November 6, 2019

FOR BRIDES: What’s the Point of a Bridal Portrait Session?

Is a Bridal Portrait session a waste of time?

I’ve been photographing families and brides for almost a decade now, and weddings in particular have become a favorite for me. I love sharing tips with brides and couples for smoother wedding planning. I want to layout some major benefits of doing a bridal session. If you ask me, “should a bride do a bridal session”, my current answer is a strong YES

So, let’s dive right in!

I believe there are several great benefits for why a bride should have a separate bridal session before the big day. On the wedding day, there is so much that takes place, and often times, it’s a whirlwind that goes by Way too fast! Each wedding is different, but brides go from getting ready with their bridal tribe, to making sure they didn’t forget anything, to moving onto every event in the wedding day timeline. Before you know it, it’s time for group portraits or the moment of the ‘first look’ before the ceremony. Once the ceremony ends and nervous butterflies are released, the bride is moving onto photo after photo with her bridal party and hug after hug with her guests. Having a separate bridal session all to herself gives her the chance to be a bit more clear minded in her beautiful dress all by herself.

During the bridal session, the bride gets to enjoy feeling gorgeous in the dress that she’s picked out and more than likely just gotten back from being altered. She gets to have a couple of hours in her dress to break it in and feel what she’ll feel like on the big day! Often times, this gives her an idea if she wants to change up her style, alter any beads that are prone to snag, change her shoes for height/comfort, etc.

Speaking of shoes and accessories, the bridal session will get the bride inspired and more sure about her jewelry choice. One of my past brides completely changed her mind from her initial ‘glam’ look, to wearing less ‘bling’. These sessionalso give the bride a chance to work with their hair and make up artists to be sure they get exactly what they want for the real day. Or, it prompts the bride to go look for a hair and make up artist if she hasn’t already!

I’ve had a bride decide that she wanted a completely alternate hairstyle after our bridal session was finished. Some brides decide to ditch the veil afterwards, or add one, and some are grateful that they got to break their shoes in! Others choose to scratch their shoe choice altogether.

Another amazing benefit of doing bridal photos is the fact that you get the opportunity to reach out to your florist early for a mock bouquet that will resemble exactly what you want for the actual wedding. I’ve had a bride previously change up the amount of greenery she wanted in her bouquet, and we wouldn’t have known unless she got to see it before.

Brides are prone to change their minds because there are so many beautiful styling options. For photography sake, doing a bridal session gives the bride more photos of just her in her dream dress aa location that she likes. Often times, the location can be a destination away from the actual wedding venue. When planning the wedding, brides see a variety of pretty locations, and they fantasize over ideas seen on Pinterest. The bridal session gives brides a chance to have more wedding ‘bliss’ and inspiration aa spot that maybe they’ve seen online or passed by and thought, “I’d love to go there!”

One of my favorite sessions was a garden, destination bridal session in Charleston, SC. Another was the chance to shoot in a gorgeous vineyard that looked like we were in Tuscany, Italy. Both bridal locations were stark contrasts to the couple’s actual wedding venue, and the brides absolutely loved that variety!

I say, do a bridal session. Sure, I’ll get a few portraits of the bride in her dress on the big day, but it’s not the same. Why not have more photos of you looking stunning in your gown at not one, but potentially Two nice locations? The bridal portrait session is the time where she gets to maximize her time in her dress, worry free, feeling like a queen, while slaying her pictures!

So, how should brides prepare for their bridal portraits?

Depending on the wedding date, bridal portraits should be done at Least one to two months – if not earlier – before the wedding date. Getting pictures done a couple of months in advance will give the photographer time to finish and deliver the photos so that the bride can have them before the wedding. The tradition is still strong with having that beautiful, enlarged chosen photo of the bride displayed at the wedding.

How do you choose where to do it? The fun part is picking a desired location. Once you know that you’re doing a bridal session, booking the location/venue needs to be done ASAP so that you can ensure availability! Brides can choose from public places to more exclusive sites. Every venue differs, but it must be checked if there is a fee required in advanced for the chosen location. Also, you may want to include your fur baby, so we’ll plan for that together too. Then, as mentioned before, brides will need to reach out to their florist for a mock bouquet to be picked up, as well as schedule the hair/make up appointment for the day of the shoot. Another tip that I offer for the day of the scheduled session is to have a bff or mom with you at the shoot for support. We will have bags and things, and this designated person with us can always have your make up touch ups and water readily available. Speaking of water, I usually bring a couple, but it’s imperative to stay hydrated during bridal portraits. I want my brides comfortable, especially if we’re shooting outside – which is often!

Every photographer’s schedule and workflow is different, but you want to be sure that there is enough time to receive the photos back in time for prints, etc. Depending on the season and location that the bride prefers for the photos, dates should be considered well in advance. I’ve had brides do their portraits nine months to two months before the wedding day because they wanted certain things in bloom for outdoor photos. That being said, in my experience, it’s important to book a photographer that you love at least a year in advance for your special day!

My biggest tip in conclusion: PLAN and book vendors that you love IN ADVANCE. Trust me, you will be happy and LESS STRESSED if you plan early.

Thanks for reading xoxo!


If you’d like to make some photo magic with me, I’d love to hear from you

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