1. THE BRIDE’S DRESS
This might be self-explanatory, but it never hurts to list as a reminder! Most often, brides get dressed in their ‘bridal suite’ (i.e. hotel room or a parent’s home), so the dress will usually be there anyways. However, if the bride is getting dressed elsewhere, try to also have the dress in the bridal suite for photos of it before the bride slips into it. Often bridal suites will have much better lighting and backgrounds than say a church or similar venue, if that’s where the bride is getting dressed.
2. HANGER FOR THE BRIDE’S DRESS
Often times, the bridal shop sends the bride’s drop-dead-gorgeous dress on a lackluster, plastic hanger. Do yourself a favor and avoid the cringe of getting your photos back and noticing a cheap-looking hanger against an expensive, luxurious gown. Do the same for the bridesmaid dresses, if you’re going to have them photographed.
3. A COPY OF THE INVITATION SUITE
This includes invitation, rsvp card, envelope(s), details card, etc. Photographers usually love to photograph this with some of your other details like shoes or bouquet, to help set the tone for and tell the story of your day! It’s likely you won’t keep the invitation suite for very long, after all paper isn’t forever. So it’s a wonderful idea to get a photograph of the invitation suite! You’ve spent time planning how it will all look, and it only takes a moment to pack an extra copy of this in your bridal suite bag.
4. ALL THE BRIDE’S ACCESSORIES
The bride will need her shoes, veil, earrings, necklace, garter, undergarments, clutch/purse, and literally everything she’s going to put on as she gets dressed. Photographers will sometimes use some of the accessories (especially shoes + jewelry) in photos, so it’s important to have it all in the bridal suite — not only to dress the bride, but for photos.
5. PERFUME + MAKEUP
Yes, even her perfume, lip color, mattifying powder, lotion, or any other cosmetics. Make sure it’s all gathered in case the bride needs a touchup — if she wants it, she gets it!
6. ALL OF THE WEDDING RINGS
This means the groom’s wedding band too! There should be at least 3 rings gathered: the bride’s engagement ring, the bride’s wedding band (if she will be receiving one), and the groom’s wedding band. Extra rings like heirlooms and additional wedding bands can also be gathered for a photo if they’re important to the bride or groom. The more the merrier!
7. THE BRIDE’S BOUQUET
At the very least, make sure the bride’s bouquet is present in the suite, if at all possible. Even better if the bridesmaids’ bouquets are present too. Not only does this give the bride a chance to inspect and appreciate it, but it allows us photographers to get a photo of it, if time and space allow! Personally, I love to have it in the frame when I photograph the ladies helping the bride into her dress, with the invitation suite, or similar scene-setting photos. She only gets to have the bouquet for one day, so she might as well enjoy it for as much of the day as possible!
8. DEVICE TO PLAY MUSIC
This doesn’t have anything to do with the photography, but it’s SO much more fun for the bridesmaids to have some music to listen to while getting ready! It helps set the tone for the day, and really often helps the bride relax and eases the nerves.
9. WATER, FOOD + SNACKS
While the bride might be too nervous to eat much, it’s crucial to have plenty of water and snacks/food in the bridal suite. It’ll be a long day on your feet for the bride as well as all the bridesmaids, so don’t forget to plan accordingly and bring or order in some food. Keep hydrated! It’s tempting to have champagne only (trust me, there’s time for champagne, too), it’s really important to drink some water as well. No one needs to faint due to dehydration or heat exhaustion, it’s really easy to prevent any health scares by drinking and eating enough on the wedding day. If needed, designate a bridesmaid to help you remember!
10. AN EMERGENCY KIT
Most wedding planners will carry one, but it’s never a bad idea to have one along with your bridesmaids at all times. Want to pack your own? Here are a few items commonly in an emergency kit: Needle and thread; fabric stain remover; hair spray; dry shampoo; makeup removal wipes; bobby pins; safety pins; medicine like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acid reducer; band-aids; shoe inserts; dental hygiene items like floss, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste; deodorant; tampons and pads; lotion or sunscreen; insect repellent; umbrella; etc.