Multiple getting ready photos from Allyssa's wedding in Oakley

6 Tips to Finding a Hotel for Getting Ready on Your Wedding Day

Allyssa and Scott Oakley wedding photos - getting ready in hotel
Allyssa and her bridesmaids had a blast the morning of the wedding day!

As San Francisco wedding photographers, we know that the list of things to figure out for your wedding day can seem endless, which is why choosing the perfect hotel for getting ready often ends up as the last priority. Trust us though, taking some time to scope out the best hotel for wedding day prep is worth it. Your wedding party, makeup artist, hair stylist, family members, videographer, and particularly your photographer with thank you!

Here's our wedding photographer-approved guide to choosing the perfect hotel in the SF Bay Area for wedding day prep.

1. Location - it doesn't have to be close!

What was the first thing you chose when planning your wedding? We bet it was the venue since most things tend to fall into place after that. We agree that starting with where you'll get married is the most crucial decision, but don't feel like you have to find a hotel as close to this spot as possible. The San Francisco Bay Area has tons of hotels, so you're not limited, and there are most certainly quite a few to choose from close to your venue without being right next door. There are far more important things to consider!  Like...

2. Size of the room

The size of the room or suite where you'll be prepping yourselves is super important. First, take into account the number of people in your wedding party. You need to make sure that they'll all be comfortable, with enough seating for all of them and space to change clothes. You will crowd around a mirror or two, so ample counter space is helpful. A full-length mirror is typically standard in all hotel rooms, but you'll want to make sure that your room has a mirror that is easily accessible and near natural light.

Kristine and Tyler Burlingame wedding photography - Kohl Mansion - photo 4
Kristine had a beautiful space for getting ready the morning of her wedding in Burlingame.

Other people will be streaming into your room too, like your makeup artist, hairstylist, videographer, and photographer. All of them will appreciate having enough room to work without feeling overly crowded.

Marisa and Adam Morgan Hill wedding photos - getting ready in hotel
Check out those windows reflected in the mirrors. Lots of natural lights, lots of mirrors...perfect hotel room for getting ready!

3. Natural light

This is possibly the most important aspect to look for in your getting-ready space. Everyone who is making sure that you look your very best will love having natural light to work in! Plus your photos will look a million times better with some nearby large windows supplying this natural light. Your photographer will thank you, we promise.

If your hotel has a gorgeous garden or outdoor space, take advantage of it. Tons of Bay Area hotels have lovely, landscaped outdoor spaces. You'll get natural light this way and will get some fantastic photos after you've gotten ready, or are even in the middle of getting ready. We often take the party outside after the makeup and hair are done, before the gowns are on, for some fun outdoor shots.

Monique and Patrick 2016 wedding - getting ready - outside photo
We took Monique and her bridesmaids outside their hotel room for some really fun shots.

4. Scope it out

We are in the digital age, so we know that you'll be spending time Googling and Yelping to find the perfect place, but trust us that you need to do a little more than that. Most reviews will mention the actual hotel stay, not the quality of photos that they got. Take a day to visit a few locations on your list and scope them out. Call the hotels in advance and ask to see the suites they recommend. Once you visit a couple of places in person, you'll quickly make your decision.

5. Choose a hotel

Yes, we have written about using a hotel room this whole time, but why? Quite simply, it's the most convenient and accessible option! You get a sink and counter space for makeup, a full-length mirror, large windows, a closet for hanging clothes and gowns, and space for everyone to move about or relax. Plus it comes with a staff to call for any little things you may have forgotten to bring.

Multiple getting ready photos from Allyssa's wedding in Oakley
Allyssa chose a perfect room for getting ready. We were able to get lots of beautiful shots with the natural light filling the room.

If you choose a suite, chances are you'll have a kitchenette which is very handy. Getting ready can take a while, and having snacks and drinks available for everyone is an excellent option. Wedding day mimosas are so easy to prep with the counter space a kitchen area provides!

Anna and Robert Marina Art Garden Center wedding in Ross, CA - getting ready
Anna getting ready for her wedding at the Marin Art Garden Center.

6. Book it for 2 nights

Hotel room check-in is usually around 2 pm, with checkout around 11 am. So if you need the entire morning or part of an afternoon to get ready, you'll need to book the hotel room for both the night before and the night of your wedding. This also makes it the perfect place to head back to for an after-party once the reception is over.

Monique and Patrick wedding photos - detail shot
We love to take this time to get detail shots of rings, flowers, invitations, jewelry and anything else unique to the couple.

Finding a hotel for getting ready is an important decision since it's the first place you'll spend time (quite a bit of time!) on this exceptionally exciting and special day. Follow our expert tips, and you're well on your way to finding the perfect hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area!

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