My top tips for getting ready on your big wedding day


After months of preparations, your wedding morning has finally dawned. And those last hours before tying the knot are likely to be filled with a variety of emotions, hopefully plenty of laughter and possibly a few tears, too.

For any bride, it can also be when you start to run late. You may realise, for example, that labels are still attached to dresses, and that you don’t have any scissors in the house. Or perhaps you’ll find it takes a lot longer than expected to put on your gown.

Equally, you may find you want to spend a few final moments with your dad, in private, before you leave for the venue. Or it could be that you want him (or your mum) to see you in your dress before anyone else.

All these things take time. And you only need, say, a minor traffic hiccup on the way to the ceremony before you end up falling seriously behind schedule. No one wants to be hurled into panic mode on this most special of days.

Here are my top tips for staying calm, organised and on schedule on your wedding day:

  • Think about where to get ready – and what to wear

You’ll obviously have put a huge amount of effort into your wedding gown. But you may not have thought about what you and bridal party will wear as you get ready. For the wedding prep photos, of course everyone needs to feel comfy and relaxed – but do you really want pictures of worn nightshirts or Mickey Mouse onesies?

wedding photography - hampshire

  • Lighten up

Plan to get ready somewhere spacious with ample natural daylight, so that everyone can see what they’re doing as they complete either their own or someone else’s make-up and hair.

  • Organise your space

It’s surprising how quickly a bridal prep room can fill up with people and things, so that it starts to feel cramped and chaotic or you can’t find something you urgently need. Think about using bags and hangers (maybe labelled or personalised ones) to keep everything sorted.

  • Dry your bridal bouquet

Be careful when you take your flowers out of the vase to leave for the ceremony, or you could end up staining your dress with water – stems can retain a lot of liquid. Take them out a good half an hour before you walk down the aisle.

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  • Dress rehearsal

Have a designated helper who will assist you in putting on your wedding gown. Practice with them – and have them with you until you arrive at your ceremony. Get them to accompany you to the dress shop, where someone can explain how everything fastens, how to pin the skirt up and how to put the gown on. Some fastenings can be more complicated than you reckoned for.

Do a practice run with jewellery, which, again, can be fiddly. You’ll also feel more relaxed if you’re in your dress an hour before you need to leave. Have something to eat before the dress goes on, and apply lipstick afterwards. (Also, ask your hair and make-up people to have finished an hour before things kick off – it’s less time than you think before you say ‘I do’.)

A crochet hook can speed things up where dresses have multiple buttons. Take out all labels and tags before the big day, and keep a small set of scissors handy, in case you’ve missed any. Other useful things to have include a sewing kit, safety pins and fashion tape, as well as plasters and aspirin.

  • Make up malfunction

Some foundations are SPF-heavy for daily wear to protect the complexion by reflecting and blocking light. But this can be an issue with flash photography, since your face can end up looking pallid in the photos, and a different shade to the rest of you. Bear this in mind when purchasing cosmetics for your big day.

  • Stay hydrated

Bridal prep rooms are busy places with people coming and going, hair dryers buzzing and (perhaps) the heating on. So they can quickly get overheated and dry, especially on a warm day, and you can easily forget to drink enough water. This goes for the rest of the day, too, which again is likely to involve crowded rooms and heightened emotions. And if you’re planning on enjoying a few tipples throughout the day, alternating bubbly with drinks of water makes sense.

  • Plan your journey

Roadworks can throw the best-laid plans into disarray. Research any possible disruptions in advance. Work out and practice your route to the venue, and be very clear on how long it will take to get there.

  • Factor in some downtime

You may be used to factoring in ‘slippage time’ into work projects, so that you still hit deadline if things overrun. Take the same approach to getting married. Having half an hour spare in the schedule helps you get back on track if necessary. It also means you can have some final moments with those closest to you, and won’t feel rushed or stressed.

  • And for the boys …

The groom, best man and ushers also need to be organised! Look online in advance about how to do ties and bow ties up properly, how to fold pocket squares correctly and how to attach button holes.

Follow these tips and you’ll help everyone feel calm on the day.

Talk to me

I’m a wedding photographer with extensive experience of wedding-day nerves and flustered brides! And I’ll be there on the day to capture the excitement of your preparations.
Call me for a chat about your marriage pictures, which will capture every second of your celebrations.