I have written about my love of the bridal session before. It is one of our great Southern bride traditions that I adore. I remember being a little girl and going to my first wedding as a little guest. I remember walking into the reception at the most beautiful country club and there stood the most beautiful bridal portrait. I bet that the bridal portrait was hung in grandma’s living room. Where it remained until they passed away. I’m comfortable assuming this because the bridal portrait is a timeless treasure.
Brides who choose to embrace the bridal portrait tradition are sure to have a few questions ahead of their session. This is a big moment! They want to get it right. It will likely be the first time they put on their full wedding day ensemble, from the dress and veil, to the shoes and the jewelry. During my time as a wedding photographer there are several questions I get repeatedly. How to prepare for the bridal portrait session is one of those frequently asked questions. I love when my brides ask questions because it allows me an opportunity to help them avoid things that might cause stress. I have developed many tips for a successful bridal session and today I’m sharing those with y’all!
WHEN TO SCHEDULE YOUR BRIDAL SESSION
The scheduling of your bridal portrait session is going to revolve around the final fitting for your wedding dress. We can’t do the session until the dress is ready, so I tell all my brides who are doing bridal sessions to contact me as soon as they get their final fitting date. Once we know when the dress should be ready, we can get a date on my calendar for the bridal session. If we’re doing the session outdoors, scheduling for a month, or two, ahead of the wedding day is ideal in case we have to reschedule due to inclement weather. If we are doing the bridal session indoors, the weather will not affect our plans, which is a bonus when we’re less than 30 days ahead of the wedding day.
HOW TO PICK A LOCATION
There are so many options when it comes to the location for your bridal session. Some brides choose to have their bridal portraits taken at the venue where they will be married, or are having their reception. This will allow their bridal portraits to flow easily into their wedding album, along with the photos from the wedding day. Other brides choose to select a location that they love or that may hold a sentimental value to them.
Most locations, including those mentioned here, will charge a session fee in order to shoot on the property unless you’re also having your wedding at the venue. It is worth it to pay these fees for these great locations because you’re usually given access to a dressing area and the venues are somewhat private, meaning there won’t be a lot of other sessions going on at the same time as yours.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
Before your bridal session, think through everything you’ll be wearing on the wedding day. The checklist might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget one or two elements if you don’t make a checklist. So take a few minutes to think through the process of getting dressed to ensure you don’t forget something: dress (and any special undergarments), shoes, veil, hairpieces, belt/sash, and jewelry. It’s also a good idea to bring a white sheet and some towels in case the ground is moist. We want to protect the dress and shoes from getting dirty! In Virginia we get a lot of rain, so sometimes a white shower curtain is a helpful item to bring along since it will put a waterproof barrier between the dress and the ground. If you’re doing your bridal session outside in a warm month, be sure to bring some bottles of water.
The bridal bouquet is also a great addition to your bridal session! Many florists will have the option to add on a smaller version of your wedding day bouquet for your bridal portraits. Be sure to ask about this option when you’re discussing your bouquet with your florist. I love having the bouquet at the bridal session because it gives you something to do with your hands. It also brings your wedding color palette into your bridal portraits!
WHO TO BRING
Bridal sessions are always fun when you share the experience with someone who is close to you. Bring your mom, sister, or maid-of-honor along to help with moving around in the dress. I always love it when the mother of the bride is able to come along. It really makes the experience extra special for the bride and I love having mom’s help for things like veil tosses and fluffing the dress. Be careful of bringing too many people though! One to two helpers is a good number. Inviting your entire bridal party might be a bit overwhelming!
AFTER YOUR SESSION
The bridal session is a great trial run! Make note of anything that needs to be different on wedding day. Carefully inspect your dress before you store it away for the next few weeks. If there are bits of grass, pine straw or leaves attached to the hem, make sure to remove them so they won’t stain the dress. If you need to steam out wrinkles do that before wedding week arrives. That is one task that you don’t want to leave to last minute. If you decide you want to wear a different necklace, or make a change with your hair and makeup, you have time to do so! Some brides even choose to do a completely different makeup and hair style for their bridals just for fun. It’s really up to you and how you want to embrace your bridal session!
Have questions about bridal portrait sessions? Let me know in the comments.