It’s Wedding Wednesday again and today we’re looking at bridal portraits. It’s an old tradition that is often skipped or overlooked these days but such a wonderful opportunity for both the bride and her photographer.
Having your “formal” (this doesn’t necessarily apply to style) bridal portraits made before the day of your wedding gives you the opportunity to “trial run” everything before the big day. It’s usually the first time you’re trying on your entire bridal ensemble all together. By doing this prior to the wedding day, you have an opportunity to see how it all works together and if there’s something that just doesn’t work or isn’t comfortable or that you just want to change. It’s also a great opportunity to get comfortable and used to wearing an ensemble that most women don’t normally wear.
We try and plan our bridal portrait sessions around your pre-wedding hair appointment–you know, the day you decide to go and have your stylist figure out the wedding day “do” and how it’s going to work with whatever headpiece and/or hair jewelry that you want to wear.
As a photographer, I love bridal portraits for a couple of reasons. One, I love the opportunity to work with a beautiful model and create gorgeous and creative portraits for her without the pressures and time constraints of the wedding day. When creating bridal portraits, we can either work at the wedding or reception venue–or we can go somewhere completely different and have a very different look to the portraits than we would on the wedding day–can you tell I prefer location bridal portraits. We have made them in the studio, but it’s so much more fun to find a great place–either indoor or outdoor–that reflects the bride’s personality.
And, I love the opportunity to spend time with my brides and get to know them before the wedding. I find that the better we know each other, the more comfortable the wedding day becomes. And it’s always our goal to make weddings and easy and stress-free and comfortable as we possibly can for our brides and grooms.
To get a really great bridal portrait, there are a few things you need to think about.
First, if you want an outdoor portrait and you are at all concerned about getting your dress dirty–it’s never been a problem for us, but it can happen–make sure you schedule your portrait at least 3-4 weeks before the wedding so you have time to get the dress cleaned, even just spot cleaned, if you need to.
When scheduling, give your photographer at least a few weeks notice if possible. Some times of the year are crazy busy and we want to be able to get your session scheduled for the optimal time and day for the location you want.
Consider your location options. Your photographer should be happy (I always am) to discuss possible portrait settings and locations for you. Let her know if you have something specific in mind, a certain location, a certain look. She may know of locations that will give you the look you want that you don’t know about. You may also have some locations in mind that she may need to check out before finalizing your session details.
Some locations may take advance reservations or planning to be able to photograph there. Last-minute location surprises don’t make for great bridal portraits. Some locations require not only reservations, but a photography or use fee. This fee is generally the responsibility of the bride.
Also, when discussing locations, especially outdoor locations, the time of day is going to make a big difference in how your portraits look. You’ll want to discuss this with the photographer before setting any appointments to have your hair or make-up done before the session.
When you go to have your pre-wedding hair done (you know, the trial run), recognize that these appointments often take longer than you think they will. Don’t plan your hair or make-up appointment so close to your session that you risk missing it if the hair session runs long. Give yourself a time cushion.
Bring a “personal assistant” with you to your portrait session, unless your photographer has strict rules against it. Having someone along to tote your touch-up bag, your extra shoes, your water bottle and your snacks–someone whose sole job is to keep you happy and gorgeous–makes it a lot easier and more fun for you. But make sure you let them know to leave their cameras, including cell-phone cameras at home. This portrait session belongs to the photographer and she doesn’t want your attention distracted by other people taking photos that aren’t going to turn out nearly as beautiful as your professional photographer’s work.
If you can’t make your bridal portraits before the wedding day, consider starting your photography early and having the photographer devote just a little extra time to you before it’s time to begin the ceremony and the festivities. And, for what it’s worth, we LOVE it when we can do all of the “formal” photography before the wedding begins–and we’ve never had a bride and groom regret it.
So, here are a few favorite bridal portraits from our files. Not ALL of my favorites, by any means. If I put them all in this post would be three days long. But here are a few that I pulled out this morning that I love just because they were either really fun sessions or just a really cool brides (we only photograph really cool brides) or both–which would be most of them.