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Getting Ready

Weddings in Charleston: Getting Ready: The Bride & Groom

What is important to keep in mind about the bride’s hair and makeup?

Hair and makeup is one of the most important aspects of the wedding day. For me, the most important person at the wedding to make happy is the bride. Hair and makeup contributes to the bride being happy and feeling confident in front of the camera, which sets the stage for the day.


It is important that the hair and makeup artist is on time and can finish at the time that we have designated for the bride to start getting the dress on. I am not going to take pictures of the bride with half of her makeup on or half of her hair up. I only take pictures when final touches are being put on, the final bit of hairspray, etc. Then we will can stage some shots of the makeup artist putting on blush, mascara, eye shadow, etc.

Timing is everything.

In the past, the timing issue with hair and makeup people has cut into my shooting time. I am a stickler for the bride starting on time. As far as finding the right makeup artist, it is important to have a professional who can manage the time restraints and do it right the first time, so that there isn’t a situation where a bride wants to redo her makeup or redo her hair. I encourage the bride to do a hair trial with the hair and makeup artist whom they are going to work with.


It is important for the hair and makeup artist to set up in a natural light situation, so you can really see what the hair and makeup looks like in natural daylight lighting — a situation where I can get good photos.

In order to get the best light for the photos, I want the makeup artist to be set up in a nice situation near a window. Perpendicular to a window is very nice, if not straight-on to the outside. Mirrors are wonderful in the getting ready room. I love being able to work with mirrors. A lot of hotels don’t have mirrors. Invest in a nice mirror if you want it to be in the photo (don’t chintz and buy a mirror with a cardboard backing — it will not look good in pictures).

What about the bridesmaids’ hair and makeup?

Bridesmaids need to take care of themselves and should not bother bride with anything. Bridesmaids need to be done before the bride is done. Start early enough. There is nothing wrong with having your hair and makeup done at 9 o’clock in the morning. You want to be ready and looking good for the pictures for as long as you can.

How can the bridesmaids help?


Make sure the bridesmaids know that they have been chosen to be with this person in these moments. Makes sure they know that they need to bring the engerty, focus on the bride, put cameras/phones away, and really be in the moment — smiling, laughing crying — all of this is emotion is going to be in the photos. If they are acting like they don’t care, it is going to come out in the pictures that they don’t care. The bridesmaids need to be helpful getting the dress on. The bride needs to know who she actually wants zipping the dress. Keeping the smile on, staying in the moment, and really being fun are very important things for bridesmaids to keep in mind from the very beginning of the coverage. Sometimes I have to give the bridesmaids a pep talk: “I’ve got a camera on you and you don’t even know it. You have an opportunity here to really be a hero. Don’t you want to be the one that was the best in the photos?”


I also like it when the bridesmaids coordinate what they’re going to wear, it brings a cute look to the photos, such as matching robes. It is just nice to be coordinating. Everything you put extra thought into makes the pictures look more professional.

Supporting Role.

When you think a little bit about what people are wearing, it’s like in a play when you think about costumes. I always think about a wedding day like it’s a play. The actors are the bridesmaids, the bride and groom, the groomsmen, and everyone else is the audience. And I get to be behind the scenes all day. The bridesmaids also need to understand that they are on “set” and they need to behave accordingly, with smiles and excitement.

Plan Ahead on What to Wear & When to Wear It.

So you want to think about what the costumes are going to be. Be aware of what your bridesmaids are wearing, and be aware of what your mother is wearing. If anyone is in doubt of when to put on your dress on, just put it on. The wedding day has started once I am there with my camera. You are going to be disappointed that you didn’t put the dress on and you weren’t in the dress for those pictures.

After hair and makeup are done, and before the wedding, what are some things to think about and plan ahead for?

The “Getting Ready” Scene.

The “getting ready” scene needs to be thought of in the planning stage. If you have a six-hour wedding package, one to two hours could be happening in that room. That is almost twenty percent of your coverage. If you are going to be in a really standard hotel room that just has a bed in it, these pictures are not going to be amazing.

If another person in your group has a suite, ask that person if you can get ready in that room, or ask the hotel if you can use a really nice room that is unoccupied for 2 or 3 hours. A lot of hotels will rent those to you or give them to you, if they know they are going to get the pictures.

I would not suggest photographing at the spa or off site hair salon — it is a mess to photograph there, and there are not many places that have a private makeup room for a bride. It is best make these situations in your own hotel room.

It absolutely makes a difference what the room looks like. I definitely have favorite hotels and favorite rooms inside the hotels. Large hotel rooms with a separate are definitely the best getting ready situations — they have their own bedroom with a huge door. Hotel rooms are just a tough situation. If you have a hotel room that isn’t very nice, you might want to consider doing more portraits than getting ready shots. I often talk to my brides about where that location is going to be.


It is really important that the bridesmaids and everybody that comes into the room is cognizant of the fact that we are taking pictures, as if we are on a movie set. We are going to come in and clean the house. Any of the bridesmaids’ cell phones, bottles of water, and makeup are all things that I don’t want to photograph, and I am going to continually come and clean up the room to make it look clean. My style is editorial, which means a clean landscape.

Being Camera-Ready.

Everybody should be ready before the bride. If they are not ready, they should at least wear something they would want to be photographed in. There needs to be cohesion in the album, and everyone needs to be dressed appropriately.

I don’t want any presents or cards opened before the bride has her wedding dress on. Love moments with the mother ideally should wait until after the wedding dress is on.

What does the groom need to know about getting ready?

Groom pictures are similar, but can be more fun and laidback, and they don’t need to be in his room as much as bride needs to be in her room for the photos.

Guys getting ready is a different kind of feel… it is better to give them a larger space and move them to a situation like a hotel bar, or the porch, or a sitting area where they can all kick back. It doesn’t have to be all stiff, and for the guys I won’t be taking individual shots of their details like I will for the bride’s.

The photos of the guys getting ready are more photojouralistic, capturing the moments before the wedding of them all hanging out together. Men are more task oriented, and care less about their looks, so it is more laidback. But just as I would recommend for the bride, the groom should have the people that are really important to him there.

Tips for the Groom to Keep in Mind

  • Don't drink too much!
  • No tan lines — which means, don’t wear sunglasses before the wedding
  • Be there on time
  • Move to a place where you feel really comfortable

Final Tips

…On dogs…

I love dogs. I love when the dogs are there. If ever the dog is there, it makes a great photo opportunity, especially for the getting ready shots.

…On kids…

I like one or two kids for the photos before the wedding — not a lot of kids, because it can be too much and cause a distraction. There are moments when these little girls are looking at the brides and you’ll get a lot of precious pictures. At these moments, the little girls need to be in their flower girl dresses.

On makeup…

Absolutely no glitter makeup — nothing that shines, and nothing that can reflect light. Wear only matte makeup. Reflective makeup can actually burn pixels so it doesn’t register data.

Also, be careful with dark eye makeup. In my photographs, I am trying to make the eyes pop and make it less shadowy. It is okay to add more makeup when the sun goes down, if you really want a dark smokey look — it is more appropriate for the reception and the dinner, but not appropriate for the beach.

Make sure you match the cover-up or foundation on your face, to the tone on your chest.

...On tanning…

No tanning. You do not want tanlines in your wedding pictures, so stay out of the sun before your big day. Make sure that all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen keep this in mind also. This includes sunglasses, before or during the wedding, for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. WE CANNOT RETOUCH TANLINES. Red only gets redder in the pictures.

On putting on the bride’s dress…

Make sure the bride is not holding her boobs when the dress goes on. This is a common and natural thing for the bride to do, but doesn’t make for nice pictures documenting this special moment.

…On gum chewing…

Please try to refrain from chewing gum during the portrait session.