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Getting ready bridal photos: advices before your walk down the aisle for your ceremony

The bride and bridesmaid preparation is one of the most loved moments of the wedding day by most of the wedding photographers. Indeed, while the bride has her makeup done, I usually shoot great informal pictures, and amazing portraits, full of emotions. Let me share with you a couple of tips that can help you schedule the perfect getting-ready process and improve your getting-ready photos.

Best Location for the Bride and the Bridesmaid to Get Ready

First, let’s talk about your getting ready location

As you may know, natural light is highly appreciated in photography. In truth, 90% of the time it creates a more beautiful effect than artificial light. The best would be to pick a hotel room facing north featuring big windows. Indeed, natural light from the north is usually softer, and so better for great shots. That said, direct sunlight (which is usually too strong) will always be better than artificial light only.

Having some good natural light is also important for your makeup if you want to see the real colors! So if you have one room with no windows, better to give it to the groomsmen.

Second, the Size and the Decoration of the Location

The best scenery for your getting-ready pictures would be a large room, with bright color walls and ceiling (white is totally perfect), and presenting some nice decoration. Decide on the size of the room according to the number of people who will be with you. It should not be too big nor too small, but just the right capacity.


Strangely, in the United States I have seen a lot of very nice hotels offering a meeting room for the bride and groom preparation. I guess it’s easier and much more convenient, but that’s the worst scenario ever! Often those spaces are not equipped with any windows, and as a consequence they are lightened by direct artificial lights from the ceiling (which are terrible). Also they are so spacious that you, your friends and family might feel lost in the middle of a so large space. It makes no sense. So, just pick a nice big suite in a nice good-looking hotel.


Also keep the place tidy and hide luggage and other things that are not nice on photos, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles.
TIPS: If you can’t find what you need, a great option is Airbnb. Indeed, you can find some nice apartments, or houses, which have a nice decoration and a real soul.

Who Gets Ready With the Bride?

In the United States, the bride is usually getting ready with her bridal party. The bridal party is composed of siblings, best friends, and mother of the bride. That’s said, it’s not rare to also include the groom’s mother, the personal intendant and kids (flower girls and nieces).
There are no strict rules for who gets ready with the bride and who helps her with her gown, jewels, and other attire.
That may vary from one family to another depending on their bonds and affinity. Indeed, for personal reasons, some people avoid getting ready with their mother or siblings! It’s better to be surrounded only by people who don’t stress you and who help you relax.
Of course, it may depend on your specific culture. For instance, in India, the bride is wrapped in tissues, helped by both mothers, and surrounded by a lot of women.
Whoever you choose to get ready with you, it’s better to be surrounded by people you love. It’s only when you are happy, with a lot of excitement and emotions in the air that a talented professional wedding photographer can capture great candid portraits with his camera.

Time to Start Your Preparation

The bride’s preparation usually takes place during the morning of the wedding day. That being said, you may wonder when you should start to get ready before your ceremony.
Let me give you some wedding planning tips and estimations.
To design your perfect day photography timeline, consider not only the time required for hair and makeup (usually 1 hour and 1 hour) but also your bridal party preparation. If you have a large team, ask for more than two vendors!

Bridesmaids’ pictures

Once all your girls are ready, you may want to take some group pictures with your bridesmaids.

First looks

Ask yourself if you want to do a first look with your beloved one, or if you want him to discover you only at the time you walk down the aisle. If you agree to see him before, then think about whether you would choose the same spot or you would prefer a specific place somewhere else. Also, how much time would you need to drive there?
Ask yourself if you also want a first look with your father (or other family members, such as a mother or grandparents).

So to give you a rough idea of what a preparation timeline looks like.

  • Having your hair done: 1 hour.
  • Having your face enhanced: 1 hour
  • Having all your bridesmaid done: depend on how big is the bridal party and how many vendors you hire. During this time the photographer usually takes a picture of the groom and groomsmen.
  • Reveal the dress to your bridesmaid: 5–10 min
  • Open the bottle and start drinking champagne: 10 min
  • The bride gets in her dress and other jewels: 20 minutes
  • Reading the groom’s letter and open his gift, crying, and fixing the foundation: 5–10 min.
  • Hair stylist fixing the veil 5 min.
  • Pictures with bridesmaids 20 min
  • First look with the father, and gift from him 10–15 min
  • First look with the fiance, crying, fixing the foundation, crying again, 15 min.

What to do during your preparation

First of all, the time will fly fast. That being said, you can still upgrade this time with funny moments.

  • Verify that you have a decent breakfast on your big day. Ask for croissants and fruits, you need to refuel the batteries! If you don’t have time, ask your maid of honor to stop at Starbucks on the road and bring something for everyone (but hide the cups, because they are not nice on the photos).
  • It’s always better with music and good vibes, so have your playlist ready and don’t forget to bring some speakers.
  • Have fun with your squad. Gossip, play games, play some quizzes. Well, just have good moments.
  • Depending on the time of the day, you may want to open a bottle of champagne, it’s always fun.
  • You will probably offer to your team a singular outfit, such as silk dress, tee shirt, a necklace, hearings or other things! Occasionally, it can be the girls offering a gift to the bride, such as a photo book with the bachelorette pictures. Be sure that the photographer will be present!
  • Reproduce images you have seen on Pinterest. You may want to find inspiration in fun moments seen from other weddings on the internet and try to reproduce a shot. Make sure it works fine with your photographer prior to your wedding, and have all the props required.
  • You may have decided to exchange gifts and letters with your fiance. Make sure the photographer is present when you open them because those moments are usually great shots. And, as you know, wedding photography is about emotional moments!
  • Send a message to the groom and groomsmen to verify they are on track.

Details shots

The photographer usually starts the day by taking detailed shots while the bride starts her preparation.
He will hang the wedding dress on a nice place, inside or outside. Don’t forget a nice wood hunger. You can plan a picture with your dress and all your bridal party robes.
He will also take details of the shoes, your bouquet and bridesmaid bouquets.
Then he will take the wedding rings, the engagement diamond ring, and other accessories. If you have one, don’t forget the special pillow or the box the ring bearer will carry during the ceremony.
Don’t forget to bring an invitation card if you want to include stationery in your pictures.

For more details on the perfect timeline, please check out our dedicated webpage!

Black and White Portrait of Alexandre Mayeur, photographer at French-Touch-Photography

Born and raised in Paris, I am now a proud Wedding Photographer in Rochester, MN, serving MPLS.

I don’t only capture emotions in candid pictures, I also create timeless images and artful photographs.
Recognized as one of the best photographers in the Twin Cities.

I serve Duluth and also far beyond the 10,000 Lakes State (Wisconsin, Iowa, and destination). I am more than happy to discover beautiful landscapes and new horizons.

Have a look at my previous publications to learn more. As an experienced professional photographer, I don’t limit my field to lifestyle, family, or event photography! I invite you to visit my portfolio and discover my photography and work out of the studio.