Sara’s Self-love, Bridal Boudoir Portraits and Accessory Inspiration

Weddings can be a wonderful opportunity for brides to make a boudoir session happen that they have been considering for some time. I often hear from clients that their session becomes just as much (or more!) a gift for themselves as for their partner they gift the portraits to. This was absolutely the case for Sara, who I met last year. Together we planned a bridal boudoir session that felt equal parts feminine and light, and dramatic and cool.

Before a wedding there are so many emotions. It is a season of gratitude and love and a time of preparing to be in a new union. Celebrating this transition is really special, and it’s a lovely time in life to document with boudoir portraits. Sara loved the idea of doing a session for herself and being able to use these pictures as a gift for her partner.

Sara included a cool mix of outfits, and I really love the balance we found with her portraits by playing off of her wardrobe choices. About half of her pictures feel light and airy and bridal. She brought a rose lace lingerie set, a white bra and underwear set incorporating her veil, and a silky robe that says ‘bride’ on the back. The other half of her outfits brought a vibe that felt a bit more dramatic and cool. She rocked a black lace set with epic lace detailing, and a beautiful lace garter belt with stockings.

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Beyond the colors Sara chose for her session, she incorporated some really timeless style elements, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some of the bridal boudoir accessories that she brought along. If you’re planning your own boudoir session (bridal or not) and wondering what kinds of accessories you may want to bring, perhaps hearing some ideas will spark your own inspiration.

My go-to bridal accessories:

Robes:

Bringing along a layer like a robe can feel natural and comfortable, especially at the beginning of your session because they give you control over how much skin you are exposing. They also provide something to do with your hands, which often feels very grounding. Holding a coffee cup is another great option!

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Veil:

I always encourage clients who are doing bridal boudoir to bring in their wedding accessories because it is a great opportunity to use these special pieces that you have spent time picking out for your wedding. Veils are a really lovely accessory to incorporate into portraits because their texture photographs beautifully and feels extra special.

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Garter belts and stockings:

Garter belts are a really fun choice if you want to emphasize an hourglass figure or add a slight vintage vibe. These are pieces I recommend going to a store in person to try on with someone who knows how to fit them. It can be intimidating or confusing to find the right fit (and even just to put them on correctly), so going somewhere like Flirt Boutique or Allure Intimate Apparel can be really helpful and lovely.

Garter belts are usually paired with stockings and you typically will want stockings that match or coordinate with a certain outfit - here Sara has black stockings to go with her black set. There are two kinds of stockings: “stay-ups” that have a rubber lining so that they stay up on their own, and the kind without rubber that are just fabric and need the garter clips to stay on. I recommend avoiding the stay-up stockings for boudoir because they can pinch your leg in an uncomfortable way and can be hard to clip because of the rubber. The kind without the rubber tend to look very sleek and smooth.

Sara also chose to take the stockings off and let the garters hang loose in some of her photos. With this option you still get the drama of the garter belt but it feels a little more casual or less amped up.

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Illusion:

For the last look we incorporated in Sara’s session she has her arms wrapped around herself and is just wearing her bottoms. A lot of my clients will end their session with an illusion of topless or nude portrait like this - it’s a powerful, stunning look. It’s so simple use bottoms you already have for a dramatic and artsy portrait like Sara’s, or to wrap up in a blanket or sheets in my studio to for a relaxed and cozy vibe.

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Alyssa L-K