Bridal Portraits: What They Are and What I Learned

In addition to having my busiest wedding season yet with incredible clients, I'm getting married right smack in the middle of my season! For the first time, I understand the stress and struggles my clients have while planning their dream day. I like to think I have a Southern soul and one long-standing southern tradition that almost all brides take part in is the bridal portrait! 

Bridal portraits are a way for you to do a trial run of your hair, makeup, dress and jewelry all at once - without them, it's fairly rare that you would get to see your entire look put together before the wedding day. And let's face it... that's important! 

What do you do with bridal portraits? Traditionally a large portrait is displayed at the reception and then gifted to the bride's parents. In reality, you can do whatever you want with them! I do plan to display a large portrait at the reception along with some other fun things! 

I learned a lot and to be completely honest, the experience was a lot more challenging than I had anticipated! With that said, I feel even more prepared for my wedding day because of it! I can't imagine feeling what I felt last night on the day of my wedding and oh my gosh I am so glad to have this time to rationalize and make a plan verses having a meltdown on my wedding day. 

I learned that... 

  • I fell in love with a dress that is incredibly unforgiving and everyone has given me advice about undergarments which I have followed... and regretted. I had a bit of a meltdown last night and debated what to do. I love my dress but I want to feel comfortable and confident in it. It's between me feeling good or a seam being visible underneath the dress. I woke up this morning and thought... if this was a client of mine, I would tell them to do what makes them feel best and we'll worry about the rest later but if they don't feel good, they won't look good. Had I not had that session yesterday, I could have been having that meltdown on the afternoon of my wedding.

  • People telling you that your dress is getting dirty is 400x more stressful than it actually getting dirty. When people are constantly telling you "your dress is getting dirty" it's so much worse than actually looking down and seeing the small amount of dirt. The dress can be cleaned!

  • I need to break in my shoes, even though they are sandals. Time to start wearing them around the house!

  • It's not fun to have people staring at you and I need to learn to take compliments without feeling awkward. I was not prepared for how uncomfortable I would feel with people staring at me. Clients, I am so sorry! I'm so used to being on the other side and gushing over you that I forget how weird it can be.

  • I chose to wear a different hairstyle for bridal portraits than I will for the wedding and I had a somewhat different bouquet. I learned two lessons from this: I'm really excited for my wedding hairstyle and I'm so glad I chose the colors that I did for florals. Having my hair styled a different way was so fun (and I'm glad I'll have photos that are a little different than the bridals taken on my wedding day) but it was validating that I'm really pumped for my wedding hair!

  • Standing up straight is really hard when you're nervous.

  • I'm glad I chose the jewelry that I did and it does all go together very nicely!

All of the things I figured out yesterday, without bridal portraits, I would have been left to discover (and possibly be upset about) on my wedding day. So while the portraits are a fun tradition, to me they were incredibly practical too! 

I won't be able to share them until after my wedding but I hope that more brides will consider the bridal portrait tradition as an option for them!