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Wedding Portraits: A Different Approach

May 18, 2008
The wedding portrait session is often the most hectic time during the wedding day. The photographer might be barking orders, people might be missing or wandering off or not paying attention, flower girls or ring bearers might be expressing their noisy displeasure at missing their naps. Furthermore, if the session is before the wedding, people are nervous about the upcoming ceremony, and if the session is after the ceremony, people might be anxious to get the reception started. All in all, it can be chaotic, frustrating and miserable.

However, there is an option that is popular in other countries and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States: schedule the bride-and-groom wedding portraits for a day other than the wedding day.

At first, this might sound impossible: Two hair sessions? What about the tuxedo? Or maybe it just doesn't seem like it would feel right.

But consider the advantages for a moment. A wedding portrait session on a day other than the wedding means unlimited time and a stress-free environment, away from the chaos and sometimes frantic pace of the wedding day.

As for as the hair? Maybe it's not so bad to have the bride's hair done twice. Sometimes you can negotiate a lesser cost for the second styling. Or you might find that you'd rather have it styled in a different way, since you may not want to wear the veil for the portrait session.

Or, you could choose to not do your hair as fancy as you had it for the wedding. Some couples end up appreciating having their hair look like it normally does in their wedding pictures, rather than how it looked on one day and will probably never look again. It will seem more natural as time goes by (and you want your wedding portraits to look as timeless as possible).

As far as having the tuxedo for an extra day, this is really a relatively minor expense, given the cost of weddings today. Again, you can sometimes negotiate a lesser fee for the tuxedo rental, since the tailoring will already have been done.

You can schedule the portrait session for anytime, but often it works best to do it after the wedding (and after the honeymoon). That way, you can still see each other dressed up for the first time on the wedding day. You will also be relaxed after the wedding is over, and perhaps even nicely tanned from the honeymoon.

Another advantage is that the portrait session can be wherever you want it. Sometimes couples want the portrait session in the place where the wedding occurred, but some like the freedom of being able to choose any location for the portraits. Maybe there is a park you'd like your portraits in. Or a lake or forest nearby. Make you'd like to do a fashion-like shoot downtown with the bride and groom on a crosswalk on a busy street. Or in front of a fancy building. Or inside a gorgeous interior, like at a museum or five-star hotel (obviously, make arrangements beforehand. Many places are glad to accommodate a portrait session if it doesn't involve the setting up of obtrusive lights or take all day).

Some couples even consider what is called a "Trash-the-Dress" session. As the name implies, the wedding gown might not survive this session perfectly intact, and many brides cringe at damaging the most expensive article of clothing they have ever bought. But realistically, ask around: find out how many women ever actually use their wedding gowns again. Usually, the gowns get hermetically sealed and stored away, and then are never touched again. The chances are slim that your daughter is going to wear your dress, no matter how much you might like the idea. Styles change. People come in different sizes. Did you wear your mom's dress for your wedding? (Would you even have considered it?)

And a "Trash-the-Dress" shoot doesn't need to actually trash the dress. Sometimes it just means going to a place where the dress will get dirty (it is white, after all), like into a forest or outdoor setting. Or doing some shots thigh-deep in a lake or at the beach. Or doing some gritty, edgy images in an old house. (The groom doesn't need to trash the tux; he can simply wear a white button-down shirt and black pants).

If you are willing to do this kind of shoot, rather than having conventional wedding portraits, you can get spectacular, creative, artistic photographs that you will really love.
About the Author
Larry Brunt is a wedding photojournalist. His company, Essential Moments Photography, is located in Spokane, WA, and Larry photographs weddings throughout the United States. Visit his website at www.EssentialMomentsPhotos.com or drop by his blog
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