‘The Bride’s Biggest Fan’ or ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love bridal prep’

I started off photographing weddings as a ‘second shooter’ for a photographer who did traditional wedding photography: working from lists of posed group shots for each part of the day. 

I was often assigned the job of going to the bride’s family’s house to shoot the bridal preparation photos. 

It was often a bit awkward for all concerned as I, who most or all of them had never met before, came in the door of their house or hotel room, introduced myself and then started asking for lights to be switched off, furniture to be moved and the clutter to be tidied up. 

This was followed by looking for blank wall spaces (asking for pictures to be taken down) or a nice space in the garden to start organising groups of complete strangers into what I hoped would be pleasing poses and making sure I ticked off the entire list. 

I didn’t really enjoy it and I’m not sure they did either!

As I gained experience, and let’s face it, improved as a photographer, I began to spend the first 20 minutes or so of bridal prep chatting to everyone in the room. 

I explain that they should just carry on with what they are doing and don’t worry about stopping to look and smile at the camera at any point in the day unless I ask them to. I just want to capture candid photographs of them having a great time and moments of genuine emotion. 

Then I go off to photograph the flowers, dresses and other details that are part of a wedding day.

I also now shoot with a wide angle lens to include all the ‘clutter’ of drinks, hair dressing and make up equipment as it is part of the scene for that early part of the day. 

A lot of my favourite moments from the weddings I’ve shot are during the bridal prep these days. 

When I look at my bridal prep images there’s a visible progression from a party atmosphere with Prosecco and music to the bride’s nerves starting to build, usually just after she has her dress on and make-up complete. 

I set out to capture the little moments of true emotion and connection that happen as everyone is getting ready.

This brings me round to the first part of the title of this post:

‘Sister, Friend, Bridesmaid’

This is a simple sequence of four images captured during bridal prep at a wedding this past summer.

colour photograph of a bride looking nervous in her wedding dress along with her mum and her aunt
colour photograph of a nervous bride being fanned by her bridesmaid during bridal preparation
colour photograph of a smiling bride being fanned by her bridesmaid during bridal preparation
colour photograph of a bride being fanned by her bridesmaid during bridal preparation

Amber, the bride has just got her dress on and fastened up and both the heat in the hotel room and her nerves are beginning to build. 

Her sister, who one of the bridesmaids, on seeing this grabbed the lid off a hat box and used it as fan, breaking the tension and literally and metaphorically cooling things down.

I would have been happy with any one of the four images as each tells a story but I love the progression and change in mood in the sequence.