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Wedding Wisdom: What Is A Bridal Session, and Why Should I Schedule One?

May 4, 2017

Main Post Image with photo of bride standing in front of doors and holding bouquet

Something that wedding photographers often take for granted is that brides and grooms don’t know all the ins and outs of wedding tradition! For example, when I began meeting with couples for their wedding photography consults, I would start by getting to know them and would ask what services they most wanted. As I would walk them through the various services I usually offer, almost every time we’d stop at the words “bridal session.” And then I’d be met with either an enthusiastic nod, or a totally blank stare! I assumed everyone knew about bridal sessions, but I’ve since learned that’s definitely not the case! So today I want to answer just that: “What is a bridal session, and why should I schedule one?”

Glamorous bridal portrait of bride looking over shoulder

Bridal portraits can be whimsical and candid, like this gorgeous Southern bride. Can you believe this was the last image we captured at her bridal session?

The Tradition of the Bridal Portrait Session

A bridal portrait session is a fairly old and specifically Southern tradition that began in Europe. The bride schedules a portrait session focusing solely on herself which takes place well before the wedding day. She is photographed dressed in her wedding dress and She might also have her hair and makeup done by the same person she is planning on using for her wedding day.  The resulting bridal photos are kept secret, and in many cases a large print from the session is later displayed at the wedding reception.

Why Should I Schedule A Bridal Portrait Session?

Deciding whether or not you want to have your “bridals” done (that’s industry speak) is purely a matter of personal choice! But I do think it’s important to learn about the reasons why a bridal session can be very beneficial. Then, you can decide for yourself whether it makes sense for you! So, what are some great reasons as to why you should schedule a bridal portrait session?

  • Decide whether you want to change anything about your final look – One of the best parts about a bridal session is that you have the opportunity to see all of the elements put together. It’s not only exciting to see how gorgeous your hair and makeup look with your dress, but it also gives you the opportunity to tweak anything that doesn’t look the way you imagined. For example, if you schedule your hair and makeup trial run for the same day as your bridal portraits, you will be able to see how your beauty look translates in photos. Maybe it’s darker than you imagined, and you’d like to swap that Kim Kardashian glamour look for something more natural. Or maybe you realize that you need a little bit of extra tailoring on your dress. This is the perfect opportunity for a “dress rehearsal”!
  • Bridal portraits give you a bit more posing practice – Much like your engagement session, your bridal session will give you more one-on-one time with your photographer. You also get the chance to practice moving AND posing in your wedding dress. When the big day arrives, you’ll be a pro!
  • Capture beautiful, stress-free bridal portraits – As a Dallas wedding photographer, you had to know I was going to say this! Scheduling a bridal session is the perfect time to capture photos of you all glammed up.  You’ll still have photos taken of just you on your wedding day, but this is a chance to get extra special photos without being worried about your timeline. You just get to focus on looking amazing! You’re going to spend so much time planning out your bridal “look.” It makes sense to dedicate 1-2 hours of bridal photography to capture all of your hard work!  Plus, I personally think it’s a lot of fun!

Learn more about how to prepare for your bridal session and your bridal portraits!

Southern bridal portrait taken on the steps with bride holding peach and blush bouquet

Many brides love a timeless and classic look to their bridal portraits. It certainly adds a timeless look that never goes out of style!

By now you should have a better understanding of just what is a bridal session as well as some reasons why you might choose to have them done.  Or, maybe you’re a little less confused about this old Southern tradition – if that’s the case, great!  Either way, bridal portraits are just another way to capture memories of an absolutely beautiful season of life, so have fun and enjoy yourself!


Emily Chappell is one of the premiere Dallas wedding photographers specializing in timeless, romantic, and joyful images for your special day! If you are looking for a wedding photographer in Dallas or someone to capture your bridal session, I would love to hear from you! Visit my portfolio or contact me for more information on having me capture your big day!

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  1. […] I. love. weddings. I’ll say it again: I LOVE WEDDINGS! I always have. I love the happiness, the beauty, the cake, the flowers, the dresses, the love, I love everything about them. So, to get more practice with wedding photography, I decided to set up a stylized wedding photography bridal shoot. I had a couple of other photographers with me, quite a few models, a cake set up, you name it. We went all out. It was so much fun and I feel like I learned so much! I’m looking forward to doing more wedding photography and bridal shoots in the future. Here are some of my favorite pictures of Billy and Maia, one of the couples who modeled for us. (Not quite sure what a bridal session is? Emily Chappell explains it all!) […]

  2. […] feel like a model for the day! And my incredible photographer made it so much fun! She even has an article on bridal shoots from a photographer’s […]

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