When I meet with couples for their initial consult, one of the questions I always ask is "where are you getting ready?" For most, they haven't put any thought into it, but I challenge you that careful consideration about where you are getting ready is an important piece of the planning puzzle. And making sure your photographer is present to document the "getting ready" portion of the day is equally important.
Why Getting Ready Photos Matter
Before your wedding, emotions are high. You may feel excitement, nerves, giddiness. If you think of your wedding day story in plot form, the ceremony is the climax. Getting ready is building to that emotional point. So some of the most intimate, beautiful, raw moments happen during that time. If you're not into detail shots that's totally ok - I don't have to take pictures of your dress and earrings or shoes and tie if you don't care about that sort of thing. But the side hugs with dad, the tears from mom, the kiss from that friend since kindergarten are all really important pieces of your wedding day story and well worth documenting.
In general I try to be in the background while you're getting ready. I may move your chair over to the window so we can take advantage of that natural light while finishing up hair and makeup, but other than that, I'm sort of the fly on the wall - documenting moments as they come.
Why getting ready Spaces Matter
Because getting ready is such an important part of the day, consider investing in a beautiful space in which to spend that part of the day. What do I mean by beautiful space? Most of it has to do with light and clutter. Look for rooms with lots of natural light. That might mean doing hair and makeup in the dining room rather than a bathroom, for instance. If there is clutter in the room (say you are getting ready in a private home), make sure to clean it up (tuck it in closets, drawers, under the bed - whatever you need to do to have a clean palate). If you are getting ready at a hotel, make sure to put away shoes, bobbie pins, tossed bridesmaid bras - whatever - before we begin.
For my West Virginia brides, finding a beautiful space to rent can be a little challenging. Your options are generally a chain hotel or a private home. Of the two, pick the option with the most natural light. That may mean asking your grandmother's friend or cousin twice removed if you could use their home to get ready in. Have a connection? Use it. It's also totally ok to get ready in your own home. But sometimes a hotel is the only option - and that's ok too, but ask the hotel staff if there's a suite or corner room with extra light in it that you can book. As I'll talk about below, inns, bed and breakfasts and airbnbs are also an option, although there aren't as many possibilities in West Virginia as there are in Virginia.
For my Charlottesville/Shenandoah Valley brides, you have a lot more options. Airbnb is really popular in central Virginia and there are truly some beautiful places. Additionally, there are a ton of bed and breakfasts, inns, estates, manors and boutique hotels you can book rooms in. If you need help finding something, let me know!
Don't forget the guys!
Many venues do provide some sort of getting ready space for the bridal parties. But often, the "groom space" is in a windowless basement or at the back of the barn. Grooms - or brides if there are two of you - deserve beautiful photos too! If your venue doesn't offer great getting ready spaces for half of the couple then considering renting something. You can always use the rented space for a honeymoon suite and photographically, it's well worth the investment.