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Shelly Pate

Make the Most of Your Wedding Morning Getting Ready

Wedding accessories flat lay during getting ready on the wedding morning

Wedding planning is a lot of work. Having been on both sides of wedding planning as a bride and wedding photographer, I know how stressful it can be. It can become so intense that I’ve often seen a very important part of wedding day preparation become overlooked. The morning of your wedding is such a crucial time for setting the relaxed and calm (but still excited!) vibe that every couple wants their day to have. Here’s how you can make the most of getting ready on your wedding morning that sets you up for the very best wedding day!

Bride sits in bathtub while getting ready on the wedding morning

The space itself where you’re getting ready on your wedding morning is going to affect your photos the most, particularly the kind of light that’s available. The more windows and natural light the better, even for the guys! Don’t stick the groomsmen in a basement or in the smallest room. In Washington, DC, my favorite getting ready space is the Line DC Hotel. The windows are amazing, there’s plenty of room to spread out, and the decor is bright, neutral, and modern. No crazy carpet patterns!

Groomsmen sit around while getting ready on the wedding morning

Most Common Activities to Do on a Wedding Morning

There are a few ways to make the most of your wedding morning getting ready:

Flat lay of wedding accessories during getting ready on the wedding morning
  1. Take Detail Photos: all the rings, invitation/save the date, special mementoes/heirlooms, dress, shoes, jewelry, bouquet, vow books, etc. For the groom these details include shoes, tie/bow tie, watch, cufflinks, boutonnières, etc. Put all of these items in one bag or box together and it will make it easy to capture.
  2. Make Finishing Touches for Hair and Makeup.
  3. Relax! Ladies often have cute robes and/or PJs so we’ll pour one last mimosa and hop on the bed/couch for some fun group photos.
  4. Getting Dressed: for brides, this includes zipping up the dress, and putting on jewelry, shoes, and a veil. For grooms these moments include buttoning his suit jacket, attaching cufflinks, putting on his tie, shoes, etc. He can also toast with his groomsmen!
  5. A Bridesmaid Reveal of the bride in her wedding dress or a first look with her dad.
  6. The Bride and Groom Writing and Reading Letters to one another and opening gifts from each other.
Bride opens champagne bottle with bridesmaids in PJ's on while getting ready on the wedding morning
Bouquet of flowers placed in cowgirl boots during wedding morning getting ready

How the Groomsmen Can Spend Their Getting Ready Time

Groom's shoes and accessories flat lay

Here are my top recommended activities for grooms during the wedding morning time that they spend getting ready:

  • Do a final cheers if y’all are a drinking crew!
  • Pass out groomsmen gifts
  • Play a board game or cards
  • Have a moment with mom
  • Use an on-location barber
  • Put on boutonnières (ask your florist for styling blooms, extra pins, and magnet backs on the boutonnières for ease of use.)
  • Tying bow ties and folding pocket squares (make sure at least one person knows how to tie/fold them)
Groom has help tying his bow tie while getting ready on the wedding morning
Bride puts boutonnière on groom's jacket during getting ready on their wedding morning

An alternative idea is some couples choose to get ready together, especially when there isn’t a wedding party such as during an adventurous elopement or even a smaller, intimate wedding. It’s basically an extended first look and these can be such special moments!

DON’TS for Your Wedding Morning Getting Ready

To round this out, here are some common mistakes I want to warn you not to do during your time getting ready on your wedding morning!

Not Giving Yourself Enough Time: this time period sets the timeline for the rest of the day. I can’t emphasize this enough: we are either on track or very behind because of the getting ready time. Really think about how long it takes you to get into your dress: do you have a zipper and you’re done OR do you have 100 buttons? Do you need to use some fashion tape? You should always allow time for hair and makeup to be done and then buffer that just in case.

I had a wedding run almost one hour behind because it took the bride 30 minutes to get into her dress (taping involved). She then had to have her hair finished even after that. We just had to cut out some of the photos to keep the rest of the day on track. Even though we were good (I can be super fast if needed!) the bride was so stressed because she was running late. 

Not Having Enough Space: your wedding party might be four people, but you are probably going to also have both moms, multiple hair and makeup artists, your photographer, and possibly a videographer. I would suggest getting a bigger space than you think you need.

Bride reveals wedding dress to bridesmaids and moms while getting ready on the wedding morning

Not Cleaning Your Space Before Coverage Starts: it makes the biggest difference in your photos if the space is clean. This can literally mean shoving everything into an extra room.

Using the Plastic Hanger that comes with your dress rather than a nicer or personalized wooden hanger. Plastic hangers will not do your dress justice! You can get them personalized with your name or “bride,” but the simplicity of a wooden hanger also looks beautiful by itself.

Forgetting to Take Your Dress Out of the Bag the Night Before and doing all the steaming the day before, even the bridesmaids dresses. 

Wedding dress hangs on window with light shining through it

In Case of Emergencies

I suggest that you either buy or create a wedding day emergency kit that includes the following items:

  • bobby pins
  • safety pins
  • fashion tape
  • wooden or personalized non-plastic hanger
  • heel protectors (if walking in grass)
  • travel sewing kit (with scissors)
  • stain remover pen
  • band-aids
  • hairspray
  • deodorant
  • comfy dancing shoes
  • lint roller–especially for suits
  • touch-up makeup (lipstick, blotting pads, concealer, mascara, setting spray)

I also have a Wedding Day Checklist of items that you may not have known you wanted or needed (like umbrellas for an unexpected rainy wedding day). Check it out right here!

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