'Twas the night before your wedding, and all through the house, the drinks had been stirring, maid of honour passed out on the couch....
OKAY, maybe not. I mean, hell yes to the drinks but maybe your maid of honour can hang on for just one more night?! Hahahaha.
Either way - things do tend to always get a weeeeee bit busier the night before and day of your wedding than anticipated. Even in the least stressful scenarios, there could be some calls that need to be made, or changes added to the schedule, that might throw off your list of "to do's" before you walk down the aisle.
When your photographer arrives at your getting ready location the morning or afternoon of your wedding, you'll likely be planted down in the chair where all the magic happens, not able to run around searching for details that could have added so much to your gallery.
PRO TIP- I tend to arrive about an hour to an hour and a half before the bride has to leave for the ceremony to capture the final getting ready details like putting on the dress, shoes, and jewellery! I've always found it's more time wise to start photos once most of the long processes like hair & makeup are completed or are close to finished, since I know personally...I won't fall in LOVE with a photo of me with one lash applied and one not haha, it won't end up on my walls. However there is so much beauty in the rest of the process, and I still want all the BIG moments like mom helping me get into my dress, and having a first look with my girls or parents! Saving those hours of start to finish hair and makeup in the morning, allows your photographer to shoot late into the night and capture more of the party without having to buy a bigger package either!)
Pictured above: You. Doing all the busy bride things. Not worrying about a damn thing cause you had a checklist!
So do you know what to leave out for your photographer the night before your wedding?
Maybe you've thought about it plenty of times, or maybe it's never even crossed your mind. Personally, most of my couples didn't think to leave anything out for the photographer, and were able to use my list to help me better tell their love story completely.
While photographers will always do our best to work with what's available, I think it's important for couples to take a look and see what they might already have!
Let's do this!
These ring shots from Lindsay & Josh's rustic Muskoka elopement at The Northridge Inn were taken using only the rings, a small candle, and a bouquet. It's amazing what can be accomplished with such small details!
Save The Dates & Invitations
How much time and money did you put into this exciting announcement stationary? Did someone design them for you, or did you do it yourself? This was the first official piece of paper your guests received when you decided you were tying the knot! This was YOUR first step at starting your journey, did you get butterflies sending them out?! They are such a special addition to detail photos and almost "start" the story, giving a time, place and setting the scene for the day it all goes down!
For different reasons, the rings can end up at either bride or grooms getting ready location. A second photographer will most likely be with the groom, in which case you can notify your head photographer if the rings will be there. Ring shots are gorgeous staged with a bouquet, and some of the other details listed in this post. After all, a ring is what started this walk down the aisle, it definitely deserves a glamour shot. Your photographer can always stage a photo of the rings with your bouquet later but it's all about time and efficiency, and allowing you to enjoy the rest of your first married day not having to hand anything off for photos.
Do you have a small picture of a grandparents attached to your bouquet? Do you have a "something, old, new or blue."? Was anything passed down to you from family?
These special little details are not only heartwarming, but do the absolute best job of telling the story of who you are & people and moments you hold closely to your heart.
Bouquets & Boutineers
It is my preference for the bride, if not all the ladies, to have their bouquets at the getting ready location..(although not ALWAYS possible)..for detail shots. The rings dangling from a piece of lavender, or resting behind your save the date card, symbolizing the "we made it!!!" part of your journey is just sooo timeless. And just like your invites and save the dates - whether your florist absolutely killed it for you, or if you made the arrangement yourself , this is a perfect time to get a great shot of that masterpiece! This same advice goes to the fellas. Wait until your photographer arrives to put on your boutineers so they can get some close up shots and then all the struggling moments of actually getting them to stay on hahaha.
Nancy & Brennan had a gorgeous vintage car owned by Nancy's father for me to use as a backdrop for their ring shots. Plus add in that bouquet ... *chefs kiss*
Sentimental AND gorgeous!
Scent and Shimmer
Does your dad remember what cologne he wore on his wedding day? Does your mom remember what shade of red she had on her lips? If you're all about the finer things in life..(hello, me!)..there's just something so special about knowing the exact scent you wore on such an important day...and years later having the ability to pass that down, or indulge in it yourself again.
The ones you're wearing down the aisle...and the ones you're tearing up the dance floor in later! Do you have any idea how many COOL shoes I've seen brides wear at their wedding? Sweet Converse, bedazzled Keds, stunning heels. Shoes can say so much about your personality, and they're honestly just so much fun to photograph!
Jewellery and Hair Pieces
I'm usually arriving to my bride's house right as she's finishing up her hair and makeup, which is perfect to grab shots of decorative pins going in, or flower crows being set. If you can help it, ask your hair stylist to wait for your photographer to put those pieces in (if you need your stylist for this, otherwise friends or family can help!) - and to finish up everyone else and just finish those touches at the end for gorgeous shots.
Gifts & Letters
Did you and your fiancé write letters to each other the night before your wedding? After your done crying, leave it out!!! How freakin' sweet would it be to see such a special, thoughtful, gift amongst your gallery?! Did you two give eachother something else, like jewellery, something engraved, a photo? Again, leave it out! I honestly get soooooo excited seeing these "night before" sentiments and all too often tear up at those written words, and thoughtful gifts, ugh!
Ashley & Mackenzie gave each other a gift the morning of their wedding. I got to photograph them opening the gifts, and then was able to use them in other photos later. It was so special not only in the moment, but also for them to look back on and experience the emotion alllll over again.
The rooms at Walter's Falls Inn and Spa were PERFECT for privacy in moments like this, while still being able to get ready in the same building!
Do you have a favourite alcohol? A craft beer?
Imagine, a photograph of a pair of wedding rings sitting on top of a vinyl record...your favourite vinyl record, framed in your living room.
What speaks to your soul as authentically YOU?
Having these details really sets apart who you are, and who you're coming together with, and what you've been creating together!
There's nothing better than being able to get creative with rings shots. While most photographers have their "go-to's" in terms of set up...having just a little bit more information about you and your s/o can open a huge door for a variety of storytelling images.
Do you still have the movie ticket from the first date you ever went on? How about your boarding pass from the trip you took where you got engaged? If these little items were left out ahead of time and ready for access, us photographers would be able to go that extra mile in capturing your story as a whole..sweet little additions you may never have thought of getting in a wedding gallery!
YES! Hangers! So many times I used to have brides scrambling to find the "pretty wood hanger that says Mrs." on it so I could take a dress shot (or one of all the girls dresses) - so they could get ready. Hangers are an item I find are bought earlier on and often forgotten about closer too, so it can be easy to leave your dress on a plastic hanger in the bag until the actual wedding day without thought of the pretty hanger.
PRO TIP! Are you having a boho or forest themed wedding? Ditch the hangers! Elise and her bridesmaids gave me their dresses and showed me to a gorgeous front closet where I lined them all up to create a stunning shot! You can also hang your dress from a tree (carefully) to really keep everything organic and on theme.
You've dreamt of this day forever, and worked so hard to make it a reality, don't you want a gallery absolutely jam packed with every moment possible?
You hired your photographer because you LOVE their work, and you 100% owe your photographer full trust on your big day - after all it is their job to know what's up! This simple trick of setting out a checklist of items the night BEFORE your wedding will make the world of a difference to not only your photographer & their ability to get the most out of the amount of time they're given...but also to the amount of emotion (& images!) added YOUR gallery!
Hopefully this hack from a wedding photographer on the front lines can better help you plan your big day in a stress free, authentic way, that allows you to get the photos you've always dreamt of that tell YOUR STORY!
Even more wedding detail inspiration below!