Wedding Day Tips for the Best Getting Ready / Ottawa Bridal Portraits

I know that great care can go into choosing what you wear for your wedding day.  Getting ready and bridal portraits are the keepsakes of that care and attention.  They are also the keepsakes of the closest people around you on wedding day:  your family and closest friends.

Ottawa brides: These are the exact Pro Tips I share with all my wedding clients to get the most out of their Getting Ready / Ottawa Bridal Portraits on wedding day.


a photo of a bride zipping up the back of her dress taken as a part of her Ottawa bridal portraits


Your getting ready space can make ALL the difference in the look of your getting ready / Ottawa bridal portraits.  Spaces with lots of white or very neutral colours and LOTS of natural light bouncing around can make for the best light and airy, dreamy portraits that are so popular.  And, spaces with lots of space are a must.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite Ottawa-area getting ready / bridal suites:

  • The Stonefields Estate Farmhouse & Bridal Suite
  • The Garden House & Bridal Suite at Le Belvedere
  • The Naismith House at Evermore
  • Andaz Hotel Ottawa ByWard Market
  • The Westin Ottawa
  • Fairmont Chateau Laurier (Suites)


Wherever you get ready – home, bridal suite at your venue, hotel room – make an effort to keep it tidy or tidy up.  Get rid of distracting elements that could creep into your photos.  Your photographer should keep an eye out for this, but a few minutes of some cleanup can make his / her job A LOT easier so they can concentrate on YOU without having to avoid half-eaten food and beverage containers, garment bags, loose articles of clothing, etc in the background of your photos.  And, you’ll appreciate not having to make the photoshop request in your bridal portraits after the fact.


closeup detail shot of a bride's makeup and lashes as part of her Ottawa bridal portraits


I strongly recommend professional hair and makeup for everyone who will figure prominently in your Ottawa bridal portraits.  That means makeup for you, your bridesmaids and important female family members.  Believe me, it makes a huge difference in how you experience your morning AND in the overall final results of your photos.

A word of Caution about the DIY route:

While one of your friends or family members may be “really good” with hair and makeup, unless they are a professional artist and work with weddings regularly, they may not be able to keep up with the fast pace and demands of getting multiple faces and heads ready within a prescribed (pressure-cooker) timeline.  And the results can be much less than satisfactory.  It can be cause for significant delay, unnecessary stress and souring of a relationship.

And, believe me, again:  there will be a distinctly visible difference in your photos if some members of your bridal party and family opt for hair and makeup and others don’t.  You will be able to easily notice that variation in your bridal party photos and family photos.

Some brides / bridesmaids / mothers object to professional hair and makeup because they want to look “like themselves” and not “made up”.  My response to that:  seasoned, professional hair and makeup wedding artists will make you look like the best version of yourself, however you envision that to be.  If you want natural, you’ll be natural.  If you want glam, you’ll be glam.  The key is hiring a team of experienced artists to get you what you want for wedding day.

Yes, it’s an investment – do your research — but you’ll have these photos forever.  So, do yourself and the women in your life a favour.  Pamper yourselves, put your feet up and invest in professional hair and makeup for your getting ready / Ottawa bridal portraits.  These will be some of the most important photos of your life.  Your stress level, timeline, photos and friendships will thank you.

Some of my favourite tried and true Ottawa hair and makeup artists are:

  • One Fine Beauty
  • Stephanie Bullock Makeup
  • Glammed by Haneen
  • Showpony Hair
  • Richardson Hair Design
  • Parla Hair

closeup photo of a bride holding a bouquet as part of her series of Ottawa bridal portraits


Florals can be another costly investment, and, as with hair and makeup, many brides choose to go the DIY route.

My take?  At the very least, invest in a gorgeous professional bridal bouquet for yourself.  It will be in pretty much all of your bridal portraits and photos.  However, you WILL be able to spot the difference between the professional and DIY bouquets in your photos.  If you do opt for professional bridesmaid bouquets – even if they are much smaller versions of your own bridal bouquet – they can double as your head table / table centrepieces too.


closeup detail photo of an engagement ring and wedding band in a blue velvet box surround by flowers. Photographed as part of a series of Ottawa bridal portraits


Gather all your accessories, jewelry, details, invitation suite etc … in one place in advance with all the tags and stickers OFF for your photographer so that he / she doesn’t have to go digging through your personal items to find them.  If your photographer will be doing flat-lays, ask your florist for some individual floral stems and greenery to include with all the pretty bits.  Special touches like a pretty ring box, favourite perfume bottle, hand-crafted vows book … will take your details photos to the next level.


Be sure to work with your photographer in advance to protect enough time in your day to create the getting ready / bridal portraits you want.  Your photographer should work out in advance how much time they need for these photos and tell you when you need to be ready to start your photos.  Make sure hair and makeup know exactly when you need to be ready for your photos.  They’ll then work backwards from this start time for their own hair and makeup start times depending on your numbers.  Make sure everyone knows where they need to be and for what time.  Most of all, STAY ON TIME, BE ON TIME.


a bride and her bridesmaids sitting on a bed in pretty peach robes


Listen, the getting ready part of your wedding day can be very exciting, emotional and filled with nerves.  Surround yourself with people who are supportive, low-maintenance and won’t add stress to your day.  Sometimes that means putting a cap on your numbers and limiting who gets ready with you.  “You can’t change the people around you but you can change the people around you.”  Your getting ready squad will set the tone for your day.  Make sure you have the best hype squad and cheerleaders a bride could ask for as you prepare for your day.

And be sure your photographer knows who all your key people are so you can be sure to photographed with them.


And, most of all, choose a photographer who is in clear alignment with you.  They should be a match to your preferred style of photography, energy and vibe.  He or she will will be working with you, your friends and family from when you’re getting ready to when you’re tearing up the dancefloor.  It’s key that you enjoy spending time with them as they create some of the most memorable photos of your life.


CONCLUSION:  Getting the Best Getting Ready / Ottawa Bridal Portraits on Your Wedding Day

While these tips won’t absolutely guarantee you get the best getting ready / Ottawa bridal portraits on your wedding day, they will certainly help set you up for the best conditions possible.  The key is to work with a photographer who knows this framework already making the two of you in sync.

Looking for a fun, creative photographer who “gets” ^^^ all of the above ^^^ and more?  Peep my  wedding portfolio.  And reach out HERE if you’d like to learn more about how I can support you on one of the most important days of your life!

And check out the guide below for more helpful tips!


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