Getting Ready Photos On Your Wedding Day

 black & white photo of bride getting dressed

Do You Really Need Getting Ready Photos? Maybe So.

There’s a fair amount of debate about taking ‘Getting Ready’ photos – pictures of the bride and groom with their attendants as they get dressed and finish hair and make-up in that final hour or two before the ceremony.

During conversations I had with a friend of mine, who is a Chicago wedding Photographer, the packages are often by the hour. As the couple discusses the number of hours they need, they often tick off the time of first views of each other before the ceremony, through to the beginning of the reception, first dance, cutting the cake, and then any time they want of the guests dancing. But when a photographer mentions the getting ready segment, there can be more of a pause on whether the investment is worth it. In the end, like all things wedding-related, it comes down to the couple’s preferences and budget, but before dismissing it out of hand, here’s some thoughts:

It can provide the right balance of chaos and order. Later there may be perfectly organized photos of a group of bridesmaids lined up with even smiles and smooth hair. But how much nicer a story it tells to have that come after a series of scenes of bobby pins and smeared lipstick and curling irons? Like the wedding itself, this day comes together, piece by piece, one slot sliding into its place at a time, and so little of the behind the scenes effort can be captured. And like the marriage itself, it takes a lot of people, and a lot of work, to build the photos of perfect romance that will be framed throughout the day later.

This is also the end of the end. These are the final moments of single-dom, the transition to married life, the last preparations for a ceremony that shuts the door on a definition of what we were, and opens to who we have become. Photographs of these moments include all the others who were chosen to bear witness and help the bride prepare for this shift in identity – mother, sisters, cousins, friends, whomever.

There is some time for quiet moments. If you choose to have a mix of candid shots and posed shots, you might wish to have mother-daughter photos, or sister-sister pictures, that are relaxed and informal, but set in a room apart from where the actual preparations are (if you’re getting ready in your parents’ home, maybe a shot in your childhood room).

bride putting on crosage

The decision is not a bride’s-only choice. Grooms may discover that even though their prep time is shorter, they are having an equally significant final transition from their single life, and it is perhaps because they tend to express less emotion verbally, that catching the unexpressed communication of the moments that are passing amongst them it could be all the more memorable to have photos. While there might be less explicit “helping” the groom get ready, there can still be opportunities for father-son shots, or loosely staged shots of the groomsmen as they prepare together. Because the groom so often plays second fiddle to his bride, such shots could help ensure that he and his male attendants garner a bit of stage time as well.

Naturally, it’s also a place where people sometimes choose to have the photo of the first time the father sees the bride. Again, this is a nice moment to capture, that really by definition needs to be done as a slightly staged, slightly candid shot, and is more easily done in a setting where there is a smaller audience.

For couples with a very limited budget the getting ready shots can never take precedence over photographs of the ceremony or the first dance. But before those who have the choice disregard it completely, it’s worth considering if the opportunity to memorialize those moments should be captured. The thing to recognize however, is that the getting ready time is not simply photographing zipping up dresses and pinning boutonnieres, but shedding pasts and preparing for futures – a transition that might be worth the photos.  Here’s a cheesy plug, if you are looking for a Chicago engagement photographer or wedding photographer be sure to visit Bob’s blog.  He is a phenomenal artist and an even better friend!