I am a big believer in proper planning equals perfect pictures.  As a wedding photographer, we don’t always get the chance to control all of the circumstances in any given environment.  A beautiful venue doesn’t always have perfect light.  Lighting is key to a good wedding photographer’s ability to create amazing images because it is one of the circumstances that we can’t always control.  

That being the case, I am creating this guide for brides getting married to help them stack the deck in order to get the most amazing images possible.  I am going to give you the best characteristics to look for when choosing your venue, vendors, and styles.  This guide is designed for the bride who places a high value on their wedding photography, meaning that the advice I will be giving to you will be geared toward your photos primarily.  For some brides this is the most important aspect of your wedding day, and this guide is designed for them.

Bridal Getting Ready Photos The Newhall Mansion in Piru has a GORGEOUS bridal suite for getting ready images.  It features a lot of space, and great light!

Step 1 | How to choose your Hotel Room

Getting ready photos are some of the most beautiful on the wedding day.  The reason is because this is the beginning of your wedding story.  It is where mom and dad will see you for the first time, where your bridesmaids will help you put on your dress, and where you will first gaze into the mirror after your hair and makeup are done and your dress was finally laced up.  This is it!  The day you have been waiting for.  

Bridal Getting Ready Photos We look for interesting angles, backgrounds, and good lighting when photographing a bride getting ready.  Heather had a suite at The Westlake Village Inn

The first thing you want to look for in a room is the lighting.  Make sure that room has very good window light coming through.  Be wary of having trees that are directly outside the window because it blocks the light and does not allow for creative silhouettes.  Also, because your makeup artist arrives before we do, have them set you up right in front of the window, and just let them know that we may need to move you in order to get the best lighting.  I recommend requesting a high floor to get nice light through the window in the room.  Make sure the hotel does not tint the windows too dark!

Bridal Getting Ready Photos The large window and ample space in this room allowed for creative, unposed photojournalism imagery.

Also, make sure that your hair is done before your makeup!  While having photos of your makeup being done is gorgeous, the same photos of your hair being straightened don’t come out as good.  To make the best use of your photographer’s time in your wedding collection, schedule them to arrive toward the very end of your makeup application.  

Bridal Getting Ready Photos

Size does matter

When choosing your hotel room, I am definitely going to recommend looking into a large suite with a single bed.  Small rooms tend to get cluttered quick (more on that later).  You will likely have a lot of people who want to come in and spend time with you on your wedding day but I really recommend keeping it between you and your bridesmaids.  The reasoning is that the more people in the room, the less space there is to move around and capture your photos from creative angles.  Ask your hotel if you are able to see the room prior to the wedding in order to see if it would be a good fit for you.  

Bridal Getting Ready Photos Breanna got ready at The Hyatt in Huntington Beach.  The floor to ceiling windows allowed gorgeous light in this Orange County Beach Wedding Venue hotel room.  The first thing to look for when choosing a room is the lighting.

Keep it clutter free!

Getting ready rooms are more cluttered than the living room of a parent with 2 six year olds.  Try and get rid of the food trays, curling irons, luggage, dry cleaner bags, etc.  All of these can distract and remove from an interesting background so we recommend finding a place for them that will not be in the way.  


Bridal Getting Ready Photos Heather got ready at the stunning Westlake Village Inn in Westlake Village, CA.  This is a gorgeous Los Angeles Wedding Venue and we were happy to capture these images for her.  This suite was large, decorated beautiful, and had an awesome window which allows for nice light to flow into the room.

Dont forget about the Groom! 

I know weddings are expensive and the last thing that a couple is thinking about is the hotel room the day before the wedding, however it is better if both of you get ready at the same hotel.  It allows the photographers to work together rather than splitting up because 2 creative minds are better than one.  This way we can photograph both of you in the same setting to allow consistency in your final album.  Hotels also are usually a great place to do a first look which we will talk about in a future volume. 

Bridal Getting Ready Photos

Make sure your timeline is bulletproof!

When going through your timeline, make sure that you leave enough time for your prep photos!  I like to have around 120 minutes for prep photos, but make sure our brides schedule a minimum of 90.  Bridal prep is the easiest part of the timeline to allow extra time for because it’s at the beginning of the wedding.

We recommend you hire a planner in order to make sure that your timeline is rock solid.  Let us know if you need recommendations and we can point you in the right direction.  

It’s all about the details

Don’t forget about the details!  All of the rings, the invitations, the shoes, garters, and jewelry should all be with the bride before the wedding.  Also, look into getting a hanger made on etsy.com for your dress.

Plan a First Look with your family and bridesmaids! 

The first look isn’t just for the B & G!  Plan to surprise your bridesmaids and parents with seeing you for the first time!  As storytelling photographers we look for moments of high emotion and these moments always help to create amazing images.  

Bridal Getting Ready Photos Andrea and Jason got married at The Mission San Juan Capistrano, a pretty OC wedding venue.  This was the first time her bridesmaids saw her in her dress!

Plan a Bridal Session! 

The time for your getting ready photos should be used to take photos of you by yourself.  Believe me, the rest of the day will be busy, so having this time scheduled will help a lot.  Most photographers who know how to find good lighting is can get beautiful images of you in just 15-20 minutes.  

Getting married soon?  Get in touch with us below to request a quote for photography.  

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