Hi Everyone!!

I’m Rachael of Rachael McIntosh Photography and thrilled to hop over here onto the Chestnut Ridge’s Blog as a guest writer this week. I want to talk about bridal portraits and share some tips on how to prepare for them. We reached out to some industry experts to get their perspectives too so we can download all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of planning the most perfect bridal portrait session. Maybe you haven’t planned on doing bridal photo’s but hopefully some of this information will also be applicable to your wedding day prep in general? Or maybe you’ll read this and immediately email your wedding photographer to set one up as heck yeah this sounds like a good idea!!

I’m sure some of you are wondering what even is a bridal session?

I’m pretty sure it’s a Southern tradition (they’re not customary everywhere) but it’s basically a whole entire photo shoot of just the Bride taken ahead of the big day. They’re a whole lot of fun and a great way to create more images of the bride without the commotion and general hustle bustle of a wedding day. Think of it as a test-run to make sure everything fits and looks absolutely perfect, and helps the bride feel more comfortable in front of the lens.

Honestly I think it’s more of a family tradition that the Brides Mom and Grandmother did before them. Bridal portraits are sometimes displayed at the wedding reception alongside photographs of other family members or given to the Groom as a wedding gift. In Europe royalty and members of high society would sit for a formal portrait or painting before big events. It was a way to document history, and a moment to treasure for years to come.

Candace (wedding planner extraordinaire and owner of Engaged Asheville and Mingle events) says “Booking a Bridal portrait session is an amazing way to get to know your photographer.” She also recommends planning hair and make-up with your glam squad so you have a sneak peak of how that will feel and look on camera. I couldn’t agree more and If you’re a mascara and lip-balm kinda girl like me this part of the process can be some what daunting. A make-up trail-run is always an excellent idea. 

Here are some great tips that I always share with my brides before the shoot!

1. Bring flowers or other props like family heirlooms to incorporate into the images. It doesn’t have to be an exact replica of your bridal bouquet but it’s nice to have something to hold in your hands and of course the more floral the better. Some of my clients have brought vintage bicycles or other items that showcase their hobbies and interests.

2. Bring a white sheet or towel to stand on incase the ground is wet and muddy. We typically have the bride stand on the sheet to avoid grass stains or dirt and tuck the sheet under the dress so you can’t even see it’s there. Also having a spare pair of shoes to actually walk around in can save on messing up those heels.

3. Bring your veil and all jewelry accessories.

4. Bring your Mom or Sister, Maid-of-honor or ALL of them. Having an extra pairs of hands to fluff the dress, carry the bouquet or just help cheer you on is so so helpful.

5. Schedule a rain-back up day for the shoot so you have a plan B. Or have a back-up indoor location for the session incase the weather doesn’t cooperate. If you do plan to use any of the images on your wedding day plan to schedule the shoot at least a month before the wedding. That way your photographer has plenty of time to edit your photos and order prints etc.

We found this great article on the knot with some great health and beauty tips to check out and start implementing into your routine months before the wedding.

I think it’s a really fun way to get some other bridal portraits that you may not have time for on your wedding day. Maybe you want to hike up to the top of a mountain or include some of your pets that are unable to attend the wedding. I once travelled a couple of states away with a Bride that wanted to surprise her groom with some bridal portraits in his favorite place. I’ve also photographed a Bride riding her horse in her dress and another holding different animals on her farm. We’ve created some really amazing portraits with our clients over the years and if your budget allows for that extra photo session we just can’t rave about it enough.

It’s also a really sweet time to celebrate with your favorites. A good excuse to get the girls together, have some bubbly and enjoy this special time together!!!!

Thanks for reading and CONGRATULATIONS on your upcoming wedding day!

Rachael XOXO

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