Photos of the couple getting ready are often part of what the bride wants on the day of the wedding.  Notice I said what the bride wants!  Generally the groom doesn’t care! When this is requested, your timeline will begin here.  I am a huge fan of getting these pictures.  This is why:

  • Using this time before the ceremony gives you a chance to bond with the bride and her bridesmaids
  • You get a chance to add more detail shots
  • This feels like a warm up before the ceremony, so you get your jitters out


I always try to plan it so that I arrive when the make up is being finished and the hair is almost done.  The reason for this is because the bride will sit there for at least 2 hours getting make up and hair done, there is no need to take pictures for that long of her getting ready.  So when I arrive, that’s about the time that her mascara is being applied and her lips are having color added.  I love getting those shots of the bride’s eyes when she’s getting mascara applied!  Her hair is getting the last few curls and then being pinned up, so it’s great to get shots of how the hairstyle comes together. 

While I’m waiting for something new to happen with the bride, because you can only take so many photos of mascara or curls, I take photos of the bridesmaids getting ready as well.  While I’m doing all of this, my second shooter is with the groom getting pictures of him getting ready.  Those pictures usually entail the groom buttoning his shirt, doing his cuff links, doing his tie, putting on his jacket and tying his shoes.  It takes less time for the groom to get ready, so if all his groomsmen are with him, the second shooter will get some shots of all the guys together which will save time later in the day. 

Now that the bride has her make up and hair done, she’s ready to get into her dress. MAKE SURE BEFORE SHE PUTS HER DRESS ON, YOU'VE TAKEN PICTURES OF HER DRESS HANGING.  Once she has the dress on, I start clicking away.  You want to be sure to get pictures of the back of her dress being buttoned, tied or zipped (sometimes all 3), a sash being tied and then pull back so you get pictures of the people doing those things to her dress.  This is about the time the bride will look into a mirror and cry.  So be ready for that!  She still has shoes to put on, which someone usually helps her with.  I usually get on the ground to get those pictures so that the angle is good.  Her garter goes on the right leg.  Memorize that.  You’ll be asked at almost every wedding you do.  Nobody will know which leg to put it on, so they’ll expect you to know!!  Now that she’s done with all of this, she has her jewelry to put on.  There is usually a large or long mirror in the room, so I ask her to put this on while looking in that mirror.  This makes for some really pretty photos.  She also has her veil to put on, which someone else usually does for her, be sure to get pictures of that.  Now that the bride is completely ready, you get to head to the ceremony site and wait there for the ceremony to begin. 

Here are some key points to remember when taking photos of a bride getting ready:

  • Photograph everything. The details in the room from the night before, her bridesmaids, all the details you see, photograph them.
  • Change angles a lot. Don’t just shoot straight on.  Change your angles and the way you look at the details.  Turn the camera just a bit, get on the floor to get those shoe shots.
  • Get lots of pictures of the bridesmaids if they are there getting ready as well. They are a huge part of this day and candids of them are great. Try to get a few pictures once the bride is ready of all the bridesmaids with the bride together.  This is fun to do on the bed, at the edge of the bed or a table or anywhere they will all fit in one spot!
  • Move around the room so you have a chance to see everything.
  • Your camera settings may be difficult. Your shooting inside with what may be really bad lighting.  Your ISO will probably need to be very high, but your shutter speed can be low because these girls aren’t going to move too fast.  You can shoot more wide open if you are doing the detail shots of one person, otherwise, remember to increase the aperture if they aren’t on the same plane. 


Click on the link below to download a 6-page Wedding Detail and Shot List courtesy of Amy from On The Phippside Photography!  


   Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California.  Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children.  When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.

Visit her website.