If you’re only planning one day of photos in your dream dress, aka the wedding day, you are missing out. Bridal portraits are a dry-run for the big day; they’re a wedding day stress reducer, a reassuring run through, and an excuse to wear your gown more than once. That’s why many brides favor this wedding tradition.
Bridal portraits are photos taken several months before the wedding where brides don their dresses for a solo photo shoot in a location of their choice. The bride can gift print portraits to her parents and/or spouse or even display them as décor at the reception.
Sure, bridal portraits are yet another add-on, but brides and photographers swear by them for a number of reasons. Even the most perfectly planned wedding can get a bit chaotic. Since wedding day bridal portraits are often taken during those crunch-time moments (just before leaving for the ceremony or right ahead of the reception or during couple photo) relying solely on wedding day bridal portraits may leave you feeling rushed and stressed out.
At the same time, separate bridal portraits give you the flexibility to have fun and be creative. Some of the best bridal portrait sessions would’ve never worked on a formal wedding day. Some brides also like to get creative, maybe add some balloons or get some elegant pictures with a horse. This is truly when you get to take photos you seen in fairytales.
You can get a lot out of your photo session than just “practicing for the big day”. Try getting your photos on canvases or make a photo book for your groom-to-be. You can even go old-school and print out small, wallet-sized photos so your spouse can take a memento wherever they go.
Wedding days are nothing if not jam-packed, which gives you limited time and location options for scheduling your family, couple, and bridal party photos. With bridal portraits though, it’s entirely up to you. If there’s a location you’ve been dreaming of, choose it. If you and your parents have a special childhood spot, such as docks along the lake, try that. Some brides also choose to have their portraits at their venue for consistency and sentiment.
One thing to keep in mind is the time of day, just like engagement photos, you’ll want early morning or evening photos to capitalize on that golden-hour light. Both sunrise and sunset have their own unique effects. “Depending on your setting, soft light is best in the early morning, but if you want rich color and sun flares, that hour right before sunset is golden!” says Fears.
The most common timeframe for bridal portraits is roughly one to two months before the wedding. This is around when hair and makeup trials happen anyway, plus you’ve likely selected those wedding-day accessories like shoes and jewelry by then as well.
Logistically, book the portrait date with your wedding photographer well in advance to avoid any conflicts, especially if your wedding is in peak spring or summer wedding season. Many photographers offer bridal portraits as part of their wedding packages (like me!)