Bridal portraits or “bridals” are a Southern US tradition where the bride takes formal portraits in her full wedding attire a few weeks or months before her big day. Traditionally, the portraits are displayed at the reception and given to the bride’s parents as a keepsake after the wedding. It is said that bridal portraits were historically oil paintings of royalty and were commissioned by the bride’s family to commemorate the occasion. Luckily, the days of stern-faced studio sessions are long gone and there are many reasons to choose for this additional photo shoot.
1. Dress rehearsal
Bridal portraits are the best trial run for the wedding day look. Most brides do a trial run of hair and make-up anyway. Add the dress, shoes and flowers and see how it all comes together. Eye make-up too intense, uncomfortable shoes or hair getting in the way? Bridals allow you to make the necessary adjustments before your wedding day. You will need to accept, however, that the dress will get a little bit dirty on the hem. Even if you shoot in a studio, using tarps or towels to protect it. But that is not a reason to skip the bridals. Even outside shoots will only require a visit to the dry-cleaners to get the dress as good as new for the big day.
2. Posing for the camera
A bridal photo shoot gives you the chance to work with your photographer before your wedding day, but more importantly, to explore your best angle without an impatient groom or family members rushing you. A wedding dress is not an item you wear every day and it can affect the way you walk and your posture. Flattering pictures can usually be achieved by a change in posture and some tips and tricks from your photographer. The bridal shoot is the perfect occasion to try out a few flattering poses and see what works with your wedding dress on.
3. Alternative uses
Although the tradition calls for displaying the portraits at the reception and giving copies to the parents of the bride, there are many other uses for the portraits. Think wedding announcements and keepsakes for close friends. Especially if you bring props to the shoot. Include your pet, an item that is special to you or your fiancé or fun pairs of shoes to mix it up a bit. You’ll be glad you did when your groom proudly displays your picture on his desk at work!
4. More time for your guests
Some brides choose to have their portraits taken before the wedding day simply to save time on the wedding day itself. Scheduling the shoot this way allows you to spend more time with your guests during the wedding.
5. Spice things up for the groom
Nowadays, more brides are opting for a natural setting compared to the formal shots the tradition calls for. Some couples choose to take pictures together instead of only of the bride, while some brides might choose to let their personality shine by shooting at a special location or including meaningful props. It is becoming more common to use this session to take tasteful photos of the bride in lingerie, resulting in a gift the groom will cherish long after the wedding night is over.
Feeling inspired, but afraid some of your ideas may get the dress dirty? Talk to your photographer about including bridal portraits as well as a trash-the-dress shoot in your package. For more on trash-the-dress photo shoots, click here.
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