#NotYourMamasBridals: How to Prepare for a Non-Traditional Bridal Session

August 25, 2021

Feeling up in the air about having a bridal session because you’re worried about outdated, stiff bridal portraits? Don’t knock the idea so quickly! Let me tell you why you should absolutely have a bridal session and why there’s no need to worry about things turning out old school. It’s because we’re both super cool. Kidding, obviously. But in all seriousness, a bridal session today should be nothing like what you immediately think of when you think of bridal portraits. That’s why I’ve created the concept of #NotYourMamasBridals! So that you, a modern fiance, get to feel like you had your own, glamorous moment that tells your story because it speaks to you, your personality & style, and the century you live in. It’s the time to have a moment to let your individual personality shine!


It’s a great trial run: A bridal session is the perfect time to have a trial run for your hair & makeup! It’s always an awesome idea to have a trial run before your wedding to make sure you’re happy with the outcome. Most hair and makeup artists include a trial run with bridal services, so a bridal session is just a killer excuse to actually get to make use of the extra pampering. It’s also a great time for trial runs with flowers (have your florist make your bouquet so you can be sure you’re happy with it), just being in front of the camera and it gives us a chance to bond as bride and photog!

Guarantees you get beautiful photos as the bride: A bridal session guarantees you have plenty of photos in your wedding dress or suit without the added stress of the wedding day. You won’t feel like your moment was squeezed in with the other hundreds of photos you’ll be taking on the big day. Plus, it saves time on the wedding day so we can focus on all of the other photos you want to capture!

Makes great gifts: Some brides like a bit of traditional nostalgia and will display their portraits at the wedding. This is a fun way to bring in tradition but putting your own twist to it with unique portraits. But even if that’s not your style, bridal portraits always make a great gift for your partner or family. If you want a more personal gift just for your fiance, another fun idea for your bridal session is to use part of the session to sneak in some fun boudoir photos. You can bring a sexy boudoir outfit or lingerie to change into towards the end and that is definitely #NotYourMamasBridals.


Now that you know what a bridal session is and why it really is beneficial, I want to make sure you know what will make your bridal session with me different from a traditional bridal session.

More than typical portraits: We’re going to have fun with it! You won’t just be standing holding a bouquet and smiling. We’re going to have fun with prompts and movement. You can be sassy and smize or you can be playful and throw your hands in the air, but the goal is to capture you. We’ll have fun with lighting and capture some beautiful sun beams if we get lucky. We’ll use fun props – it could be a bottle of champagne or your dog – let’s get creative with your vision! The point is, we’ll make sure that we capture your personality and tell your full story.

Get comfortable and have fun: The bridal session will be the perfect time for you to get comfortable in front of the camera and to see how you’ll look in photographs on your wedding day. It will also give us a chance to play around with those non-traditional poses we talked about. This will give you a great idea of how moving around in your wedding look on the big day will feel. And, again, it gives us a chance to get more comfortable with each other! That should always be an important part of a bridal session and I definitely won’t let us overlook that.

Trial and error: I already mentioned that doing a hair and makeup trial for your portraits is a good idea, but I personally love to take it a step further by having you literally let your hair down at the end of the session. This gives you a chance to see if you really loved the updo or if you’d rather do something a little more like your everyday style.



Get inspired: Start by looking up inspiration for what you want your bridals to be like because that will impact some of the other decisions you make prior to your session. Think about the style that would help tell your story – both yours individually and yours as a couple – and showcase your personality and lean into that. It can be moody, classic, artistic, quirky, sultry… anything! Also be sure to share this inspiration with me. You hired me for my photography style, but I want to tell your story in a way that feels right to you!

Choose a location(s): Pick a place that’s important to you or to you and your partner as a couple. You also want to make sure this is somewhere that fits your personality or style. If you’re stuck on location or are looking for a more traditional option, your wedding venue is always a great go-to. This is an especially great option if I’ve never photographed at your venue because it gives me a chance to get familiar with shooting in that location. Plus, a lot of wedding venues give you a free hour session prior to your event date for photos… a big perk if you’re considering other locations that you may have to pay to rent for your session!

Choose a date & time: It’s important to choose a date after choosing your location because you may decide to reserve or rent a space and be limited to their availability. Choosing a time may also depend on your location (i.e. availability or lighting at a specific time of day). You’ll also want to consider the purpose of your bridal portraits. If you want to display any at your wedding, be sure to schedule far enough in advance that we can take the photos, edit them, select favorites, and get them printed in time.

Make a rain date or backup plan: If you choose to do outdoor photos, consider having a rain date or alternate location. You can pick a rain date simply by choosing an additional slot on my availability calendar.

Book your hair and makeup trials: Make sure you book these trials with plenty of time to spare before your session.

Have your final dress fitting: You’ll want your dress or suit to fit for your bridal session just like it will on your wedding, so make sure that’s taken care of. Make sure it’s also steamed before your session. Hey, look, there’s another perk of a bridal session – one less thing to stress about as you get closer to the big day!


  • Blanket or jacket: A blanket or jacket will keep you warm if we’re outdoors and it’s chilly, but they can also make a super fun prop!
  • Comfortable shoes: If your session is outdoors, I definitely recommend bringing comfortable shoes to walk around in. We can carry your wedding shoes and you can slip them on right before we start taking photos. This will also keep your wedding shoes from getting messed up. Heels sinking into the ground? No thanks.
  • Blotting cloths
  • Umbrella: Just in case!
  • Touch up kit for hair and makeup
  • Veil and accessories: Anything you’ll be wearing the day of is a good idea to bring.
  • Engagement ring: Bonus if it’s freshly cleaned and sparkling.
  • Bouquet: I mentioned this is a great idea for a trial run with your bouquet, but I also have a dried bouquet, so if you need one, just let me know and I’ll be sure to bring it!
  • Mom or dad, sister, brother, close friend, person of honor or bridesmaid: Bring one special person along for moral support! They may help you feel more comfortable, can carry or hold anything you may need, and can help notice any minor details.
  • Water & snacks 
  • Props: Bring along any props you may like to have in the photos. It could be you and your partner’s pet, a family heirloom of theirs that they would be excited and touched to see in your photos (i.e. a chair, blanket, glass or cup, etc.), it could be anything at all.


Have fun: The less you stress or worry, the happier you’ll be with your photos. A good way to get in the right mindset is to hype yourself up by playing your favorite music on the way.

Relax: Make a day of getting pampered and having your hair, makeup and nails done. This will help you relax so that you can shake off any nerves you may have about being photographed. Because the more relaxed you are, the more natural your photos will look and feel.

Trust me: If you’re nervous, new to being photographed, etc. I’ll be there to help you loosen up, feel your best, and guide you through any posing, confusion or awkward moments. I’ve got you. Seriously, I’m your biggest fan and here to make you feel like the beautiful person that you are!

I know a bridal session can sound pretty overwhelming, but if you follow all of the steps above, it’ll be such a breeze. And you’ll honestly be so glad to have your trials, outfit, and photos taken care of before your wedding day – it’s just less to stress about! Plus, it gives you the chance to feel like royalty for a day and, honestly, who wouldn’t love that?