What is a bridal session? Do I need to have one? The question of whether to do a bridal session or not comes up fairly often in wedding consultations before booking. Many people don’t know the exact reasoning behind the tradition and are curious if it is something I do often for other brides. I would say about 60% of my brides have a bridal session that is separate from their wedding day. The tradition behind the portrait session is a sweet reminder of years past, but there are practicalities to it that we can appreciate in the 21st century.
First, let’s dive into the history of the bridal portrait. I love history, a lot. I nearly minored in it in college, so it’s one of the reasons I love bridal sessions so much. Bridal portraits were traditionally commissioned by royalty and wealthy families in Europe to commemorate the special time in their daughter’s and family’s life. Photography became a more affordable medium, and so families began having portraits taken of their daughters before their wedding days, as it wasn’t very common prior to World War II to have a photographer at wedding on the day-of. Even after it become commonplace for photographers to capture portions of the wedding day, the Southern tradition of bridal portraits prior to the wedding stayed, and now many times these portraits taken before the wedding are displayed at the reception. I love seeing bridal portraits hanging in family homes, especially when you’re able to see generations of women in your family. How special is that?!
Now, let’s get to the practical reasons!
Hair and Makeup Trial: Many brides have their hair and makeup done professionally on the wedding day, and often they do a trail with their hair and makeup artist before the wedding. Why not use that trial as an opportunity for photos? You’re already all dolled up, it just makes sense.
Bouquet Trial: Along with a makeup and hair trial, many times brides use the bridal session as a trail for their florist to make their bouquet. It’s hard to know what exactly you want in a bouquet, and many times creating a bouquet for the bridal session helps brides know what they want and what they do not want their bouquet to look like. You do have to consider some flowers may or may not be in season at the time of your bridal session, so that’s something to discuss with your florist. But, who doesn’t love a beautiful bouquet of flowers? Plus, you get to enjoy them all week long, unlike the ones for your wedding day.
Dress Fitting: Bridal sessions are a wonderful opportunity to see everything come together for your bridal “look.” You finally see yourself in full hair and makeup with your dress, veil, and jewelry on. It’s quite a magical moment! You will get the chance to move around and feel what being in your dress will feel like on the wedding day, and it helps you determine if something is not fitting quite right or if it’s perfect!
Enjoying your time as a bride, a bit more stress-free: I try to help create a low stress environment on the wedding day, but nerves and occasional unforeseen events can get in the way of that sometimes. Bridal sessions are a spectacular way to truly enjoy these sweet and fleeting moments as a bride. Many brides bring their moms, sisters, and best friends along to the session, and that helps create a fun and memorable event.
Giving your photographer an opportunity to scope out your venue: Many brides choose to do their bridal session at their wedding venue. This gives the photographer a great opportunity to explore and see the venue, whether it be for the very first time or the 50th time. I often find new photo spots when doing sessions that I wouldn’t have had time to find on wedding days because of the fast-paced nature of the day.
These are just some of the reasons a bridal session may be right for you. If you’d like to know more about the process or what goes into a session, you can email me at kristina[at]kristinarossphotography[dot]com.