Bridal Portraits, you ask? What are they? Who does them? Why should I do one? What are the benefits of doing them?
First off, if you have never heard of a bridal portrait, considered one, or have FOMO around doing all things bridal, then I’m here to help you out and give you some of the details to help you make that decision whether you are for or against.
As a photographer, you can probably already guess that I am all in, one hundred percent for them. Let me see if I persuade you to do one.
While a bridal portrait is a pretty common practice in the South, bridal portraits originated in Europe. Originally oil paintings done for royalty and wealthy families, bridal portraits were a way for the bride’s family to remember the special day. Not in for a long sitting session while an artist paints your likeness? Well, I’m here for you. I can save you the time and make it a much more enjoyable process.
What is a Bridal Portrait Session?
I LOVE bridal portraits. They’re one of my favorite sessions to photograph! Why, you ask? I’ll explain all of that and more in a second. But first, what exactly is a bridal portrait and why have you never thought to do one? Probably because you have to actually be getting married before you even think of doing one. And I know that everyone wants to give you advise when you are getting married but who should you trust? Your best friends, aunties, or a photographer? Pick me, obviously.
My brides from the South ( Hilton Head, Savannah, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte) typically know what bridal portraits are, and already have a plan to have them captured and displayed at their wedding reception. But some of my brides who are new to the area or new to getting married, haven’t even heard of bridal portraits before – so I want to answer a few questions today and let you hear why I think that they are a brilliant idea.
Brides schedule a session that is focused on just her – she gets in her wedding dress with her hair & makeup done, her bouquet in hand, and her full bridal look is put together for the first time! The photos from the session are kept secret until the reception, where a favorite image is displayed on a canvas or frame. It’s a gorgeous way to introduce guests and customize your day. This is typically a large, gorgeous art print. Think 16 x 20 or 20 x 30. You can even do a collection of smaller framed images. The image can later be displayed in your home or in your parents home. What a fabulous gift for your parents.
Why Do I Love This Idea?
I’m going to list what I think is brilliant about doing a bridal portrait. Let me know if you agree.
- This is a test run for your hair and makeup styling for the day of, as well as your accessories and the fitting of your dress. From here you can make any adjustments that need to be made for the big day. It’s really a perk to be able to see how your hair and makeup will translate in the photos and gives you a chance to have “no regrets”. You don’t want to look at all of your wedding pics after the fact and wish that your makeup or hair had been different in 2000 photos.
- Also, if you are not accustomed to wearing much makeup, this is a great litmus test as to whether or not you are “feeling” like you are wearing a lot of makeup or if it actually looks like a lot of makeup.
There’s a big difference and no one wants any makeup surprises on their wedding day. NO ONE! That includes the photographer. I’m ALL team bride.
- And more on wedding makeup and wedding hair, because us girls know how important it is. Is your styling going to last for the hours that you need it to last on your wedding day? Test it out right now during your bridal portrait to make sure it’s 100% gonna last.
- Are there any glitches in getting your dress on and the fit of it? I have experienced more than one wedding where the bride has a bit of a “wardrobe malfunction” or hasn’t the skills or instruction manual needed to get dressed on her wedding day. It can add a stress level that no one wants as well as take up precious time on your wedding day. And let’s not even talk about the bustle. Now you have the opportunity to get the lay of the land in all things wedding dress.
- Sometimes the event location that you have chosen and the schedule of the day doesn’t allow for you to travel to a specific location that you would love to have captured in your wedding photos. Shooting a bridal portrait on a day other than your wedding day affords you this luxury. Also, it’s nice to have some location diversity in your portfolio of wedding images.
- And my most favorite has to be the unlimited and relaxing time to capture the images that you just wouldn’t have time to on your wedding day. Let’s face it, it’s not every day that you get to wear a gorgeous gown! Don’t you want the excuse to wear it more than once? Your wedding day has a jam packed schedule as well as a large number of guests that are waiting to spend time with you. Are you confident enough to pull out your modeling skills with an audience watching and waiting impatiently to speak with you?
- Oh, and one more of my favorites is that you get the time to just relax and have fun in front of the camera. Not everyone “loves” getting their pictures taken. In fact, everyone says “I hate getting my pictures taken!” Well that is until we start playing. The anxiety and stress fades away when you see how easy and fun it can be. Presto Magico! Set your supermodel free. Tyra Banks will be jealous. You will be uber relaxed during the bridal portrait shoot and then also on your wedding day. It’s basically a BOGO. You will be able to bring your supermodel skills with you to up the ante in all of your wedding day photographs too.
Why Should I Book a Bridal Portrait Session With My Photographer?
Bridal portraits give you the chance to try out your complete bridal look without the pressure of the wedding – it’s like a dress rehearsal before the big day! You’ll also get a little more practice posing in front of the camera and moving around in your wedding dress. Once you receive your bridal portrait gallery, you can decide on anything you’d like to change for your final wedding day look.
How Should I Prepare For My Bridal Portrait?
Bring your dress, veil, shoes, undergarments, touch-up makeup, and any jewelry or hair piece that you’re going to wear on your wedding day (including your engagement ring!). If you’re still undecided about your wedding day look (like which earrings you’ll wear or which veil length you prefer), bridal portraits are a great time to bring multiple options to see what completes your look best and what photographs most beautifully!
Bring a bouquet, as well. Your florist will be able to make one that matches what you’ll have at your wedding. Many florists will include a bridal portrait bouquet in their pricing for your wedding, so check with your florist when you’re booking. Be sure to keep the bouquet in water prior to your session!
I also recommend bringing one or two people with you, like your mom or a bridesmaid. They’ll be helpful in fluffing your dress, carrying your bouquet, and making sure that your veil and hair remain in place and picture-perfect throughout your session!
You will get the experience of what goes into wearing a wedding gown and all that is involved, as well as your “assistants”, so that they are prepped and ready to help you on the Big Day. Honestly, I am shocked and surprised at how many bridesmaids don’t know how to properly assist the bride on her wedding day and she is constantly stranded when she could use an extra hand.
What Should I Bring to my Bridal Session?
Don’t Forget to Bring:
- Hairpiece or Hair Accessories
- Touch-up Makeup and Hairspray
- Bridal Bouquet
- Engagement Ring (bonus points if it’s freshly cleaned!)
- Comfortable shoes for walking from location to location
- A sweater or jacket if it’s cool outside
- A friend, family member, or bridesmaid to help out!
How to be a Supermodel During Your Bridal Portrait Session
Remember that you don’t need to know exactly how to pose or model. That’s what your photographer is there for. A good photographer will be there to guide you and make sure that you look and feel your absolute best. It’s a collaboration. Some things will be planned beforehand such as the location and the aesthetic of the day. But some of it is also inspired by you being in your gown, looking gorgeous, your personality and just having a fun collaboration.
When to Schedule Your Bridal Portrait Session
I recommend scheduling bridal portraits for 4-6 weeks prior to your wedding date so that your dress alterations are finished, your stylist is available and your photographer has enough time to edit your photos, and you can have a canvas or print made to display at your reception.
What if You Can’t Schedule Time For a Separate Bridal Portrait
Sometimes the stars don’t align and allow for you to have a separate session scheduled just for bridal portraits. If that is the case, make sure that you schedule time with your photographer and your event planner, to allow for time for a brief session on the day of your wedding. This could mean just allowing an extra 30 minutes on the day of your wedding. I would suggest a perfect time for this would be right after your dress is put on and not later in the day before the reception. Why? Because I speak from experience when I say that this time will get lost and eaten up by all of the other things taking place on your wedding day along with your guests wanting to pull you aside to congratulate you. #RegretsIfYouDontMakeTimeForThis
Set the time earlier in the day, when your bridesmaids can assist you and it’s still all about you with no distractions pulling at you or your bridesmaid off having cocktails.
The images that I am showing in this blog are actually taken right before the reception started, so just remember, all is not lost, even if you don’t get a chance to do it earlier in the day.
Covering Hilton Head SC, Charlotte NC, Beafort SC, Charleston SC, Savannah GA, Atlanta
Lisa has been photographing and connecting with people from all walks of life for over 20 years. She heads Lisa Staff Photography, one of the most sought-after photography studios in the Carolinas and photographs Commercial, Design, Weddings, and Fashion in Hilton Head, SC. A Canadian transplant to Hilton Head, she now loves calling the Lowcountry her home.
In 2018, she co-founded Sprout Connectors, a digital branding and marketing agency that helps businesses realize their potential through digital marketing and purposeful branding, where she serves as the Strategy and Content Director. She is also co-host of The Mind, Body Business Podcast, a weekly talk show that explores central topics to the human race and the planet as a whole. We believe in the power of the human spirit, innovation, and like to push the bubble on information dissemination highlighting all the wonderful things others are doing with their superpowers.
Fabulous Venue Mitchelville Beach House and Incredible catering and event planning by the Serg Group and Signature Catering and Events. Wedding gown by Morilee. Bridesmaid dresses by Azazie. Hair and makeup by True Beauty by Joanna Marie, All decor by Amazing Event Rentals. DJ Lowcountry Events