how to plan your morning for the best photos

As a wedding photojournalist, I’m all about telling the story of your day. That begins with you getting ready in the morning. To be clear, we don’t need to be there when you first roll out of bed, but we usually start with brides for hair and makeup and with grooms before they put on their suits.

This prep time is filled with so many great moments – toasting and laughing with your friends, your mom helping with jewelry, and the reaction of your bridesmaids when they see you in your dress. You’ll be surrounded by your closest friends and family which can make for great emotional and intimate moments. Here are a few of my suggestions for making the most of your morning and the best getting ready photos.

Choose a room with good natural light

One of the most important factors in any kind of photos is having good light and that’s definitely the case on wedding mornings. I usually suggest hotel rooms near your reception venue. Hotels almost always have good window light (make sure you request a corner suite with windows on both sides). Plus, it’s an easy place to come back to at the end of the night. You’ll be spending a pretty significant and important time in this space, so don’t let this be an afterthought.

Tidy up the clutter

If you’re getting ready in a hotel room, that’s great. They’re clean and peaceful – or at least they are when you check in. It can be difficult to keep things tidy, but assigning somebody to keep the clutter under control will go a long way. If you’re in the room the night before take a few minutes and tuck away all the normal hotel stuff (notepads, room service menus, tourist guides, etc). If you’re getting ready at home, do your best to hide any wedding planning chaos like DIY supplies or Crate & Barrel boxes from the registry.

Opt for a larger room and limit the crowd

One of the easiest ways to cut the anxiety of the morning is to choose a larger suite. With more room for people to move around things won’t get cluttered as easily and it will feel more relaxed. It’s also a good idea to keep the crowd limited to people that really need to be there. A constant stream of visitors can be stressful as you’re trying to get ready, so don’t feel bad about telling your out-of-town guests to wait until the wedding to say hello.

Consider what you wear in the morning

Personalized button up shirts or matching robes can create a fun look for your squad while getting ready. They make great bridesmaids gifts and are perfect for slipping into your dress without messing up your hair and makeup!

Organize and arrange your details

f you have details that you’d like photographed (jewelry, shoes, dress, invitations), have them ready and laid out before your photographer arrives. It’s helpful if you can remove any tags ahead of time. That’ll save some time and we’ll know exactly what you want photos of. And I always recommend packing a photogenic hanger – either a classic wood hanger or something like the custom options here.

Hair and makeup

If you’re having hair and makeup done at the hotel have them set up so that the makeup chair is closest to the biggest window, facing outward. That way you’ll get the most accurate light for your makeup artist and the photos will look great. It’s best if you start with hair before makeup. Also, you’ll want to go toward the end of the list, but not very last. That way you’re not in full hair and makeup all morning and you’re not being rushed at the end. It’s super easy to fall behind before before hair and makeup finish. Don’t feel bad about assigning a trusted person to watch the time and (politely) keep the glam team on schedule. 

Allow an hour to get into the dress

At first glance, that might seem like way too much, but you really do want to give yourself that time. There’s actually quite a lot that happens between the time when you’re finished with makeup until the time we leave. Giving yourself those 60 minutes will mean you’re not being rushed and stressed. During that time the rest of the ladies need to put their dresses on and then you have to get into the dress. put on your jewelry and shoes and then get things packed and ready to leave.

A few notes for the guys

Most of the tips on this page are bride-centric, but there’s a few things specific to grooms that can make a huge difference. We always work with two photographers, so we’ll be there with both parties. We want pictures of your best man helping you with the tie or cufflinks so it’s important that guys wait until the photographer arrives to start getting dressed. The same notes about a tidy room with good light still very much apply as well. Once you’re dressed and ready, consider heading down to the hotel lobby bar for a quick drink. Those pictures always look great.