I’m not sure I remember how the idea of a boudoir wedding photo shoot entered my mind. I’m sure it was suggested by the knot or some other wedding blog that brides visit a thousand times in preparation for the big day. Although intrigued, I never thought I had the nerve to really do that. After all, I have never felt very photogenic, let alone sexy enough to pull off something so bold. In fact, pictures of myself have never been my thing: I always dodge the camera at family events and never take selfies. Ever. So when it came time to hire the photographer for my wedding photos, I thought seriously about skipping the whole thing.
Thinking you are not photogenic is not the exact same as thinking you are not pretty. I’m pretty — just not in photos. But my wedding was important, and I knew what I had to do. Plus, I thought my husband to be was gorgeous-handsome-amazing, and I wanted photos of him.
Our wedding was in Boerne, TX at the Paniolo Ranch in June— a beautiful time of the year, albeit hot, very hot. I knew the exact photographer I wanted to use: West Vita. He had taken photos of my sister’s children, and they were all stunning. I figured I may not be the best thing about the photos, but I knew everything else would be spectacular.
When I first met West in his studio, I warned him that I was not photogenic. I think I even apologized for it. He reassured me that is not a thing and that there is beauty in everything. We scheduled a bridal shoot at the ranch.
The day of the bridal shoot I was extremely nervous. I had met West once and got a really good vibe, but I had never done anything like this. The shoot went above and beyond all my expectations. I felt so comfortable and beautiful.
West just made everything seem natural and easy. He is extremely talented at making even the most nervous brides feel secure and gorgeous.
He even let me see a photo or two on his camera to reassure me that I was plenty photogenic. I agreed.
It is one thing to have a great, fully-dressed bridal shoot, but what I asked next seemed like going from kindergarten to college: “West, do you do boudoir photo shoots?” West said he had done a few, but it was a fairly new venture. My spontaneous nature kicked in, and coupled with my high of feeling like a model after the bridal shoot, I blurted, “I would love to do one for my husband’s wedding gift!” I was not entirely sure, but in that moment it felt right, and I knew my husband would love it. I had to do it. For my future hubby.
A few weeks later we met at Sisterdale Ranch—a beautiful place with themed country rooms, unique settings, and private outside grounds with a wagon and a river. I brought the outfits and he brought the talent. In preparation, I bought a few new things, used some things I already had, and even borrowed my husband’s old leather biker jacket from the 90’s. Why not? Leading up to the big boudoir day, I felt a sense of dread and excitement. I felt confident and beautiful in a wedding dress (I mean, it is a freaking wedding dress!), but could I really pull off knee-highs and a mesh teddy?
At this point, I have to address the white elephant in the room: I was going to do all of this in front on a man I barely knew. Sure he made me feel very comfortable at the bridal shoot, but the awkwardness of it was always in the back of my mind and gave me extra nerves. Was he going to see me in my first outfit and just say “yeah, this isn’t going to work” and walk out? No. Probably, not— but it did cross my mind.
I pushed all those negative thoughts aside and showed up anyway—excited and nervous, but there. While West set up his equipment and found good shots and lighting, I picked out my first outfit . . . of many. Why did I bring so many options?! I won’t go describe every shot or every outfit. Let’s leave it at this: I started on a bed in a white, bridal corset (fairly clothed) and ended in a river in just an open robe. And, yes, I did get in the wagon.
I am not sure I have transformed my self-confidence as quickly as I did in that photo shoot.
I went from muttering, “I can’t believe I am doing this” to just changing into the next outfit out in the open (you have to move fast when you are modeling and it is not particularly graceful getting in and out of tight clothes). I never felt uncomfortable or shy after the first few shots, and West was a gentleman the whole time. He had a professional, yet relaxed attitude. You could feel that he was there to capture the beauty that I had a hard time seeing in myself. He is a true artist. The confidence he had in me was contagious, and I was able to shine and truly feel sexy and beautiful. A trick that helped tremendously was imagining my husband there, or that he was the camera. That also gave me the confidence to be myself because I already knew he thought I was beautiful, no matter what.
Then there was me. I felt confident and powerful. I made this happen too, and I need to give credit where credit is due. You might not think it is possible to go from refusing to take a selfie to doing an indoor/outdoor boudoir photo shoot, but it is. I’m proof. I highly recommend getting outside your comfort zone and giving it a shot. It was one of the best experiences of my life and changed how I see myself. This was always going to be a gift for my hubby, but it turned out to be a gift to myself.
I have recommended this to all my girlfriends and sisters. Most give me that same reply I had when I first saw something like this advertised on a wedding blog— “I don’t know” and “I could never do that, especially in front of another man,” and “What would my husband think?” I wish I could just make them and everyone understand how amazing and freeing it is, but it is something you just have to dive into and experience yourself.
I even brought this up to my husband: “You know, hun, maybe you could do a dudouir for me one day.” He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, “Never.” I just smiled and said, “Never say never.”