Bridals, Photography

How to prep for Bridals


Formals, bridals, “first look” session…the names have changed throughout the years but the idea is the same.

Basically bridal photos are a separate session of photos of you in your wedding attire before, on, or even after (yes, I’ve had people do bridals after) their wedding day.

…and I know what you’re thinking, why would we have bridals done when we’ll have photos of us in our wedding attire on the wedding day?

Great question.

Bridals are a great way to have those print-worthy photos of JUST you two, that you might not have time for the day of the wedding. Most people choose a place that’s special to them or that might be too far to actually accomplish on the wedding day.

You will NOT regret traveling far and wide to your dream place for these photos!

It can be a great time to “test run” all of the looks you’re wanting on your day or maybe do a different hairstyle or look that you know you’ll be doing on your wedding day.

It also sets you at ease the day of the wedding to know that you already have amazing photos of you in your attire so you’re not stressed about the weather, lighting, having enough time, etc.

Most people want these photos to present at their wedding reception which is why they’ll do it a few weeks before the wedding.


If you’re wanting to do a “first look” where the groom doesn’t see you in your attire before the session there are a few ways to go about it

RIDING TOGETHER – You can either ride together or separately and JUST have your hair and makeup done and not be dressed up. I’ll set up your groom in his spot so he can’t see you and then you can change into your dress.

If you go this route, I recommend wearing clothes that you can easily change out of (most likely in or outside of the car) like sweats & a buttoned-down shirt or a robe so you’re not messing with your hair or makeup. Don’t worry, I can help you change into your dress, I worked at David’s Bridal for 2 years in high school and have shot hundreds of weddings so I can help with just about any dress there is out there.

This is probably the best way to go about things if you’re traveling far for your session, that way you’re not taking so many cars out there.

RIDING SEPARATE – the other option is to obviously ride separately that way he doesn’t see you at all the day of your bridals.

Most people have their mom, sister, roommate, or whoever tags along to drive or help them with their dress. I’m totally fine with you bringing someone as long as you’ll feel comfortable with them there AND as long as they won’t get in the way of the beauty/authenticity of the session. I’ve had a few times where the mom interrupted beautiful moments because the bride’s smile was “too real” and she didn’t want smile lines…so yeah, positive vibes only when it comes to bridals 🙂

So as long as they build you up and are there to help and enjoy it with you, bring em! If not, I can totally help you with everything!

MAKEUP – In general, you should wear a little more makeup than normal when taking photos, especially when it comes to eye makeup and blush. I recommend getting your hair & makeup professionally done before bridals. It also serves as a good “test run” for the day of the wedding. If you need recommendations for great hair and makeup vendors, let me know! I’d love to send over some of my favorite gals!

TANNING – If you choose to tan beforehand, PLEASE do it at least 3-5 days before your session, and be sure that it’s washed off before the session. Skin tones show up quite a bit post-production so don’t overdo it! Also, it’s best that whatever type of tanning you do, that both of you do it. If you decide to use an at-home tanning method, I have a few of my favorites listed HERE.

BUG SPRAY & ALLERGIES – Most of the time, we’re shooting outdoors. If you tend to get allergies, or if you’re not familiar with the area, it might be a good idea to take non-drowsy allergy medicine to avoid red eyes & noses, as well as bug spray depending on the location.

SHOES – Please keep in mind that in most dresses, you won’t be able to see your shoes/heels. If we’re in a location that is more mountainy (less paved) or if it’s winter and snowy. I do recommend wearing comfortable, warm (for winter), walking shoes. The few inches of height difference that your heels may have won’t make much of a difference when we’re out and about.

HERE is an amazon page of comfortable walking shoes (for summer or winter) that I recommend for your bridals/formal shoot if you’re still wanting them to be white



I would say anytime within 3-4 weeks of the wedding. If you’re wanting to have all of your images before your wedding day. I would book 2-4 weeks before your wedding day.

I know that sometimes that can’t be the case for all brides so I’m happy to do bridals the week before or the week of your wedding. Because of traveling issues or dress rental limits, in the past, I’ve shot, edited, and sent out the best 10-20 images the day before the wedding. So just know I can work with anything but you might only receive the top 10-30 images if we shoot them that close to the wedding day.


If you need help deciding a location, let me know and I can send you a list of places that I’ve shot before. Please be sure to check if your location requires a photo permit. If there’s a dream spot or a special place that means a lot to you two, I am TOTALLY open to shooting somewhere new. I am open to traveling WHEREVER for these photos so the sky’s the limit!


Generally speaking, if we’re shooting outdoors, the “best” time to take photos is within the first two hours of sunlight or the last to hours of sunlight.

The whole point is to get “soft” light. So, if it’s overcast, then that would be considered soft light and if we can find some sort of shade in “harsh” light then it would be softer.

If we’re shooting indoors, its sort of the opposite because you want to get bright light from the windows, so anytime during the day works.


Your dress will have normal wear from doing bridals. If you choose a location that has lots of dirt/ red rocks/gravel… it will show. RARELY will you notice it the day of the wedding.

Also, I’ve had a couple of brides tell me that their bridal store offered one free dress cleaning for after their bridal session, so maybe ask your store if they offer that. Most of the time, people can hand wash any crazy dirt OR they take it to get cleaned.

Most of my brides don’t get their dress cleaned in between because it wasn’t too bad OR the dirt was so minimal that you don’t even notice in photos.

NONE of my brides regret getting bridals done because of a little dirt. Bridals are well worth it!

If you don’t believe me, here’s what Camille had to say about her bridals that we shot 10 months after her wedding

To see more photos from favorite bridal sessions, click HERE 🙂

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I'm Katelyn & i'm SO glad you found my home here on the web!
I'm a utah based, professional photographer that has a HUGE passion for shooting rad people in the most amazing places all over the world!

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