Everything You Need To Know About Doing A Bridal Boudoir Shoot

To quote every bride who has ever done boudoir: “Do it, you won’t regret it!” Whether you’re talking to your friends at brunch, your co-worker at happy hour, or just scanning posts from random girls in a Facebook group, there’s one thing most brides who’ve done boudoir can agree on: it’s f*cking awesome. Whether stripping down to your panties and taking glorified nudes has always been a part of your wedding plan or the new trend just has you thinking about it, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about not only doing a bridal boudoir shoot, but making it your b*tch.

First of all, the idea is scary to almost everyone at first. Getting naked (or naked-ish) in front of a stranger and taking pictures that you’re going to show to at least one other person sounds like a way to get a reality show, not celebrate your upcoming marriage. If taking photos of your scantily-clad body sounds shocking, the price tag can be even more so. The last thing most couples want to do after spending a sh*t ton of money on their wedding (and on potentially rescheduling their weddings, thanks to covid) is spend more money. The engagement photos and wedding photos are already astoundingly pricey, so why would you add another set of pictures onto the final price tag? Basically, because it makes you feel amazing. It makes your spouse feel amazing. And if you’re not going to take bangin’ nude photos of yourself now, when the hell will you?

So, whether you dream of your future husband or wife getting a pic of you rocking your garter (and only your garter) before walking down the aisle or you just want something you can look back on you’re old and wrinkled, here’s everything you need to know about doing a boudoir shoot. Warning: Your pic game is about to level TF up.

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLC

What’s The Investment?

One of the first things you’ll notice when looking for a boudoir photographer is that most of their websites talk about the importance of the investment without saying the prices. That, or you’ll get a cost that will make you low-key want to vomit. A lot of boudoir studios—while professional, talented, and all-inclusive—come with BIG price tags. Not only do you pay for hair and makeup (and sometimes access to their costume closets), but you have to purchase individual photos instead of just getting a Dropbox link with like, 30 pics (which you can then make into a book via Shutterstock or Walgreens for less than $100 as the most amazing wedding gift to your S.O. ever.)

When this is the case, oftentimes the cost of the shoot is anywhere from $100-$500. But, this is just for the shoot itself. After you have a “reveal” session where you can your photographer go through the images, select the ones you like, and add any final edits. This is how the cost gets real expensive, with each photo or file ranging from $10-$100. If you want the photographer to print a book for you, the cost goes up even more.

Don’t get me wrong—these photos are gorgeous, and if you have the means or really want an all-inclusive experience, go for it! But if you’re looking for a cheaper option (which is what I did), there are photographers out there who take photos that are just as gorgeous, but without all the additional fees. For my shoot, which took about an hour and a half, I paid $150. We shot in a gorgeous hotel in Austin (she booked multiple clients throughout the day), I provided my outfits, I did my own hair and makeup, and I even brought my own Champagne. If I do say so myself, the results are as good as people who paid $1,000, with just a little more work on my end.

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLCRebecca Jordan Photography

How Do You Find A Photographer?

Whether you want an all-inclusive experience where you pay per photo or something that costs a little less, the best way to find a photographer is through Instagram. Search hashtags in your city or state (like, #AustinBoudoir #AustinBoudoirPhotography or #AustinBoudoirPhotographer) and do some digging. See whose photos/styles you like and whose you don’t. Doing this, you’ll come across photographers that range from all-inclusive to just getting started. Once you find a few you like, send them an email or DM to get prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you want something added or removed from a package—or if the shoot is still out of your budget—let them know! Chances are they’ll be able to work with you or refer you to someone else.

Images: Rebecca Jordan Photography

How To Prep Emotionally

Not to sound like some new-age guru, but the key to feeling sexy is to think you’re sexy. No matter how “traditionally” hot you are, chances are you have an area or patch or section you don’t feel great about. Everyone does. Boudoir isn’t one of those “I’ll wait until I lose three pounds” kind of things. It’s more of an “I’m hot exactly as I am” kind of thing. A good photographer works with and celebrates all body types and knows how to pose you so your end results are bomb.

Instead of going into the event feeling scared and shamed, spend some time pumping yourself up, just as you would if a friend was doing the shoot. Compliment yourself. Check yourself out. Focus on everything that makes you a catch and remember that these photos are about feeling good just as much as they are about looking good (but don’t worry, you’re gonna look good—I promise).

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLC

How To Prep (Physically)

While it’s all about feeling good, for most of us, looking good for a big event helps boost self-confidence. First, think about the feel of your shoot. Do you want something casually sexy? Full-glam and sultry? Naughty-yet-bridal? Chat with your photographer, make a Pinterest board with inspiration, and have a plan for how you want the photos to look. Once you do that, prep yourself like you would for any other important situation where photos are involved.

Remove any unwanted body hair, moisturize, utilize those makeup skills you picked up on YouTube, and style your hair to go along with whichever vibe you’re shooting. It’s always a good idea to bring a curling iron, some bobby pins, makeup, and hairspray with you to the shoot (whether you’re doing your own makeup or getting it done professionally) for touchups or a quick changeup of looks. You don’t need to crash diet, cut carbs, or work out endlessly to physically prepare for the shoot. If you aren’t sure which poses flatter your body, ask your photographer for help. Let the pros do their jobs and be kind to your body.

Images: Rebecca Jordan Photography

What Do You Wear?

It should come as no surprise that you can pretty much wear (or not wear) anything to a shoot and make it sexy. While heading to the shoot (or waiting for the photographer to arrive), however, wear loose-fitting clothes to help eliminate any unwanted creases in your skin. When it comes time for the shoot, here are a few favorites to create some ~memorable~ images:

  • Your bridal lingerie set (for the night of the wedding)
  • Any lingerie set
  • A piece of your future spouse’s clothes, like a jersey or tie
  • Loooong socks and an oversized sweater
  • Your wedding veil and garter
  • High heels and over-the-knee boots
  • A corset and thong
  • A silk robe
  • A white, fluffy towel
  • ….nothing?

Just a note, the more you bring, the better. You never know what inspiration will strike, what lighting will look great, or what outfit you’ll wish you would have worn. While it’s important to try on all of your looks ahead of time (just to ensure everything fits and feels good), throw some extras in your bag as well.

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLC

What Happens At The Shoot?

While every photographer and experience is different, in general, it’s all pretty straightforward. You’ll arrive at the venue (or they’ll come to you). You’ll chit-chat for a few minutes. You’ll go over ideas and inspiration for the shoot (if you haven’t shown them your inspiration photos, now’s the time). Then, you’ll throw on some music, pop some Champagne, and get changed while they test the lighting.

After that, just follow the photographer’s lead—they’ll help you pose. The key to great pictures is to keep moving. Pretend you’re on America’s Next Top Model and just do sh*t. Dance around, flip your hair, move your face in different ways and directions. Arch your back, arch your feet, grab your boobs. Laugh, don’t laugh, pout, preen. The more you move, the more options you’ll have. Your photographer will direct you but don’t be afraid to speak up. Want to try something? Just say it. It’s your shoot, and their job is to create images for you. It’s better to do tons of different poses (no matter how silly you feel randomly crawling on the floor) so there are lots of options when it comes time to select your favorite photos.

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLC

How To Make It Not Weird

Before booking the shoot (or while finalizing the preparations), make sure your photographer is cool with you bringing a friend or two along. Pick pals who are not only pros at posing (yes, the friend with lots of followers will come in handy here), but aren’t afraid to both direct you and hype you up. While you want to be told how great you look, you also want to be told if you’d look a million times better if you just turned to your left half an inch. Give them your inspo Pinterest board so they can speak up about any additional looks you might want to accomplish and have them at the ready for fixing stray hairs, smudged makeup, or letting you know when you need to pull your cleavage up.

Additionally, a playlist that makes you want to dance around is your secret weapon. Blast all of your cheesy, feel-good, belt-at-the-top-of-your-lungs music. While the end result of boudoir is great, enjoying the experience and letting yourself feel like a f*cking rockstar will make you love it before you even see the end result. Also, it should go without saying, but Champagne is an absolute essential.

Images: D’Nichole Photography LLCRebecca Jordan Photography