Making the Most of your Getting Ready Photos

Making the Most of your Getting Ready Photos

Getting ready photos have become an integral part of many couple’s wedding days. If you have booked a full-day package with your wedding photographer, this will usually include them coming to your home or hotel to take some candid images of you preparing for your big day. It’s an exciting time and worth recording these memories for the future. Here’s my hints and tips for getting the most out of your getting ready photos.

Flat lay box

At some point during the morning your photographer is going to turn up where you’re getting ready and sh*t’s gonna get real all of a sudden. What was just you and your mates hanging out and doing make up is now officially happening, it can be a bit daunting.

To get my clients and their troop used to me being in the room I always start by photographing things rather than people. This is where the flat lay box comes in. A flat lay is where I get all of your accessories and lay them out flat to photograph them. It helps me out massively if you’ve already collected your bits together in a shoe box.

Things to include: A spare wedding invitation, jewellery, hair accessories, watches, sunglasses, cufflinks, clutch bag, perfume, aftershave, garter; tie, your hotel room key, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

I’ll also grab your shoes, your veil, and your flowers to photograph, but I don’t recommend shoving these in your box!

A bride's perfume, jewellery and sunglasses are arranged on a cushion as part of her getting ready photos at KEdleston Country House Hotel

The dress shot

If you would like a picture of your dress or any outfit hanging up before you get into it, please please invest in a pretty hanger.  If you’ve just got a plastic or wire hanger it ruins the shot. If you book me, I’ll always bring a nice wooden one with me.

The brides dress hangs from a four poster bed against a teal wall in the bridal suite at Makeney Hall Hotel


Matching robes are all the rage and are a great way to make your party feel special and to give a consistent look to your getting ready photos. But they can be more revealing than some people are comfortable with. So warn your gang and give them a chance to get something modest to wear underneath. Nobody needs that photo!

If you’ve gone to the trouble of getting special getting-ready outfits for your troop, make sure you allow some time to photograph them all together. The best time for this is when all hair and make up is finished but before you get dressed.

A bride and large group of bridesmaids in matching robes gather on a sofa for getting ready photos

Gifts and notes

Brides and Grooms often choose to give their team gifts on the morning of the wedding. If you’re doing this, make sure you wait until your photographer is there so they can capture those priceless reactions.

If you’re going traditional and not seeing your partner on the morning of the wedding, why not write each other a note saying why you want to marry them and what you’re looking forward to about your future together. This can be a lovely thing to read as a private moment but also gets some great reactions recorded for all time if you read them with your photographer around.

A tidy room

The room you are getting ready in will not be tidy, I can guarantee it, and that’s all part of the fun. But there’s messy and then there’s messy. Champagne glasses and make-up all over the place is a bit different from someones dirty pants and an old lager can. If you are getting ready at home or in a hotel, consider keeping a separate bedroom tidy for if you do want to grab some less candid shots.

Two teenage bridesmaids face each other and drink champagne whilst getting ready photos are taken

First look photos

First look photos have become really popular and are a great way to create a special moment with those closest to you.

You might consider doing a reveal of you in your outfit to your bridesmaids or whoever is giving you away. Or even with your future spouse. If you’re a traditionalist and don’t want to see your other half before the ceremony, a photo can be arranged where I can see both of you, either side of a door for example, but you can’t see each other. Have a look on Pinterest for ‘Spouse first-look’.

If you do decide to do one of these, have a chat with the person involved beforehand and let them know what it’s all about. It’s often a parent who hasn’t come across this idea before and feels self conscious if its suddenly thrust upon them on the day. Show them some examples and give them time to get used to the idea.

A bride is greeted by her tattooed dad during a first look after getting ready at The West Mill Derby

Putting on the dress

If you’re wearing a dress on your wedding day, you might want a picture of you getting into it. I usually do this by stepping out of the room while you get the dress on, then I come back in to take pictures of someone doing it up for you. If your dress has a complicated fastening I recommend getting the person who’ll be helping you to practice before the day. Corsets and tiny buttons can really make you sweat, especially if you’re running late. A crochet hook for a button up dress is a massive help.

Mother of the bride does up her daughters dress diring getting ready photos at Kedleston Country House Hotel


All photographers vary in their recommendation for what time to start. I usually advise 2 hours before the ceremony or a bit longer if there’s a long way to travel to your ceremony venue.

The main point to make about timing is that the last 45 minutes will absolutely fly by. Most people don’t want to get into their wedding outfit until the last minute but if you’re getting married at 1pm don’t think that you can get into your dress at 12:50pm. If you are having a registrar-led service they will want to meet you before the ceremony, so you need to be ready in time for them to speak to both of you individually. If you want to do a first look or even just portraits and group shots once you’re all dressed this also takes time. Set a time that you want to be dressed and ready for and make sure everyone including hair and make up artists know about it.

Bride adjusts her veil with bridesmaid's help as they are getting ready at The Riverside Branston

Not your vibe?

Maybe you’re not into the idea of being photographed while you get ready, but would still like a couple of images of this early part of the day. This is often the case for one half of the couple, if not both. What I can do is come and find you before the ceremony and just spend a few short minutes mocking up some shots, perhaps putting your shoes on or straightening a cufflink. It takes no time at all, is non-intrusive and much more low-key.

Groom ties best man's tie as they are getting ready at The Riverside Branston

If you’ve got questions about your getting ready photos, feel free to drop me a line, whether you’ve booked me as your photographer or not. I’m happy to help. I’ve probably done this a lot more times than you and I’ve seen it all before. (In the cases of the less modest brides, I’ve literally seen it all!)

Find more wedding photography advice on the blog

Wedding photographer Emma Duder sits on the steps near the cathedral in her home town of Derby holding her camera


Emma Duder

Emma Duder is a reluctant blogger but a willing photographer. She has been photographing weddings in the Derbyshire, Peak District and wider Midlands area since 2016. She's seen her fair share of weddings and shares her experience and advice in her blog "I Shoot People: The Secret Diary of a Wedding Photographer".