I. Love. Bridal sessions. But let me just say- up until about 2 years ago, I had no idea what a bridal session was. These aren’t really a thing up north where I grew up. They are, however, very much a thing down south.
What Is a Bridal Session?
So. If you’re me 2 years ago, what the heck is a bridal session?!
Basically, it’s a separate session a few weeks or months before the wedding day where the bride has a trial done of hair and makeup, a mock up of her bouquet, and she puts on her dress for a session of just bridal portraits. Many brides choose to do this and then display print(s) at the reception. Think of it as a dry run of getting ready on your wedding day (just without the anticipation)!
Why Should I Consider a Bridal Session?
There are a few different reasons I love these and why brides choose these. I’m just going to name a few that I think are important, though I’m sure there are so many more!
- Test your hair/makeup and bouquet. Like I had mentioned, think of bridal sessions as a dry run of your big day. This is the perfect chance to make sure you’re going to love how your hair and makeup are done! You get a chance to see the completed look instead of hoping it turns out how you’re envisioning on your wedding day. It also gives you a chance to see how your bouquet is going to come out. I’ve had brides in the past who were really unhappy with how their bouquets showed up on their wedding day, and there’s not much more disappointing than that. A bridal session is a wonderful chance to make sure you will know what to expect on your wedding day, which will keep great relationships with you and your vendors!
- You get to wear your dress! Wedding dresses are not cheap. They are also incredibly special, but you usually only wear it for a few hours on the actual wedding day. A bridal session gives you a chance to wear the dress you love so much, see your whole look, and soak up what you’re about to do in a few weeks/months. It’s then such a sweet surprise to have these photos printed and framed or put on a canvas to display at your wedding. These are always a hit with guests! Also, as a bonus, it never hurts to make sure your dress fits correctly and your shoes are comfortable (for wedding shoes!)!
- They create a more relaxed timeline on the wedding day. Wedding days almost always end up being a tad rushed. If a bridal session is done beforehand, it alleviates a little bit of time crunch on the wedding day because you already have beautiful portraits in your dress. (Don’t worry- I still get a few shots on your wedding day since it is, ya know, your wedding day!) But not having the time pressure to get quite so many shots and a wide variety ensures more time can be focused on capturing the other aspects of the day
- Practice, practice, practice! Most people are not models. There is no such thing as too much practice in front of the camera! While most shots on your wedding day will be with family or you husband or bridal party, I do always make sure to snag some quick bridal portraits on the big day. If you’ve had bridal portraits done, you’ll know exactly what to do. That portion of the day will flow so smoothly! Most brides also bring their mom’s or maid of honor along with them, so it’s truly just a really fun, laid back time to hang out with friends in your wedding dress. Sounds fun, right?!
When Should I Do a Bridal Session?
I like to recommend to my brides that we schedule their bridal session around 6-8 weeks before the wedding! This is for several reasons. First, we obviously have to make sure the dress is done being altered! If a dress is ordered and takes a while to arrive and then wait to have the alterations completed, most dresses aren’t ready until a short while before the wedding. I like to make sure there’s plenty of time in between the session and the wedding, though, because, as mentioned, quite a few brides decide to have a print or canvas displayed at the reception. Because I highly recommend that your prints/canvas is ordered from a reputable, professional lab, they can take a little bit of time to come in. I personally have a very quick turnaround time on my bridal sessions to ensure plenty of time for ordering. If you don’t do your session until 2 weeks before the wedding, though, and you’re wanting prints, you most likely would not have enough time to get your photos back and place an order.
In addition to thinking about how long before the wedding, you may also need to consider what day of the week. Depending on the availability of your photographer and your venue, your best option may be during a week day. If you are able to have your bridal portraits done during the time of year when the sun is up for longer, you may have more options as evenings are available. Any winter/early spring/late fall portraits, however, are a lot more limited as far as what hours are available!
Where Should I Do My Bridal Session?
This is something that would be decided upon by you and your photographer! The majority of brides choose to have their session done at the venue. This just really helps the bridal portraits flow with the wedding photos. This will just take coordinating with the venue to make sure they have availability. As most venues are pretty booked through the popular wedding season, if you’re having your portraits done during this time you may need to take the advice in the section above and consider a weekday!
I have had brides choose portrait session locations that are different than the venue. This can be because the venue is too far away, isn’t available, the bride wants a change of scenery, etc. These always turn out gorgeous, as well, and again, just take coordinating with your photographer and whatever venue you choose, if applicable.
I know it may seem a little daunting to get all dressed up and step in front of the camera by yourself. Coming from someone who doesn’t love being in front of the camera herself- I get it! I’ve never met anyone who has regretted having these done, however. Talk to your photographer beforehand if you have any concerns or questions. He or she will more than likely have done these before and know exactly how to make you comfortable in front of the camera. I personally make sure to do the beautiful traditional portraits that parents always love and the husbands put on their desks, but it’s always a fun time to get creative and really have fun with my brides!