Bridal portraits are a southern wedding tradition, and are typically done a month or two before the big day. While photographs can be captured of the bride by herself on the day of the wedding, a bridal portrait session allows for a wider variety of pictures with more location flexibility, looser time constraints, and a more relaxed mindset than the wedding day would typically allow. That being said, while some of the photographs in this gallery were taken during a separate bridal portrait session, others were taken on the wedding day, just prior to or after the ceremony.
A bridal portrait session serves as a great opportunity for doing your hair and makeup trial. You might have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for on the wedding day, but this gives you the chance to make absolutely certain it will be to your liking, and also offers protection against the remote possibility of allergic reactions to the particular type of makeup your artist uses, since although this would still disrupt our bridal portrait session, it would be much better to discover this reaction during the trial than on the wedding day!
Some popular New Orleans locations for a bridal portrait session include Race and Religious, Audubon Park, City Park, Longue Vue House & Gardens, and the French Quarter. If you're willing to venture about an hour away, Nottoway Resort, a grand mansion on the Mississippi River is an option to consider.. In some cases, you might even choose your wedding reception venue if it has suitable space or grounds that can be used, such as Southern Oaks, or perhaps a particularly elegant private home that you have access to. An excellent choice for an indoor bridal portrait location is Felicity Church in uptown New Orleans. A similar location is Livaudais Hall, also in the uptown area.
While the timing of when the portrait session is scheduled is largely dependent on when the dress is ready, we typically aim for a month before the wedding, which allows enough time for the images to be edited and an enlargement to be produced and framed, if desired to be displayed at the reception, but if the dress alterations can be complete six to eight weeks before, an earlier session gives us a little more wiggle room in case weather forces us to reschedule.
Another factor to consider is what the temperatures outside will be that time of year. If your wedding is in August-October, an outdoor portrait session in the late Summer might be a bit too uncomfortable. If your wedding is in October, one option is to push the session until mid-late September, when the humidity begins to drop, though that doesn't leave us much margin in case of bad weather requires a rescheduling.
Similarly, if your wedding is in mid-late Summer, you can try to move up the completion date for the dress to allow for an April-May portrait session.
But another great alternative that might be much less stressful for you is to simply opt for an indoor location. My favorite choice for this is the above mentioned Felicity Church, as it has a lot of great character and many spots to create beautiful portraits, with ample natural light streaming in through the large windows.
If we are doing an outdoor session, the best times of day or either going to be as early in the morning as possible, or about an hour before sunset. The morning option is a good choice if the session is taking place during a hotter time of the year, though it can sometimes be difficult to arrange hair and makeup to be complete that early. If we'll be shooting indoors, we can do any time of day.
It should also be noted that sometimes the bridal portrait session will take place just a few days before the wedding, or perhaps even after. This is sometimes the case with destination weddings, if the bride is not able to coordinate the session during a preliminary visit to the city for, say, a tasting or other planning tasks, so we simply do the session when they arrive in town for the wedding itself. Of course, this does not allow for an enlargement to be printed for display at the reception, but is still worthwhile for a bride who would like a variety of photographs of her in the dress without having to worry about it on the big day.
First of all, having a helper (your mom, a bridesmaid, etc.) come with you is a good idea, if for nothing else than to drive you to the location (I'd imagine that trying to drive while wearing a wedding dress would be quite difficult!), though in some instances you may decide to change into the dress when you arrive if the location has suitable facilities. This person can also help you carry and manage the dress, assist with hair and makeup touchups and adjustments if needed, carry a bag with any necessities, keep a small fan directed at you if it's a warm day, and so on.
You'll want to bring a bouquet for this shoot. Though the portrait can be done without one, it helps with posing to give you something to do with your hands. Also, a white sheet is helpful in some circumstances. While we'll try to shoot in mostly clean spots, there may be some instances where a sheet under the dress can ease fears about it getting too dirty (though many brides plan for the dress to be cleaned after the session anyway). It's also good to have on hand in case we decide to do a shot of you sitting on a bench.
If the portrait is taking place during even a moderately warm time of year, you may wish to bring a small battery-powered handheld fan to keep your face cool. For some locations, we may be doing quite a bit of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes to change into as well, just in case.
Once the images are edited a few weeks later, I will create a private gallery that is completely hidden from view (just in case the groom is a bit too curious!), from which you can order prints if desired. A framed enlargement (16x20 or so) is often displayed at the reception.
If you do wish to have a print framed, I suggest you make arrangements with the framing shop of your choice in advance, since the required turnaround time will likely be a bit tight. If you know you'll be bringing the enlargement in to them around a certain day, they might be willing to hold your spot in line so that they can start working on it right away, rather than taking a week or two.
You will also receive the digital files for these images. And although I do sometimes post bridal portraits on my blog, on Instagram, or in this portfolio section of my website, I do obviously refrain from doing so until after the wedding.