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  • Donnna Coulon

More to Love: Why bringing “extras” to your bridal session is recommended!

I’ve photographed a number of brides over the years, every one of them with a different location, a different dress, and a vibe all their own. I love bridal sessions because it gives me a chance to get to know a bride a little more intimately, making the wedding day easier because we’ve built a rapport and are already much more comfortable with one another. On many occasions, it also gives me an opportunity to get to know the relationship between the mother of the bride and their relationship with one another, or, her maid of honor: which is only a greater advantage to me.


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I’ve found that comfort makes the candids. Having a camera in your face can be intimidating, but, if you’ve built a relationship with the photographer, you forget the camera and only see the person holding it! That is the key for us, and we work hard to help our couples, brides, seniors, and anyone we work with really, forget the camera.


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That being said, I get the question a lot as to whether or not mom is allowed to come. I also get asked often if daughters, best friends, or pets are allowed in bridal sessions. While I don't believe a large group scenario would be a great atmosphere for a bridal session, I do think having your nearest and dearest with you it's a great way to make your session better. It's always helpful to have someone who will make you smile at your side; someone who will be able to cater to you while you are doing your job in front of the camera and I am doing my job behind it. Bridal sessions take a good bit of work to make them look as beautiful as they do, ensuring that the dress is falling properly, the veil flowing in just the right direction, and keeping our brides hydrated through the duration of our sessions.


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I sometimes take for granted the bridal process, and sadly in the past, have assumed my brides would just know the drill. I’m sorry about that and I know better now. It’s important that I’ve learned that lesson because on more than one occasion I was surprised to show up to a bridal session and the bride was alone. Either she didn't think, was too shy to inquire, and simply didn’t know whether or not she could have guests. Now I do my part to make sure that never happens to a bride who doesn't truly want it that way.


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I live by the motto, more to love and I love documenting life as it is. Some of my favorite sessions include guest appearances from mothers, daughters, fur babies, and best friends. Many of the best moments of those sessions are candid moments that happen organically and end up blowing everyone away.


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Now to further be clear, some brides do actually prefer it solo. They don’t like a big fuss, they don’t have a complicated dress that needs constant attention, and most of all, they value what will be a silent and uncomplicated retreat if they leave family members at home and come on their own. Sometimes a little me time is needed and it’s nice to have a little getaway all dressed up like a princess. Others truly aren’t comfortable with extra eyes on them because they feel awkward enough posing for the camera! Believe it or not, I can relate. Personally, at times, I’ve got the confidence of a group of supermodels, at others I feel awkward and like Bambi in front of the camera.


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There is no right or wrong way to do a bridal session, but it should be YOUR way. If bringing your extras means giggles and laughs for stunning candid shots you’ll admire forever, then do it. If bringing a fussy child might derail your mood or the anxiety of critiques from mom might spoil your experience, you deserve a stress-free hour and a solo shoot is for you! Either way, it is a right of passage and a beautiful experience.


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I loved Tiffany’s session and her three generations of girls present. Here are a few other highlights that serve as great examples of bridal guests that turned out pretty great!


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