Q: What are the different kinds of wedding photo sessions available?
A: A Bridal Session is a professional photography session of the bride in her wedding dress, traditionally taken days or even weeks prior to the wedding. This session can take place outdoors or in a studio, and usually includes full makeup, hairstyling and occasionally even a bouquet. The idea behind a Bridal Session is that plenty of high-quality images will be taken of the bride in an unhurried and controlled environment before the wedding chaos begins, however over the past few years Bridal Sessions have begun to be viewed as overly-traditional and old-fashioned, and in some areas of the country they have fallen out of popularity.
An Engagement Session is a professional photography session of the soon-to-be-wed couple, in nicer everyday clothing. It is much like a regular portrait session where the couple is well-groomed and often dressed nicely/fashionably in clothing that reflects their personal style at its best. Sometimes brides-to-be also utilize professional hairstyling and makeup for an Engagement Session. These types of portraits can take place in a studio or outdoors, though with the advent of digital technology, outdoor/on-location engagement sessions have exploded in popularity over last few years.
Some brides-to-be also consider Boudoir Sessions several months before their wedding, so they can present the photos to their partners as a wedding gift on their wedding day (or night!). Boudoir Sessions are private photo shoots that are often taken in a studio or other controlled environment, featuring the bride-to-be in lingerie, and incorporating a variety of flattering and daring poses. Some women opt to do their Boudoir Session after the wedding as well, to use the photos as a surprise anniversary present instead of a surprise wedding present.
Another type of session that’s growing in popularity is the Day-After/Day-Before Session. This type of session essentially operates as a more casual Bridal Session featuring both newlyweds instead of just the bride, and is usually scheduled at a site for which time and logistics do not allow access on the wedding day itself. It’s thought that Day-After/Day-Before Sessions originally developed during destination weddings, when the couple could be taken to an exotic picturesque location at their destination a day or two before or following their wedding, for a portrait session that incorporated the feel and beauty of the area. These types of photoshoots are now arranged even for domestic and local weddings. The couple can wear their wedding attire more casually, such as no jacket, tie, or veil; or it can be regarded as an Engagement Session at their wedding destination. The session is named as it can be scheduled for before the wedding or shortly afterwards.
Lastly, a unique spinoff of Day After/Before Sessions is the Trash The Dress Session. Also known by a variety of other, gentler monikers (i.e., Douse the Dress, Mess the Dress, etc) this type of photoshoot generally appeals to a select group of people who believe that there are no other foreseeable uses for their wedding dresses following the wedding. So a Trash the Dress session is created with the intent of getting the couple dirty, wet, and messy resulting in some fun or sexy photos.
If you’re planning your own wedding, hopefully this helps illustrate the different kinds of options that are open to you and your fiancé when it comes to pre- and post- wedding photography.