While Louisa talked to you all about how to get the best family photos on your big day, I'm going to talk about the importance of where you get ready. Now, I don't think any wedding photographer expects a bride to think about light when choosing the church or ceremony location (but if you do, hooray!). Many times the location is chosen for personal reasons, and we photographers understand that. But where I *do* want you to consider lighting is at your "getting ready" location.
In my opinion, some of the most gorgeous photos come from the bride and groom preparing for their wedding. It's when you see several generations working together, lots of nervous laughter, and things that we don't normally do -- like applying fake eyelashes or tying bow-ties. There's a lot of nervous energy, and it's so fun to capture that. But it's not so much fun if we're trying to capture it in a dark and moldy church basement with buzzing fluorescent lights.
Many couples don't put much thought into where they will be getting ready until the last minute, but finding a place that is large enough for your wedding party, clean and has clutter-free corners near large windows will make an enormous difference in your photos.
Having natural light in your "getting-ready" space is crucial because while we photographers have many tools that can help us fix bad light (flashes, light stands, reflectors), using them in a room with five to seven women and all of their clothes, makeup and hot hair appliances is asking for disaster. This is one of the times (as well as the ceremony) where we want to be nimble and pretty much ignored. We want to be documenting this from "behind-the-scenes," and we want to stay out of everyone's way. Not only because it's the courteous thing to do, but also because people may be running a little behind, and we certainly don't ever want to be the cause of tardiness to the ceremony.
So when choosing a place to get dressed before the ceremony, these are the things I'd keep in mind:
• Is the space large enough for the bridal party, the parents who will be stopping by, all of the dresses and hair and makeup supplies plus snacks and drinks as well as any photo or video staff you may have hired?
• Are there mirrors? You would be surprised at how many places don't have them...
• Are there large windows or skylights that will allow for natural lighting? By the way, the photographers aren't the only people who will thank you for this -- your makeup artist needs that sunlight as well.
• Is there an area of the room where everyone can stash their street clothes, purses, makeup etc. so that when the photographer is shooting everyone putting on dresses, the background isn't cluttered?
• Does the door lock? You will be leaving many valuables here during the ceremony, and you don't want anyone worrying about their things.
Considering these points will make your wedding prep go even smoother, making everyone more relaxed before the big event.