With so many moving parts to a wedding day, the morning often gets reduced down to a checklist of imperative things that happen before your ceremony. There are countless times that I have arrived to photograph a wedding party or couple getting ready to find that there is little room to move around, no light, and clothes, bags, and snacks everywhere. With a little planning and some tips from your new bff photographer, you can make the most out of your morning and set the tone for a bomb AF day. (do the kids still say that?)
One of my goals in being your wedding photographer is to give you a peek behind the veil into all of the parts of your wedding day that have a big impact on your gallery. All of those beautiful inspo pics you’ve got on your Pinterest board? They didn’t happen by accident! In this post, I’m going to break down all of the specifics of a great getting ready location that gives you the best experience on the morning of your wedding day, as well as all of those logistic factors that result in amazing, magazine-worthy photographs.
Most wedding venues have a getting ready suite (or two) on site. Logistically, that is going to be the easiest place for you and your crew to get ready the morning of your wedding. You don’t have to worry about figuring out the logistics of transportation and you won’t have to worry about the commute affecting your timeline. When you are touring wedding venues, be sure to ask if they have a dedicated space for you to get ready and if there are any time restrictions for day-of access. Even if you choose to get ready in a different location, it is worth knowing if you will have access to a private space during your wedding day.
A potential downside to using the getting ready space at your wedding venue is they are often heavily gendered rooms with one room bright and clean for girls and a dark “man-cave” for boys (which is never ideal for photos).
In many cases, I would argue that your morning of experience is worth the extra drive. Having an entire house or studio to yourselves sets a relaxed atmosphere to your morning. My couples will often rent an airbnb so they can spend the night with their wedding party the night before the wedding.
The cons to this option are few, but should be considered. Not only will you have to consider transportation to your wedding venue, you might have to opt for a longer photography package. Your time starts when I start shooting, and even though I won’t just run off on you (especially if there are uncontrollable delays such as traffic or weather), I always encourage you to be conscious of your budget.
Is it large enough to fit your entire wedding party + family members who will be there comfortably? How about your vendors and their bags and equipment? Is there more than one mirror and if so, are they scattered across a couple rooms? Is there enough space to fit everyone’s bags, dresses, accessories without clutter and still give you enough room to hang your dress/outfit for those full-frame photos you’ve always dreamed of? Does it have an ample number of outlets? This is important for your hair and makeup artists who will be working on multiple people at once.
3. Character and Cleanliness
If you choose to forego your venue’s suite or if your venue does not have one, an important factor to consider when choosing your location is character. Airbnb, VRBO, and even photography studios are all great choices! With an abundance of options in every style, you have more freedom to choose a unique space that not only fits the mood of your wedding (hello, cohesive gallery!) as opposed to those infamous hotel carpets and draping (THE WORST), but you also have more options for large, open concept spaces that eliminates the clutter we just talked about. You don’t think about the negative effects of bags piled up in the corner where you’re supposed to be getting dressed until that’s exactly what happens to you. So cleanliness doesn’t just refer to the dust-free surfaces but rather, the lack of busyness in the background. We don’t want empty water bottles or amazon boxes in the background of photos of you getting into your wedding dress.
NOTE: if you are opting for an airbnb or vrbo, make sure that you check with the host that you are allowed to have your vendors and that they are okay with their space being photographed!
4. Natural Light
Even a space with character needs a little help from the sun. Natural light is a game changer for photos as it gives the soft, bright, wedding day look that we all swoon over. Flash photography produces some beautiful photos, however the harsher contrast it provides is better suited for your reception.
*Note: Flash photography can absolutely be incorporated for fun and trendy photos as you are getting ready, however you don’t want to rely on your photographer’s skills with a flash to capture all of the important moments that happen candidly without time for setup.
5. Outdoor Options
Choosing a location that has outdoor options for photos (a statement entryway, garden lawn, or even balcony or terrace, is a huge bonus! Depending on your timeline, portraits can be taken after arriving to the ceremony site, during cocktail hour, etc. if you have no outdoor option at your getting ready location, however, being able to take portraits with your favorite people before the ceremony creates a memorable experience rather than just “checking” those shots off of your list.
The golden rule of wedding planning: everything will affect your timeline! Choosing a location that is farther from your venue will obviously influence your morning timeline and you will want to plan for at least 30 minutes of buffer time in case of traffic. A cluttered space is also likely to cause setbacks as it is easier to lose track of necessary items.
8. Visualize yourself + your group
Last but not least, be sure you can visualize yourself in the places you’re considering for the morning of your wedding. Remember that your day is all about memories! Think about the experience you want to have with your closest friends and take it into consideration when you are choosing where to get ready.
Over the years, I have gathered all of the best tips and tricks to make sure your wedding day is truly the best day ever and that your photos are magazine worthy. I share all of these tips and more in my Client-Exclusive Guide for my clients. Head over to my contact page and let’s get this (photography) party started!
About this real wedding:
Brides Angel + Riley chose to get ready both at their own house and at the home of a Riley’s employer (which also served as the venue!) before they said “I do”. Both spaces had plenty of room for their chosen friends/family and natural light for a consistent look in their gallery.