Ah yes. One of the oldest wedding traditions that’s still around today: the bridal session. But as weddings become more “personalized” and traditions are shed, bridal sessions are often the first thing to get chucked from the list.
You may be wondering what the heck is a bridal session and why do I need to do one anyway? Well, it’s exactly like it sounds: you get all dolled up in your wedding dress a few months before the wedding and have portraits done of your beautiful self.
You may also be wondering why the heck you need to do a bridal session when you’ll get photos of yourself all dressed up on your wedding day.
Allow me to tell you a little bit about my wedding day.
It was going to be perfect, just like every girl’s wedding day. I was realistic, knowing things wouldn’t actually go perfectly and that there might be some bumps (everyone has their “wedding story,” right?!)
Well, our wedding story is quite the catastrophe. Two days before, the biggest ice storm North Texas had seen in a decade rolled in and blanketed all of Dallas in a thick layer of ice and temperatures hovered below 20 degrees for the next several days. The night before our wedding, our venue had no power. The morning of, our caterer canceled because he couldn’t get to his kitchen due to all the ice. My hair person was stranded in San Antonio and that beautiful outdoor ceremony next the lake? Yep, didn’t happen.
So because of all the craziness of the weather and cancellations, our photos turned out a lot differently than I envisioned (to be clear, this was NOT my wedding photographer’s fault. She did an amazing job for what she had to work with that day). And sadly, there was one photo of just me in my dress and it wasn’t even a full body photo.
I spent a lot of time picking a dress and how I wanted to do my hair and makeup that day. Not to mention the money I spent on a dress I’d only be wearing once! So to only have one photo of me in it felt like a complete waste.
Now I’m not saying your wedding day will end up anything like mine (I pray to GOD that it doesn’t!) but the reality is, there are things beyond your control that could result in fewer or different photos than you planned.
What is a bridal session?
A bridal session is a portrait session timed several months out from your wedding date where you get all dressed up in your wedding dress and various accoutrements and take some pretty photos of just you. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a fairly old tradition, specifically in the South (a lot of my Northern friends didn’t know what a bridal session was when I asked them about it).
Sometimes brides bring their moms, sisters, or maid of honor to the session so they can help with feedback and dress fluffing. It’s a fun time all around!
So why should I do a bridal session?
Remember when I said I spent a lot of time and money perfecting my wedding day look? It would have paid dividends to do a trial run of my hair and makeup to make sure I liked it, to make sure my dress was tailored perfectly and photographed well, and to make sure the bouquet I requested was exactly as I wanted it.
Consider a bridal session a way to insure your wedding day investment.
Also, it’s just plain FUN. A bridal session can be as traditional or creative as you want it to be. Want some classic portraits outside a pretty church? Check. Want to get moody and editorial in a natural light studio? Oh heck yeah we can do that.
When should I do my sessions?
That’s a great question and one I get asked all the time. I wrote a post about when you should time all your wedding photography-related events but in general, you want to book your session far enough out so that your photographer has time to edit the photos and get your prints to you but close enough that all your tailoring is done and your bouquet will closely resemble what it’ll look like on your wedding day.
Bridal session sweet spot? T minus two months from your wedding day.
Can you do it closer to your wedding date? Of course!
If you’re on a time crunch, be sure to consult with your photographer about how quickly you’ll get your images and how much time you need to get your prints sent to you.
What do I do with all these photos of me in my wedding dress?
That’s a pretty easy one — print them! Display them at the wedding! Share them on social media after the knot is tied. You are a beautiful bride and why not take just a tiny millisecond to celebrate that?!
I recommend one larger print (at least an 11×14) surrounded by some smaller prints (no smaller than 5×7) to have on display at your reception — so long as the space permits!
Parents love to have a framed photo of their daughter’s bridal portrait on display in their home. Also makes a great gift idea!
OK so now that I’ve booked my session, what do I need to do to prepare?
I’m so glad you asked! I’ve got a free download of a bridal session checklist right here for you to use while planning your session. It includes some insider tips on how to nail the session and how to communicate with your vendors to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I know you’ve got a lot on your plate and a heavy load on your wallet but consider a bridal session as insurance on all that time and money — you won’t wind up disappointed on your wedding day because you hated your makeup or your hair looked weird in the photos but you couldn’t tell in person.
So now that we’ve gotten all that taken care of, download your FREE bridal session planning guide right here and carry on your merry bridal way.