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Getting ready wedding photographs – yes or no?

It’s easy to see why photographing the ceremony and reception is obvious, but every now and then we get a couple who doesn’t know if they want photographs before the ceremony – often these are called the “getting ready” photographs.  Okay, we get it – the first picture that comes to mind is a half-nude bride surrounded by family or close friends: mimosa in one hand, and the other hand buttoning up the super-model bride, right?  Not so much these days – especially with our documentary approach to wedding photography.  We know that letting your photographer join you a few hours before your ceremony is a personal decision and we’d like to show you what we’ve discovered in the last 5 years of photographing weddings.  Read through this post and decide for yourself.

1) Time before the ceremony gives your friends and family time to warm up to your photographer.  Although you’ve built a relationship with your photographer before your wedding date (hopefully!), having your photographer around in the morning is a good way to break the ice and get your friends and family comfortable early in the day.

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2) What story do you want to look back at 10 years from now?  We see wedding photography as a way to let you re-read a visual story of your wedding after your wedding, which is why we call our approach to wedding photography fine-art documentary photography.  The most successful way of telling a story is using a simple arc – beginning, middle, and end.  Take a look at our completed albums to see this in action – you’ll see subtle story-telling elements throughout each album spread.  If your photographer shows up 20 minutes before your ceremony, you’re missing out on a huge part of sharing your own wedding day story after the wedding day.

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3) Moments, details, emotion.  This is huge, especially if you’re a fan of our documentary approach to photography.  There is an explosion of moments waiting to be photographed on every wedding morning.  Anxiety, excitement, hope, impatience – these are shared by friends and family, not just the bride and groom.  Is your father looking forward to seeing you after finishing getting dressed?  Put that in your schedule!  Do you want details of your dress, rings, or shoes?  This is the best time to do it.  Wedding days are non-stop after the ceremony and offer little time for these intimate moments or detail photographs.

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4) Be intentional about what your wedding morning will look like.  Don’t just get ready at any convenient location.  Think about your wedding theme and what is important to you.  The other day I was talking to a groom about what the morning looked like to him.  At first he didn’t want any photographs in the morning with his guys because “nothing will be happening.”  But after chatting with him, I discovered that he and his friends love old cars.  Rather than getting ready at any regular hotel, he decided to get ready at one of his friend’s house, who has a decked out garage with an old car in it – it’s going to be one kick-ass visual wonderland, and he’s actually looking forward to hanging with his friends in the morning now.  Win-win for both him, and for great looking photographs that have real meaning.

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When it comes deciding to have your wedding photographer join you while you’re getting ready, put your heart into thinking about what matters most to you.  Don’t worry about what other people have experienced, and don’t get too self-conscious:  getting ready photographs are not just about getting sexy, half-nude photographs of the bride any more.  When it comes to documentary photography, there’s always a story to tell, especially yours!

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