“Where should I get ready the morning of my wedding?” is probably the most asked question I get, so I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post about bridal prep photos. In my opinion, the best place to get ready is in a house or at the venue itself, if they have a large bridal suite. If a home or bridal suite is not an option, then a hotel room would be your last choice. Let me explain each option in detail:
1. A HOUSE: Homes usually have at least one room, usually a living room, with a lot of natural light coming through windows (window light is your BFF!). I usually suggest that the bride actually gets dressed in the living room because it provides SPACE and LIGHT. If you have a room with a lot of natural light coming in that you know will be best for photos, then make sure that room stays clean the morning of the wedding. Have your bridesmaids put their bags in a separate room and ask the hair and makeup team to use another room that also has window light (they need light too!) Basically, you want to keep that room clear and clean until it’s time for you to get dressed. Imagine a beautiful spacious room that is cluttered with plates of food, water bottles, coats and bags thrown about…that is not going to make for a great photo! Also, if you have a wonderfully lit room, but it has a lot of furniture and not a lot of space, I would suggest clearing the furniture from that room prior to the wedding day, as to avoid taking time to do this on the actual wedding day itself. Maybe you have a bedroom that has better light than the living room..that’s fine too! But if it is a smaller room, I would remove at least some of the furniture..especially the bed. The reason I say that is because when a bride is getting ready in a small bedroom, the bed is usually in the way of me getting a great full length shot, and you end up with most photos from the waist up or with the bed in the photo blocking the whole bottom of your beautiful (and very expensive) gown. The room you choose should be a neutral colored room, (neutral colors such as white, cream, grey, or beige walls are the most aesthetically pleasing in photos), with not a lot of pictures or other distractions on the walls. Also, if there are dressers in the room, they tend to be very cluttered with perfume bottles, deodorant, tissue boxes and other knick knacks, so I would suggest clearing them off the day before as well. (Are you seeing a pattern yet? LOL). While we are on the topic of homes, I have had many, many couples utilize a friend or family member’s house to get ready in. Most people are super excited to lend you their home to use the morning of the wedding, and it makes them feel involved (and who doesn’t love to help a bride out?). Last but not least, if no one you know lives near the venue, you could always rent a house! A few of my couples have done this and the houses are super cute, clean, and all ready for you!
2. THE VENUE’S BRIDAL SUITE: This is another great option! First of all, the location! Most weddings are AT the venue nowadays, so if you are getting ready there too, then everything will be in one place and you can cut out travel time and the expense of transportation as well! (double whammy!) I have seen good and bad bridal suites, so just because your venue has one, doesn’t mean you should/have to use it! Check it out beforehand, see if you can fit your photographer, videographer, makeup & hair artists PLUS your bridesmaids, mom and YOU in there, and not be crammed! Again, make sure it’s well lit, and would look pretty in pictures (no weird wallpaper or something!) Most of them are great, I have only seen a few that were in a dark basement or something (to which I walked in thinking “Oh Dear God, NO!”)
If you do utilize the bridal suite and it is a single room, try to have the bridesmaids keep all their belongings to one side of the room, and make sure the bed is made, dishes are cleared, and it looks picture ready when the photographer arrives!
3. A HOTEL ROOM: A hotel room should be your last option for getting ready photos! Sure its great to have everyone all gathered together at a hotel and probably seems like a great choice if you don’t live near the venue, however, in terms of your wedding photos, this is not the ideal location. One of the first things I do when I arrive is photograph the dress. Problem #1 right off the bat..there’s nowhere to hang it! You can’t hang it from the curtains because the curtains go right to the ceiling so there is no rod to hang it from. The only other options would be to hang it from the bathroom door (yuck!) or from the entrance door. The door into the room usually has an ugly deadbolt lock of some sort and a bright red exit sign above it. Soooo, now that there are no options, I have to carry your wedding gown (very carefully without getting it dirty or it falling) down the elevator to the lobby and hope there is a spot there for it there. This isn’t always the best idea, as other guests are staying there and will see the gown. Hotel problem #2 is the lighting. Hotels are mostly tungsten lighting (which makes you look like an oompa loompa) mixed with daylight (which is never a good combo), so we need to turn off all the lights in the room and hope that there enough window light coming in so that your pictures aren’t too dark. Problem #3 is there are way too many people in one little room! Again, your entire bridal party (plus all their belongings), a few family members and your team of vendors all squeezing into one room. Problem #4..wall hangings. I don’t know if you ever noticed, but most hotels do not have the prettiest wall art. And to make matters worse, they nail it to the wall, so you can’t even take it down! LOL If a hotel room is literally your only option then I would strongly suggest having access to another room, such as a bridesmaid’s or groomsman’s room that isn’t being used in the morning. We began doing this in 2016 and it made it a little more bearable. You see, I could take the bridal gown and all the details to the other vacant room where it was super clean, bed made, etc and shoot all the details there without anyone in the background. Then when it was time for the bride to get dressed, she came to the other room. That gave the hair and makeup girls time to clean up without rushing them because we needed the space. Overall it just worked out better.
Please keep in mind that these are just my opinions derived from years and years of shooting weddings. These opinions are based on my experiences and what I know will get you the best photos possible, which is ultimately what you hired me to do, right?
So basically what this blog boils down to is look at the room you are going to get ready in and make sure you can check off each one of these qualifications:
1. Neutral walls
2. Bright (with natural light coming in)
3. Clear of clutter
Here are some examples a bride who “got it right” and, in turn, had gorgeous bridal prep photos!
Oh, and PS – ALL of these suggestions are just as important for the groom prep as well, although it’s a little harder to convince the guys to keep their room clean! Here’s a groom prep photo just so the boys didn’t feel neglected in this post! 😉