Weddings & Life Podcast with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro: Welcome to the Everything series. In the next several episodes I will talk you through the entire wedding day, these episodes will be full of practical advice, what to expect, timeline ideas and more. If you’re new to weddings or really want to dive into what your day might look like these are the episodes for you. Today we are breaking down the getting ready process on the wedding day.
Welcome to the next episode. I am excited about this series. I feel like these episodes are the idea that made me want to start this podcast in the first place and that these will be episodes I refer back to often. I am going to break the wedding day down into 4 parts, over the next four episodes. Assuming the episodes don’t get too long, but I figure you can always pause and hop right back in on your next car ride or workout you know. So the episodes will be Getting ready, ceremony, portraits, and reception. I’ve already done an episode about first looks (episode 3) so I am going to lump all of the portraits of the day together. These episodes will probably be a bit longer, but I am going to spill it all. What I see couples overlook and what I see them do well. These episodes are not meant to be the right way or the best way to do weddings, I don’t believe in one right way at all. But I hope they are insightful, give you new ideas as you plan your own wedding and make you excited for your own wedding day!
Oh getting ready. One of my favorite parts of the entire wedding day and it always goes so quickly. How the getting ready portion of your wedding day goes will really set up your timeline to succeed or be drastically altered. I’ve seen this portion of the wedding day run smoothly and quietly and I’ve seen meltdowns. Thankfully its usually more fun chaos than meltdowns!
I couldn’t decide how to break this episode down so I thought I’d try the classic who, what, when, where, why. However then it started spiraling in organization, this episode is truly packed with everything I can think to share about this part of the day. So I will start with where, then who, when is definitely included and what is where basically everything else falls in haha.
So let’s start with the location-
Let’s start by discussing location if you have the choice of location for your getting ready, bride or groom, here is what to look for in a perfect getting ready space:
- windows, windows windows and more windows. Even if your space is painted black if there is a wall full of windows your photographers will have a great time photographing your getting ready.
- But let’s not go for painted black friends. We want bright photos for your getting ready. Look for spaces with white walls and lots of windows.
- If I can continue to be picky I’d go for a space without a lot of unique decor on the walls, that can be distracting in the background of your images
- Look for a getting ready location with plenty of space! No one little hotel room will probably not best suit you and your 12 bridesmaids, mother, grandmother and flower girls throughout the whole getting ready process. Your hair/makeup team will need space, as well as room to hang up and potentially steam dresses ect.
One thing you can always control about getting ready location is the amount of clutter in the room/space. It adds up quickly, each bridesmaid brings the hanging dress, a duffle bag, extra shoes, snacks and a purse. Soon enough your room is full. Imagine in your head these moments as you get ready. You, the bride sitting on the edge of the couch showing off your robe and freshly styled hair and makeup. And on the cushions next to you several opened duffle bags with a stack of duffle bags and empty water bottles and half full mimosa glasses on the side table. Or how about picturing the moment of your mom helping you into your dress, we kicked everyone else out of the room but you both and it’s such a sweet moment. Just you, your mom, and your hot pink bra laying on the floor right next to you. Okay so those are silly and maybe extreme examples but let me tell you a clutter free getting ready image is not only perfection but hard to create as a photographer.
So my advice for keeping the clutter to a minimum, at a set time (preferable right as your photographer is arriving) have all bridesmaids/family members pack up everything extra and take it out to their cars or hotel rooms. Only keep the necessities of hanging dresses and the last minute hair/makeup touchup supplies. Take all of the snacks and condense them to one area of the room. If there is a closet then things can easily be piled in there. Just taking a moment to help everyone gather their things will go a long way.
Something else to consider if you are choosing your getting ready location- is its proximity to your portrait locations and venue(s). Just be aware if your location is far apart that traffic and things running late could push your timeline around.
I wanted to mention that I see a lot of venue weddings, so usually the getting ready space is fairly defined in these circumstances. I am lucky to see a lot of great venue getting ready spaces as far as bright, window filled ect. Now if you have no control over the location of your getting ready potentially be flexible for where certain moments happen. Your makeup artist might want to position you closer to a window than the dark corner, or your photographer might have you and your mother step out into the hall way for better natural light as she helps you into your dress. Basically you want the picture worth moments in a more picture worthy space!
So next let’s chat who. Who should be there during your getting ready portion of the day:
Brides- mom, sisters, bridesmaids, hair/makeup team, and other vendors will pop in from time to time, and your photog and videographer
Grooms- groomsmen, parents (optional), someone to help pin boutonnieres (we’ll get into that later), photog and videographer
I’ve seen others involved too- grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles, also other friends there to be an extra hand. When you’re considering who to have with you while you’re getting ready think about what you might most need during those moments- probably a room full of friends and people who will pump you up and also keep you calm.
Now let’s talk what. First step- details
While I am on the picture mode (no these episodes won’t solely be about photography, but hello it’s sort of my thing and if I can help you and your photographer out during this time I will!
Let’s talk details to set aside for your photographer. Yes your photographer wants to photograph your details. Yes we know these aren’t the absolute most important portraits to you, but you spend hours selecting each detail and item that goes into your wedding day and believe it or not the detail photos set the tone for your wedding gallery and truly can tie your design and vision together at the beginning of your day. No these won’t be the photos you print out for your walls, but a detail spread in your wedding album will show your design and family heirlooms to your kiddos one day. Who knows maybe one of those details will be passed down for your daughter’s wedding too.
So for the bride here is a list of details to set aside for your photographer-
- -the dress, shoes, veil, jewelry (earrings, necklace, bracelets) your rings (I like to photograph all the rings at this point in the day, other photogs wait until later so ask on this)
- Pro tip- hang up your dress on your preferred hanger first thing! Take off the plastic and cardboard shaping this is your dress’s day to shine and you will save your photographer time by doing this now!
- -Your garter
- -Your perfume
- -Your invitation suite
- Wedding day stationery
- -Your written vows
- -Your florals, bouquet, flower crown, and extra floral clippings! Photogs love extra blooms to style your details with!
- -Family heirlooms, if you have your grandmothers penny in the shoe or hand mirror YES we want it in the photos!
- -extras- a special clutch if it matches your wedding style, other details you love
Next up groom’s details, I don’t want to skip on these! I think the groom and grooms style are very under photographed and I love capturing groom style in detail photos. Here is a list of groom details –
- Shoes (yes you need to wait to put on your shoes until we finish these!)
- Wedding ring
- Fun or special socks (funky socks)
- Tie clip
- Written vows
- Any other details you’d like photographed
Okay so detail photos will probably happen right up front of the getting ready time with your photographer, but your day will start much earlier than that! One day I am going to invite a hair/makeup artist on to the podcast to tell you all the tips and tricks and their expertise, but for now I am going to share the limited amount that I know about for the hair/makeup portion of getting ready-
Pro tip- you might need to start hair/makeup early early early in your day! If you’re having hair/makeup styled for yourself and your 12 bridesmaids, mothers and flower girls don’t be surprised if your stylists need upwards of 6 hours. So as you’re booking these vendors ask them about how much time they will need, where they provide these services (on location or do you go to their studio?) And send them your photographers timeline so they know when you need to be done for the day. Aka if you’re first look is at 3pm you shouldn’t be finishing your hair/makeup right at 3 because you need a buffer time to get your dress on let alone a fun photo of you with your bridesmaids in matching robes.
Also ask your stylists how they prefer you prepare for your wedding day hair/makeup. I am guessing clean, dry product free hair and face, but they will know what they want!
Also, you as the bride might be snacking or eating during this getting ready process. I’ve seen some brides finish their lunch/snack and then go brush their teeth before putting on lipstick. Not a bad idea and a great way for the photographer to get a fun getting ready detail moment too! Usually the photographer isn’t there for the entire getting ready portion of the day.
As a photographer this is where I’ve seen timelines go to poop. We are ready to get the bride in her dress but her hair still needs 45 minutes ect. Or we want to get the bride in her dress but they didn’t think to finish her mother’s hair/makeup earlier and mom doesn’t want to be in photos before she is finished with those too.
Actually that’s a good Segway into moms and getting ready! Brides- tell your mom what time she needs to be there and ready aka in her dress. If her hair/makeup is being styled then she will be included in the timeline, but that isn’t always the case. And no your mom doesn’t want to be in her pjs while she’s buttoning your wedding dress. So a good rule of thumb I like to go by, asking the bride’s mom to be ready 15 minutes before we’d like to start putting the dress on.
Next- here are some other moments during the getting ready portion of the day you might want to make time for photos of-
- a champagne/mimosa toast with your girls (or shots for guys)
- A robe/matching t shirt or pj picture with your bridesmaids (timing with hair/makeup is tricky here! Ask your photog when this should happen or make sure your makeup team is on board!)
- Opening wedding day gifts or letters from your person
- A special moment with just your mother after putting on the dress
- Finishing touches like putting on shoes/earrings
- A first look with your bridesmaids
- Grooms- someone helping your pin you boutonniere, maybe a parent?
- Guys fun moments before (card games, music, enjoying the scenery at your venue)
- A first look between bride & her father
I’ve already touched on a few of these family events in episode 8, so if you’re looking for advice for your parents on the wedding day check that out!
Okay so here are some fun details or just things I’ve seen during the getting ready portion of the day- matching bridesmaid robes/pjs. No you don’t have to do this but it can make for a cute group photo!
Also bride’s I highly recommend having a getting ready robe or outfit that makes you feel fabulous! I personally LOVE getting some individual photos of the bride just after she has finished hair and makeup and before dress. It reflects the stillness and anticipation of those moments and can help you feel great too! I feel like being able to take time and get these individual moments and images can set us up well for the rest of the day portraits too because we as the photographer go to take a quiet moment with you and make you feel beautiful as your day is beginning!
Other fun details to have are bridesmaid/groomsmen getting ready gifts, this can be photographed or not but I bet they love it!
Also having good food, snacks and water for the getting ready is a smart idea! Fuel up before you have a packed rest of your day! Ps. It’s helpful to have a toothbrush or floss handy for the post snack and pre ceremony/portrait time frame! I don’t know about you but I always end up with something in my teeth!
Another fun tip about getting ready- you probably don’t want to get ready in a silent room. A fun playlist can help make the morning feel extra special too and create a fun environment! If you the bride don’t want to create the playlist then have a bridesmaid or sister set a channel for you the day or morning of!
Okay moving on to last steps before putting on the dress- before your hair stylist leaves have her or him show you, your mother and a bridesmaid how to put in your veil! It’s important! Also a note to EVERYONE- Flip the veil. The curve goes WITH the bride’s head, not against. It is meant to be flipped and the comb goes down into the hair. I repeat the curve does not go opposite of the bride’s head- that looks funny and very weird! Don’t do that. Ps. Sometimes the veil will need to be bobby pinned in the hair to stay well with winds ect. A bobby pin or two on each side going into the comb can help!
It might be a good idea to leave time to read/exchange any letters right after your hair/makeup are styled. Makes you feel put together for those fun memories.
You can also schedule in a bit of time to have a quiet moment by yourself before getting into your dress. If this will help you feel great, lessen any nervousness then might not be a bad idea!
Okay, now on to the actual getting dressed advice-
Let’s start with the guys- for groom and groomsmen I recommend they have pants and shirts on about 45 minutes prior, and then the photographer can capture the adjusting of jackets, ties and bowties. Also to anyone out there brave enough to try to go for legit bowties, like not the pre-tied bowties, study up on YouTube and invite some help to make sure you can get these tied alright! Then about 15 minutes before the first look/ceremony portraits I’d recommend having all the guy’s boutonnieres pinned. This is also a task that someone should be prepared to help with, a girlfriend of a groomsman, an aunt, or mother or father of the groom too.
While the guys don’t have quite as much going on for getting ready photographers still love to capture their detail photos too, so try not to arrive completely ready if you have set apart getting ready coverage. Speaking from this photographer’s perspective yes I have asked grooms to take off their shoes and tie before when we’ve had the time haha.
Okay now on to the bride getting dressed-
Usually this is a moment I like to keep as private as possible. So just the bride and her mother or maybe a sibling there too. It’s always up to personal preference but I know that brides and mothers have appreciated having a moment to themselves too. So if you have a preference about this moment maybe tell your photog/videographer
Practical tips- go to the restroom one last time before putting on your dress, reapply deodorant, and change any necessary undergarments
I typically will use a tidy well lit portion of the room to photograph the moment of the bride being buttoned or zipped into the dress and then have bride and mom/sisters turn and look at each other because cue the water works it’s usually a beautifully emotionally charged moment.
Helpful things to have done before hand- practice any body tapping you need. I’ve seen a lot of confused or panicked faces when brides realize that they have no idea how to actually use the body tape to help keep their dresses in place. Maybe take it along to your final fitting and let any alterations person give advice on that too, but leaving it for the first time the day of can be a little rough.
Another helpful tool to have is a crochet hook. Brides- if your dress has buttons with real loops you will WANT this! Because everyone with you is probably going to have a fresh manicure set and no one can do these easily with fake nails! Get a crochet hook that is easy to hook with, so not tiny tiny but also not ginormous. I am picturing a hook about half the side of your finger width. (Yes I have crocheted before but I don’t know exactly what hook size to recommend)
After that we go for putting on earrings, jewelry and shoes. When it comes to shoes if you’re going to wear pads/cushions for your shoes maybe don’t apply/stick those in until you’re basically ready to wear them. It’s totally your preference but I know I personally photograph the bride’s shoe as a detail and it is hard to not get the cushions/padding in the pictures too. But on the other side definitely try on your shoes with the padding loose before to make sure it doesn’t make your shoe too tight! Look at me being picky on shoes there! Opinions I didn’t realize I had so many of!
So how much time should you leave to get dressed as the bride… I personally like to allot 20-30 minutes for this. Sometimes with buttons or taping it truly takes up that amount of time.
Then if you’re wanting a first look with your bridesmaids we’d set that up, also a first look with dad.
Pro tip- if you’re going for the garter on your wedding day you do not have to wear it all day long. Just pack it up and put it on during the reception right before the toss. Do whatever you want with that but I wanted to voice it for you! Also especially if your garter is loose I’ve seen lost garters down the ceremony aisle before.
So here are some dos and don’ts for wedding day getting ready-
- Declutter your getting ready space
- Ready details for your photographer
- Plan for healthy and nutritious snacks/ lunch to keep you going for the rest of the day
- Leave plenty of time for hair/makeup styling
- Have a fun bridal robe
- Make a fun getting ready play list for music
- Assign someone to help groom & groomsmen pin boutonnieres
- Have a crochet hook ready for buttons
- Have fun!
- cut short your getting ready coverage
- Leave a messy space
- Not commentate between vendors (hair/makeup and photog)
- Forget your mom if she’s helping you get dressed
- Try to tie a bow tie for the first time on the wedding day itself
- Leave too much for the last minute- ex writing vows, manicure ect.
- Put the veil on wrong! (Aka curve away from the head)
Okay and my last pieces of advice are just about the emotions during this part of the day-
You will probably feel nervous, a big thing is happening and you haven’t seen each other yet. It’s exciting so embrace the suspense, surround yourself with people you love and will make the morning better and more fun.
I truly think it gets easier throughout the day. So if you have a first look it will be easier after you see each other, and if you’re waiting for the ceremony it will be easier after you walk down the aisle.
So if you haven’t been able to tell I love this portion of the wedding day. I hope this can help you visualize it all and provide some practical tips. If you have any questions or thoughts about this episode I’d love to chat! Send me a dm on instagram! Thanks for listening to the first episode of the everything series!