Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bridal Portrait Session 101 - Absolutely EVERYTHING You Need to Know!

So if you're reading this and don't live in the South, you might be saying..."um, what's a bridal
portrait?"  Basically, it's a bridal preview...full hair and makeup, plus the dress and bouquet...all captured in a photo session by your photographer.  Often, girls will choose their favorite to have printed and framed at the wedding reception, later to hang in their home. It's mainly a southern custom, but it's quickly creeping into other parts of the US and it's already a tradition in other parts of
the world.
Image: Beatbox Portraits

You might be wondering...should I do one?  Is it worth it?  Is it really necessary?  Well, as a bridal beauty expert and makeup artist who's worked with hundreds and hundreds of brides...and the talented photographers who shoot the bridal sessions....I definitely know a thing or two about them.

Here's the lowdown so you can decide for yourself if a bridal portrait session is for you, and to ensure that you LOVE your photos if you do book one:

One thing you should know right off the bat?

Bridal Session Photos are VERY Different than Wedding Day Photos!
Wedding day is all about the intimacy, the emotion, the're getting MARRIED.  A great photographer will focus on capturing not only the traditional family photos, but also all of the details and special moments that happen all throughout the day. When it's done right, it's a 360 view of the entire event to help you remember all the details! Whether you look at it once a year or every Friday night, you and your spouse, plus your kids AND grandkids will truly love enjoying your wedding photos for years to come.

 A bridal session?  That's about YOU, honey. When else in your life do you look that freakin' fabulous!?! No matter how practical you are, you can't deny that there is something magical about a beautiful bride. Here's your chance to be that beautiful bride....and the bridal session captures that moment in time forever. (Sounds cheesy, but it's SO TRUE!)

OK, But What Are the Benefits of Doing a Bridal Portrait Session?
- It's a chance to try everything, makeup, dress, veil, accessories...and make sure it all works.  If you need to change anything, you have time.
- Bridal sessions are a great time to bond and build trust with your photographer and beauty team. The more you all know each other, the more comfortable and relaxed you'll be on wedding day! Hopefully there won't be any snags, but if there are, you can solve them beforehand.
- It'll calm your nerves...bigtime.  Once you know that the intricate hairstyle you chose looks perfect with your dress, that bright lip color works and the necklace is the perfect's a huge stress reliever the day of.
- A bridal session is relaxed and fun....a great way to capture how gorgeous you look BEFORE the big day.  Save wedding day for being "in the moment" and enjoying the emotion!
- And lastly, yes you'll have a gorgeous photo to display at the reception, or if that's not your thing, to hang in your home for years to come. You might not think you want it, but trust me....I've never heard
Image: Peyronet Photography
a bride say she regretted doing a bridal session, and they're always really happy to have the images.  And the husbands?  There's no man on the planet who doesn't want an image of his wife looking the most beautiful he's ever seen....#justsaying

What do Bridal Sessions Cost?
Just like everything else wedding related, costs vary according to where you live, and the type of vendors you've chosen.  Professional hair and makeup is 100% worth it, so don't skip it for your photo session! Expect to pay somewhere between $200-$400 for hair and makeup depending on rates where you live (less in small towns, higher in big cities) and expect to pay more to have your beauty team come on location.

 Expect to pay somewhere between $300-$900 for your bridal photography session (doesn't include prints, those are extra)....many photographers roll it into your entire package, but you can book it separately too. Use legit and reputable vendors ALWAYS.  Looking incredible and having stunning bridal photos will be an investment, but one that's worth it....don't fall into the trap of going cheap or hiring inexperienced vendors. (Read more about why here....)

Also...DON'T forget to order a bouquet!  It doesn't have to be elaborate or the same bouquet you'll have for your wedding, but it gives you something to do with your hands and provides a pop of color....cost starts around $75 for a simple version and goes up depending on size and the type of flowers you choose.

When Should I Schedule it?
- Look at dates AFTER your dress is due to arrive....and be sure to allow extra time for alterations.
Image: Matt and Ivy Weddings
- You can schedule it as early as you want once you have your dress, but most bridal sessions are done 2-3 months before wedding day.
- Expect to schedule a bridal session on a weekday or Sunday...Saturdays won't work for your photographer or your beauty team who will most likely be working a wedding!
- Early morning sessions work well for outdoor shoots in the summer to beat the heat, and afternoon/early evening shoots work well in fall and winter to capture "golden hour"...those hours before sunset when the light is amazing.
- If you DO want a framed photo for your reception, be sure to check with your photographer on how early you need to schedule your session so that there's enough time to edit, order and receive your image in time to display it.

How Do I Choose A Good Location?
Options are really endless, but here's a list to get you started:
Image: Peyronet Photography
- Outdoor Locations: Your wedding venue, Botanical Gardens, Historic Homes, Local Wineries, a Ranch in the country, The Terrace or Rooftop of a Hotel, Sports Venues, or even downtown areas with modern sculptures.  Ask your photographer for suggestions!

- Indoor Locations:  Your wedding venue, Museums, Art Galleries, Hotels, Fancy Restaurants, A Concert Hall, A Historic Theater, Sleek lobby of a building, a private home, a downtown loft or industrial space....get creative!

Just make sure you choose somewhere that allows photo shoots, and check to see if there's a fee involved or time restrictions. If you are working with a photographer who specializes in natural light be sure to choose a location that allows for that. Bonus tip #1: If you choose a hotel, book a night at that hotel, have a girlfriend or two stay with you and then arrange for your beauty team to come on location to help you get ready there in your room. Serve drinks and snacks, play fun music and Snapchat the whole getting ready process...make your photo session a truly fun EVENT!

Consider indoor locations during months that typically have rain, ice or extreme's easier to schedule and the shoot will be more fun! (translation, less of a beating ; )  If you want something outdoors, and a traditional garden backdrop isn't your style, that's ok...choose a location that that fits YOUR personality.

Bonus tip #2: Don't assume you can get ready or change into your gown at your shoot location, many venues don't have dedicated space for that or just won't allow it if they feel it interferes with customers or daily business.  Find out ahead of time to avoid having to change in the parking lot!

The Bridal Session Shoot.....Do's and Don'ts
Image: Tracy Autem Photography
- DO schedule a separate hair and makeup trial BEFORE your bridal session...particularly if you have no idea what you want or are planning on choosing a very complicated Pinterest-y hairdo or want makeup that is a big change from what you usually do.
- DO Plan on 2 hours for your hair and makeup appointment, and allow a little extra time if you're an out of town bride or didn't have time to squeeze in a trial first.
- DO consider having your bridal beauty team get you ready on-site if that's an option.  (Expect extra charges for travel and site fees! )
- DO Bring your BFF or your mom, or both! They'll make it fun and help you do relax.
- DON'T forget to bring your veil or hair accessory to your hair appointment so your stylist can put in in for you.
- DON'T forget to order and pick up your bouquet!
- DO make sure you have oil blot sheets and lip color with you for emergency touch ups. Avoid touching up with powder if can look cakey and can flash out.
- DO have a glass or two of champagne to relax and loosen up!
- DON'T drink too'll get blotchy and have a hard time focusing.  No red can stain your teeth!
- DO bring an old white sheet with you!  You can sit on it if you need to wear your dress in the car and it can be spread out on the ground if you need to protect the bottom of your dress.
- DO bring your wedding heels (especially if they're really pretty!) so your photographer can capture a few shots of them, as well as a pair of slip-on flats for walking to and from shooting locations.
- DON'T freak out too much about getting your dress dirty!  A few specks of dust won't matter, and you can get it cleaned before the wedding if you really need to.
DO ensure that any friends or family who come with you remember to keep photos private until AFTER wedding day, especially if you're a traditional bride and don't want your fiance to see how you'll look ahead of time.  It sounds like common sense, but in this age of social media and non-stop posting, people accidentally leak them all the time!  Generally, it's considered ok to post hair and makeup only pics, but most girls don't want anyone to post the whole she-bang. Let everyone know what you prefer so your bridal look doesn't wind up all over Instagram weeks before the wedding!

And my number one bridal portrait tip?
- DON'T obsess about how you look!  If you're constantly thinking "do I look stupid?".....yep, you'll
Image: Jenny Martell Photography
look stupid.  Or at the very least, tense and awkward....not cute! Instead, think about when he proposed, the first "I love you" or the night you met.... it'll create soft and romantic expressions and you'll love how you look.  You really only need 2 or 3 good shots, and your photographer will capture plenty for you to choose from!  They don't all need to be super-serious either, so laugh, smile, and think romantic thoughts about your honey for fool-proof and fabulous photos!

(Stunning bride Lauren?  #nailedit!!!)

(All makeup on these lovely brides by Jennifer Trotter of Lip Service Makeup)

Copyright Jennifer Trotter (Lip Service Makeup) 2016

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