What the heck are “bridal portraits”? I’ve heard/read it asked dozens of times, usually on a bridal board and usually by someone of the “Northern” persuasion.

Here in the North, engagement sessions (and more recently “save the date” sessions) have become popular, but even those were nearly unheard of twenty-five years ago.

Bridal portraits are a predominantly Southern tradition, but the custom predates  photography itself (they actually go as far back as the Renaissance).

Bridal portraits are done weeks, and sometimes months before the wedding; the bride dresses in all her wedding finery and is photographed in poses and settings that might be difficult to do during the day OF the wedding. Weddings days are time consumptive and sometimes you just don’t get to take the photos you WANT (the bride staring dreamily off into space, thinking of her groom, etc) because there are fifty-eleven people that want to toast the happy couple before the food is even on the tables.

Having bridal portraits done weeks before the “big day” gives the bride one more special day with the dress she’ll never wear again. It also gives her, and her parents, special memories that will last forever.  Again, in the South, these portraits sometimes become treasured family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.

The “bridal portrait” session is a good time to do a test run on your entire wedding outfit (gown, hair, make-up, etc.), for the bride to get comfortable in maneuvering in all of her finery. Doing a “dry-run” can show you things that you may not notice until the day of the wedding, such as odd fits, weird angles, etc. Your bridals can also be combined with your wedding boudoir session, if you’re having them done.

If you don’t consider yourself photogenic (bah! ALL brides are beautiful) or if you are terribly picky about how you look in photos, bridals give you a chance to  get those poses/photos you REALLY want without crazy guests or relatives breathing down your neck, checking their watch every 30 seconds.

Bridal portraits can be taken  at your venue so match they your wedding day photos, or they can be done somewhere special to your own personal relationship. You can be more creative and include options or elements that there just isn’t TIME for on the “big day”.

So what does one actually DO with the portraits? Back in the day, large prints (or oil paintings) bridals were a tradition for Southern brides and a family keepsake that was displayed on an easel at the reception, then hung in the bride’s parents home for years to come.

Recent generations find bridal portraits a bit strange, preferring engagement and/or “save the date” photos. Personally, I find the romanticism and sense of tradition an incredible addition to any wedding.

But of course, I am Southern by heritage and heart, so that’s not surprising.

Most brides want to keep their dress a secret from their groom, so the groom isn’t included in the session, but I have been reading recently where the happy couple are flouting tradition and doing the bridals as a couple.  It’s all a matter of taste and opinion.

Interested in having your bridals done, or adding them a boudoir session? Email me and we’ll talk about it!

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