I'm Elizabeth Gelineau, a photographer, dreamer, and accidental entrepreneur. Based in my hometown of Mobile, Ala., I photograph portraits, weddings and events on both sides of Mobile Bay. Grab a cup of coffee (or other beverage of your choice) and enjoy browsing around. I'm so glad you stopped by!
The Organized Bride Series For most brides, wedding day planning begins with the search for a venue. I always say, you don’t have a date until you have a venue and that truly is the case. Maybe you’re one of those brides who already has a particular venue in mind. Alternatively, you may be one […]
For most brides, wedding day planning begins with the search for a venue. I always say, you don’t have a date until you have a venue and that truly is the case. Maybe you’re one of those brides who already has a particular venue in mind. Alternatively, you may be one of those brides who has no clue of where to begin because you haven’t had your wedding day planned on Pinterest for the last five years. Maybe you’re somewhere in between those two extremes. No matter what mindset you’re beginning from, know that the venue is typically where you want to begin with planning.
If you’re working with a wedding planner, they will have recommendations for you based on your overall vision for your day. If you’re not working with a planner and don’t have a particular venue in mind, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed over starting the venue search. I want you to know that is totally okay and one hundred percent normal!
To start your search for a venue, I recommend that you first think about what you picture in your mind when you envision your wedding day. If you haven’t taken some time to write out this vision, I highly recommend that you do so now. It will be so helpful! Grab a journal and jot down notes of what is important to you. These notes can be simple bullet points, or detailed paragraphs. There is no right or wrong approach!
If you’re struggling with writing out the vision for your day, ask yourselves questions like this to get started:
If you envision a canopy of oak trees and an outdoor ceremony, you’re not likely to choose a ballroom style venue. If you picture everything being indoors with plenty of space for a plated dinner, then you’re not likely to choose a historic home style venue. Knowing some basic priorities at the beginning will save you from overdoing it on venue tours. It will also help you be more decisive by seeing how things you like fit with certain venues and not with others.
To help you with your search for a Mobile, Alabama wedding venue, I’ve put together a list of venues in our area. This is by no means a comprehensible list of every venue in Mobile, but these are all venues I’ve worked at over the past few years. If you’re searching for a wedding venue in Baldwin County Alabama, stay tuned for next week’s post where I’ll take a look at venues in Daphne, Spanish Fort, Fairhope, Point Clear, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores!
It doesn’t get more classically Southern that The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion! This historic Mobile, Alabama wedding venue is a longtime favorite in our area. I never ever tire of photographing weddings under the gorgeous oak trees that line the driveway! This place is literally a photographer’s dream with ample access to natural light in the getting ready room and plenty of shade outside for portraits throughout the entire day. The Bragg-Mitchell is a short drive from several churches and is centrally located without being in the hustle and bustle of downtown. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, this venue is a great all-in-one option, meaning you can use it for getting ready photos, formal portraits, ceremony and reception.
The Pillars of Mobile is another beautifully restored historic wedding venue. It’s proximity to downtown means it’s a short drive from several churches, but it’s also a great all-in-one venue. It has a spacious bride’s room for getting ready and a man-cave where guys can hang out. I am absolutely obsessed with the vintage tile floor at this venue and there are plenty of windows for abundant natural lighting! The Pillars is located within walking distance of an oak-tree lined public park that is another great option for portraits.
I adore a ballroom reception! Maybe it’s because my earliest wedding memory is of my aunt’s wedding and all I can picture is everyone dancing on a huge dance floor! Ballrooms are great for larger receptions and can also be “flipped” between the ceremony and reception for smaller weddings. Flipping a space simply means that the configuration of tables and chairs is changed between the ceremony and reception. Typically, if you’re flipping the room after the ceremony, you’ll have a cocktail hour in a separate space so that guests can mingle and enjoy drinks while the venue staff work their magic. The Crystal Ballroom at The Battle House Hotel makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It is my personal favorite, but the hotel has several ballroom options available.
The Renaissance Riverview Hotel is another great ballroom venue! It’s large ballroom can accommodate a seated dinner for a large guest list while still having ample space for the dance floor. Like the Battle House Hotel, the Renaissance Riverview is located in the heart of downtown and has multiple ballroom options. The great thing about a hotel wedding venue is that you typically will also rent rooms for getting ready there. This makes it so convenient for you, your bridal party and any guests who have traveled from out of town to celebrate with you. While hotels don’t always have ample space for outdoor portraits, those that are located in downtown Mobile are typically within walking distance of parks that are full of trees!
If you want a downtown reception venue that has ballroom-like qualities, but isn’t a traditional ballroom, then you should definitely check out The History Museum of Mobile. I absolutely love shooting at this venue. The checkerboard floor makes for a perfect dance floor without having to rent one! Another bonus of this venue is the option for portraits, both inside and outside during the day. The grand staircase is a favorite among my brides, but I also LOVE the courtyard area for First Looks and portraits. It’s got so much versatility! Another bonus is that this venue is located very close to hotels and churches downtown. The space has some character, while also being a neutral palette, meaning you can make it your own.
Another old-Mobile favorite wedding venue is The Ezell House. Located just a couple blocks from the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, this is a popular choice for brides who want a venue with a mix of indoor and outdoor options. The Ezell House also has getting ready space for both the bride and the groom. Getting ready space is a huge bonus for wedding venues because it means you don’t have to incorporate a hotel into your wedding day rentals unless you just want to be in closer proximity to your venue for the entire wedding weekend. The Ezell House is popular for wedding receptions, but it’s also a lovely outdoor ceremony venue. The courtyard provides a buffer from street noise and is perfect for an intimate-sized ceremony. I also love that this venue is within walking distance of Cathedral Square, another great portrait location!
THE MOBILE CARNIVAL MUSEUM
If you love Mardi Gras and want to incorporate something truly Mobile into your wedding day, then The Mobile Carnival Museum may be the reception venue for you! I’ve never photographed a ceremony here, but it is very popular for receptions and rehearsal dinners. If you’re wanting to incorporate a second line into your wedding day, this venue is within walking distance of a few different churches in downtown Mobile. The tradition of a second line is one of my favorites and it’s extra fun when that second line is leading you to the Mobile Carnival Museum. It’s like a mini Mardi Gras moment in the middle of a wedding! One feature of this venue is the float that is inside the museum. The float turns into the stage for your band, which is something that out-of-town guests are sure to love and find memorable!
Kalioka Stables is the perfect all-in-one venue for the bride who loves a more rustic setting. The scenery on this property makes it hard to believe you’re only 20 minutes from downtown Mobile. I love Golden Hour sunset portraits at this venue! The light always seems extra dreamy here! All of my weddings at Kalioka Stables have been outdoors, but the barn could accommodate a ceremony if desired. I especially love taking a few bride and groom portraits inside the barn because it’s also a magical portrait spot! If you’re a fan of wide open spaces, you’re going to love this beautiful property.
One of Mobile’s newest wedding venues is Crown Hall. This building was once abandoned and in disrepair, but Bay Gourmet Catering breathed new life into it! I absolutely LOVE the vibe of this venue! It feels modern, but timeless at the same time. If you’re looking for a big, open space, but don’t want the formality of a traditional ballroom, this venue could be for you. Although I was only here for a wedding reception, I know that brides who choose this as an all-in-one venue will love the bride’s room for getting ready. One of my favorite features about shooting in this space is the polished floors. The reflection adds so much dimension to those first dance shots! I also love the garage door that opens up for the bride and groom grand exit!
Fort Conde Inn is another wedding venue with tons of Southern charm located in the heart of downtown Mobile. It’s a great all-in-one option, or a good reception only space. This venue is more outdoor focused, so keep that in mind when it comes to planning. If dancing under cafe lights with the Mobile skyline in the background is your idea of a dream setting, then this venue is for you! I love that the inn can accommodate the bridal party for getting ready. This means that you can celebrate your whole day in one place without having to worry about transportation between venues. There are also several great portrait backgrounds in and around the inn!
The Steeple is an old church that’s been converted into an event space. The large stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling give the space character. The wood detailing and colorful windows are so beautiful that this space truly doesn’t need much to make it shine for wedding day. I love that it’s a big open space with plenty of room for seating and a large dance floor. There is also a large built-in stage, meaning you don’t have to rent one separately for your band or DJ. My sister chose this beautiful space for her wedding reception this summer!
The GulfQuest Maritime Museum sits right on the waterfront in downtown Mobile. If you want an indoor reception with views, this is the place to get both. This venue is great for a mid-sized guest list and is close to many churches and hotels. It’s also located right next to Cooper-Riverside Park, a good portrait location. My favorite feature of this venue is access to the rooftop for bride and groom portraits. If you choose this venue for your day, make sure to time arriving at your reception with the sunset so that you can take advantage of that dreamy rooftop setting!
The Alabama Contemporary Arts Center has two separate spaces to offer brides. The upstairs room is ideal for smaller sized weddings. This room has two walls of windows, meaning lots of natural light and views of downtown and Cathedral Square. The larger space that’s on the first floor is a blank canvas for brides to make their own. Adding draping and uplighting absolutely transforms this space, which is great for weddings with a larger guest list. There is plenty of space in this area for food, dinner tables and a huge dance floor. When I shoot at this venue I particularly love taking the bride and groom out on the balcony upstairs for some portraits featuring the Mobile skyline!
If you’re getting married on campus at Spring Hill College, or any church in the Spring Hill area, Byrne Hall is a great open floor-plan venue. As a Spring Hill alum, I am sentimentally attached to this space because I remember when it was a library! Seriously, I cannot shoot in this space and not think of studying! There is plenty of space for seating and a good sized dance floor. I love this venue combined with St. Joseph’s Chapel for the wedding ceremony. It makes it possible to spend the whole wedding day on campus, meaning there aren’t a lot of transportation logistics. Stewartfield House is another reception venue on campus at Spring Hill, but I also love it for getting ready pictures!
The Locale is just a short drive from downtown Mobile and has a hidden treasure behind it’s large indoor reception space. The small, “secret garden” is a dream location during Golden Hour. The inside of this venue is a blank canvas for each bride to make her own. Draping can divide the large space into separate sections for ceremony and reception. Additionally, there are rooms for both the bride and groom to use for getting ready, making this a true all-in-one venue.
Inspiration for Brides-to-Be Last summer, I had the opportunity to work with Katherine Taylor of Jubilee Flowers on an editorial shoot for Mobile Bay Magazine. I knew I loved Katherine’s style when it comes to floral design, having worked with her on real wedding days. When we wrapped the editorial shoot, she and I both […]
Last summer, I had the opportunity to work with Katherine Taylor of Jubilee Flowers on an editorial shoot for Mobile Bay Magazine. I knew I loved Katherine’s style when it comes to floral design, having worked with her on real wedding days. When we wrapped the editorial shoot, she and I both lamented that we didn’t have more time to continue shooting the floral elements of the shoot. I have long had an obsession with flowers and gardening. Katherine picked up on this pretty quickly as I squealed with delight upon seeing the beautiful blooms she’d gathered for the magazine shoot.
If only we could spend a whole shoot dedicated to photographing floral designs, I thought to myself. A few months later, that’s exactly what we did! I have wanted to do a floral focused shoot like this one for so long. I’m so thankful to Katherine for helping me make it happen!
Katherine designed two bouquets and three urn arrangements for this shoot. We worked non-stop for the entire day and I still wanted to keep shooting when our studio rental time was up! I’m thinking that means that I’m just going to have to make creative shoots like this one a recurring priority throughout the year!
Key Floral Elements: Sweet peas, narcissus, tulips, ranunculus, hellebores
Key Floral Elements: Garden roses, luxor primavera hydrangea, anemones, tulips, Japanese ranunculus, hellebores, mint, blackberries, camellias
Key Floral Elements: Garden roses, anemones, tulips, Japanese ranunculus, hellebores, mint, blackberries, lilac vine
Key Floral Elements: Garden roses, anemones, Japanese ranunculus, mint, ginestra, delphiniums
After the shoot, I sat down with Katherine to chat a bit more about her background in floral design, her love of colorful flowers, and her commitment to environmentally friendly design practices. Enjoy the highlights of our conversation, as well as some of my favorite photographs from our shoot!
I have been doing wedding flowers full time for 14 years. I got my start working with my mother, who started Jubilee Flowers in 1996. Before I moved to Fairhope, I would fly down from Asheville, NC to be part of her team when she had really big events. Ten years later, when my husband and I moved to Fairhope, I jumped in to work on all her weddings and events. She has taught me so much about the ins and outs of floral design.
That’s easy…roses! I adore roses and all their lovely ruffly petals. Roses are such an old-fashioned flower, and so romantic. I love the way they get even more beautiful as they open and age. I also love ranunculus for the very same reason, but my all-time favorite flower is the poppy!
Key Floral Elements: Garden roses, ferns, blackberries, tulips
Although neutrals definitely have their place in my work, I absolutely love colors and prefer them over neutrals. I am an artist and have a Bachelor of Arts degree. Painting was my favorite medium and I was a painter for 25 years before I became a floral designer. I have always been drawn to colorful flowers due to their ability to express so many different emotions. When it comes to neutrals, I have discovered that combining deeper shades and working with textures helps to add depth to a neutral palette.
I decided to start working without floral foam (also known as Oasis) when I learned that it is all plastic and toxic to the environment. It never breaks down and just dissolves into millions of tiny pieces. Eventually, it ends up in either our oceans or our landfills. All of this is only adding to the horrific plastic crisis our planet is facing. It hurst my heart knowing that all of the beauty I can create for my clients could hurt the environment. As a wedding florist there is much I can do to lessen my environmental impact. I practice this philosophy in my personal life and it only makes sense to do the same with my business.
What are you seeing 2020 brides choosing for their bouquets?
Most of my 2020 brides have actually been asking for brighter colors, which is a change from what has been popular for so many years! Of course, I am all for it!!!
Visit Katherine online here!
Thank you to my friend Alexis Williams for taking some behind the scenes photos of me and Katherine working together and to Katherine’s assistant, Emily, who was a huge help for the whole day.
Special thanks to my friend Wendy, owner of Wendy Wilson Photography, for letting us use her beautiful studio!
Ribbons | Silk & Willow
Styling Board | Heirloom Bindery
Candles | Yummie Candles
Votives | Accent Decor
Background Board | Erickson Surfaces
Vintage Props | We Raided our prop closets!
The Organized Bride Series I begin every wedding day by photographing bridal details. After I arrive and greet everyone, this is the first thing I ask for. The time dedicated to bridal details is my warm up time. It’s when I’m figuring out what the light is like in the getting ready room. It’s when […]
I begin every wedding day by photographing bridal details. After I arrive and greet everyone, this is the first thing I ask for. The time dedicated to bridal details is my warm up time. It’s when I’m figuring out what the light is like in the getting ready room. It’s when I’m getting a sense for how things are flowing that day. Is everything running on schedule, or do I sense that there is any stress? This “detail” time may seem insignificant, but it is SO valuable to how I approach the whole rest of the day! Beginning the wedding day without photographing the bridal details would feel like starting a tennis match without warming up. Focusing on the inanimate objects helps me to focus on what lies ahead.
But what am I photographing during this time that’s labeled “Bridal Details” on the timeline? I consider “Bridal Details” to be any small element that the bride will either wear, or carry with her as part of her wedding day. This typically includes the wedding gown, veil/hairpiece, shoes, jewelry, garter, wedding bands, engagement ring, and bouquet, as well as the bride’s something borrowed and/or something blue if it’s not covered by one of those other items. Additional items that I love to photograph along with these details are the invitation suite, wedding program, the bride’s perfume bottle, and custom ring boxes! These additional items help to fully capture the feeling of your wedding day. They also help to tell the story of your day in your wedding album!
I love when my brides bring extra elements for me to incorporate into their bridal detail photos. This helps make the detail shots even more personal and editorial. Vintage trays, ring boxes, and ring dishes are all wonderful additions. I also love when I have a few extra stems of greenery to work with. Some florists will leave these when they deliver the bouquets. Silk ribbons are a fabulous addition to bridal detail photos. They help connect all the smaller elements to the colors of the wedding. One spool is really all you need!
One tip for extra elements is to make sure they’re relatively small. Larger items will pull attention away from your small details, so select items that will compliment, not distract from your bridal details. If you gather a few items, your photographer can select what will work best for styling the detail shots.
Gather your bridal details together before wedding day. Most items besides the wedding gown and veil will fit into a tote bag or small box. Having everything grouped together (with tags removed from jewelry!) will save a lot of time. It takes quite a bit of time to style and photograph the bridal details. If you have to search for the items when the photographer arrives, you’ll eat into the time for photographing those special items.
Grooms can have special details too! Groom details typically include: the boutonniere, cuff links (if they are personal or custom), the tie, a watch and sometimes the shoes. If the bride and groom are getting ready at the same location, I will photograph all the details at the same time.
The Organized Bride Series You’ve set the date. You booked the church and reception venue. Your besties are all set to be part of your bridal party. You start to think about sending Save the Dates. That’s when you find yourself visiting a stationery shop and looking at wedding invitations. Chances are that if you’ve […]
You’ve set the date. You booked the church and reception venue. Your besties are all set to be part of your bridal party. You start to think about sending Save the Dates. That’s when you find yourself visiting a stationery shop and looking at wedding invitations. Chances are that if you’ve wandered into one of these shops on a whim, you just might get a little overwhelmed. Since I’m not married, I’ve never had the experience of shopping for wedding invitations, but I know just how many options I considered just for my business stationery box! Who knew there were so many decisions one can make within just one purchase?!
Thankfully, my friend and fellow business owner, Lindsey Stiegler, is an expert on all things stationery! She helped guide me to the perfect selection. It felt like Christmas morning the day I received my stationery box. Every time I pull out a card to send a thank you note, or to welcome a new bride to the Elizabeth Gelineau Photography family, I smile at how perfect the stationery I’m writing on matches me and my personality. The same should be true for your wedding invitations because they truly set the tone for your special day.
I’ve recently been spending a lot of time at Lindsey’s cheerful midtown shop, Soiree Signatures, photographing several of her wedding stationery suites for her online shop. Every time I think I’ve picked a favorite, she brings out another that I love even more! During one of our shoots, I asked Lindsey for her best advice on selecting, ordering and sending out those special invitations. I learned so much about paper just from photographing all these beautiful pieces! Check out all the tips I learned from Lindsey in this post!
I would estimate that the majority of the weddings I photograph have a guest list of roughly 150 to 200 people. If you’re mailing that many invitations, you’re going to need allow for plenty of turnaround time in order to receive your order and mail those invitations to your guests. Lindsey advises ordering your invitations and stationery at least three months ahead of when you want to send them out. Allowing more time is necessary if there will be some assembly required upon arrival. Also, keep in mind that turnaround times can vary depending on which printer your invitations are ordered from. Lindsey says that planning ahead and giving yourself enough lead time on invitations will give you the freedom to order the right invitation stationery and not just the one that will arrive on time.
Many of my clients choose to use some of their favorite portraits from their engagement session on their Save the Dates, but some prefer a traditional card that will match their wedding stationery. Lindsey recommends sending out Save the Dates so that they will reach your guests six to eight months ahead of wedding day. If you’re planning a local wedding, six months is plenty of time. But for those couples who are having a destination wedding, or a large number of out-of-town guests, you’ll want to lean towards that eight months mark or longer. Ready to order your Save the Dates, but not ready to order your wedding invitations? That’s ok! Lindsey advises selecting a color palette and some basic design elements that can carry across all pieces related to your wedding.
When you order your wedding invitations, you’ll find yourself choosing a printing style. There are four main styles of printing: Digital, Letterpress, Thermography and Engraving. Before my first shoot at Soiree Signatures, Lindsey taught me about these different styles. Budget is largely a factor in selecting your preferred style and the size of your guest list often determines your budget. Lindsey told me to think of digital printing as flat printing. There are no indentions/raised areas with this type of printing. It is also the most economical option.
Letterpress printing totally has my heart, which is why I ordered letterpress cards in my stationery box. It’s a classic choice and one that is sure to stand the test of time. Letterpress means the words are pressed into the paper, giving a nice texture to the invitation. Letterpress printing also has the additional option of adding gold, silver or rose gold foil.
Engraving also lends texture to the invitation, but it is nearly the reverse of letterpress. With engraving, a custom metal plate is made and the text is pressed into the invitation from the back of the paper, creating a texture that is raised on the front side of the invitation. Engraving is considered the finest of the printing methods. It is also a timeless selection. Fun fact, if you have your invitations engraved, Lindsey lets you keep the plate that was used for printing!
Thermography is similar to engraving and a style of printing that many refer to as “raised” printing. Unlike engraving, thermography does not use a metal plate, meaning it’s more economical if you like the raised look. Thermography does have its limits regarding color and paper types though, so keep this in mind when choosing your printing style.
Letterpress, Thermography and Engraving orders will typically take longer to produce than Digital printing orders. Lindsey recommends keeping this in mind when planning your timeline for ordering and receiving invitations.
I have always been obsessed with calligraphy! It is one thing I’ve always wanted to learn to do, but I don’t think I have the patience for it. You know those calligraphy videos on Instagram? I could watch those all day long. Why are they so mesmerizing?! When I receive an invitation in the mail that has calligraphy on the envelope, it always feels just a bit extra special. If you’re planning to add calligraphy to your wedding invitation order, you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute!
The reason calligraphy is so special is because it is handwritten! With traditional pen and ink calligraphy, an actual person is sitting at their desk carefully addressing each and every envelope. Just imagine how much time that takes for an average size wedding with roughly 100 invitations! For this reason, calligraphy services are typically priced per envelope. If you’re looking for the elegance of calligraphy script, but don’t have the budget for traditional calligraphy, ask out options for digital calligraphy.
Calligraphy is not just for invitations! Personalize your wedding with day-of pieces, such as place cards, table numbers and menus. Ask your calligrapher about additional paper details that can add that extra special touch! I personally love a place card! Each time I’m at a wedding that has them, I save mine as a wedding memento.
There are so many fun things to see inside Lindsey’s shop on Florida Street in Mobile, Alabama. I love popping in when I’m in search of a quick gift (because everyone can use stationery!), or when I find I’ve run low on my thank you note stash.
Once inside Soiree Signatures, you know this is the place to come if you’re planning a party! In addition to all the beautiful papers, they also carry a variety of personalized party items that can be customized to coordinate with any wedding invitation suite. Who doesn’t love a wedding day koozie?! I have collected several from all the weddings I’ve photographed! Other custom items include stickers (for sealing wedding invitations), wax seals and stamps, just to name a few!
When my cousin got married a few years ago, a lot of us ladies in the family gathered at her house to assemble her wedding invitations. We had quite an organized team and completed the task in a few hours. In total, it took about eight of us to complete the process in a reasonable time. It was so fun to spend that time together and chat about how excited we were for wedding day. If you have a team that’s organized and can get things done, you’re probably planning to assemble your invitations yourself and that’s awesome!
But, if you’re even just a little pressed for time and don’t have a posse of ladies that can teamwork the whole assembly process, then you may want to consider adding that service to your invitation order. At Soiree Signatures, their White Glove Service gives you the luxury of picking up those invitations and taking them straight to the post office! If you’re a bride who is getting married during a season of life where you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, undertaking a move to another state, or you just have an insanely busy schedule, ask your stationer about assembly services. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you have that extra time!
You’re receiving gifts at showers. Wedding gifts are arriving on your doorstep daily. You need to write thank you notes before it gets overwhelming. It will get overwhelming if you procrastinate on this all-important task. Get yourself exited about penning those thank you notes, by ordering stationery that coordinates with your wedding invitations. I am personally a fan of a stationery box. In fact, I ordered one for myself! The reason I love the stationery box is because you have the option of customizing four different sets of note cards all within one box.
For brides, this would give you the option to have some cards with your new married name monogram, some with your maiden monogram and some with your future husband’s monogram. If you’re writing thank you notes as you receive gifts, then you may be sending several out before you’re married. A stationery box will give you the flexibility to have some cards to use for pre-wedding and some to use for post wedding. Since your future husband’s name will not change, he will be able to use his set of cards both before and after the wedding.
Writing thank you notes is a task that many brides dread. If you’ve procrastinated on writing those thank you notes, don’t despair. I encourage you to go out and buy yourself some pretty stationery and get writing! Thank you notes are always appreciated by those who receive them and the more personal you can make the note, the better.
Lindsey says that the most important thing to remember when beginning the invitation selection process is that stationers are able to work with all types of budgets. If you know your budget at the outset, that will help your stationer guide you to the right printing style, paper type and design elements.
I love that being in the wedding industry has taught me so much about so many different things. I enjoy being able to pass along that knowledge to all the brides-to-be out there. If you found this post helpful, drop me a note in the comments!
The Organized Bride Series I have written about my love of the bridal session before. It is one of our great Southern bride traditions that I adore. I remember being a little girl and going with my Aunt Diane to one of her wedding gown fittings. It must have been close to the wedding day […]
I have written about my love of the bridal session before. It is one of our great Southern bride traditions that I adore. I remember being a little girl and going with my Aunt Diane to one of her wedding gown fittings. It must have been close to the wedding day because her dress looked perfect! My grandmother hung that bridal portrait in her living room. It remained in the same spot until my grandparents passed away. That’s because the bridal portrait is a timeless treasure.
Brides who choose to embrace the bridal portrait tradition are sure to have a few questions ahead of their session. This is a big moment! They want to get it right. It will likely be the first time they put on their full wedding day ensemble, from the dress and veil, to the shoes and the jewelry. During my time as a wedding photographer there are several questions I get repeatedly. How to prepare for the bridal portrait session is one of those frequently asked questions. I love when my brides ask questions because it allows me an opportunity to help them avoid things that might cause stress. I have developed many tips for a successful bridal session and today I’m sharing those with y’all! Read on for my go-to tips!
The scheduling of your bridal portrait session is going to revolve around the final fitting for your wedding dress. We can’t do the session until the dress is ready, so I tell all my brides who are doing bridal sessions to contact me as soon as they get their final fitting date. Once we know when the dress should be ready, we can get a date on my calendar for the bridal session. If we’re doing the session outdoors, scheduling for a month, or two, ahead of wedding day is ideal in case we have to reschedule due to inclement weather. If we are doing the bridal session indoors, weather will not affect our plans, which is a bonus when we’re less than 30 days ahead of wedding day.
There are so many options when it comes to the location for your bridal session. Some brides choose to have their bridal portraits taken at the venue where they will be married, or are having their reception. This will allow their bridal portraits to flow easily into their wedding album, along with the photos from wedding day. Other brides choose to select a location that they love, but aren’t using for their wedding day. Some of my favorites in the Alabama Gulf Coast area include The Pillars, The Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, The History Museum of Mobile, The Mobile Botanical Gardens, Bellingrath Gardens, and The Grand Hotel.
Most locations, including those mentioned here, will charge a session fee in order to shoot on the property unless you’re also having your wedding at the venue. It is worth it to pay these fees for these great locations because you’re usually given access to a dressing area and the venues are somewhat private, meaning there won’t be a lot of other sessions going on at the same time as yours.
Before your bridal session, think through everything you’ll be wearing on wedding day. The checklist might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget one or two elements if you don’t make a checklist. So take a few minutes to think through the process of getting dressed to ensure you don’t forget something: dress (and any special undergarments), shoes, veil, hair pieces, belt/sash and jewelry. It’s also a good idea to bring a white sheet and some towels in case the ground is moist. We want to protect the dress and shoes from getting dirty! In Mobile we get a lot of rain, so sometimes a white shower curtain is a helpful item to bring along since it will put a waterproof barrier between the dress and the ground. If you’re doing your bridal session outside in a warm month, be sure to bring some bottles of water.
The bridal bouquet is also a great addition to your bridal session! Many florists will have the option to add on a smaller version of your wedding day bouquet for your bridal portraits. Be sure to ask about this option when you’re discussing your bouquet with your florist. I love having the bouquet at the bridal session because it gives you something to do with your hands. It also brings your wedding color palette into your bridal portraits!
Bridal sessions are always fun when you share the experience with someone who is close to you. Bring your mom, sister or maid-of-honor along to help with moving around in the dress. I always love when the mother of the bride is able to come along. It really makes the experience extra special for the bride and I love having mom’s help for things like veil tosses and fluffing the dress. Be careful of bringing too many people though! One to two helpers is a good number. Inviting your entire bridal party might be a bit overwhelming! Debby really wanted a veil toss picture at her bridal session and Momma Sandy did a great job of helping me out with that shot!
Blanche, her mom, sister, and sister-in-law made a girls weekend trip to The Grand Hotel in Point Clear for her bridal session. They were such a big help in making sure the dress stayed pristine throughout the shoot and in taming the veil, which the wind kept catching!
The bridal session is a great trial run! Make note of anything that needs to be different on wedding day. Carefully inspect your dress before you store it away for the next few weeks. If there are bits of grass, pine straw or leaves attached to the hem, make sure to remove them so they won’t stain the dress. If you need to steam out wrinkles do that before wedding week arrives. That is one task that you don’t want to leave to last minute. If you decide you want to wear a different necklace, or make a change with your hair and makeup, you have time to do so! Some brides even choose to do a completely different makeup and hair style for their bridals just for fun. It’s really up to you and how you want to embrace your bridal session!
Have questions about bridal portrait sessions? Let me know in the comments.
Kelly + philip: a downtown mobile, al ceremony + bayside reception
A few weeks before Kelly + Philip's wedding, their planner told me that there was going to be a surprise fireworks show during the reception! It was the highlight of the night! Click to see this timeless spring wedding!
carolyn + neal: a sacred heart chapel ceremony + grand hotel reception
Carolyn + Neal invited both of their families to join them for a destination wedding on Mobile Bay. Sacred Heart Chapel captured Carolyn's heart when she first visited the area. Click to see this classic summer wedding!
bridal portraits: tips
for preparing for
your bridal session
Brides who choose to embrace the bridal portrait tradition are sure to have a few questions ahead of their session. This is a big moment! They want to get it right. It will likely be the first time they put on their full...
I'm Elizabeth Gelineau, a photographer, dreamer, and accidental entrepreneur. Based in my hometown of Mobile, Ala., I photograph portraits, weddings and events on both sides of Mobile Bay. Grab a cup of coffee (or other beverage of your choice) and enjoy browsing around. I'm so glad you stopped by!