You’re missing out if you only plan one day of photos in your dream gown—the wedding day. Bridal portraits are a dress rehearsal for the big day; they are a stress reliever, a reassuring run-through, and an excuse to wear your gown more than once. As a result, many brides prefer this wedding tradition.
“This is an important time in your life to remember,” said wedding photographer Katie Fears. “These portraits capture you in the year you married. You are a strong, beautiful woman, and it will be wonderful to look back in five, ten, or thirty years and see who you were and who you have become.”
Why Do Bridal Portraits Matter?
Bridal portraits are an additional cost, but brides and photographers recommend them for a variety of reasons. Even the most meticulously planned wedding can become chaotic; because wedding-day bridal portraits are frequently taken during those critical moments—just before leaving for the ceremony or right before the reception, during couple photos—relying solely on wedding-day bridal portraits may leave you feeling rushed and stressed out.
At the same time, separate bridal portraits allow you to be creative and have fun. On a formal wedding day, one of Fears’ favourite bridal portrait sessions would never have worked. “I like to add something fun at the end, like my last bride who bought a bunch of helium balloons for some fun and silly shots,” Fears says.
While most brides in the south prefer bridal portraits in their wedding gowns, Fears says many of her northern brides prefer boudoir photos. “I ask them to bring two outfits that they feel comfortable yet sexy in, with the last one being wedding-related,” she explains. “For example, my most recent bride brought her cathedral veil.”
You can get a lot out of your photo session, whether it’s wedding-dress bridal portraits or boudoir. Print your photos on canvases or create a photo book for your upcoming groom. You can even go old-school and print out small, wallet-sized photos for your spouse to carry with them wherever they go.
Tips for Bridal Portraits
Perfecting the bridal portrait, like your engagement photos and wedding day, begins with feeling at ease. “As with any professional portrait, stay true to yourself,” Fears advises. “Your portraits will mean a lot more to you now. Professional makeup and lashes are fantastic, and they really make a difference in front of the camera. Keep it simple if you’re a more natural-looking girl. I say go all out if you want to glam it up.”
Many brides schedule their hair and makeup trials in conjunction with their bridal portrait session. This is an excellent way to see how your styling will appear in photographs. In some cases, you may want to use a little more eyeshadow on your wedding day. Alternatively, you may discover that your ideal hairstyle is a little too tight. After viewing your bridal portraits, you can request changes such as looser curls or enhanced makeup for your big day.
Aside from hair and makeup, it’s best to plan bridal portraits with your seamstress ahead of time. Let them know as soon as you have your portrait date so that they can plan your alterations and fittings accordingly. This ensures that your gown looks as good in bridal portraits as it does on the big day, and it also allows you to resolve any issues ahead of time (such as a stubborn zipper or busted button).
Where Can I Get Bridal Portraits?
Wedding days are nothing if not hectic, so you only have a limited amount of time and space to schedule your family, couple, and bridal party photos. But it’s entirely up to you when it comes to bridal portraits. Choose a location that you’ve always wanted to visit. Try it if you and your parents have a favourite childhood spot, such as docks along the lake. Some brides prefer to have their portraits taken at their wedding venue for consistency and sentiment.
Fears concludes that it all comes down to following your heart. “It all depends on your personality and the look you want,” she says. “I’m used to asking my brides what they enjoy doing the most and then suggesting locations that reflect their personalities.”
When Should Bridal Portraits Be Taken?
One thing to consider is the time of day. As with engagement photos, you’ll want to take them early in the morning or late in the evening to take advantage of the golden hour light. Sunrise and sunset each have their own distinct effects. “Depending on your settings, soft light is best in the early morning, but if you want rich colour and sun flares, that hour right before sunset is golden!” Fears says.
To avoid conflicts, book the portrait date with your wedding photographer well in advance, especially if your wedding is in the peak spring or summer wedding season. Bridal portraits are often included as part of wedding packages, especially in the south.