Let me first start out by saying that I've never done the same bridal portrait twice. Every lady I've had the pleasure of photographing has had their own wants, wishes and desires about what they look for in their bridal portrait. If you're reading this far wondering what the heck a bridal portrait is, that's okay, I'll let you in on the secret. These photos are bride-only, where the bride chooses a setting and gets herself dressed in her wedding day attire. These images may be displayed at the wedding itself and/or in the couple’s and relatives' homes after the wedding is over. Bridal portrait sessions are traditional in the South, so if your mother and grandmother took bridal portraits, it’s likely that they’ll hope you to do the same.
If your first thought is "Ugh, I hate attention." Bridal portraits are actually the opposite of attention. These sessions allow you to embrace your beauty without the crowd and attention that usually comes with a wedding.
Other reasons to indulge in a bridal portrait:
1. Be A Shameless Princess! No sense in only enjoying that gorgeous gown only once! You spent the money on the dress and likely spent time on it to get it altered to fit your gorgeous bod, so you might as well try it out and see how it fits before the big day. You don't want that loose strap to drive you nuts when it's time to tie the knot.
2. TRIAL RUN. Most hair and makeup professionals in the wedding industries encourage a practice run before your wedding so you don't have a panic moment like "OMG MY HAIR IS AWFUL BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE RUDE TO THE NICE LADY I BARELY KNOW." Bridal portraits give you the peace of mind that every personal detail regarding you will be as it should be on wedding day.
3. A Great Gift. Now if you're not too keen on showing yourself off at the cake display, you can surely gift these bridals to Mom, Dad, Grandma + Granddad and/or your significant other. It's a timeless gift that you can even share with your future children, assuming of course you want to have offspring ha!
If you are convinced you'd like to do bridal portraits now, you are probably now asking yourself, "How do I prepare for a bridal portrait?" Well I've got you covered with some steps and pretty photos from my past brides!
Okay. You want bridals done. Perfect. How do you figure out timeline? It goes like this.
1. Buy your dress and see how long it takes to get it in.
2. Once you receive dress, try it on and see if it needs to be altered.
3. If so, take it to seamstress and ask for their turnaround time estimation.
4. Go to second fitting and see if it needs another round of tweaks.
5. If you're good to go, e-mail me with your favorite dates that you have available.
6. Once you and I pick out a date, reach out to your venue, makeup and hair vendors (if you have them) and ask if they are available on that date!
Now if you've gotten this far, that means you just want to know how to prepare for the session itself!
2. Your Vision
How do you visualize yourself in your wedding dress? Do you see yourself in a rowboat! Great let's see where we can rent one haha! Do you see yourself on the porch of a historic home? Do you see yourself in a garden? Do you see yourself on your Grandma's front steps? Do you see yourself barefoot on the beach? Do you see yourself at the venue where you are tying the knot? What speaks to YOU? Listen to your instinct and this will help you know where to begin.
If you're totally laid back and nonchalant and want to trust me to pick the place, that's totally okay too! Sometimes it's nice to not make a decision for once during all the wedding planning.
3. Veil or No Veil?
Again, no two bridal portraits have ever been the same. I don't require brides to have a veil! But it sure is pretty :) If you have one, don't forget to pack it! If you're torn, you can always do some with the veil and some photos without it.
4. A Bouquet
Have you ever taken a photo with someone and get that feeling: "What do I do with my hands!!?" A bouquet helps with this very feeling during bridal portraits. These floral gems are not required at all, in fact, half my bridals are done without bouquets. However, if money is a factor in your decision, you can always go fake!
Check out the photo below and take a guess what on whether or not the beautiful blonde golden bride below is holding a fake or real bouquet? Yup. Can't tell right? That bouquet is actually fake. It's proof in the puddin' that a bouquet doesn't have to be expensive. You can make it what you want it to be! You can go for that lush gorgeous bouquet that will mimic your wedding day bouquet or you can literally go fake. Fake it 'till you make it right?
If you're going to bouquet route, often times your florist will be happy to make you one, or you or Mom can piece it together with stems from Trader Joe's!
5. Your bling!
This may seem like common sense, but jewelry is often an after-thought for bridal portrait prep. Don't forget about any family heirlooms and shine that gorgeous bling before your photographs!
6. Your Trust
I know it can be nerve-wracking thinking about taking photos by yourself, like WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BODY?! But that's where you place your complete trust in me. I will guide you through many poses and the hour(s) will go by just like that and you'll find yourself having SO MUCH FUN.
7. Comfy Shoes
Girl, we all love a good pair of heels. But we all know that they can be uncomfortable! A bridal portrait session requires a good bit of standing so bring your flip flops, or even your rain boats and you can laugh about what's going on under that dress! If you can cover up your comfy shoes up during photos — save the pretty ones for a few photos where you're walking and can see your shoes.
8. Bring the little things, but not the big things:
A few of the little things that are nice to have: Lipstick, oil absorbent cloths, extra bobby pins, safety pins, champagne (why not!?) and water. Hydrate yourself to keep that skin glowing! Also bring a change of clothes if you are arriving to your bridal portrait in your gown.
But if you're thinking about bringing a bed sheet or towel to protect your dress, don't do it! Keep that at home! You only get to wear your gown once and I promise, it's worth to wear it well versus staged. It's also hard to conceal lumpy things like that underneath your train. Don't worry, I won't let you drop your gown in the middle of a mud pit.
9. Your bestie
Make the day YOURS. Bring your best friend, first love & furry companion and/or your mama. I love when my brides bring their personal cheerleaders. However, I do recommend to keep the entourage down to a minimum, 2 people is ideal. Let's be real, we don't need to be herding sheep during your bridals—plenty of time for that during family photos at the wedding, ha!
10. Your Smile
A smile is worth a million bucks, be prepared to use it!
Ashley and her mom made the trek from Greenville, NC to Wallace, NC for her bridal portrait at River Landing and my goodness, it was worth it. Everything about the backdrop complimented Ashley's radiating beauty. She got married last night to her husband Tyler so it's only fitting that we celebrate her today! From the words of Stevie Wonder, Isn't she Lovely?
This drop-dead gorgeous bride, Haley, got a new last name last night so it's officially time to show off her beauty through her bridal portraits. Haley wanted to do her portraits at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC and my goodness, the location made every photograph look like a idyllic dream.I feel extra connected to this sweet person because she's from the same town that my fiance is from and has that sweet Southern charm to her. Everyone that knows her speaks so highly of her so I was honored that she and her husband asked me to capture their special day. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Day!!! I wish you both a long life of happiness, health and love.
Carin got herself a sweet 'ol husband on March 24th at the Battleship so it's officially okay to post a few photos from her bridal portrait session. The photos took place at a beautiful lofty space called Belle Vue and all the natural light made her radiate. The coolest thing about this location is that the building is right across the river from the Battleship where she got married so she was able to do some photos in front of her wedding venue as well. Carin is an absolutely breathtaking bride so the camera loved her of course. Wishing Mrs. Beam a thousand congratulations for her marriage to Mr. Beam!