Bridal Portrait Location Suggestions: Part One

The next article in my frequently asked question series is probably one of the most asked … do you have any suggestions for photography locations?   I get this question for both bridal sessions and engagement sessions but today, we’re going to talk about bridal portrait locations.

First, before I get into locations, I often get asked WHEN bridal portraits should be done.   I always suggest at least 2 months before the wedding to allow for any reschedules that may come up due to weather or other unforeseen situations.   However, if for some reason, a bride can’t do them this far in advance, I will do my best to get them scheduled and have their images ready in time for the wedding.   I have done bridal portraits 5 days before a wedding in the past!

I have traveled all over South Louisiana for portrait sessions and I don’t mind a bit because travelling usually takes me to a place that I rarely, if ever, get to photograph.  From Lafayette and New Iberia to Baton Rouge and New Orleans – there are so many beautiful locations available for photography within an 80 mile or less drive from Houma (which is where I’m located.)   For each location, I’ll list the location and phone number along with the fee (if I know it).  You’ll need to call these places yourself to set up the appointment and find out what the current fee and rules are.  Some of them only allow 1-2 people to come with you and others may not allow children, so be sure you inquire about any policies they may have.

First, lets talk about the Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge.   If you are looking for a unique, rustic and less casual location – this is the perfect spot.   Tons of old buildings, quaint little gardens, antique brick and a tiny little chapel are just a few of the backdrops you’ll find around this location.    There is also another area called Windrush Gardens which requires a separate fee.  I haven’t photographed here yet but I believe it would also be a gorgeous location for bridals.   The museum does offer a changing room and place to leave your things.

Rural Life Museum ($70) – Baton Rouge – You can find information on the fees and how to set up an appointment here:  Rural Life Museum – Photography Information

This is the little chapel, which is great for some dramatic indoor shots:The outside of the chapel is white and the arched doorways perfectly frame brides against the outdoor backdrop:

There are rustic old buildings all over the property:Fences, bridges and a cute little English-inspired garden:There are lots of unique backgrounds to be found here:Also in Baton Rouge but a completely different vibe from the Rural Life Museum is the Old State Capital building.  This place is all about drama and making a statement.  Tall, floor to ceiling stained glass windows, a huge winding staircase and an exterior that resembles an old castle … this location is great if you want something a little different.   Its also a great choice for bad weather since the indoor areas are plentiful enough for a full session.

Louisiana’s Old State Capital – information on booking photography appointments can be found here:  Old State Capital Photography Information

These floor to ceiling stained glass windows are amazing:So many different looks just by changing positioning and lighting:The architectural details in this building are jaw-dropping:Again, this is the same room, just a change of position and lighting:This staircase is just unbelievable!   Its gorgeous as a wide, sweeping image as well as a close-up portrait:And the outside with its whimsical, castle-like exterior is so unique to this area!

From Baton Rouge, we’ll head over to River Road and the many Louisiana plantations.   These options are usually a little more expensive unless you are using one for your wedding venue.   Each one has different rules and fees, so you’ll need to call them individually for more information.   There are many plantations in South Louisiana, here are just a few of the ones that I  know allow photography.   Others may allow it as well, a simple phone call will answer any questions you may have.

Houmas House
Nottoway Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation
St. Joseph Plantation
Laura Plantation

These images are all from Houmas House, which has some amazingly beautiful gardens with lots of whimsical touches.   The inside can also be used for photography as well but the grounds are so sprawling and beautiful, I don’t often use the indoors.These were taken at Destrehan Plantation, which I’m not sure allows photography unless your wedding is being held here.   I looked at their policies but didn’t really see anything, so if this place interests you, its worth a call! interests you, its worth a call!

If plantations interest you but you’d like something closer to home, Ardoyne Plantation in Houma may be a great choice.   There are some pretty areas around the outside and you can’t beat the bright white Victorian exterior and wrap around porches.   Photography is also allowed inside and brides are given a private room to dress in.

Ardoyne PlanationArdoyne Plantation Information

Ardoyne is great for some stunning indoor images:But the outside is also really special and beautiful:And the delicate railings on the wraparound porches are such a pretty detail:

If a simple, outdoor location with pretty trees and a variety of looks is what you are looking for that’s also close to home and free of charge, then Crescent Farm on Hwy. 311 in Houma is a great option.  This location is also known as St. Martin’s.   As of today, the property is free to use and at any given time, could have a few other photographers present but the property has recently been placed on the market and no one is sure how much longer we will have use of the grounds.   The downfall to this location is that there are no changing rooms or restrooms.

Now we are going to travel again, this time to New Orleans and one of my absolute, favorite bridal portrait locations – Race and Religious.   This place has it all and then some!  Rustic charm, a brick courtyard, balconies, indoor locations.   There is such a large variety of backdrops and locations here that I could photograph here over and over and not get tired of it!   From the outside, this place doesn’t look like much, but once you walk into the building and then out into the courtyard, its magical!

Race + Religious – $200 for first hour, appointments necessary – Race and Religious Information

Staying around the New Orleans area, Longue Vue House and Gardens is another one of my favorite places for bridal portraits.    This place has fountains, gardens, huge grassy areas, brick walkways, and all with the backdrop of the house.   Longue Vue will provide a private dressing room for you to get dressed in and does require an appointment.  I actually took my own bridal portraits here, 10 years ago!

Longue Vue House and Gardens – $200 – Photography Information

Other places in New Orleans that are great for bridal portraits are City Park or Audubon Park.   I don’t have any examples of some of these that I’ve done in recent years, but all of these locations offer beautiful natural backdrops with huge oak trees and gardens.

The City Park Botanical Gardens charges $50 but doesn’t need an appointment.   You can purchase the permit from the front office once you arrive.  It may be a challenge to find a place to change other than a public restroom in these locations.

Going back the opposite direction, New Iberia offers two great options for bridal portraits.  First, the Jungle Gardens at Avery Island can be used for a $50 fee and no prior appointment is necessary.  This place is beautiful and has some great scenery but its huge so you’ll have to use a vehicle to get around from location to location.  Sometimes, getting into and out of a car over and over isn’t really the best option for bridal portraits.   There are some really great places here, though.  If you time it right, the island will be full of azaleas or at other times of the year, camellias.

Jungle Gardens $50 (no appt. necessary) – Information

This bridge is one of my favorite locations in the gardens:Then there’s the bamboo grove:And the holly tunnel:

This article is becoming much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll end this and make a part 2.  Next time, I’ll discuss Fairfax House and the Old Governor’s Mansion in Franklin, Dansereau House in Thibodaux as well as some other options that you may not have thought of!

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