Today’s guest post comes to us from Liza Head of Juniper Spring Photography, based in the San Francisco Bay Area! Enjoy:

If you haven’t thought about it already, at some point in planning your wedding photography timing, you’ll ask yourself: do you *need* getting ready photos? If you do how long do you need? “Getting Ready” is not about getting unflattering photos of you with your hair in curlers – far from it! It’s a great time to get amazing candid photos of emotional moments, of you spending time with your nearest and dearest friends or family, all of your special details and even some portraits. To figure out whether you need to have a photographer around for this time during your wedding day, ask yourself some questions:

Read the full post after the cut!

  • Are any special people whom I like and don’t get to see often going to be there? Mom and dad might be in from out of town, best friends might have traveled hundreds of miles, maybe all your siblings will be in the same room for the first time since high school. How often do you get the chance to have photos of you all hanging out together? Maybe the girls are having mimosas and reminiscing, maybe the guys are watching a game and goofing off – maybe entirely the other way around! In any case, it’s important to think of whether you’d like coverage of this fun time.
  • As a follow-up: are there any moments that might be special to have caught on camera? Will you be opening a present from your fiance? What about your parents seeing you in your wedding best for the first time? Bridesmaids or groomsmen helping you prepare? Is anyone planning a surprise? These are all great moments which you might want caught on film!
  • Are there any details (dress, shoes, rings, flowers, etc) I’d like photos of? There’s often more “down time” during the getting ready time than there is at any other point during the day. That makes this the ideal time to get curated photos of details such as your wedding rings, accessories, dresses, flowers, etc. If you have a copy of the invitations, or any other special details that aren’t part of the reception decor, it’s a great idea to bring them to get photographed.
  • Might this be a good time to get some portraits done? Often times the post-ceremony photo session has strict time limits, and getting some portraits done before the ceremony can really help to make the post-ceremony timeline less stressful. Even if you’re not seeing your groom/bride before the ceremony, you can still get your photos with mom and dad, siblings, bridesmaids or groomsmen, etc.

Most often, the answer is yes to at least one of these questions – in which case, I would highly recommend including “getting ready” coverage in your photography package! As for how long you need – this varies so much from person to person. On average, I suggest about 2 hours of getting ready photos – this, for me, is often enough time to get the details, as well as great candids of everyone hanging out. I usually add on extra if there are portraits involved, or any change of location or special events. Of course, I definitely recommend discussing the details of what you want coverage of during this time with your photographer, and they can get you a better estimate based on their style and your plans.

If you’re looking at this list and thinking – “None of this really applies to me! I have minimal details, and we’re all getting ready separately”, or “My wedding is pretty small and we’ll get to hang out later in the day”, that’s totally cool! If you’re thinking that “getting ready” photos aren’t that important to the story of your wedding, you can usually shift your photography to get more coverage at the end of the day instead!

The key thing to remember when planning your wedding photography is to consider what the most important aspects of the wedding day are to you. There are no longer rules about how to get ready, where, or how much photo coverage you should have of this portion of your wedding. Only you can decide what the most important aspects of your day are to you, and how much coverage you would like, but hopefully this will give you a great starting point to figuring that out!

Liza Head is a wedding and portrait photographer living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys hiking, board games and big fluffy dogs. To learn more about Juniper Spring Photography, please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to her website.