On your wedding day, long before the ceremony begins, your photographer will be busy snapping photos of you getting ready. These photos take up a large portion of the total photos you end up getting! So where you choose to get ready before the wedding is really important. Plus, it's more than just about the photos. You have to consider all of the other thing, such as lighting, space, comfort, and location.
For more than a decade, we have pushed couples to put a lot of thought into this. We love that brides are finally asking us where they should get ready. It's time that we finally put all our advice about this topic out there for you to read.
Does it really matter where we get ready?
YES! It’s such an important thing to plan for the wedding day, and it usually isn’t given as much thought as it should. Brides spend hours of the wedding day getting ready. It usually takes all morning. Grooms get ready too, of course, but brides take significantly longer. This is why we always have two photographers at every wedding, so that we can take photos of the groom but also get all the detail photos. We hang the wedding dress, grab the rings, assemble the invitations, and everything else while makeup and hair are getting done. It's important to your photographer to shoot everything important to you on your wedding day, down to all the little details.
Side note: We love LGBTQ+ weddings and are flexible with literally every wedding day and situation!
So let’s get right to it. Here are the most important things to ask yourself when choosing your getting ready location for the morning of your wedding.
1. How many people are getting hair and makeup?
The size of the bridal party is a big determinate when choosing a space. How many are getting hair and makeup done? Is it 5 or 15? Think about yourself, your bridesmaids, your mother, mother-in-law, and anyone else. You need to know what that number is.
2. How big is the outside crew?
While your bridal party will likely make up the majority of the people getting ready, you need to consider your vendors who will be there. The makeup artist, hairstylist, photographers, videographer, and any assistants. This number can easily be six people. So please keep this in mind when looking at spaces and rooms. Everyone needs space to work!
3. How about the lighting?
The most important part of lighting is natural lighting. Look for window size, balconies, and any other aspects of the space that bring in as much natural light as possible.
The second thing to consider with lighting is the color of the walls. The decor could also be light, but color contrast can make for fun and unique photos as you get ready. The most important decor piece is the walls. Lighter walls will help reflect the natural light and fill the room with an airiness that is difficult to imitate.
It is so important for your wedding photographer to have the space and lighting needed to get great photos. Getting ready photos are a standard piece of any photography wedding timeline. These photos capture every emotion and moment while you are transformed into a gorgeous bride alongside her bridesmaids.
Your makeup artist also needs natural light to create beautiful looks on your and your party. We love to photograph the artist at work, using natural light that optimally fills the entire space.
4. Is there a kitchen?
This may seem like an odd question, but believe us, it matters. You will need a kitchen. You probably are already planning what champagne or whiskey to drink, how it will look in photos, what glasses to buy, on and on. But have you taken a close look at the actual space that you need for those items? And don’t forget food! The day gets so busy and you need to keep your energy up. You will need to eat.
There are going to be a lot of you in one space and you’ll get hungry and thirsty. There may be a desire to cook your own meals. With a kitchen, you can plan ahead, knowing that you have that space to store and prepare drinks and food.
At minimum, you need adequate counter space, a refrigerator, and a sink.
5. How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
This is important for every bridal party, but gets more necessary with a larger group. Privacy and space are so important. While you may all be comfortable changing in front of each other, some may want some privacy at some point. It’s thoughtful to have that option available.
It’s also handy to have spare rooms to stash your extra clothes and all the other stuff that you don’t want in photos. Having those extra areas to get items out of the way is beneficial for everyone involved.
6. How far is it from your ceremony venue?
The wedding day is stressful enough, so don’t add to it by creating a long drive between your getting ready location and the venue. If makeup takes longer than expected and now there’s traffic to get through, you’re going to wish you’d chosen a closer location. Make your getting ready location as close to your venue as possible. Your stress level will drop significantly.
We typically recommend choosing a location that is no more than 10-15 minutes away from your ceremony venue.
Bonus: If your venue offers a getting ready space, then distance is already handled!
7. Assess your existing space and see if it actually works (hint: it probably won’t)
Now that you have gone through this list, look at your existing options. Do they satisfactorily answer all these questions? Will your makeup artist and photographer have space and light? Will you and your loved ones have space to do everything needed to get ready? You may have your heart set on a certain space, but if it doesn't cover everything above, please reconsider and look at other options.
8. How about your parents’ house?
It’s possible that someone in your family, perhaps a parent, has a lovely home that you would like to use. We know it can be tempting. There may be nice memories in your parents’ home, or perhaps it will save you money.
There are downsides to this, namely the cleanup. Getting ready is a messy affair. While we know that you’ll have to tidy up no matter where you go, you won’t have to detail clean after leaving. At your parent’s house, that is likely not the case. Plus, there would be the concern of accidental spills, bumping into fragile objects, or anything else that would lead to unnecessary worry.
You will be adding an extra layer of stress by using the space of a loved one.
And now we get to our actual recommendation:
9. Airbnb vs Hotel Suite
We say “Airbnb” but we do mean any home vacation rental service. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we know that most brides use Airbnb when renting a home for getting ready.
We strongly recommend using Airbnb over a hotel or bridal suite. It easily checks off every point on this list, while hotel suites don’t always do that. It may even be more affordable than getting a pricey suite.
Plus, you have a ton of options when renting a home! The houses vary in character, space, cost, number of rooms, and anything else that you need or haven’t even considered. Plus, it's fun to find a place that matches your style and personality.
While you certainly can find a bridal suite that checks every box, we have personally witnessed more success with getting ready at an Airbnb.
Please take your time and really think through when choosing where to get ready before your wedding. You will thank yourself later - and so will your photographer!
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