The little steps which take you to the Isle…..
IT’S NOT EASY BEING BEAUTIFUL
The bride steps into her wedding gown. Her mother and a coterie of bridesmaids assist her with the final touches on her hair and makeup. They primp and preen at her gown, perhaps contributing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
Today, the vast majority of brides invite their photographer to document the “getting ready” period, and for good reason.
Getting ready can be a monumental task for the bride and her entourage, and an event in itself. It’s a time not only during which the women share their excitement and happiness, but also one in which they can smooth out any bumps in the road that may arise, from mending an ill-fitting wedding gown to soothing an overwhelmed bride. The application of cosmetic agents, hair, skin, nail, and other treatments, final tuning of clothing and accessories; this seemingly endless array of beauty products and treatments makes for a very hectic and intense prep session.
Not until recent years has it become de rigueur for the wedding photographer to be present while the bride gets ready for the ceremony. Yet the outflow of elation, anxiety, nostalgia and hope that accompany these activities create an ideal time for your wedding photojournalist to capture those timeless moments.
Through the many weddings that I have photographed it has been an acquired skill to observe and document exactly what happens behind the dressing room doors—from the trials and tribulations, to the triumphs. This experience makes me aware of and sensitive towards the rituals and emotions of bridal party preparation, and well-prepared to capture wonderful images without getting in the way.
THE RINGLEADER AND HER CREW
The time spent getting ready is filled with a wealth of emotions. Precisely what type of emotions, from good to bad to downright ugly, is entirely dependent on the bride. She sets the tone in the room. There are those brides who are in the zone and it’s the perfect moment of their life. They’re sitting on a cloud enjoying everything. The majority of brides are in this “zone.” They’re in control and having a wonderful time as they prepare for their wedding. The photographer moves about the room capturing the bride talking and laughing with her bridesmaids and close relatives. She’s natural and jubilant, and that comes across in the pictures.
On the other hand, there are those brides who are overwhelmed by emotion and close to having a panic attack. I am well aquainted with this too. It is not unusal to find myself stepping out of the photographer role, and into that of confidant, as I try to comfort a nervous bride.
Some bridesmaids also play an integral role in keeping everything running smoothly. Therefore, brides usually have the bridesmaids present during the getting ready period. The three or four of her closest friends are there to take care of the bride and that helps me a lot. The mood in the room stays positive and I am able to get those emblematic photos.
It’s all about the gown…with the bridesmaids attending to her and helping her get the dress ready. It’s not easy putting on that glorious dress as many brides spend months prior to the wedding focused on the solitary goal of losing weight. They want to look their best for their big day, and often that means fitting into a dress that may be smaller than what they typically wear. So it is usually an anxious moment discovering just how tight the dress really is, but whatever happens the bridesmaids come to the rescue to ensure the bride is the belle of the ball.
On one occasion I was photographing a wedding in Dover, first stop was the hairdressers, where the bride was threading her fascinator to encorporate some extra feathers she had purchased the day before. The next stop was with the boys and it wasnt long before they realised they had left the champaign behind, so I caught the groomsmen red handed and feeling both embarrased and victorious, with bottle in hand, running back to the house. Created a great shot!
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE
It’s always important for the bride to stay relaxed and at ease during the final moments before she walks down the aisle. A good way to do so is to have people around who make you feel calm. I suggest having helpers to do things you don’t necessarily need to do yourself in order to keep from feeling over-scheduled. It’s much more interesting to have that unscheduled time to focus in on what’s happening—on those feelings of anticipation, nervousness, ecstasy, panic!
As with much of the day, time is of the essence. There should be a fair amount of time, ideally at least an hour during this period. Too little time can create a stressed-out mood.
Ultimately, it’s about the bride enjoying herself. It’s important for the brides to let her friends and loved ones take care of her. If she is good humored about whatever comes up, she can get through anything, save the groom running away!
Indeed. A little perspective can go a long way during the early hours of the big day, as well as help complete the larger story. When the bridal march is blaring through the speakers and the bride is walking down the aisle, the gasps and wide smiles across the room will attest to her beauty. Thanks to the great wedding photojournalist backstage, everyone (including the groom, who may have been far from that scene) can have an idea as to what took place to bring her to that radiant moment.