Photo + Video

Bridal Portraits

Solidify the look you want on your big day with the help of a bridal portrait.

Bridal Portrait
Photography by Jennie Sewell

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Head to for more details on how to win a free bridal portrait session with photographer Gina Zeidler. Enter soon. The deadline is September 1.
*Session must be completed by November 30, 2013, and includes rights to 20 high-resolution images.

Bridal portraits, not to be confused with trash the dress or couples portraits, are gaining popularity in Minnesota. A longtime tradition in the South, these solo snapshots of the bride in her dress with full hair and makeup—taken a few weeks before the wedding—are often hung in the bride’s parents’ house or displayed at the wedding. More importantly, however, the finished result often offers the bride a sneak peek at how she will look before the actual wedding day.

“They are basically a trial run,” says photographer Jennie Sewell of Sewell Photography. “The dress, jewelry, hair, and makeup—the whole look is pulled together as a preview.” This glimpse allows brides enough time to make changes to their hair, accessories, fit of the dress, or makeup before the wedding, which can help prevent post-wedding disappointment when their actual wedding photos arrive. “One of my brides wore a headpiece for her portraits and decided she didn’t like it after seeing the photos,” says photographer Erin Johnson. “So she changed her look.”

That kind of advance notice is a big benefit, leading local brides to add bridal portraits to their photography packages. Another plus: The extra photo session allows a bride to get comfortable with her photographer and with posing for the camera in her dress.

Newlywed Nina Brown took her bridal portraits about one month before her wedding and says it’s great practice. “It’s good to know what posture works and what doesn’t before the wedding so you feel confident on the day.”

Dress shops also encourage having bridal portraits taken. Christina Herrmann, store manager at L’Atelier Couture, echoes Brown’s statement. “They are super helpful when you’re having your gown fit,” she says. “You can nitpick about the dress before the wedding to get the right fit and look.” Brown saw her dress in a new light after being photographed. “I didn’t realize how detailed my dress was until I saw the photos,” she says. “It made my photographer and me realize how to photograph the dress and have my expressions compliment the look I wanted, all before the wedding.”

Keep in mind, however, that taking the dress into the “real world” is always a risk. “All of my Southern friends take portraits at big mansions or outdoors,” says local photographer Gina Zeidler. “But you want to keep the dress pristine, so you have to be careful.” Still, photographers and bridal consultants agree that the risk is well worth the reward.

“The brides who take bridal portraits have one less thing to worry about on the day of,” says Herrmann of L’Atelier. “They know their dress fits, they know how it will look, and they feel comfortable with their photographer.” What bride wouldn’t want that kind of peace of mind?

Expert Tips for Taking Bridal Portraits

  • Bring a white sheet to put under you when taking outdoor photos so your dress stays clean.
  • Have the person who is zipping your dress on the wedding day be there as a trial run before the wedding.
  • Think outside your wedding for locations: You may want bridal portraits taken in a different space than your wedding.
  • Talk to the photographer about posture and breathing in your dress to look flattering and natural.
  • Bring a pen and paper to take notes about the dress fit, hair and makeup, and how you want to pose for the wedding.
  • Get full hair and makeup done, including false lashes if you’re using them, to complete the look.