What does it mean when the photographer says they will include "preparation photos"?
Preparation photos are the images your photographer will capture when they first arrive for your wedding day. Often, these images are used to "set the stage" for the day's events. They give the viewer a sense of introduction, and set the tone for the style, colors, theme, and overall mood of the wedding.
Why do I want them?
While not vital to every wedding, whenever your photography schedule can accommodate it, it's nice to have those behind-the-scenes moments captured before the event begins. There is beauty and emotion in those subtle nuances. The bride in deep thought, biting her lower lip while she gets her veil put on. The mother standing in the corner, looking on with that unmistakable look of admiration in her eyes. The well-manicured fingers of the maid-of-honor prepping the latch on the back of the necklace. Those subtle hints contribute bit impact on the overall story.
Stay refreshed, but hide the bottles when you're done! :) Do I need to do anything special to get ready for these images?
If you want to maximize the photographer's time once she arrives, it can be helpful to have unsightly things out of view:
• empty water bottles and beer cans
• shopping bags and receipts
• dress tags and laundry
• and other similar "unmentionable" items stashed into a closet or designated corner.
That's not to say that the room needs to be white-glove ready, but it generally makes for less fuss later, since a good photographer will take the time necessary to remove the soda can from your background as as your mother is putting on your bracelet.
If the general flotsam and jetsam can't be corralled, a secondary suggestion would be:
• keep at least one area, preferably near the biggest window in the room, clear of "stuff"
• if nearby garbage cans and chairs can be removed, that helps too.
• this will give you an area for window-lit portraits
• stunning "dress in the window" shots can be composed with minimal fuss.
Now...of course this can all be done by the photographer themselves, but because many packages are based on time, it's probable that the preparation photos get the smallest allotment of that schedule, so every moment taken to clean up the area is less time she can be actually taking pictures.
Going over the rundown for the day. What should I do when the photographer arrives?
When your photographer arrives, she'll generally want to greet you and your attendants and family. She might give a general introduction to the room, or she might address each person to start learning names. She'll likely give you a quick recap/rundown of what she'll be working on.
Because preparation photos tend to be more candid, your photographer will usually work her way around the room, taking advantage of whatever little activities are unfolding. It's not necessary to look at the camera every time you see it pointed at you. Just carry on and pretend no one is watching.
Is there anything in particular that should be shared with the family and bridesmaids?
Yes! It's very helpful if they understand that a photographer will be coming for preparations. Often, they are caught off-guard, and worry that their pictures will be taken while they are not yet "camera-ready". This is part of the process, and contributes to that very "behind the scenes" feel referred to earlier. Some people, generally relatives who happen to be in the room, get an instant sense of being "in the way". It's good to reassure them that they are part of the day, and they should be in the pictures.
Those who are more shy may worry that the photographer will be getting them in their undergarments. While most professionals are sensitive to this and will reassure them of what they intend to shoot (or not), it's good to state your preference. Some brides will drop-trou' without any hesitation. Others are so conservative that they prefer to dress in another room. Either way, just express your comfort level so everyone is on the same page.
The window will be part of the preparation photos, so let folks sitting nearby that, at some point, they'll have to relocate to a new seat. Referring back to the clearing of an area...sometimes guests may be seated in an area that is the prime spot for pictures. In a small room, it may be the only viable "scene". No one likes to be kicked out of their comfortable chair, and if your photographer is human, they will feel bad asking. But there is work to be done, so inevitably someone might have to be relocated to get the images needed. With this in mind, it's good to just plant that bug ahead of time. If the cleared window area is decided on beforehand, this helps anyone sitting in that vicinity know to expect they will eventually have to move.
How long should preparation photos take?
It depends on the size of the wedding, and how much is going on. It also depends on whether your and your fiance's room are in the same building, or for that matter, in the same location. But in general, about 20 minutes for the guys, 10 minutes of walking back and forth if you're both in the same location, 20 minutes allowance if driving between two locations, 30 minutes for the girls, and 10 minutes for bridal portraits before leaving the room, is reasonable.
This, of course, assumes everything runs on time, which often doesn't happen. A hair style may be uncooperative, an earring may break in two and have to be super-glued to your ear (yes...that has happened!), the flowers may have gone missing, a hem has unraveled, and a whole host of other "Murphy's Laws" should be accounted for. In other words, if you can, it's good to buffer in a few more minutes juuuusst in case. If you're planning on doing a First Look session as well, then throw in another 20 minutes for that as well (5 min walk down and setup, 10 min shooting, 5 min return to rooms).
What are some of the types of images I can expect to see from the preparations?
|• Full length and details of dress||• Groom "primping", brushing hair, etc||• Bride and mom / Groom with dad|
|• Arrangements of flowers, rings, garter||• Getting boutonnieres pinned on||• Bridal portraits / Portraits of groom|
|• Touching up makeup and hair||• Groomsmen helping with jacket, cufflinks||• Silly/fun bridal party images|
|• Putting on dress, jewelry, veil||• Casual guy moments, joking, roughhousing||• Details of room, champagne, hotel motifs|
While it's reasonable to expect that not every wedding will have every single type of image from this list (and frankly, you want a photographer who doesn't work off a "shot list" but has a general template from which they start, building onto it with additional creative images and original ideas), and not all will follow these exact steps, this hopefully gives you a sense of what it means to include preparation photos in your wedding day schedule.