The window light is our favorite source of light in making beautiful photos – please designate areas near windows for photos. As for hair and makeup, please ask that they bring a ring light in case there’s not ample space near windows. If you want to have one just in case, I recommend this ring light to bring for bridal prep!
- Please try to wait to drink excessively until all photos are done. Drinking can affect eye puffiness, cheek fullness, redness, and controlling your facial expressions.
- As soon as I arrive, I will photograph the details first – and during that time, you should be finishing up the final touches on glam and taking final Instagram/tik tok/ reels content with your makeup and hair team.
- In the event you chose a location for bridal prep photos that are not ideal for portraits, we can move your portraits outdoors or use flash photography. Examples are shown below.
- If you’re bringing anything sentimental to you, please let me know so I don’t miss a moment where you can always remember it
- Recent brides have been personalizing their bridal prep experience by adding on time for:
- a mini boudoir photoshoot
- creating a tik tok or Instagram reel (before and after getting in dress)
- reading a letter/opening gift from their partner
- taking photos with their kids or pets
Please let me know if you want to personalize your bridal prep experience!
This photo was taken with flash at Whitby Castle, Rye NY bridal suite
The standard bridal prep photos timeline
30 MIN Detail photos
-All of bridal party should be finishing up the glam
25 MIN A fun bridal party photo with champagne pop or confetti toss while wearing matching robes/pajamas
30 MIN Get in dress in private, bridesmaids are in a separate room to prepare for first look
15 MIN Bridal portraits + with a mother figure
10 MIN First look with bridesmaids
10 MIN First look with a father figure
15 MIN Wrap up and pack up for first look or ceremony
Examples of photography styles
99.9% of the time I mix photography styles of flash, natural light, and window light for bridal preparation portraits. This way you have a variety of portraits to choose from. Deep dive with me with a photographer’s eye: take note of the below wedding photography examples on how the space is clutter-free and where the light hits the bride’s face. Notice how window light does give a more moody-emotional vibe and flash gives more of a fashion-editorial vibe.
Natural light is always a favorite to work with as it requires minimal equipment and more opportunities for backdrops. However, natural light can be tricky when it’s rainy or sunny. Cloudy days are the easiest natural light scenarios to work with.
Although I enjoy flash-style photography (a lot), keep in mind that setting up lighting equipment takes a little more time and posing and direction becomes very important.
The window light is so much fun to play around with and I recommend you open gifts, read your partner’s letter to you, and get dressed in front of the window light. Emotional storytelling in photographs is my favorite near window light. At the end of the day, I want to ensure your photos look professional and you look beautiful!