Getting ready is the best opportunity for photos that capture that pre-ceremony excitement. But the aesthetic of a room can make or break how those genuine moments are captured. An ideal getting ready space would be an interestingly well-decorated space with larger windows and light walls for reflective light. The best lighting situation would have large windows that let in enough light to illuminate the space without needing to turn on artificial lighting. Small, dark, and cluttered rooms are a no-go, so here's some tips on what to look for.
I know that there's a lot going on when you're getting ready, but a cluttered room WILL show in photos. Keep bags, suitcases, laundry, etc. in another room or the closet. And if you can, designate for someone to do a quick sweep for extra trash laying around (water bottles, tissues, etc.) If you are able to tidy up before I arrive, then your getting ready photos will feel much cleaner & fresher.
Getting ready near a window allows much more light in. Your makeup artist and hairdresser will thank you for this, since natural light is imperative for them to work with too. It not only gives us a brighter space to work with, but also looks SO much more flattering to your skin than artificial lighting. Apply this same rule of thumb to grooms as well. They often get the tiny dark rooms. Their photos are just as important as the bride's, so treat it that way.
Homes > Hotels
There, I said it. Well decorated homes and stylish AirBNBs are infinitely better than most hotel rooms. Kiss those brown curtains, yellow walls, and questionably swirly carpet goodbye. If you can't get ready in your apartment or home, try looking at AirBNB (there's a crap ton of cute ones on there). If you're planning on having your bridal party get ready with you, an AirBNB lets you rent out a WHOLE HOUSE, instead of ONE SUITE for the same price. If you want your photos to look good, don't try cramming 7-10 bodies in a 350 square foot room. Also, if you and your S.O. get ready at the same venue/home/airbnb, then it means less driving time for us, and more photos for you! If that isn't an option, then try to make sure you guys are getting ready no further than 10-15 minutes away from each other.
Usually the first thing we try to do one the wedding day is make sure we've got the detail photos secured and out of the way so we can focus on candids for the rest of the day. Then, we won't be spending the first 30 minutes of your getting ready photos scrambling for your stuff. For brides, make sure you have your invitation suite (including the envelope), engagement ring, both the bride & groom's wedding bands, any jewelry you'll be wearing, shoes, your hairpiece (veil, clip, flower crown, etc.) and of course, the dress. For grooms, have the tie, shoes, tie clip, cufflinks, pocket square, boutonniere, belt, and watch ready to go. You can honestly just toss all of these things in a shoebox and label it "photographer" so we can get started as soon as we walk in.
Don't limit yourselves
Who said getting ready photos have to be literally JUST be getting ready? Pop a bottle of champagne while you're still in your PJs! Share a bottle of whiskey and sit in fancy chairs like true gentlemen. Is there a pool at your house? Jump in with your bridal party for some fun photos before you have to get ready! Do you have some time to go throw a football around outside for a half hour? DO IT. Make a coffee/donut run and get photos of everyone chowing down together. Bring some old pillows and have a pillow fight & let feathers fly everywhere. Have the whole bridal party grab brunch together (and invite us so we can photograph you guys peacefully enjoying a meal togehter). Just add a little element of something fun in there so your photos reflect your personalities.
If there is time, after you put on your dress or suit, we'll likely grab you and take some portraits of you alone for about 5 minutes. It'll probably be by the window or somewhere quiet and calm at your getting ready space. These kind of photos help us capture that anxious anticipation before you see each other for the first time.