Bridal Session: It’s not just about getting pretty pictures

Ivy wall at this bridal session by Knoxville Wedding Photographer, Amanda May Photos.

There is so much more to a bridal session than just getting pretty pictures of yourself. 15-20 years ago, bridal portraits were part of the engagement process. You then printed one of those photos on a massive scale, had it framed, and sat it on a tripod welcoming guests to your reception. This was a wedding tradition just like unity candles and not seeing each other before the ceremony. Over time, it became less common for brides to have these done, but I’m here to tell you why having them is so important!

  1. Taking the dress on a test run. This is the one I relate to the most and is the biggest reason I wish I had done a bridal session myself. My dress was beautiful, but the alterations were not fantastic because I had my dress altered into a sweetheart neckline. I stressed the importance to the seamstress that I did not want armpit fat (one of my insecurities) so I needed the dress to be looser right around my armpits. Hence, the reason for the neckline alteration. Well, it wasn’t until I was in the dress for some time on the wedding day that I realized that one armpit area puckered out significantly worse than the other armpit area. I used skin tape to counteract the puckering, but it was a HOT June 22nd and the skin tape was NOT sticking. Also, I had a sash that tied into a heavy bow on the back of the dress. Again, the seamstress was supposed to tack the sash in the back so it wouldn’t ride up and so the bow would stay tied. She didn’t tack the bow, and I didn’t realize how annoying it would be until the wedding day. As I walked around, the bow kept coming untied, and my mom was the only person that knew how to tie a pretty bow. Poor mom because my venue had 329,502,895 steps, and, like I said, it was HOT. Finally, when I bought my dress, they sold me on the fluffy under layer and the insanely tight corset bra. On my wedding day, it was a million degrees, and I could NOT add MORE layers. I was already dying, but I didn’t take other precautions (like a sewn in bra or spanks) so I didn’t feel as comfortable in my dress as I could have felt. All of these things I would have known if I had done a bridal session, and I could have had ALL of them fixed before the wedding day!
  2. One more on the dress test run + a shoe test run. The length of your dress will depend on the shoes you’re wearing. Most brides will say that they want to wear these gorgeous heels all day, but then, 3 hours in their feet hurt so bad that all they want to do is take them off. When they take them off, they are tripping on their dress the rest of the day because now it’s 3 inches too long. It is a-okay to either a) have gorgeous heels for photos that you never actually wear or b) just buy flats. You can find gorgeous bridal flats nowadays. Testing your shoes to make sure they aren’t going to kill your feet is a great idea either way, but testing them with your dress on is the best idea. Key example…I had a bride with AMAZING rhinestone Badgley Mischka heels. She walked around her house in them to break them in, but she never actually wore them with her dress accept in the alteration’s dressing room. Turns out the material of her dress snagged on the rhinestones and made little picks in her dress. She ultimately changed shoes on her wedding day to prevent more picking, which made her dress significantly too long, and she had to pick it up when she walked.
  3. Use that hair and makeup trial that you’re already paying for! You’re paying for a hair and makeup trial anyway so why not go ahead and use it in some photos. There is pretty high likelihood you’re going to want your makeup a little darker and your hair a little bigger (or up vs. down). I would say 90% of my brides who do a bridal session end up tweaking their wedding day hair and makeup at least a little because of how it looks at their bridal session. Not that it was bad at the bridal session, but maybe they want a little more smokey eye or a little more teased hair!
  4. Have a good idea of how big you ACTUALLY want your bouquet. I love fresh flowers just as much as the next person. Like really, really love them. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be carrying your bridal bouquet for HOURS on your wedding day. The bigger the bouquet, the heavier it gets. There is one exception here. If you do a ton of greenery, you can have a huge but light bouquet, but if you have a lot of flowers, that sucker is going to be at least 10 pounds. Also, think through how big you want your bouquet in comparison to how tiny you are. If you are a very petite person, a massive bouquet will likely cover 1/3 of your dress. Sometimes, it covers the entire upper half, and if you have a strapless dress, you may look like you’re naked, ha! Remember, the really pretty flowers like hydrangeas and lilies wilt easily. When you tell your florist that this is what you want on your hot, summer wedding day, they will likely tell you this, but seeing it happen will be much more convincing to get a different flower to replace those. Plus, you get a gorgeous bouquet you can dry out and keep as your “wedding bouquet” without having another thing on your parents’ to do list after you leave for your honeymoon!
  5. You’re only a bride once! This is the obvious one, but you are only a bride one time! You bought that amazing dress, gorgeous shoes, all the jewelry, had your hair and makeup done…don’t you want an excuse to do all of that at least TWICE???
  6. Saving time on the wedding day. Most wedding days get off schedule. It’s just how it is. I’ve learned this over the years and have since built in a time cushion just in case we get off schedule. Even still, sometimes we get so far off schedule that we deplete the cushion. In this case, it’s nice to have had a bridal session because then I don’t have to spend as much time shooting the bride by herself on her wedding day. I will, of course, still get some photos of her by herself, but with a bridal session I won’t feel like I have to spend half of the bridesmaid’s time on the bride. Then, I can work on getting us back on schedule by cutting out a little time with solo bride shots!
  7. Details. I always ask that you bring your dress, jewelry, shoes, invitation suite, all three rings, shoes, garter, and veil to your bridal session so that I get some detail shots before we start your actual portraits. This happens on the wedding day, too, but if it’s rainy, there’s not a great surface, you forget the invitation suite, or you send your wedding band with the best man after the rehearsal dinner, then I already have all those pictures. This means they’re not as critical on the wedding day! I will likely give you some more variety with these, too, because I will have more time to do them at your bridal session than I do on the wedding day!
  8. Getting to spots at your venue you wouldn’t normally have time to. On the wedding day, the bridal portrait time is during the “bride + bridesmaids” photos that I allow 30 minutes for. I spend about 10 minutes on the bride and 20 minutes with the group. I normally pick 2-3 locations that are the prettiest at your venue, but we won’t be able to get them all on your wedding day. So, when you have a gorgeous venue that has a dozen ideal portrait locations, we will be able to get them ALL at your bridal session! Also, don’t confuse bridal party photos with bride & groom romantic portraits. I allow 45-60 minutes for bride and groom photos on the wedding day, and we hit as many of the “good” spots as we possibly can…at least 5-6 different locations! I just don’t want to waste any bride and groom time doing solo shots because the bride + groom shots are the priority of all your portraits!!

See? There are many more reasons to do a bridal session than just to have pretty pictures of yourself!

Email me at amanda@amandamayphotos.com if you want to get a bridal session scheduled!

Kleinfeld gown at this bridal session by Knoxville Wedding Photographer, Amanda May Photos.
Under the veil at this bridal session by Knoxville Wedding Photographer, Amanda May Photos.

I’m a Knoxville Wedding Photographer that loves to travel…I shoot anywhere! Click here to contact me with any questions you have about pricing or booking! If you liked what you saw above, go ahead and follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see my daily updates of the latest sessions!

See more from Amanda May Photos:

Allison Disney’s Bridal Session

Amanda May’s Bridal Session

Kayla Whitt’s Bridal Session

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Knoxville, TN wedding photographer

I'm Amanda May and I'm pretty stoked that you're here. I'm a three on the enneagram, a smiler when things get awkward, and I would love for you to get to know me more over on my about page.

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