For clarity: the use of “I” in this post refers to myself, Landan. The majority of the tips come from my personal experience with bridal portraits, as well as the professional viewpoint from The Chandelier. The photos, however, are from our stunning bride Hannah during her bridal portraits. We got her album in & just had to show them off, so we thought this was the perfect way to do so. This post is not a representation of her thoughts on having a bridal session done or not done.
Did you know that when you book a wedding at The Chandelier, your venue rental comes with access to the grounds for a 1.5 hour photo session prior to your big day? You can use it for engagement photos or bridal portraits, but we definitely recommend taking advantage of it for bridal portraits.
We’ve seen a lot of our brides go back and forth on whether they wanted to do bridal portraits or not, myself included. I had at least 10 different excuses for why I didn’t think it was a big deal to do them and almost didn’t, but after prompting from my mom and my hair/makeup artist (who is as much a friend as she is a professional) I finally gave in and was so glad that I did. I didn’t necessarily expect all the reasons they’d be beneficial, but we’re here to tell you today that you should definitely get bridal portraits done if you’re considering it. Here’s why:
Bridal portrait sessions are a test run for everything.
When I was debating getting bridal portraits done, one of the biggest reasons I was considering it was so I could fully do a test run for hair and makeup. I’m a former pageant girl and know that I’ve loved my hair and makeup in person before, but hated how it photographed. This was one of the main reasons I finally committed to adding them in. I loved my trial, but once I got my portraits back I knew I wanted a slight bit more volume in my hair and a change in lipstick color for our actual wedding day. It was minor tweaks, and I actually ended up having to change my hair significantly during the day of (see below), but I felt more confident on our wedding day because I knew it would look good when our photos and videos came back.
Beyond hair and makeup though, you’re really getting to test so much more. It’s a trial for your dress and wedding accessories. Whether you find out that your veil has too much pouf, your dress has one spot that is rubbing under your arm due to the beading (this stuff is a lifesaver if it’s happening to you!), your earrings are too heavy or don’t show as much as you’d like, or that yes, you really do look great in that dress, it’s nice to be able to try everything and get to work out the kinks.
It’s also a chance to get to work with some of your vendors. You get to work with hair and makeup before your big day, you can change your bouquet if you don’t like something (shoutout to Reiley + Rose for not even blinking an eye when I told her I didn’t like one of the flowers that was supposed to be heavily used in our wedding), you have the opportunity to settle in with your photographer and get even more comfortable with them, and you get to be at your venue and find the spots that you love. I can’t say enough good things for how valuable it is to feel confident in your team on your wedding day, and taking bridal portraits builds that confidence.
It gives you more time during your wedding day.
This wasn’t something I even considered, but we hear photographers talking about it all the time. There are so many moments you want captured on your wedding day, but there’s only so much time. By taking bridal portraits ahead of time, your photographer already knows that you have those shots that you love, which allows them to focus more time on getting photos of you and your groom together.
It also gives you the chance to get more photos in your wedding dress that you otherwise probably won’t have time for. From sitting on the swing outside the chapel to striking a pose with the antique chapel doors to spinning in front of the altar, you can get some really unique shots during bridal portraits that you otherwise might be pressed for time for.
Finally, your photographer looks at your bridal portraits too and will be able to recognize what makes you and your dress look your absolute best. That means that when they’re taking your pictures on your wedding day, they already know your best angles and how to show you off. It saves time for them and results in you likely getting more photos that you love.
They can cover you for the unexpected – or help you plan for the expected.
We’re putting these two in the same category because even though they’re opposites, they have the same result: giving you two different looks in your wedding dress.
As far as covering you for the unexpected, this was my experience and also the surprising reason why I was glad I chose to do bridal portraits. My original hair plan was to do a very loose updo with a middle part and a lot of face framing pieces. Because of the 25+mph winds, we pulled the majority of those face framing pieces up, and by the time I finished the first round of outdoor portraits all of those pieces were pulled up. My hair still looked good on the wedding day, but I am so so thankful that I have my bridal portraits with pieces down and the up-close details of my updo that weren’t windblown. Whether it’s wind, rain, heat, or just a day where your hair isn’t cooperating, bridal portraits give you the opportunity to have stellar portraits even if the weather isn’t your friend on your actual wedding day.
With that said though, our open air chapel does have sides that can roll down and it’s a very short walk from the hall, so you are pretty protected from the elements. This is where planning for the expected comes in. If you’re confident that you know what look you want to rock on your wedding day, then you can use bridal portraits as a fun, different look. If you’re doing more muted natural makeup on your wedding day, have fun in your portraits with a dramatic eye or bright lip. Or, if you’re planning an updo, use bridal portraits as a chance to get some photos with your hair down. Since you really only get to wear your dress maybe two times normally, it’s a cool idea to get the most out of it and have two different looks.
Finally, bridal portraits are exciting/fun/memorable.
Bridal portraits are one of the first times you get to fully see yourself as a bride with your hair and makeup done, your dress on, your bouquet with you, and at your venue. It’s just flat out fun to soak in every part of the experience that you can, and it makes everything feel so much more real. It’s actually happening – you’re getting to marry your best friend.
Since portraits are generally taken about a month to a month and a half before the wedding (though talk to your photographer about the timing they recommend – they’re all different), it’s the perfect time to take a break from planning and just enjoy the day all about you as a bride. You’ll create memories that you will have forever, and you’ll have those memories immortalized in pictures.
As an added benefit, it’s a bit of a southern wedding tradition to have one or multiple bridal portraits printed out and displayed at the reception. Since most of your guests only see you walking down the aisle and from the pews, when they walk into the reception and are greeted with a photo of you in your gorgeous gown, it’s a fun moment for them to see you as a bride and really get to take in the details of your look.
So, go on with your bride self. We can’t wait to tell you how stunning you look during your portraits and gush over your photos once they come in.