Getting ready the day of your wedding doesn’t have to be all about doing your hair and makeup and putting on your clothes. Sometimes it’s fun to think a little outside the box to make the earlier parts of your wedding day extra special. You can plan a variety of activities or moments to liven up the proceedings.
Some of the following ideas are super simple while others can be more complex and involved. So go with what feels right for what fits your mood and plans. But adding in just a couple of extra touches will not only create meaningful moments for you and your family and friends, but it will also provide your photographer with more material to document, creating additional depth to your wedding day coverage.
If you do decide to incorporate any of these ideas into your getting ready plans, be sure to talk through the timing with your wedding photographer so that it fits within the duration of your coverage and so they can anticipate the moment.
Giving gifts to your partner, wedding party, or parents can be a wonderful way to show your appreciation for the most special people in your lives, and it can be a great thing to do when the photographer arrives to start off the documentation process in a fun way. One of the coolest gift ideas I’ve photographed were custom decorative painted skateboard decks that the groom gave each of his groomsmen. I’ve also seen really lovely artwork gifted to parents. But sometimes even a simple beer coozy will show your appreciation.
Just like gifts, giving a speech is another great way to show your favorite people how much you appreciate them. Take a moment to thank everyone for joining you and if you feel up for it, say something nice or share a memory about each person present. It’s a great way to strengthen your bonds, and the captured expressions will be priceless.
If giving speeches feels like it’ll be a little too emotional or involved, then doing a simple, classic champagne toast is a great alternative. Popping a champagne cork is always good fun and adds a bit of excitement and, dare I say, danger. If you have a balcony, you may even be inspired to shoot the cork in a safe direction. If speeches weren’t originally planned, a little bit of champagne might spontaneously loosen some tongues and inspire someone to say a few words in impromptu fashion.
Exchange Notes With Your Partner
If you have the time before the wedding day, write letters that you and your partner can exchange either in person or have delivered by the best man or maid of honor. A good time to read them is either while having your hair and makeup done or just after getting into your wardrobe. I know, I know, you may cry and mess up your makeup. But the flooding of dopamine before the wedding kicks off wouldn’t hurt, and you can always have your makeup artist do a quick touch up. As a documentarian, I’m always on the hunt for these kinds of displays of emotion that really communicate human feelings.
Get Ready With Your Partner
For those couples who don’t have a wedding party, sometimes it can be really nice to just get ready with your partner. Being photographed getting ready by yourself may not appeal to everyone. And getting ready by yourself may lack a build up of excitement. If you don’t mind going against tradition and seeing each other before the ceremony, helping each other into your suit or dress can be a really intimate experience that comes across well in photos.
Work On Your Vows
Before your wedding, you likely will have worked on your vows some already. But if you feel like you’ll be in the best head space to finish them the morning of the wedding, it can be really nice for the photographer to be present. Documenting the writing of the vows helps with the visual storytelling of the day, and looking back at those images help help you experience again the emotions you felt while writing them.
Plan An Activity
On one hand, incorporating activities earlier in the day or even the day before can be a little tricky due to time constraints, and for some people it’s best to avoid the added complexity. But on the other hand, adding in a fun activity can help relieve any stress or anxiety and really add to the story of the day.
Believe it or not, I once photographed a wedding couple who took their entire wedding party white water rafting. Granted it happened the day before the wedding, but I like to think that getting ready can encompass multiple days. It just depends on how you frame it. Another couple I photographed, played a game of whiffle ball the morning of their wedding because their Airbnb came with a full-size whiffle ball field. Another couple took their family to a community pottery studio where they all made plates.
You could consider going to the driving range, driving go-karts, skiing or snowboarding, working on a puzzle, or playing a board game. The world is your oyster!
Incorporate Your Regular Routine
Sometimes routines can have a calming effect, so incorporating some part of your routine into getting ready might not be a bad idea. For example, if you do yoga in the morning, it might be nice to get in a quick session before getting into your dress. Heck, invite your wedding party to bring their yoga mats if they’d like to join in. Go for a run. Get coffee at the cafe you frequent. Read a chapter in the newest book you’re devouring. Noodle on the instrument you’ve been learning.
First Look With Your Parents
Doing a first look with your partner is pretty common these days, but doing a first look with your parents can also be really special. Parents almost always tear up and look cute in these photos. If you plan to give you parent a gift, this can also be a really great opportunity to do that. Be sure to let your parents know to just pretend as if the photographer isn’t even there so the moment unfolds candidly. Sometimes the older generations are accustomed to posing for the camera, but in this instance it’s really more of a documentary approach.
Have A Pet Join You
This, of course, comes with a couple caveats that a) you have the type of pet that’s good for social events and b) is well behaved around large groups of people. That said, a pet can add another layer to the storytelling and bring you a sense of comfort having your special furry friend along for the ride. Whether it be a simple portrait of you and your pet together or a funny moment with them taking part in the action, a pet can bring a joyful and sometimes hilarious element to getting ready.
That all said, sometimes getting ready is all that needs doing, and if that fits the bill and makes you most fulfilled and comfortable definitely follow your intuition. Lovely moments can still be captured candidly during the hair and makeup process and when getting dressed. Whatever you decide to do, you will walk away with meaningful images that sum up the story of the day.