Thursday, 15 May 2014
Fab Tips on Bridal Prep from Wedding Photographer Lydia Stamps
Award-winning wedding photographer Lydia Stamps will be joining us again at HBBS at Penton Park, here she shares her top tips for your wedding morning...
Hello I’m Lydia of Lydia Stamps Photography. I wanted to just give you a few simple tips to help you work with your photographer to get brilliant photographs and I’ve chosen to focus on a part of the day which often goes forgotten- the wedding morning.
Bridal preparations are one of my favourite parts of the wedding day. It’s the amazing transformation, all the excitement and nerves of looking forward to the day ahead, it’s a time for reflection when you can be relaxed and enjoy starting the day slowly before the madness sweeps you away and all those gorgeous details you’ve bought to together, the shoes, the dress, the flowers! I love it.
I shoot weddings every weekend through the summer so as you can imagine I’ve been to my fair share of weddings, and experienced a wedding morning a fair few times. This has given me a fair amount of experience of things which help make the morning run smoothly and calmly rather than becoming hectic and stressful. Of course in the run up you’re so busy thinking about the catering, the décor and the rest of the day, that it’s easy to forget about the morning and the preparations until the day arrives; but planning this part of the day is just as important as planning the rest of it it’ll set your tone and you should start as you mean to go on. So I’m going to share some simple tips I give to my brides to ensure the morning runs smoothly and stress free and to ensure I can get beautiful bridal prep shots for my couples to enjoy for decades to come.
Whoever you book to shoot your wedding at some point you’ll need to go through the timings of the day with them. My photography packages include a pre wedding consultation or engagement shoot and at this time I take the opportunity to talk to my couples about the detailed timings of the day from this I draw up a schedule to work of through out the wedding. The bridal preparations need to be carefully timed to avoid delaying the ceremony. I did one wedding where hair and make up was still going on when the bride was meant to be walking down the aisle! Clear communication is essential between you and your hair and or/make up artists if you’re having them, especially if you’re asking them to do more than one of you. Ensure you’ve left enough time for everyone’s hair and make up if there is only one person doing each person and bear in mind that if your photographer does not have an assistant they will need to leave your bridal prep location with enough time to travel to the ceremony venue, get set up and shoot the guests arriving (usually around half an hour). For this reason if where you’re getting ready is some distance from the ceremony venue you might want to add a second photographer to your photography package.
You’ll find though that the time does go quickly and you might be pleased to have 20 minutes or so to just be dressed, with your family and friends enjoying the moment and having a glass of champagne and taking the odd selfie rather than leaving it right down the wire. This will help keep you calm. Make sure you factor in time for a good breakfast. Wedding breakfasts are often at a strange time which can mean skipping lunch and it’s highly likely that there will be lots of drinking for the rest of the day. Eating a good breakfast will also help to ease the butterflies in your nervous tummy.
CHOOSE A LIGHT, SPACIOUS & TIDY SPACE
Choose your bridal preparation location carefully. If your childhood bedroom is a box room with one small window it may not result in the best photographs. Light is a key factor in getting the best possible images so choose somewhere with lots of natural light, preferably where you can keep the curtains open. Also consider how many people will be with you on the day, and make sure you include your make up artist and/or hairstylist and photographer. You may find your lounge is most suitable and remember a spacious room will keep you cooler, calmer and allow more room for manoeuvre. All these people in one room will make for a lot of clutter, which really, really shows up on film. It might not look messy on the day, but the eye is always drawn to clutter in images. Ask one or two bridesmaids to just tidy up as the morning goes along. Often I find myself moving bits and pieces around, if your photographer does this they’re aiming to get a beautiful clean fresh shot, free of the debris of bridal preparations.
After I’ve arrived at the prep location and said hello to everyone the dress shot is my first port of call.
Hangers are important...
Consider what hanger your dress is on, and what hangers your bridesmaid’s dresses are on. It may seem obvious but the hanger you place your dress on can either really set it off, or let it down. It’s something you might not think about in the days running up to your wedding when you have a million and one other thoughts in your mind, but trust me, you’ll really notice the hanger when you look back on the photographs of the dress you spent weeks or even months hunting for; and as often a large proportion of the budget goes on the dress taking that extra bit of care in the display will make all the difference. There are a myriad of options for beautiful dress enhancing hangers out there, the classic white silk, or quirky personalised hangers, or you could choose a colour which ties into your colour scheme. One of my brides used a beautiful hanger covered in vintage style fabric, another had a hanger shaped like a cat which really brought personality to the photographs. And remember if your bridesmaid’s dresses will also be photographed to put them on matching hangers where possible, as you can see in the shot below it would have just finished it off nicely!
Get it outside...
If the bridal preparations are taking place in a room with limited natural light or if it’s dark your photographer may want to take your dress outside. I love juxtaposing wedding dresses with nature, and you get the most beautiful light this way. Trust your photographer and their creativity and let their imagination run wild. If your photographer asks you for something, it’s because they want to get the very best photographs for you. I always take the utmost care when moving dresses, as I remember just how careful I was with my own dress!
Add a Personal Detail. One of my brides last year stitched her, and her husband’s initials inside her dress in blue thread. It was her ‘something blue’ and added such a sweet personal detail to the dress.
WHAT TO WEAR BEFORE THE DRESS
So, you’ve got the perfect dress hanging in the wardrobe, but there are a significant amount of photos before the dress actually goes on. Remember that you will most likely want to share these photographs with friends and family in your wedding album so have a think about what you’d like to wear on the morning. It’s a totally personal decision but if you’d feel uncomfortable someone seeing a photo of you in your sweats or a vest top then avoid it. Again this probably sounds obvious but you’ll be so busy in the run up it’s easy to forget these last details which make a difference after the wedding. I’d advise something wrap around like a dressing gown or pyjamas with a shirt style top which unbuttons so you don’t have to lift a hoodie or t-shirt over your freshly done hear and make up.
Time is always of the essence on a wedding day. Have all the little details you’d like to have photographed gathered together in one easy to locate place. This will allow your photographer to just arrive and get straight on with setting up those beautiful still lives of the bridal preparation details without bothering you in the middle of what could be a frantic morning! Things to include in this little collection might be: jewellery, shoes, garter, engagement ring, perfume, and of course the flowers. Remember to tell your photographer if there are any items of significance so they can make sure they have a brilliant shot of your grandmother’s brooch, your something borrowed or what ever it might be!
These items don’t just have to be things you’re going to wear, one bride of mine was given a beautiful Smythson wedding planning book by her girlfriends which I photographed; and gifts or a card from the groom or parents are always lovely too. Another couple who had a movie themed wedding had an old fashioned style movie clacket board which was photographed at each of the significant parts of the day in various locations which was really fun, and a good through line when you see the full story the photographs tell.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
What usually happens on most wedding mornings is the day starts of perfectly calm and serene, and as the clock ticks towards ‘dress on time’, the time gets tighter and the nerves start to fray. To avoid this share your schedule with all your family and those who will be there with you in the morning so they can keep things running to time.
I always advise that your bridesmaids and family should all be dressed before you, in order to enhance the photographs of the dress going on. I do have a photograph of a bride having her corset laced by a bridesmaid in a hoody which would have been a perfect shot if she had been dressed in her bridesmaid’s dress, which had been carefully chosen by the bride for the purpose of photographs. So remember to share your schedule with your bridesmaids and family on the morning so they know when they need to be dressed too. Always remember to factor in extra time for dresses with corsets which need lacing or lots of buttons, allow around half an hour for these- they always take longer than expected! If there is time once the dress is on, I like to do a few relaxed shots of the bride with her parents and bridesmaids so telling everyone- including your folks to be ready by this time so you can make the most of that time.
Most importantly, if all else fails and all these tips go out the window just remember to try and relax and enjoy it. Breathe in every moment as it will fly by, enjoy having your very best friends around you and the photographs will reflect your happiness.