Did you know that taking bridal portraits before the wedding is primarily a southern custom?
I didn't, not until I started asking and researching for this post. I assumed it was something ALL brides just did.
Apparently, it is something brides tend to weigh the pros and cons against.
The idea for this post originally started as me finding the answer to the question: “Should I or should I not take bridal pictures?”
So I took to the internet, friends, acquaintances and current clients to see why or why not they chose to add it to their wedding experience. After further investigation, I found that there isn’t a “yes” or “no” answer to it, and you’ll see why.
A TRIAL RUN
Doing a bridal shoot gives you the opportunity to see the whole ensemble together and test out your hair and makeup ideas. Many brides said they were happy they decided to do it because they learned what they liked or disliked about their hair and makeup, and they had time to make those adjustments. You will learn how well your makeup holds up and how well your hair style compliments your dress. Or maybe you will learn that it is WAY too hot to wear your hair half-up during the dead middle of a Louisiana summer. Ultimately, you will get to see how you will look for your wedding day with everything pulled together.
One of the most important things I have learned as a wedding coordinator is the importance of keeping a strict timeline the day of the wedding. I have met many brides who are adamant about getting a multitude of pictures after the wedding ceremony and then trying to also squeeze in first dances, cake cutting, money dance, bouquet and garter toss. In the end, they have very little time to enjoy their reception with family and friends. I am here to tell you; too many pictures will be your reception’s worst enemy. The perk of scheduling bridal portraits before the wedding is you are able to get those detailed and stand-alone shots of you and your dress without having the worry about how much time you have left in your reception.
I found the primary use of the portrait session is to have a copy of your favorite bridal picture on display at your reception. It gives your guests a chance to take your whole ensemble in and appreciate your dress that you donated a kidney for. I also learned that it makes great gifts for your parents, your future daughter, or your groom. Maybe you don’t see yourself hanging a giant photo of just you in your house (maybe you do see yourself doing that, totally okay!). However, your mom and dad might love to have an album full, and your groom might want to have one to frame for his office. One day, your daughter might be dreaming up her own wedding, and you can pull out that picture and share your experiences with her. Other people cherish you and would love to have a framed memory of that one special day.
How often do you plan on getting married? My hope is that your answer is, “Only once”. Your bridal experience is unique and special. Take full advantage of it. The day you schedule your bridal pictures is all about you. You spend the day being pampered and getting all dolled up to have fun in front of the camera. Plus, remember that dress you donated a kidney for? This will help you feel as though you got your money’s worth. Bridal portraits are a great confidence booster and special bonding time for you and those you choose to bring along with you. It is all part of the bridal experience. Enjoy your time to shine.
Sure, you’ve probably had plenty of meetings with your photographer, and you probably follow them on all types of social media. I bet you know their kids’ names, the awards they’ve won and what their first pet’s name was. But, do they know your best angles? Do you know if you like taking direction from them? Do they make you relax and have fun while you’re taking photos? Bridal portraits are a great opportunity to answer those questions. You should feel comfortable kissing in front of their camera, taking direction from them and sharing some very special moments with them. Take this moment to have fun with them and relax a little bit.
To not bridal portrait:
We can all agree that planning a wedding is a costly adventure (maybe it doesn’t have to be... a future blog post?). If you’re a bride who must stick to a very strict budget, you’ll have to decide if these portraits are worth the added cost or if you’d rather see the money spent somewhere else. Now, some photographers include it in their package, and if that’s the case, it is a win-win for everyone! But maybe you would rather have that extra tier on your cake, or you would rather have a photo booth at your reception or you just HAVE to have the “late-night snack” option on your menu (it’s a thing - a cool thing. Check out our reception menus). Either way, it is going to cost you money.
*THINK ABOUT THIS* If you feel guilty spending a chunk of your budget on something that is solely about you, ask your photographer if it is possible to use that “bridal portrait” session as an engagement shoot or as a photo shoot for after the wedding with you and your fiancé.
Your wedding day is an experience that doesn’t come around very often. It’s a day full of love, laughter and magic. No, I’m not talking about “pulling a rabbit out of a hat” magic. I am talking “seeing your fiancé at the end of the aisle and being hit by every emotion you have ever had as you realize your promising your life to the person you couldn’t do life without” magic. Some brides expressed they didn’t want to take away that moment of putting your wedding dress on in that atmosphere, surrounded by the people you love the most.
MORE THAN ONE SCHEDULE
Contrary to the other points, bridal portraits aren’t COMPLETELY about you. You have to match up a lot of other schedules in addition to yours. Does your venue have the date open that you want for pictures? Is your photographer already booked for that day? Does your hair and makeup artist have an opening that day? What about your mom or your sister or your maid of honor? Who else do you want to attend the session with you? Most importantly, does your work schedule allow you to take that day off?
I grew up dancing, in theater, in pageants and on TV for college so being in front of a camera is nothing new to me. But I know not everyone is quite as comfortable being the main focus. Not every bride has fun getting all dressed up multiple times, and when you decide to do bridal portraits, that’s another day to add to your list where you spend the time getting all dolled up and into your wedding dress. But here’s the bottom line, the camera will stay on YOU when you choose to take bridal portraits.
These points are simply things to help you decide if bridal pictures are right for you.
Choosing to take bridal pictures boils down to who you are as a person:
You might hate getting dressed up.
You might love the idea of having a picture of just you hanging in your house.
Maybe you feel strongly that every moment of this process should be about you AND your fiancé.
Or maybe you’d rather use that portrait session for engagement photos.
I can never stress this enough: this is YOUR wedding experience, no one else’s. Well…except maybe your fiancé’s.
Whatever you decide, let it be something YOU want to do.