I'm Tori, a portrait and wedding photographer based in central New Jersey. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet; I'm so happy you're here. Come check out the full galleries from recent weddings and portrait sessions, behind the scenes, personal posts, helpful tips and more. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if there is anything special you'd love to see in a future post. I hope to hear from you soon!
In the hype and excitement of planning everything from the perfect florals to cocktail hour hors-d’oeuvres, planning for the morning of your wedding day can sometimes fall to the back burner. No, it doesn’t come close to the importance of the ceremony or your first dance, but it is a huge portion of your day spent with your closest friends and family, and I am there to document every moment of it! So, with that in mind, let me help you prepare for the morning of, so that you are left to just relax, enjoy, and avoid all of the stress!
1. Light, light, all the light! I know all of the camera mumbo jumbo isn’t very interesting, but if you remember one thing about photography, let it be that photography is light. One of the first of many weirdly-excited squeals you might hear from me during the day is when I walk into your bridal suite and see the natural light flooding in. Hellllllo big, beautiful windows, I see you ;). This will have a huge influence on the quality of your images (and video), and I promise, your hair and makeup artists will LOVE you for it! Bonus: one of my favorite moments during bridal prep time is when I see your sweet bridesmaids taking selfies, but they’re facing away from the window. I quickly run over and say something like, “try one more facing the window, trust me” and they absolutely love it every time (that highlight!!!) Your morning preparation photos will be some of your favorites because of all the amazing moments you get to share with your girls, especially if you can find a room with big windows, doors, and lots of space!
2. If you’re thinking that you only have the local hotel or your parents house to get ready in, think again! Local Airbnb listings can make for the perfect and unique spots to get ready in. They’re often decorated beautifully and minimally, which is perfect for an uncluttered image! Another perk is that there is usually more than one room, so you can store all of the bags and messy things in one room (maybe a room with bleh light? yeah, good idea), while we take photos in another! There are so many options on Airbnb, you can probably find a place that fits the style, theme, and colors of your wedding day, too!
3. If you can control it, choosing a location that is nearby to your ceremony and reception locations (or even better, having everything all at one venue) is super helpful to an efficient timeline. It reduces travel time and eliminates the chances of traffic or any hold ups from place to place. Mainly, choose a getting ready location that is close enough, so that we can stay on track and fit in all the amazing portraits that you’ve been dying for!
4. Two hours. Seriously, ADD two hours to the amount of time that you think you may need for getting ready. We always want to avoid being late to your first look, bridal party portraits, or your ceremony because hair or makeup ran a little late! It happens for many reasons that are often out of the vendors’ control, but that’s why we create a timeline to make sure we have more than enough time allotted for all the things! Sometimes an eyelash won’t cooperate or a lipstick is missing, these things happen, so I always recommend an extra two hours just to be safe! I would so much rather have extra time for portraits of you and your girls in your matching robes, popping champagne, and dancing on beds than have you feel rushed at any point. Sounds like a liiiittle more fun to me, right?! 🙂
5. Although you want your hair and makeup to be the freshest for your ceremony, I recommend not going last for hair and makeup. You, out of all your guests, are the one who needs to be at your first look and ceremony on time, so if things end up taking longer than expected, we want to make sure your bridesmaids are the ones still getting ready while you enjoy your first look with your handsome husband-to-be! Add two hours, like I said, and you’ll be just fine!
6. I will make sure to remind you of this beforehand, but I want to be able to come in, drop my bag, give you the biggest hug, and then grab your details box and start shooting right away! For me to do this, you’ll have to prepare a box or bag of all the special details that you’ve put so much thought into. This means your invitation suite, save the date, all of the rings, jewelry, bouquet or loose florals from your florist, shoes, perfume, and any other items that you want to make sure to have documented! All of those pretty flat lay images happen right then, so we need all of the details to make it happen!
7. Emergency kits are KEY. Maybe you want to designate a bridesmaid to prepare this for your big day, but have someone create a bag or box with the essentials. I always carry one with me, but just in case I haven’t arrived yet, you want to have some items like bobby pins, lint rollers, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste mouthwash/mints, double-sided tape, band-aids, baby wipes, safety pins, and the list goes on! You never know when you might even need a hot glue gun, it’s a lifesaver!
8. Make sure everyone who needs to be somewhere at a certain time KNOWS when and where and has a clock on them. You might know exactly who is zipping you into the dress, but if mom is wandering around trying to find you a granola bar when she needs to be zipping, we will be held up for a few minutes. Let dad know where he should be and when to be there for your first look with him, tell grandma she needs to be in the chair getting her hair done at a certain time so she is ready for your generations picture, and tell your maid of honor that she has to wrangle all of the girls in for the confetti popper picture on the balcony right at xyz o’clock! Let your people know what you need from them, so that your day goes smoothly and efficiently.
9. Okay, remember the granola bar that mom is looking for? Yeah, you NEED that. Don’t forget to eat even if you’re shaking nervous (but don’t be, you’re going to be in your hubby’s arms in no time)! Please, eat a bit over the few hours you have in the morning so you can stand through your ceremony and party hard at the reception. Make sure to have some bagels, sandwiches or snacks out for your bridal party, as well! They are working hard and loving on you, so we don’t need anyone fainting! Oh, and lots of water to intersperse between champagnes and beers so you’re still kickin’ by cocktail hour ;).
10. Practice getting your dress on and off before your big day, so that you know how long you need to get into it! Some dresses are a quick little zip, while others require a whole team of corset masters, a crochet needle, and all hands on deck! Let your photographer know if you need extra time added to the timeline for it.
11. Let your bridal party in on the photography end of this whole day! Share your photographer’s website or Instagram with them, so they are excited for all of the pictures you want them to be a part of. It feels more like hanging out with old friends when everyone knows your photographer’s style and personality from their social media!
12. Those super cute bridesmaids-dresses-hanging-in-a-row photos look even better with matching hangers, and you can get really creative with them. I’ve seen some with beautiful hand-lettered names written on them, fabric and ribbon accents, and even DIY-ed ones by the bride herself! It’s a cute little gift and perfect added touch to your dress photos. Don’t forget to have a special one for your dress, of course! Etsy and BHLDN are great places to start searching for these elements!
13. I know I said champagne and dance parties, but try to keep the drinking to a minimum so that you can make it through your day! It’s awesome to celebrate, but you’ll have more than enough time to down a few of those personalized drinks named after your dog that you two came up with at the reception!
14. Bathroom THEN dress. You don’t want to get strapped into that big ol’ thing and then realize you need to go to the bathroom. Again, keep those drinks to a minimum and you should be just fine! If not, I saw this invention on Shark Tank that is hysterical, but seriously SO smart!
15. Do not stress. Talk to your family and friends before the wedding day (maybe at a rehearsal dinner or pre-wedding hang out) and go over the timeline with them. Tell them what you want from them, and let them know that you don’t want to stress on your big day. This means that if they notice the timeline is running over, they do not need to panic. Your vendors know how to keep your day on track and will do everything we can to get you to where you need to be at every moment. It always hurts my heart when I see a sweet, but overly concerned, bridesmaid start getting frantic and making the bride antsy over a few-minute delay. You deserve the most amazing day and nothing less. Nothing can start without you!
16. Recognize that if something little goes wrong, like a flower falling out of a bouquet or an incorrect sandwich order arrives for the bridal suite, there is very little that you can do to fix it at that moment, SO try to let it go. Enjoy this milestone in your life and realize that all that matters is that you are marrying the absolute love of your life, so the little details won’t matter as much in the long run. I always say that #tkpbrides put their marriage before their wedding day because that is what this whole big thing is all about. Let the little things go and focus on the happiness and love that you are surrounded by. It’s going to be incredible!