Blog ~ The Whitby Hotel

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 620 Loft and Garden Elopement of Natalie & Peter

I’m really excited to share this 620 Loft and Garden wedding! From the classy getting ready location to the rooftop ceremony, to the skyline views from Brooklyn..this elopement was a smashing intimate wedding day. Natalie & Peter came all the way from Australia to get married on a rooftop and they chose one of the best ones to do it on. Located in Rockefeller Center, having a 620 Loft & Garden wedding is an amazing way to get a dreamy scene amongst the skyscrapers of midtown. Amazing views became the running theme of Natalie & Peter’s wedding day as we were using another amazing rooftop terrace just a few blocks away at The Whitby Hotel for their getting ready, and then the iconic waterfront views from Brooklyn for some portraits.

620 Loft and Garden Wedding

I LOVED starting Natalie & Peter’s wedding day at The Whitby Hotel, a very elegant spot in midtown that offers some amazing terrace options. (They even made our recent roundup of three great hotels to stay in while eloping in New York City!) If you’re looking for your wedding hotel to be near all of the bars, restaurants, and attractions that midtown has to offer, then this is definitely my highest recommendation.

Details of The Whitby Hotel in midtownGroom getting ready at The Whitby HotelPortraits of the groom on his Whitby Hotel terrace

Even though they were staying in the same hotel room, Natalie ducked into one side of the room while Peter got ready on the other. After sneaking Peter out onto the terrace for a few portraits, he was off to get set for the ceremony…and their first look! As I turned my attention back to Natalie, the floor to ceiling windows were just begging for a photo of her checking out her dress. I think that’s just such a classic photo. Once Natalie was dressed in her stunning Lover wedding dress, we popped out onto the terrace for some portraits and then we made the short walk to 620 Loft & Gardens just a few blocks away.

Bride getting ready at The Whitby HotelBridal portraits on a terrace at The Whitby Hotel

It was an incredibly warm day with the sun shining, and the couple just couldn’t hold their smiles back as Natalie made her way out onto the amazing rooftop terrace. Larissa of Weddings by Larissa ran a beautiful ceremony with the subtle sound of midtown traffic buzzing below. This is of the most iconic rooftop scenes in the city, where you’re facing the incredible front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral just across the way and loads of skyscrapers are on top of you. I love it!

The first look at 620 Loft & GardenA beautiful ceremony atop 620 Loft & Garden in midtownCeremony close-ups of the bride and groomThe wedding couple exchanging rings and kissing at their rooftop ceremonyBride and groom make it official by signing their paperworkWedding portraits atop 620 Loft & GardenThe 620 Loft and Garden wedding couple just after their rooftop ceremonyRooftop wedding portraits at 620 Loft & Garden are always greatThe wedding couple heads out onto 5th Avenue

After popping onto 5th Avenue, it was a hop in a cab down to Brooklyn Bridge Park to catch some skyline views from across the water. DUMBO is definitely still one of the hottest destinations for wedding portraits, and for good reason. Look at those views, people! Day or night, it’s a classic scene that will always look amazing.

The bride and groom with the Manhattan skyline behind them from Brooklyn Bridge ParkSome intimate moments below the Brooklyn Bridge on their wedding dayWalking hand in hand after their wedding ceremonyFinding a bit of greenery along the waterfront in DUMBO Brooklyn with the wedding coupleThe industrial feel of DUMBO is always great to explore with a bride and groom

Natalie and Peter, it was such a pleasure to document your wedding story!

Are you planning a rooftop elopement in NYC? I’d love to document your day. Let’s chat!

The Best NYC Elopement Vendors

Getting ready hotel – The Whitby Hotel

Elopement venue – 620 Loft & Garden

Wedding officiant – Weddings by Larissa

Wedding dress – Lover

Bridal shoes – Jimmy Choo

Elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography

Three Great Hotels for Your NYC Elopement

Are you traveling to New York for your elopement? One of the hardest things to figure out might be where to stay! With so many amazing options it can soon get overwhelming to choose, so I’ve put together a short list of some of the best elopement hotels NYC has to offer. These are great hotels in their own right with amazing customer service and amenities, but they also look incredible and make for a sensible place to start telling your wedding story.

I love starting with my couples before they’ve even gotten dressed (haha, not like that), spending a few moments to capture their outfits and other small details and moments. These add so much richness to the wedding story! Really great hotels also have awesome spots to use for portraits before we head out the door, allowing us to capture some more variety in your final photos without even having to travel anywhere.

Best Elopement Hotels NYC

The Whitby Hotel

Located near Central Park, The Whitby Hotel is a celebration of contemporary art and design in a neighborhood that’s usually much more sterile. As soon as you walk into the lobby you’re greeted with a splash of color from all of the different art installations. This feeling of colorful luxury translates to all of their individually-styled rooms, many of which feature a private terrace with views out to the skyline. Quirky touches like a briefcase record player round out the charm, but the large industrial windows that bathed Natalie & Peter in gorgeous north-facing natural light are what got me excited.

While is a fantastic hotel to get ready in before your ceremony in Central Park, it’s also a great option for venues like 620 Loft & Garden or the 3 West Club. You’ll also enjoy the hotel’s central location in midtown, with easy access to numerous shows, activities, restaurants, bars, and transportation options.

Details of The Whitby Hotel in midtown ManhattanRoom details at The Whitby, one of the best elopement hotels NYCGroom getting ready with the midtown skylineBride at The Whitby

Bonus – The English countryside-chic lobby bar and restaurant are bathed in natural light, and they serve a traditional Afternoon Tea!

Best nearby restaurant – Quality Italian

Best nearby bar – Tanner Smith’s

The Bowery Hotel

Nestled on the border of NoHo and the East Village, The Bowery Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel with a seriously cozy vibe. A doorman in the hotel’s signature red vest glides the door open for you, leading into the dim wood-paneled lobby. A stone fireplace beckons from across the room. Humphrey Bogart would definitely grab a drink or two here. While the lobby is off-limits for photos (they frequently have celebrity guests), the rooms ooze with the same character and make for great getting ready photos at the start of your wedding day.

Just outside the doors and within short walking distance are some of the best spots for graffiti in the city, along with great pocket parks and blocks with some of the edgier NYC look that some couples want. Before and after your wedding you’ll also love the hole-in-the-wall restaurants and quirky shops of the East Village, along with a healthy nightlife scene.

Outside and detail of The Bowery HotelAlexander McQueen wedding dress at The Bowery HotelBride writing her vows while at The Bowery Hotel, one of the best elopement hotels NYCWedding day at The Bowery Hotel

Bonus – Gemma (the on-site restaurant) has a private dining space that’s perfect for a small group!

Best nearby restaurant – il Buco

Best nearby bar – Saxon + Parole

Gramercy Park Hotel

Staying here is like getting a key to the city, because you literally get a key to the most exclusive park in the city — Gramercy Park. Photos there are strictly prohibited, but you’ll get to enjoy the park during your stay…which is quite a privilege on its own. Besides that little perk t enjoy on your own, we’ll also have a few moments upstairs in the stunning terrace bar for some unique portraits (as long as there isn’t an event going on).

The hotel’s location is very central while being tucked away into one of the quieter corners of the Flatiron District. Nearby you’ll find plenty of upscale dining along with easy transportation options. And did I mention that key?

Wedding couple at Gramercy Park Hotel, Gramercy TerraceWedding couple at Gramercy Park HotelBride and groom at the bar inside Gramercy Park HotelWedding at Gramercy Park Hotel

Bonus – You can book out the terrace for your ceremony!

Best nearby restaurant – Gramercy Tavern

Best nearby bar – Dear Irving

But what if we want something more unique when we elope to NYC?

While the three hotels above are some of the best elopement hotels NYC has to choose from, some of you are still searching for something different. Fear not, for I’ll be doing a roundup of some awesome AirBnB rental options and the city does not disappoint!

Are you planning an NYC elopement? Click here to see more information on elopement photography and let’s chat!

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