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Today’s tradition is very near to my heart because of the photo of my grandmother below. Due to hurricane damage, we only have a few photos of my grandmother left, and this one is by far my favorite. I’ve always loved how beautiful and happy she looked in her bridal portrait, and how uncanny it is that she somehow looks like my mom, my sister and myself all morphed into one!

My maternal grandmother before her wedding. Isn’t she a gorgeous bride?!

Originating in Europe, bridal portraits (or “bridals”) were historically oil paintings of royalty in their bridal regalia and were traditionally commissioned by the bride’s family to commemorate such a special occasion. It’s unclear how this tradition made its way below the Mason Dixon, but before World War II, it was rare to have a photographer at your wedding, so bridal portraits were taken in the photographer’s studio before or after the couple’s wedding. Not long ago, bridals were a rite of passage for Southern debutantes and a family keepsake that was displayed on an easel near the guest book and then hung in the bride’s parents home for years to come.

The bridal portrait is still a very popular tradition in the South, however, the days of stone-faced studio sessions are long gone. Now brides are opting for a more personalized and natural setting that not only conveys the bride’s beauty, but her personality, as well (see above for one of our favorite examples from Brooke Schwab!). Many brides choose to use this day as a trial run for hair and makeup, as well as a great way to become more comfortable in front of the lens prior to their wedding day.

Did you take bridal portraits? Will they be displayed at your wedding or in your family’s home?

Do you love going through old family weddings photos as much as I do? We’d love to know your family love stories of old!

P.S. In a bridals mood now? Check out past bridal portrait features below:

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  4. avatar Chris Saper reply

    Yes, she’s gorgeous and what a grand gown!! Of course as a portrait painter I’d love to see the original oil bridal portrait added to the tradition!

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