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Getting Ready: Four things to consider

You know those pictures you see on Pinterest of a person as they put on earrings, looking in the mirror? Or when someone is fixing the cuff links while looking out a window?Those pictures can be created anywhere. However, if you look at the best ones, there are a few components to take note of: lighting, background, and style. On top of those, saving time for getting ready, especially in your photography contract, will help give opportunity to create those moments. By creating an ideal getting ready environment, you are ensuring memorable, candid pictures to help tell the story of your big day.


I get it: most of us are on a budget while planning our wedding. If you want those detail shots and stunning images of you all getting prepared to say "I do," you need to make time for them.

As a photographer, I would prefer starting at least two hours before any formal picture taking happens (first look/ceremony). This allows me to take detail shots, as well as stage amazing candids.

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Having enough time before your ceremony or first look allows both sides of the wedding party to have their moment.

I would argue that if your photographer offers a full-day package with a flexible structure for scheduling, and it is less than a difference of $1000, it will be worth it for you to take it. Knowing that you are not racing a clock for only six hours of coverage will allow you to relax and take time to enjoy little moments. It will also allow your photographer to help set-up and stage your getting ready moments.

You only get these moments once. Maybe you are getting remarried, but each experience is different, and your photographs are one of the few ways to remember the hectic day of your wedding. Invest in them.


Every photographer will tell you how important lighting is. Let me get all English teacher on you for a second. The word, photograph, has two root words in it: photo + graph. Photo as a root, means light. Graph as a root means write.

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Bridal suite at The Delafield Hotel in Delafield, WI

Obviously light is important if the inventors decided to call it a light writing.

When you are selecting your getting ready space, take note of the lighting. If you have the option of abundant natural lighting, use it. Natural light is one of the best resources a photographer can use to make your pictures look - well - natural. Make sure the light is diffused slightly, so it does not create harsh shadows on your face.

Now, you do not need to get ready facing a window. The natural light just needs to fill the room if that is the option you choose.

If a room with natural lighting is not an option, or you are getting ready in the dark, the next thing to consider for lighting is your light bulbs. Standard fluorescent bulbs are just a no when it comes to photography. If you want those beautifully lit pictures, just avoid those harsh overhead lights.

Next, you might think about using your standard at-home lighting. Honestly, I love when a person gets ready at home, especially if it is their childhood home and holds significant memories for them. Our standard light bulbs, though, tend to cast a yellow light that can seriously harsh your vibe. Switching the light bulbs to daylight LEDs before getting ready will make a huge difference.

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The lighting can completely determine the look of your pictures.

A photographer can always bring equipment for lighting and create a better situation for your getting ready, but lighting takes up space and sometimes requires another person. While I prefer natural lighting in all my photographs, I do at times use my on-camera flash in getting ready situations. This helps create fill light and sometimes can overpower the yellow-tinges created by artificial lighting.


I am going to be real honest with you: I LOVE clean backgrounds with clean colors and clean lines. Venues that have a bridal suite primed for great pictures, like The Bowery in Ashippun, WI, totally get me on this. Open space with classy furniture and neutral, neutral, neutral.

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Embrace some shadow with the light.

Option 1: If your venue does not have a bridal suite or stellar getting ready space, opt for a high-end boutique hotel near the venue that can double as your honeymoon suite. Ask for early check in, or get it for two nights. Make sure the room has ample natural light, and have everyone using it clean up after themselves as they get ready. Keeping things neat and clutter-free will allow your photographer to jump right in and get to work.

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Bridal suite at The Delafield Hotel in Delafield, WI

Option 2: If you choose to get ready at home, after changing the light bulbs, put on your interior decorator hat. What furniture do you want in the picture? Can you hang sheer white curtains (they reflect light - I also have a ton you can borrow if you want) to create a clean backdrop, or to section off an area for getting ready? Do all of this at least three days beforehand, so you don't have to worry about it the morning of your wedding.

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Sometimes you just need a phone book (even though I always throw mine away)

Option 3: Get ready outside. If you have a secluded outdoor spot with shade covering and it is warm, try it out. There is something beautiful about the juxtaposition of intimate moments in the open. Plus, your pictures will likely turn out interesting and beautiful.

Style + Tribe

Finally, the last thing to consider is your style. Style is not just what you wear as an outfit, but how you hold yourself in what you are wearing, the details, and who you include.

Look at those pictures you are oogling on Pinterest of the getting ready moments - what exactly do you like about them? Most likely, there is some aspect of style that is pulling you in. Maybe it is the floral robe someone is wearing, or the perfectly made Old Fashioned someone is sipping. Maybe it is the solitude, or a room filled with close family and friends.

Style can help drive emotion. Emotion makes photographs worth it.

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Bridal Suite at The Ivy House in Milwaukee, WI

Before you go getting all stressed about finding the perfect getting ready spot, talk to your photographer and take a moment. Scheduling out your day is tedious and we as photographers are here to help.

No matter what you read or what people tell you, make sure you do you.


P.S. Head over to my Pinterest board for inspo: Getting Ready Inspiration

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Bridesmaid reveal in the Bridal Suite at Aud Mar Banquet Hall in Muskego, WI


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