The spaces where you get ready, should be spacious and match the vibe of the wedding. It is worth investing in a hotel suite or AirBnB. Even your parent’s house can work. A small room with just a bed in the middle is only meant for sleeping, we cannot even do full-length photos. A hotel suite works well if you expect a lot of people to be there on the morning of your wedding day.
The hotel bedroom where Bianca was getting ready is small and cluttered (left photo). Luckily, this room was on the first floor and had a back door exit to the inner garden where we were able to take bridal party portraits (photo on the right). The photos on the bottom show the spacious living room of the hotel suite (on the left) and a nicely furnished living room of the bride's parents' house. Both options are great for a big bridal party.
Try to avoid clutter in the room. I understand that it is impossible, as you will have suitcases, boxes, wrapping paper, snacks, and beverages sprawled everywhere. But try to keep everything in one designated corner—and not by the window, because it’s the best place for the photographs!
That all being said, I do realize how hectic the wedding day is. The last thing I want you to do on this day is clearing the clutter in your bridal suite. Designate a person in charge, somebody who would be in charge of coordinating details. I usually try at least to clear some clutter near a window, to shoot the details and portraits.
Lighting is everything. It’s no wonder that photography means “painting with light”. The best light is usually in the morning until around 10 am and at least 3 hours before sunset, typically around 3-6 pm depending on the season. Therefore, the light from noon to 3 pm in summer is the worst; the sun shines from above and produces raccoon eyes and uneven, hard light but unfortunately, that is when a lot of wedding photography happens.
Most often, we start the pictures around noon or 2 pm. No worries. We still provide great images in that light by planning and scouting the location ahead, using some extra lights, reflectors, and other tricks, but it will require more time and preparation. At this time, finding shade and backlighting the pictures is more important than the background.
Window light is always great: it provides soft and even highlights and shadows and creates a cinematic look.
Timing is crucial on your wedding day. Make sure your makeup artist knows what time you need to be ready. If they run late, we might have to skip some parts of the photography. The makeup artist prefers to do bridal makeup and hair last, and I often see them finishing later than expected (in about 50% of the cases) and some parts of the planned photography, such as a bridal party in robes portraits or dad’s first look or bridal portraits or the bride’s getting dressed pictures have to be skipped simply because there is no time. This is heartbreaking. It also creates more unnecessary stress at the beginning of the day, on the day that is already stressful enough.
We usually recommend for the bride not to be the last one for makeup. that will allow to have some time for bridal portraits and getting dressed portraits. The bride should be ready 1- 1.5 hours before the ceremony ( earlier if we plan first look and portraits before the ceremony).
If your wedding is planned around several locations, make sure you have enough extra time for the commute, parking, and getting from the parking lot to the wedding site. Even though it is most likely a weekend, I have also been through situations when a typical 30-minute drive from the hotel room to the ceremony location turned into an hour and a half with the ceremony having to be postponed because of a car accident on the highway.
If possible, try to book your hotel near the ceremony place and your ceremony place near the reception place. Having everything is in the same location eliminates most stress, not to mention leaving more time for pictures :). You will also need to factor in time for some breaks and snacks. Do not assume that you will figure it out later during the day. It is important that you have some breaks and feel relaxed and not rushed.
Being aware of these often-overlooked wedding planning tasks will help you to avoid any last-minute hiccups on your wedding day. Generic wedding planning checklists are a great place to start, but always personalize a list like that to fit the special things you have in mind for your particular celebration.