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Many brides invite their photographer to photograph their personal preparations which typically take place at their home, or in a hotel room, in the hour or two prior to the ceremony. If the couple wish to have a reportage-style album which tells the story of their wedding day, this is an excellent way to begin. Wedding coverage may therefore begin with the bride awakening in bed on her wedding morning, with her emerging modestly from her shower, having her hair done, applying her make-up, or changing in to her bridal gown. Every bride will have her own views on the appropriate starting point for the photographic coverage.

A photographer charged with recording bridal preparations has unique access to very private circumstances which must be respected. He (or she) is likely to be faced with a tense atmosphere in an environment where numerous relatives and close friends (perhaps including bridesmaids) are all bustling about to get everything ready by the time of arrival of the wedding transport. Hair-dressers, make-up professionals, flower deliveries and other people and activities may all make their presence felt simultaneously. The photographer's task is to capture the various stages of the preparation without causing more than minimal disruption. This, after all, is the preparation for a wedding - not a studio shoot with half a dozen models!

There are a number of key moments which form the basis of bridal preparation coverage. These are shots of hair preparation and the application of make-up, perhaps using a mirror to add to the variety of the images, and shots of the bridal gown being buttoned or zipped up. Other accessories such as jewellery, shoes, the bridal garter, the bouquets and so on can be photographed in the quieter moments. Finally, the bride might be photographed in all her finery as she descends the stairs with her bouquet.

It is important to try to capture some of the atmosphere of the feverish preparation as well as likenesses of the individual players. There will be wonderful moments and lots of emotion packed into a period of perhaps one hour. There will be tension, laughter and perhaps tears. There will also be hugs and kisses, and various forms of assistance given to the bride by her mother or bridesmaids.

However, coverage of this stage of wedding preparation is not limited to these shots. This early opportunity provides for some of the most satisfactory images of the bride -both alone and with her father, mother, bridesmaids etc. The bride's presentation is at its most perfect at this stage of the day. Her hair, make-up, dress, shoes and bouquet will all be in perfect condition. Later in the day the wind may have disturbed her hair and she may be more tired. Therefore, if time allows, it may be worth taking the bride outside into her garden, or some other suitable nearby location, to obtain some close, half-length and full-length portraits. She can be photographed with her father and whoever else is present and appropriate.

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