I remember the year that I got married (2006, seems forever ago!) I met with my husband’s grandmother (an amazing hairstylist) to do several trial runs for my hair. I was very picky about the way I wanted it done, and wanted something that would be off my shoulders and would stay put all night, but still have curls and look pretty. We finally settled on a double pony with cascading curls for my big day. We did the style two times before my wedding, and we also did a trial run with all of my bridesmaids the day before. Unfortunately since our wedding was held in North Carolina, where my parents lived and where I’d also be getting bridals done, and at the time I was still living in Louisiana I wouldn’t have MawMaw there to do my hair for my bridal portraits. Big mistake. When I look at those photos now I cringe because I hated the way my hair looks. I wish I had done them locally to where I lived in Louisiana and been able to do a trial hair and makeup in my gown to see what I thought. I love the way my hair looked on my big day, but wish I had hired a professional makeup artist to do something with my face. I had no idea how to use an eyebrow pencil, how to contour my cheekbones, or how to make my features pop. I was a 23 yr old tomboy, I didn’t even wear heels to my own wedding! I wore slippers from Claire’s that cost me $3 and wouldn’t stay on my feet.
I offer three main packages to my couples, two of which come with either an engagement session or a bridal session. You can add on an either/or to all 3 sessions or for an additional discounted cost. I do this because I understand people are on a budget or maybe engagement photos aren’t a necessity to some couples but a bridal session is. Or they decide on engagement photos and two months before the wedding they realize there’s extra money in their budget and want to tack on a bridal. If a client books me for their wedding and books one of the two packages where it is offered I always suggest getting a bridal sessions done and maybe tacking on an engagement at an extra expense. Ladies, do not skimp on your bridal portraits. They are traditionally done a month before you big day, after your dress has been altered, your hair style has been picked, you realize how to do your makeup, and you think you have the shoes you want to wear on your wedding day. (I say this because most of my girls show up with 6 inch stilettos and try to walk around in them during our session, by the time their wedding day rolls around they’ve settled on something between 3-4 inches or even flats. Those shoes may look amazing and sexy in photos, but your feet will thank you for the smaller and more sensible heel after you’ve been dancing for 2 hours and walking around for 10!)
I tell my girls to take advantage of the bridal session for several reasons. The main one being to use it as a test run for your big day. Figure out what type of underwear works with your dress (that’s something people never seem to realize is an important thing! What if your bra is uncomfortable after wearing it for 15 minutes, or your panties give you a major wedgie anytime you walk more than 30 feet? These are things you may not think are important, but seriously..do you want to be adjusting your bra or picking in your booty all day? Is that how you want to spend your wedding day? Probably not. I didn’t realize that the bra I picked was very flattering to my bust line, but it also refused to actually stay up on my bust line. If I could go back in time I would’ve taken my mom up on the corset bra offer because that sucker wasn’t going to be moving!) You get to take advantage of having your hairdresser do a test run with your chosen style. This is a big deal, because while it may seem like a great choice sitting in the chair you could end up with a killer headache after an hour of having 50 bobby pins poking you. You’ll also be in the weather that you’ll be getting married in so you’ll know how your hair will react to the climate. What if you’re wearing it down and it frizzes like crazy? Or you don’t realize just how heavy your hair really is and you’ve decided on beach waves for your outdoor wedding, in 110 degree heat, in a Mississippi field. After 15 minutes your head will be drenched with sweat and your makeup will be running down your face. You’ll also be able to see what your hair and makeup looks like in real time because the photos will be edited and delivered before your wedding day, so that allows you to make any minor changes needed before your big day. I personally photograph differently than I look. I’m a very awkward person (if you’ve ever met or worked with me you know this!) and make a lot of faces, and I don’t realize how much I stink at taking direction from the photographer until I physically see my body in a photo. I know, I should be good at posing since I pose people for a living, but that’s just not the case. All of our bodies move differently and are shaped differently, so not only is it a test run for the bride, but it helps your photographer out as well. You’ll be more comfortable with me on your wedding day and you’ll take direction better. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for this later!
And last but not least, you’ll have some beautiful photos of yourself in your absolutely amazing gown that you paid a crap ton of money for. The #1 thing my brides tell me after their photos are delivered is that they wish they had more pictures of them in their gowns. These brides opt out of a bridal session, they free fly on their wedding day and constantly mirror check their makeup and hair, fidget with their sash or bra, and beg to take their heels off because they aren’t broken in yet. They are constantly switching out shoes and looking for band aids because their feet are a mess. They don’t realize how rushed they’re going to be until their wedding day comes and goes and they have one or two photos of themselves in their gowns. I’m great at my job, I am pretty quick when it comes to post-ceremony formals and we’ve got a bridal party of 10+ people and a million brothers and sisters to work with, but there is hardly any time for me to grab the bride and say “lend me 30 minutes so I can take photos of you in this field.” Weddings are changing, they’re becoming shorter and shorter to satisfy the guests who don’t want to wait 2 hours in-between ceremony and reception for the bridal party to have formal photos done. You’ll run out of time and before you know it the night will be over and you won’t have that amazing bridal portrait that you have always wanted so that you can show it to your kids and grandkids and say- “Look. Mommy was beautiful. I may survive my days with a messy topknot and sweatpants now, I may not even own a brow pencil, but 30 years ago I was stunning.” You’ll have that print or that album that you’ve gotten from me and you’ll be able to give it to your kids who will show their grandkids and that moment will be sealed in time. Forever. If you don’t believe me please know this- my mom still has my Grammy and Pop Pop’s wedding photos in a closet in their home in North Carolina. I only remember my Grammy and Pop Pop as grandparents, they were older and passed when I was young and selfish. I never realized they were people who had these amazing lives before having kids who in turn had their own kids. But when my mom tells me that I look like her mom, that I have her figure, I can pull out those photos and see my Grammy in that amazing black and white print in her wedding gown and smile to myself. I can say- yea, I see it now. And I can also laugh and say how much weddings have changed!
So do yourself a favor, enjoy every part of the process that is planning a wedding and getting married. You only do it once, God willing, so book the bridal and pamper yourself for one day. Get the amazing magazine worthy photos and cherish them. And when your wedding day comes all of the details will be in place and all you’ll have to stress about is making it down the aisle without tripping. Which by the way I did that too..my $3 slipper totally came off my foot while walking up the gazebo stairs with my dad. And he just kept walking. We have photos of it in our album too!