What’s a bridal session and should I book one?

Melissa on one of the Duke Mansion’s garden staircases.

Melissa on one of the Duke Mansion’s garden staircases.

Once a couple gets engaged, it’s usually not long after that the wedding planning starts and the services are being booked. While it’s a no brainer to have a photographer at the wedding, there are several other opportunities where a photographer might be useful leading up to the big day. Nowadays, it’s become a popular tradition to have formal engagement photos taken, but what you may not know, is there is another type of photoshoot that you might want to consider; a bridal session.

In some parts of the country, bridal sessions have been done for years, and it’s all in the name of tradition. Most popular in the south, bridal sessions are somewhat “passed down” from generation to generation. For example, if your mother or grandmother had a bridal photo session, it might be likely that you’ll continue to pass on the tradition. In this case, many brides might display a large, framed print at the wedding reception.

duke-mansion-bridal-photography_02.jpg

For those of you who have never heard of this particular tradition, you might be asking yourself why someone might want to book a bridal session, especially when there is already so much to do when it comes to wedding planning. While there are many practical reasons why you would want to book a bridal session, it also produces precious keepsakes for the bride, groom, and family. Here are a few reasons why you might want to book a bridal session:

It’s a family thing…

Like mentioned before, this particular photo shoot is a tradition for some families, bringing brides, their mothers and sometimes even their grandmothers closer than ever before. And if you don’t have this tradition, maybe it’s something you might like to begin and pass along to your children if you so desire.

duke-mansion-bridal-photography_12.jpg

Take your look for a test drive…

On a more practical side, this is the perfect opportunity to have a makeup, hair and styling trial with your style artists. (Check out Be Pretty Charlotte) While you would typically get your hair and makeup done and then carry on with your day as usual, with a bridal session, you would be able to take advantage of your trials and save time. The photos that come from this session can solidify any changes you may want before the big day and avoid headaches and heartbreak later. A bridal session also means you’ll be walking, sitting, and posing in your dress which can help you decide if there are any last minute alterations you want done before the wedding day.

duke-mansion-bridal-photography_03.jpg

Let’s get comfortable!

Not only is it a good hair and makeup trial, it’s also great for easing any additional nerves you might have about posing in front of a camera so you can relax and enjoy the big day relatively stress free. We all have a smile that we can put on when our cheeks get sore, which is inevitable on the wedding day, so having these photos means you’ll still get great shots to help you remember the big day, without seeing those tired cheeks! Not only can you take this opportunity to get stress free pictures, but it also gives you the chance to get close with your photographer. Building a relationship with your photographer means you’ll be more comfortable being in front of their lens and therefore have more fun.

duke-mansion-bridal-photography_10.jpg

As a photographer, it’s my job to find your best side and let it shine in a portrait. Bridal sessions with me give us a great opportunity to get to know each other better so I can do just that. While weddings have a pace and atmosphere all their own, there is always something special about capturing a bride, her flowers and a few of the details during a quieter bridal session.

If you’re thinking of booking a Bridal session, here are few common questions I receive:

When should I book the session? I would recommend booking this session at least 6-10 weeks before the big day. This allows me to get the photos edited and back in time before the wedding. This also allows you to make any alterations or changes to your look or style before walking down the aisle with your final look.

duke-mansion-bridal-photography_11.jpg

How long does it take?

These sessions usually take 1-2 hours.

Do I need flowers? While they’re not 100% necessary, I do recommend that you ask your florist for a bridal session bouquet for a couple reasons. First, and probably most important, flowers busy the hands and having something to hold onto will help you build confidence without having to worry about what you should be doing with your hands. Aside from that, flowers are just pretty and they really do a great job of rounding out the complete bridal look.

Who can I bring along? Anyone, but maybe not the groom! I recommend one or two family members or friends who can help you get in the dress and help you move it from one spot to the next. It can be as inclusive/exclusive as you want. Just be sure it’s someone who won’t distract you too much.

What are some the best venues for it? The Charlotte area provides many excellent locations for this type of shoot, and with this being a separate session from the wedding itself, you get to choose where you want it! The Duke Mansion, for example, is a beautiful choice for brides to book their session. It has the perfect mix of outdoor greenery for background along with interior elegance to surround you. If you like options, other venues include North Corner Haven, Ritchie Hill, Separk Mansion and McGill Rose Garden. Be sure to check with the venue ahead of time for any necessary fees or rules.

Jim TriceComment