On the day of your wedding, you want everything to go right. Inevitably though, something goes awry. That’s why as a wedding photographer I bring with me my bridal first aid kit that my clients have dubbed my Mary Poppins bag, since it has everything and anything you could possibly need on your wedding day. People have been asking me lately what’s in that infamous bag. Here are all the contents laid out and I’ll explain why I have them and provide links to where you can buy them.
This kit is made up of a mix of items that almost always get used and others that are a rarity but it’s still good to have them on board. I’ll go through the contents in order of likelihood that it is needed at a wedding, in case you don’t want to bring a bag as stuffed to the gunnels as mine.
- Scissors: So much of what you are wearing that day is brand new. Everything seems to have tags on it. And those lingerie straps on dresses are always popping out. Be sure to have a set of scissors with you that day. The little tiny ones in travel sewing kits are not sufficient. Cut off those lingerie straps on dresses and if you need them to hang the dress back up again, use a safety pin to pin them back on or sew them back in.
- Safety pins: I’ve used these little guys for just about everything under the sun. On my own wedding we used over 50 to make my dress short enough for me to be able to dance in it without tripping over it while doing a waltz step that we had never practiced in the dress. Safety pins are your safety net that day. If a dress rips or is too long or too big, or if a bra strap keeps slipping down a shoulder, use these if you need a super quick fix. Get a pack that has a variety of sizes.
- Sewing Kit: Believe it or not, but I end up having to use this at almost every single wedding. Hook and eyes come apart, buttons pop off, dresses get ripped, straps are too long, and hems are too long. You name it, I’ve seen it, and sewed it. I bring a set with multiple colors or thread for the bridesmaids dresses, but if you are limited in space you could have just white and black thread. Sewing a few quick stitches can often look much better than using safety pins. If you have the time that day, bring out the needle and thread instead of the safety pins. It doesn’t have to be the worlds greatest job. But just a few stitches can tack something in place very well. For very special something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new items, like a grandmother’s ring or handkerchief, I suggest sewing them into the dress rather than just pinning them. Pins have been known to come undone and you don’t want to spend your wedding having your guests crawling on the floor looking for Nana’s sapphire ring you had pinned into the lining of your dress.
- Bandaids: Almost everyone is wearing new shoes that day, so blisters are very common. Injuries can also occur when people are running around in a rush. Have a variety of sizes and types, the traditional bandaids and the new blister types, and you’ll have many more people up on the dance floor the rest of the night instead of clutching their feet in pain.
- Double sided sticky tape: My brand of choice is hollywood fashion tape. It is made specifically for the purpose of keeping your clothes where they are supposed to be. This is super helpful when it comes to strapless dresses and sweetheart necklines. It can also double as a quick fix to a falling hem.
- Breath mints: After you have your make up done you don’t want to risk ruining it by brushing your teeth. To freshen up your breath before the ceremony for your first kiss breath mints are the way to go.
- Tissues: The time when a bride is getting ready is often very emotional for all parties concerned. A little package of tissues can go a long way.
- Binder Clip: A heavy duty binder clip can help you in many ways on your wedding day. Most often I’ve used it as a veil weight on windy days so that the veil doesn’t keep flying into your face. It can also be used to help you pin up a veil while you are getting ready so that you aren’t dragging it around if you got it put in when you had your hair done.
- Hair Spray: The amount they put on at the salon never quite seems like enough for the many hours of a wedding day. A travel size can of hair spray is usually sufficient for even a large bridal party.
- Lip Gloss and Lipstick : One of the ways to make sure your bridal portraits come out well is to make sure that you have a defined lip. I suggest a color at least a shade darker than you normally would wear so that it shows up well in pictures. To really polish the look, a thin layer of gloss is great. You will likely need to reapply both lip gloss and lipstick several times during the day.
- Concealer: The first place make up seems to wear off is where we want it to stay on the most…any blemishes or dark under eye circles. Have a little tube of concealer with you to reapply if necessary during the day. This can also be used to cover tattoos. Just be sure to let it dry before anyone hugs you as it may transfer off onto them.
- Waterproof Mascara: So often we forget how much we are likely to tear up on our wedding. To keep you from looking like a raccoon, be sure to wear waterproof mascara. Do not share mascara with others, this is the quickest way to eye infections. To avoid this problem bring a few brand new mascaras or disposable mascara brushes.
- Satin Hanger: Most dresses are delivered on a cheap plastic hanger and cardboard dress form. This looks terrible in photos. A custom hanger with your name on it or a satin hanger compliments the dress rather than takes away from it.
- Comb: If it is at all windy people’s beautiful styles can easily be ruined. Having a comb makes it much easier to manage. I bring multiple combs with me, but even just one comb is better to share than a single brush.
- Anti-perspirant: This is an item that almost everyone seems to forget to pack yet they need it the most for a wedding day. It’s good for more than just your underarms. Girls, use it in between your thighs to prevent chafing from wearing wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses that promote sweating. Be sure to get an anti-perspirant, not just a deodorant, for this to work. If you have a history of chafing problems there are other products out there that are made specifically for this that are usually targeted at runners and they take care of the problem.
- Curling Iron: We all love the look of curls but for most of us that look doesn’t last, especially in high humidity. Get a curling iron with a quick heat up time and you can touch up your hair so that you look as fresh as the moment you stepped out of the salon for your reception. If you don’t have much time, just re-curl the hair that is right at the front of your face on either side. This is the hair that will be showing in most pictures.
- Bobby Pins: Even though you may seem to have 400 bobby pins in your hair, it’s likely you may need a few more to hold back stray hairs that come loose while you are getting ready.
- Advil : With all the bobby pins in your hair, it is likely you may get a headache (or perhaps its coming from your new Mother-in-law driving you crazy already). Having Advil on hand can be a wedding saver. Do NOT take Tylenol if you are drinking alcohol. That can be very dangerous to your liver!
- White garbage bags: If it has been raining or it is actively raining on the day of your wedding but you still want to get some shots taken outside you need to make sure to protect the bottom of your dress. Take 3-5 white garbage bags and safety pin it to the underside of the dress. It is ok to have just a little showing on the edge as that can be removed easily in photoshop. If you don’t have this additional allowance on the outer edge the dress may still get dirty.
- White Sheet: If it hasn’t been raining, I prefer to use a white piece of fabric to line the dress for doing shots outside. The white fabric flows better with the dress and doesn’t make the bride as hot.
- TUMS: Nerves for the day can often cause an upset stomach. A little roll of TUMS is a simple cure that can make you feel so much better. You can even get them in mint flavor to have them do double duty as a breath mint.
- Umbrella: Um…rain?
- Nail file: In all the hurrying and scurrying about breaking a nail is a likely consequence. Rounding the edges can then ensure that you don’t have that nail get caught on your dress.
- Lint Roller: This is good for dark colored dresses but more often than not it gets used on the guys’ tuxes and suits.
- Snacks and gatorade: Many bridal party members are so busy preparing for the wedding that they forget to eat or stay hydrated. This can lead to low blood sugar and dehydration which can lead to fainting. Believe me, it’s happened! You should have on hand a few snacks and a drink to bring back up your electrolytes, especially if there are little flower girls and ring bearers who need to eat and drink more often. For your snack pick something that isn’t going to melt on your hands like chocolate so that you don’t risk it getting on your dress. Don’t pick things that are very crumbly too, as you don’t want crumbs all over your dress or tux. Do not bite into things with your front teeth once you have your make up on. Instead break off pieces and pop it into your mouth and chew with the back of your mouth. This will decrease the chance that you’ll get something in the front of your teeth or eat off your lipstick and lip gloss.
- White pashmina: Even weddings during the summer can run into a cold spell or a windy day. During fall it’s almost a certainty. For my brides I bring a white pashmina that will likely match their dress nicely if they are cold while getting shots taken outside.
- Screw-driver: This one has come in handy. You never know when you’ll need it or how you might use it. I used it once to fix some hand-made jewelry that came apart. I carry a multi-head set so that no matter what the situation presents, I am prepared.
- Matches: Often times when lighting the unity candle the lighter may not work. For those situations its always good to have a back up of a nice little box of matches. You want to have a box of matches and not a little book because you don’t want to risk people burning themselves on their wedding.
- Decorative hair clips: Sometimes after you put on the veil or if you had to put the dress on over your head your hair style can get ruined with no time left to go to have it fixed. Having a few decorative hair clips as a back up is always a good idea.
- Shout stain wipes or Tide-to-go stick: On the off chance you or one of the bridal party members gets something spilled on them have Shout stain wipes or a Tide-to-go stick with you. Be sure to try it on the underside of the fabric first where it won’t show to test and make sure it doesn’t do anything strange to the fabric.
- Flashlight: Often a piece of jewelry may fall and end up on the ground or under a couch. Having a small flashlight can be incredibly helpful when looking for these hidden gems. Not only does it light up your field of view, but it also makes jewelry twinkle, making it so much easier to find.
- Perfume and cologne samples: This is another item that many couples forget to bring with them. Most fragrance department stores will be happy to provide you with free small sample bottles of perfume and cologne if you ask them.
- Decorative headband: By the end of the day the bride’s beautifully coiffed hair is often a mess. To easily fix fly-aways a simple comfy decorative headband can take her look from drab back to fab.
- Baby Wipes: These can serve as make up removers or a nice cool cloth if someone is feeling too hot.
- Tampons and Pads: You never know when Aunt Flow will strike.
If you bring all these items with you to a wedding, you can be fairly certain that you will be ready for just about anything that may pop up that day. By being prepared like this your stress levels that day will be much lower and that will result in you having a much better overall wedding experience.
Have I missed anything? If you think so, please write a comment and I’ll be sure to add it to my own bag and the list above. Thanks!