Tips for the Day Of: How to Make the Most Out of Your Getting Ready Space | Charlotte, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

How to Make the Most of Your Getting Ready Space: Tips and Tricks for Engaged Couples

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Photos of the couple getting ready honestly always end up being some of my favorites from the day. There’s this energy that just isn’t there any other time; it’s this lovely nervous but excited buzz that electrifies the air. It’s you with the people closest to you, having fun and getting fancy and just spending time together. There’s something about having the people who have helped you become who you are now helping you prepare for this big step in your life, whether it’s the wedding party, family, or even the couple getting ready together.

Now, before I get into this, I want to preface that I’m a firm believer that content is ultimately what matters in photos like these. I preach that weddings, at their core, are 100% about emotion and real moments and celebrating humanity. I never want somebody to feel like their photos are any less meaningful because of the color of the light bulbs, or the amount of windows, or because you ran out of time to clean up. For me personally, I always look at the people and the emotions happening in a photo before all that other stuff, because that’s the most important part. But these are your photos. The tips I’m about to share are just the cherry on top if you have a specific look in mind that you already know you want to achieve, if you want to boost the technical quality of the photos, or just want less distractions in the background.

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Natural light is always the most flattering and easiest to photograph. Rooms with big windows are ideal and will provide beautiful glowing light no matter what the weather outside is. In these situations, I recommend having indoor lights near the windows turned off if possible; having them on can create two different color casts on either side of the subject, usually orange or yellow on one side from the indoor lights and blue on the other from the windows. If you’re worried about privacy, I suggest white sheer curtains! They’re very difficult to see through from the outside but will still let in plenty of light.

If natural light isn’t an option, don’t fret! An experienced photographer can make great photos happen with any kind of lighting; this ties back into what I mentioned in my last blog post about asking for full galleries before you hire a photographer. We can do awesome things with flash or just getting creative with angles. If possible, when working with artificial light I always suggest having light that comes from a mid-point, such as table or floor lamps; this stops overhead lights from creating harsh shadows under your eyes and provides more even distribution. I also suggest making sure (if possible) that the lights in the room are all the same type of bulb; this prevents the same problem I mentioned above with the color casts, where one side of you ends up blue/white while the other side is yellow/orange.

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Wall Color
This is obviously a difficult variable to control, but I thought I’d put it in here just in case anybody finds it helpful! White, beige and other neutral wall colors are what work best for creating clean photos; these reflect light in the most natural tone. Brightly colored walls can reflect off skin and white clothing, such as wedding dresses; this will give them the tint of the walls. For example, if you’re getting ready in a room with bright orange walls (such as a pine or cedar cabin) and you don’t have a lot of natural light going on, there’s a high chance your clothes and skin will look a little orange. Sometimes this can look really cool and add a neat vibe to the photos, especially with more funky colors like green or blue, but if that’s not what you’re looking for this is your heads up!

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When I say “clutter,” what I’m specifically talking about is trash. Things like empty bottles, shoe boxes, plastic, packaging, tissue paper and paper towels can be distracting to the eye in photos, especially if they’re brightly colored. I recommend having designated bags for trash and recycling ahead of time, so that way nobody has to rush around at the last minute cleaning up and can just enjoy the flow of the day. In general I think this also just makes the space a much less stressful place to be for you and yours. Don’t worry about things like makeup cases or champagne glasses; they’re a part of the day and the room doesn’t need to be spotless :) There’s a balance between honesty and clutter.

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Black and White Photos
In extreme situations if there’s a great moment happening and I feel like the light or clutter is truly taking away from the emotion, I turn to black and white. I’m obsessed with black and white images anyway for their timelessness, but they also have the wonderful ability to draw attention to what really matters in a photo and force you to focus on what you recognize, i.e. the people. If you’re worried about the lighting in the space where you’re getting ready and care more about getting images of moments, talk to your photographer about it! Ultimately they’ll know what works best when they see how the images are turning out, but it’s still helpful for us to know if you’re totally fine with having a lot of black and whites.


Things to Think About Ahead of Time
With these spaces, it’s honestly all about your priorities. Does the type of light matter to you? Are you more focused on getting candids? More focused on detail shots? Both? Do you want to spend a lot of time on these photos or do you just want a couple of important moments?

There is no right or wrong! I only bring this up because it can cut back a lot on your stress the day of to think about if the space is conducive to your priorities. For example, if you really want details, is there a place to hang your dress/outfit or lay out your accessories? If not, are you comfortable with the photographer possibly taking your outfit and accessories elsewhere to get photos of them? If you’re not seeing your significant other before the ceremony, can you move around the space comfortably or leave if necessary without running into them? Is the space too small for you and all of your party to get ready in the same room? Does that matter to you? These are things both your planner and your photographer would be more than happy to help you figure out before the day of so that you’re not having to figure everything out in the middle of your makeup artist gluing eyelashes to your face or while you’re sewing your groomsman’s button back on his jacket.

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I want to hear from you!
Is there anything else you wish you had known about when you were getting ready or are worried about for the future? I’m happy to update this list as I get more suggestions and always welcome feedback.

Bonus: venues I’ve shot at with AMAZING spaces for getting ready

Wrightsville Manor
Luna’s Trail Farm and Event Center
Ritchie Hill
Stowe Manor
Air BnB (technically not a venue but an excellent option if you’re strapped for ideas for a space to get ready in! Usually much cheaper than a hotel.)
Vesuvius Vineyards
Davidson College
Green Gables Farm