Actually, it doesn’t always feel like it, does it? The wedding jitters usually start earlier than that - the day before, at least. More like “wedding week.” Maybe you’re up late desperately trying to finish up those wedding favors you’ve decided to take on yourself, or unable to sleep because you’re so nervous.
Oftentimes, a couple will try to save money on wedding photography by limiting their coverage as much as possible. Usually, the first thing to go is the getting ready photos. For a photographer who prefers to be as hands-off and documentary as possible, I personally believe that this is disadvantageous for a few reasons, and not for logistics such as if you want your dress, shoes, rings, etc photographed.
When your photographer begins the day getting ready, we’re already somewhat behind. We only get a glimpse of all the emotions and anxieties that have already been brewing up since the days, weeks, and months before. To purposefully have your photographer show up to start at the ceremony puts us at an even greater disadvantage because we don’t get to observe all the little details - I’m talking about the conversations between you and your friends while you’re getting ready, the facial expressions you don’t see us notice, and all the other nuances we’re experiencing that will add to the storytelling in your images.
Here are a few bullet points on why I think having your photographer present during your getting ready is important.
1. You have more time to get comfortable in front of your photographer.
As hands-off and discreet as I try to be, it’s still obvious at the beginning of the day that there’s a photographer clicking away at you. There’s a well-known story among wedding photographers that back in the day, the photographer would show up, start shooting a bunch - of the bride, bridesmaids, things going on - and then after half an hour or so he’d finally stick a roll of film into the camera.
It takes a while for someone to get comfortable in front of a photographer. Eventually, people get tired of paying attention or trying to make funny faces and just ignore us. To me, this is perfect. I want people to ignore me, because then they can concentrate on being themselves and I can concentrate on documenting what’s really happening. Letting this process happen earlier in the day is much, much better than having this process happen merely moments before a ceremony is starting.
2. I get to catch moments like these…
Granted, every wedding is different. I’m not going to get the exact same images every time because that’s not what my photography is about, and that’s what’s wonderful about it. Getting ready photos aren’t just about shoe shots or makeup brushes-against-your-face shots. I feed off of the energy between you and your loved ones early in the beginning so that the moments I document are truly yours.
3. You get to see each other’s anticipation and what the heck the other one was doing!
That’s super fun! We all know that not all grooms naturally stand next to the window as they fashionably adjust their cuff links. The guys are usually hanging around watching the game for most of the time, and then frantically trying to google how to tie a tie or how to fold a pocket square, and helping each other out with their cuff links. The jokes and laughs as this goes on between friends can’t be staged, and this is pure gold.
4. Your wedding coverage will feel more complete.
Without it, I feel like it’s almost like stepping into the movie theater 15 minutes after the film has already started. You know you haven’t missed any major plot points, but you’ve missed the setting of the scene and how the main character is introduced.
I’ve always felt that a set of wedding images has more of a sense of cohesiveness and context when it includes the getting ready, no matter how un-getting ready it might feel. This is great for the album, for the scrapbook your crafty family member likes to put together, or just to have for the memories.
If something has to give, I encourage you to rethink cutting out the getting ready. Even if you only put in half an hour to make sure your photographer gets to be around you earlier, it’s better than coming into the story part way through. Perhaps consider planning your day to have most of the major events (things like toasts, bouquet toss, cake cutting, etc…) happen towards the beginning of the reception and be willing to have reception coverage end a bit earlier.
Of course, these are all just suggestions and my whole philosophy of wedding photography is not to dictate your day and not to tell you what to do. It’s your wedding day, so do whatever makes you happiest. I simply invite you to reconsider our perspective of the day and why I feel it’s an important part of the day to include. Happy wedding planning!