San Diego, California Bridal Session at Torrey Pines State Reserve

Bailey reached out to me two days before this session asking if I was available to shoot bridal photos for her and Nate after their original photographer had to cancel last minute and LUCKILY I was! They’re from Utah and wanted something a little different from the scenery back home, so we decided to meet at Torrey Pines State Reserve near San Diego for a golden hour session. It honestly couldn’t have turned out more perfect!! Torrey Pines is so freaking pretty and I’m pretty sure we spent half the time we were there just gushing about how beautiful the location was. and the sunset (!!). OMG. The light was warm and dreamy from the very beginning of the shoot and just got better and better as the sun went down.

Bailey and Nate are a such a gorgeous couple and photographing them was so fun! And easy - they are so natural together and in front of the camera, I felt like I was working with legit models haha. This was actually my first time doing a bridal session with a couple and I am OBSESSED now. I recently started offering them as an add-on to wedding packages, but I realized that a lot of people may not even know what they are or why they should book them! So I figured this post is the perfect time to explain that!

A bridal session is basically just a photoshoot in your wedding attire on a day prior to your wedding day! There’s no timeline to stick to or any guests waiting for you to get back to them so you get to take photos in a more relaxed, stress free setting. And as far as what exactly that setting is - it’s completely up to you! There will only be so many spots to take photos at your wedding venue, but you can do your bridal session literally anywhere! You probably spent a lot of money on your dress so why not take as many photos in it as possible??

You can also use your bridal session as a trial run for hair and makeup and a sneak peek into what wearing your dress feels like. You may decide you want to go with a different style of makeup, or learn that the hairstyle you originally wanted isn’t what you thought it would be, or maybe after wearing your dress for an hour or two you’ll notice it needs an additional alteration to make it fit more comfortably (especially for the day you’ll be wearing it for 8+ hours). Not that these things always happen, but if they do, it’s better to realize beforehand!!

While I’ve recently fallen in love with bridal sessions, I do want to say that there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to do one! Some people don’t want their partner to see their dress until their real wedding day or may have other reasons, and that’s totally okay! What I love about the whole wedding planning process is that you can do things however YOU want. This is just a really fun idea that I love and I feel like it’s the perfect compromise if you are torn between having a traditional wedding with all your friends and family and having an intimate elopement somewhere unique and epic. If you still want that special moment of seeing your partner’s reaction to you in your dress, you can do a first look at your bridal session (it would be just like a first look on your wedding day, but just a different day and probably better lighting). You could even use the time to share private vows or letters with each other. Literally make it whatever you want it to be! (Also, don’t worry if your dress gets a little dirty, I promise it will be worth it and you’ll have time to get it cleaned anyway!)

So there you have a few reasons I think bridal sessions are a great idea, but if you want to read first hand why Bailey and Nate decided to do one, check out the sweet testimonial they wrote me!


“We decided to do a bridal session for a couple reasons. First of all, we wanted beautiful pictures in a beautiful place to keep forever and we also wanted our wedding day to be less stressful trying to get the perfect shots. And a bonus is, we can display our photos at our reception! We LOVED Carrie! We live in Utah but had the dream to take pictures in San Diego area so we booked a photographer we heard of and planned our trip. Just two days before the shoot date, the photographer backed out. I was PANICKED! I sent a plea for help to a couple photographers on instagram, Carrie included. I loved her style and was sure there was no way she'd be down to shoot the very next day! She was so kind and told us that she was available and would love to take our pictures. I honestly think that was a miracle because the pictures ended up incredible, exactly what we wanted! She was great at letting us do our thing, but also giving us poses. She has an incredible talent for using light in a beautiful way in pictures! PLUS she spent time photoshopping the railings out of our photos to give us a magical look. She was amazing and I would recommend her highly!”

If you want to learn more about wedding packages that include bridal sessions, send me an email, I’d LOVE to chat more! And if you’ve already booked your wedding with me and want to add one of these on, let me know and I’ll hook you up with an extra special deal!