Blog ~ Elopements

Elopement Getting Ready Photos: 5 Reasons Why They Matter

Does it still make sense to do elopement getting ready photos if you’re having an intimate or laid back wedding day? I think the simple answer is yes, because no matter what type of wedding day you’re planning, there are great moments that happen at the start of it.

Why Elopement Getting Ready Photos Matter

From intimate candid moments to the opportunity to create amazing detail photos, the “getting ready” portion of your wedding day deserves to be included in your wedding story. Here are 5 reasons why you should have your wedding photography start earlier in the day.

Start your wedding story from the beginning

The hours leading up to walking out the door to get married on your wedding day are filled with some of the most emotionally charged moments. For this reason alone, I think it’s worth having me around to photograph these important moments. And even more importantly, the more intimate moments that unfold during this “getting ready” portion of the day blend beautifully with the rest of your coverage to show the full spectrum and journey of your wedding story.

Bride admiring her wedding dress and her friend helping her get ready

Bride getting ready at Hotel Hugo

Also, if you’ll be staying somewhere special for your wedding day, then why not utilize it for cool photos as well? With some of the best hotels in the world, NYC has some really funky and cool spots to use for portraits while you’re all dressed up.

Break tradition and get ready together

I love it when couples get ready in the same space when eloping because it really stresses the intimacy of the day. While this almost never happens on big wedding days, the ability for the couple to be spending time together that usually has them sequestered from one another is really special.

Bride and groom elopement getting ready photos at The Whitby hotel

There’s even a way to preserve a little mystery and still do a first look! You can get ready together up until you need to get dressed, and then one partner will get dressed first and then duck outside, and then the other partner will get dressed. Once everyone is ready to go we can then go to do the first look. That’s exactly what I did with Natalie & Peter at The Whitby.

Capture your details in finer detail

If you really want great detail photos of your dress, tux, bouquets, invitations, and other significant items, then it’s important to have me there during the start of your wedding day. Selecting these items was not a light choice on your end, so capturing them with a bit of care makes for great keepsakes to look back on, even if you choose to sell the dress.

Bride's wedding dress and bridal shoes at the Intercontinental Barclay

Styling and capturing your details in a more interesting way is a breeze in a controlled environment like a hotel room, your own apartment, or an AirBnB rental. It also allows me to incorporate other details, like the row of family photos behind Johana’s floral bridal shoes.

Swedish floral bridal shoesSwedish NYC love pillow and bridal dress

The rings are the only item that I’m used to capturing out and about in NYC, because this is the one detail photo I have to capture even if I wasn’t there for getting ready photos. Rings, however, are small objects that are easy to pop on and off, and it’s usually easy to find some interesting texture or surface to place them on to photograph. Whereas asking a bride to take off her shoes to photograph them is kind of…an odd request.

A great time to exchange gifts

I love capturing wedding couples opening gifts from their partner on their wedding day, and I especially love photographing the reaction shots as they read the notes that are included. The sometimes humorous, but always heartfelt, notes always get great reactions that are great to look back on.

Bride opening letter from her groom on her wedding day at Hotel Hugo

Some of the best moments can happen at the start of the day

When else would a spontaneous Spice Girls dance-off happen between the bride and her sisters? That happened this past weekend as Alisha was about to put her wedding dress on. One of her sisters played “Wannabe” and they just started going crazy singing and dancing along.

Bride and sisters singing along to Spice Girls while getting ready at the JW Essex House on Central Park South

Sure, awesome moments happen at the reception and the ceremony too, but the ones that unfold while you’re getting ready with an intimate crowd are definitely of a different variety.

Bride and groom at The Beekman Hotel in NYC for their elopement

Groom and sister while getting ready at the Paper Factory Hotel in LIC Queens

Elopement getting ready photos enrich your wedding day story

There were 5 great reasons why you should start your wedding photography from the beginning of the day. I think capturing elopement getting ready photos is very important because it allows me to tell your wedding story from the start! So whether it’s just the two of you or you and a small group of special guests, include this part of your day in your elopement photography. You won’t regret it.

Wondering where to stay for all of these great elopement getting ready photos? Check out my guide to three great elopement hotels in NYC.

The Riverside Church and Dinosaur BBQ Wedding of Sara & Deanna

I’m so excited to share these Riverside Church wedding photos from Sara & Deanna’s elopement. This laid back intimate wedding day had a lot of great components, from a stunning church ceremony to a bbq brunch to a Lord of the Rings themed dance party! I love it when couples really take their day and make it their own. Sara & Deanna are huge fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, so they had a lot of fun details included in their day. But on top of that, they really focused on creating an amazingly fun atmosphere for themselves and their guests to have an all day party. When that’s your priority, it’s hard to go wrong!

Riverside Church Wedding Photos

This church on the Upper West Side is one of the city’s most grand neo-gothic cathedrals, and is an absolutely stunning place to have a wedding ceremony. Sara & Deanna were actually married in the church’s secondary chapel, which is amazing in its own right and was a perfect size for their more intimate crowd. In addition to exchanging rings and vows, Sara & Deanna also performed an Irish hand-fasting.

Riverside Church wedding photosWedding ceremony at Riverside Church

Friends of the brides giving readings, and an Irish hand-fastingBrides exchanging rings during their Riverside Church wedding ceremonyBrides are pronounced married

As guests made their way to brunch, I stayed back with the wedding couple for some portraits using the gorgeous exterior of Riverside Church. The scale of the church is just amazing, and of course the details are stunning too.

Wedding portraits outside Riverside ChurchRiverside Church wedding photographerIndividual portraits of the brides outside Riverside ChurchBrides sneak a kiss while walking to their brunch reception

Dinosaur BBQ Wedding Reception

After their ceremony at Riverside Church, it was just a short walk over to Dinosaur BBQ’s Harlem location for a laid back brunch with guests. Did someone say ribs, chicken, mac & cheese, and corn bread?! I may be biased since I’m from Texas, but hot damn that is a great choice! As soon as we walked in the smell of smoked meats and good times hit us in the face.

Details from the Dinosaur BBQ brunch reception

Using a few Fuji Instax Mini cameras and some photo corners is a great way to make a fun guest book. I’m a huge fan of the Instax stuff for personal photos, so this always tickles me when I see it at weddings. Who doesn’t love an instant photo?!

Fuji Instax guest bookWedding brunch reception at Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem

I love capturing both sides of the speeches, the actions and reactions. You know a speech is really great when you see both sides of the equation!

Wedding speeches at Dinosaur BBQ

The old wood details inside Dinosaur BBQ were just perfect to place their rings on for a quick detail photo.

Wedding ring detail photo

Lord of the Rings Wedding Dance Party at Tir Na Nog

The celebration continued later with a wedding dance party at Tir Na Nog near Times Square, a solid Irish pub that lended a heavy hand into the theme of the evening – Lord of the Rings! How amazing is that LotR wedding cake? Not to mention the rainbow cupcakes that rounded out the dessert options! The dance moves were strong with Sara & Deanna’s crowd of guests, and the party kept going well into the night.

Lord of the Rings wedding cakeWedding dance party at Tir Na Nog Times SquareDance party wedding reception at Times Square Tir Na Nog Irish pub

Sara and Deanna, thank you so much for having me along to document your crazy fun wedding story! Are you planning a Riverside Church wedding? I’d love to learn more about what you’re planning and how I can help preserve your wedding story in beautiful photos.

New York City’s best wedding vendors

Manhattan wedding chapel – Riverside Church

Brunch reception venue – Dinosaur BBQ Harlem

Wedding dance party venue – Tir Na Nog Times Square

NYC elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography

NYC Wedding Photos Location Guide: DUMBO

When talking to couples that are planning an NYC wedding, one of the main topics of conversation is where to go for portraits. With DUMBO being the most popular neighborhood for the past few years, most couples are specifically asking, “What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO has?” Even though that might be the hotspot right now, the more broad question is always at play — where should we go for wedding photos in the city?

In that spirit I’m going to start highlighting some neighborhoods throughout New York City that are great options for exploring on your wedding day. Because I am a location-based wedding photographer, the city is our studio and we can literally go anywhere and create amazing wedding photos. Each neighborhood lends its own character into the look and feel of the photos, so choosing the right location for the type of wedding photos you want is definitely something to consider.

What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO offers

Why you should go to DUMBO for wedding photos.

The skyline views alone are worth the trip over, but step away from the waterfront and you’ll find a striking neighborhood with cobblestone streets and converted industrial warehouse buildings. I love any neighborhood that offers a lot of options because it means that we can create lots of variety within a short walking distance. With a little bit of everything, DUMBO has a long list of photo spots worth checking out.

This waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood is nestled between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (hence the name, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It includes the north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park, along with Jane’s Carousel, the most photographed block on Instagram, and a former industrial neighborhood peppered with boutique shops and converted lofts.

Explore the city for portraits when you elope

What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO offers?

There are lots of great nooks and crannies to explore in DUMBO, but there are three key areas that I try to visit with every wedding couple.

Fulton Ferry Landing

While technically not part of DUMBO (but it’s *right* there!), this ferry landing holds the iconic skyline view of the area. It looks straight across to downtown Manhattan, while the span of the Brooklyn Bridge soars past you to the north. Ferries come and go along with tourists who snap photos, but it’s never too hard to capture some photos where it’s just the wedding couple with no one else around. A must visit!

Bride and groom at Fulton Ferry Landing section of DUMBO with skyline viewsWedding photos in DUMBO BrooklynBest wedding photo locations in DUMBO includes Fulton Ferry LandingWedding couple with the skyline views from Fulton Ferry Landing in DUMBO Brooklyn

Jane’s Carousel and converted warehouses

If you love the waterfront but don’t want all of your photos to have skyline views, these are two great areas to explore for some variety. Jane’s Carousel is a restored, fully functional carousel. You don’t even have to ride it to take advantage of it for photos, but why wouldn’t you ride a carousel? The two converted warehouses on the waterfront are actually old tobacco storehouses. They finally received some love and care and have been recently reopened, including an elevated public space and a ground-level garden.

Same sex wedding photos at Jane's Carousel in DUMBOBride and groom by Jane's Carousel, a perfect spot for Brooklyn elopement photosConverted waterfront warehouses are perfect for unique wedding photosArchitecture of old tobacco warehouses in DUMBO, used for wedding photosUnique views within one of the waterfront warehouses in DUMBO Brooklyn

BQE Wall, Rust Wall, and other spots off the beaten path

The first one might be well known, but this one is actually all about the nooks and crannies! DUMBO is a great neighborhood for exploring random blocks, so let your feet you lead you somewhere exciting. The BQE Wall is a colorful piece of graffiti along the wall supporting the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (from the 2013 DUMBO Walls project). The “Rust Wall” is just the side of a random building I found a few years ago while exploring back in the neighborhood.

BQE wall of graffiti in DUMBO Brooklyn makes for colorful wedding photosThe Rust Wall, found exploring the DUMBO neighborhood with bride and groom on their elopementCobblestone streets and interesting walls are all over DUMBO BrooklynExploring DUMBO Brooklyn for wedding photos is great when eloping

A few DUMBO weddings to dive into

The City Hall elopement of Mary & Joreal was such a great intimate wedding! After their City Hall ceremony, we hopped across the Brooklyn Bridge and explored DUMBO for their wedding portraits. The loop we made covered most of the best wedding photo locations DUMBO has!

This Frankies 457 wedding day started at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, at the south end of DUMBO. After a first look, I explored DUMBO with Katherine & Quin for some fun wedding photos.

What neighborhood should I feature next?

New York is such a wonderful city to explore, especially on your wedding day. Do you have a favorite neighborhood you’d like featured next? Let me know!

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