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Although you might think it’s a good idea, I and many other professional photographers recommend that brides don’t spray tan before your wedding or engagement session! As a photographer, I see so many orange or overly tan brides in wedding photos and always conclude that it looks most flattering if the bride either embraces her natural skin tone or has just a hint of a tan from the sun. Given that we spend much more time analyzing images and editing them, we often know better than spray tan artists how the tans look on camera.
Cameras pick up red and orange more than the eye does in-person, so when a bride has a spray tan, she rarely has a pleasing skin tone in the final images. Even if the tan looks nice in-person, without fail it will always be very obvious in photos that it isn’t a natural skin tone.
While I always do my best to correct for this in editing within the hired scope of my work, the end result can still be that the bride is more orange than everyone else in the wedding party. Whether my bride used a professional or DIY tan, it almost always looks very apparent in the final images. Natural skin tones photograph most beautifully and this comes from someone who is extremely pale.
If your bridesmaids have not been tanning, you getting a spray tan creates a huge difference between the natural and orange skin tones in your photos: the bride will tend to look very tan (and often brown or orange) and, as a result, the bridesmaids will look much paler than they truly are. The same applies to a groom who has not been tanning. It is a very harsh difference between the spray tanned and not spray tanned group of people.
In a world that still values a tan (rather than proper skin care and protection), I know it can be scary to think you’ll look pale at your wedding if you don’t spray tan before your wedding or have time to tan naturally. If you’re really concerned with not being incredibly tan, despite the fact that fair skin does photograph beautifully, try something more mild than a spray tan (i.e. Jergens tinted lotion). I promise that you’ll still have a little glow while sporting a natural and beautiful skin tone for your wedding photos.