Getting ready and detail photos are easily one of my favorite parts of a wedding day. The bride is surrounded by all of her best gals, the champagne is flowing and she’s about to marry the man of her dreams. Sounds like a pretty awesome time, right?
It’s likely that you want your photos to beautifully reflect your own memories of that time, and that’s totally understandable. Here’s the thing, though. If you get ready in a fluorescent-lit church basement, your photos are going to look like you got ready in a fluorescent-lit church basement.
I mean, yes, there are a few things here and there your photographer can do to make it look better than it actually was, but don’t expect us to work unrealistic magic. Don’t expect your photos to look like you got ready for the day in a window-filled room with neutral walls and natural light. It just ain’t happenin’, sister.
Here are six things to consider when choosing where to get ready.
You are not confined to only two choices of getting ready locations on your wedding day. If the “getting ready” rooms at your venues aren’t all that beautiful, don’t be afraid to prepare for the day somewhere else.
You could get ready at your home, your parents’ home, a hotel suite, an Air B&B or a bridesmaid’s house. Think outside the box, and don’t limit yourself.
At this point you may be saying, “Ok, that sounds great, but how am I supposed to know what makes for a good getting ready location and what doesn’t?”. And you know what? That’s a really valid question, and I’m more than happy to answer it.
First thing’s first: look for windows! Natural light is your photographer’s friend, and in turn, your friend. Seek out a space with windows that allow a lot of light to stream through.
Don’t let a single window fool you though. If there’s only one window, and it’s covered by an awning outside or the light is being blocked by trees or plants on the other side of the window, this may not work.
A good test is to shut off all of the artificial lights in the room and see how well-lit the space is with only the window light. Could you get ready without turning on any overhead lighting or lamps? If so, it definitely passes the test! If you’d have trouble putting your makeup on without adding in artificial light to see, it’s probably a no go.
In almost all cases you can count on this: the more windows, the better.
The more neutral the wall color, the better. I’m about to get a little technical on you, so bare with me. The color of the walls in the room is likely to reflect on your skin. So if the walls are painted hot pink, your skin is going to have a hot pink tint to it. Pretty, right? No, not so much.
Yes, this is somewhat correctable in post-processing, but it is really difficult to completely eliminate. So even if hot pink is one of your wedding colors, getting ready in that shade of room is going to make YOU look hot pink in addition to your wedding details.
I’m not saying that you have to get ready in a white box, but look for neutral colors. Even a toned-down shade of blush is going to result in better photos than hot pink.
Personally, I’m not a fan of feeling claustrophobic, and my guess is that you aren’t either. And you’re going to need more space than you think you’re going to need on your wedding day. Think about how much room you’ll need for you, your bridesmaids, any family members that will be present, your hair stylist(s), your make-up artist(s), your photographer and any other vendors that may be there such as a videographer.
Now think about all of those people moving about preparing for the day and doing their respective jobs. There’s going to be a lot going on. You’ll thank yourself if you give everyone enough space to move and breathe.
Your photographer will likely thank you as well. I can only speak for myself, but I like to act in a more documentary-type fashion during this part of the day. I don’t want to interrupt anything that’s happening or make your girls feel uncomfortable because my camera is all up in their business. The more I can distance myself from the action but continue to capture it, the better.
Unless we’re talking about a walk-out basement with millions of windows and tons of natural light, avoid basements like the plague. I’ve never met a windowless basement with fluorescent overhead lighting that I was a fan of. It’s where photographers’ dreams go to die.
When I’m faced with this situation, I actually prefer to remove the bride from the room to photograph her putting her dress on. Yes, basements make me that sad.
So if a basement is your only choice for some reason, don’t be shocked when your photographer asks you to come upstairs or outside while your MOH buttons up your dress. You may feel funny doing it, but you’ll be thankful when you see the photos.
If you’re getting ready in a church and you’ve managed to avoid the fluorescent-lit basement, your next choice will probably be a room where Sunday school is usually held. Translation: it’s filled with toys and arts and crafts hanging on the walls.
When I find myself in a situation such as this, I usually try to find a more bare room for detail and “putting the dress on” photos. I can’t guarantee your photographer will do the same, though, or that it will even be an option. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have.
And if you’re ok with a five-year-old’s drawing of Jesus or a Fisher Price play kitchen showing up in the background of the otherwise beautiful photo of you putting your wedding jewelry on, by all means, get ready in the Sunday school room. If you’d rather forego those background details, find somewhere else to get ready.
I know that this is a lot to think about when you’re selecting a location to get ready, but you’ll be so thankful that you were strategic about it when you see the end result. These are the details that can make or break your getting ready photos. So if you want those gorgeous photos, do what you can on your end to make it happen.
If getting ready photos aren’t super important to you, then maybe you won’t take my advice. And that’s fine. But set your expectations realistically. Your photographer is likely talented, but he or she isn’t a magician. Don’t expect them to turn your windowless, artificially-lit, green-walled tiny getting ready room with children’s crafts on the walls into a naturally-lit, white-walled dream. Either plan accordingly or know what’s coming your way come photo delivery day.