What Are Bridal Portraits?
So maybe you’ve heard of bridal portraits before, maybe you haven’t. They have been pretty popular in the South for a few generations, but they’re not as common in other parts of the country. Bridal portraits are just what they sound like: a separate photography session of the you (the bride) usually a month or two before your wedding. Typically, you are dressed just like you will be on your wedding day itself, with your wedding dress, hair and makeup, and even a bouquet. That way, it looks like it’s your wedding day, when in reality it’s a bit prior.
Why You Should Consider Bridal Portraits
You may be wondering, what is the point of a separate bridal session? Well, there are a couple of benefits! Firstly, this allows you more time to have your portraits taken. On a wedding day, things can get rushed. You (or let’s be real, your mother) might want a wider variety of photos of you alone in your dress than time allows. Another reason you might want a bridal session is so that you can display a portrait at the reception. I speak from personal experience–this was something my mother wanted when I got married, and it is a beautiful, old tradition that continues today.
Lastly, you can use these portraits as a trial run for your wedding-day look. See if you can align your hair and makeup trial with your portrait session. That way you get to see what it looks like on you before your wedding, and you can decide if anything needs to be changed.
When to Schedule Your Session
Thankfully, your bridal portraits don’t have to be nearly as early as your engagement photos. I recommend taking them about 6-8 weeks before your wedding. If you schedule too early, your dress might not be ready yet. But you also need to allow time for your photographer to edit the photos and then print your favorite (if you’d like one displayed at your reception).
Where to Take Your Bridal Photos
The short answer is that really you can take these portraits wherever you’d like! Many brides choose to take them at their wedding venue. Often venues will allow you to schedule a portrait session on a day when they do not have any other event going on (usually a weekday during a busy season). Other options include local parks and gardens. I have a list of locations in the Raleigh-Durham that are beautiful for engagement photos, and they would all work well for bridal portraits too.
Other Tips for Your Bridal Portrait Session
Here are a few quick tips for your bridal portrait session:
- Ask your florist for a copy of your bouquet to use in the photos
- As mentioned above, use this as your hair and makeup trial run
- Plan ahead, contacting each vendor early to make sure your dress is ready and all vendors can be available on your preferred session day (photographer, dress, hair & makeup, florist, venue)
- Consider a getting a manicure a day before
- Use your own wedding photographer if they are available and offer bridal portrait sessions
- If you haven’t booked your photographer yet, ask if they have packages that include bridal sessions, as this may help save on cost
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